The Lighter Side of Lutherans, Celebrating Shirley

By Katie Livingood

Janet Letnes Martin regaled the audience with her comedic recollection of growing up Lutheran in the Midwest. Photo by Karen Surprenant

An ELCA synod assembly means a room full of Lutherans studying the Bible, worshipping, and carrying out the business of the church. Lutherans are also pretty good at laughing at themselves.

The Friday evening program at the 2011 Southeastern Minnesota Synod Assembly was a chance for participants to relax, share a laugh, and also honor the service of Shirley Gangstad, outgoing synod vice president.

Janet Letnes Martin shared her brand of Lutheran humor. She shared a little about her live growing up Lutheran, including her analysis of which pot-luck dish belongs in which Pyrex bowl and just how special the company had to be to include a banana in the Jell-O dish.

Shirley occupied a seat of honor on the stage while her past twelve years as synod vice president were revisited. Photo by Karen Surprenant

The evening was also designated for celebrating Shirley Gangstad’s 12 years of service as synod vice president. David Swartling, secretary of the ELCA; Rev. Glenn Nyclemoe, bishop emeritus of the Southeastern Minnesota Synod; Rev. Dennis Timmerman and Rev. Laura Fladten, Shriley’s pastors; and Rev. Roger Claxton, who has served with Shirley on the synod council, all shared their fond and humorous memories of Shirley. All reflected on her commitment to the church and the number of people she has influenced through her ministry.

A lot of laughter and a few tears brought the first day to this year’s assembly to a lighthearted close.

The synod staff offered a spoof on Shriley's famous "Women of the Bible" presentations. Each staff member represented a fictitious, under-appreciated woman of the Bible, including such stars as Zacchaeus' wife, Paul's sister, and Moses' mother-in-law. Photo by Karen Surprenant


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One Response to The Lighter Side of Lutherans, Celebrating Shirley

  1. Renee Belina says:

    Shirley has been a great role model for all of us Mission Interpreters who have been blessed with her passion and dedication to sharing all the good works of the ELCA. Congratulations and thank you for all your years of service as Synod Vice President, Shirley!

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