Attending the Assembly
Bishop Michael Burk


When you think about it in terms of five long days of meetings, you might be glad that you don’t have to be there. When you think about it in terms of past decisions that caused a stir among lots of people, you might wish that it were over. But if, instead of just thinking about it you actually attended an ELCA churchwide assembly you would discover that for the participants, the long days are both demanding and inspiring. The decisions, even the most difficult ones, are made in the midst of frequent and fervent prayer.

And all the people present gather each and every day around Word and sacrament, the means of grace, to worship God and to give thanks for the ways we have been gathered together in Christ’s own mission.

Listed below are the names of the voting members from the Southeastern Iowa Synod who will travel to Orlando, Florida less than two weeks from now to participate in the 2011 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. These are the people who were elected by our own Synod Assembly more than a year ago to take up this important work on behalf of the whole ELCA. Please pray for them,… for all of us.

And consider coming along. Really. At least virtually.

The proceedings of the 2011 Churchwide Assembly, including the daily services of Holy Communion will be live streamed through the ELCA’s website ( Check in from time to time in order to see how things are unfolding. Or simply watch the ELCA website for news releases and updates.

When it comes to decision-making, we are at our best when our varied perspectives come to expression faithfully in the context of mutual respect. And when the whole church is paying attention. When it comes to the well being of this church and the mission that we share, we all have a stake.

So visit the assembly…that is, surf the web right into Orlando.  And even if that is not possible, please pray for all of the participants and for the whole ELCA.


Southeastern Iowa Synod Churchwide Voting Members

Pr. Bill Bernau

Ruth Blom, AIM

Martha Bonte

Bishop Michael Burk

Jim Ellefson

Steve Fishwild

Eva Garloff

Elaine Haugen

Norma Hirsch

Cheryl Hollich, AIM

Pr. Carrie Lewis La Plante

David Larabee-Zierath

Pr. Keith Larson

Pr. Lisa Parker

Gideon Paul

Pr. Vicki Pedersen

Jim Schneider

Duane Suhr

Pr. Erick Swanson

Pr. Ritva Williams


Pillow Ministry
Elaine Haugen, Minister of Care
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Ankeny 


I arrived at John Stoddard Cancer Center in Des Moines with a bag of pillows from our Pink Ribbon Ministry to drop off at the infusion center. They followed me onto the elevator, this most unlikely couple. She was in a wheel chair and appeared very frail, with snow white hair and a very pale complexion, age, perhaps in the 80’s. He was young, strong and very dark skinned, in fact he was as black as she was white.  Looking about only 16, he was pushing the wheelchair while carrying a book bag. I asked what floor and he said the infusion lab. I responded, “so am I” and pushed the button. On the way up he asked about the pillows in my bag.

“They are from our support group at my church,” I told him. ” The women make then to give away. Would you like one for your friend? ”

“She’s my grandma”, was his response. “We drive thirty miles to come to therapy. I drive her to her appointments and do my homework while she gets her chemo”.

He then knelt down in front of the wheelchair and said, “Grandma would you like a pillow to rest your head on while we drive home?”

Being a little deaf, he had to repeat the question; she then nodded and said, “That would be so nice.” “Do you have any with butterflies on them, I love butterflies!”

God is so good, as I reached into the bag we had not one but two colors with butterflies, her eyes filled with tears. “Tell them how much I appreciate the kindness of strangers”, she said.

The young man looked at me and said, “We’re really not strangers, Grandma has taught me that we are all God’s children.”

I was touched by their relationship, their appreciation of each other, and the kindness given back to me through the work of the wonderful women of the Pink Ribbon Ministry at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (Ankeny).  To date they have made and given away over 500 comfort pillows.

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