Wartburg Seminary President Rev. Louise Johnson Accepts New Call

Dr. Stephen J. Cornils, Chair of the Wartburg Theological Seminary Board of Directors, shared the news this week that the Rev. Louise Johnson notified him of her resignation as President of Wartburg Theological Seminary, effective December 31, 2019. In his announcement to the WTS community, Cornils shared: “In our life together, we champion Wartburg’s mission of forming and deploying valued leaders for God’ s church, whenever and wherever we are called. Our beloved President Louise Johnson exemplifies that mission in her own discernment to accept a new call to serve in Jesus’ name.”
Johnson has accepted a call to pioneer a major new Leadership Development initiative with LEAD.

LEAD is a thriving leadership organization that has grown out of the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod and is now becoming a standalone organization. LEAD has a strong and growing footprint in the ELCA and beyond. She will be charged with growing the organization and developing new pathways for leadership. This position puts her on the front lines of experimentation in leadership development – a place she thrives – where God will continue to use her for the work of the church and the world.
Cornils, who has worked in close collaboration with Johnson since she began her tenure as president, shared: “Louise has gifted our seminary with remarkably spirited and effective leadership over the last four and a half years within the Wartburg Seminary community and far beyond. We have no doubt in this new calling through LEAD that her abundant leadership gifts will be leveraged to multiply, equip, and empower new and diverse generations of gifted, passionate, capable, and authentic servant leaders.”

A WTS Master of Divinity graduate, Johnson was appointed the 14th president of the seminary in 2015 and began serving that June. Johnson previously served at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (now United Lutheran Seminary) since 2004 and also as the WTS Associate Director of Admissions from 1999 to 2004. Prior to her departure at the end of December 2019, there will be opportunity to express appreciation to Johnson for her effectiveness as a leader and as a deeply admired pastoral presence and friend to those in and beyond the WTS community.

“I love Wartburg. I have loved it since the day I set foot on the grounds. I will always be a ‘Wartburger,’ called to love and serve the gospel of Jesus Christ, called to address the needs of those ‘who are like sheep without a shepherd.’ Count on my support and advocacy. Count on my prayers for the bright future of our beloved school. Count on my partnership in the ministry of the Gospel.”
– Rev. Louise Johnson

Wartburg and the leaders and students of the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin are grateful to God for Johnson’s leadership in this historic and extraordinary season. News of next steps for the seminary in light of this announcement is forthcoming in the weeks ahead.

For more information on Wartburg: www.wartburgseminary.edu

Mission Moment: Reconciling in Christ Congregations


Following Jesus, who commanded his followers, ‘Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another,’ and believing that all persons are created in the image of God, the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin, ELCA, strives to be fully inclusive for all. This synod welcomes people of every race, background, age, political affiliation, economic and social status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and mental and physical ability, while striving to enable all people to participate fully in the life and work of the church and its expressions.

Several of our congregations in south-central Wisconsin have also taken steps to be intentionally welcoming to the LGBTQIA+ community. These congregations are identified as Reconciling in Christ congregations. By having a statement affirming this welcome that specifically names either, “LGBTQIA+ people” or “people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions” in their statement, these faith communities are accepted into the Reconciling in Christ partnership with ReconcilingWorks.

We congratulate our latest congregation who just voted to become a welcoming RIC congregation:

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (Madison and Verona)

All congregations create welcome statements. Here is a beautiful example from Good Shepherd:

“We welcome all to Good Shepherd. Everyone. Without exception. This welcome includes those shunned by society and by churches because of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental abilities, financial resources, and family status, no matter what you have done or has been done to you, no matter what darkness you have struggled with, now or in the past. In this large, beautifully diverse world, we invite you to a community where we all belong. Whether you are a believer, a doubter or a seeker, in Christ’s love, we welcome you. By the power of the Holy Spirit we will work to extend God’s grace, love, justice, and dignity inside and outside our church. You are a Child of God. You belong here with your whole self. Your story and your life are valuable, here at Good Shepherd, and in the world. We welcome you.”

Other RIC Congregations in our synod

Deerfield Lutheran Church – Deerfield
First Lutheran Church – Lone Rock
St. John’s Lutheran Church – Evansville
Luther Memorial Lutheran Church – Delevan
Madison Area
Lake Edge Lutheran Church – Madison
Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church – Madison
Trinity Lutheran Church – Madison
St. John’s Lutheran Church – Madison
Luther Memorial Lutheran Church – Madison
Lutheran Campus Center at UW – Madison
St. Mark’s Lutheran Church – Madison
St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church – Monona
Peace Lutheran Church – Waunakee
Midvale Community Lutheran Church – Madison
Advent Lutheran Church – Madison
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church – Madison

Thank you to the RIC team, chaired by Rev. Nick Utphall, Advent Lutheran/Madison Christian Community (Madison). Several of these team members have led educational workshops at synod events to help us to be more welcoming and to learn how to become RIC congregations.

