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Teresa Cho speaks at Rethinking Sunday Morning

Rethinking Stewardship


Adam CopelandAdam Copeland, Director of the Center for Lifelong Stewardship Leaders at Luther Seminary

Presentation: The Folly of Tithing

The concept of tithing, or giving 10% of one's income to the church, has been championed by church leaders for generations. The reality, however, is that average giving rates are about 2%. Given this disconnect, how should leaders suggest an appropriate amount to give? Is it still reasonable—or faithful—to expect members to give 10%? If we drop tithing, what’s left?

Adam Copeland has served Luther Seminary as director of the Center for Stewardship Leaders since 2015. Copeland previously taught at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., where he was director for faith and leadership.

Copeland brings his experience in communication and leadership from both ministry and academic settings. Ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 2009, he pastored at First Presbyterian Church in Hallock, Minn. He then served as mission developer of The Project F-M, a new mission start in Fargo-Moorhead, Minn.

He received a Bachelor of Arts with distinction in religion from St. Olaf College. He holds the Master of Divinity degree from Columbia Theological Seminary. He is a candidate for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in rhetoric from North Dakota State University, with a focus on digital rhetoric and fundraising.

Copeland is the editor of two books: “Beyond the Offering Plate: A Holistic Approach to Stewardship” (Westminster John Knox Press, 2017), and “Kissing in the Chapel, Praying in the Frat House: Wrestling with Faith and College” (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2014).

Heidi DroegemuellerHeidi Droegemueller, Vice President for Seminary Relations at Luther Seminary

Presentation:Stewardship in the Changing Landscape of Religious Giving 

Heidi Droegemueller was elected by the board of directors to serve as vice president for Seminary Relations and executive director of the Luther Seminary Foundation in 2015.

As a non-profit and fundraising professional with 18 years of experience in board governance, strategic planning, fund development, comprehensive campaigns, budgeting, crisis management, and administrative and volunteer supervision, Droegemueller has a proven track record of leading and supporting charitable organizations in fulfilling their missions with increased effectiveness and efficiency.

Prior to accepting her position with Luther Seminary, Droegemueller was the vice president of development at CaringBridge in Eagan, Minn. and director of development at the Minnesota Orchestra in Minneapolis. She also served as the director of major gifts and planned giving at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital in Phoenix, Ariz. Droegemueller received a Bachelor of Music degree in music theory at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., and a professional certificate in nonprofit management from Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz. Droegmueller lives in Minnetonka, Minn., with her husband and two children. She is a member of Mount Olivet Church in Minneapolis.

Jodi HarpsteadJodi Harpstead, Chief Executive Officer, Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota

Presentation: Ask Not What Your Church Can Do For You… 

150 years ago, the church started our social ministry organizations. Cut loose from church and synod budgets 30 years ago, our social ministries have gone on to thrive on their own. What lessons that we learned from that history can now return as a blessing to the church?

Jodi Harpstead has served as CEO of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS) since 2011 and CEO of Children's Home Society of Minnesota since 2012. Prior, she was chief advancement officer and chief operating officer of LSS, which offers community services for people with disabilities, older adults, children, youth, and families in every county in Minnesota.

Harpstead previously spent 23 years with Medtronic, Inc. where she was president of global marketing and U.S. sales in cardiac rhythm management, as well as vice president and general manager of cardiac surgery technologies. She received an MBA and B.A. in Business Administration from Michigan State University.

Harpstead serves on the Board of Lutheran Services in America (LSA). For 12 years she was a Regent of Augsburg University, and for two of those years acted as board chair. She has been on the boards of LSA-member Plymouth Christian Youth Center and Lutheran Campus Ministry of Minnesota, as well as the Mutual Funds Board of Thrivent Financial.

Jennifer KaalundJennifer Kaalund, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Iona College

Jennifer T. Kaalund has served as assistant professor of religious studies at Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y. since 2016. She received a Ph.D. from The Theological School at Drew University in New Testament and Early Christianity.

