2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly

Walk Together With Us!

Nineteen leaders in our synod were elected at last year’s synod assembly to be voting members at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly to be held August 5 – 10 at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee. The Churchwide Assembly is the primary decision-making body of the ELCA and gathers every three years. Voting members are chosen locally from across the United States, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands, representing the diverse communities, congregations, synods, perspectives and geographic contexts of the ELCA.

But just because you aren’t among the elected, doesn’t mean you can’t be “in the know!” We invite you to walk together with us as there are many ways to do this. First, get to know our voting members and please hold them in prayer during this time as they fulfill their important role in speaking to the matters before the assembly and communicating back to the synod all that they have learned.

Our voting members are:

• Rev. Sue Beadle – Pastor, Christ Lutheran Church (DeForest)
• Miriam Bohlman Kunz – Lake Edge Lutheran Church (Madison)
• Jane Cahill Wolfgram – Vice President, South-Central Synod of Wisconsin
• Deacon Vicki Hanrahan – Assistant to the Bishop for Synodical Life, South-Central Synod of Wisconsin
• Jessie Hodgson – First English Lutheran Church (Platteville)
• Jen Kooistra – Director of Youth, Family & Education Ministries, St. John’s Lutheran (Oregon)
• Theo Kooistra – St. John’s (Oregon)
• Rev. Steve Kottke – Assistant to the Bishop for Mobility, South-Central Synod of Wisconsin
• Rev. Felix Malpica – Pastor, Faith Lutheran Church (Janesville)
• Rev. Gabriel Marcano, Pastor, Parroquia Luterana Santa Maria (Beloit)
• Deacon Lisa Miller – Dir. of Discipleship & Communications, Peace Lutheran Church, Fort Myers, FL
• Heidi Muenchow – First Lutheran Church (Beaver Dam)
• Nathan Nelson Houstin – Trinity Lutheran Church (Madison)
• Rev. Matthew Poock – Pastor, St. John’s Lutheran Church (Evansville)
• Kathryn Small – Lake Edge Lutheran Church (Madison)
• Trevor Thom – Member of Synod Council and Immanuel (Watertown)
• Ben Johnston-Urey – Director of Music, First Lutheran Church (Janesville)
• Jason Xiong – Seminarian, Lake Edge Lutheran Church (Madison)
• Rev. Mae Jean Zelle – Pastor, Lake Edge Lutheran Church (Madison)


Assembly Voting Matters & Hearings

When the ELCA Churchwide Assembly convenes, its voting members meet with confidence in God’s grace around word and water, wine and bread, to carry on their work on behalf of the entire church. Over the course of the assembly, voting members:

  • Hear reports and review the work of churchwide officers, leaders and units;
  • Receive and consider proposals from synod assemblies;
  • Elect officers, board members and other leaders as specified by the constitution or bylaws;
  • Election of the Presiding Bishop & Secretary
  • Establish ELCA churchwide policy;
  • Worship together;
  • Adopt a budget; and
  • Conduct other business related to the ELCA churchwide organization.

You may be interested to know the other items we will be discussing and voting on:

Word & Service Entrance Rite 
We will discuss the work of the Entrance Rite Discernment Working Group and the constitutional amendments proposed for the entrance rite for ministers of Word and Service and their status in the “representational principles” of this church.

“Faith, Sexism, and Justice” Recommended Proposed Social Statement 
This is the recommended proposed social statement on “Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Lutheran Call to Action.”

Declaration to People of African Descent
The ELCA “Declaration to People of African Descent” names the role of the Lutheran church’s historical complicity in slavery and its enduring legacy of racism in the United States and globally. Where does the ELCA go from here?

Inter-Religious Policy Statement    
The hearings for “A Declaration of Inter-Religious Commitment: A policy statement of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,” will be discussed.  For more detailed background information, see: http://bit.ly/elcainterreligious

The Office of the Presiding Bishop prepares a triennial budget for the churchwide organization in consultation with the Office of the Treasurer and the Budget and Finance Committee of the Church Council.

Network of Colleges & Universities 
Five years ago, the Domestic Mission unit collaborated with ELCA colleges and universities to create the Network of ELCA Colleges and Universities as an unincorporated, missional association to oversee churchwide ministry in higher education. We’ll learn about NECU’s collective work to further the mission of Lutheran higher education to develop leaders for this church and the world.

ELCA World Hunger  
Conversation about this church’s creative and courageous work and service toward a just world where all are fed.

