2019 Synod Assembly

Lord of Life Lutheran, Ramsey
May 3 (1:30 pm – 8:30 pm) & May 4 (8:30 am – 2:30 pm)

Kids come to school hungry. People are yearning for grace; longing for beloved community; and seeking lives of purpose. Our planet’s health depends on today’s courageous actions.

What the world needs takes more than one congregation—and more than one denomination. Together, we reshape the narrative of isolation and polarization; we become the body of Christ serving in every corner of the synod.

We gather this May to celebrate the work of the Holy Spirit—creating all kinds of partnerships that make a difference. We’ll share in remarkable stories (UMC Bishop Bruce Ough and AME Presiding Elder Stacy Smith will join us to celebrate the Ecumenical Water Initiative). We’ll hear about the challenges that require us to work together in bold action and witness.

What the world needs will take all of us.

“In Christ all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible…in Christ all things hold together. For in Christ all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Christ God was pleased to reconcile all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of the cross.”

Colossians 1:16-17; 19-20

Bishop Ann’s Welcome Letter


Dr. Larry L. Rasmussen is Reinhold Niebuhr Professor Emeritus of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary, New York City. He served as a member of the Science, Ethics, and Religion Advisory Committee of the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) and was a recipient of a Henry Luce Fellowship in Theology, 1998-99, the Burnice Fjellman Award for Distinguished Christian Ministries in Higher Education, the Joseph Sittler Award for Outstanding Leadership in Theological Education, and the UNITAS (Distinguished Alumnus) Award from Union Theological Seminary, New York.  From 1990-2000 he served as co-moderator of the World Council of Churches unit, Justice, Peace, Creation. He was the organizer of the decade project on Earth-Honoring Faith at Ghost Ranch, 2008 – 2017. In the Spring Semester 2018 he was guest professor at Union Theological Seminary and Yale University Divinity School. In the summer session of 2019 he will teach at Cambridge University, England.

He and Nyla live in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Rev. Stacey L. Smith is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She holds a B.A. degree in Organizational Leadership and Development from Bethel University, in St. Paul, Minnesota, and earned a Master of Divinity degree from United Theological Seminary, in New Brighton, Minnesota. Rev. Smith served as a successful business leader in Corporate America for 25 years leading diverse groups in Health, Communications, Human Resources, and Business Operations. She is married to Jeffery L. Smith, for which they have shared thirty-three wonderful years of marriage. They are the proud parents of two children, a son Ian and a daughter Ainsley.

Rev. Smith previously pastored St. Mark, African Methodist Episcopal Church in Duluth, Minnesota for 4 years, and in November of 2013, she was appointed as the 37th pastor of St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church, in St. Paul, MN, where she is currently serving. Rev. Smith has traveled Internationally on behalf of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and is known as a National and International speaker.

On September 30, 2017, at the 135 Session of the Chicago Annual Conference, Bishop John Franklin White, appointed Rev. Smith to become the Presiding Elder of the St. Paul Minneapolis District of the Chicago Annual Conference. She is the first female to be appointed as Presiding Elder in the Chicago Annual Conference. Rev. Smith is the Vice President of the Minnesota Council of Churches and sits on the Board of Trustees for United Theological Seminary, as well as the St. Paul Interdenominational Black Ministerial Alliance. She is a woman of prayer, and vision, and a leader committed to following the will and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Mikka McCracken lives in Chicago and serves with ELCA World Hunger as Director for Planning and Engagement. A South Korean adoptee, she grew up in northern Minnesota and is a life-long Lutheran. Mikka graduated in political science and peace studies from Gustavus Adolphus College and completed her certificate in nonprofit management from the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Continuing Studies. She believes it is possible to end poverty and hunger and that the church has an important role to play so that all are fed.

In her ten years at the ELCA churchwide offices, Mikka has also worked with the ELCA Justice for Women program and ELCA Washington Office on gender justice advocacy and ELCA Global Mission on “glocal” learning events. From 2010-2017, she served on the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) international council as one of five members from the North American region and currently serves on the Vorstand (board) of the ELCA Wittenberg Center in Germany.

Mikka enjoys the great outdoors and good vegetarian food.

Bishop Bruce Ough is the resident bishop of the Dakotas-Minnesota Area of The United Methodist Church, where he has served since September 1, 2012. Prior to his assignment to the Dakotas-Minnesota Area, he served for 12 years as the resident bishop of the West Ohio Area.

Bruce was ordained deacon in 1975 and elder in 1979 in the former North Dakota Conference and served as Council Director and Camp Program Director in the Dakotas, as Director of Oakwood Spiritual Life Center in Indiana, and as senior pastor, district superintendent and Director of the Council of Ministries in the Iowa conference. A 1973 graduate of North Dakota State University, Bishop Ough earned a master of divinity degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in 1978. In addition, he has done graduate work at Northwestern University and completed the Upper Room’s two-year Academy for Spiritual Formation program, for which he also served on the Leadership Team.

Bishop Ough served as President of the Council of Bishops from 2016 to 2018 after chairing the United Methodist Connectional Table for the 2012 to 2016 quadrennium. He was elected as a delegate to numerous General and North Central Jurisdiction Conferences and has served as a member of several jurisdictional and general church agencies. He was appointed bishop of the Southeast Asia Mission (Vietnam, Laos and Thailand) from 2010 – 2015, served as the president of the North Central Jurisdiction College of Bishops and chaired the Council of Bishops’ Plan Team on Missional Focus. He is a past president of the Ohio Council of Churches and immediate past president of the Council of Bishops.

