Volunteers Needed For Food Pantry & Friday Noon Meal

You Can Change a Life in 3 Hours or Less: Volunteers Needed For Food Pantry & Friday Noon Meal – Great Volunteer Opportunities for Individuals & Groups!  Opportunities are Immediate!

at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 605 Spruce St., Madison

You can help eliminate hunger in our community by volunteering for St. Mark’s Food Ministry! Volunteer yourself, or assemble a group of friends, co-workers, classmates, etc. Food pantry workers help clients shop, keep shelves neat, help with inventory.  Friday Meal workers set-up the serving line, help serve, and cleanup after the meal.

Food Pantry:  Tuesdays, 9:30 am – Noon or Thursdays, 5:30 – 7:30 pm

Free Community Meal (6 volunteers): Every Friday, 11:00 am – 2:00 pm

Contact Chris at StMarksFeeds@gmail.com; or signup online at  https://bit.ly/2O1QsCN.


Deacons: How They Serve (Part 3)

Following is an educational piece and final installment of a three-part series offered by Bishop Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld on the role of Deacons in this synod and in God’s church.

Deacons offer a ministry of Word and Service, sharing the hope of Christ, helping where there is need, and equipping others for healing and justice in the world. Deacons are spiritual lay leaders of local, synodical and churchwide contexts.  They hold a theological masters degree and training or degree work in a professionally focused area. Diaconal ministers serve under call through agencies, institutions, synod councils, and traditional church programs. Whatever the particular role or context, deacons are responsible for some form of service ministry.  The biblical basis of the diaconate is rooted in Jesus’ emphasis on service and ministry of relief to the poor, care for the sick, and justice for the oppressed.  This servant ministry was of great importance in Hebrew culture and practice.

Some proclaim the Word through preaching and teaching in congregations.  In addition to modeling Christian faith at work, many have a stated responsibility to empower, equip and encourage others like themselves to be the church in mission, living out their own daily baptismal vocation of service to the neighbor and care of creation “This last responsibility of deacons, to empower and equip others, is a keystone for the emerging ministry of deacons of the ELCA. Whatever their particular role or context – whether deeply engaged in proclamation and service in non-ecclesial contexts or serving in congregational or other “church” settings – every deacon of the ELCA has a two-fold focus to serve the neighbor and to empower, equip and encourage the people of God for their daily baptismal vocation of service to the neighbor and care of creation. This ministry is understood to be distinct from, alongside, and in mutual complementarity with the ministries of pastors of the ELCA.”

Deacons are persons who have answered the call to stand on the front line as spiritual leaders in the church, modeling for others the necessity and the dignity of laity in ministry.  Deacons in this synod do exactly that – they model what it means to answer the call of God to servant ministry in this church.  They witness to that sending with which we leave worship; they go out to serve the Lord!

Do you know a Deacon?  How does that person serve?  For example, our synod is served by the ministry of Deacon, Vicki Hanrahan, leading our equipping ministry.  Triangle Ministry is served by Deacon Judy Nolde, Chaplain and Deacon Meg Nielson, Outreach Development Manager.  Bethel Lutheran Church (Madison) is served by Lisa Huber, Director of Pastoral Ministries.  First Lutheran Church (Janesville) is served by Deacon Peg Haeger, Ministry Associate to name a few.  Other deacons have served as parish nurses or faith formation coordinators.   Might your congregation be well served by the ministry of a deacon?  As we walk into the future, remember there are two ministry rosters in our church – Ministers of Word and Service and Ministers of Word and Sacrament.  Deacons serve alongside Pastors as valued co-workers in a ministry team.  Do you need someone to walk with your congregation in ministry?  Might you be well served by considering calling a deacon?

