“It is a good opportunity to gather with colleagues. Ministry is a lonely business without these kind of events to remind us we’re not in it alone,” observes Anita Nuetzman, pastor at Calmar and Springfield Lutheran Churches.

Every fall, the rostered leaders of the Northeastern Iowa Synod gather for a few days of continuing education, rest, renewal, and fellowship known as the Fall Theological Conference. This event is planned and organized by a committee of synod rostered leaders and is anticipated and appreciated by those who attend.

“What I appreciate about the Fall Theological Conference is time away with colleagues, being able to worship without stressing about leadership, invigorating theological discussion with speakers and with each other as well as the time for rest, relaxation, and recreation on Monday afternoon”, notes Scott Johnson, Pastor at St. Petri in Story City.

The event began Sunday evening with dinner and a time of reflection and questions with Bishop Steven Ullestad. The bishop noted how healthy and robust the synod is now compared to more difficult years.  He talked about coming changes in Theological Education and the church’s work to meet the challenges of providing leadership in a changing world. The church is recognizing that one size fits all no longer works when it comes to theological education.

We closed with Evening Prayer led by John Hermanson who led our worship throughout the conference.

Our presenter was Rev. Dr. Samuel Giere, Associate Professor of Homiletics & Biblical Interpretation and Director of Lifelong Learning at Wartburg Theological Seminary.  The presentation, “Incarnation, Subversive Faith” and the discussion following centered on how we preach in a time when relationships and trust are eroding in the current political environment.”


“In a post-truth era where trust is the first thing that goes, what we have to offer is very counter-cultural. We are inviting people to trust God.”

Rev. Louise Johnson, President of Wartburg Seminary, was our preacher for Monday night Eucharist at the Castle.



She preached on this Sunday’s text, Mark 10:35-45 where James and John ask Jesus to grant them places at his right and left in his Kingdom. She suggested that Jesus’s disappointment was not that they asked too much, but that they asked too little.

The desire for rewards of power and wealth limit our imagination to a new and different world that is healed and free.

Tuesday afternoon we were blessed and sent home refreshed and renewed after another successful event.


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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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