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.

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!

Mission Moment: SCSW Women’s Organization

The Women of the ELCA held their 14th Biennial Convention last Saturday. The theme was “Bold Women – Answering the Call”. The keynote speaker, Reverend Angela Khabeb from Holy Trinity in Minneapolis was outstanding. There were also excellent workshops and worship.

At the business meeting, a new women’s synod board and Voting Members to the 2020 Triennial Convention were elected. The newly elected board includes Janna Smith (President), Sandy Seffrood (Vice President), Lynn Mehringer (Secretary), Bonnie Gilbertson (Treasurer), Linda Freitag, Eleanor Siebert, Lawanna Schieldt, Sheryl Phillipson, Diane Luginbuhl, Kathy Hultine, and Eugenie Hildebrandt from across the synod.

Voting Members elected to the 2020 Triennial Convention are Janna Smith, President, Barbara Penington and Kathy Hultine (first time voting members), and Polly Carter and Donna Peterson. The Alternate Voting members are Marlys Hittesdorf, Lawanna Schieldt, and Jane Harrison.

ELEVENTH TRIENNIAL GATHERING SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE – APPLY NOW! DUE OCTOBER 1, 2019
July 16 – 19, 2020, Phoenix, Arizona

The South-Central Wisconsin Synodical Women’s Organization provides 4 scholarships in the form of the Gathering registration fee. Here is a link to the scholarship application form. October 1, 2019 is the deadline for emailing or postmarking a completed application form or requesting a paper copy of the form by email or calling Helen Sheahan at 608-692-7553. Email address is sheahan1@sbcglobal.net or mailing address is 1106 Valley Stream Drive, Madison, WI 53711. Recipients will be notified by October 31, 2019.

Triennial Gatherings are always uplifting and inspiring. Yes, Phoenix will be hot in July but the buildings are all air-conditioned. So start thinking now about attending. Registration opens September 30. Early-bird registration through January 6, 2020, is $325. After that, registration is $375. One day registrations are $200. We can’t wait to see you!

Submitted by Helen Sheahan, Past President 

Mission Moment: Racial Equity Task Force to Focus Next on Partnerships & Programs

South-Central Synod of Wisconsin Racial Equity Task Force to Focus Next on Partnerships & Programs
By Mary Nervig, Chair, Racial Equity Task Force & Deacon Vicki Hanrahan

The South-Central Synod of Wisconsin Racial Equity Task Force was formed in 2017 in response to the synod assembly resolution mandating the provision of educational events related to promoting racial justice and the ELCA churchwide memorial mandating that each synod provide anti-racism training for all rostered individuals.   The mission statement of this synod’s Task Force has been to educate, with an understanding that “the way out is back through.” As a people who have been reconciled to Godself through Christ, our mission is to seek reconciliation with all our brothers and sisters.

The task force has been presenting in person programs since 2017, recordings of which are archived on the website available for congregations to use as a resource for learning.  Video links:  https://scsw-elca.org/ministries-and-partners/racial-equity/

Our team is very pleased that in the past year, many synod congregations have borne fruit in this ministry area by beginning book discussion groups and hosting events addressing issues of racism for the larger community.  In addition, there are educational possibilities in the wider community sponsored by other entities that address racism and racial equity.

As this good work in our congregations continues and grows, the Racial Equity Task Force will refocus its efforts on partnerships and programs.  We will no longer be hosting monthly educational events and will instead support and lift up congregational events and the occasional Racial Equity Ministry Task Force educational event.  All will be featured under the Racial Equity banner in What Matters. Look here for events at locations throughout the synod!

It has been a wonderful year and a half of programs and many good relationships have been built. Those who have attended have commented on the growth in awareness that has happened as a result of the presentations by so many gifted and knowledgeable presenters. Seeds have been sown and growth is on-going throughout our synod!  Blessings as you begin this new program year in your congregation. May you be finding times and spaces to do the important work of racial justice as part of your ministries.

The next event in which you are invited will be hosted by Madison Christian Community.  Madison Christian Community has created their own Racial Justice Task Force.  This faithful group is a beautiful example of how we are always being made new!  What started out as an initiative for personal enrichment (which by the way included a Big Read for the synod that then was part of a statewide push) has now moved into a task force whose primary interest is in presenting opportunities for learning offerings to others wishing to know more.

This faithful group is moving more deeply into their work for racial justice, from the what of racial inequity to the “what now” of racial justice work.  As they believed, “The more one engages at a personal level, the more the journey requires from us. Yet, it is exactly this engagement that signals a movement from being merely an observer or information-gatherer to becoming an active participant in the anti-racism movement.”  Hosting and organizing these movie viewings and conversations is a mission moment we wanted to recognize as it continues the good work of the movement in the synod toward a better, more loving and inclusive beloved community.  Let’s continue to walk together!

Mission Moment: God’s work. Our hands. 2019

Many of our congregations are participating in the ELCA day of service, “God’s work. Our Hands.” Some have participated on September 8, which is the day set aside by the ELCA if you wanted to participate when most other congregations were joining in. God’s work. Our hands. reminds us that We are Church, We are Church Together, We are Lutheran and We are Church for the Sake of the World! And our work is for all generations!

Mission Moment: ELCA Churchwide Assembly Recap

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 all three parts of the Mission Moment by clicking below.

Mission Moment: Young Adults in Global Mission

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:

ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellows 2018-19

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

https://www.facebook.com/elcaadvocacy/videos/561152794289517/

To learn more, also visit: www.elca.org/careers

Mission Moment: God’s Love Lets Us Retire!

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!

Mission Moment: Burke Lutheran Breaks Ground for a New Holy Space

Burke Lutheran ChurchFor 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!

MISSION MOMENT: Our Work With Human Trafficking Is Making a Difference!

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