It was all Gospel all the time at the opening of the 2017 Synod Assembly.   As a part of our six-year emphasis on  Reformation Renewal,  we are focusing this year on Martin Luther and the Gospel.


Bishop Ullestad preached on the importance of preaching the Gospel and only the Gospel.   There are many ways to share the Gospel.  As he referenced a saying attributed to St. Francis,

“Always preach the Gospel, use words when necessary”.

“If Francis didn’t say that, he would have wanted to say it,”  Bishop Ullestad, quipped, joking about the questionable authenticity of the quotation.

One of the examples he shared was about how his daughter,  who was a kindergarten teacher, changed the life of one of her students by modeling the Gospel.


Mark Anderson

We also heard a story, told by Pastor Mark Anderson, of two Hungarian nursing students and one American college student who spoke at a confirmation class.  They shared how the love of Jesus carried them through great difficulty, which inspired a confirmation student with his own struggles. In the end, the Gospel is all we can cling to and is all we need.


Remembering the quote attributed to St. Francis, “Always preach the Gospel, used words when necessary”, Martin Luther emphasized social ministry as a way of living the Gospel.  In his explanation of the Fifth Commandment in the Small Catechism, Luther says “We should help and support our neighbor in all of life’s needs”


With that in mind, we invited congregations to prepare and a flood bucket (filled with cleaning supplies to be used in time of disaster) to the Synod Assembly.  So far we have received more than 150 buckets. These buckets will be dispersed in strategic locations throughout the synod so they will be available in times of emergency.

The assembly continued with worship, fellowship, business and learning at workshops. With the Gospel always at the center.

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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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