The Western North Dakota Synod Council gathered September 18-29 with a full agenda at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Bismarck. Friday evening the council gathered with members of the Church of the Cross’s Transition Team to engage a process of identifying the Strategic Missional Priorities for the synod. This work is intended to help synod staff, teams, committees and task forces align their efforts for the sake of Gospel proclamation.
Saturday was spent engaging the business of the synod. Actions included:
- Conversation around the Supreme Court Ruling regarding same-gender marriages and effect on congregations. Council members heard that it is a local decision by either the church council or the entire congregation whether to offer blessings of such unions.
- Heard that part of the parochial report each congregation is to submit will have questions dealing with congregational vitality.
- Received a number of thank-you notes from mission partners who had received financial support through congregations of the synod.
- Received updates from ministries supported through the synod budget including Heart River Bridges of Hope – Mandan and Community Connections – Williston.
- Chose Portico Gold+ as the insurance for synod staff.
- The council also passed the following motion: We encourage the congregations of the Western North Dakota Synod to continue provide Health, Disability, Survivor benefits through Portico Benefits a ministry of the ELCA. In most cases the Gold+ plan provides benefits leaders in this church have traditionally been provided. However, it is important to note there are times where it is advantageous to the leader to go to Silver+ Option A. We encourage both congregation leadership and plan members to become educated on the issues as they make these choices.
- Approved distributing “Sweet Deal for the CAR” funds in the following way:
- Gallo Health Clinic $25,000
- Recovery/Rebuild $10,000
- Scholarships $ 4,000
- Discussed a request from the Feeding Team to be mindful of the financial needs of the Synod LYO group, that the group operates on a very slim budget and proposed ways be found to help ensure the group is financially stable. Heard one staff suggestion which is being forwarded to Conference Meetings this fall that Conference dues be raised by $30 per congregation for this purpose.
- Heard reports from synod staff on the ministry they have been involved in since the last synod council meeting.
- Approved Synod Calls to Interim Ministry for Rev. David Maxfield and Rev. Barb Haugerud.
- Approved Rev. Charles Galloway’s request to be placed on the Retired Roster.
- Approved the synod candidacy committee’s recommendation of approval for Blake Krabseth as a Synodically Authorized Minister to serve Trinity Lutheran, Drake.
- Appointed Rev. Janet Gwin to fill an unexpired term on the Synod Consultation Committee.
- Approved a new format for the Synod’s Compensation Guidelines. The guidelines are intended to make it easier for congregations as they consider compensation issues especially when first calling a pastor. The documents are now broken into a set of documents for pastors being called to a congregation with a parsonage, a second for pastors being called to a congregation without a parsonage and the third for congregations calling a Lay Rostered Leader.
- Heard dates for the upcoming council meetings including February 5-6, at Zion Lutheran, Minot; June 9, 2016 in Bismarck prior to the synod assembly and September 16-17 in Bismarck.