AMMPARO Initiative  
The 2016 Churchwide Assembly overwhelmingly adopted AMMPARO, the ELCA strategy to accompany migrant minors with protection, advocacy, representation, and opportunities. We will hear a 3-year update from Krish Vignarajah, President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

Theological Education
Seminary leaders will address theological education in the ELCA.

Authentic Strategic Diversity & Inclusion
We will discuss the “Strategy Toward Authentic Diversity within the ELCA.”

Updating Vision & Expectations Listening Session  
In April 2019, the ELCA Church Council declined to consider “Trustworthy Servants of the People of God”, a document drafted to replace Vision & Expectations. The original intent of Vision & Expectations was to serve as a teaching opportunity about the shared expectations which this church has of its rostered ministers. However, over time the document was often used as a prescriptive or juridical document. The Church Council requested that further consideration of a new Vision & Expectations document be part of a process that intentionally includes diverse voices. A listening group met in June to begin such a process. This listening session is another opportunity for diverse voices to be heard concerning Vision & Expectations, and in particular, to answer the question: “What does the church need?”


Stay Connected via Livestream

ELCA Churchwide Assembly — Livestream
The ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the church’s primary decision-making event, is a process of communal spiritual discernment — a time for us to be the living body of Christ, guided by the Spirit and conformed to God’s will. Watch our Livestream of the 15th Churchwide Assembly, Aug. 5 through 10.

Link: https://www.elca.org/churchwideassembly


Supporting the Assembly

During the assembly, you are invited to pray for all voting members and for the work of the assembly. Daily prayer responses are offered to walk through the week:

Monday, August 5

Holy God, hope of the poor and balm of the brokenhearted, stir up in us the gift of your Spirit that we may hear your good news and proclaim it in word and deed; through Jesus your anointed, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Tuesday, August 6

O God, the giver of every good gift, you set before us the feast of gladness. Gather your fractured human family, welcome us in our weakness, feed us with your mercy, and clothe us with life itself: Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, August 7

Glorious God, through the waters of the sea you led your people from slavery to freedom. Through the waters of baptism you bring us with Christ from death into life. Roll away the stone of our fear and doubt that we may sing your praise and dance to your glory; through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and our Song. Amen.

Thursday, August 8

Almighty and all-merciful God, for freedom you have set us free from every power that would enslave us. Create in us the heart of a servant and bind us to our neighbors with the love of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen. Friday, August 9 O Light Unseen, O Love unknown, O Life unending, your Word came as one among us to draw us to your loving heart and give us your abundant life. Pour out upon your wounded world grace upon grace through your Beloved, Jesus Christ, our Light and our Salvation. Amen.

Saturday, August 10

O God, source of all life, you raised Jesus from the dead and gave us the Spirit of his resurrection. Unbind your church from sin and the fear of death. Set us free to praise you with grateful hearts and to serve the world in Jesus’ name, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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!


Come to Be Fed and Gathering in Beloved Community – Thursdays – 12:00 Noon with Brown Bag Lunch at 12:30

Join the synod staff and others on Thursdays for Worship with Holy Communion.

We are gratefully led by a different preacher each week from our synod and then gather at 12:30 for brown bag lunch immediately after worship.  It’s always a wonderful informal and intimate gathering of a few or many!  Come take sabbath time with us.  You will be glad you did.

If you are willing to volunteer your time to lead worship, we would love to have pastors, deacons or vicars lead us. Worship is a simple service consisting typically of a gathering song, word, meal, prayers and sending song.  Contact Robyn Zimmerman at robynz@scsw-elca.org if you would like to time and talent this way.

Food Donations Needed for St. Mark’s Lutheran Church Food Pantry

This is A Kind of Congregational Partnering We Are Praying for in Our Synod!

St. Mark’s Lutheran Church Food Pantry on the south side of Madison has seen an increase of about 50% in families served in the last few months. Keeping the shelves stocked with food can be challenging, especially with a drop in donations since the beginning of the year. Some of the items currently needed are Hamburger Helper (or similar), canned peas and canned pineapple. Can you and your congregation or organization help? All contributions of food and funds are gratefully accepted! The pantry is open Tuesdays from 10:00 am to noon, and Thursdays from 5:45 to 7:30 pm. Donations of food can be dropped off during those times, or you can arrange another time by emailing StMarksFeeds@gmail.com. We also invite you to email if you would like more information about the pantry and how you can help. St. Mark’s is located at 605 Spruce St., Madison WI, 53716.