If your congregation is interested in learning more about becoming an RIC congregation, visit the synod website for more information: For a list of the team members, visit the synod website: https://scsw-elca.org/lgbtq/

Announcing the 2021 ELCA Youth Gathering

June 29-July 3, 2021 / Minneapolis, MN

14 I kneel in prayer to the Father. 15 All beings in heaven and on earth receive their life from [God]. 16 God is wonderful and glorious. I pray that [God’s] Spirit will make you become strong followers 17 and that Christ will live in your hearts because of your faith. Stand firm and be deeply rooted in [God’s] love. 18 I pray that you and all of God’s people will understand what is called wide or long or high or deep. 19 I want you to know all about Christ’s love, although it is too wonderful to be measured. Then your lives will be filled with all that God is. 20-21 I pray that Christ Jesus and the church will forever bring praise to God. [God’s] power at work in us can do far more than we dare ask or imagine. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21 CEV)

About the theme: We are bound. Bound by our sin, by the expectations of others, by poverty, by ”-isms” that try to divide us, and by so much more. In a life that often feels like it has young people in a suffocating grip, we want them to imagine the boundlessness of God: boundless love, boundless mercy, boundless freedom, boundless creation, boundless strength. All offered from a gracious and loving God who knows and adores them. All so abundant and endless it cannot be measured. What are the stories of God’s people, both in scripture and modern-day that share the awe and wonder of just how vast our God is? What does it mean, what does it look and feel like to live a life “filled with all that God is”? How can young people find themselves within the boundlessness of Christ’s love?

MYLE, the tAble, and the Gathering are unique opportunities to invite young people into a deeper relationship with a God whose possibilities are boundless. Through one of a kind experiences, this ministry stretches and affirms young people’s gifts and calls. They experience the power of the Spirit within them, that frees them to live in the grace of God’s boundless love in Jesus Christ.

Finally, we are excited by the connections this theme offers to our host city of Minneapolis and the surrounding area. Known as the “City by Nature”, Minneapolis is an earth-minded city in many ways. The Minneapolis Area Synod also names advocacy around care for creation as a top priority, which would allow us to learn from and support the local expression of the church.

Learn more: www.elca.org/gathering and on our synod’s YG page: https://scsw-elca.org/elcayg2021/

Mission Moment: Goodbye Cairo, Hello Passages

Goodbye Cairo, Hello Passages – Message from Rev. Kirsten Fryer


With great joy, I write with two updates.

First, this will be my last Cairo newsletter, as I am now settling into life in St. Paul, MN. I have been called to serve as pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in the Midway. I started on September 15 and am getting settled into new routines, doing lots of listening, and have plenty to learn about St. Paul, our local neighborhood (Midway), and life back in America.
Joanna started preschool and is loving it. She is very excited to see “golden leaves” and experience her first real autumn. We’ll see how she feels when the snow starts to fly. It’s not in the forecast yet! She is also very excited about Sunday school at Bethlehem and looks forward to Sunday each week because “there will be lots of Sundays in St. Paul.” Justin is enjoying time to be a stay-at-home-dad as he figures out what is next for him.

Located a block west of Snelling and University (the busiest intersection in St. Paul), Bethlehem is rooted in the neighborhood and discerning what it means to be church in a changing neighborhood. Construction is scheduled to start in a few weeks on a new six-story residential building on the other side of our alley, and the Minnesota United soccer (I still say football after six years in Cairo!) stadium is across the street.

Like in Cairo, we share the space with others, including Open Hands Midway, a non-profit housed in the building that feeds the hungry through meals, a food pantry, and providing a welcome space. We also share space with House of Mercy, another ELCA congregation, who worship on Sunday evenings. I am excited to see what the Holy Spirit has in store for us and grateful for the opportunity to share some of the things I learned in Cairo with an urban American congregation.

We worship at 9:30 on Sundays. Open Hands serves lunch every Monday from noon until 2:00 pm. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, please stop by!

The second update is that Pastor Christie Manisto, and her husband, Steve Saari, are settling into life in Cairo. Their gifts are a perfect match for St. Andrew’s and I am so glad that they are there, accompanying our beloved siblings in Cairo. Please consider supporting them, as you have supported me–in prayer, financial support, and encouragement!

