Another Synod Assembly has come and gone.  Another chance to get together with our Christian brothers and sisters from around the synod for fellowship, learning, worship and business has come and gone and left us with new ideas, new reasons to be grateful and new challenges to tackle.


It’s not possible to write about all that took place but here were some of the highlights:

BIshop Ullestad

  • People are still talking about Bishop Ullestad’ sermon illustration on the power (for good or ill) of our thoughts.  “How’d he do that???”
  • The constant lifting up of the example of Elizabeth of Hungary and her life of service as a model for all of us.  Thanks again to our keynote speaker keynote speaker Dr. Susan Kosche Vallem, retired Wartburg professor of social work, for helping us to know her a little better.


  • The surprise visit of Dr. H. George Anderson and the great news about scholarships for seminarians from our leadership fund named after him


  • A resolution to thank our Companion Synod, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary, for their work and dedication to Syrian refugees in their country.  After passing this, the assembly rose to sing “Now Thank We All Our God”


  • Dr. Karen Black on the organ.  “If you have no other reason to come to synod assembly,” notes Bishop Ullestad, “You should come to experience Dr. black leading us in worship.”
  • Twenty forums and seminars on topics like service dogs, cross-generational learning, digital ministry, geo-parishes, Companion Synods, hymns, video and youth ministry and more
  • Recognition of leaders and congregations in our synod:


  • Pastor Jay Ilten of St. John, Dubuque and his work establishing “Almost Home”, a shelter for homeless men


  • Pastor Burton Everest for his Living Loehe award from Wartburg Seminary for distinguished service to and through the church


  • Big Canoe Church, Decorah for tripling their gifts to Mission Support in one year


  • Cross Roads Lutheran Parish for their “Feed the Farmers” God’s Work. Our Hands. Project and other remarkable new ministries over the past three years.
  • Sunday morning small group bible study on service, what we like to call our “Sunday School hour”
  • Pastor Stacy Nalean-Carlson’s last minute crafted Sunday prayer of petition in response to the news of the Orlando shooting that expressed all of our anguish and need to pray “We trust in you alone.”  Read the prayer here.


  • Outstanding Sunday Sermon by ELCA Youth Gathering Program Director Molly Beck Dean on our call to follow the example of Jesus to give a name to the nameless.

As Dr. H. George Anderson says, ‘It is a great 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.




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