Worship Celebrating God Given Gifts
Blessed to be A Blessing: Worship Service Celebrating Giftedness
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Synod Assembly Summary:
Over 350 members of the Western North Dakota Synod gathered together in Bismarck June 9-11 to delve deep into exploring the Lutheran idea of vocation. As children of God, we are raised up out of the waters of baptism assured of our place in the family of God, dripping with Christ’s mercy and grace and invited into Christ’s work of sharing the deep love of God with our neighbors. Within each and every one of us lie talents and passions, created and placed there by God for the sake of our neighbor. This Assembly provided ample opportunities to hear the stories of how many among us have identified their gifts and seek to live faithfully. We were also reminded that the process of discerning our vocation is never done in isolation, but in community. We are the body of Christ in need of one another and gifted to share with one another as well. What might God do in our neighborhoods and our world if each of us claimed the abundance of gifts placed within us and faithfully shared those gifts with the world around us?
Preassembly Workshop: Gifted to Serve
The emphasis on claiming our God-given gifts and exploring where God is calling us to serve began on Thursday with the Preassembly Workshop led by diaconal ministers Beth Anderson and Anna Dykeman. Over 60 folks spent a day together exploring their interests, spiritual gifts, personality, values and passions as together they claimed who God has created them to be and explored the places they might share their gifts in their homes, congregations and communities.
Mission Gala Dinner and Silent Auction
Once again the Mission Gala Auction and Silent Auction were a great fun. We gathered at Lord of Lutheran – Appetizer’s provided by Good Shepherd Lutheran and an incredible meal prepared by members and staff of Lord of Life. Rostered Leaders were the servers – the conversation was lively, the atmosphere was festive and in the end a milestone was reached. Over $17,000 was raised by this event which pushed the Mission Endowment Fund over the $500,000 mark. Earnings from this fund will provide seed money for mission across our territory. Thanks be to God.
Text and Talent:
Bible Study throughout the assembly was led by Eastern North Dakota Synod Bishop Terry Brandt and Assistant to the Bishop Shar Gumke. They led us in diving into scripture and exploring how we are freed in baptism to serve and called forth together to share our gifts with the world. We celebrated the internal discernment of call and the external way in which the community names our gifts and calls us into possibilities that we ourselves might not even imagine.
Stories of Vocation from Our Synod
Myron and Georgean Lick have farmed near rural Ruso, ND for over 45 years. They are members of St. Olaf Lutheran Church, near Turtle Lake. Both spoke with passion of living as stewards of God’s creation – Georgean, as she looks at God’s handiwork in the flowers outside her kitchen window; Myron, as he talked about trying to replicate cyclical grazing patterns native to the prairies.
Rev. Christoph Schmidt and Karen Langemo, peer minister, serve through Lutheran Campus Ministry at Minot State University. Christoph shared stories of students wrestling with the question of “What is it to be called?” Karen shared a bit of her joy in having a safe place to talk with others about college, life, faith and more.
Prairie Rose Seminole grew up in North Dakota, an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes. She currently serves as ELCA Program Director for the American Indian and Alaska Native Ministries. She spoke of the cultural issues surrounding the church’s engagement with indigenous communities. She also spoke of the deep power found in connections to family and community, sharing the wisdom of her grandmother, “If you can’t do anything, you can use your voice, you can speak for justice.”
Reier Thompson, CEO of Missouri Slope Lutheran Care Center in Bismarck, shared the call he has grown into, a call centered in the intentionality of caring for clients, employees, and family. He spoke of the importance of keeping faith central. In leadership, we are called to wrestle with the difficult decisions. Living vocation isn’t easy, but it is at the heart of living faithfully.
Invitation to Conversation around “What does it mean to be Synod?”
The word synod means “walking together.” Through an afternoon plenary session and workshop led by Synod Council and Bishop Mark Narum, assembly participants were invited into deep discussion around strategic priorities and financial stewardship. The good news is mission support in our synod was at a record level again in 2015 at just over $1,082,000. The concern is our future ability to balance the synod budget without depleting reserve funds. Bishop Mark reiterated we are not in a financial crisis, but we do need to pay serious attention to the financial position of the synod for the sake of our future mission.
Feeding the World
Over the past year, the synod’s Sending Team has led an effort to increase gifts from Western North Dakota congregations to ELCA World Hunger through their “Bringing Home the Bacon Campaign.” It was announced at Synod Assembly that over $85,000 has been raised by congregations in our synod. Clear Creak Lutheran Church received the Flying Pig Award for the congregation that raised the most money per baptized member. Collectively, the congregation raised $60.61 per baptized member.
On June 7, a team of 7 members of the synod embarked on a #HungerRide to raise awareness and funds for World Hunger. Together they biked 120 miles in 3 days, spreading the word about this important ministry of our church. Through donations received at each of their stops, through online sponsorships and offerings shared by participants at the synod assembly, this group raised $6,503 for ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Response.
