Earlier this week the rostered leaders of the Northeastern Iowa Synod gathered in Des Moines  with the Western and Southeastern Iowa Synods for an all Iowa time of learning, collegiality, worship and refreshment.
The festivities began with a little fun as Bishop Michael Burk of the Southeastern Iowa Synod, Bishop Rodger Prois of the Western Iowa Synod and Bishop Steven Ullestad competed in a Lutheran edition of Jeopardy.  Our own Bishop Ullestad took an early lead; however he got a little reckless at the end, losing the points he had gained.  He and Bishop Burk tied for last with a score of negative 800 while Bishop Rodger Prois won with a score of zero.

Our presenters were Dr. Per Anderson of Concordia College and Dr. Cynthia Moe-Lobeda of Seattle University with the topic of Gospel Ethics Rooted in the Lutheran Confessions.

If you saw people typing on their phones, laptops or iPads during the presentation, you should not assume they were not paying attention.  We had a very lively twitter discussion taking place under the hashtag  #3SynodIA*.   Here is a sampling of some of the discussion you missed if you were not on Twitter:

  • Uncertainty or moral ambiguity do not release us from the responsibility to act against injustice in our world -Dr. Moe-Lobeda
  • Luther was a contextual theologian. He wrote in response to what he experienced. Wait a sec…Luther was a blogger
  • How do we talk about freedom for the sake of our neighbor when our culture tells us freedom is individuality & autonomy?
  • Radical concept from Luther: prioritize meeting human needs rather than maximizing profit
  • These conversations of MD and neighbor love will come in handy when thinking about Sunday’s Gospel; rich man and Lazarus.
  • Christ is most fully known in the places of brokenness. -Dr. Moe-Lobeda
  • Where do we find courage to be justice makers when the norms say don’t?
  • Where Systemic injustice causes suffering, loving entails challenging the injustice
  • Millennials  haven’t learned morality in comparable
    ways because we’ve seen the hypocrisy of “moral” societal institution
  • God calls the church to speak the gospel primarily through vital local congregations. -Dr. Per Anderson
We were also privileged to host ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson who spoke Monday afternoon on the state of the ELCA and preached and presided at Eucharist Monday night at Faith Lutheran in Clive.
 But it wasn’t all work and study. This is also a time of relaxation and fellowship. Monday afternoons are zealously guarded so they are kept open for free time.  This was a time for our leaders to relax, golf, sleep or just hang out and reconnect with old friends.

It’s like a high school reunion,” says Assistant to the Bishop Mark Anderson.   “You get to see old friends and colleagues and friends you haven’t seen for awhile and catch up.”

Church leadership can be very isolating.  These kinds of opportunities to connect as well as engage theologically are vital to the health and well-being not only of our rostered leaders but the congregations they serve as well.

*Hashtags make discussions on twitter searchable.  If you want to see the discussion that took place about the Fall Theological Conference enter #3synodIA in the search box.

By Pastor Joelle Colville-Hanson

Director for Evangelical Mission, NE Iowa Synod.

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About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.

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