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Plenary at Mid-Winter Convocation

Mid-Winter Convocation


"Science and Religion" - Ron Choong

1/25/18 1-2:15 pm

The geohistorical emergence of the Christian faith shaped its apologetic. But it also entails the Church’s inescapable theological challenges in the light of scientific discoveries, technological innovations and medical advances. Only a truly interdisciplinary theological approach to revelation and creation and meet the challenges posed by modern paleoanthropology and cognitive neuroscience. This lecture will outline my own spiritual quest for God’s presence in the world by detecting the Fingerprints of God in the beauty and abundance on created nature.

"Catalyzing Faith and Science conversations with Emerging Adults" - Siri Erickson

1/24/18 2:30-3:45 pm and 1/25/18 1-2:15 pm

High school and college students in our congregations want to talk about the ideas and questions that arise at the intersection of faith, science, and Christian vocation. Some estimates suggest that over half of the students in our faith communities will pursue careers in fields related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). How can we prepare these curious students for a robust theological engagement with cutting-edge science and equip them to articulate how it is that their pursuit of careers in these fields is a faithful expression of Christian vocation? Chaplain Siri Erickson and students from Gustavus Adolphus College will share stories and perspectives from doing this work through two grant-funded projects: the Catalyst Project and the Gustavus Academy for Faith, Science, and Ethics.

"Vocation as Ecological Justice:  Rethinking Love of Neighbor in Environmentally Perilous Times" - Kiara Jorgenson

1/24/18 2:30-3:45 pm

In the Lutheran tradition vocation is often regarded as service to the human neighbor vis à vis work, political engagement and domestic life. This workshop will explore how such aspects of vocation might be recast in light of contemporary environmental realities and require us to consider how our teaching, preaching, and pastoral guidance on matters of calling must change to better reflect the needs of our other-than-human neighbors.

"A Deep Breath: Labyrinth and Guided Prayer" - Justin Lynd-Ayres

1/24/18 2:30-3:45 pm and 1/25 1-2:15 pm

Need a moment to center yourself? To pray? To breathe in God’s word? Come to Luther Seminary’s Meditation Chapel to walk a prayer labyrinth, enter into a time of prayer and silent reflection, and to listen to God’s word. This experiential workshop is designed to tend to your soul while offering examples of a few spiritual practices that might translate into your ministry context.

 "The Neurology of FAITH5" - Richard Melheim

1/24/18 2:30-3:45 pm

When St. Paul called the faithful to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep”, he may not have know it, but he was building on the deep neurology of hard-wiring compassion, empathy and resilience into the core of the believers’ brains. Come learn the neurological basis of the FAITH5 (share, read, talk, pray, bless) and the science behind "why night time is the right time” for maximal impact in faith formation with Dr. Rich Melheim, founder of and

"Teaching and Preaching the Way the Brain Learns Best" - Richard Melheim

1/24/18 4-5:15 pm

Thanks to recent advances in brain-scan technology, science has learned more about how the human brain learns in the last 5 years than it has in the last 5000 years. Yet, the church has been slow to apply what we now know to the pulpit and classroom. Join Dr. Rich Melheim, founder of, for a session designed to maximize your impact in preaching, teaching and reaching out to the radio, television and post-television, neo-Google world.

"Getting Off the Road to Burnout: Four Skills for Ministry Resilience" - Jim Ohlhoff

1/24/18  2:30-3:45 p.m.

About 40 percent of clergy are burned out. Even more clergy are on the road to burnout -- and most don’t realize it. Pastors are highly susceptible to burnout, exhaustion, and compassion fatigue. Join us to discuss the three characteristics of burnout, and the four capacities you can build for an engaged, resilient ministry. Session led by Jim Ollhoff, PhD.

"Starting Out Right: Avoiding Burnout in the First Year of Ministry" - Jim Ohlhoff

1/24/18  4-5:15 pm

The first year of ministry sets a tone for the future. Research suggests that for self-care and burnout, first year church-workers start a trajectory. A negative trajectory can lead to burnout in the future, and a positive trajectory can lead to a long, resilient ministry. Join us to discuss how to see burnout approaching, and what research says you’ll need for a long, resilient ministry. Session led by Jim Ohlhoff, PhD.

