Synod News - May 2, 2024

Synod Assembly Theme Series – Reflection #5

+Bishop Dee Pederson


One body in Christ. Christ: How do we say or hear this name for Jesus? How do we use God’s name? Like the Small Catechism says, do we use it “to curse, swear, practice magic, lie, or deceive”? Or “to call on, pray to, praise, and give thanks to God?” 1 

In the language of scripture, the word “Christ” is “Christos.” It appears as a title and as a name, referring to the Anointed One, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, Christ Jesus, or Jesus the Christ. In the Gospels, people who meet Jesus wonder if he is the “Messiah.” But it is after Easter, in the saving events of the crucifixion and resurrection, that we hear “Jesus Christ” or “Christ Jesus” named as the one who in fact accomplishes our salvation. St. Paul centers everything he teaches on the message of the cross and refers to the name of “Christ” hundreds of times in his letters. Click here to read Bp. Dee's full reflection.

2024 Synod Assembly Theme Series - Reflection #1

2024 Synod Assembly Theme Series - Reflection #2

2024 Synod Assembly Theme Series - Reflection #3 2024 Synod Assembly Theme Series - Reflection #4

2024 Synod Assembly Theme Series - Reflection #5

Please feel free to share, print and use Bishop Dee’s reflections however it fits best in your congregation’s communications. Congregations can also use this for a devotion for any group, committee or council gathering.

Assembly Registration Update

We have now reached the maximum room capacity for voting members attending onsite in the plenary room, Eckhoff­ Alumni Hall. If you, or your congregation, have not yet registered and hope to attend in-person, we encourage you to register today. A waiting list has been created and an overflow room/watch party will be available onsite.   

Register Now

Read the Assembly registration information below before registering

Synod Staff Updates

Director for Evangelical Mission (D.E.M.), Pr. Troy Plibsen, will be away from ministry responsibilities during the month of May for medical reasons. He plans to return to work in June. In the meantime, questions about ministries with which Pr. Troy works can be directed to Bishop Dee Pederson, Thank you for holding our D.E.M. in prayer.

Welcome Rev. Seyward Ask

Synod Minister for Equipping Congregation Leaders, Rostered Ministers, Youth, & Families.

On Saturday, April 13, the Southwestern Minnesota Synod Council voted to extend a Letter of Call for the new Synod Minister position to Rev. Seyward Ask. 

Pastor Seyward was ordained in 2010 at her home congregation, First Lutheran in Morris. She served in two congregations in the metro Atlanta, Georgia area prior to moving to Willmar in 2016, where she served in ministry for 6 years at Faith Lutheran in Spicer. She then worked as the Executive Director of the United Way of West Central MN. She recently chaired the Equipping Congregations Day planning team, has been assisting in an interim capacity for Vinje Lutheran, Willmar, and St. John’s, Raymond, and has provided pulpit supply for many congregations in the Synod. Pastor Seyward lives in Willmar with her husband (Justin Ask, Lead Pastor at Vinje) and their three children (Brooklyn, Maggie & Remy). 

This new position brings together responsibilities for call process in 5 Conferences with supporting youth & family ministries and the LYO Board in this vital work. The process for creating the new position began in December, and final interviews were held in April. Thanks to Roseann Nagel (Personnel Committee), Pr. Jon Dahl (Personnel Committee), Pr. Chris Richards (Synod Council), Donn Hoffman (Executive Committee), Vice President Maria Lokensgard for leading this process, along with Bishop Pederson.

Pastor Seyward writes, “I am so thrilled for this opportunity to serve our Synod in this position. I am eager to work with congregations as they navigate the call process. I also look forward to finding meaningful ways to support and equip youth and family ministry leaders throughout our synod. Both of these areas are so important to the success of a church, and I am excited to begin this new call.” 

Pastor Seyward will be installed and will begin serving in this position at the Synod Assembly. 

LYO Board Appointments 2024-2025 Application is Open!

At the Senior High Gathering (March 2024), students from across the synod elected 13 high schoolers to serve as members of the LYO Board. The LYO Board is now tasked with appointing two more students to serve on the board with a particular focus on expanding the diversity of the students represented on the board. Recognizing that the election process can sometimes unintentionally exclude people who have gifts to serve, these two positions are not elected but rather are appointed by the out-going board. The intent of these positions is to bring diversity and a balanced mix of gifts and skills to help further the mission of the LYO board. The elements of diversity we consider for these appointments can vary widely from race/ethnicity to gender, from neurodiversity to differing physical disabilities, from geography to economic class. All applications are welcome! Click here for more information.

