July 22, 2021
A Message From Bishop Joy

Eight years ago, this month, I participated in the Komen 3 Day in Boston to raise money for Breast Cancer research. At the time, my friend and fellow survivor, Valerie and I were celebrating our 7th year of survivorship. We were also walking in memory of our friends who had passed away. 
~ Day 1: The first 20 miles were grueling. Perhaps especially so for me because I had knee surgery 4 weeks earlier and no time to train. I had blisters galore. 
~Day 2: The next 20 miles, were slightly less grueling. The blisters grew larger, but I somehow learned to shut off the pain enough to walk the distance between rest stops. I focused on the scenery, the kindness of neighbors along the way who put out encouraging signs and engaged in conversation with people from around the country. 
~Day 3: The final 20 miles, were the longest of all. We walked and we walked. Finally, we walked into Boston. It was breathtaking. We came to the end. We celebrated with our tennis shoes in the area and a rally cry of the funds that had been raised. Some may have said this is where the 3 day journey ended. That was not true. 
Later that night a bus took me to my hotel. I remember with dismay that my room was far, far away from the registration desk. My feet were badly blistered. I could hardly navigate to get myself to the room. I could not wait to lie down. A hotel mattress never felt so glorious. I flew home the next morning and remember the agony of trying to walk through the airports. I was physically exhausted and emotionally spent. It would take me many years to integrate all that happened in those 3 days.

Perhaps this is also how some of us feel as this pandemic drags on. 
~Day 1/Phase 1 was grueling. It was quarantine. We were not prepared. It came up quickly and we had no training to properly prepare us.
~Day 2/Phase 2 began and we somehow learned to deal with it. We all pivoted. We adapted. We found things to distract us. We also learned a lot of new things. Some of it was very, very good. 
~Day 3/Phase 3 is the longest of all. We have been walking in this pandemic a long time. Vaccines arrived. Masks have mostly come off. Many have celebrated the end.  Some have said that the pandemic is over. This is not the truth.
The truth is that we are tired. The pandemic is not over. Cases are rising. The toll and the meaning of the pandemic on our lives, in our churches, and for our communities, is not even known yet. It will take us many years to integrate and understand all that has happened in these days. 

However, friends in Christ. We are not alone! We are people of promise and hope. We have a God of unfailing love to walk each step with us and to renew us. 

May this God of hope and peace strengthen and keep you this day, this week, and always! Bishop Joy
Equipping the Saints will be on vacation for the month of August.
It will be back in September. Watch this newsletter for more information!
ALOA is grateful that restrictions have been lifted and we are once again able to gather older adult Lutherans for study, worship, music and fellowship. 

Ironwood Springs Lutherhostel
October 4 - 8, 2021
Ironwood Springs Christian Ranch, Stewartville, Minnesota

We are looking forward to having Ben & Jennifer Freudenburg of Concordia Center for the Family in Ann Arbor help us build our capacity to impart God’s love and grace to future generations. Pastor Frank & Deaconess Jan Janzow will lead devotions on Kingdom Living: A Fresh Look at the Lord’s Prayer. The Janzows served for 37 years in Waukesha, WI.

Ironwood Spring Christian Ranch's Lodge and Conference Center has instituted appropriate measures to safely host us, and there will be plenty of opportunity to take advantage of the beautiful surroundings and outdoor activities. 
  • Newly remodeled, accessible motel-style Lodge sleeping rooms - $575 to $635 per person
  • Camping accommodations available - $525 per person
  • Commuter attendees - $350 per person
Fund An Investor Call
Presented by the ELCA Foundation
When: Friday, July 30 | 11:15 a.m. Central time
Where: Zoom webinar
Cost: Free
Deadline to register is July 28.

You will hear representatives from Graystone Consulting, the ELCA Foundation’s investment consultant, and a special presentation about socially responsible investing from Portico, the investment manager for publicly traded funds within Fund A. A question-and-answer session will follow.
This invitation is open to all participants in Fund A and can be attended by one or more individuals representing your organization. Registration for this event is required.
About the Endowment Fund Pooled Trust — Fund A: Designed specifically for congregations, synods, seminaries and other affiliates of the ELCA, Fund A provides a socially responsible, collective, long-term investment option for endowments that support your ministry. Learn more.
Attention Students!
Apply Now for the Lutheran/Divinity Educational Student Scholarships

The synodical Women's Organization will award two ($500) scholarships to students who are pursuing education in Called Ministry (Pastor or Deacon), Youth Ministry in an ELCA congregation or an ELCA Bible Camp Ministry.