Bishop Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld


Deacons Part 1
Deacons Part 2
Deacons Part 3


Bishop Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld Will Be the First Female of African Descent to be Installed As Bishop

Marking a new historic season in the ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, The Rev. Viviane E. Thomas-Breitfeld will be the first female of African descent to be installed in the ELCA and the second female bishop of the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (“ELCA”). The ELCA is the largest Lutheran denomination in the world.  This historic event will take place on Saturday, August 18, 2018 at First Lutheran Church, 612 North Randall Avenue, Janesville at 2:00 pm.  Doors open at 1:00 pm.  A reception will follow.

Expected are over 1,000 in attendance including, pastors, deacons and members of 142 ELCA worshipping communities in the synod, former synod bishops, bishops from the other 64 ELCA synods, ministry partners, family members and friends.

In addition to members of synod congregations, Lutheran, ecumenical and interfaith partners will be present. Among the invited guests are ELCA Presiding Bishop, Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA, who will preside, the Rev. Mary Froiland, recent former bishop of the synod, a representative of the Lutheran World Federation, clergy from other denominations in full communion relationship with the ELCA, local dignitaries and community leaders.

Guests will celebrate under the theme of social justice based on scripture text found in Micah 6:8–To do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. Preaching the gospel message will be the Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, Elizabeth A. Eaton.  Special music by gifted musicians led by Music Director of First Lutheran Church, Ben Johnston-Urey will fill the gathering space with a joyful sound.

Bringing a rich history in community involvement while serving in congregations and on several synodical and churchwide teams, Bishop Thomas-Breitfeld envisions a synod that is a model for welcoming all to God’s table.  “I hope I can help the synod become more open to change, so we can become more relevant to all, especially people of color, LGBTQI, and young adults, many of whom are choosing to not attend church.”

Bishop Thomas-Breitfeld is looking forward to the celebration of installation and especially spending time with pastors, deacons and lay members of the synod that she will lead in the years to come.  “There is a love in the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin that is pretty special and a sense of support that is really pretty awesome.  When I was introduced last year at the synod assembly, no less than 20 other clergy came up to me to welcome me. That’s pretty spectacular. That doesn’t happen in most places.”

The Rev. Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld, Beloit, Wis., was elected May 6 to serve a six-year term as bishop of the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin, ELCA.  The election was held during the Synod Assembly May 5-6 at the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells, Wis.  She assumed office July 1 and succeeds the Rev. Mary Froiland who served as bishop from September 2013 through June 30, 2018.

Prior to becoming bishop, Thomas-Breitfeld most recently served as an intentional interim pastor for Atonement Lutheran Church in Beloit and has also served as pastor of several congregations in Wisconsin including Gethsemane Lutheran Church (Brookfield), Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (Waukesha), and Cross Lutheran Church (Milwaukee)

She currently serves as the co-chair of the Task Force on Women and Justice, ELCA; the Executive board of the Women of the ELCA; and the South-Central Synod of WI Racial Equity Team.  She served for six years on the board of Trustees (Governance Com) of the Mission Investment Fund as well as the ELCA Representative to the Illinois Synod Candidacy Team.   She has served communities through her work on the Ethics Committee of the Community Memorial Hospital in Menomonee Falls, the Campus Ministry Board (Milwaukee), the City of Brookfield Police Department as a volunteer chaplain, Resident Chaplain at St. Luke’s Hospital in Milwaukee and served as a board member of both the YWCA and United Way in Waukesha county.

Bishop Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld is married to the Rev. Fred Thomas-Breitfeld, pastor of Jackson Park Lutheran Church, Milwaukee.  They have two adult children, Leota and Sean, two son-in laws, and three grandchildren.

The service will be available via live stream.   Watch What Matters and the synod facebook page for the link.

Everyone in the synod is invited!  There will be ample seating and parking.  Pastors and Deacons are invited to vest & process.  The color of the day is red.

“If you have never attended a holy event of this nature, you will never forget it.  We will gather as a large community of saints to offer up prayer and thanksgiving and to contemplate the work that God has set before us.   Moments of music and singing will vary from celebratory rhythms that raise the roof to quieter, more contemplative meditation on the word.  If you are longing for Jesus, you will be filled with the Holy Spirit.  I am certain of it!”

