Living the Godly Life As The Beloved Community

This past weekend I attended the ELCA Church Council meeting.  There were many items of business, all in some way pointing us to living the Godly life as the people of God.  Documents presented had been reviewed and recommended by the Conference of Bishops.  As co-chair of the task force that developed the proposed social statement “Faith, Sexism and Justice: A Lutheran Call to Action” which speaks clearly about how sexism is inconsistent with living the Godly life. I was overjoyed when the Council approved it unanimously.  It now goes to the 2019 Churchwide Assembly for approval.

Another document, “Trustworthy Servants of the People of God,” focused on living the Godly life by addressing best practices for pastors, deacons and those preparing for those roles in this church.  The Church Council decided not to consider this document for adoption and referred the document to the ELCA Domestic Mission unit for further review and redrafting. This document is intended to replace “Vision and Expectations,” which outlines expectations the church has for rostered ministers. In their recommendation the council stated that further consideration of the document should involve a process that includes diverse voices from across the church, especially those who perceive they were most harmed in the past by the misuse of the current document, Vision and Expectations.  They have asked that work be completed by the fall of 2020.

I’m sure some of you are asking the Lutheran question, “What does this mean?”  A little background is in order.  The ELCA, like all church bodies, including our predecessor bodies, has always had clearly stated expectations for pastors and deacons. You can find these in the ELCA constitution, the services of ordination and consecration, in a document entitled Vision and Expectations and in a companion document, Guidelines and Definitions for Discipline. I’d encourage lay leaders to read what is currently expected in the preaching, teaching, pastoral care, and service of those you have called to serve and for their personal integrity.  I believe we need guidance to live the Godly life and be beloved community together.

As Bishop of this synod, I truly want us to be beloved community.  For me this means all congregations will be places where the gospel is proclaimed boldly.  It means that congregations are safe and respectful places for all within it, including rostered leaders, and those who surround these mission outposts.  It means that there are clear and high expectations of those called to lead, and those who are preparing to lead.  Boundaries are important but we must understand that boundaries are related to so much more than sexual ethics.  It means our congregations are places that welcome persons of every background, race, sexual orientation and gender identity to engage fully in a life of discipleship. We affirm that Jesus is gracious and radical enough to extend a call to us all to be beloved community together.

Being beloved community means we live into Easter joy as a reconciling and racial equity synod – blessed to be a blessing in this world we inhabit.

Blessings and peace,

The Rev. Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld

Bishop, South-Central Synod of Wisconsin

Vision and Expectations for Ministers of Word and Sacrament:

Vision and Expectations for Ministers of Word and Service:

Guidelines and Definitions for Discipline:

Accompanist (Fitchburg)

All Saints is seeking a part time pianist to accompany our classic service at 8:30 am, our New Song band at 10:45 am (practice at 9:40am), and on requests for funerals & special services. Position description provided on request.  Send resumes to

Have Yourself a Dairy Little Christmas!

Just one dairy cow can produce as many as three gallons of milk each day. It’s a reliable source of nutrition and income — the total package for a family in need. Your gift comes with a free, limited-edition card to help you give in honor of someone special. Give creative, memorable gifts this Christmas, and share God’s love in Christ with our neighbors in need.
To shop the ELCA Good Gifts catalog and/or order:

Please note the synod office will be closed from December 24 through January 2 for Christmas and New Year’s.

What Matters will be on hiatus until January 8. Please call the synod office for pastoral emergencies for pastor-on-call contact information.
A blessed Christmas to all of our congregations and partners from Bishop Thomas-Breitfeld and your synod staff!

The Synod’s Speaker’s Bureau Announces The Newest Speaker Available To Come To Your Congregation!

Introducing: Dawn Heath
Topic: Human Trafficking & Internet & Social Media Safety
Join the Movement organizes community conversations about human trafficking specifically, internet safety and social media and how it plays into human trafficking. How we as a community can protect our neighbors, friends, children from predators before it’s too late. Human Trafficking is in all 72 counties in the State of Wisconsin. The Traffickers/Predators are becoming more sophisticated right along with the technology industry. Even our laws can’t keep up with the ongoing changes in technology…but, predators are. Law enforcement can’t do it all and they need the help of communities coming together to assist this battle. Dawn has given presentations all over the state and is happy to come to your congregation to build awareness and help you to improve your safety measures.

About Dawn: Dawn is a mom of three sons with 2 daughters-in-law and Nana to 1 granddaughter and 2 grandsons. Her family is her greatest blessing. Her parents are missionaries who serve at a Wisconsin State correctional facility in S.E. Wisconsin. Dawn has spent her whole life advocating for those in need.

Dawn is the Family and Outreach Ministry Coordinator at Sugar Creek Lutheran Church and serves as the current President of the Elkhorn Rotary Club. Her passion is threefold: for her family, her work at Sugar Creek Lutheran Church and for Join the Movement Events, Inc., educating our community on what human trafficking is and how to protect our neighborhoods. She became aware of this great need for Wisconsin at her Rotary District conference 2 years ago. Since that time Dawn has been organizing large group awareness events that are county wide initiatives and small community conversations. She has spoken in churches, hospitals, support groups, community service organizations, youth groups, college campuses, and libraries. Wherever the need is and a request comes to her, Dawn is dedicated to educating ourselves and our neighbors what we should be looking for and what to do when we see it.

Dawn is now the Rotary District #6270 Anti-Human Trafficking Ad-Hoc Committee Chair and brings education to area business leaders through Rotary International. She also founded and is President of Join the Movement Events, Inc. to stop human trafficking, a 501c3 non-profit with a mission to bring community education at the ground level. She also specializes in social media awareness and internet safety. Dawn is an advocate for victims, helping them with the resources needed to make the changes in their lives. She is also a founding member of the Walworth County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force.

To schedule Dawn to speak in your congregation:
PHONE: 262-374-1491

If You Have Never Visited the Bold Café Site, You Really Don’t Know What You Are Missing!

About Bold Café
Café is an online magazine and podcast for and with young adult women who identify as Lutheran or not.
Café shares stories written by bold young women who write about faith, relationships, advocacy and more. Readers and writers of Café include pastors, seminary and college students, and other young adult women who use Café as a Bible study resource individually or with a group.
Although many women in their 20s and 30s contribute in every issue, Café can be used and shared by women of all ages. It has wonderful short stories, bible study resources and more. We encourage you to check it out!

Congregational Conversations December and January

The coming months are an important time for congregational involvement! As you share the love of Jesus & prepare for Advent and Christmas, please also set aside congregational time for important synod-related stewardship conversations:

1. Congregational mission support conversation: Mission support refers to the dollars that congregations generously share with the synod to support our shared ministry of developing leaders, equipping congregations and accompanying global partners.

2. Tools for Holy Conversations About Mission Support: All congregations will be mailed two letters: One was addressed to your congregation’s treasurer from Bishop Thomas-Breitfeld that was mailed last Thursday and one letter to be sent soon from the Synod Vice President, Jane Cahill Wolfgram asking you to consider a specific dollar amount for your 2019 intent. Please carve out time at your next council meeting to discuss the dollar amount your congregation feels compelled to share with the synod through mission support in 2019.

Resources and additional information:

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.

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!