SYNOD NEWS AND EVENTS - October 18, 2018
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Cultivating Generosity in Small Town and
Rural Settings - Part 2

In this week's post, Larry Strenge suggests some practical ways pastors and other stewardship leaders might engage in conversations concerning money. Very helpfully, Larry shifts the focus from the problematic side of money and the church-shame, guilt, obligation-to the freedom, grace, and gifts we have from God. Stewardship, then, becomes a grateful response to God's generosity.
Yours truly,
Adam Copeland, Center for Stewardship Leaders

Cultivating Generosity in Small Town and Rural Settings - Part 2
+ Rev. Larry Strenge
Last week in Part 1, I spoke about how the "field" of our stewardship consciousness has been made ready to be sowed with the good seed of the Gospel, seed to grow gratitude and generosity in the new beings' lives. However, the "weeds" of consumerism and of leaders untrained and unwilling to talk money threaten to choke the spiritual fruits of generosity.

This week I seek to offer some practical advice for how you and your congregation can start conversations about cultivating gratitude and generosity rooted in the Gospel in order to lead a movement to reclaim the joy of generosity as a spiritual practice.

How could this spiritual practice happen for you?
Here's one way and your leaders to consider.

Let me ask you a question: What's your net worth? Really, what is it? What figure comes to mind?

(Pause. Think about that question before you read on...Thanks!)

What figure came to mind for you?

Was your "figure" a dollar sign, a dollar figure?

Or maybe it was question mark, like in "I don't know."

Be truthful with yourself. What was your first thought?

My hunch is that if you are "normal" in our "consumer culture" it is what most "normal people" think first! (I challenge you to do this exercise in your church council and see what happens! Tell them to write their figure on a small piece of paper, fold it and hand it to you. Assure them you'll mix them up before you look at them. Then see what happens)

Now, read on....

Ask yourself (or the group you're leading), "What figure is our 'net worth' as a follower of Jesus? Is it not, this one-a cross? Isn't the cross marked on us in our baptism our true 'net worth'? Isn't "Your name, child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever," our baptismal promise, is this not our true net worth?

Who or what determines that net worth for you? It takes some real spiritual practice in today's world to see God's generosity in Christ Jesus as our rootedness.

Cultivating generosity as a spiritual practice will happen through your listening in these small town and rural settings. Eugene Peterson in that same talk said, "Pastors are an on the ground witness to what the Holy Spirit is up to."

I believe we do that work through story gathering.

A process to get you started.
Go out and visit those generous people in your congregation. There are plenty! Yes, find out who they are. Do an analysis. See who gives what. But, don't let dollar amounts deter you. Pray about it. Your "most generous" may be the "widow's mite" person(s). She may be your largest giver. And, yes, it's okay to pay attention to amounts. You know your people. People who have a boatload of money have a big responsibility to steward it well. The banker, accountant or a financial advisor is not the only one who can talk to someone who is called to steward large amounts of money.

And always, remember, this is a spiritual conversation.

Here's one open-ended question to ask among your people in a one-to-one visit. Ask, "I'm curious, who taught you to be generous?"
Then, get ready to listen.

Give it a try. And before long you'll discover what God is cultivating as you unpack the gift of generosity.

Remember, you are a witness. You may have to hold the story close for a while, but before long you'll find ways to invite people to tell that generosity story as they live into the spiritual practice of generosity, one God has placed inside each of us.

God is doing a new thing in this day. And it is happening in and through our listening to those stories in small town and rural settings, as we invite people to be generous in that 'net worth' in Christ.
Notes of gratitude
As we anticipate Pastor Linda Pedersen's retirement and her departure from our staff on November 21, we invite you to share a note of gratitude, a memory, a fun story, which we will assemble into a booklet for her. Please send your emails to or handwritten notes to Attn: Maggie Berggren, SW MN Synod, PO Box 499, Redwood Falls, MN 56283.  
Are You Concerned About  Your Farmer/Client's Mental Health in These Challenging  Financial Times?
Learn more on October 22nd, 2018
From: 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. in Hutchinson, MN
Ridgewater College East Campus - Room 509
Address: 980 2nd Ave SE, Hutchinson, MN 55350
From: 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. in Willmar, MN
Ridgewater College Room C28 in the Ag Department
Address: 2101 15th Ave NW, Willmar, MN 56201

Who will be conducting the class?
  • Ted Matthews, M.S. - Ted has been providing counseling as a rural mental health practitioner for 20 plus years and does crisis intervention. Ted works with farmers and farm families seeking to reduce the mounting stress, anxiety and depression brought on by difficult times in agriculture.
  • McLeod and Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Departments
Cost: Free - Please pre-register
Hutchinson Registration:
Paul Filzen Cell: 320-249-1960
Shawn Meyer Cell: 320-249-1958

Willmar Registration:
Zach Rada 320-222-7561
Fall Edition of the Communicator
The Communicator is your SW MN Synod Women of the ELCA Newsletter. The 2018 Winter edition is now available, click here. Important information regarding nominations for the 2020 Triennial is included in this fall edition. Voting for these positions will take place at convention this year. Don't miss out!

Save the date!
32nd Southwest Minnesota Synod 
Convention Women of the ELCA 
May 3 & 4, 2019 
First Lutheran Church Marshall, MN 
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.

Our synod's Boundaries Training: 
Date: Monday, Nov. 5, 2018
Times: 8:45 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Location: Faith Lutheran, Spicer
You can attend the following events and receive credit by emailing Carla Klawitter at 

Seeds for the Parish is the resource newspaper of the ELCA. Each issue contains articles that provide congregational leaders with insights, ideas and tools to assist them in a variety of ministries including worship, Christian education, stewardship, evangelism, youth ministries, social ministries, leadership and more. Seeds Monthly is an electronic email you can sign-up for and receive directly in your email box.
Click here for the 2018 fall issue.
Downloadable copies of past issues of Seeds for the Parish are available by clicking here.
Maggie Cumings memorial gifts welcome
Pastor Maggie Cumings is remembered fondly, and her family, colleagues, and friends are still mourning her loss a year ago. We are accepting monetary memorial gifts to be shared with her family - Michael, Zoe, and Leo - through November 11, 2018. Checks may be made payable to the SW MN Synod with Maggie's memorial on the memo line. There is also an online payment option at under Online giving, special givings.
Synod Events
Below is a list of all the upcoming synod events. Visit the synod events webpage for more information.
NW/SW MN Clergy Spouse Retreat
November 2-4, 2018
Luther Crest Bible Camp, Alexandria

Boundaries Workshop
November 5, 2018
Faith Lutheran Church, Spicer, MN

Jr High Youth Gathering
November 16-17 & 17-18, 2018
Willmar Conference Center, Willmar
Registration is Open!

Equipping Congregations 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