As part of our Companion Synod relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary, the Northeastern Iowa Synod has committed to sponsoring all of the Young Adults in Global Ministry (YAGMs) in Hungary.

The ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission program invites ELCA young adults ages 21-29 into a transformative, year-long journey in international service.

“In many ways, like here in the US, Hungary is in a challenged economy set against a political crossroad, where programs like social services struggle to survive  And yet, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary is dedicated to serve people neglected and discriminated by society, the Roma, seniors, people who are homeless or disabled, people living in poverty and waves of migrants that came across their country,” notes Johanna Olson, ELCA Manager for Relationships-Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

“The energy of our YAGM are exceptionally well placed in Hungary because they are in the thick of it with the church’s social workers and pastor and lay leaders.  Their accompaniment, supported by your accompaniment, is a strong, positive effect.  And with our new country coordinator, Rachel Eskesen, now based in Budapest, we look forward to deepening relations and growing the program”

This summer a new group of young people is preparing to travel to Hungary as YAGMs.  Here is a little more information to get to know them.

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Shannon Brice lives North Carolina and is a member of Holy Trinity Lutheran in Chapel Hill.

“My church of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (HTLC) in Chapel Hill, NC is a place that my family and I always returned to when we had moved away and then came back to NC. There are still people there who knew me when I would run up the front aisle at early service and have to catch me before I made it to the front.”

Throughout her life, Shannon has always been enchanted with Disney and entered a Disney college program which led her to graduate with a BFA in Animation from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia in December of 2014.

In Hungary, Shannon will serve in a new ministry partnership between the Lutheran Church in Debrecen and the Real Pearl Foundation in the nearby village of Berettyóújfalu. Shannon will assist in the Foundation’s art school for the primarily Roma children of 12 villages. She will also serve the Roma communities by helping with the Foundation’s social services, which include job training, new-mother classes, cooking classes, and food growing/farming classes. On weekends, she will engage with the Lutheran Church of Debrecen and its new outreach/mission to nearby communities

“I believe one of my talents is helping people do the best that they can.”

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Elizabeth Zimmerman was born and raised in Texas. She attended college at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York for Baking and Pastry Arts. After graduating in December 2014 with a Bachelor in Baking and Pastry Arts Management, Elizabeth moved to Boston. She currently works as a cake decorator at the Whole Foods in Dedham, Massachusetts.  Elizabeth attends Faith Lutheran Church.

Elizabeth will serve in a new ministry site in Piliscsaba with the Fébé, a social and rehabilitation ministry of the Lutheran Church in Hungary that provides people with disabilities a place to live and work. Elizabeth will live on site and work alongside community members in their wood-working, art, farming, and painting projects. She will also tutor in an afterschool program for Roma students.

Mirian Bohlmann Kunz

Miriam Bohlmann Kunz is from St. Louis, MO. She grew up attending Bethel Lutheran Church in University City, MO and is now a student leader at Lutheran Campus Ministry at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.

Miriam is graduating from Northwestern this June with a degree in Chemistry and a minor in German.  She also serves as the student manager for the varsity women’s soccer team at Northwestern.

In Hungary, Miriam will serve in Nyíregyháza with a network of diaconal ministries for Roma and non-Roma Hungarians. These ministries provide multiple services for the homeless, including a day and night shelter, a soup kitchen, and a day center for people living with drug/alcohol addictions. Miriam will also serve at a women/family shelter where she will lead after-school activities and tutor the children.

Miriam is very much looking forward to a year in mission and is excited to share her ministry with all the churches of the Northeastern Iowa Synod.

Dennis Brink

Dennis Brink is from Manahawkin, New Jersey, which is located at the Jersey Shore. His home congregation is Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Brant Beach on Long Beach Island. He will be graduating with a Global Legal Studies degree as well as a minor in International Studies and a certificate in a Peace Corps prep program from Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania.

Dennis has traveled quite a bit during his college years, studying in London and Scotland, as well as participating in United Nations competitions in Belgium.  He’s also done worked with Habitat for Humanity in many places across the U.S.

Dennis enjoys sports and is an active participant on an Ultimate Frisbee team.

