SYNOD NEWS AND EVENTS - August 29, 2018
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A Great Weekend
+Bishop Jon V. Anderson 
Installation of Bishop Laurie Skow-Anderson
On Saturday I had the privilege of attending the installation of Bishop Laurie Skow-Anderson who comes from our synod's congregation in our southeast corner, Union State Line Lutheran Church. She served at American Lutheran Church in Windom, Christ in Slayton and Atonement in St. Cloud.
I was thankful for my new colleague's election. I know the gifts she has. I wonder what distinctive callings she will bring to the Conference of Bishops and the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin.  I pray that God will use her and each of you.
Ordination of Pr. Angela LaMoore
On Saturday evening we gathered at South Santiago Lutheran to celebrate God's work of calling Pr. Angela to serve. Pr. Angela's faith story is beautiful. May God bless her gifts as she helps people in her ministry sing a new song to the Lord.
She is pictured with Pr. Mark Aune her internship supervisor in this picture from South Santiago.   We give thanks for the internship supervisors and congregations like Augustana in St. Paul who make supporting the formation of pastors part of their ministry.
Ordination of Pr. Marco Curriel
On Sunday we gathered at Paz y Esperanza to ordain Pr. Marco who has already been serving there as a synodically authorized minister. In Spanish and English we praised God and ordained our "hermano en Cristo" (brother in Christ) to serve as pastor to all people in the area. Pr. Marco is bivocational. This is a gift and challenge. We will need to learn more about how to be a synod with bivocational pastors.
I give thanks to God for the many people who have supported Pr. Marco in his formation. It always takes a cloud of witnesses like our families, congregations, friends, teachers, mentors and pastors to support a person preparing to become a public steward of the Gospel.
God continues to call people to serve day after day in many ways as they live out their baptismal calling. We also are thankful God continues to call people to serve in God's church as ministers of word and sacrament. May we all proclaim the Good News we know in Jesus that God is for us and with us in all the seasons of life.
A Life Giving Faith
+Bishop Jon V. Anderson 

Lord God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown.  Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

What does a life giving practice of our Christian faith look like? Another way to put it would be, "What does a life giving Christian piety look like for our time?"  
What does a healthy and life giving devotion to God look like in your imagination? How about in the lives of people around you? What does it look like in your own faith practices? Are you thinking about a personal piety or a communal piety? They are both important.

The word "pious" probably has more negative meanings in our language than positive. It is associated with "unthinking conventional reverence" (Google). It is related to the adjectives 'devout' or 'dutiful' (Wikipedia). Those are words that seem old fashioned and out of style in our culture's preference for what is edgy and swift change. In the Google chart of historical word usage "piety" is a word that has dramatically lost favor since my ancestors moved to the US from Norway.

During my sabbatical time I read many of the Scandinavian pietists in a couple of sources, primarily Mark Grandquist's , Scandinavian Pietists: Spiritual Writings from 19th-Century Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland (Classics of Western Spirituality). I was trying to better understand this movement that shaped the early DNA of our congregations. For many of us these movements still impact our spiritual lives today in ways we sometimes notice and often in ways we are not even aware of as we practice our faith.  

The movement shaped the trajectories of our congregations into the present even though most were formed over a hundred years ago. As you visit dozens of congregations and council meetings as a member of the synod staff you start to notice and even get pretty good at guessing the ethnic Christian spiritual roots of Lutheran congregations.

Beyond understanding the history, learning the distinctive language and themes of the pietists, I was also curious for myself. I wonder how engage in a life giving practice of faith that will guide me forward in the latter chapters of my life and also pass on to my children and grandchildren.

As I prepared to read and think about this during my sabbatical I noticed that we are quite competent at critiquing our pietist ancestors. I often do this with Hans Nielson Hauge who influenced my Norwegian pietist ancestors. We are less articulate in our talk about nurturing our spiritual lives in the current turmoil where so many things we have taken for granted for the decades of our lives now seem up for grabs.

I love to think about my faith but I think that it is the practices of faith that sustains our lives in the midst of serious challenges. Like my work-out tonight with weights, stretching and rowing shapes up my body, so the practices of our faith tune our attention to the Good News God is for us and working in our midst.

It is our encounter with people living their faith that is more powerful than Sunday School or Confirmation. We witness people we know and respect practicing their faith and learn from them and with them as we follow Jesus. This fall I want to lift up practices that deepen our spiritual lives. I want to encourage people to live their faith and watch for the mysterious presence of our Living God.

I like to talk about practicing our faith more than piety. Like a doctor or lawyer is never done practicing medicine or law, we are never done practicing our faith. I have been growing more curious about how to be constructive in our faith practices. In the weeks ahead I will lift up some of what I learned in my reading and in conversations with people who serve in a much more secular context than we do.

One practice that deepens our spiritual lives is prayer. In my younger years I had a prayer dot on my watch to remind me to pray a short brief prayer. I will be picking those up to share in the days ahead. This week I read an article from Pr. David Hanson lifting up the idea of setting your alarm to call you to prayer.  (Alarming Faith by Pastor David Hansen, Director for Innovation and Communication - LEAD
Originally published at  I like to pray in the morning as I walk on the treadmill after reading God Pause or the Moravian Prayer for the Day. Sometimes I like informal prayer. As I age I find the old poetry of the ancient prayers of God's Church nourish me. How does God open your mind and cause your heart to burn?