Fight Food Insecurity! Partner with St. Mark’s Lutheran Church Together, We Can Make A Difference

Food insecurity is on the rise. On the south side of Madison, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church Food Ministries are seeing an increase in people served at both our Food Pantry and our Free Friday Community Meal. This congregation, worshiping only 15-20 on a Sunday, is serving 25-30 families in the food pantry each week, and 50-60 individuals at the Friday meal each week. Partnerships are vital to our Food Ministry. Congregations, organizations, groups and individuals can partner with St. Mark’s by becoming hands-on volunteers on a regular or occasional basis; organizing group service projects; offering financial and volunteer support to help maintain our facility; and making donations of food and funds to our food ministries. For more information on how to partner with St. Mark’s, please contact us at StMarksFeeds@gmail.com. St. Mark’s is located at 605 Spruce St., Madison WI, 53716







Planning Fall Programming? Remember to Check out the Synod’s Speaker’s Bureau

Find List of Workshops, Guest Speakers, Adult and Youth Forums, Retreat Leaders, Synod Initiative Mission Interpreters and More!

A sample of topics:

  • Advocacy
  • Holy Communion Ministry
  • Retreat Planning
  • Holy Land/Israeli/Palestinian Conflict
  • Human Trafficking & Social Media
  • Meditation & Yoga
  • Prayer & Spiritual Practices
  • Walking 500 Miles Across the Camino De Santiago
  • Writing Your Story

And a whole lot more!  Check it out on the synod website!

More information:  Link to Speaker’s Bureau page:  https://scsw-elca.org/resources/speakers-bureau/

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!

Women of the ELCA – Lutheran/Divinity Educational Student Scholarship Due August 12, 2019

Every other year in connection with our Biennial Convention (September 21) the South-Central Wisconsin Synodical Women’s Organization of the Women of the ELCA offers two educational scholarships of $500 each.  They are not gender specific.

Scholarships will be given to students who are pursuing education in Called Ministry (such as Pastor or Diaconal Minister) or Youth Ministry in a congregation or ELCA Bible Camp Ministry.

The scholarship will be used toward the 2019 – 2020 academic year.  The student must be enrolled full time.  Our purpose with this scholarship is to support one another in our callings.

The application form can be obtained by emailing Helen Sheahan at  sheahan1@sbcglobal.net.  Completed form and reference letter need to be submitted by August 12, 2019.

14th Biennial Convention of the SCSW Women’s Organization

Bold Women – Answering the Call

September 21, 2019, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
One day Convention and Business Meeting
at Good Shepherd Lutheran – Verona Campus
7291 County Highway PD, Verona, WI

Nationally known Keynote speaker: Reverend Angela Khabeb at 11:00 am – Love, Light, and Salsa: Infusing the flavor of our faith throughout the facets of our lives.

Cost – $25, includes box lunch.

Free childcare is available.  Handicap assessable.

All are welcome and encouraged to attend.  Bring a friend (or a car-full of friends).

Registration, nomination, resolution, and scholarship forms, along with workshop descriptions and schedule are available in the July Trumpeter found on the Women of the ELCA page of the Synod Website.  https://scsw-elca.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Trumpeter_July19UPDATED.pdf  

Registrations with Childcare, special needs, and special diets must be requested by Monday, September 9.

Biennial Convention Voting Member registrations, nominations, & resolutions are due by Monday, August 12, 2019.

Business meeting on Saturday morning starts at 8:30 am.

Morning options for visitors include attend the Business meeting and/or yoga and /or reading scripture workshop.

Afternoon workshop topics are reading scripture, human trafficking, care of God’s creation, white privilege, nurturing children’s faith, small town and rural ministry, and Discovery Doctrine & issues in Indian country.

Worship closes the day.

Come and experience Worship, workshops, fellowship with your sisters in Christ, and visit vendors.

For questions or more information please contact Helen Sheahan at sheahan1@sbcglobal.net or  608-692-7553.

“Just Love”

11th Triennial Convention – Phoenix
July 14-16, 2020

11th Triennial Gathering – Phoenix
July 16-19, 2020

Women of the ELCA (WELCA)

“Bold Women – Answering the Call”

14th Biennial Convention (WELCA)
South Central Wisconsin Synodical Women’s Organization
September 21, 2019, 8 am – 4 pm
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church – Verona campus
7291 County Rd PD, Verona, WI 53593

NEW Registration form
Call to Biennial and Schedule
Workshop descriptions and Speaker bios