Presentation:  ‘You Can’t Beat God’s Giving’: Moving from Mission Funds to Mission Accomplished 

In Acts 2 we find an example of stewardship in the early Christian church. We read about a community of believers who shared their talent, time, and treasure. This model of “selling their possessions and goods and distributing the proceeds to all” provides us one example of how to re-envision stewardship. Another model can be found in African American churches. From their inception, these churches were self-sustaining. There was a sense that the parishioners belonged to the church, but perhaps more importantly the church concomitantly belonged to the parishioners. Exploring these models of stewardship, I intend to affirm the sentiment found in the song, that indeed, we cannot beat God’s giving.

Her forthcoming book, “Reading Hebrews and 1 Peter with the African American Great Migration: Diaspora, Place, and Identity” (Bloomsbury T&T Clark Press, 2018), explores the constructed and contested identities in Hebrews and 1 Peter through the lens of the “New Negro,” a similarly vulnerable identity formed during the Great Migration in the early 20th century.

Kaalund’s research centers on Christian scriptures, African American history and culture, the Bible in popular culture, and the study of early Christianity in its Roman imperial context with a focus on cultural studies and womanist hermeneutics.


Martha Moore-KeishMartha Moore-Keish, Associate Professor of Theology at Columbia Theological Seminary

Presentation: What Are We “Offering” at the Offering? 

Christian communities have engaged in many different liturgical practices of “offering,” from bringing food forward to the altar table, to placing a few dollars in a wooden plate passed down the pew.  What are the roots of these practices, and what are we doing today when we invite people to contribute cash during a worship service? What are we “offering” in worship, and when, and how, and why?

Martha Moore-Keish has served as associate professor of theology at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga. since 2004. She earned a Ph.D. in theological studies from Emory University in Atlanta.

Moore-Keish studied comparative religions at Harvard College in Cambridge, Mass. and spent a year studying at Visva-Bharati University in West Bengal, India, followed by M.Div. studies at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Va. Following graduation and ordination, she worked as an associate in the PC(USA) Office of Theology and Worship, then became assistant professor of liturgical studies of Yale Divinity School and the Institute for Sacred Music.

Moore-Keish has published two books: “Do This in Remembrance of Me: A Ritual Approach to Reformed Eucharistic Theology” (Eerdmans, 2008) and “Christian Prayer for Today” (Westminster John Knox, 2009). She has two forthcoming volumes: a theological commentary on the book of James and an edited volume on Karl Barth and comparative theologies. She served several years on official ecumenical dialogues between Reformed and Roman Catholic churches, most recently between the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Susan NienaberSusan Nienaber, Licensed therapist, congregational consultant, and UMC district superintendent

Susan Neinaber is a licensed marriage and family therapist with expertise in helping people recover from trauma and abuse.  She is also an ordained elder and district superintendent of the Minnesota Annual conference of the United Methodist Church and has been a hospital chaplain and parish pastor.  For a decade, Nienaber worked with the Alban Institute as a senior consultant for hundreds of congregations across the United States and Canada. She previously earned a Bachelor of Arts from Central College, a Master of Divinity from Garrett-Evangelical Theology Seminary, and conducted doctoral coursework in pastoral care and counseling at Luther Seminary and the University of Minnesota’s Department of Family Social Science. Nienaber’s work intertwines the wisdom of psychotherapy and independent congregational consulting. She writes, lectures, and leads training workshops and retreats for clergy and laity on a variety of subjects including managing conflict and change, clergy health and well-being, professional ethics and boundaries, the use of dialogue, developing staff, strengthening leadership, and revitalizing organizations. Find her writings at

Angela ReedAngela Reed, Associate Professor of Practical Theology and Director of Spiritual Formation at Truett Theological Seminary

Presentation: Money and Ministry: Creating a Culture of Prayerful Reflection for Financial Well-Being

For many congregational leaders and lay people, prayer about money focuses primarily on what is practical and immediate, seeking God's provision to support congregational and personal needs. Churches and their leaders benefit from a broader approach to financial well-being and the spiritual life. This involves exploring practices rooted in theological commitments about money in order to create a congregational culture that welcomes open, honest conversations and prayerful reflection on money, ministry, and life with God.

