Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory

A two-day workshop on January 24-25, 2019 hosted by St. Andrew University, a ministry of St. Andrew Lutheran Church (ELCA) at 13600 Technology Drive in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

Speaker: Tod Bolsinger, author of Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory Participants will:

  • Hear testimonies of new life–not just numerical growth or church transformation–in diverse contexts.
  • Wonder about God’s call for change in your community.
  • Engage with leaders in practical questions of “how”
    • How did you lead through change?
    • How did you manage naysayers or difficulties?
    • How can you lead differently?
    • How can new spiritual disciplines stimulate and empower fresh and creative engagement with our changing world?
  • Make a concrete plan for spiritual development for yourself that is rooted in the needs of your role and context.


For information and registration, see the conference website ( Note: super early bird
registration ($99) ends November 30, 2018. After this, registration is $129 through January 10, 2019.

Diakonia: Featured Instructor: Rev.Mark Williamson

Instructor for Lutheran Creeds & confessions
2019 Dates: Jan 24, 31 and Feb. 7, 14, 21

“I am pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Dodgeville. I believe teaching to be one of my spiritual gifts. Diakonia is a great way to offer this gift for the building up of God’s church. Also, having a local synod-based program like Diakonia allows learners from around the area who want to engage core resources of the faith at a deeper level to do so, while helping us focus our energies at the congregational level on faith formation for newcomers and inquirers. My hope for the students is that they will experience wonder and delight in the Word of God, grow as friends brought together by the Spirit, and be equipped for ministry in their local communities.”

If you are interested in teaching, contact Diakonia Coordinator, Barb Zimmerman at 608-535-0264 or email: 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.

Financial Assistance may be available from your congregation and/or synod scholarships are available for those who would appreciate tuition assistance. 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!

Check out the Diakonia course offerings:

Holy Land Trip – Deadline Extended to December 17

There is room to join this tour to Israel, Palestine and Jordan, June 15-26, 2019. This is an exceptional opportunity to experience the land of the Bible and give you a lifetime of insights and inspiration. You receive great value for the cost by traveling in a small group with an experienced guide, staying multiple nights in each location, and having airfare from Chicago, all breakfasts and dinners, gratuities and entry fees included.

The tour is hosted by Pastor Blake Rohrer of Midvale Community Lutheran, and member of the Holy Land Advocacy Synod Team. All are welcome to join the group.

For more information:
contact Pastor Blake Rohrer at

Looking for a Gift That Is Both Thoughtful and Does Global Good?

$25 Comprised of two bags of coffee and an LWR Farmers Market mug, customize your purchase with your choice of our bold dark, robust medium, or decaf roasts! LWR Farmers Market Coffee is sourced directly from coffee farmers working in Lutheran World Relief projects – our partners in the coffee business. And, a portion of the sales are invested back into Lutheran World Relief Projects, which means this purchase is a gift to many!

Visit to give a gift – or two –today! #SipBoldly

Volunteer Opportunity for Churches for Triangle Community Ministry

Won’t you be my neighbor?
Triangle Community Ministry (TCM) offers the unique opportunity for churches and youth groups to get to know the residents of the Triangle neighborhood while serving a Monday Meal in 2019.

TCM’s Monday Meals are served in the community room of Brittingham Apartments, 755 Braxton Place, every Monday from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eight to 10 volunteers arrive at 4 p.m. to bring, prepare, serve and clean up after a meal for 50 to 75 residents.

TCM started Monday Meals in 2018 in commemoration of its 40th anniversary on the Triangle. The Triangle is home to 335 low-income housing residents, 87% of whom are challenged by physical, mental, developmental or emotional disabilities. With a median annual income of $10,000, food insecurity is an  issue for many. Monday Meals help alleviate hunger. They also provide an opportunity for caring people from outside the Triangle to get to know the Madison neighbors who need and much appreciate their help. Schedule your group to serve a Monday meal in 2019 by contacting Deacon Meg Nielsen, 608-257-8517, or

Learn more about Triangle Ministry at

Are you interested in volunteering at YOUR synod office?

It’s easy and fun and you can sign-up below. We need 4 volunteers this Thursday, November 29th, If you have any problems or questions please call Robyn Zimmerman at the synod office, 608.270-0201.

Congregations feel free to share on your church Facebook or web page through Thursday.

“MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU” – New Children’s Book

Great Christmas Gift!
“The assurance that a loving God is at your side is the message of this child-friendly picture book.”

1517 Media is the publishing house of the ELCA…any books that they publish for children are recommended for your little readers!

In the Wilderness, by Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop, ELCA

In the Hebrew Bible the book of Numbers is called “In the Wilderness.” It starts with great hope. God delivered God’s people from Egypt, from bitter slavery, grinding toil and infanticide. What a delivery! The entire people—ancients, infants and everyone in between—escaped from one of the world’s superpowers, walked dry-shod through the sea and went on a 40-day journey to the land the Lord had promised them.

Beginnings are filled with expectation. There is excitement and a sense that everything is possible. Think about the first day of school, a vacation, new job, one’s honeymoon or the first day of a child’s life. It was no different for the Israelites. The first chapters recount the enumeration of the tribes of Israel— hence the title, Numbers. This description is of the mustering of the people as they strode into the future. This was the beginning of an adventure! This part ends with God commanding Moses to make two silver trumpets. The entire journey would be heralded by the clear ringing of silver trumpets.

