On August 5-10, our synod’s delegation of 18 joined nearly 1,000 members from 65 synods in Milwaukee for the ELCA 2019 Churchwide Assembly. Held every three years, “We are Church” was the theme of this year’s assembly, and the manifestation of that theme throughout did not disappoint. Read both parts 1 & 2 of the Mission Moment by clicking below.
Each week we share a mission moment. Why do we call them mission moments? In short, because every time you put money in the offering plate at your congregation, you are supporting these missions of the wider church through the money that your congregation sends on to the synod in the form of MISSION SUPPORT. Some call this benevolence. The ELCA encourages us to refer to this in a more meaningful way by calling it Mission Support. YOU are supporting the missions of the ELCA at all three expressions…your congregation, your synod and churchwide and we THANK YOU for your offerings. This mission moment shows how you are helping to raise up leaders through Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) through ELCA HUNGER FELLOWSHIPS. A short video has been created about their experiences, and here also in writing is a reflection from one of those in our midst who ends her fellowship with LOPPW on August 12, Kelsey Johnson.
Many of us have had the pleasure of walking with (or sometimes running with!) Kelsey Johnson, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin Hunger Fellow and member of Midvale Lutheran Church. You may have seen her leading workshops at LEAD & Synod Assembly, addressing the Senate Committee hearing for the Human Trafficking bill, at the Immigration, Asylum & Our Response Forum, at the movie conversation, “Emanuel” and in the synod office to name a few. Kelsey has worked in the LOPPW office under the direction and guidance of LOPPW Director, Rev. Cindy Crane.
She writes, “I’m excited to share this short video about the ELCA hunger advocacy fellowship I’ve had the privilege of experiencing in the context of Wisconsin for the last year. The fellowship has been challenging, life-giving, invaluable, and has shaped my growth trajectory in profound ways. Thank you to the Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin, the ELCA Advocacy state public policy network, and ELCA world hunger for empowering my voice and gifting me the experience to develop as a leader and advocate. Thank you to the 6 synods I’ve worked alongside in Wisconsin. I look forward to continuing these relationships as I continue candidacy for the next four years through the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin.
Also, a special thank you to the young adults/not so young adults I’ve served alongside this year. These have been and continue being transformative relationships and experiences I’m so deeply grateful to carry.”
Note: Kelsey Johnson is at the very end of the video:
The summer #heat can be felt nation-wide, and so can contributions of Hunger Advocacy Fellows at 6 sites around the U.S. thanks to ELCA World Hunger in 2018-19. Peek into their roles & share the encouragement of their advocacy that moves us toward a just world & end to hunger.
Posted by ELCA Advocacy on Monday, July 22, 2019
To learn more, also visit: www.elca.org/careers
God’s Love Lets Us Retire! But What Does That Look Like for Retired Pastors and Deacons in Our Synod?
Don’t let the word, “retirement,” fool you. In our beloved community of our synod, our retired clergy hardly stop moving when they retire. Retirement seems more like a state of mind than a slowing down. In fact, retired rostered ministers in our synod continue to serve in many different capacities and we are very grateful for that. But to them, it is about serving in a gentler way…taking sabbath as they need it…and choosing to serve in ways that feed their souls the most.
Perhaps who has said it best is recently retired pastor, Rev. Ken Schaub. Last Sunday, the members of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church in Reedsburg participated in a sending service for their interim contract pastor, Rev. Ken Schaub. Ken had finished his one-year commitment to the congregation for interim ministry concurrently with announcing his retirement. In his words, “Now I know that I am not done. I know I will be riding a circuit for supply preaching around the synod…but maybe not during the winter in the hinterlands.” And that is true. Retired clergy can choose to say “no,” if they don’t want to drive to rural congregations during wintertime; they can choose the weekends in which preaching works for them; they can serve in short 5-week stints such as in teaching Diakonia courses. The beauty for our retired is that they design their retirement calls. Often time is spent in conversations with the synod staff person, Rev. Steve Kotte, who helps our rostered navigate the waters of retirement.