Application deadline is August 16, 2021

South Central WI Synodical Women’s Organization (SWO)
September 24-25, 2021
At Lutherdale Bible Camp
Elkhorn, WI - Hope Conference Center
Stay OVERNIGHT or come for either day!
 SPEAKER: Vicar Lily Zeich Brellenthin
Served in South Africa (2015-2016) with Young Adults in Global Mission
Forms can be found on WELCA webpage on synod website: https://scsw-elca.org/welca/
Due by Monday, August 16, 2021 
• Biennial Voting Member registrations
• Women’s Synodical Board (SWO) nominations
• Triennial Convention Voting Member nominations
• Resolutions
• Lutheran/Divinity Scholarship applications
Due by Wednesday, September 1, 2021 
• Registrations with babysitting requests
• Registrations with special dietary requests
Due by midnight, Thursday, September 9, 2021 
• All other Biennial Convention/Fall Retreat registrations
One Year to Live Retreat for Men
Not Your Typical Men’s Retreat
Sponsored by Lutheran Men in Mission

September 10-12, 2021 at the MacKenzie Center, Poynette, WI
Space is limited, early bird discounts and scholarships are available.
Register by September 1st.

This retreat has been life changing for many attendees! Join with men of all ages seeking to follow the guidance of Proverbs 27:17.

For more information and to view participant testimonial videos click here.

Call or text LMM synod leader, Jim Schieble: (920) 763-3433 with questions.

Listen to Pastor Matt Poock of St. John’s, Evansville, WI on the impact of this retreat for the men of his church - https://youtu.be/xVosynJX2xU
Tune into the ultimate station at the next One Year to Live Retreat
New Facebook Page
We are excited to announce a new Facebook page in addition to our South-Central Synod of Wisconsin ELCA page.
The new page is SCSW - Care, Connect, Equip. This page will be for churches within the synod to share their events, ask questions and communicate with other churches. Please use the link below to join! If your church does not have a Facebook page and you would like your event to be posted please contact me at stephanieb@scsw-elca.org and I would be happy to post it for you!
What is diakonia®?
  • The diakonia® program consists of 12 different, five week courses. Classes are held via distance learning technology from the convenience of your home with an instructor and other students using your computer and internet connection. Classes meet once a week for three hours.
  • Students may participate in 1 to 6 courses a year. Upon successful completion of all 12 courses, students are invited to participate in a graduation ceremony.
  • Courses are taught by pastors and/or lay professionals particularly skilled in that area of instruction or ministry.
  • Classes combine theological knowledge with practical skills. Assignments and readings aim to be relevant while also developing a solid background on the topic.

Is diakonia® Right for You? Ask yourself:
  • Are you looking for a deeper faith life?
  • Have you been wondering what God has in mind for you?
  • Do you want to be better equipped for Christian service?
If you answered, “Yes” to any of these questions, diakonia® may be just what you’re looking for!

Registration is now open with classes starting in September.

If you are interested in teaching a diakonia course(s) or are a returning instructor please click HERE to indicate your interest and availability for our courses.
Spiritual Direction Certification Program
Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (LTSS) at Lenoir-Rhyne University
The Spiritual Direction Certification Program at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary of Lenoir-Rhyne University continues to flourish and grow. We will begin our sixth year of participants in January 2022. Each new cohort, which we call a cycle, has 16 participants and two mentors to support them. So far, our participants represent nine different denominations and 17 different states.
Spiritual direction is a centuries-old Christian tradition of listening to how God is moving toward healing and wholeness in people’s lives. Christians are increasingly hungry for authentic connection with God in the company of another, and seek the gift of spiritual direction in church leaders. Candidacy committees have responded to this spiritual hunger by suggesting that our seminary candidates participate in spiritual direction. Seasoned clergy are also yearning for this depth of spiritual connection in their own lives and practice of ministry, and are seeking out programs for spiritual direction. 
We would like to begin to raise up new generations of spiritual directors through our two-year certification (non-degree) program. Our next cycle of participation begins with an intensive on January 5-8, 2022. Applications for this cycle are due November 15, 2021.
Thank you to all the congregations and adult leaders who gathered at our two 2022 ELCA Youth Gathering Informational meetings. If you were not able to attend and your congregation is interested in learning more about the Gathering, the session from this week was recorded and will be available by the end of this week on the synod Gathering webpage at https://scsw-elca.org/elcayg2022/. Our synod is excited and ready to accompany you and your young people as you discern and begin to plan to attend. If you have any questions, need advice, want to learn more about what the Gathering is, please reach out to our Gathering Synod Coordinator:
Pastor Jason Poole-Xiong
Office: (608) 362-0716, ext. 104
Cell: (847) 893-9226
*Note that Pastor Jason will be on vacation July 18-23*
It is our plan to hold another informational meeting for adult leaders the week of September 12, 2021 focusing on registration related questions and logistics (registration opens September 22, 2021). Watch ‘What Matters’ for details after Labor Day. In the meantime know that we are praying for and with you as you tackle everything that is in store in the ministry of your congregations, your youth, and your preparations for the 2022 ELCA Youth Gathering.
Rev. Jason Poole-Xiong
Gathering Synod
Our Savior’s Lutheran-Beloit
Marie Leafblad
Assistant to the Bishop for Leadership Support
South Central Synod of Wisconsin-ELCA
Brenda Martin
Gathering Synod Day Director
Evangelical Lutheran-Mt. Horeb
  • 2022 Portico Annual Enrollment
Summer is here, yet of course, our ministries don’t stop. And fall will be even busier. Our Annual Enrollment suggestion: Take a few easy steps this summer. That way, you and your other decision-makers will be ready, come fall, to make the health benefit selection that best supports those you sponsor. Bring benefits top of mind for your team. Share the link to this newly released 9-min, “Why A Church Plan Makes Sense”, between an ELCA pastor from North Dakota and Portico’s president. As this pastor discovered, Portico’s approach to pricing uniquely supports the ELCA’s community of congregations – financially and biblically. Know what’s changing for 2022. Later in July, we’ll email you information about an upcoming change to the Annual Enrollment process. In late August, we’ll email you a link to your Decision Guide and custom pricing information.

