2018 Synod Office Holiday Hours

Please note our holiday hours in the synod office:
Thanksgiving – Closed Thursday and Friday, November 22 & 23.
Christmas – Closed December 24 through January 2. Open January 3. If you have a pastoral emergency, call 608-270-0201 for the on-call synod staff phone number.

California Wildfires:  You Can Help!

Following is a message shared by the bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod, ELCA, Bishop Mark Holmerud to his synod.  We share it with you here as it gives a closer look at what is happening as a result of this disaster.

“I traveled to Chico, California yesterday to worship with Pr. Ben Ireta Colahan and the saints of Faith Lutheran. We were joined by the saints of Paradise Lutheran Church, most of whom have lost their homes in the wake of the Camp Fire.  Pr. Rod Platte was able to share the news that although the parsonage at Paradise Lutheran was destroyed, the sanctuary and other buildings apparently survived.

The stories of the people who were forced to flee their homes and saw their town being destroyed are compelling. Their faith and hope is inspiring. Lutheran Disaster Response and Lutheran Social Services will be walking alongside of these families in the long process of rebuilding. Smoke and ash-fall are making breathing difficult throughout most of the area, as evidenced by the orange glow of the sunlight pictured on the sanctuary well. Please keep your prayers and support coming.

We are asking those who want to help to give to LSS and LDR – here are the websites:”



MISSION MOMENT “Equipping for Ministry”

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.

Dr. Mark Yackel-Juleen received training in this process from the Division for Outreach of the ELCA and has led it with more than 180 different congregations.

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.

Free Children’s Choir Robes

Trinity Lutheran in Fort Atkinson has 22 choir robes for children that we would be happy to donate to any church interested in them. The robes are burgundy with stoles that are white on one side and pink on the other. The robes are sized child’s small through large enough for a teen or small adult. Please contact Stephanie Beran at sfberan@charater.net.


Leadership Education and Development Day “LEAD” will be held on Saturday, March 9, 2019. This is a changed date from March 2, which was published earlier in What Matters. Please correct this in your calendar, as you don’t want to miss the synod’s most popular learning event! It will still be held at Evangelical Lutheran Church in Mount Horeb from 8:30am to 3:30pm.

Build Community Around the love of reading this Christmas

Get FREE books + fundraise

An opportunity from Augsburg Fortress, the ELCA Publishing Ministry:

Wellness Book Fairs – From the makers of Reformation 500 Bookstores, Wellness Book Fairs provide adults with books on coping with grief and loss, managing stress, overcoming adversity, and more. Host a Book Fair that helps adults heal, grow, and thrive!

Children’s Book Fairs  – Alongside the Wellness Book Fair, you can now host a Christmas Children’s Book Fair that will help kids thrive socially, emotionally, and spiritually. It has never been easier to connect with the entire family in your congregation!

Free books: Each Book Fair offers a free display kit of ten to twelve free books—and they are yours to keep!

Fundraiser opportunity: Get 20% back on orders that exceed $200.

To get started:  https://www.communitybookfairs.com/christmas/


Youth and Family Network Ministry Team:

  • Brenda Goble, Member at Midvale Community Lutheran Church in Madison
  • Heather Greenley, Member at Central Lutheran Church in Edgerton
  • Elisabeth Himmelman, Member at Bethel Lutheran Church in Madison
  • Jen Kooistra, Member at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Oregon

Pastors and Congregations in our Synod:

  • Members of County Line Lutheran Church in Markesan
  • Nancy Raabe, Pastor, and members of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Marshall
  • Rev. Sara Gillespie. Pastor, and members of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Mayville
  • Kathi Matthews-Risley, Seminarian, and members of St. John-St. Paul Lutheran Church in Mazomanie

Neighboring Synods:

  • Bishop Wayne Miller and the congregations of the Metro Chicago Synod, ELCA
  • Bishop Jeffrey Clements and the congregations of the Northern Illinois Synod, ELCA

Churchwide Partners: 

  • Mr. Neil Bullock, Coordinator, Stewardship, Domestic Mission at the ELCA Lutheran Center, Chicago, IL
  • Rev. M. Wyvetta Bullock, Assistant to the Presiding Bishop / Executive for Administration at the ELCA Lutheran Center, Chicago, IL
  • Deacon Mark D Burkhardt, Director, Faith Formation, Domestic Mission at the ELCA Lutheran Center, Chicago, IL
  • Mr. William R. Busbey, Manager for Candidate Processes, Global Mission at the ELCA Lutheran Center, Chicago, IL

We give thanks at this time for the ministry of those who celebrate their anniversary of Ordination during this coming week:

last weeks anniversaries:

We give thanks at this time for the ministry of those who celebrate their anniversary of Commissioning:

  • None this week.

We give thanks at this time for the ministry of those who celebrate their anniversary of Consecration:

  • None this week.

May these leaders continue to be blessed for service.

Volunteer Preachers Needed for Synod Worship

As you know, each week we hold Communion Worship in the synod office chapel and each week, we invite a different preacher.  This is an opportunity that is open to all of our Pastors and Deacons, whether in an active call, or retired or on leave.  Worship is held in an intimate setting in our little fireside chapel from 12:00 to 12:30 with brown bag lunch immediately following if you are able.  We worship anywhere from 3 to 30.  You will choose one ad-hoc day or can choose more if you desire, but if you are interested in helping in this way, contact Volunteer Coordinator, Carolyn Butts at 608-270-0201.  Call Carolyn and make her day!

Join Us for Worship In the Synod Office Chapel Every Thursday at Noon

All Are Welcome!

 We gather for worship and holy communion on Thursdays.  Please join us!  Each week a different preacher from our synod leads worship.  Come and be fed in body and spirit. Brown bag lunch and fellowship immediately following if you are able at 12:30.  Our address is:  6401 Odana Road, Suite 20, Madison, WI  53719