This is a joyous time for our retired as they get to combine all their passions…continuing to preach on occasion, (as exhorting the good news to their flocks is one of the things they often miss the most), but they can lean into other passions be it spending time with grandchildren, spouses, children, hobbies, travel, or just being!
I seem to be specializing in “sending services” these days and have in the past two months sent off two pastors to their retirement. Pastor Mark Peterson recently retired after serving as contract interim at Faith Lutheran Church in Columbus. During his final children’s sermon, Pastor Mark shared that he was looking forward to spending more time with his grandchildren, but that there will be a little spot in his heart that will need a band aid for his missing the children of Faith Lutheran church who endeared themselves to Pastor Mark. Transitions can be bittersweet and we recognize that it’s not easy for congregations and members to say good bye to each other. But say good bye we must as we send them on to other parts of God’s kingdom.
Ways that retired pastors serve are numerous! They serve as:
* Interim contract pastors
* Synod Committees
* Pulpit Supply
* diakonia Instructors
* Synod’s Speaker’s Bureau
* Volunteer in the synod office
* Guest Preachers for Thursday Worship in the Synod Chapel
To keep our rostered retired and those with spouses connected, quarterly gatherings are held that include a meal, fellowship and updates. Former Bishop, Rev. George Carlson is the chair of the retired clergy group and organizes these gatherings. Another way our retired serve!
Pastor Rich Johnson (formerly pastor of All Saints, Fitchburg and now retired) serves as a Diakonia instructor and recently taught an excellent class on Christian Worship.
God’s love makes us new each day. For all of our retired, we continue to be grateful that they consider serving us in new ways. They are on our roster of ministers, are invited to synod events and are considered to be actively serving, until they tell us otherwise!
For the Sake of Hospitality: Burke Lutheran Church Breaks Ground for a New Holy Space to Serve God’s People
By Deacon Vicki Hanrahan,
Assistant to the Bishop for Synodical Life
On Sunday, July 7, Burke Lutheran Church in Madison broke ground on their 37+ acres of land to build their new church. On this day, members and visitors first gathered for worship where their Pastor, Rev. Robert Neubert emphasized, “It is not about the building, but how we are reaching out to the community as we enter into this new phase of serving in and with this community.”
As members gathered around a circle to participate in a beautiful ground-breaking ceremony, I was able to visit with them about their hopes for the new space. Enhanced Hospitality became the theme of these conversations. Kay Gritzmacker, member of 50 years served on the committee for a while as she wanted to be sure that the plans were thoughtful about handicap accessibility. Council president, Linda Hughes, was very enthusiastic when talking about making the space more accessible with zero grade entrances and a ramp up to the altar. Rev. Neubert described the expanded Narthex space and more serviceable Sunday school rooms. He feels the improvements will help their church become more welcoming and especially to people who don’t know the building. Their hopes are that the space will be more inviting to community organizations such as the Red Cross for blood drives, holding community meals, and survivor groups to name a few. He is hopeful that their proximity to the Hospital and American Family Center will yield fruitful relationships.
The 1.5 million-dollar project will take approximately 60 days to complete if all goes well. The work started on July 8. The committee’s research led them to a decision that would allow them to honor the past, bring it into the present and prepare them for the future by moving their existing sanctuary, originally built in 1899 to a new foundation and from there adding on additional space for a fellowship hall, education space, offices and kitchen. Bob & Jeannette Gehrke are hoping the new space creates more interest in younger members too.
Council President, Linda Hughes, shared, “I don’t think this would have happened if we weren’t moving the existing sanctuary. It allows us to honor the past. We hope to keep ourselves open to rearranging the sanctuary for better usability and space for the organ and sacristy. According to Linda, good stewardship is at the heart of their plans. “While we know we could dream about having top of the line appliances in the kitchen for example, we also must ask ourselves if we really need it because we don’t want to overspend. We must be good stewards.”
Burke Lutheran was able to fund the project first with significant donations from key older members of the congregation who wanted to leave a legacy. Later, $300,000 from an established trust, voted by the congregation to use toward the building and $250,000 from another member who had passed away leaving a large portion of her estate to the church brought them significantly closer to their goal.
