August 23, 2023

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Living Stones: Holy Land Pilgrimage

Dec. 28, 2024-Jan. 6, 2025

We are grateful to partner with Elias Tours for our pilgrimage to the Holy Land at the end of 2024. The pilgrimage will take us to holy sites (the stones of our history), and also to conversations with holy people (the living stones of our faith). The trip cost ($4190) includes airfare and ground transportation, lodging, breakfast and dinner daily, and entrance fees. Scholarships and other financial support are available. Click here for more information and registration. If you have any questions, please contact Pastor Jessica Cain at [email protected].

The God Who Sees

by Karen González and Sandra van Opstal

Meet people who have fled their homelands. Hagar. Joseph. Ruth. Jesus.

Here is a riveting story of seeking safety in another land. Here is a gripping journey of loss, alienation, and belonging. In The God Who Sees, immigration advocate Karen Gonzalez recounts her family’s migration from the instability of Guatemala to making a new life in Los Angeles and the suburbs of south Florida. In the midst of language barriers, cultural misunderstandings, and the tremendous pressure to assimilate, Gonzalez encounters Christ through a campus ministry program and begins to follow him.

Here, too, is the sweeping epic of immigrants and refugees in Scripture. Abraham, Hagar, Joseph, Ruth: these intrepid heroes of the faith cross borders and seek refuge. As witnesses to God’s liberating power, they name the God they see at work, and they become grafted onto God’s family tree.

Find resources for welcoming immigrants in your community and speaking out about an outdated immigration system. Find the power of Jesus, a refugee Savior who calls us to become citizens in a country not of this world.

ELCA Task Force on Education Debt (for Rostered Ministers) Needs Your Feedback!

Educational debt continues to be a pervasive issue among leaders in the ELCA. At its Spring 2022 meeting, the Executive Committee of the ELCA Church Council approved the formation of a task force to study the issue of educational debt and its impact on leaders.

Through studying and determining ways to address educational debt, the task force intends to bring help and hope to as many ELCA rostered ministers as possible, so they can best live out God’s calling for their lives.

To make our research on the topic more comprehensive, we want to hear stories from rostered ministers about the burden of educational debt, and the impact this debt has had on them, their families, their call process, and their ministry.

If you would be willing to share your story as part of a small group conversation of 3-4 people (rostered ministers, candidates, and task force members), or for more information, please contact Deacon John Dellis, task force member, or Adam DeHoek, who convenes the Educational Debt Task Force within the next month or two.

The conversation will last around an hour, covering these questions. We will record the conversations and share them only with members of the task force.

Sharing your story will help the task force members see the issue from a more personal perspective. It will also help us determine the questions we should explore more broadly.

We know that telling this story can be challenging, and we deeply appreciate your willingness to consider doing so.

Deadline for Grant Applications Extended

The application deadline for Transformational Ministry and Tiemann Leadership grants has been extended until October 15th. These grants provide seed funding for innovative projects and leadership development for congregations and leaders.

Click here to learn more and apply.

Report Portal Reopened

Any congregations who have not yet completed their forms A & C need to do so before December.

Click here to complete the forms.

Mientras Tanto Story

Rio Grande Conference

Valley Metanoia Network: Inviting the Church from seated to “Vayamos”

Pastor Edwin Ortiz wants the church to be less institutional and more missional. From a church that tries to get people in the existing door, to congregations that say “vayamos,” let’s go out into the world, sent by the Spirit.  

As a Mission Developer for the Southwestern Texas Synod, he started Valley Metanoia Network last year in the Rio Grande Valley. His goal is to seed new, alternative ministries and train the leadership required for such a missional church. 

Click here to continue reading.

The Grapevine July/August Issue

In this issue: Message from the President, Triennial Gathering Scholarships Available, Bold Women of Faith

Nominations, and more. Read it here.

Candles Available

The synod has received thirty candles from the closure of Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Wimberly. Candles are 51% Beeswax, White, 1-1/16” X 16-3/4” with self-fitting ends. If your congregation can use these please contact Pastor Judi Miller at 830-730-3315.

