Alaska Synod Ministry Plan
Called to Mission, Relationship, Empowerment and Abundant Living
The Alaska Synod of the ELCA is all of us working together as interdependent congregations and partners to proclaim the Gospel as we invite, welcome, grow, and serve in Christ by helping each other through sharing prayer, encouragement, financial and pastoral support.
-We will celebrate and empower all the baptized to proclaim the Gospel in our communities, disciple new leaders,
form steward leaders, and grow ministries throughout the synod.
-We will witness to and serve Christ's Mission by renewing and creating partnerships and networks which extend our
capacity and collaboration within clusters and the synod with ecumenical partners and others with common interest.
-We will live out our gratitude for God’s gracious abundance--despite the challenges of limited resources,
demonstrating the resilience and adaptability of doing the work of God’s Kingdom of serving, inviting, reconciling and
-We will work to help assure that the young and the poor will thrive and be nurtured in the Christian faith while
empowering them to seek voice and justice in our communities.
1) Lay leadership is essential in making the mission of Christ a reality; it is critical to the ministry context of the
Alaska Synod. We take seriously the Priesthood of All Believers—our Baptismal vocation—as the empowering of leaders
unfolds. Lay leaders presiding, preaching-teaching and providing care are critical in the absence of clergy and as the
need for outreach grows. Creative collaborations with churchwide, ecumenical partners and community agencies provides for the Alaska Synod to build on what has worked in other contexts. E.g. Episcopal, Methodists, Morvavian, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic; Tribal governments, United Way, municipal bodies, and social service agencies.
A multi-tiered approach to identify, recruit, and train leaders to meet the wide range of pastoral needs.
a) Congregation Leaders—church staff, council members, emerging leaders—focus on how each is gifted, called, empowered and sustained by Christ for ministry in our communities and the world.
b) Congregation Presiders (occasional)--those identified by the community for worship leadership. Process would
include identifying, training, mentoring, and authorizing by synod.
c) Called Lay Leaders (indigenous/ethnic and site specific)—Native and ethnic communities.
The candidate is to complete the process defined in (a) Synodically Authorized Minister guidelines;(b), synodical oversight
of mentoring by cluster pastor(s) and the bishop, and “certification” by the synod council and bishop, i.e. Gilbert Oxereok,
Wales AK; currently four persons in the formation process.
d) Ordination Process both TEEM (Theological Education for Emerging Ministries) and traditional seminary route
(see Candidacy Process).
i. Starting with local pastor, reorienting leaders to embrace a broader understanding of this church's
purpose and ministry. Disciplines of Prayer, Engaging Scripture, Listening Deeply, Strategic Action and
ii. Ecumenical lay leader training open to PLUME partners; Native Alaska e.g. SAM/CLP contact C. Brower;
Congregation based Organizing March 2011; May 2011? Seward Peninsula-Alaska Native Brevig
iii Training for Presidents, Treasurers, and ASWO Leaders Assembly Apr 28-30
iv. Synodically Authorized Ministers. SAM and TEEM. Identifying and training extended over the next
three years. TEEM conversations continuing. Goal: SAMs in 10 congregation by 2012; grants are available.
2) Evangelical Outreach is to be in mission…to reform existing ministries and grow new ministries in
established and new sites. This requires reforming our thinking and extending our obligation/responsibility to serve the
whole church; example: where ordained, seminary trained pastors will serve multiple sites in collaboration with trained lay leaders. To be the church, mission has to be the first priority…the last command of Christ: Matthew 28:18-20 Go,
therefore and make disciples is to be the FIRST job of every Church. Congregations are being asked to share their
ministry plans with the synod office (Missional Covenant --LIFT recommendation). The synod, churchwide, and
ecumenical partners have resources for congregations in this process.
v. Engaging the Spirit…Ministry Strategy with timelines and accountability with models and technical support for 5 congregation cohort in 2011 and 5 additional in 2012.