~Deacon Vicki Hanrahan

Sing with the Synod Children’s Choir at Bishop’s Installation! Sign up extended to July 29!

An all-synod children’s choir is being assembled for our bishop’s installation, held on August 18th at First Lutheran Church in Janesville. Your child/children/young adult could be a special part of this historic occasion.  Open to all children and youth ages 7-18, the group will present one piece during the service. Rehearsal materials and instruction will be sent out to all participants. A rehearsal is planned for the morning of the event and lunch will be provided.

Please contact Carrie Enstad at  enstad.carrie@gmail.com by July 29th, for more information and to sign up.   This event will be streamed, so invite those grandparents to view it live! More info on streaming in future issue.

Bishop Installation Page with Additional Information

Webinar: “Document Detention: Justice for Palestinian Children”  

You’re invited to join Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) for a LIVE webinar,

Date: Monday, July 30th
Time: 11:00 am-12:00 pm EST

RSVP Required: Please register to receive a link to the LIVE webinar

Link: http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5575/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=87849

Each year, approximately 500-700 Palestinian minors in the West Bank between the ages 12-17 are prosecuted in the Israeli military court system. The widespread mistreatment of Palestinian youth within this system is well-documented: children are denied access to their parents or a lawyer and often sign confessions of guilt in Hebrew, a language they likely cannot understand.

Join on July 30th to hear from Brad Parker and Farah Bayadasi from Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) in a conversation facilitated by CMEP’s Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon. This event will be a unique opportunity to hear from legal experts on the subject of child justice and mistreatment of Palestinian youth in Israeli military detention centers. You will also learn about opportunities to advocate on behalf of Palestinian youth with your congressional representatives. This webinar is part of CMEP’s Summer 2018 joint campaign with DCIP: Demand Child Justice: Document Detention in the occupied Palestinian territories.


“Listening for God – Walking with Jesus” – Synod-Wide Women’s Fall Retreat

Saturday, September 22, 2018
at New Life (St. Matthew’s) Lutheran Church
7564 Cottage Grove Road, on the east side of Madison
Handicap accessible.  Free Childcare Provided.

Please join us and find renewal in this day-long retreat dedicated to listening for the voice of the Holy One in our lives.  Explore what might be when we walk through life with that Voice as the core of all we are and all we do.  Presenter Carla Stanton is a certified spiritual director from the La Crosse area.

Workshop options:  Prayer Practices & Creative Expression; Worshipping through Dance & Movement; or Walking, Strength, and Balance Activities for Health

Come spend the day with your sisters in Christ. This retreat is intended for women of all ages and stage of life. You are welcome to come even if your church does not have women’s group.  Bring a friend.

Registration starts at 8:30 am, Program starts at 9:30, Closing at 3:30 pm
Questions: 608-692-7553  or   sheahan1@sbcglobal.net
For more information: https://scsw-elca.org/event/welca-fallretreat2018/

Watch What Matters for more information in the weeks ahead!

Greetings from Bishop Viviane

Greetings Siblings in Christ of the South-Central Synod,

I am so honored and humbled to be your bishop.  My official start date was July 1st but if you were involved in the MYLE and Youth Gathering 2018 you know I was in place a week earlier.  It was indeed a privilege to start my tenure with a focus on the youth of the South-Central Synod.  Their exuberance and welcome was heartening and brought me great joy.  Indeed, this did change everything!

On July 10th I was called into Bishop Formation, a time of learning and colleagueship with my class of incoming bishops and a group of mentors to guide us along the way.  In these days I’ve often referred to drinking from a fire hose.  Last week was another of those times.  I’m still trying to synthesize it all.  It was there that I learned, due to action from the churchwide, that there are some changes in the responsibilities of bishop.  I’ll share those with the constituencies involved at another time.

