Plenary at Mid-Winter Convocation

Mid-Winter Convocation


1. Congregational Culture v. the "Nones": Looking for the Stumbling Blocks

Nancy Ammerman, Professor of Sociology of Religion, Boston University’s School of Theology

Existing congregations have cultures that have been shaped by years of tradition and by the kinds of people who are already there. This workshop will introduce some tools for analyzing those cultures and invite converation about what newcomers may see that we don’t.

2. A Conversation with Nadia Bolz-Weber

Nadia Bolz-Weber, Founding Pastor, House for All Saints and Sinners, Denver

Join Nadia Bolz-Weber after her plenary session for conversation and a Q and A session. Learn more about Denver’s House for All Saints and Sinners and what it looks like to have a church full of people who are surprised they are in church at all.

3. Preaching the Word to Bodies in Time and Space: The Particularity of the Cross in Our Gospel Texts for Lent B

Katherine Ann “Kae” Evensen, Founding Pastor, Mercy Seat Lutheran Church, Minneapolis
Mark Stenberg, Co-Pastor, Mercy Seat Lutheran Church, Minneapolis

We are not preaching to spirits. Spirituality in general is a myth. It takes a body to embody this body of Christ. In the midst of a renewed cultural Gnosticism, the church is called to reclaim the word made flesh, the particularity of this Jesus—the corporal, communal practices he taught; his bodily death; and his creation-affirming physical resurrection. A divine son sent into the world, the cleansing of the temple, the ruler of this world driven out, the demand to take up the cross? What do these texts mean for the concrete living practice of the peculiar way of the cross? Join us in a thoughtful discussion of our upcoming RCL Lent B Gospel texts as you prepare to bring this word of passion and hope to your church.

4. Desert Spirituality

Lois Farag, Associate Professor of Early Church History, Luther Seminary

Desert Spirituality speaks to the mind and heart. It is a spirituality that helps us balance our work and daily obligations and figure out our priorities and the place of God in our lives. Desert spirituality addresses our most intimate thoughts and helps us analyze the roots of our spiritual setbacks. Its essence is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37). Starting in fourth-century Egypt, desert spirituality has become a global phenomenon. It endured through centuries because it is practical and simple; it tells us how to live out Scripture in our daily lives. It is also profound, it is deeply rooted in the theology of the incarnation and the renewal of creation by the resurrection. Come learn from these desert dwellers as they teach us about the examination of thoughts and the discernment of the soul.

5. A New Obedience: Spirituality in a Lutheran Perspective

Dirk Lange, Associate Professor of Worship

This workshop examines "new obedience" (or "good works" as defined by The Augsburg Confession) and its relationship to the spiritual life. What can we learn from communal prayer in this regard? The dichotomy of religious verses spiritual falls apart, for example, in the practice of prayer and the exercise of a faith in daily life.

6. The Spirituality of Biblical Texts

Lois Malcolm, Professor of Systematic Theology, Luther Seminary

Working with selected texts from the Gospels, we will draw on both Luther and Ignatius of Loyola as sources for developing practices that help us reclaim the vibrancy and authenticity of the distinctly spiritual and religious Way of Jesus.

7. Student Panel: Reflections by Pastoral Interns on “Religious but not Spiritual?”

Kathryn Ostlie-Olson, Interim Director, Contextual Learning

Participate in a panel discussion with seminarians who recently served as pastoral interns. Hosted by Contextual Learning staff, the students will reflect on what it means to serve and lead in a congregation as it responds to the spiritual needs of members in a changing religious landscape.

8. I’ve Worked My Spirit to Death, Religiously. Now What?

Sam Rahberg, Director, Benedictine Center

Faithful women and men demonstrate a mighty commitment to serve the church. Yet what does it say about the enduring quality of our ministries when these same Christian leaders so often arrive at retreat centers feeling weary, disillusioned and spiritually empty? Join Sam Rahberg, a person who has experience with these challenges and conversations, to explore some ancient wisdom, fresh perspectives and practical guidance that can help revitalize our spiritual lives for the sake of our callings.

9. Paul Tillich, “Nones” and the Church Today

Laura Thelander, Seminary Pastor, Luther Seminary

We will look at the life and work of 20th century theologian Paul Tillich. His work serves as one resource for congregational leaders as they grapple with the growing reality of “nones,” in particular, the “spiritual but not religious” (SBNR), and consider possible avenues for engaging those who have either left the church or see no reason to join a Christian community. In his day, Tillich was known for engaging religious skeptics and the culture at large by continually asking the question of how the Christian message addressed contemporary questions, doubts and concerns.  His curiosity and commitment to dialogue led him to articulate the gospel in both creative and faithful ways. Tillich’s theological insights will be placed in conversation with the groundbreaking research found in Linda Mercadante’s recent book about the SBNR, “Belief Without Borders.”

10. Deep in the Burbs: A Missional Spirituality for the Suburban Congregation

Steve Thomason, ELCA Pastor; Ph.D. Candidate, Luther Seminary

How does the Trinity impact spiritual formation in suburban ELCA congregations? That is the question that Steve Thomason asked in a recent research project. This workshop will tell the story of three congregations and how they explored the social Trinity and how dwelling in the Word and the World of the Trinity might transform their imagination regarding spiritual formation and the role of the congregation in the suburban context. Discover the practical lessons this research team learned and how those lessons might help your congregation grow in a missional imagination.