Bruce is married to Charlene Ough; they are the parents of three sons and seven grandchildren.

David Livingston (L) and Greg Theisen (R) will be leading us in worship with a group of musicians from Nativity Lutheran Church, St. Anthony.


9:00 am       Pre-Assembly Workshop, Cross of Hope Lutheran Church, Ramsey
“In This Together: Until All Are Fed”, Ms. Mikka McCracken, Director for Planning and Engagement, ELCA World Hunger

12:00 pm     Displays Open

12:30 pm     Registration Opens

12:45 pm     Orientation for Voting Members

1:00 pm       Doors to Plenary Hall Open

1:30 pm        Opening Worship
Bishop Ann Svennungsen, Preaching and Presiding
David Livingston and Ensemble from Nativity Lutheran Church, St. Anthony, Music

3:00 pm      Plenary 1
Welcome and Liturgy to Open the Assembly
Introduction to Assembly Theme
Adoption of Rules, Order of Business, Credentials Report
Welcome from Lord of Life Lutheran Church
Dr. Larry Rasmussen, keynote:
“What on Earth is Going on?”

4:15 pm     Break

4:35 pm     Musical Selection, MDiv Student Musicians
Report of the Reference and Counsel Committee
Bishop’s Report
Resolution: RC 2019-02, Justice for Women
Memorial: RC 2019-03, Justice for Women
Jeoparody Interlude
Introductions of New to Synod, Interns, Elected Leaders, Committees, Honorees

5:30 pm     Dinner: Servant of Christ Ward from Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota

6:45 pm     Plenary 2
Musical Selection, MDiv Student Musicians
Call to Order
Presiding Elder Stacey Smith, African Methodist Episcopal Church, keynote:
“Flint and the State of our Common Home”
Bishop Bruce Ough, Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area of the United Methodist Church:
Jeoparody Interlude
Memorial: RC 2019-04, Social Statement for the Role of Government
Ms. Mikka McCracken, Director for Planning and Engagement, ELCA World Hunger:
“Faith Story”
Closing Prayer

8:30 pm    Deadline for Submitting Nominations and Resolutions

8:30 am      Registration and Displays Open
Plenary 3
Musical Selection, MDiv Student Musicians
Welcome and Call to Order
Dr. Larry Rasmussen, keynote:
   “Faith, in Minneapolis, Responds”
Nominating Committee Report
Elections: First Ballot
Jeoparody Interlude
Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Video Message to the Assembly
Ms. Mikka McCracken, ELCA Churchwide Report

10:00 am    Break

10:20 am    Plenary 4
Musical Selection, MDiv Student Musicians
Presentation of Assembly Art
Presiding Elder Smith, keynote:
“In This Together: An Inclusive Church”
Jeoparody Interlude
Ms. Felecia Boone, Vice President’s Report
Resolution: RC 2019-05, Conversion Therapy
Resolution: RC 2019-01 Paid Sick Leave
Mr. Ty Inglis, Treasurer’s Report
Installation of Newly Elected Leaders and Thank You to Outgoing Leaders

12:00 pm     Lunch
Focused Conversations Include:
• Budget Hearing
• Youth Lunch with the Bishop
• Lunch with Dr. Larry Rasmussen

1:00 pm        Plenary 5
Musical Selection, MDiv Student Musicians
Portico Video
Resolutions: RC2019-06 FY 2019 Actual Budget; RC2019-07 FY 2020 Proposed Budget
Unfinished Business

2:30 pm       Closing of the 2019 Synod Assembly

download the agenda as a pdf

Details and Business


As part of our continuing effort to make a “greener” assembly, we will not be printing information packets for voting members or visitors this year. Everything you need will be on the website and on the guidebook app. Get the guide to access the most up-to-date information about our event, including schedules, maps, and much more.

*Please note, even if you downloaded the app last year, you still need to download the 2019 version by following the below steps.

Download the guide here.

Android and iOS users:
1. Click the above link
2. Click the button to get the app on the Google Play Store or the Apple Store
3. You will be instructed to download and open the “ELCA Organizations & Events” app
4. Search for “2019 Minneapolis Area Synod Assembly” and click “Download Guide”

If you prefer paper copies or don’t have access to a mobile device, everything you need for the assembly is on this webpage and can be downloaded and/or printed prior to arriving at Synod Assembly.

Pre-Assembly Workshop
In This Together: Until All Are Fed

Cross of Hope Lutheran, Ramsey
May 3 (9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.)
with Mikka McCracken, Director for Planning and Engagement, ELCA World Hunger

In the world today, we produce enough food to feed every person on the planet – and yet, one in nine of our global neighbors is experiencing chronic hunger. Freed by grace through faith in Christ, we are called to love and serve our neighbors, both globally and locally. Does your congregation have a hunger-related ministry? Are you interested in building new partnerships to serve with your neighbors? Don’t miss this no-cost opportunity to share ideas, learn about new tools and resources and expand imagination about what it means to be “in this together.”

This event is for you if your congregation:

  • Supports a food shelf
  • Hosts a community meal
  • Engages with a backpack program
  • Works on advocacy or organizing

Do you do this work with ecumenical partners? Please bring them along! Although this event is related to the Synod Assembly, you do not have to be a Synod Assembly delegate to attend. This event will end with plenty of time to pick up or eat lunch before check-in for Synod Assembly opens at 12:30.

Thank you to our sponsors!