Whatever changes come, be assured that I am the pastor to this synod.  Though we don’t have a cathedral where I am in residence as some denominations do, I shall preach, teach and administer the sacraments in our congregations in accord with the Confessions of Faith of this church.  And, for constitution geeks such as myself, a myriad of other duties as enumerated in the constitution of this synod, Chapter 8. Most important of all, I will pray for you, support you and walk alongside you as we do the mission of this church to faithfully care for, connect and equip our congregations to be the heart and hands of Jesus.  I ask you to hold me in your prayers as I accompany you in this ministry.

I am looking forward to seeing you at the Installation Celebration on August 18th, 2pm at First Lutheran in Janesville.  Our journey together continues as we walk together in the Spirit.

Remember, water is thicker than blood.  We are church together!

Blessings and Peace,

Bishop Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld

Mission Moment: Care for God’s Creation/ELCA World Hunger Team 

We See God at Work In and Through this MInistry Team:

We are called to environmental stewardship and to care for the creation that God has given us. Climate change is impacting God’s creation. Humanity has an ongoing responsibility for restoration and stewarding all that God has given us. This journey of care can start with your church. The ELCA strongly supports actions to reduce climate change and calls congregations and individuals to environmental stewardship. The South-Central Synod of Wisconsin Care for God’s Creation Team works with congregations to raise awareness and recommend actions that you can take to help us be better stewards of all that God has created.

Who is on the team?

In December of 2015 this team met for the first time. Care for God’s Creation is part of the World Hunger effort of our church. At this time we have Pastor Mae Jean Zelle, Jane Harrison, Pastor Cindy Crane, Pastor Nick Utphall, Bob Lindmeier, Eleanor Siebert, and at our last meeting we were joined by a new member, Debbie Nelson.

Where is God at work in and through us?

Our emphasis is education and advocacy in the area of the environment.  We had a successful workshop and information table at both LEAD and synod assembly. We continue to educate about the Carbon Fee and Dividend issue.

This year we are prioritizing the formation of Green Committees in churches.  Bob Lindmeier continues to be available for speaking engagements and others of the team are also willing as time permits.  To schedule Bob, see the Speaker’s Bureau: https://scsw-elca.org/resources/speakers-bureau/

On October 6th in the morning at Good Shepherd, Raymond Road, the team will be presenting a time of information and learning about the good things that are happening in our area related to the environment.  More information will soon be available about this event.

What Can Your Congregation Do?  Visit our page on the synod website for First Steps Your Congregation Can Take:  https://scsw-elca.org/2018/04/elca-care-for-creation/

Eleanor Siebert, Coordinator of the Care for God’s Creation Team


We know how much you appreciate hearing Mission Moments at synod events, so we thought we would share these in writing in between our events. Each week, What Matters will lift stories and updates from our ministry partners and synod ministry teams.  Together we are doing What Matters in God’s kingdom!  Please visit the synod website if you are interested in learning more.  https://scsw-elca.org and click on “Ministries and Partners.”

Deacons: ELCA Constitution Addresses Ministry of Word and Service (Part 2)

Following is an educational piece and part two of a three-part series offered by Bishop Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld on the role of Deacons in this synod and in God’s church.

Part 2 – Deacons in SCSW: ELCA Constitution Addresses Ministry of Word and Service

There are 12 pages in the ELCA Constitution that address the Ministry of Word and Service, pages 42-54 specifically.  In an effort to assist us in understanding more about our deacons, I want to call you attention to the sections of the ELCA Constitution printed below.  (You may access the ELCA Constitution at http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Constitutions_Bylaws_and_Continuing_Resolutions_of_the_ELCA.pdf )

7.51.  This church calls and receives onto the roster qualified persons to provide a ministry of Word and Service, exemplifying the life of Christ-like service to all persons and creation: nurturing, healing, leading, advocating dignity and justice, and equipping the whole people of God for their life of witness and service within and beyond the congregation for the sake of God’s mission in the world.