SWT Synod Bookkeeper Transition

Susie Winterhalter has been the synod bookkeeper for 18 years (as of Sept. 6). Now we tell her: “Well done, good and faithful servant” as she has announced she is retiring at the end of September. 

We are pleased to welcome Rhonda Behal as our new synod bookkeeper. She began her work last week; there is a lot of training for a new bookkeeper to take on, so we are fortunate that Susie is staying on to ensure Rhonda is well equipped.

Read more

WorkSpace Cohorts

Forum dates: Thursdays,

September 14 - October 19

Time: 7:00pm - 8:30pm CT via Zoom

Facilitators: Michelle Jolley and

Erin McCracken

Suggested Program Fee: $100

Are you looking to deepen your anti-racism practice? Color of Grace invites you to participate in the upcoming cohort of WorkSpace: Racism and US. 'WorkSpace' is a six-week anti-racism forum centering on self-awareness through a participant-driven, project-based, diverse cohort experience. Participants sign a Safe Space Covenant in which participants agree to preserve the conversational safe space for vulnerable sharing. Respecting such private, privileged and confidential sharing is an integral component of the WorkSpace. Prior to each session, a brief homework assignment is given which is designed to facilitate personal reflection and threads for session discussions. 

Register your interest here.

Color of Grace LLC (COG) is a collaborative ministry created to step into the challenge of dismantling racism. COG was founded and is led by individual members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America—rostered and lay leaders from diverse backgrounds—spanning four synods touching Austin, Houston, and Waco, TX and Baltimore, Maryland. For more information visit: or email us at: [email protected].

Cultivating Generous Congregations Fall Cohorts

Fall 2023

5-6:30 p.m. Central time

Late September–October

How do we, as communities of faith, change our thinking on stewardship and generosity to meet the challenges of the moment? In partnership with the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, the ELCA is offering congregations the opportunity to reexamine their stewardship thinking and imagine ways to act on their findings in their communities. The six-week webinar “Cultivating Generous Congregations” will offer virtual cohort sessions where congregational leaders can discuss, dissect and collaborate on how generosity might work in their contexts. The webinar costs $550 per congregation, plus workbooks ($40 each).

For a deeper look at what the webinar entails, watch this brief Cultivating Generous Congregations video.

Please contact the Rev. Larry Strenge and the Rev. Tim Brown if you’re interested in participating! They will work with your synod to get you registered for the fall cohort.

Valley Metanoia Network Needs Your Help

Valley Metanoia Network submitted a collaboration proposal with Misión Luterana San Pablo in Weslaco, Texas. The proposal consisted of the use of part of the church facilities as the Valley Metanoia Ministerial Center for training.

Two very important ministerial areas will be developed there:

  1. Missional Leaders Training Program
  2. The development of a Cultural and Community Immersion Program.

The building that Valley Metanoid Network will be using is in need of some repair and equipment.

One of the big challenges is to repair part of the building floor that is extremely damaged. The estimates cost for repairing the floor and buying some equipment (water heater, fire detectors, stove...) is around $10,000 dollars.

We want to invite you to collaborate with us in our goal to raise the funds we need to complete this project that will help to fulfill the purposes and ministries of Valley Metanoia Network.

Learn more here.

You may give online or mail a check to the Synod Office at 1090 Oestreich Dr., Seguin, TX 78155. Please make checks payable to Southwestern Texas Synod and write VMN Center on the memo line. 