In the beginning it was possible to disregard the fact that they were setting off into the wilderness. But it caught up to them. We know how that goes—halfway through the road trip, the school year, the job, the marriage or life with a baby and the traits that were at first endearingly quirky just become annoying. On epic family cross-country vacations, the landscape becomes monotonous. The food is no longer novel but noxious. Life before, at least in memories that have become trip-jaded, was bliss.

It was no different for the pilgrims in the wilderness. By Chapter 11 things have started to go downhill. In band camp we called this “Whiney Wednesday.” The people were sick of manna. In their defense, there are probably a limited number of manna recipes. They remembered the “cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions and the garlic” (Numbers 11:5). They remembered the fish they used to eat in Egypt “for nothing.” For nothing? Bondage and oppression were nothing? The people began to protest. They clamored for meat. They stood at the doors of their tents and wailed.

Moses had enough. “Why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me?
… Where am I to get meat for all this people? … I am not able to carry this people alone, for they are too
heavy for me. If this is the way you are going to treat me, put me to death at once” (Numbers 11:11-15). Wow,
and I thought I had bad days at work.

To all this God answers: “Is the Lord’s power limited? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not” (Numbers 11:23).

Sometimes, when things are the most difficult, or the way forward is thwarted, or hearing someone blithely
remind us that God is faithful, it seems like the equivalent of offering “thoughts and prayers” to those living
through a devastating tragedy. But for those who live because this promise is not trite but true, for whom it is
water in a dry land, a rock in sinking sand, this is the solid promise of life in God.

From being people of the promise until that promise is realized is hard work. In the moment, or the day, or the
decade, it is difficult to see that God is moving us. Some give up. Remarkably, some who are most ground
down by the journey hang on.

This year we elected six new bishops—all of them women, one Latina and the first two African Americans.
Guided by the Spirit, the people of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod elected Patricia Davenport and
the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin elected Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld. It took 31 years—not quite 40. What
didn’t seem possible a generation ago is reality in our church. We are becoming a generation not quite arrived
at the promised land but seeing God declaring, “Now you will see if my word will come true for you or not.”

Living Lutheran November 2018 issue. Reprinted with permission.


TEXT GIVE to: (608) 571-1576
or give here:
As we lean into Advent, a time of expectant waiting for the greatest gift of all, Jesus, we ask you to give back to God by giving a gift to your beloved faith community. This year, we are asking you to donate to the Bishop’s Discretionary Fund. This Bishop’s Discretionary Fund is a restricted fund that is intended to give the bishop complete discretion and authority to provide confidential financial support to people in need. In our synod these monies have often been used to assist rostered leaders in times of crisis, such as was done recently to provide emergency funds for travel surrounding the unexpected death of a family member. They are also used for expenses related to the exercise of ministry not otherwise provided in the synod’s budget. Much like a Pastor’s Discretionary Fund in a congregation are disbursed by the pastor, the Bishop’s Discretionary Funds are disbursed at the  direction of the Bishop who is the chief pastor of the congregations, rostered leaders and institutions of the synod.
In the congregation, sources for discretionary funds vary. Some set aside days when loose offerings are designated for the fund. Often clergy deposit monies received from baptisms, weddings and funerals to the fund. As the Bishop does not have these sources for the fund, at times we seek a special offering at an event to replenish the fund. We are at such a time as the Fund has less than a $300 balance.

A gift to the Bishop’s Discretionary Fund is a gift to the Synod and not a gift to the Bishop. The Bishop is to be
considered to be in a position very similar to that of a trustee, managing funds that belong to the synod. On this
Giving Tuesday we invite you to give to the Bishop’s Discretionary Fund. This is one way to be church together
caring for siblings in Christ.

Thank you for your prayerful consideration!

Opportunity to Nominate High School Seniors for Valparaiso University Full-Tuition Lutheran Leader Scholarship

Attention all Pastors:
Bishop Thomas-Breitfeld Shares This Opportunity to Nominate High School Seniors for Valparaiso University Full-Tuition Lutheran Leader Scholarship

If you have a high school student, graduating in the spring of 2019 in your congregation who will be attending Valparaiso University, please consider nominating the student for this full-tuition scholarship! Valparaiso University for the past 22 years, has selected two Lutheran students from among the best high school leaders in the United States to enter a program that is unique in Lutheran higher education.
Attributes of a nominee are:
1) Actively participates in a Lutheran congregation
2) Exhibits leadership within their church, on district of synod level or on a national level
3) Demonstrates academic excellence during high school
4) Intends to be active in a Lutheran congregation as a lay leader or full time church worker
Nominations are due by Saturday, December 15, 2018. This gives students time to apply to the university and prepare their application by the Tuesday, January 15, 2018 deadline. Contact Bishop Thomas- Breitfeld at or call 608-270-0201. Information needed is: Name, Home phone, address, email address, Student Leadership role, Pastor’s name, Church Name and address. If you have questions, feel free to contact the synod office at 608-270-0201.