  • Two ELCA-Recommended Health Plan Options Continues for 2022
At the 2019 Churchwide Assembly a resolution passed asking the ELCA Church Council and Portico to review the ELCA health plan recommendation in the context of a changing church and look for ways to increase flexibility. Following significant analysis, the Church Council’s recommendation in 2021 included not one, but two health benefit options.  If you’re looking for a presentation on the differences between Gold+ and Silver+, please reach out to Jennifer Prinz, Portico’s Regional Representative. She can be reached at 563/650-4122 or JPrinz@porticobenefits.org 
  • Easy Access for Primary Physician Care
Summer is the prime time to get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. Don’t let a minor health concern put a damper on your summer – even if you’re traveling. You can get answers to your health questions on-demand with the 98point6 app. 98point6 makes it easy to start a convenient, text-based visit 24/7 from anywhere. Need even more peace of mind? Portico provides this service to you and your family members ages 1+ with a $0 copay as part of your ELCA-Primary health benefits, so you can address health concerns early and often, without having to wait or weigh the costs. 98point6 physicians are board-certified and treat more than 400 conditions.  
The Interim Ministry Association (ELCA) will be holding its annual Education Event and Annual Meeting September 20, 2021, from 1:00-4:30 PM EDST (Eastern Daylight Savings Time). On Zoom.
Our featured presenter will be Bishop Tracie Bartholomew of the New Jersey Synod and chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops.
You are invited to register in advance for this meeting.
Care for God's Creation/ELCA World Hunger Team
  • Rev. Nick Utphall, Advent Lutheran (Madison)

  • Pastor Bruce Gray and Members of St. Peter (Janesville, WI)
  • Pastor Donald Glanzer and Members of St. Peter (Loganville, WI)

  • Bishop Shelly R. Wickstrom, the Staff, and the congregations of the Alaska Synod 

Churchwide Partners:
  • Mr. Rich Hensey, Director, Budget and Finance, Mission Advancement
  • Mr. Blake Chastain, Email Marketing Analyst, Advancement Services

We give thanks at this time for the ministry of those who celebrate their anniversary of ordination during this coming week:
  • Mark Petersen, July 25, 1982, Retired Pastor living in Stoughton, WI pmpete@charter.net
  • James Johnson, July 25, 1976, Contract Pastor at First Lutheran in Janesville, WI revjimjohson@hotmail.com
  • Sara Gillespie, July 25, 1993, On Leave From Call, living in Madison, WI sara.gillespie06@gmail.com
  • Joy Mortensen-Wiebe, July 26, 1992, Bishop of South-Central Synod of Wisconsin living in Madison, WI joymw@scsw-elca.org
  • John Twiton, July 27, 1986, Pastor at Evangelical Lutheran in Mount Horeb, WI john.twiton@elcmthoreb.org
  • Rodney Nordby, July 28, 1996, Retired Pastor living in Madison, WI rodnordby@gmail.com

May these leaders continue to be blessed for service!
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As always we would love for you to continue to share your news. If you have something you would like considered for publication in What Matters, send it to us via email to Stephanie Bill, Communications Manager at stephanieb@scsw-elca.org. The deadline for consideration of inclusion in the current weeks e-newsletter is 12:00 p.m. (CT) on Wednesday.
Care - Connect - Equip