SYNOD NEWS AND EVENTS - November 28, 2018
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Say good-bye well
+Pastor Linda Pedersen

Synod Council Final Report,  November 10, 2018

Say good-bye well has been my advice to rostered leaders throughout our synod for 14 years. Now it is my turn to apply these words to myself as I enter retirement and write my final Synod Council report. I have been given such an incredible privilege to serve our church and live out my baptismal calling. It is hard to put into words what this has meant for me and I hope also for the people I have ministered with for the sake of God's mission in our world.

Recently, I came across this copy of The Lutheran dated January 1972. Yes, that is me, age 19, sitting at the table with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod staff. Bishop William Janson is behind me. The caption reads, "Meet Linda Damsgard. She's a member of a Synod Staff!" As a young adult I was given the opportunity to serve and grow as a leader in our church, as one of the first "Youth Staffers" working with synod congregations. This early encouragement shaped what has become almost 50 years of ministry in congregations and on synod staffs. Beginning at a time when women had only been ordained as Pastors since 1970, I had no sense this would be part of my future callings.

I will fast forward through being a suburban youth and Christian education director, a rural lay professional in Olivia, completing seminary with ordination in 1986 and serving two congregational calls as Pastor before receiving the call to serve as a Southwestern Minnesota Synod Minister in July 2004. Even Bishop Jon looked so young then in the installation photo below that included Pastors Jeff Engholm and Joyce Piper.

It was rare that my first call as a Pastor was at my home congregation in the inner city of St. Paul, a special place that nurtured my faith. An added blessing of returning to SWMN, and near my first full time church job in Olivia, was that the town was also where our daughter Sarah Hausken and family were called to serve the church. Husband Matt is a Pastor and Sarah was on the synod staff as youth ministry coordinator before I got there. Words cannot describe how special it has been to be so connected to Sarah in doing together God's work with our hands. We both learned how the SW MN Synod is a nurturing and equipping place.

Even though I had been involved in the broader church since my late teens serving in urban, suburban and rural communities, when I got to the Southwestern Minnesota Synod it was clear what I did not know about congregations with their politics and passions shaping how they were each living out their call to mission. Those first few years I learned the names of churches, cities and Pastors. Plus, I discovered the importance of relationships. Bishop Jon taught me about the perceived power of our synod office and reality of how little actual power existed. But we did have the power to convene, and there God's power could work.

Early in my service as a Synod Minister the emphasis through our Women of the ELCA was on being BOLD women of faith. Bold to hear the message of Jesus, Bold in our witness to God's presence in the world, Bold in empowering others to live out their faith and Bold in being generous with the abundance that God has provided. I learned all of this boldness was not just about women, it was about all of us, called in the waters of baptism and sent out like it says in our SW MN Synod Mission statement, "By God's grace, together we have what we need."

This concept was tested when I went to South Africa as part of our global mission companionship ministry, seeing the impact of poverty, disease and discrimination. I learned that in "partnership," instead of saying there are the have and have not's, we say we both have something to give each other such as showing how to forgive and how to praise God. Or even to simply pray for the other because it is the love of God that binds us together.

So, as a trusting "fool for Christ" I have sought to embody this Godly calling through the good, bad, ugly, joyful and in so many incredibly humbling moments of ministry. The image of midwife comes to mind to describe my years as a Synod Minister. I have tried to nurture, listen, encourage, inspire and help "birth" the best that God had to give all of us.

People ask me what I will do in retirement. First, I will spend more time with my husband Dave, our children and grandchildren. Our grandson Leif was a baby in Olivia when I started this position. We both attended the National Youth Gathering in Houston last summer. The photo with Leif and his father Pastor Matt indicates we both have grown a lot in faith and stature during this time.

Second, I want to encourage and walk with others, especially young adults, passing on the gift that was given to me. I am sure God is not done with using my passion to affirm God's callings in others as they embrace the many ways God will use their gifts to serve and lead.

I will be forever grateful for the opportunity I was given to walk alongside my Southwestern Minnesota Synod colleagues, our congregations and rostered leaders. I have received many blessings from this work. It has been inspiring and tiring, but mostly an honor and a privilege for which I say THANKS BE TO GOD!

