Book of the Month Facebook Group

book_imageThis group is for anyone wanting to participate.
Book Reimbursement is only for members of the SW MN Synod.

Join us in our Facebook Book Club to discuss a book about financial stewardship – Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate by J. Clif Christopher. The book was recently revised with updated material in 2015. At 113 pages, it is a shorter book that will make good reading in February before the Lenten season begins. Please purchase the book now from a place you choose. Your cost can be reimbursed to you from our Lilly funds by emailing your receipt to Carla Klawitter at

Christopher outlines a new context which we find ourselves where people are giving as much as ever, but less is being given to religious organizations. He wants to help us operate better in a context where we compete for the dollars people are willing to give. Each chapter ends with questions which will make good fodder for our Facebook discussion. The book also pushes us toward acting differently in our role as leaders. Each chapter ends with a list of things to do and the last and longest chapter is entitled “The Top Eleven Things I Would Do Now.”

We desire to start the reading on Jan. 30. We will read through the book at a pace set by our facilitator Pastor Erik Karlson who will moderate the discussion. If you are new to our Facebook Book Club, you can join the group by clicking here.

Purchase your book and join the Facebook Group:
SW MN Synod Book of the Month 

Book Reimbursement: Please email your receipt to Carla Klawitter

Questions? Please call the synod office at 507-637-3904.


Engaging Current Health Care Decisions – A Work of Love

ancient-cross-bwAttached you will find a eight page and two page condensed version of the document highlighting the resource of our Health Care Social Statement as we go deeper into discernment about the future of our health care system.   This is how the document opens.  Click on the links below to see some of the more helpful quotes I found in the statement and three supporting documents as well as the Catechisms of Martin Luther.  There is a longer and shorter version for different uses.

Bp. Jon Anderson

Engaging Current Health Care Decisions – A Work of Love

23Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.      Matthew 4:23-25

God, give me grace to accept with serenity

the things that cannot be changed,

Courage to change the things

which should be changed,

and the Wisdom to distinguish

the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,

Enjoying one moment at a time,

Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,

Taking, as Jesus did,

This sinful world as it is,

Not as I would have it,

Trusting that You will make all things right,

If I surrender to Your will,

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,

And supremely happy with You forever in the next.   Amen

Reinhold Niebuhr


Jesus healed many people in his ministry.  We believe this is a sign that God also longs to bring healing to every dimension of our lives and world.  Jesus healed people who were outsiders in a culture that often judged illness as a form of divine punishment. Jesus cared about people, not just spiritually, but also cared for people’s bodies and health. The Christian Church and Lutheran movement within it has cared about the health of people throughout its history.

As our country moves further into debate and likely reform of our health care system, Lutheran Christians come from a lot of different places.  Some come from rural, urban, or suburban contexts. Some are Republicans, Independents, various other parties, or Democrats.  Some are excited about the election’s outcomes and support the Republicans and their efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Health Care Act.  Others are ambivalent or unaware.  Many are deeply concerned about what the coming changes to the health care system of our country will mean for others and themselves.   We are united in our hope for a better health care system in our future whether there is a stalemate with no legislative change, “repeal and delay” or “repeal and replace.”

We are united in our commitment to love our God and love all our neighbors as we follow Jesus our Lord.  As we engage and deepen our voice in the coming political conversations, discernment and decisions, this resource will highlight some assets to support our work. The ELCA’s historic Social Statement on health care, ”A Vision of Health Care and Healing as a Shared Endeavor” provides helpful groundwork for these conversations that we want to make more visible.  This statement and its resources lifts up Biblical resources and other resources to think more carefully about this vocation of individuals and communities of faith to care for the health of all people.

Click here to see the whole document.  It repeats some themes but gives you a quick look into the four documents.


Here is a link to a two page document.


Webinar for Congregations Discerning Closing PowerPoint

Recorded Webinar from December 12, 2016

Click here to download Bp. Jon’s PowerPoint.1234

Audio Link on Dropbox…you should download and then play it.

Video Link for last night’s webinar.  You should download it and then play it. MP4Video

If you look down the page four or five articles you will find another article full of resources.


Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs): How to use as a tool for generosity with tax benefits

Individual Retirement Account (IRA) Letters to members, Tax information and bulletin announcements

For most people end of the year giving is a SIGNIFICANT opportunity to encourage generosity. One way this can bring a “tax advantage” for people with an IRA is to give a gift directly from their IRA to the Church. When done in this way there is no tax on this distribution. (NOTE: You don’t get a deduction on your taxes but you do NOT claim it as “income” in 2016 which one has to do on a disbursement from an IRA)  This is ESPECIALLY advantageous to those over 70 who have a “required minimum distribution.” This is explained in the “IRA Rollover information for tax benefit” below.  See the other attachments for a “bulletin insert” and a “Sample template letter” that could be put on congregation letterhead and edited by a congregational rostered leader or a person from a Stewardship committee/table/board.

IRA-letter-to-members re-rollover-gifts-2016

IRA Rollover information for tax benefit

IRA-charitable-rollover-bulletin information-for-churches

Congregational Discernment for Communities of Faith Considering Closing and Other Resources

First, if you are thinking about this as a congregational council please let us know so we can support you.

It is a hard thing to consider and to make a decision about. As we receive more calls, we have decided to plan a Zoom Meeting to review these tools and seek to help congregational leaders who are thinking about closing.

Here are some resources that may be helpful. We have pulled together some resources old and new.  The 2015 document section is full of several resources so don’t skip that one below.

Some traditions prefer to merge congregations rather than closing them. If you would like to learn more about that process we would be glad to share more and connect you with congregations who did this.

An article – copy and paste in your browser. When is the right time to close..


A video about discernment as a spiritual practice. How do you discern if this is the right next step for your congregaiotn – Resource Video – Portico

1000-30_discernment-leaders-guide – Portico to go with Video

New ELCA Congregation Considering Closing Guide

Previous Post Jan. 2New ELCA Manual


Alice Mann is a well known consultant.  Here are a series of articles that will help you think into this future. Alice Mann articles – Crunch Time for Smaller Congregations

A year ago we also had a number of calls and congregations praying and thinking about this. Here is a blog post that layed out more of the checklist and procedure documents you might find helpful.

2015 -Resources for Congregations Considering Closing or Dissolving

This is a list of resources are some that we normally share when that decision is taken.  We have decided to share them here.  If you have other resources you would suggest please share them with us.

A document from 2003 by the Secretary of the ELCA Lowell Almen – The Steps to Dissolution.


One of the normal concerns centers on what happens to the property of the church. The following lays out how that works.

Constitutional Provisions regarding Closing ELCA Model Constitution 2013

In the state of Minnesota if property matters are to be addressed, four weeks notice is required.  Here is the resolution to dissolve for Trinity Lutheran of Johnsonville Township drafted by Attorney Jeremy Berg from New Ulm, MN

Resolution Drafted by Jeremy Berg for Johnsonville

Here is the language of the Minnesota Statute regarding four week notice for property matters in congregations.

4 Sundays June 2013 with text 4 Sundays June 2013 with text

There is legal work that needs to be completed as you work to prepare for the dissolution of your congregation.

Dissolution State of MN Articles

Another step will be communicating about your Closing Service.   Here is a press release from St. John’s of  Hector.  This template will help you think about things your local newspaper or the regional paper from your area might want to know.  If we invite their interest, congregations have often received news coverage that was helpful.

News Release St. John’s of Hector

When you close your records are normally sent to the Region 3 Archives.  If you would like them available at a neighboring congregation, then they should go to the archives to make a visual record.  Currently Paul Daniels at the archives supports this work. This is a form that you can use to record what will happen to your property and also how you would like to approach the disposition of records.  Recording this will allow future generations to find and see your records if needed.   Paul’s email address and phone number are  Bus: (651) 641-3238     E-mail:

Dissolution Form for Archives

Planning for the Closing Worship service is another thing people will want to begin to think about.  Some congregations have a single service celebrating and closing the congregation like Trinity of Chandler does in the bulletin below. Some congregations have had a celebration service in the morning and a closing service in the afternoon or on another day.  These are significant choices.  A member of the synod staff or the Conference Dean will normally attend to represent the larger church and to participate in the closing litany.

Trinity Chandler’s Closing Worship Service

One of our largest concerns is for the spiritual welfare of the former members of the congreegation that closees.  We encourage the congregation to invite people to share what congregation they would want their membership to be transferred for after the congregation dissolves.   Sometimes the community of faith moves mostly as a group to another congregation.  Sometimes they are spread out into a number of congregations. Helping people let go of their church home and find a new one wheere they can receive God’s gifts of Word and sacrament is very important work for leaders and members.

Certificate of Transfer

Articles that people have found helpful.

Charles Olson – A Resurrection Story – Alban (Word)  Institute.

A Resurrection Story – Charles Olson – Web Link

Books that people have found helpful. 

Please share titles you encounter with us.