I invite you to renew or sustain your practice of prayer. It is a gift; this discipline that deepens your awareness of God's presence, grace and calls you and me into God's beloved world to serve.  
Children's Sermons and Creative Storytelling in Worship
Monday, September 24, 5pm - Tuesday, September 25, 3pm.
Green Lake Bible Camp, Spicer MN 

Children are not the only ones listening to the children's sermon-adults of all ages love to listen in. But children need more than adult spectators-they need adults to engage in the story with them. How do we create children's sermons that connect children with parents, grandparents, and caring adults? Experience examples of children's sermons that creatively and interactively engage the emotions, senses, bodies, and minds of people of all ages.

In addition, no longer can we assume people in the pews know even the basics of God's story. The most interaction people have with the Bible is the 10-minute sermon. Trends tell us that faithful church goers attend worship 1-2 times a month. To respond to this, we may need to shift how we do things in worship. Come and explore how to use cross+generational storytelling-preaching to help God's people learn God's story and become storytellers of the faith.

Our presenters are the phenomenal pastors Jen Rome and Heather Roth Johnson. Both have extensive experience ministering alongside children youth and families. They have a passion for sharing God's story in a way that meets people where they are. Jen Rome is Pastor for Next Generation Ministries at Pilgrim Lutheran Church in St. Paul. Heather Roth Johnson is Associate Pastor in Faith Formation at St John's Lutheran Church in Lakeville.

You have two options for how you attend this retreat. You may arrive Monday evening for supper, worship and time for support, care and socializing. Or you may arrive Tuesday morning after breakfast for the educational part of the retreat.

The cost for the full retreat is $80 per person. This includes the content of the retreat, overnight housing, and three meals. Cost for just Tuesday is $30 and includes content of the retreat and lunch. You are invited to bring beverages and snacks to share for our Monday evening social time.
Registration closes on September 17. Click here for more information.
In the second half of 2017, a rapid succession of hurricanes interrupted the lives of millions of our neighbors.

You and other Lutheran Disaster Response supporters responded with incredible generosity to these disasters. Combined, you gave nearly $15 million to hurricane response efforts, showing your dedication to helping our neighbors.

Thanks to you, survivors of hurricanes in Texas, Georgia, Florida, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Haiti and Cuba have been connected with life-changing support - from emergency relief supplies to emotional and spiritual care, as well as the repairing and rebuilding of their damaged homes. The damage caused by the 2017 hurricanes was so catastrophic and extensive that the recovery will take five to seven years or more. Lutheran Disaster Response is known for staying until long after the headlines change. Thanks to your support, Lutheran Disaster Response can accompany survivors of disasters until this response is complete.

Click here to read the full 2017 Hurricanes Anniversary Report.

The ELCA is ready to respond to Hurricane Lane.
Lutheran Disaster Response is providing ongoing assistance to:
  • Hurricane Lane
  • U.S. Wildfires
  • Gaza Humanitarian Assistance
  • Hurricane Relief
  • South Sudan Relief
  • Africa Drought
  • West Virginia Flooding
  • Nepal Earthquake
  • Middle East and Europe Refugee Crisis
  • AMMPARO: Protecting Migrant Minors
Click here to give and learn more.
Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM )
We have four young adults accepting this call from Southwestern Minnesota Synod, these young adults will depart for their year of service iAugust. Each week we will be highlighting one of our YAGMs:
Eli Yackel-Juleen (Jerusalem and the West Bank)
Leah Moat (Mexico)
Tabby Sanderson and husband, Tony Yang (Central Europe)
Tina Geistfeld (Central Europe)
Meet Tina Geistfeld
My name is Tina Geistfeld and I am from a small farming community in south central Minnesota, very near the Iowa boarder. I was raised in a Christian community, and having attended private schools all my life, I have a solid faith community in my area that supports my YAGM mission. 

My home congregation is an old country church with an aging congregation, so youth programs were hard to come by as I was growing up, but this has definitely influenced my current passions for the Lutheran church to be involved with youth ministries.

I attended Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology this past May 2018. While I attended Augustana I pursued being active in the campus ministry, especially in the Outreach youth ministry program. This opened up many opportunities for me to meet fellow students who also share a love of ministry, and this also created a platform for me to work with youth groups and Sunday school students of all ages from churches in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Iowa.

This is one of the hopes I have for being a part of the YAGM community-I hope to meet more young adults like myself who carry a joy for ministry and for sharing the love of Jesus. YAGM is a platform to help build the next generation of church leaders by showing us what the global church community looks like, and we are then able to bring those people and experiences home to share with everyone else. It has been amazing and humbling to get so much support from the church, and I hope to continue to support the church in thanks for all it has given me.
Click here to support Tina and learn more. 
Synod Events
Below is a list of all the upcoming synod events. Visit the synod events webpage for more information.
Coming Soon! Register now. 
September 18, 2018
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Redwood Falls 

September 24-25, 2018
Green Lake Lutheran Ministries

October 7-9, 2018
Alexandria, MN

NW/SW MN Clergy Spouse Retreat
November 2-4, 2018
Luther Crest Bible Camp, Alexandria

Jr High Youth Gathering
November 16-17 & 17-18, 2018
Willmar Conference Center, Willmar

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