From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Lutheran Congregations Aspire for Excellence in Ministry

From Brenda Williams <>
Date 01 Oct 1998 09:14:37


October 1, 1998


     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Eager to energize and enrich parish ministry, more
than 1,600 pastors, lay and synod leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America (ELCA) will meet Nov. 20-22 in Orlando, Fla., for "Alive
in Christ: Equipping Congregations for the 21st century."
     Organized by the ELCA's Division for Congregational Ministries (DCM),
the event will feature worship, seminars, keynote presentations and music
to "inspire and uplift congregation leaders through a defined vision of
excellence in ministry," said the Rev. Michael R. Rothaar, ELCA director
for congregational studies and planning.
     The division hopes this event will help lay the foundation for the
ELCA's 1999-2000 theme, "Hope For A New Century," he said.
     The Rev. Wyvetta Bullock and the Rev. Mark Moller-Gunderson, DCM
executive directors, on behalf of the staff and division's board, will
present what the division has found to be the "best practices of ELCA
congregations."  Rothaar said "the division  focuses on learning from ELCA
churches that are "striving for excellence and preparing for ministry into
the next century," and to help others share their vision.
     The Rev. H. George Anderson, ELCA presiding bishop, will preach at
the opening worship and the Rev. Gladys G. Moore, assistant to the bishop
for the ELCA's New Jersey Synod, will lead Bible studies.  The Rev. Claire
S. Burkat will preach at the closing worship.  Burkat is director of
mission and resource development for the ELCA's Southeastern Pennsylvania
     Keynote presentations will focus on the social trends and cultural
realities that are shaping congregational ministry for the next century,
said Rothaar.
     Diane Crispell will discuss social trends emerging in our culture
with special emphasis on spirituality and religion and their impact on the
traditional ministry of the church.  Crispell, editor-at-large for Roper
Starch Worldwide -- a New York-based market research company, has expertise
on the topics of racial and ethnic diversity, households and families, and
spending patterns.  She is a member of St. Luke Lutheran Church, Ithaca,
     The Rev. Michael W. Foss will discuss how the church's ministry can
be focused on equipping people to find their faith's importance in family,
community and work.  Foss is the senior pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran
Church, Burnsville, Minn.
     "Participants will be able to choose from seven major seminars and
more than 60 workshop topics ranging from worship to stewardship and
mission support," Rothaar said.
     The Rev. Stephen P. Bouman, bishop of the ELCA's Metropolitan New
York Synod, will lead seminars on social ministry in the congregation.
Bouman is founder of the Diakonia Ministry education program which trains
lay people for ministry in local congregations.
     Victor M. Rodriguez will lead a seminar on Latino ministries.  He is
an associate professor of sociology and member of the social science
division at Concordia University, Irvine, Calif.
     Two composers were commissioned to write liturgical music for the
event: Ralph C. Sappington, director of music for American Lutheran Church in
Billings, Mont., and Ben Houge, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Mercer
Island, Wash., a composer and sound designer for Sierra On-Line.  David
Cherwien, director of music ministries at Lutheran Church of the Good
Shepherd, Minneapolis, will be the conference organist.
     "For the first time the Division for Congregational Ministries has
produced a resource for congregations entirely contained on a CD-ROM," said
Rothaar.  Called  "Congregation Alive," the resource is designed for
congregations to undergo a "self study," containing tools for moving toward
a new vision of congregational ministry, said Rothaar.  It will be
introduced at the event and made available to congregations in 1999.
     More than 400 pastors, musicians, seminary professors and worship
leaders will gather Nov. 18-20 to attend "The Future of Worship in the
ELCA: Exploring the Critical Issues," one of 12 conferences that will
precede the Alive in Christ event.  The intent of the conference will be to
identify the critical issues facing ELCA worship and music resources and
develop goals for the next generation of work.
     Keynote presenters for the worship conference include the Rev. Paul
R. Nelson, ELCA director for worship, the Rev. Frank Stoldt, director of
education and Worship for Augsburg Fortress, Minneapolis, the publishing
house of the ELCA, and the Rev. Eugene L. Brand, professor of ecumenism at
Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio.  "Other noted presenters are
church musician Marty Haugen, Eagan, Minn., and preacher and linguist the
Rev. Susan R. Briehl, Chelan, Wash.," said Rothaar.

For information contact:
Frank Imhoff, Assoc. Director 1-773-380-2955 or NEWS@ELCA.ORG

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