SYNOD NEWS AND EVENTS - December 6, 2018
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+Bishop Jon V. Anderson
This is a great time of year to engage in the faith practice of inviting. In fact, every time of year is a great time to invite people to bring their questions, life experiences, and explore more deeply a relationship with the community of Jesus.

In my recent blog post I lifted up four doors you might invite people though. Last week was the door of fellowship. This week, the door of worship experiences...

Inviting people to worship has been an effective way to experience the gift of being a part of the community of faith. As we enter Advent, there will be special events like children's Christmas programs, holiday concerts, concerts, Blue Christmas services (for those who are blue about something this time of year) and candlelight Christmas services. It is a time when our culture is more open to expressions of faith. Inviting people to join you in remembering the story of God's surprising way of redeeming us can be a gift you share. Of course regular worship is also a time where through word and sacraments we are reminded that God is for us and walking with us.

We have an inviting God and an inviting Lord Jesus. God invites us through God's Spirit to grow deeper in our relationship to God and the community that bears Christ's name. When you are inviting it is as simple Luther said, "as one beggar telling another where to find bread." We all need to be evangelized again and again as we dance or slog through life. We need to hear the good news that God is for us, with us and inviting us deeper in faith, hope and love.

Where is God inviting you to grow?

Who is God inviting you to imagine joining you?

Click here to read the whole article or wait for
next week to learn more about inviting doors.
Invite someone to think about Camp Ministry this summer!
+Bishop Jon V. Anderson
I am thankful someone invited me to consider serving at camp when I was in college. It was a meaning-full experience that helped me grow as a leader, speaker, project leader, learn more about myself, learn more about receiving the gifts of children and youth explore whether I was called to be a pastor, and grow as a Christian while serving.
Our shared minister partners are accepting applications now for the summer:

Help those over 70 ½ with this "RMD"
(Required Minimum Distribution) info
+Rev. Larry Strenge,  Director for Evangelical Mission, SW MN Synod, ELCA

Last week a retired pastor called me seeking advice on how to give a gift to our synod. His desire was to support rural congregations, so I told him about ways that could be done through our Funding Initiative and Advent Appeal. He liked the work we are doing together. This led to a discussion about what he, like many other retired people, both lay persons and clergy, face when they reach 70 ½ years old: A new money challenge....How does one wisely invest a "Required Minimum Distribution" (RMD), the required withdrawal from accumulated retirement accounts?

In case you aren't aware every person who reaches 70 ½ (and in each year after that) MUST make "required minimum distributions" (RMDs) from the total of ALL retirements accounts-IRAs, 401K, 403B, etc. Roth IRAs are an exception. Once a person reaches 70 ½ they MUST take out money -an RMD- from this total accumulated value of ALL these accounts every year. It can be a LARGE amount of money as the RMD percentage keeps going up as a person ages!!!

This RMD amount is based on a formula called the "RMD formula." It starts at around 4% of the value of the accumulated value of all those retirement accounts (exception again, the ROTH IRA) on December 31 of the previous year. (Example: If your retirement accounts total $400,000 on 12/31/17 and you are 70 ½ years old you are REQUIRED to take out $14,599 in 2018! At 75 that amount is $17,468) Even if you had "other income" to live on--income from rent, a part time job, inheritance, etc--or because you simply lived on Social Security, you HAVE TO take this RMD. So does a spouse!

In this case the pastor above saw the end of the year coming. He saw that he had three choices:
1) Withdraw the RMD and pay taxes;
2) Give a gift to our synod and other charitable organizations and that amount would "count" toward his RMD but not be taxed; or
3) Ignore taking it out and pay a 50% penalty to the IRS!

I'm glad he was a "wise person" and chose #2! And we, as well as the numerous recipients of these ministry funds, are grateful for his forethought...and his generosity!

Do you have RMDs? Act now. Remember, after December 31st an RMD of all retirement funds is still required. And as I said above in #3, you are charged a penalty of 50% of the difference between what you withdrew and your actual calculated RMD for 2018. The IRS will be the grateful ones!

Let's see this as an act of ministry. Let's help others in our congregation and our community know all the good that can be done by acting wisely with these RMDs! As I told this retired pastor, "We have $15,000 in matching funds in our Advent Appeal. Your gift will be doubled! And you'll be doing this important ministry of training leaders!" He was grateful to give to this partnership in the Gospel!

So I invite you and thank you as you use those RMDs to support our synod, your congregation, or other qualified charitable organizations! We can serve God's Mission and Vision by our actions!

Still confused or other questions? There is plenty of help available. Talk to your accountant, see a financial advisor (e.g. Thrivent agent), or simply go to the many online Q and A of an RMD. Or call me (507-627-9048). I'll be happy to help!