Online Application Form

Now Accepting Applications for Congregational Mission Grants! 

The Southwestern Minnesota Synod Endowment Fund wants to partner with you in supporting the mission of the Church in your local community in 2024-2025.  

The Endowment Fund Committee is looking for project proposals in the following areas:  

  • Community Outreach 
  • Youth Activities 
  • Special Mission Projects  
  • Addressing Community Food Insecurity 

These grants are intended for new initiatives or for significant expansion of existing programs to serve new people. The Endowment Fund is particularly interested in proposals that involve partnerships with other faith communities and organizations in the community. In evaluating applications, the Endowment Committee will consider sustainability following the initial grant period where applicable.  

Congregations of the SWMN Synod, as well as Conferences and Campus Ministries, are invited to apply. (Application Deadline: July 1, 2024

This is the sixth year for Congregational Mission Grants. In the last five years, a total of $87,552 has been awarded throughout the SWMN Synod. This year, there is $40,750 available. Funded projects must be completed, with a final report received by November 30, 2025.  

The Endowment Committee will decline to fund building improvements, maintenance, or renovation, and congregational mission trips. In addition, while welcoming applications which involve project staffing, ongoing staff positions will not be considered. Click here for more information.

Online Application Form

Seminary Scholarships Awarded!

Every year the SW MN synod scholarship committee awards scholarships to students in seminary and in the candidacy process.

These scholarships are possible because of a variety of generous gifts from congregations and individuals. They make a tremendous difference in helping our seminary students with the learning and living costs of attending seminary. This year we were able to award $50,000.00 worth of scholarships to 9 students at various points in their journey towards being pastors and deacons!


First, thank you to all who have so generously shared gifts that make it possible for seminary students to receive these scholarships. These amazing gifts allow us to support students as they prepare to become pastors! This generosity helps us to continue to encourage candidates to explore ministry in our synod and throughout the church while helping to offset the academic and living costs of this education! We know that there is a great need for future leaders for our congregations and so we are so appreciative that the scholarships that make this possible.


Second, congratulations to the seminary students receiving these scholarships! We are excited about your discernment of a call to ministry. We are grateful that we can help support you as you learn and grow and soon serve the Church as pastors and deacons!

Gifts of Grace Survey / Available Grants in 2024

+Pr. Andrew Hermodson-Olsen The Gifts of Grace program in our synod conducted a financial wellness survey at the end of last year. It was sent to grant recipients of the last 8 years, the length of time grants have been given.  49% of those contacted responded. The survey asked the grant recipients to compare how they currently feel about their financial situation with how they felt three years ago. Here are some results from the survey: 

  • 59% of the respondents have less financial stress now than three years ago; 22% have more financial stress. 
  • 43% of the respondents feel better about their financial wellbeing while 19% feel worse about it. 39% feel the same about their financial wellbeing.
  • 80% of the respondents say Gifts of Grace make a difference in their overall financial health. 

Making a difference is what any program and person hopes to do. Gifts of Grace: Toward Financial Wellbeing seeks to assist rostered leaders in our synod move to better financial health. One way is to give grants. Here are the grants that will be available in 2024:

  • Grant to Reduce Educational Loans (opens May 13)
  • Retirement Readiness Grants (opens May 13)
  • Medical Expense Grant (currently open)
  • Grant for Renewal in Ministry (for an extra Sunday off; opens May 13
Gifts of Grace Grants

Important Synod Assembly Dates:

  • Compensation Guidelines Zoom Hearing: May 13 at 7pm
  • Resolutions Zoom Hearing: May 14 at 7pm
  • Budget Zoom Hearing: May 20 at 7pm
  • Orientation Zoom Hearing: May 21 at 7pm
  • Registration closes: May 23
  • Display deadline: May 23 or when full
Visit the 2024 Synod Assembly webpage

Upcoming Synod Events:

  • June 7-8, 2024 - Synod Assembly
  • July 19, 2024 - SW MN Synod Lutheran Men in Mission Golf Tournament
  • August 6-8, 2024 - Women in Ministry Gathering
  • October 6-8, 2024 - Fall Theological Conference - GrandStay Hotel & Suites at Little Crow, Spicer, MN

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