In just a couple of days more than 500 visitors will be in Redwood Falls.

Those coming to the community are from across much of the southern, western and central portions of Minnesota and are connected with the Southwestern Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in America (ELCA).

The group, representing 239 congregations, is meeting in Redwood Falls for what is known as the synod assembly, which is held every year.

According to Jon Anderson, Southwestern Minnesota Synod bishop, the assembly is held as a time of worship, learning, fellowship, discernment work and decision making.

“I like to call it our family reunion,” said Anderson.

The assembly is being held at the Redwood Area Community Center June 8-9, with a variety of events and presentations taking place during the two-day gathering.

The keynote speaker for the 2018 assembly is Daniel Rift, who serves as director for the world hunger and disaster appeal of the ELCA. In 2017, approximately $21.5 million was contributed to the hunger and disaster appeal by congregations, synods and individuals for hunger-related work around the world.

Those attending will hear an update on that work and learn more about how they as individuals and congregations can get even more involved.

Anderson said the ELCA is focused on missions on the global level, but more and more efforts are also being made to address needs at the local level as well. The word “glocal” is being utilized to help people continue to emphasize making efforts in both areas.

“Our denomination and its congregations care deeply about global and local mission,” said Anderson, adding the local synod as a whole has a passion for this work.

The story of Jesus sending out the disciples recorded in Matthew 14 and the subsequent account of him walking on the water and encouraging Peter to step out in faith will be a point of emphasis during the assembly. The intent is to encourage those who attend to step out in faith. Each person and each congregation has a call to faithfully step out of the boat. 

Times of Bible study will be presented by Jeff Zust, a pastor with 32 years of pastoral experience, including serving for 30 years as a military chaplain in active and reserve duty roles in the Army and the Air Force.

Anderson will offer a report of what has been happening in the synod, as well as offering a time to talk about the future.

The voting members will consider a budget for the synod and hold elections for offices within the leadership of the synod.

Anderson said there are still opportunities for the community to get involved in the effort to package meals for local organizations that is taking place in conjunction with the synod assembly.

To learn more about what is taking place during the assembly or volunteering, visit

– Photo courtesy of the Southwest Minnesota Synod ELCA