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Day of Renewal is a mini-Retreat for synod rostered leaders that was initiated by Northeastern Iowa Synod Bishop Steven Ullestad shortly after he was elected when he saw there was a need for leaders to take some time to get away during Lent and care for each other.
The bishop remembers that at first there was some resistance to having this event during the busy time of Lent, but he insisted Lent was precisely the time leaders needed to take this time for themselves.
“The Day of Renewal provides rostered leaders in our synod a day to step away from the hurried pace of Lenten schedules and responsibilities to be refreshed”, notes Bishop Ullestad.  “Mutual support and encouragement, a learning opportunity, time with the bishop and a service of Holy Communion that allows our leaders time to prepare themselves spiritually for walking with our congregations during Holy Week.”
The day has become a welcome and anticipated retreat for rostered leaders in the synod.  This year’s event, held last Thursday at Nazareth Lutheran Church in Cedar Falls, was no exception, as nearly 90 rostered leaders gathered.
This year we welcomed Diaconal Minister and ELCA Malaria Campaign Coordinator, Jessica Nipp, who led us in devotions and thanked the synod for our outstanding response to the Malaria Campaign.
The Northeastern Iowa Synod has raised more than $417,000 for the Malaria Campaign.   According to Ms. Hacker, the NE Iowa Synod responded and the campaign in our synod progressed exactly the way they hoped and in fact far exceeded expectations.
Ms. Hacker also gave us an update on the progress that is being made and what a difference in the lives of people we are making with our gifts.  We were reminded that World Malaria Day is coming up April 27 and all gifts received that week will go to begin a Malaria program in Namibia, which is our Companion Synod.
Pastor Joelle Colville-Hanson gave a presentation on using Social Media for outreach and sharing the Gospel.  Synod pastors shared how they were using social media in their ministry settings.
Pastor Mark Walker talked about how using technology like social media can help even small churches keep up.  He shared how their church Facebook keeps people connected and can help spread last minute news quickly.
Pastor Melissa Bills talked about how important it is to be authentic in social media relationships, and how First Lutheran in Decorah connects all their platforms so that their website directs people to their Facebook and twitter accounts and those direct back to the website so there is consistency in their message.
Pastor Dan Gerrietts shared about his experience encouraging live tweeting of his sermon and how it has encouraged young people to share their faith.
Pastor Jenna Couch talked about her experience with Twitter.  “I’ll be honest, at first, I didn’t get the point of Twitter” she admitted, but shared how much she has learned from Tweetchats like the #chsocm on social media and the church held every Tuesday night 8 pm CDT.  Jenna now has hosted two Tweetchats on Stewardship #Stewardchat
Day of Renewal always includes a “Bishop’s Hour”, which is a time to hear from the bishop about what is going on in the synod and Churchwide, as well as a time for him to address questions and concerns from leaders in the church.
The day is capped off with worship and Eucharist, led by Pastor Darrell Gerrietts.  This year the bishop preached on the powerful story of Lazarus, giving us a word of life as we prepare to lead our people again through the events of Holy Week and Easter.
Recent Day of Renewal Topics
  • 2011:   “Medium, Media, and Message”  Presentation by Erik Ullestad and Jake Bouma
  • 2012:    Bishop Ullestad “Walking Together” Bible Study with large and small group discussion on Luke 24:13-35 “On the Road to Emmaus”.
  • 2013:     The Next 25 Years  Dr. William Withers – New ways of communicating and growing as congregations

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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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