Rural/Small Town Ministry Conference November 18

A Conversation to Take Small Town & Rural Ministry Into God’s Future

November 18, 2018 from 2:00 – 6:00 pm (Registration at 1:30 pm)
Sugar Creek Lutheran Church
N5690 Cobblestone Road
Elkhorn, WI 53121

This event is to introduce a new rural/small town ministry leadership partnership between Wartburg Theological Seminary, the synod and Sugar Creek Lutheran Church – Elkhorn.  The purpose is to offer a training resource for rural and small town ministry that builds faith, relationships, and service.

Join the Director for the Center for Theology and Land, Dr. Mark Yackel-Juleen, Director of Small Town & Rural Ministry for the Center for Theology & Land, on November 18 as he leads us through conversations about:

  • Small town and rural ministry and culture
  • The development and administration of multi-point parishes
  • Care of creation and theology and practice
  • Rural mission development

This conversation is designed to gather 3-4 leaders from each congregation including pastors, deacons and lay leaders.

At this gathering, we will discuss:

  • Congregational joys and concerns.
  • Obstacles and distractions.
  • Future collaboration and mutual support
  • The process and commitment
  • And what rural/small town gathering would be complete without a potluck supper!  Everyone is asked to bring a dish to pass!

Registration 1:30 pm
Program:  2:00 pm
Pot Luck Dinner & Conversation:  5:00 pm

Sugar Creek will provide the hot dishes. Please brung a cold dish or dessert to share!

Event is FREE. We are grateful to Sugar Creek Lutheran Endowment for covering the costs.

Please register by November 9 by calling the synod office at (608) 270-0201

Free Children’s Choir Robes

Trinity Lutheran in Fort Atkinson has 22 choir robes for children that we would be happy to donate to any church interested in them. The robes are burgundy with stoles that are white on one side and pink on the other. The robes are sized child’s small through large enough for a teen or small adult. Please contact Stephanie Beran at

The Youth & Family Ministry Network of the SCSW Will Gather!

This Thursday, October 25, 2018
10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Location: Synod Office – 6401 Odana Rd, Suite 20 Madison OR online via Zoom.
To join via Zoom from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:
Or Telephone:
Dial: US: +1 669 900 6833 or +1 646 558 8656 Meeting ID: 795 356 823

All volunteers, lay staff, and rostered ministers who work within the realm of youth and family ministry are invited to join us as we network together and brainstorm how we may engage the youth of our synod over the next year. This will be an important gathering as we listen to each other, our experiences, our challenges, and our hopes for the future. Join with other youth leaders for this time of visioning and getting acquainted with one another.

Also, be sure to join our Facebook group at

LEAD 2019 – MARCH 9, 2019

Leadership Education and Development Day “LEAD” will be held on Saturday, March 9, 2019 at Evangelical Lutheran Church, 315 E. Main Street, Mount Horeb. The event begins at 8:30 am and ends at 3:30 pm.  

We are excited to welcome as our keynote speaker, The Rev. Dr. Stephen Paul Bouman, Executive Director of the Domestic Mission Unit of the ELCA.  His keynote:  “Three Roads to Beloved Community” will engage us in communal conversation about what we seek in our own lives of discipleship, in the life of our communities of Jesus, and our impact in the world.

Workshops will be plentiful, a delicious lunch and free childcare will be provided and you will have plenty of time for networking with your counterparts in other congregations and with displayers from synod and Lutheran-affiliated ministries.  Don’t miss this event!  It will be better with you there! 

Online registration will go LIVE on Tuesday, January 22. Watch for updates in the synod’s e-newsletter, What Matters!

If you have questions about the event, contact Deacon Vicki Hanrahan, Assistant to the Bishop for Congregational Life at 608-270-0201.

Pastoral Letter on Retired Pastors

A message from Bishop Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld:

October 16, 2018

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven”
(Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Dear Siblings in Christ:

I remember the day when I was ordained, a day filled with joy and humbleness for the calling I had received. It was the day that started a new season in my life. As I entered this challenging and rewarding way to live out my baptismal calling, the axiom was “30 years and out,” but I couldn’t imagine that I would ever want to retire. As I start this new call as your bishop, though beyond 30 years of service, I’m not looking to be out of this wonderous life of serving the people of God.