Let’s all hold them in prayer that they can meet their goal, that their building project goes smoothly and that their new space helps them to continue to be a thriving, vital community of faith, bringing that faith and love of Jesus into their community!
Thank you for your weekly offerings that get sent on to your synod and a portion to our larger church through your mission support, for without it, we would not be able to be a healing presence in a world that desperately needs Jesus. Here’s our story:
By Deacon Vicki Hanrahan, Assistant to the Bishop for Synodical Life
On March 27, 12 Wisconsin state representatives and approximately 50 concerned citizens gathered at the State capitol for the Assembly Committee on Children and Families public hearing on Assembly Bill 41. Under this bill, a person who is under the age of 18 may not be prosecuted for committing an act of prostitution. Many compelling arguments were made in favor of this bill and the fact that 25 states have already passed it, strengthened the arguments.
As one of 50+ concerned citizens, I wanted to share some powerful moments where I saw God’s presence at this public hearing where law and gospel informed our common goal of protecting the rights of victims and safe harboring them through the social services process instead of the criminal justice system.
I got off the elevator on the 4th floor with several of the people speaking in favor of the bill and they were excited to see that a line was forming to get into the room. I was happy for them because sometimes just showing up as a member of the beloved community is all it takes to affirm to each other that what we are about to do is important and matters.
As we entered the hearing room, we filled out a voting registration form where we could indicate our position on the bill and whether we were there to speak to it. Several from our synod spoke eloquently in favor of the bill: Shown here at the microphone are the Rev. Cindy Crane, Director of Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin and LOPPW Hunger Fellow, Kelsey Johnson, and LOPPW volunteer, Margaret Staniforth. Later, at the microphone were Women of the ELCA including Helen Sheahan, President of the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin WELCA group & Margo Holman from Dekorra Lutheran’s women’s group, Shirley Paulson, East Central Synod of Wisconsin WELCA and Lori Wells, President of the NW Synod of Wisconsin’s WELCA group. The chairperson commended their testimonies. Also present were representatives from League of Women Voters, State Public Defenders Office, the Department of Children and Family Services, Human Trafficking Task Force of Greater Milwaukee, and the National Council of Juvenile Justice to name a few.
After nearly 4 hours of testimonies, the session adjourned. Before closing, Chairman Snyder read out loud the names of people voting and speaking for Assembly Bill 41 and one could hear the echo of “ELCA” behind each of our names. One of the authors of the bill, Representative Jill Billings who is an ELCA member of the La Crosse Area Synod, could be seen smiling at ELCA members present. Billings, other legislators, LOPPW, and friends have shared passion and years of walking together to try to care for God’s children. This was one of many spirit-filled moments.
This is a mission moment that filled me with awe and gratitude for the opportunity to be a voice for the survivors of human trafficking. For all of us in that hearing that day, I can speak with bold and daring confidence that our presence and voices spoke very loudly that we are Lutheran, we are Church, we are Church Together and we are Church for the Sake of the World. What a beautiful witness to our faith!
Why is this so important? Here are some sobering statistics:
- There are an estimated 36 million people in modern-day slavery in the world today.
- Human trafficking (both sex and labor trafficking) is the fastest growing organized crime and is the second largest criminal enterprise in the world.
- Human trafficking generates $32 billion per year in profits.
- 98% of sexually trafficked victims are women and girls.
- In the United States there are an estimated 100,000 – 300,000 children prostituted each year.
- 33% of children that run away are lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home.
- Mortality rate for prostitutes can be 100 times greater than the general public.
- The average age for being sex-trafficked is 13.
- Sex trafficking has been found in every county of our state.
- 46% of prostitutes attempt suicide.
Wisconsin Sex Trafficking of Minors
It is difficult to determine how many youths are being sex trafficked in Wisconsin because even though it is pervasive, it is very covert. To date (2017) cases have been reported across the state in every county, and as awareness of sex trafficking increases professionals are recognizing more youth who are victims of trafficking. Jan Miyazaki, the director of Madison’s Project Respect, said that in her work with local women in the sex trade, she encounters between 50-75 cases a year involving force, fraud or coercion. A community educator who works with Milwaukee minors in the sex trade said she has come into contact with more than 100 young people in the past year that she believes fit the definition of human trafficking victims. Milwaukee was referred to as “The Harvard of Pimp School,” in the November 2, 2015 article in The Guardian. However, many of the traffickers have moved into suburban and rural areas. The Internet as well as public places are used for recruiting. It is common for traffickers to spend significant time tracking potential girls and boys for prey and they often work in team.
