With service as the theme for our whole weekend, today’s theme centered around the strength and witness of our service together.

It began with morning prayer and a message from Dan Gerrietts, Senior Pastor of Trinity Lutheran in Mason City who reminded us of the importance of imagination when it comes to service.


“Imagination is the capacity to see the world as it is and ask what it might become”

Imagination is crucial to hope and faith because it enables us to see beyond the challenges we face and imagine new ways of meeting those challenges.

Again we were invited to look to Elizabeth of Hungary when it comes to commitment to service even in the midst of challenges and difficulties.  Our keynote speaker Dr. Susan Kosche Vallem, retired Wartburg professor of social work gave us insights into the life of this remarkable woman who gave up a life of privilege to dedicate her life to the poor.



Our Churchwide representative is ELCA Youth Gathering Program Director Molly Beck Dean.  “I am a firm believer that we are better as

“I am a firm believer that we are better as church together,”

she declared as she outlined all the ways we can change lives on a large scale because of the work we do together as congregations, synods, and Churchwide.

When introduced to our new seminary graduates we were reminded of the challenges ahead.  Our synod identified a need for 19 seminary graduates.  Three were assigned to us.

With the challenge comes opportunity.  One of the obstacles to those considering ministry is the high cost of seminary.  Our synod has decided to address that cost with our leadership fund.


The fund is named the H. George Anderson Fund for leaders, after the former ELCA Presiding bishop.  After showing a video with H. George Anderson encouraging people to support the fund, he then made an appearance on stage.

Bishop Ullestad and Assistant to the Bishop Mark Anderson have been quietly making visits and soliciting support from individual friends of the synod for the fund.   The fund now has over $510,000 and we will be able to award $55,000 in scholarships to seminarians in the 2016-17 year.

As Pastor Anderson commented, the time for quiet visits is over and now this the time for all of us to rally around this fund and commit to this the way we committed to the Malaria Campaign.

In 1997, H. George Anderson wrote a book, “It’s a good time to be the church”. As Bishop Ullestad reminded us today despite the challenges ahead, it is still, a very good time to be the church.

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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.