vi. TEAM, Ministry/outreach and Native grants available to congregations
vii. New & Renewed Sites to be explored, participants identified and initial process defined
Reformation Project New, Emerging & Possible Ministries
Engaging the Spirit--Joy, Sitka, Fairbanks Table of Grace- Bethel
Small Congregation Cohort MatSu Outreach/PLUME -- Incl. Trapper Creek
River of Life, Trinity, Epiphany, Hope, CoSLC Prince of Wales- SAWC?/Presbyterian
Emergent Ministry -- Anchorage
Alaska Native Outreach
Seward Peninsula-Organizing/Leader Dvlpmt
Mat-Su Alaska Native Fellowship
Fairbanks -- Fellowship
Ketchikan- Native House Church
3) Alaska Native Strategy
Ministry with Alaska Native peoples is a long-term commitment for the Alaska Synod of ELCA. This commitment has
multiple expressions: continuation of word and sacrament presence, formation of new leaders, collaborative resourcing of the ministry, and deep community engagement. Seward Peninsula Lutheran Ministry Association has provided
extraordinary leadership for over the past hundred years and continues to do so. New relationships and partnerships are
emerging and new possibilities are emerging in Southeast, Mat Su and Fairbanks as well as other villages and with other
ecumenical partners. A long-range funding strategy needs to be in place utilizing churchwide resources, endowment fund
interest, synodical support and local congregation donations (from internal and external sources).
viii. Comprehensive strategy for pastoral presence, leader development, cultural awareness, re-integration
into worship life, and long term funding agreement. Practice “accompaniment” with Native peoples as we live
into God’s mission which calls communities, churches, synod and churchwide to walk together in ministry while each congregation maintains primary responsibility for its own community.
+ Leader development is critical in the village communities; Synodically Authorized Minister training connected to Native Lay Theology (PLUME); using congregation-based organizing--consultant Dr. Jose Carrasco
+ Training for pastors in local culture & tradition to help build leadership from the ground up.
+ Additional training, resources and ecumenical collaboration to address health (e.g. teen pregnancy, suicide, alcoholism, nutrition) and cultural preservation
ix. Outreach to Alaska Native and other multi-ethnic, multi-racial communities in urban areas of Anchorage, Fairbanks, MatSu, and Ketchikan. Exploratory conversations with ecumenical partners in the state.
x. Strategy of community collaboration for Alaska Native young people which seeks the wisdom of elders,
community resources, and church connections. Expand local congregational activities with youth; increase
leadership projects on/with the Seward Peninsula (and other Native communities) e.g. Rainbow of Gifts, youth congregation-based organizing, local youth leaders at Bible camp. Greater access to synod and national events through additional funding.
4) Pastor Care is a growing concern throughout the church. The ministry has changed:
a) Parish and parishioners are in constant change, concerns about finances, aging facilities, reductions in worship
participation, and fewer leaders and volunteers available to move ministry forward.
b) Rightly or wrongly, declining membership, programs, and finances is often laid at the foot of the pulpit.
c) Clergy are painfully aware that seminary and continuing education has not prepared them for this future, and are
feeling isolated and disconnected from what drew them to ministry in the first place. The isolation that most clergy feel is
compounded in our Alaskan context.
xi. Encourage the formation of informal clergy/colleague groups (e.g. lunch or breakfast gatherings, prayer
times, etc) that would have time for check-in (family, spiritual life, health & exercise, work) and conversation (ministry challenges, confidential advice, future choices). These groups might include inter-Lutheran, ecumenical or professional associates. E.g. Small congregation cohort, SPLM pastor gatherings, SE retreats.
xii. Implement a system of pulpit exchanges among congregations in urban and rural environments (e.g.
pastor at Shishmaref exchanges pulpits with the pastor at Amazing Grace for two weeks including housing and transportation). This would allow the rural pastor/family access to urban services (e.g. medical, shopping, restaurants) and give the urban pastor/family an opportunity for a break from the same-old stuff. This would build better relationships between congregations.
5) Stewardship Strategy
Mission Support Stewardship, Partnership, and Mission is a reality in synod strategy and ministry.
Outcomes: Deepening identity as steward leaders within synod & congregations
Congregations have stewardship strategy work year round
Partnership with the boarder church--ecumenical and churchwide--is a growing priority
xiii. Synod consultation process with clusters and congregations; assessment of needs from stewardship leaders.
+ Review congregation financial status—congregation and personal—in conjunction with 2011 Mission Support Response forms. Identify needs and build bridges for conversation, assessment, and action.