As Human Trafficking is one of the priorities of Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin, Rev. Cindy Crane, Director of LOPPW, shares “The passage of this bill would place Wisconsin law in alignment with federal law, and would enable trafficked youth to receive human services rather than be re-victimized by being treated as criminals. We have supported this bill for three legislative sessions, each time it has come closer to passing.”
Would you like your congregation to be more informed? Invite LOPPW to speak by calling Rev. Cindy Crane at 608-270-0201 and by checking out other speakers such as Dawn Heath on the synod’s Speaker’s Bureau to invite people who have made Human Trafficking their life’s work. https://scsw-elca.org/resources/speakers-bureau/
More on the Assembly Bill 41 – https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2019/related/proposals/ab41
More on the Talking Points –https://www.loppw.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/45/files/2019/03/Talking-Points-and-Info.pdf
Gratitude for and Connections to How Your Weekly Offerings Help the Whole Church
by Deacon Vicki Hanrahan, Assistant to the Bishop for Media, Communications and Leadership Development
The synod office manages a Speaker’s Bureau designed to bring resources to your congregation on topics that educate us on the core values of our synod. Many of these topics have been borne from resolutions that you, our readers have voted on at our annual synod assembly. Others come from topics we feel are important to you, our leaders in our congregations, to be the best disciples and leaders that God created you to be.
Thank you to all of our speakers who have graciously volunteered to share their time, knowledge and passion with you this year. We look forward to our continued partnership!
Thank you to all of our congregations for your weekly offerings that are sent on to the synod office as mission support. Your dollars are used to manage this resource used by many of our congregations and serving hundreds of our members! Thank you!
ADVOCACY – POVERTY, HUNGER, HOMELESS, HUMAN TRAFFICKING
CARE OF CREATION
Mary Kay Baum
ENNEAGRAM – INTRODUCTION TO
FAITH FORMATION & PRACTICES
GLOBAL MISSION WORK
Carolyn Schneider (Hong Kong)
Kirsten Fryer (Cairos, Egypt)
HOLY LAND, ISRAELI/PALESTINIAN CONFLICT, LANDS OF THE BIBLE
HOME COMMUNION MINISTRY
MALARIA – ELCA CAMPAIGN
MEDITATION & YOGA
PRAYER & SPIRITUAL PRACTICES
RELIGION & SCIENCE
SPIRITUAL RETREAT: FAITH AND THE ME FILTER
YOUNG ADULTS IN GLOBAL MISSION
WALKING 500 MILES ACROSS SPAIN:BECOMING A PILGRIM ON THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO
Anne & David Andert
WOMEN’S GROUPS – FORMING & NURTURING
WRITING YOUR STORY
VETERANS – IMPROVED CARE AND OUTREACH TO
Gratitude for and Connections to How Your Weekly Offering Helps the Church
by Deacon Vicki Hanrahan, Assistant to the Bishop for Media, Communications and Leadership Development
Two of the three tenets of our mission are to equip and connect the congregations of our synod to be the heart and hands of Jesus. On Sunday afternoon, eleven of our congregations and one from the Northern Illinois Synod connected for conversation at the “Rural and Small Town Ministry” event hosted by Sugar Creek Lutheran Church in Elkhorn. We were led by Rev. Dr. Mark Yackel-Juleen, Director of Small Town & Rural Ministry for the Center for Theology & Land. Rev. Dick Inglett, pastor of Sugar Creek Lutheran and Bishop Thomas-Breitfeld opened the event.
Why this matters . . .
This event is a kick off to introduce a new rural/small town ministry leadership partnership between Wartburg Theological Seminary, the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin and Sugar Creek Lutheran Church to offer a training “equipping” resource for rural and small town ministry that builds faith, relationships and service. We explored the current state of rural and small town ministry, our challenges, our hopes and our current outreach ministries.