Angela Reed has served as associate professor of practical theology and director of spiritual formation at Baylor University's Truett Theological Seminary in Waco, Texas since 2010. She researches spiritual formation and prayer in congregations with special attention to spiritual guidance relationships.

Reed received a Ph.D. in practical theology, Christian education, and formation from Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J., and prior earned an M.Div. from the University of Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada. Reed has authored several books, the most recent of which is “Spiritual Companioning: A Guide to Protestant Theology and Practice” (Baker Academic, 2015). The book—which was written with two former professors and mentors, Dr. Richard Osmer and Dr. Marcus Smucker—won the 2016 book award from the Dallas Willard Center for Christian Spiritual Formation.

Reed brings her experience in pastoral ministry and spiritual direction to aid seminary students and congregational leaders with a focus on health in ministry and financial well-being.

Bruce Reyes-ChowBruce Reyes-Chow, Transitional Pastor and Head of Staff at Valley Presbyterian Church in Portola Valley, Calif.

Presentation: Cultural Competency of Stewardship: What I've Learned about the Ways and Whys People Give

In 22 years of ministry serving a variety of congregations: older, younger, smaller, bigger, whiter, browner, richer, poorer, there seem to be more differences than commonalities. But there are some commonalities that cut across generation, culture, theology, and technological capacity. In this talk, Reyes-Chow will offer a few of those ideas as a way to prompt conversations about and reframing of the ways and whys people give.

Bruce Reyes-Chow joined The Center for Progressive Renewal as director of coaching in 2017. He is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and has been a church planter, redevelopment pastor, and interim pastor. He earned an M.A. in religion and theology from San Francisco Theological Seminary and a B.A. in Asian American Studies, sociology, and philosophy from San Francisco State University.

Reyes-Chow is the author of several books, including "The Definitive-ish Guide for Using Social Media in the Church" (Shook Foil, 2012) and "But I Don't See You as Asian: Curating Conversations about Race" (BRC, 2013). His forthcoming title, “In Defense of Kindness,” is expected in 2018.

Reyes-Chow previously served as the moderator of the General Assembly of the PC(USA), as well as a board member of Public Religion Research Institute. He communicates with audiences around the country on issues of faith, technology, race, parenting, and church culture. Find him on Twitter @breyeschow.

Melissa SpasMelissa Spas, Managing Director of Education and Engagement, Lake Institute

Presentation: The Invitation to Freedom

The way we address stewardship can challenge us to really examine our relationship to money and stuff, and we may be surprised by the difficulty of undertaking this personal, counter-cultural work.  However, when we are willing to embrace the challenge, we may find that there is true freedom on the other side.  Religious leaders have the responsibility (and opportunity!) to invite people of faith into a soul-deep conversation about money, creating space for new practices to emerge in our congregations and organizations.

Melissa Spas is the Managing Director of Education and Engagement for the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving.  She joined the staff of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in 2016, having spent two years developing new initiatives and strategic partnerships for Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs in Bloomington.  From 2007-2013, Melissa worked for Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, where she contributed to the development, design, and delivery of strategic leadership programs and resources for Christian institutions.  A native of Chautauqua, New York, Melissa is a graduate of Allegheny College and Harvard Divinity School, and she is an active lay person in the United Methodist Church.

Linda StaatsLinda Staats, Director, the Generosity Project, ELCA

Presentation: The Generosity Project, Growing in God's Grace Generation-to-Generation

There is nothing solemn about The Generosity Project. When six-year-olds and those 26, 46, 66 and 86 engage with one another eye-to-eye and knee-to-knee to discuss money, there is laughter, celebration of God’s stories of generosity, holy exchange of conversation, and a question, “When can we do this again?”