Support Plaza de Paz Respite Center

We have recently become very busy at the Plaza de Paz respite center for migrants in San Antonio, receiving up to 100 individuals daily, particularly families. Here are some of our immediate needs: 

  • Men’s clothing: jeans (sizes 30, 32, and 34), pants/joggers (Small and Medium), T-shirts (Medium), Underwear/boxers (small and medium), Tennis shoes (sizes 8, 8 ½, 9, 9 ½ , 10), pullover sweaters/sweatshirts (small, medium, and large), and jackets (small, medium, and large).
  • Women’s clothing: Pants/jeans (small and medium), Bras (size 32, 34, and 36), Tennis shoes (size 7, 7.5, 8, and 8.5), Pullover sweaters (small and medium), and jackets (small and medium).
  • Boy’s clothing: Pants and shorts (sizes 4-6, 8-10, 12-14, 16), Pullover sweaters/sweatshirts (small, medium, and large), and jackets (small, medium, and large).
  • Girl’s clothing: Pants and shorts (4-6, 8-10, 12-14, 16), underwear (4-6-8-10-12), pullover sweaters/sweatshirts (small, medium, and large), and jackets (small, medium, and large). 
  • Baby/toddler (boys and girls): clothing (6 months – 2 years), and baby food.
  • Toiletry items: feminine pads

We are also looking for donations of meal kits. Please click here for more information on registering to volunteer or to prepare the meal kit. Then, scroll to the information under Plaza de Paz Respite Center.

We are also looking for volunteers to help at the center and/or to organize and serve a meal. Please feel free to contact Deacon Lisa Diana at [email protected] for more information. Thank you.  

Job Opportunities

  • Zion Lutheran Church in San Antonio is hiring a Facilities Manager. Contact Chris at [email protected] or 210-688-3090.

  • Trinity Lutheran, Victoria is hiring a Faith Formation Minister. Contact [email protected]

  • Triumphant Love, Austin hiring a Children's Ministry CoordinatorContact [email protected].

  • Good Shepherd in Bastrop hiring an Office Manager with bookkeeping experience. Contact [email protected].

Truth in August Book Discussion

August 26




As part of the Truth and Healing Movement Truth in August, we will be discussing Calling for a Blanket Dance by Oscar Hokeah. Please join us to talk about overall impressions of the book and themes of identity, marginalization, tradition, family, and community. More to come!

Questions? Email Hilda Santiago, [email protected].

Family and Friends Labor Day Retreat at Camp Chrysalis

September 1-4, 2023

Theme- Survivor: Camp Chrysalis

Join us on the remote island of Camp Chrysalis where you’ll build new bonds through a variety of challenges and rewards. Enjoy making memories through interactive faith-building worship and Bible study, as well as your choice of camp activities like kayaking, hiking, making crafts, archery, the ropes course, rocking on the porch and more! Families will live in their own air-conditioned cabin with a shared central gathering room.


  • Adults and Youth in Grades 7-12: $190
  • Youth in grades K-6: $145
  • Preschool youth: Free
  • Household Max: $760

Early bird cost ends August 18th, after this fees increase by $10 per participant. Registration closes at 5pm on Friday, August 25th.

Learn more and register

Save the Date for the 2024 ELCA Youth Gathering

July 16-20, 2024

Registration opens September 15! Click here to learn more.

Lutheran Men in Mission Gathering

September 30, 2023

Zion Lutheran Church, Helotes, TX

The Lutheran Men in Mission of the Southwestern Texas Synod will be holding a Men's Gathering. For more information, contact Dennis Hickey by email or phone at (210) 347-6338.

Piano, A Little Bit of Faith, and a Whole Lot of Singing Concert

Sunday, October 15, 2023

4 p.m.

Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church

416 Dolle Ave., Seguin, TX

You are invited to a “casual concert” celebrating the gift of music featuring in collaboration Leah Matocha and Pastor Kara Hairell-Speed (and Guest Musicians).

Register Now: Total Solar Eclipse Retreat 2024

April 5-9, 2024

Camp Chrysalis and Ebert Ranch

Come experience the Total Solar Eclipse on April 8, 2024 with Cross Trails Ministry! Both Camp Chrysalis and Ebert Ranch will be in complete darkness for over 4 minutes!  

This once in a lifetime event will be paired with Cross Trails hospitality and activities to make an unforgettable long weekend. Participate in eclipse learning sessions and camp activities, and then join us for daily devotions and worships. Choose to do as much or as little as you would like and enjoy some great family time!

Learn more and register here.

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