The 2023 South Dakota Synod Assembly was held on June 2-3, 2023 at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls, SD. Pastors, deacons, lay members, and visitors gathered each day in worship to center ourselves on the necessary work of the church. Assembly participants were invited to celebrate all the ways that we work together as a Synod to cultivate the Gospel of God’s love and forgiveness and explore what new ways God is calling us to cultivate the Gospel in our time and place through a series of Cultivate Labs. In addition to worship and learning, here are some of the highlights of the Synod Assembly:

  • Rev. Dr. Phil Hirsch, Executive Director for Christian Community and Leadership, delivered the ELCA report on behalf of our Presiding Bishop, Rev. Elizabeth Eaton. Together, the congregations in the South Dakota Synod made it possible for the synod to share $748,598 with the churchwide organization to support our ministry together. Our deep faith and strong relationships across the ELCA provide the foundation for Mission Support sharing each year.
  • Bishop Constanze Hagmaier shared highlights of the past year of synod ministry including having the lowest number of congregations in transitions since 2019, a successful J-term pilot project in partnership with the Augustana University Religion Department, and launch of two new ministry explorations in the Synod. Bishop Hagmaier also shared some of the ways the Synod staff is showing up through new and established partnerships, including a planned Circuit Rider Co-op in Northwestern South Dakota in partnership with the Western North Dakota Synod, a new Wartburg Seminary J-term pilot project, and the launch of the “Journeying Together E-learning and Resource Hub.” Finally, she also thanked Pastor Jonathan Steiner for his service to the Synod as Director for Evangelical Mission, and previewed the transition process to call a new DEM as Pr. Steiner leaves the position at the end of the summer.
  • Rev. Dr. Mark Yackel-Juleen, instructor for the small town and rural ministry curriculum and Director of the Center for Theology and Land at Wartburg Seminary, and Rev. Jon Anderson, Director of Rural Ministry at Luther Seminary, were the keynote speakers. Both shared examples of innovation and thriving ministries and congregations in small town and rural settings, and encouraged the Assembly to explore ways to try new things, while honoring their core missions and history.
  • Worship on the morning of June 3rd included a celebration of the transfer of building and land from the Synod to Woyatan Lutheran Church. You can watch a video about Woyatan Lutheran and the Wambli Ska Community Center prepared for the Assembly here, and a shorter version of the video here.
  • Throughout the assembly, Heart River Child provided music leadership. In addition to playing regularly for worship in their home congregation, they’ve played many concerts in various communities, as well as synod youth gatherings, synod assemblies, local and statewide gatherings, and conventions.  Through their talented and enthusiastic musical performances, they share with their listeners a powerful message of Christian faith and hope. 
  • Actions approved by the Synod Assembly included:
    • Election of new South Dakota Synod Council Members and approval of synod committee members.
    • Approval of new compensation and guidelines for rostered and lay staff.
    • The 2024 Mission Plan for the South Dakota Synod was adopted.

Thank you to all who participated in the synod assembly this year! You can watch a replay of the Assembly on our YouTube page

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