Linda Staats is director of The Generosity Project, a resource of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to engage and equip all generations to practice generosity and faithful stewardship. She is the owner and developer of HomeGrown Faith, a resource for faith formation and education. Staats leads ELCA Cross+Generational Engagement workshops; serves on the Board for ELCA Lutheran Schools and Early Learning Centers; advises GenOn Ministries, and consults the InterGenerate Conference, an ecumenical and international gathering planned for 2019. She previously earned a Bachelor of Science in Family Relations and Child Development from Iowa State University; a Master of Arts in Human Development and the Family, and Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln; and served as assistant to bishops for two ELCA synods. Her writing, teaching, and consulting focuses on a lifespan approach to ministry, integrating research and practical theology, and connecting people to God’s stories and their own stories to better serve in their homes and in the world. Find her work at

Larry Strenge

Larry Strenge, Director for Evangelical Mission, Southwestern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA

Larry Strenge has served as the director for evangelical mission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Southwestern Minnesota Synod since 2009. Prior to his current role, he was a mission developer, director, and pastor at Living Waters Lutheran Church in Sauk Rapids, Minn. Strenge received a M.Div. from Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, Minn.

Emerging from a background in rural Midwestern farming, Strenge earned a B.A. in business administration from Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D. He worked in business and trading commodities at Cargill, Inc. and Minneapolis Grain Exchange, and also was a pastor of a rural church. He served as a cottage parent at Queen Louise Home for Children in the Virgin Islands, a program providing residential foster care for abused and abandoned children.

Strenge brings his experience in business, leadership, and pastoring to make progress in the mission of the ELCA in southwestern Minnesota.

Mark TeasdaleMark Teasdale, E. Stanley Jones Associate Professor of Evangelism at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

Aus Lecture: Stewards of God’s Mysteries, Leaders for the World

Mark R. Teasdale has served as associate professor of evangelism and director of the doctor of ministry program at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill. since 2008. He earned his Ph.D. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He also earned a D.Min. and M.Div. from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., and a B.A. in International Relations from The American University in Washington, D.C. He is an elder in the Baltimore-Washington Conference of The United Methodist Church, where he served for twelve years in the roles of youth pastor, associate pastor, and senior pastor.

Teasdale is the author of “Methodist Evangelism, American Salvation” (Pickwick, 2014), “Evangelism for Non-Evangelists: Sharing the Gospel Authentically” (IVP, 2016), and “Go: How to Become a Great Commission Church” (Foundery, 2017). He has published several articles on Methodism and evangelism, served as the editor of Witness: The Journal of the Academy for Evangelism in Theological Education, and is the current President of the Academy for Evangelism in Theological Education. He was also selected as one of the first Billy Graham Center for Evangelism Fellows in 2016.

Erin Weber-JohnsonErin Weber-Johnson, Senior Program Director of Strategic Resources, Episcopal Church Foundation

Presentation: Who Are in Your Pews? A New Paradigm for Stewardship in a Changing World

Erin Weber-Johnson is the former senior program director of strategic resources at the Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF), where she began as a capital campaign consultant in 2009.

Prior to her work with ECF, Weber-Johnson was a grant officer at Trinity Wall Street in New York City and at the General Theological Seminary. She was previously a missionary of the Episcopal Church, and holds a master’s degree in public administration from New York University.

Weber-Johnson’s work includes managing consulting services to Episcopal entities and is primary faculty member for Project Resource 2.0, which trains teams to successfully raise funds. She has facilitated cross-denominational events, national plenaries and workshops, diocesan trainings, vestry retreats, and live webinars. She is part of a research team, the Collective Foundation, that examines the gap in research data of fundraising characteristics of majority people of color.