Please forward to your congregational president, church council, and treasurer.

Happy New Year!

- Status of our work together -

January 2, 2019

Dear colleagues and fellow servants of Christ,

I pray you are well and at peace as we start a New Year.  2018 brought many joys and opportunities for Grace to happen.  I wanted to take just a moment to give you a brief update on the status of our work together. 

The Synod Council and members of the Synod Leadership Team met with the leaders of many congregations in what we called Thankfulness Events.  It was our hope to listen, learn, share, and continue knitting together the parts of the church I have been calling The Lutheran Church of Western Iowa, ELCA.  The key learning was, God is active and inspiring people to complete the mission set before us. 

I continue to seek new and different ways to provide pastoral services throughout the synod.  A team of dedicated teachers are culturing a group of lay people who will be prepared to serve congregations as worship leaders, preachers, and bring the Good News to those who are not able to attend worship services.  The Theological Education for Emerging Ministry (TEEM) students, that began their education and service 4 or 5 years ago, are now approaching completion of study and will be ready for ordination.  I am regularly hearing, and meeting with, those who are feeling the call to full-time ministry and a seminary career.  I am confident that we can continue to provide well prepared and committed leaders for congregations.  Variations of shared ministries are also being considered as we try to address the issues of the church in an adaptive fashion.

I am aware that the current realities of agribusiness are causing concern in many of our communities.  I have talked with many who share that crop yields varied widely in Western Iowa and market values remain soft.  I am hearing that some congregations are doing well and ended 2018 with surplus. It appears that offerings to congregations are down in some places and subsequently so is Mission Support sharing with the synod.   To date we are about $40,000 below last year and nearly $140,000 under our spending plan in revenue for fiscal 2018.  These are important numbers to work with in that our synod assembly last June set a stretch goal of $200,000 over our proposed so that we can work on seminary debt for new pastors and deacons, also provide scholarship for those still in school.  I am working with the synod Treasurer, Michael Jacobson, and the synod Finance Committee to estimate a realistic plan for the new year (the synod fiscal year begins on February 1). 

I am asking for your advice, will your congregation be able to hold, decrease, or increase what was shared last year?  Is it possible for your congregation to share extra this year, during the month of January, so that we can move into the new year with a strong sense of support and partnership?


Bishop Rodger Prois