7.61.02.  Responsibilities. Consistent with the faith and practice of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, every minister of Word and Service shall:

  1. be rooted in the Word of God, for proclamation and service;
  2. advocate a prophetic diakonia that commits itself to risk-taking and innovative service on the frontiers of the Church’s outreach, giving particular attention to the suffering places in God’s world;
  3. speak publicly to the world in solidarity with the poor and oppressed, calling for justice and proclaiming God’s love for the world, witnessing to the realm of God in the community, the nation, and abroad;
  4. equip the baptized for ministry in God’s world that affirms the gifts of all people;
  5. encourage mutual relationships that invite participation and accompaniment of others in God’s mission;
  6. practice stewardship that respects God’s gift of time, talents, and resources;
  7. be grounded in a gathered community for ongoing diaconal formation;
  8. share knowledge of the ELCA and its wider ministry of the gospel, and advocate for the work of all expressions of this church; and
  9. identify and encourage qualified persons to prepare for ministry of the gospel.

WOW.  Did you know all that?  Deacons have a valuable ministry in this church.  Deacons serve alongside pastors.  Note that, for the most part, deacons are not responsible for what I call the A, B, C’s of ministry – Absolution, Baptism and Consecration of Eucharist. This means deacons do not preside at Holy Communion or Holy Baptism or pronounce absolution at Confession.

Can you see why the ministry of deacons can be valuable in congregations, agencies, synods, and our churchwide organization?

More next time.

Bishop Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld

Deacons Part 1
Deacons Part 2
Deacons Part 3

Deacons: An Introduction to Ministers of Word and Service (Part 1)


Photo credit: Ken Harris, St. Paul’s LC, Beloit

Following is an educational piece and part one of a three-part series offered by Bishop Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld on the role of Deacons in this synod and in God’s church.

We are blessed to have Deacons in this synod – persons who have answered God’s call to participate in divine mission by engaging in a call to Word and Service.  Over the next few issues of What Matters, we will share some information about this roster of dedicated persons who serve the church.  With special thanks to Deacon Carol Schikel who wrote Welcome to our Deacons! Wait, what?  What’s a Deacon?, let us begin to learn something about this roster of servant leaders from her.

“When the ELCA was formed in 1988 it established three rosters: pastors, deaconesses, and associates in ministry. In 1993 a roster of diaconal ministers was added, and the first were consecrated in 1995. These rostered leaders are called through the ELCA to serve congregations as well as through other officially called ministries. Some on each of the rosters of the ELCA are chaplains, therapists, musicians and cantors, seminary faculty and administrators, social workers and churchwide and synod leaders.

At the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly changes were made to the three rosters of lay leaders. As of January 1, 2017, those who have served on the lay rosters as associates in ministry, diaconal ministers and deaconesses are now part of one unified roster of ‘Ministers of Word and Service,’ and are called deacons. The other roster of the ELCA continues to be known as “Ministers of Word and Sacrament,’ called pastors.

The ministry of the diaconate, that is of deacons also called ministers of Word and Service is recognized by churches throughout history and around the world. The earliest deacon of the Bible was Stephen. The ELCA continues to seek to honor the significance of deacons serving at the intersection of church and world, bringing a sharper focus to the ways the church responds to the needs of people. Our new roster more closely aligns with the global church, providing clarity and empowerment to those the church calls to serve.”  (When the ELCA forming this roster of lay ministry, it also puts us in congruence with our full communion partners: The Episcopal Church, The Presbyterian Church (USA), and the United Methodist Church.)

The word “deacon” means servant, or one who serves.  The word is used in a non-gendered way as has become more common in many cases over the last few years.  For example, we no longer refer to those who serve in restaurants as waiters and waitresses  but rather, whatever their gender, they are servers.  Looking at the biblical witness we even see St. Paul in Romans 16:1, state “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae.”  (NRSV)

More next time.

Bishop Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld


Deacons Part 1
Deacons Part 2
Deacons Part 3