At the time the Synod Council was beginning to make plans for the 2021 Synod Assembly, it was unknown what the situation would be with regards to the current COVID-19 Pandemic. 

In order to assure the safety of everyone and include as many people as possible, the Synod Council voted to hold a virtual Synod Assembly.

Even though vaccinations are widely available, the CDC still recommends even fully vaccinated people avoid large indoor crowds, so this decision turned out to be the wisest course to take.

The 2021 Northeastern Iowa Synod Assembly will be a one-day online virtual event beginning at 8 a.m. on Saturday, June 12. Log-in for voting members begins at 7 a.m.

The live broadcast will be based at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Waverly.

Any interested person may observe the virtual Synod Assembly on Facebook at Facebook visitors do not have voice or vote and there is no charge for watching on Facebook.  

The primary purpose of this assembly will be the election of a new bishop. In addition, voting members will elect a synod secretary, synod council members, nominating committee, and churchwide voting members for the 2022 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. They will also conduct other business of the synod, including approving the synod budget and compensation guidelines.

The theme of this Assembly, “Celebrating Renewal: Johannes Bugenhagen, Parish Pastor of the Reformation,” concludes a six-year synod wide theme linking renewal with reformers over the years. 

Past themes have been “John Hus, Bold Leadership” (2015), “Elizabeth of Hungary, Service” (2016), “Martin Luther, Gospel” (2017), Philip Melanchthon, Education” (2018), “Katherine Van Bora, Family Life” (2019).  2020 was to be the year of “Johannes Bugenhagen, Parish Life.”  Because we did not have an assembly in 2020, this will be our theme at the 2021 Assembly.

Our keynote speaker will be Rev. Dr. Martin J. Lohrmann, associate professor of Lutheran Confessions and Heritage for Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, who will speak on Celebrating Renewal: Johannes Bugenhagen, Parish Pastor of the Reformation.”

At each assembly we host a representative from the ELCA Churchwide organization who brings greetings and connects us with the work of the wider church. This year, Lori Fedyk, treasurer of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, will serve as our churchwide representative and will preside over the election of the Bishop.

Electing a Bishop

The Northeastern Iowa Synod uses an ecclesiastical ballot for the election of the Bishop. At the Assembly, voting members will submit the name of an eligible minister of Word and Sacrament of the ELCA. The first ballot is considered a nominating ballot, and everyone who receives a vote is listed on the second ballot, except for those who withdraw. The number of nominees decreases on subsequent ballots until one nominee receives the required majority of votes.

Earlier, the Northeastern Iowa Synod hosted a zoom meeting with former synodical bishops who shared about their experiences serving as bishops and their insights on the leadership qualities they feel are important for a bishop. You can see that video here

Anniversary of the Ordination of Women

The Synod Assembly will include designated time to honor the milestone anniversaries from 2020 of women being ordained in the ELCA:

  • 50th anniversary of U.S. Lutheran churches’ decision to ordain women
  • 40th anniversary of the ordination of the first women of color
  • 10th anniversary of the ELCA’s decision to officially ordain people in same-gender committed relationships.


The Synod Assembly offering is a vital funding source for synod ministries designated by the Northeastern Iowa Synod Council. This year’s offering will support these ministries:

FUND FOR LEADERS — provides scholarships for seminarians from the Northeastern Iowa Synod. Scholarships totaling $89,982 were given to nine seminary students in 2020.

COMPANION SYNOD TRAVEL FUND — helps cover travel expenses for guests from companion synods in Hungary and Namibia to visit the Northeastern Iowa Synod. The synod did not host any companion synod guests in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but plans are to resume visits when travel restrictions and safety guidelines allow.

BISHOP CRISIS FUND — used at the discretion of the Bishop to directly aid individuals and families within the synod territory in times of need. Aid may include providing food, clothing, shelter, medical assistance, moving or transportation expenses, or other assistance.

Gifts to the Assembly offering can be made online through the donate button below.

Checks for the Assembly offering can be made out to the Northeastern Iowa Synod and mailed to: Northeastern Iowa Synod, 201 20th St. SW, P.O. Box 804, Waverly, IA 50677-0804.


The assembly will conclude with an online worship service which will be available for congregations to download and use by Thursday, June 10.

Feel free to contact the Northeastern Iowa Synod office at (319) 352-1414 if you have any questions.  Hope to see you there one way or the other!

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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.