Dr. Yackel-Juleen shared interesting data to frame up our conversation. For example:
- 90% of US land mass is rural. 20% of the population is rural.
- Until 1920, a majority of our population was rural. In 1920, this flipped.
- The world population transitioned to majority urban in 2007.
- 71% of congregations in the U.S. have fewer than 100 in average weekly worship attendance according to the National Congregations Study. (63% in the ELCA).
- A small town is generally considered to be 10,000 or less in population; although some consider anything under 25,000 to be a small town.
- More and more congregations and ministers are combining resources to approach mission jointly. Because of economic challenges and trends in religious demography, the number of ELCA multiple-church arrangements will steadily rise above its current level of 13% of all congregations.
- ELCA Research and Evaluation projects that by 2019, almost 20% of the full-time calls available in congregational settings will be in multiple-church arrangements. Another 2,000 congregations will not be able to afford full-time ministry, and many of them will move into multiple-church ministries.
- At present, 90% of multiple-church ministries in the ELCA are in open country and small towns of fewer than 10,000 people. Sixty-one percent (61%) of first calls are to rural and small-town settings where many seminary graduates walk into multiple-church ministries. After ten years in ministry, the percentage is still over 38%. Therefore, people in seminary ought to learn best practices for multiple church ministries, small churches and rural.
- 1,313 prospective MDiv students have visited the 7 ELCA seminaries this year. Of those numbers, historically about 16% actually enroll. That will yield about 210 degree candidates. Currently, there are about 2,776 vacancies, of them 1,000 are full-time called. To meet the number of vacancies, we would actually need 6,250 visits by prospective students.
The writing is on the wall. The need for shared ministry is great. Our congregations in attendance had an opportunity to connect with each other and form cohorts to begin the important work of creating a Task Force that works with a facilitator to process information, discuss possibilities and make recommendations for shared ministry. The congregations, through their constitutional process approve whatever recommendations are made. The ultimate purpose of these conversations is to develop strategies that sustain and grow the mission and ministries of the participating congregations. It is NOT to close or merge congregations. An underlying assumption of the process is that there are things that we can do more faithfully as Christians if we cooperate.
So what is in store for the future of Small Town and Rural Ministry? According to Dr. Yackel-Juleen,”We will need more cooperative forms, more clusters, more area parishes, more ecumenical cooperation and more deployment of variously gifted and variously trained leadership.”
Thank you to Sugar Creek Lutheran Church for their financial support in making this event possible, their members for hosting and serving the potluck, the attendees for bringing dishes to pass, and for enlivened conversation about moving forward in mission together!
If you would like to learn more about this initiative, contact the synod office.
Each week we are highlighting ministries that are supported by your weekly offerings. We are grateful for your generosity as it helps us do what matters to God in Jesus’ name! Please reprint these stories in your newsletters or share them during worship as mission moments as they help to answer the question, “Where does my offering go?”
By Abbigail Hull, ELCA World Hunger Fellow
Advocacy requires collaboration and a gaze towards the future. It was this vision that created the ELCA Hunger Advocacy fellowship. A program made possible by ELCA World Hunger, this fellowship is a year-long transformative experience that combines leadership development, faith formation, and impactful advocacy that moves us toward an end to hunger and a just world where all are fed. This program is in its second year and has already received and developed thoughtful leaders with passion and fresh ideas.
Fellows are placed in various faith-driven public policy offices throughout the United States. The goal of the Hunger Advocacy Fellowship is to build ELCA World Hunger’s capacity to end hunger by deepening and expanding Lutheran advocacy efforts in synods, coalitions and networks.
There are six hunger fellows this year, and one of them works with Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin under the leadership of its director, Rev. Cindy Crane. We have the pleasure of rubbing elbows with both as LOPPW offices
Hunger Fellow, Kelsey Johnson – The Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin (LOPPW) – Madison
Kelsey Johnson has an active history with the church. Most recently, she served as a ELCA Young Adult in Global Mission (“YAGM”) volunteer in Jerusalem and the West Bank. At the Lutheran School in Ramallah (West Bank), she assisted with English and art classes. She has explored topics related to refugees, baptism, and accompaniment.