 "Theology & Science: Questions Churches Ask" - Alan Padgett

1/24/18  4-5:15 pm and 1/25/18  1-2:15 pm

Bring your questions and those of your faith community to this open dialog and discussion regarding some of the most common questions asked by congregations today regarding theology and science. Dr. Padgett will begin with three common ones, then open it up to the workshop. Come discuss some of the questions your church might ask you about!

"Journeying Toward Truth:  Signposts from Science and Religion" - Johnny Palka and Tim Maybee

1/24/18  4-5:15 pm and 1/25/18  1-2:15 pm

Beginning with the premise that both good science and good religion are rooted in reverence and encounters with mystery, this open conversation will explore the growing partnership between the fields of science and faith as we strive to uncover and make meaning together. This starting point will lead us to see ourselves not as lords over creation but as intimate participants in the cosmos. The deepest understandings from both science and religion lead us to a sense of connection, awe, humility, and even celebration. Join facilitators Dr. Johnny Palka and Pastor Tim Maybee in this reflective re-imagining of our role in the universe.

"Going Further" - Andrew Root

1/24/18  2:30-3:45 pm and 1/24/18  4-5:15 pm

Join Andrew and push deeper into the implications of his presentation. He’ll talk further about The Science for Youth Ministry grant and what it is learning. He’ll also show some of the resources the grant has produced and discuss how they can be used in your ministry. Bring your questions.

"Do Not Neglect the Gift: Spiritual Practices That Sustain the Soul" - Angela Shannon [workshop canceled]

1/24/18  4-5:15 pm and 1/25/18  1-2:15 pm


"Radical Nature Discipleship" - Lea Schweitz

1/25/18  1-2:15 pm

Radical nature discipleship? Creation catechesis? These are just two practices of the eco-reformation. In this session, we will cultivate theological ideas and spiritual practices like these to help churches, communities, and individuals join the eco-reformation during an era of nature deficit disorder, climate racism/colonialism, and climate change denial. We will share stories, best practices, and encouragement for living Lutheran on a planet in crisis. 

"Finding Our Voice: ELCA Teaching About Science and its Roots in Lutheran Theology" - Roger Willer

1/24/18  2:30-3:45 pm and 1/24/18  4-5:15 pm

 While not present in one document, several ELCA social statements have staked out a consistent official teaching about the relation of faith and science.  This workshop will lead participants through unpacking  ELCA statements such as those on ecology, education and genetics to understand the elements of that teaching as an aid for preaching and education.  The presentation will also probe connections between those statements and deep confessional themes of the theology of the cross, justification, creatio continua, and finitum capax infiniti (the finite is capable of the infinite).  Taken together these deep- rooted Lutheran commitments provide a distinctive “voice” to raise at the intersection of faith, science and ethics.   This workshop will provide conceptual and useable “take it home” resources for participants to help members find that voice.

"Understanding the Poet" - Grace Wolf-Chase

1/24/18  2:30-3:45 pm and 1/24/18  4-5:15 pm

Goethe wrote, “Wer den Dichter will verstehen muss in Dichter’s Lande gehen,” which translates roughly as, “The one who wants to understand the poet must walk in the poet’s land.” At the Adler Planetarium, scientists apply this philosophy by engaging people in conversations where they learn about who we are and why we love what we do. We also develop web-based projects that enable people around the world to join us in doing science, thus empowering them to share ownership in scientific discovery. Inviting people to become scientists with us is similar to inviting someone to your church so they can learn about your community from the inside, rather than making assumptions about you from the outside. In this workshop we will explore how preconceptions about science or scientists, and religion or communities of faith, can exacerbate “culture wars” to the detriment of these different, but often overlapping, communities. Developing strategies that promote, rather than inhibit, meaningful dialog has become particularly urgent in today's society.

Registration fees

(received by Dec. 14)

$150 per person

$100 per person for retired participants

$135 for a group of three or more when registration is received at the same time

(received after Dec. 14)

$170 per person

$120 per person for retired participants

$155 for a group of three or more when registration is received at the same time

The cost of paid registrations includes a non-refundable fee of $50 (per person).

Download a printable registration form