SYNOD NEWS AND EVENTS - September 12, 2018
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Sabbatical Reading - Shep­­herd of Souls
+Bishop Jon V. Anderson
During my sabbatical, I read a number of books. One that I want to lift up is called , Shepherd of Souls: Faith Formation Through Trusted Relationships, by David Anderson. Anderson has been involved in the work of the Augsburg Youth and Family Institute; Vibrant Faith and Milestones Ministry, seeks to invite people to grow their capacity to live out their vocation to be a "shepherd of souls."

Anderson's book invites people to a life-giving faith and ministry. It makes the case that our vocations are larger than we often imagine. As baptized ones we are called as a vocation to "build up one another in faith... "all the saints engage in the enterprise of strengthening one another in the faith." p. 79.

As we traveled in Scandinavia, I learned that our sisters and brothers in Christ there have been exploring the power of milestones, one of the faith practice strategies that Anderson highlights in his book. There were multiple ways that the Swedish and Norwegian pastors used this strategy.

My favorite was "Baby Sing." I am sure I don't have all the nuance or details, but in a world where parents in Scandinavia are given much more time to care for their new born children, one of the ministries they are most excited about is inviting parents to come to the church and sing to their children. The parents sing hymns and songs often around a globe that is full of candles. This prayer globe was in the cathedral in Stockholm and most that I saw were smaller.

The singing to their children happens, they pray for the children and one another. They gather for fellowship. Everyone in the community is invited and they mark the entry of a child and the growing of an infant with singing, support and fellowship. Almost every pastor I talked to mentioned this strategy when I asked what was something in their ministry that they were feeling good about. I wonder if this would not work in our culture as well.

The milestone approach is one strategy of engaging the faith formation of young and older people acknowledging key moments and bringing our faith's resources to that moment for reflection and blessings. It is a supplement for Sunday School models in most of our congregations.

Vibrant Faith and its expressions earlier have highlighted four basic faith practices; Anderson uses these practices to equip the saints for their ministry as shepherds. "Four basic practices can assist effective shepherding. Conversations, reflection and prayer take place through the Four Key Faith Practices of: caring conversation, devotions, service and rituals and traditions.... [which] help clarify and facilitate the important task of shepherding souls." P. 95 Anderson teases out ways these practices might serve lay and rostered ministers as they seek to grow as "shepherd of souls".

Shepherding souls also utilizes the Five Principles of Faith Formation: "1) Faith formed and nurtured through trusted relationships; 2) Equipping shepherd through the ministry of the congregational church; 3) serving others through the ministry of the home; 4) Understanding and developing faith formation through experiences and relationships, not just by understanding concepts; and, 5) affirming that shepherding souls is a cross + generational ministry where adults support children and youth and children and youth support adults of all ages." (https://milestonesministry.org/books/shepherd-of-souls/)

The book will make you think about how our programs sometimes get in the way of people living out their ministry. Anderson wants to invite pastors and all the baptized into a deep and wide ministry through a variety of proposals. I found the book growing in energy as I got deeper into it. Anderson's thought stretched me to imagine what our synod's call to "Embrace God's Mission + Equip God's People" might mean as we equip lay people to love and serve.

If I was a parish pastor, I would use this book to train and equip people to live out their faith in God's world and also to equip people to deepen their capacity as a minister. For example, here Anderson lifts up the important work of ministry in deep relationships. "Such deep listening includes candid conversations, imaginative reflection, and prayerful attentiveness that explores the spiritual dimensions of life. This kind of caring relationships involves a significant level of trust and personal concern." p. 28. Relationships are where faith is caught and supported. Anderson invites you as a reader to grow deeper regardless of where you are at in your faith journey.

One last reflection about our Norwegian sisters and brothers in Christ; When they engage in milestone ministry, they invite everyone in town. When they get together for "Baby Sing" everyone is invited so this becomes an opportunity to experience the open door of the church. When they have their "I Spy" event for late middle school children, they invite everyone to come and play in the church building with the pastor in I Spy (from MAD Magazine back in time) and learn about God's Church and their faith in the process. Too often when we do milestone ministry, it is mostly focused on our members. What if we pushed the welcome wider and invited all the folks around us? In an increasingly secular context in Scandinavia they are ahead of us on this. We can invite people into the community that bears Christ's name and into following him in simple practices that grow people deep in faith, hope and love.