Thanks for your partnership in the Gospel as you invest in God's Mission and Vision with an RMD this year!
Grant Deadline Approaches
+Pr. Andy Hermodson-Olsen, Director of the Lilly Project
Rostered ministers actively under call in our synod are reminded of the upcoming deadline for the Ministerial Excellence Fund's Grant for the Reduction of Student Educational Loans.  Please apply online before the 
December 14 deadline!

This is the third year the MEF has offered this grant and we have been able to give grants nearing $3,000 to eligible applicants. The grant is for educational loans you have from either college or seminary. We desire that as many who are eligible will apply and receive this grant made possible by the donations of congregations, individuals, and the Lilly Endowment Inc. 
If you are a pastor trained in the TEEM program, a special letter will be sent to you in a few days which will give you an opportunity to also apply for a grant from this fund. 
The Ministerial Excellence Fund has three grants available, go to, and click on Grants under the Rostered Ministers tab menu to see if you're eligible.

How is God Calling You?: A Discernment Retreat
January 11-12, 2019
6PM Friday to 3PM Saturday
Location: Green Lake Bible Camp in Spicer, MN

God calls everyone to do God's work in the world. How is God calling you? To explore that question, we invite you to join us for an overnight discernment retreat at Green Lake Bible Camp. This retreat will provide a nurturing space to ponder how the Spirit of God is guiding you, whether it is to church ministry, school, or corporate work. Your gifts are needed in the world!

This retreat is hosted by the ELCA synods of Southeast MN, Southwest MN, Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Western North Dakota.
Cost: $25
Online registration: coming soon
To learn more, we invite you to contact your synod:
Minneapolis Area Synod, John Hulden -
St. Paul Area Synod, Krista Lind -
Southeast MN Synod, Mary Kay DuChene -
Southwest MN Synod, Kathryn Skoglund -
Western ND Synod, Beth Anderson -

Who will be your congregation's next rostered leader?

Who will serve as pulpit supply for your congregation?

How will the sons and daughters of your congregation who have the
gifts to preach and lead receive the training they need to do both?

Advent Appeal 2018
We invite you to address these questions through your financial gifts to the Advent Appeal! With your gift we will provide financial resources for training, background checks, and colleague programs to make sure those who hear God's call to preach and lead communities in worship in Southwestern Minnesota can do this ministry without placing all of the financial burden on them to answer  God's call.

Here is a picture of those who attended the most recent Lay Preachers Retreat. These events, which cost $300/person, are held three times a year to equip lay preachers for our synod.

We are known as an equipping synod, but we need your help to make sure no one with the gifts to preach and lead worship are left out because of their lack of financial support to prepare them for service.

Here are two ways you can give:
Send your financial support today! Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar by a $10,000 gift from Bethel Lutheran Church Endowment Fund in Willmar if it is received by December 31st.
  • Mail your gift to SW MN Synod, ELCA, PO Box 499, Redwood Falls, MN 56283. Checks are made out to the SW MN Synod with Advent Gift in the memo.
  • And/or make a commitment to give at least $10 monthly for all of 2019 by signing up for a recurring direct payment (ACH debit) through the synod's online giving. Our Savior's Lutheran Church Endowment Fund in Montevideo has promised a gift of $5,000 when at least 50 people sign up for a recurring gift. Go to and click on Online Giving. (Reminder: the synod pays a service fee for all credit card transactions, checking/savings account transactions are free!) If you need help setting up a recurring gift, please call the synod office, 507-637-3904 or click here for step by step pictures with instructions.
Let us as the people of God use our gifts to support the gifts of others.

Thank you for your willingness to share your gifts through this Advent Appeal to continue the ministry of your synod's Embrace God's Mission + Equip God's People Funding Initiative.
Contact Update
Rev. Stephen Cook, Synod Minister
Cell: 320-310-8851
Direct Office Number: 507-627-9046
We ask that you all use this email for synod business:
Important 2019 Assembly Dates:
  • Resolutions Deadline will be April 8, 2019.
  • SW MN Synod Assembly will be June 7-8, 2019 in Redwood Falls, MN.
Synod Events
Below is a list of all the upcoming synod events. Visit the synod events webpage for more information.
February 2, 2019
Trinity, Truman
Kvitseid, Milan
Kandiyohi, Kandiyohi

Equipping Congregations Day
February 23, 2019
Willmar, MN
Registration Open!

Sr. High Youth Gathering
April 5-6, 2019
Lake Geneva Christian Center
Alexandria, MN

SW MN Synod Assembly
June 7-8, 2019
Redwood Falls, MN

Southwestern Minnesota Synod, ELCA 
PO Box 499, Redwood Falls, MN 56283
Phone: 507-637-3904