By Rev. Peter Reuss
Director for Evangelical Mission, Southeastern Minnesota Synod
In the current configuration of the staff of the Southeastern Minnesota Synod, three of us serve as assistants to Bishop Delzer.
Rev. Linda Gunderson works with congregations in the call process, with candidates as they work their way through the seminary system, with newly ordained pastors as they receive continuing education for the first three years of their ministry, and with planning the synod’s Theological Conference for leaders. Her title clearly describes her role: Director for Rostered Leadership.
Karen Gieseke helps congregations rethink ways of passing on the faith between generations. She has wonderful conversations surrounding confirmation, Sunday School, Bible Studies, and family faith activities. Her title is also quite clear: Director for Family Ministry.
My title sounds a bit more obscure: Director for Evangelical Mission. Evangelical Mission sounds important, but what role does that play?
I have been called by the churchwide expression of the ELCA to serve on Bishop Delzer’s staff. As a member of the churchwide staff, I provide a bridge between what happens on national and local levels. I serve under the supervision of both Bishop Delzer and the Congregational and Synodical Mission division of the ELCA. My position is not unique: nearly every synod in the ELCA has a Director for Evangelical Mission (DEM).
I have three major roles on the synod (and churchwide) staff. I am the point-person for working with new congregations. This is the portion of the position which I’d been a part of prior to coming onto Bishop Delzer’s staff full time. I work with the New Ministry Table to identify new ministry areas and oversee & assist these ministries as they get started. The New Ministry Table is forming three sub-tables to do this work: African Ministry, Latino Ministry, and Area Mission Strategies (working with congregations in certain areas to determine the possibility of something new). In the past few years six South Sudanese/Ethiopian ministries have emerged in our synod. Many other exciting conversations are underway!
I have the responsibility of working with congregations in times of renewal (and in this fast-changing world, every congregation is in a time of renewal!). I am a part of the Congregational Renewal Table, which promotes mission-minded congregations, encourages congregations to collaborate in ministry, and connects mentors and congregations. This table has led the Excelling in Mission events for the past few years and looks forward to working with congregations discerning God’s call for the future.
It takes a lot of support to keep things moving forward in mission. The third role of a DEM is to work with the Mission Support table to help provide the resources to allow God’s work to be done throughout the synod. The New Ministry and Congregational Renewal Tables abound in exciting stories of what God does throughout the synod. This passion for mission spills over to the Mission Support table as they bring people on board to support this great mission.
New Starts. Congregational Renewal. Mission Support. My title may not be as clear, but my role is quite specific.