Kelsey graduated with a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Iowa. She has interests in writing, using social media and working with young people. She shares how grateful she is for this opportunity to learn and serve:
“My experience serving as a Young Adults in Global Mission volunteer in Palestine was formative in shaping how I see accompaniment as the model for social justice in the world. I didn’t realize there was such a huge overlap and call for advocacy in the ELCA, and I was so excited when I heard the Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin had received a grant for a Hunger Fellow. Though the fellowship is only in its second year, the Hunger Advocacy Fellowship is an opportunity and space I have felt called to for quite a long time. So far it has been an informative and formative continuation of my YAGM year of service. It builds on the passion I have for social justice, and connects it to tangible issues in the state, while keeping a broad view of social justice and advocacy in the world.”
Our synod and LOPPW is so blessed to have Kelsey walking together with us! Please keep Kelsey and all the Hunger Fellows in your prayers!
Your gift of mission support carries God’s love to others, making a difference in their lives and in the world. Your mission support in addition to special partnership offerings help to support campus ministries at UW-Madison, UW-Whitewater and UW-Platteville.
Campus pastor, Rev. Emily Tveite shares exciting news about how you are supporting the campus ministry at UW-Madison:
New Faith & Vocation Fellows Grow in Faith, Serve in Local Ministries
This year, we are excited to introduce our first cohort of Faith & Vocation Fellows. These four young women and men will spend about 10 hours each week working in partner ministry sites related to their career interests. They will also gather each Sunday afternoon to support one another, pray together, and grow in their faith.
Lutheran Campus Ministry’s generous donors raised $10,000 to fund this program, which was matched by the Siebert Lutheran Foundation. These funds provide monthly stipends to our fellows and honoraria for guest presenters. We ask for your prayers for these students as they grow in faith and serve their neighbors.
- Addison from Ontario, WI will work with Luther Memorial Church on Youth Ministry.
- Logan from Corcoran, MN will work with UW Hospital on public health education.
- Rylie from Green Bay, WI will work with Bethel Food Pantry & the Badger Caring Closet.
- Sarah from Oregon, WI will work with the Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin.
Lutheran Campus Ministry alleviates student hunger with daily community meal.
Did you know that Lutheran Campus Ministry serves a community lunch each day during the academic year? Last year we served over 20 thousand meals to hungry students for less than $1 per meal. This year, we are hoping to do even more through a new partnership with Second Harvest Foodbank. You get a glimpse of the lunch by watching the University Health Service’s Video about the lunch.
Hunger and homelessness are an increasing problem on university campuses. The Wisconsin HOPE Lab studied basic needs insecurity among students in 2018 and found that one in three students at 4-year universities has experienced some kind of hunger. You can read the HOPE Lab’s report at: http://wihopelab.com
Learn More & Stay Connected to Lutheran Campus Ministry
Lutheran Campus Ministry is graciously funded by the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin, thirty partner congregations, and many generous individuals. Thank you for your mission support!
This ministry is funded through your mission support. Thank you for your weekly offering to your congregation. A portion of that is sent on to the synod for synod-wide ministries such as Care for God’s Creation!
In December of 2015 this team met for the first time. Care of Creation is part of the World Hunger effort of our church. At this time, members of our team include Pastor Mae Jean Zelle (First, Janesville) Jane Harrison (First English-Platteville), Pastor Cindy Crane (LOPPW), Pastor Nick Utphall (Advent, Madison), Bob Lindmeier (St. John’s, Oregon), Eleanor Siebert (Five Points – Blue River) and new member, Debbie Nelson (Bethel-Madison).
Our emphasis is education and advocacy in the area of the environment. 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. The SCSW/LOPPW Care for God’s Creation team is excited about our October 6th event “What’s Working in Wisconsin,” which will highlight renewable energy progress in the state and tools for how we can all make a difference. The event is free! Who should attend? Anyone interested in renewable energy for their church, business or home, or who would like to know more about advocacy and various local and statewide groups that help us to care for God’s creation! Check out the synod website for resources:
Update from Eleanor Siebert, Coordinator, Care for God’s Creation Team