Archived Sections, National Lutheran News

Development execs proclaim the gospel in a unique way

Church fundraisers to share joys, struggles at local event

While many can picture the Church Basement Ladies holding a bake sale, professional fundraisers must have some different recipes. They are faced with annual budgets and capital campaigns for congregations, ministries, schools/colleges, camps, and more. Where do these people look for information and techniques for today’s fundraising challenges?
These professionals will be looking for answers in Minneapolis when the Association of Lutheran Development Executives (ALDE) holds its annual conference at the Minneapolis Hilton Hotel February 6-9. The theme for the Minneapolis conference of this pan-Lutheran group is “Mighty River, Deep and Wide.”

Carlson Companies chair and former CEO Marilyn Carlson Nelson; photo provided by ALDE

Phyllis Wiederhoeft, executive director of ALDE, had this to say about the conference’s educational programs: “The high quality curriculum is designed with the new to the very experienced professional in mind. Topic areas cover marketing/communications, major gifts, planned giving, annual/renewable giving, and leadership. Within those areas, speakers have been asked to frame the topic for either 0-4 years, 5-9 years, or 10+ years experience so that a person can find something to suit his or her situation. Attendees are not required to limit themselves to a single track of topics or experience, so the curriculum fits well for anyone.”
A feature of the larger event is a Conference Within a Conference. This event is planned for churches, schools, or other organizations with tight budgets.

“ALDE is a pan-Lutheran organization, providing opportunity for Lutherans from a variety of national affiliations.”

Keynote speakers for the conference include Marilyn Carlson Nelson, chair and former CEO of the Carlson Companies, headquartered in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and Dr. Ted Peters, professor of Systematic Theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. Nelson serves on the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy. Her company includes Radisson Hotels, Country Inn & Suites, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, and T.G.I. Friday’s restaurants. The various Carlson brands employ 150,000 people in 150 countries.
Peters said in regard to the conference, “Like the Mighty Mississippi River flowing from Minnesota through the center of the country into the Gulf of Mexico and eventually blending with the oceans of the world, the ongoing mission of the Lutheran Reformation is an unstoppable flow. What wells up from the depths is the Gospel, the proclamation that the one true God is gracious, and we can now live grace-filled lives. Spreading wide like a delta, Lutheran institutions and hybrid programs invite the world’s thirsty to drink. Those of us who rally support need to map the flow, to lift up a vision of where this river of divine grace is carrying us.”
Conference attendees will also have an opportunity to volunteer in assembling 1,200 personal care kits for Lutheran World Relief. They’ll package basic hygiene supplies that will help families stay healthy while they live through difficult conditions. Conference worship offerings will help cover the cost of shipping the assembled kits to countries around the world where people need them.

Deep and wide worship

Tom Jolivette, vice president for seminary relations, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, worship chair for the conference, described the conference’s worship events, saying, “ALDE is a pan-Lutheran organization, providing opportunity for Lutherans from a variety of national affiliations and persons working for Lutheran organizations from a variety of national affiliations to come together for fellowship, education, and worship. A common bond for all of us is that we are fundraisers and communicators for missions that are bigger than ourselves and that are centered in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“In that context, worship becomes an important element in our time together. The opening worship will be held in Central Lutheran Church (ELCA) at 5 p.m., Monday, February 6. The Rev. Dr. Rick Nelson, senior pastor of Central Lutheran, will be the preacher. The worship will feature music by Dr. Gregory Peterson of Luther College at the organ and the Augsburg College Choir, under the direction of Dr. Peter Hendrickson. The worship services will center on the conference theme, ‘Mighty River, Deep and Wide.’”
The second worship is Wednesday morning, February 8, at 8 a.m., in the Hilton Hotel ballroom. The worship will be led by the Rev. Christopher Dodge, senior pastor of St. Michael’s Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Bloomington, Minnesota. Music will be provided by a musical team from St. Michael’s.
A closing worship will be held at 10:30 Thursday morning, February 9, also in the Hilton Hotel ballroom. Preacher for that service is Cynthia Halverson, executive director for development for the Evangelical Covenant Church. Halverson is the former executive director of the ELCA Foundation.

A mighty river of connections

ALDE is a growing organization and expects 450 or more to attend the conference, according to Cheryl Grasmoen, conference co-chair who works as Director of Charitable Giving Services at the Lutheran Community Foundation headquartered in Minneapolis. This year’s conference sponsors are the local North Central chapter and the Iowa chapter of ALDE.
Grasmoen commented that ALDE provides an excellent means of connecting with others, raising the professionalism and ethical standards of those involved in development work.
Glenn Thiel, who is now a gift planning consultant and counselor, commented, “ALDE has been a professional membership that has been a big part of my gift planning and fundraising career over the past 30 years. It has provided me the education, networking, and volunteer leadership experience that I needed to excel in my work as a gift planning counselor for the LCMS Foundation, serving planned giving partnerships with the Minnesota South District, Minnesota North District, and North Dakota Districts LCMS and their congregations along with Concordia University St. Paul. I have had the opportunity to serve ALDE as a member and chair of the education committee, a member of the finance committee, and a number of times served on committees and chair of committees for the annual education conference.”
For more information about curriculum and registration for the conference, check the websites or, or call toll free, 1-888/630-2533.

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