If you would like to continue to receive updates from Cairo, please email Christie.manisto@elca.org and/or Steven.saari@elca.org to be added to their newsletter list.

Click here for their most recent Passages newsletter. http://bit.ly/PassagesfromCairo

If you would like to receive the StARS newsletter, please email news@stars-egypt.org to be added to the list.
Thank you again for all of the ways you have supported and encouraged me over these six years. I will treasure our time in Cairo always, and look forward to figuring out how the Spirit is calling in years to come.

Breaking Down Walls – ELCA Global Mission

Greetings, dear friends in Christ!

On Nov. 9, 2019, the world will commemorate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. As we look back to remember this important moment in human history, we are reminded that there is much work to be done to tear down the walls that divide us today.

Galatians 3:28 reminds us that in Christ all that separates and divides us no longer holds sway over us. There is no longer Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female — all are made one in Christ Jesus. In him the walls we have built are brought down so that we might see each other as siblings, each made in the image of God.

My friends, I encourage you, your congregations and your communities to join together in proclaiming this truth — that we are one human family. Just as tens of thousands of people gathered in nonviolent protest in the streets of Leipzig, Germany, in the “Peaceful Revolution” of 1989, so, too, are we called in this moment to advocate for an end to division and oppression in our own communities and throughout the world. This is a significant moment in our denominational history, as the ELCA recently declared itself a sanctuary church body at the 2019 Churchwide Assembly. This is a moment for breaking down walls.

Here you will find an array of resources that we hope will assist your community of faith in remembering those who have helped bring down walls in the past and those seeking just and peaceful ways to bring down the walls in our midst today. Included as part of these resources is a special liturgy that I hope you’ll use in your own candlelight vigil or service of remembrance this fall. The liturgy is patterned after the weekly prayer services that were held at St. Nicholas Church in Leipzig, Germany, during the Cold War, services that many believe helped topple the Berlin Wall and end the war itself.

DOWNLOAD BREAKING DOWN THE WALLS TOOLKIT HERE:  https://elca.org/Resources/Global-Mission

As we gather to celebrate this Peaceful Revolution — and its Lutheran roots — let us pray for and advocate on behalf of those divided and oppressed by other walls. Let us hold in prayer the people of Palestine, those on the U.S.-Mexico border, and all places where we build barriers, in our communities and in our hearts.

Come, Holy Spirit, lead us to unity and peace.


The Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla
Executive Director for Global Mission
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

4th Annual Faith in Numbers, hosted by Wegner CPAs

The 4th Annual Faith in Numbers, hosted by Wegner CPAs, is two weeks away and we want to make sure you are there!

This day is filled with relevant breakout sessions including

  • What Policies Do I need In My Congregation?
  • Donor-Advised Funds: An Introduction and Key Strategies;
  • Key Performance Indicators: Track What is Important to You;
  • Does Culture Matter? Roundtable; Funding & Facilitating Construction with a Frugal Mindset;
  • Seven Ways to Fail Your Donors;
  • High Functioning Church Boards – How to be the best!

All of these sessions are filled with tips that you can take straight back to your organization and implement. The impact of this day is made not only with the presentations but through all of the connections created between the attendees of this conference. Collaborate with other churches, listen to other organization’s pain points, share your success stories, and make this conference our best one yet!

Please click HERE to see the full agenda. and register for the event.

One of our very own pastors is on the panel of the 12:45 breakout session, Rev. Jim Hearne, Barneveld Lutheran Church!

Webinar: Engaging Service Members, Veterans, and their Families Through Faith-Based Partnerships

Date: November 14, 2019
Time: 1:30 – 3:00 p.m. ET

To register:  https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_2ooM86pgQXmuy7KQ9lISAg

Faith-based organizations often serve as a trusted source of help and connection for many Service Members, Veterans, and Military Families (SMVF). An increasing number of faith-based organizations and leaders not only assist with the spiritual needs of SMVF but also provide support with many areas related to readjustment and strengthening resiliency, wellness, and recovery. They are often referred to as “force multipliers” due to their help and support to so many SMVF on the path to positive behavioral health and well-being.

This webinar will provide information that will help participants to engage, educate, inform, and partner with faith-based leaders, non-profit organizations, and communities in support of and responding to the behavioral health needs of SMVF.

