eSpirit         Nov. 17th, 2016
Wishing you and yours a blessed Thanksgiving!!
There will not be an eSpirit next week, 11/24/16 - Happy Thanksgiving!!
ELCA Good Gifts
As the holiday season is upon us, why not consider shopping in the Good Gifts catalog or online at ELCA Good Gifts. There are gifts from $10 to $2,500, to give in honor of someone. They even have cards to tell loved ones about the ELCA Good Gifts given in their honor. A great idea for the person who has everything, or for the person you just have no idea what to buy; this is a great option!!
Shopping That Benefits The Western Iowa Synod

If you're an Amazon shopper then AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization. You can choose from nearly one million organizations to support, Western Iowa Synod is one of those organizations that we hope you will select!!
Advent Crafts for the Family

Start a new tradition this year with your kids, grandchildren or even a child from your congregation!!! Click here for great craft ideas for the upcoming Advent season!!
In This Issue:

Important Links:
Visit our WebSite
Don't miss out on the many great stories, opportunities and events in and around the synod that are listed below!

Please share this information with your congregational members and invite them to attend the events!! 

Check out the many Advent ideas on

Synod of the week: Southeastern Synod, Bishop Julian Gordy
Congregation of the week: St John Merrill, Bert Burwell, AiM

  • Congregations in transition
  • Pastor Tess Panamarrow
  • Pastor Paul Johnston
  • Pastor Lorene Glant
  • Sebastian Diaz (Pastor Filemon's son), recovering from the flu
  • Wanda Norris,and Pr. Arlyn and family--continued struggles with cancer
  • Thanksgiving Lutheran South Sudanese ministry - grieving death of a leader
  • Nation - President elect Donald Trump
  • Bishop Prois and Cindy Wells safe travels home
  • Pastor Jeff Ungs and Pastor Lorna Halaas traveling to Dubuque for an event
  • Rachel and Pastor Luke Kuenzli as they anticipate their third child's birth 
Introducing a Simpler Approach to Health Care
If You Have ELCA-Primary Health Benefits:
For ELCA-Primary health plan members, new Portico Care Coordinators by Quantum Health will be your first place to call in 2017 when you need help with your health care. This concierge-style team made up of benefit specialists and nurses will guide you through today’s complex health care system, making it easier for you to ask your questions and get the right care at the right time. Watch for your new health ID card and details in December.

What will it be like to work with a Care Coordinator? Watch the 4-minute excerpt from our recent webinar presented by Stacy Kruse, Portico’s Chief Operating and Financial Officer. 

Starting Jan. 1, 2017:
One number to call for medical, mental health, and prescription drug benefits
One ID card to show at the doctor and pharmacy
Help finding in-network providers
Help reducing out-of-pocket costs
Help coordinating treatment for complex conditions
New health assessment and easier way to report completion of follow-up activities

Not Changing for 2017:
Deductibles, out-of-pocket limits, prescription drug copayments
Doctors and hospitals — same Blue Cross and Blue Shield network and negotiated discounts
100% paid preventive check-ups and screenings
$400 wellness dollars incentive
Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
Dental coverage
Tax-advantaged accounts
Fitness center discount
Hearing discount
Assembly Input Opportunity!!
The Assembly Business and Counsel Committee (ABC Committee) invites your input in planning the 2017 Western Iowa Synod Assembly.

Here are the areas they would like your assistance with:
  1. Ministries that could be lifted up to receive the assembly offering
  2. Forum possibilities
  3. Vendors that would fit our theme and appropriate for this event

The ideas offered should fit into the assembly's theme which is "We Are Lutheran: Opening Doors" also keeping in mind 2017 is the 500th Anniversary of the reformation. If you would like to offer ideas to the ABC Committee, please do so by November 28th. You can participate by clicking the button below which will take you to a form to offer your suggestions. The ABC Committee will take all responses into consideration. Thank you for participating!!
Assembly Suggestions
Daily Advent Devotions...
will be offered again this year from people of the Western Iowa Synod!!! Advent begins on November 27th. There will be a link to the blog on our website and every week in the eSpirit. The devotion will also be sent out via Facebook daily! 
Attention congregation treasurers and bookkeepers!
Join us for a gathering of treasurers and bookkeepers throughout the Synod....
When?          Monday, November 21st from 6-8 PM
                       Soup & Sandwich available at 5:45 pm
Where?        318 East 5th Street, Storm Lake (Synod mission center)

New to Synod Gathering
For rostered leaders new to the synod!
When: Thursday, December 1st
Time: 10:00 am - 1:00 pm (lunch is provided)
Where: WIS Mission Center, 318 E Fifth St, Storm Lake
Spirituality Retreat for Clergy

Dates: January 8th-10th
Location: Lutheran Lakeside
Theme: Food for Life

Cost depends on overnight accommodations - see website
To register please contact Pastor Lorna Halaas 
Room reservations should be made directly to the camp at 712-336-2109
More information on this event can be found here!!

Winter/Early Spring ConFest Events:

Theme - "You Belong"
Wednesday, February 15th @ Trinity, Moville
Wednesday, February 22nd @ Zion, Gowrie
Events begin at 5:45 pm with a light supper, programing starts at 6:30 pm

Mark Your Calendar - Leadership Academy 2017
When: Saturday, February 18th              
Snowdate: Saturday, February 25th
Time: 9:30 am - 3 or 4 pm
Where: St Olaf Lutheran Church, Fort Dodge
For all congregational members!!
You are invited!! Installation of Rev. Jennifer Henry

By the Grace of God, The Rev. Jennifer Henry is called as pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church in Spencer. She will be installed at a Festive Service of Holy Communion.
When: Sunday, November 20th
Time: 4:00 pm
Where: Bethany Lutheran, 15 West 14th St., Spencer

Please RSVP by November 14 to (712) 262-2327 or

Clergy and other judicatory leaders are invited to vest (green) and process. Please meet in the parlor at 3:30 pm.
Livestream the St Olaf Christmas Festival to Your Congregation, Free!

The St. Olaf Christmas Festival is one of the oldest musical celebrations of Christmas in the United States, featuring more than 500 student musicians who are members of five choirs and the St. Olaf Orchestra. It is broadcast nationwide each year and is often featured in national media.

St. Olaf College has received a special donation to offer the live video stream of their concert for FREE to all ELCA congregations on Dec. 4 at 3 p.m. CST. This generous gift has been given to the ELCA in an effort to share the joy of the Christmas season together. More info here...
There is still time to join us in celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation Movement where it all began in Germany! Pastor Bob and DeeAnn Vaage will be leading an 11-day tour following the footsteps of Martin Luther May 2-12, 2017. Included in the tour are visits to the Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, the Augustinian Monastery in Erfurt, Luther’s birthplace in Eisleben, and the Castle Church in Wittenberg. In addition to the Luther sites, the tour will also visit historic Berlin, Prague, Augsburg and the capital city of Germany, Munich. For more information on the interest meeting or for a copy of the brochure, contact Pastor Bob Vaage at 712-330-0010 or email
Quick Links
Western Iowa Synod
318 E Fifth St.
Storm Lake, IA 
712.732. 4968