I imagine that pastors who are retiring, or retired, feel much the same. The challenge is how to graciously move into the new calling God has placed before you – a calling to live as a retired pastor. It is time to engage in ministry in a new way. It is a new season in your life of serving God. I’m certain you loved being a parish pastor engaging in a wide variety of ministries, from visiting the sick, comforting the bereaved, welcoming the stranger, teaching, preaching, administering, strategizing, and loving the people whom God had called you to love. Yet, you have now been called to a new season and a different way of serving, leaving the people that you have grown to love. I know this must be hard. I experienced that difficulty in leaving the congregation that I loved to take this new call as bishop. But leave we must – to every thing there is a season.

Our ELCA governing documents are clear: “A retired pastor should not remain a member of the congregation served at the time of retirement. Transferring one’s membership to another congregation allows the successor pastor to assume pastoral leadership more readily. It also provides an opportunity for the retired pastor to enter fully into the life of a different congregation with clarity about the pastor’s retired role.” (ELCA Roster Manual, p. 37) Our constitution clarifies that pastors are not to exercise any ministerial functions in congregations which they do not serve unless they are invited by the pastor or interim pastor. (SCSW Constitution, S14.19)

In my short time of service as the bishop of this synod, I have become aware that, while these provisions are widely understood, they are not widely embraced, and in too many cases, they are not being followed. Although I recognize that these
guidelines may be viewed as harsh and against the stated desire of many pastors and congregations, I am finding that whenever they are not followed, congregational life and vitality are hindered. My call is to be the synod’s pastor having primary responsibility for the ministries of Word and Sacrament and Word and Service in this synod and its congregations.

As my staff and I accompany congregations in transition, we will be including in our work the clear and firm expectation that retired pastors not retain their membership nor be involved in the congregations from which they retire. I know this is difficult. I know that it involves a painful separation from people we have come to know and love deeply, but I also know that this is a necessary step if our congregations are going to enter the next chapter of their life and ministry on healthy terms.

We will provide resources to assist our leaders (lay and clergy) with the transitions you face. My door is always open to you. I welcome your comments, questions and prayers as we seek to enter into a new commitment to assist congregations to enter into the next season of vitality and healthy ministry.

Blessings and Peace,

Bishop Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld
South-Central Synod of Wisconsin, ELCA

pdf of pastoral letter

Build Community Around the love of reading this Christmas

Get FREE books + fundraise

An opportunity from Augsburg Fortress, the ELCA Publishing Ministry:

Wellness Book Fairs – From the makers of Reformation 500 Bookstores, Wellness Book Fairs provide adults with books on coping with grief and loss, managing stress, overcoming adversity, and more. Host a Book Fair that helps adults heal, grow, and thrive!

Children’s Book Fairs  – Alongside the Wellness Book Fair, you can now host a Christmas Children’s Book Fair that will help kids thrive socially, emotionally, and spiritually. It has never been easier to connect with the entire family in your congregation!

Free books: Each Book Fair offers a free display kit of ten to twelve free books—and they are yours to keep!

Fundraiser opportunity: Get 20% back on orders that exceed $200.

To get started:

Featured Instructor: Rev. Jeffrey Pedersen, Early Church History

Our instructors are second to none!  We are so appreciative that our rostered ministers offer their time and knowledge to teach and develop leaders in our synod.  We are still looking for instructors and by design, students can enroll at any time for future classes.  Could serving and learning in this way be on your heart?

Featured Instructor This Week: Rev. Jeffrey Pedersen,   Early Church History
Pastor, Lutheran Church of Peace, Platteville

“I was asked to teach the Early Church History class. I was honored to be asked. I have a deep passion for learning and teaching. I really enjoy church history. My hope for the students is that they will gain a deep understanding of the world and events of the early church, and how it relates to the church today.”

If you are interested in taking classes, more information, along with registration form, can be obtained from the web site click on Ministries and Partners, Diakonia. You can also contact Linda Wulff at 920-210-2675 or by e-mail at We look forward to hearing from prospective students and instructors!


More information will follow in a couple days, but we will need to change this date due to a conflict in the Bishop’s Calendar that we were just made aware of by our ELCA churchwide office.  Please remove the 2nd from your calendars.  We will announce the new date as soon as possible.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

Telling the Story of the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering

Look back on your gathering experience! There are tons of pictures and videos to help you share the Gathering story! Check out the albums on the official Facebook page, as well as videos available on YouTube.

2018 ELCA Youth Gathering New Resources

We are excited to share the latest in our curriculum resources that explore the theme “This Changes Everything.” In partnership with LuMin: Campus Ministry Network and the Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Network, we have created three cross generational sessions and three sessions to be used in young adult ministry contexts. Each curriculum seeks to continue conversations started this summer at the Gathering, at camps and in congregations about God’s grace, love and hope changing everything for us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Click on the links above to download these fantastic new resources.