I grew up raising sheep. I love the image of a shepherd and this books invitation to all the baptized to see their ministry as shepherding the souls God has placed around them. The whole book was a reminder that "Shepherding is about caring, supporting, feeding and protecting" p. 43. The great news is that our God sent Jesus to be our Good Shepherd. If you hear command or law in some of what Anderson proposes, be sure to flip it and hear the promise that God can use you...all of you. God's Spirit is with you. More so, God cares like a shepherd for you, your neighbors and this entire world.
September Synod Council Report
+Pastor Linda M. Pedersen, Synod Minister
We are moving toward my final two Synod Council reports (September and November) after over 14 years of sharing in amazing stories as a SW MN Synod Minister. This story has nothing to do with me, but represents the kinds of stories I have participated in and then had the privilege to share throughout of synod. This is telling the good news of what God is doing through our congregations and members.

Uniting Cultures/Uniendo Culturas was founded with Christian church members in the St. James area about a year ago. Their mission "to create a community where acceptance and belonging, community pride and ownership, and celebration of diversity are how we are together." The group organized celebrations of "culture through cuisine" which recently included a Nordic smorgasbord at East Sveadahl Lutheran Church and previously emphasized Latino cuisine held at other area congregations.

Important to their mission is the sharing of their immigration stories from first generation to five generation Americans. One of the organizers, Sandy Sunde, said every one of our ancestors who came to America shared one common reason, "they all came looking for a better life for themselves and their families."

Last year the group organized a multicultural festival outside St. James which drew over 400 people. They hope the second annual event on Sept 15 will draw even more people. It will feature food trucks serving international cuisine, resource booths and performances by international musicians and dancers.

In a related story, LaSalle Lutheran Church closed on August 12 and the church building was re-opened on Wednesday that same week as the new church home for a Hispanic speaking congregation from St. James. So the Christian message continues to be proclaimed to new immigrants in the area.

I give thanks to God for the ways our congregations are embracing God's mission and ministry with their neighbors.
Still time to register!

Join us next Tuesday, September 18! 
8:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. 
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 301 N. Lincoln St. Redwood Falls, MN
Register online - www.swmnelca.org/events/cswa2018
$32 per person
Pay online -OR- by mail.
Send one check made out to: SW MN Synod CSWA,
PO Box 499, Redwood Falls, MN 56283.
Click here for event schedule and more information.
Stewardship Toolkit for September

Theme: Living our Baptism: Stewardship of Our Work Life
+Rev. Larry Strenge, Director for Evangelical Mission
Toolkit by: Rev. Robert Blezard. Reprinted by permission. Pastor Blezard serves as an assistant to the bishop of the Lower Susquehanna Synod and works as content editor for www.stewardshipoflife.org.

I am always pleased to partner with other people who want to "grow generosity" and help others experience the "joy" of giving as we live out our baptism. Click here for a Stewardship Toolkit with newsletter articles, stewardship snippets and resources for your congregation.
 
Boundaries Training
Sexual misconduct by rostered and other religious leaders is one of the most serious challenges faced by the church today. Violation of the sacred trust between church members and their leaders brings deep pain to all who are affected: victims, offenders, family members, friends, and the congregation itself.

In response to this challenge, the Southwestern Minnesota Synod bylaws include the following provisions (S14.25.01. and S14.47.01.):

"Within twelve months of assuming office all ministers of Word and Sacrament under call shall demonstrate completion of at least six contact hours of continuing education in the prevention of sexual boundary violations." and

"Within twelve months of assuming office all ministers of Word and Service under call shall demonstrate completion of at least six contact hours of continuing education in the prevention of sexual boundary violations."

Our synod council has a continuing resolution encouraging all of our rostered leaders to have continued work on appropriate boundaries of all kinds, but especially sexual boundaries, every three years.


You can attend the following events and receive credit by emailing Carla Klawitter at carla.klawitter@swmnelca.org. Our synod will offer a boundaries training on Monday, November 5, more information to come. 
Labor Trafficking: Intersections With Your Work
Human trafficking is a complex issue that requires a high level of collaboration. Attendees with gain insight and knowledge about what labor trafficking looks like, definitions, dynamics and what to look for. Throughout the course of the day participants with be able to apply screening tools and protocol development in case studies as well as hear from experts in different fields.
Conference Details: 
October 30, 2018 at 9:15 am - 4:00 pm
Windom Community Center, 1750 Cottonwood Lake Drive, Windom MN 
Click here for conference agenda, materials and registration.  
Synod Events
Below is a list of all the upcoming synod events. Visit the synod events webpage for more information.
SEPTEMBER 
September 18, 2018
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Redwood Falls 

September 24-25, 2018
Green Lake Lutheran Ministries

OCTOBER
October 7-9, 2018
Alexandria, MN

NOVEMBER
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

SAVE THE DATE
Equipping Confregations Day
February 23, 2019
Willmar, MN

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