Lutherans in the Twin Cities

Svennungsen to keynote synod women’s event

Women of the ELCA to celebrate 25th anniversary

As the Minneapolis Area Synod (MAS) Women of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) observes its 25th anniversary, the organization for all women of the church is adapting to change. Successful local congregation groups are reaching out to younger women through targeted programming and adjusted timing of meetings.

An example of adapting for success is Christ Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Blaine, Minnesota, where a Saturday morning circle makes it easier for working mothers and mothers of children still at home to attend. A core group plans programs that appeal to this group. Other circles at the church appeal to Baby Boomers and older women, according to Jan Schmidt, a member of Christ Lutheran and board member of the MAS Women of the ELCA. Schmidt, who will be retiring from the board, is slated to move on to being editor of Tapestry, the publication of the the synod’s women’s group.

Minneapolis Area Synod Bishop Ann M. Svennungsen

Under the theme “We Respond to God’s Call for Justice,” the synod’s women’s group will formally observe the 25th anniversary of its founding.

Under the theme “We Respond to God’s Call for Justice,” the synod’s women’s group will formally observe the 25th anniversary of its founding. Events will be held Friday and Saturday, September 14 and 15, at Central Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Minneapolis.

Keynote speaker for the two-day event will be the Rev. Ann M. Svennungsen who was elected to a six-year term as bishop by voting members of the Minneapolis Area Synod Assembly on February 18. The historic vote — held at Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church in Prior Lake — made her the first woman to serve as bishop in any of the ELCA’s six Minnesota synods.

Svennungsen has been a leader in congregations and church-related organizations for more than 30 years. Following graduation from seminary in 1981, Svennungsen pastored congregations in Iowa City, Iowa, and Edina, Minnesota. In 1996, she became senior pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Moorhead, Minnesota, a 3,700-member congregation and — at the time — the largest ELCA congregation to be led by a female senior pastor. In her years of parish ministry, Svennungsen mentored several younger pastors and developed Trinity’s Transition into Ministry Pastoral Residency Program, funded by a $750,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment.

Redefining its role after 25 years

Part of the anniversary program will be recognition of past presidents and board members over the last 25 years, according to Nancy Giddings, president of the area synod women’s organization.

Friday sessions include topics such as “Mentoring Women to Leadership.” The presenter will be Allison Siburg who received a Master of Arts degree in systematic theology from Luther Seminary, St. Paul, in May. Having done research into the mentoring topic, the Issaquah, Washington, native also experienced the importance of mentoring in her own life. Siburg says an adult woman in her home ELCA congregation was her mentor during confirmation years. Having lunch together and knowing an adult considered her important was transformational in her life as a young girl.

On Friday, there will also be tours of Central Lutheran Church followed by a banquet and presentation of the play “Seven.” The play about justice will be performed by Chain Reaction Theatre.

Saturday’s agenda includes Central Lutheran Church justice tours led by Central docents and a presentation titled “Today’s Dream, Tomorrow’s Reality.” There will also be greetings from Women of the ELCA churchwide representative Syd Brinkman as well as a presentation by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

Early registrations for the events are being taken through September 1 at a cost of $65. Thereafter, the cost is $25 for Friday evening and $45 for Saturday. Early registrations may be addressed to Carole Schulze, 6312 Waterman Ave., Hopkins, MN 55343.

Additional details about the gathering are available at www.mpls-synod.org.

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