Dennis will serve in Budapest with Phiren Amenca, an organization that brings together Roma and non-Roma young people in dialogue and service in order to challenge stereotypes and racism. He will assist in classrooms of English language teachers at Deák Tér Lutheran High School and he will also facilitate a weekly English conversation class at the Integration Services Center, a new ministry of the Lutheran Church in Hungary’s Diaconal Office for refugees and other people in transition.

Elaina Johnson

Elaina Johnson graduated in December 2015 from Winona State University, with a degree in Therapeutic Recreation. She currently works as a Therapeutic Recreation Assistant at a Christian based nursing home in her hometown of Hudson, Wisconsin.

Elaina is a member of Bethel Lutheran Church in Hudson. Her brother is a participant in the Young Adults in Global Mission program this upcoming year as well. She loves being outside, kayaking, canoeing, camping, and hiking.

In Hungary, Elaina will serve with the Lutheran Parish and the Lutheran diaconal ministries in Békéscsaba. She will serve with the Lutheran residential care facility for seniors and with youth ministries of the Lutheran congregations. In addition, she will be active in the ministry of a Roma and non-Roma independent youth mission in nearby Béké

Rebeckah Swygert

Rebekah Swygert grew up in West Columbia, South Carolina and is a member of Mt. Hermon Lutheran Church.  She graduated from Clemson University this year with a Bachelor of Arts in Production Studies in Performing Arts (with a concentration in Theatre).  She has worked at Lutheridge Camp and Conference Center since 2012, first as a counselor, and now as an Area Director for a program for campers with developmental delays.

Rebekah enjoys the arts- acting, writing music, playing guitar, violin, mandolin, and ukulele, leading  worship, creating stage props, and building sets.

As a YAGM, Rebekah will serve in Nyíregyháza with the Lutheran Church-run Roma College program, which supports 25 Roma university students each year socially, spiritually, educationally, and financially toward the pursuit of higher education. She will also use her skills, training, and musical and theatrical talents to serve at a home for women living with disabilities.

After her YAGM year in Hungary, Rebekah plans to pursue a Masters of Divinity at one of the Lutheran Seminaries.

Miles Tyler_

Miles Tyler is from Northfield, Minnesota and attends St. Olaf College in Northfield.  He will graduate this spring with a degree in Environmental Studies, and a Concentration in Asian Studies.

Miles is a member of Highview Christiania Lutheran Church in rural Farmington, Minnesota. He loves to travel but also values service work. He has done mission work in the U.S. and Guatemala.

In Hungary, Miles will serve with the Lutheran congregation of Nyírtelek and their Roma mission ministries in the neighboring village of Görögszalas. He will serve primarily with two ministries of the congregation: a farm cooperative and a day center that provides care and activities for the local Roma community.

“I am looking forward to this awesome opportunity that YAGM has presented me with, and I am very appreciative of your support!”

If you would like to help us support these young people and their mission with our Companion Synod in Hungary you can mail a check noted “Hungary YAGMS” to

Mail checks to the following address:

Northeastern Iowa Synod, 201 20th St. SW, PO Box 804, Waverly, IA 50677-0804

Or give online 

We also have two young people from our synod who will be serving as YAGMs in Madagascar.


Ellen Friedrich is the daughter of Pastor Susan (who serves at Bethany, Elkader) and Norman Friedrich. She is a lifelong member of the Northeastern Iowa Synod and lives near West Union.

Ellen is finishing up her undergraduate degree at Iowa State University and plans to graduate this summer with a major in Anthropology and Environmental Studies.

Ellen will serve in the area of Vohipeno in southeast Madagascar, working with students at a farm school and teaching English at a Lutheran school. She will also help with events for international visitors.

“I am excited to be a participant in the ELCA’s Young Adults in Global Mission program and appreciate your support. I am thrilled to be going to Madagascar!”


Morghen Philippi is a member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Dubuque and will graduate from St. Olaf in Minnesota. She credits Holy Trinity with teaching her about the good news of God’s love in Christ and looks forward to sharing that love in Madagascar.

“I will look to form relationships with the Malagasy people. God’s family is global, and I am excited to share in stories, joys, and challenges”.

If you would like to support one or both of these young women you can send a check to the Northeastern Iowa Synod, 201 20th St. SW, PO Box 804, Waverly, IA 50677-0804 and indicate their names and “YAGM support”.

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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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