The offering from our Synod Assembly Opening Worship also was dedicated to ELCA World Hunger and brought in gifts totaling $3,829. When this is added to the totals from the Bringing Home the Bacon Project and #HungerRide efforts, the people of Western North Dakota have raised over $95,332 during the past year toward ending hunger domestically and around the world.
Rev. Dan Rift, Director of the ELCA World Hunger and Disaster appeal affirmed that God is doing something really astounding in this church when it comes to eradicating hunger and responding to communities affected by disaster. Our willingness to engage in working to end hunger authenticates our faith to others. In our work together, others see and experience a God who is present, drawing us into a future. When we live out our faith through tangible acts of responding to the needs of others we witness to God’s love and concern for all. Blessed to be a blessing is an important teaching, but on its own it’s not enough. At the end of the day, we’ve missed something if all we do is gather it up and distribute funds. The Christian calling is to not only hand out food, but to enter into communion with one another. Rift warned that if you come into this ministry, your heart will be broken, but that’s also probably the place where God will show up. Are we changing the world? There is no question. Since 1974 the rate of extreme hunger in the world has been cut by 60%. The people and resources are present to end World hunger. The world is being changed. The bigger question is, “Are we engaging in the world in such a way to allow God to change us?” This is a question of communion, and it is the place where we find Jesus in our own lives.
Peterman Good Steward Award presented to Rev. Taryn Montgomery
Each year the ELCA awards the Dr. Richard Lee Peterman Good Steward Award to an ELCA congregational pastor who exemplifies outstanding stewardship ministry through preaching, teaching, and example. This may be reflected through innovative programs, new resources, or significant gains in stewardship response during the previous year, or over a longer period of time. Rev. Taryn Montgomery, senior pastor at Bread of Life Lutheran Church in Minot, was presented with this prestigious honor by Neil Bullock, ELCA Churchwide Staff, during the Friday evening banquet. In her 5-year tenure at Bread of Life in Minot, Taryn has led her congregation in hosting a sister ELCA congregation for 18 months following Minot’s 2011 flood, developing an annual family carnival open to the entire Minot community free of charge, shifting her church’s budget from fundraising to survive to consistent stewardship with funds continuing to support other minisitries, and making an impact with educating children about the importance of giving. From 2008 to 2015, Bread of Life’s mission support has grown over 2000% going from $0.00 to $26,500. Montgomery is a faithful, passionate, and compassionate steward leader in the church. She is an exemplary stewardship teacher and models the steward’s life.
Friday Worship: $3,829 the ELCA Campaign for World Hunger & Disaster Appeal
#Hunger Ride: $6,503 for ELCA World Hunger & Disaster Appeal
Friday Banquet: $1,800 for our synod’s Four Bible Camps
Sweet Deal for C.A.R.: over $22,000
Mission Gala Silent Auction & Live Auction to benefit WND Synod Mission Fund: $17,421
Summary of the Work of the Synod in Plenary
Elected to Serve on WND Synod Council:
Rev. Ellery Dykeman of Dickinson, Myron Lick of Turtle Lake, Sandra Anderson of Tioga, Troy Langmaack of Minot, and Barbara Roise of Ross.
Elected to Serve on Synod Discipline Committee
Karen Langemo of Minot, Rev. Mary Lou Aune of Beulah, Glen Bruschwein of Dickinson, and Rev. Tim Mantei of Butte.
Elected to Serve on Board of Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN
Murray Sagsveen, Lutheran Church of the Cross, Bismarck
RESOLUTIONS AND REPORTS:
View full text of the resolutions at http://wndsynod.org/synod-assembly/voting-member-information/#Reports
Western ND Fiscal Plan for 2017
The Assembly adopted the fiscal plan for the 2017 fiscal year as proposed by synod council.
2017 Compensation Guidelines for Rostered Leaders
The Assembly adopted the 2017 Compensation Guidelines for Rostered Leaders serving in the Western North Dakota Synod as proposed by synod council.
Resolution regarding a proposed bylaw change to clarify term limits for the synodical Bishop
Action: Postponed Indefinitely
A number of constitutional changes are anticipated following the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly scheduled for August which will prompt a review of the Western North Dakota Synod Constitution. Synod council will inform congregations of any resulting constitutional changes to the Western North Dakota Synod Constitution 6 months prior to the 2017 Western North Dakota Synod Assembly. Notice of proposed changes will be shared via Synod E-News, Gospel Seeds, and mailed to synod congregations.
Resolution on the Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery
Action: Referred to Synod Council for further appropriate consideration and action
The Reference and Counsel Committee determined that this issue is too significant to be discussed in the closing minutes of the synod assembly. It deserves an opportunity for collective thought and deep care because it is an incredibly important issue. Therefore, due to the late submission of the resolution and the lack of adequate time to discuss the resolution thoroughly, the resolution has been referred to the Synod Council.
2017 Synod Assembly will be held June 1-2, 2017 in Minot.