+Survey completed; cluster deans have followed up; Intent Ltr going out Dec 2010/2011
+Stewardship resources and consultation available through synod e.g. Ted Conter; M Keys
xiv. Lift up synod core values “the Alaska Synod is Missional, Relational, Empowering, and Living Abundantly.”
+Assembly Mission and Partnership; pre-Assembly trainings: Presidents, Treasurers, ASWO
+ELCA and Synod has lost some credibility due to CWA. For many angered by the decisions,
churchwide are not "sellable" at this time. They feel betrayed and abandoned by the ELCA
Communication: Congregations to focus on synod core values. Assessment of congregation support and
resource needs. Introduce “asset” thinking, planning and action.
+Congregation and synod assessment and review process( SR & RE) Spring and Summer 2011
xv. Coaching and resources accessed by congregations that create awareness, grow understanding and
commitment, and move congregations into better resource development and partnership.
~ Formation of Mission Support Team.
~ Spiritual gifts assessment and models for integration into congregation ministries.
~ “nuts and bolts” on annual pledge and special project funding.
~ Growing interdependent relationships e.g. Mission Partners, Mission.
xvi. Deepen understanding and commitment through year round emphasis on Stewardship, Partnership, and
Mission with all congregations.
a) Mission Interpreter teams—telling the story, telling our stories, teaching how to tell the story (Anchorage – Southcentral; Interior-Seward Peninsula; Southeast-Sea)
Status +We have lost two Mission Interpreters. See above
+SPLM has done a good job with ongoing SPLM mission interpretation ongoing
b) Multiple year round resources available to congregations that support congregation's plans for Stewardship, Partnership, and Mission work for 2011 and beyond.
We strongly believe that MISSION defines MINISTRY which draws MONEY.
6. Center for Resources and Linkage
Congregations and leaders cannot do ministry alone nor do they have all the necessary resources right at hand. The
synod can act as a partner for resources and linkage to networks and other partners.
Two Areas of Emphasis:
a) Youth and family ministries are consistently identified as a critical concern in Alaska congregations. The challenges
include lack of critical mass, program ideas, linkage with other congregations, need for younger volunteers to work with
youth, etc. The synod needs to partner with congregations to reach our youth.
b) Awareness of our ministry connections is critical. Mission interpretation of synod and churchwide activities often goes
unnoticed. Increased access to resources and information benefits everyone. Our connectedness is a benefit to
congregations, synod and churchwide for together we are the ELCA.
xvii. Synod website for youth and family resources available to congregations.
Resources: ELCA links, Augsburg, Eastern N Dakota Resource Center, Trinity Lutheran College
xix. Through website, email and postal mailing, raise the awareness of connectedness by providing
resources, bible studies, call process info, event registration, and prayer resources.
Mission=God’s Kingdom (outreach/evangelism) + Kin-dom of Christ-relational connection/Body of Christ.
Mission is Public Proclamation, Witness in Service, and Hospitality & Welcome to the stranger; AND
Kin-dom/Faith Community ministry of Fellowship, Teaching & Empowering, and Worship & Sacraments.
Jesus’ call, The Kingdom of God is near! requires URGENT responses to our work for Kingdom and Kin-dom. The
Alaska Synod is in mission; as congregations all else is secondary to our mission work.
Jesus Christ, the Living Word, is in and with our communities of faith. As the Logos of God, Christ is also in the public
square/cosmos. This relationship in Jesus Christ is the defining reality for all relationships.
The Passion and Cross of Jesus Christ define our ministry. As the Body of Christ, our Passion is to meet the needs of the
world and community around us.
What stands in the way of living out our core values and accomplishing our ministry plan?
~The Alaska Synod is too large (geographical) and too small (number of congregations and resources)
REQUIRES NEW ADAPTIVE MODEL FOR MINISTRY
~Systemic racism and economic elitism—cultural, historical, and structural—exists in congregations, the synod and
CONFRONT OUR OWN DISHONORING, DISCONNECTING, AND ATTITUDES
~Fear—personal and corporate—does not allow us to move forward in ministry.
FACE FEARS … OF CHANGE, PRACTICE OF FAITH, FAILURE, AND FUTURE