+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.

Jeff invited me. When I was at college, I lost touch with attending worship because my college's chapel was so different from my simple, rural community of faith. My life was disoriented in many ways at the time. I will always be thankful that as I got to know my head resident, one night he asked me to join him at an informal Wednesday night service late in the evening at the chapel. The conversations we had were also important. Jeff helped me find a worshiping community that would be my home for the next four years. It started with a simple question. "I appreciate the Wednesday evening service at chapel. It is informal. Would you like to come with me? We can walk over together." I think he invited me three times before I joined him.

There are many ways to invite people deeper into the community of Jesus. In my recent blog post I lifted up four doors you might invite people though.
The first door is fellowship: 

The door of fellowship. In my first call congregation I participated in an eccentric group of congregational fellowship events that were fun and intended to be open doorways to invite people who were new to the area or who had lost touch with their church home to participate. The Young Adults and Singles Group had brunch together monthly. People would informally invite people over for dinner to join with other friends from the congregation or to join their Gourmet Small Group. Relationships were born and invitations sometimes led to the community of Jesus and sometimes to deeper friendships. Even a pot luck after worship is a great place for people to grow deeper in relationships. Inviting people to eat together or have fun is one way to invite people into the community that calls Jesus Lord. 

Click here to read the whole article or wait for next week to learn about door two. 

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?
Inviting Resources for Advent
The ELCA offers a place of welcome for all seeking a congregational home. Extend an invitation of welcome for Advent and Christmas worship services. Posters, postcards, social media graphics and door hangers that can be customized with your congregation's worship times and address are available in English and Spanish.

You can use these for people inside your congregation, to send home with people as tools to ease their inviting and also as tools to invite people who have no relational connection with your community of faith, yet.  

Click here to view and download.

Canoeing the Mountains
Author Tod Bolsinger will be heading up a conference on Jan. 24-25 at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church, Eden Prairie.  Tod wrote the books Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory which was a featured book a year ago in our Facebook Book Club. 
To encourage leaders in our synod to attend, you can receive a rebate of $99 for your registration.
The registration cost:
Super Early Bird ends Nov. 30 - $99
Early Bird ends January 10 - $119
Regular Rate - $149
To claim your rebate, send a copy of your registration to Carla Klawitter at or SW MN Synod, PO Box 499, Redwood Falls, MN 56283.

Conference Overview
Tod Bolsinger, author of Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory, will help us reframe our leadership for the sake of the church today. Rather than seeing graphs of decline or propaganda of a hopeful church, we will acknowledge the challenge of our time and hear stories of resurrection and hope from real leaders doing the work of Christian ministry.

Change is inevitable. But how we respond to it matters. Don't miss this opportunity to see signs of vital, creative ministry in our era of rapid change.

Click here for more information and registration. 

Equip Grant: ReCharge
Thanks to your generosity through our Embrace God's Mission + Equip God's People Funding Initiative, we are able to continue the ReCharge Equip Grant for youth workers to attend the 2019 ReCharge event.

RECHARGE is a one-day multi-denominational conference to inspire and equip church staff and their volunteers serving in children's, youth and family ministry.
Date: January 5, 2019 - 8:20 am - 4:20 pm
Site: Plymouth Covenant Church, Plymouth MN

To apply for this grant:
Contact Carly Ballman at or 507-934-4786 with the name of your congregation, names and number of those attending by December 14, 2018. Carly will buy the group rate tickets, you'll reimburse her church, Trinity Lutheran Church, St. Peter, and then the synod will reimburse you after you've attended the event.

After you have attended the event, please fill out the online grant application. Go to, see the Grant page under the For Congregations menu. The RECHARGE Equip Grant application is under the Equip Grants tab. You do not have to submit a sign-off sheet for this grant.
Ordination of Donna McGraw Putney
We are thankful to send people to serve around the country and world. The ordination of Donna McGraw Putney will be on Saturday, December 8, 2018 at 4 p.m. at Zion Lutheran Church in Litchfield, MN. Rostered leaders are invited to process. The color of the day is red.

Donna is a SW MN Synod Candidate.  We send Donna Kay with blessings as she continues her journey in serving God in Montana Synod, ELCA.
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