Learning Objectives

  • Recognize the spiritual and emotional needs of SMVF and better understand the role that faith-based communities can play in SMVF community integration and transition
  • Facilitate information dissemination for expanding and growing partnerships between communities and faith-based organizations
  • Provide examples and lessons learned for convening faith-based learning events, bringing faith-based, community, and SMVF partners together to help prevent SMVF suicides and address other mental health needs
  • Share relevant resources and tools to faith-based and community organizations in order to support SMVF and their caregivers
  • Identify training events and resources as well as explore opportunities for strengthening partnerships and coordination

If you have any questions about your registration, please contact Phil Paty at (518) 439-7415, ext. 5272, or by email at ppaty@prainc.com.

Mission Moment: LOPPW & WELCA Gather Around the Safe Harbor Human Trafficking Bill

Women of the ELCA & Lutheran Office for Public Policy Gather As Beloved Community
Around the Safe Harbor Hu
man Trafficking Bill
By Amelia Gonzales, LOPPW Intern

The Women of the ELCA and Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin joined together to hold a rally on youth are impacted by sex trafficking on September 24.  The day began at Messiah Lutheran Church in Madison.  We then went to the capitol, equipped with information and faith-based responses to advocate for the Safe Harbor bill.  AB 41/AB 49 would move Wisconsin ahead in directing trafficked youth to receiving human services rather than criminalizing them.

We heard from Morgan Meadows, M. Ed., Survivor of sex trafficking and consultant in leadership and survivor advocacy, Door County; Bishop Jim Arends, La Crosse Area Synod; Jen DeLeon, National WELCA Director for Justice; Dana World Patterson and Jay Reinke, Milwaukee Joint Task Force on Human Trafficking; and Representative Jill Billings. District 95.

The Safe Harbor Rally was a chance to bring together people to support a very important piece of legislation that is currently making its way through the system. For someone who has been an advocate for human trafficking for three years now, the rally was a truly an amazing experience to be a part of.  Not only was it great to hear the amazing speakers from the Milwaukee Human Trafficking Task Force and a survivor of human trafficking, Morgan Meadows, but also to have the chance to speak to legislators about why the Safe Harbor Bill is needed in the state of Wisconsin. The day also gave me joy to see people come to the rally who perhaps weren’t familiar with the bill but were willing to learn more about it and to understand why it was needed.

The rally was also taught us why certain legislators weren’t in support of the Safe Harbor Bill and how to be that person to perhaps further educate legislators

Amelia Gonzales joined the Lutheran Office for Public Policy as a graduate student in social work at UW-Madison in September.  She comes to us via the university’s 4W-STREETS (Social Transformation to End the Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking for Sex) program. Amelia is a recent graduate in social work and sociology from UW Oshkosh.

Thank you for your mission support that helps ministries like this happen!

The Forgotten Luther III: Reclaiming a Vision of Global Community Live Streaming Event!

The third Symposium in the Forgotten Luther series, with the help of five prominent church leaders and Luther scholars, invites congregations to develop a broader understanding of the global dimension of Christ’s mission in the world. Against the growing disparity in wealth and the rising tide of economic and political refugees throughout the world, the Symposium will reflect on Luther’s oft-forgotten social and economic reforms that flow from his central doctrine of justification by grace through faith.

Held on October 25 and 26, 2019 at St. Luke Lutheran Church in Silver Spring, MD, this symposium will feature presentations by: Rev. Dr. Karen Bloomquist, former Director of Department for Theology and Studies, Lutheran World Federation;  Rev. Dr. Guillermo Hansen, Professor of Global Christianity, Societies and Cultures and Martin Luther King Chair for Justice and Christian Community at Luther Theological Seminary;  Dr. Carter Lindberg, Emeritus Professor of Religion, Boston University;  Rev. Dr. Ishmael Noko, former General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation; and Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, President of Dar-al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture in Bethlehem.

Live-Streaming!   Importantly, for your convenience, this symposium will have a LIVE-STREAMING capacity to make it immediately available, so you will not have to wait for the publication of the congregational study book that will include these presentations.  You may find out more about this live-streaming option by writing to ForgottenLuther@saintluke.us and/or contacting Deacon Kyle Warfield at kwarfield@saintluke.us.

This symposium might be of particular interest to pastors/laity who are interested in the challenges of Global engagement in these days.  A number of synod committees have considered gathering to experience and discuss presentations together.  As before, a congregational study book that includes these presentations will be published and available to the church within a year and could be used to enhance dialogue about the vision of global mission within your synod.

As in the previous two Forgotten Luther symposiums that were developed in partnership with program units of the ELCA, The Forgotten Luther III enjoys the support and participation of Rev. Rafael Malpica-Padilla, Executive Director of Global Mission, ELCA.

You may find more information on this symposium at WWW.FLIII.US . Please click on “read more” for a brief overview and history of The Forgotten Luther Project.