2019 Bishop’s Theological Conference
September 22 – 24, 2019
Cragun’s, Brainerd

“Does Scripture Matter? Engaging the Bible in the 21st Century”

Cragun’s Resort on Gull Lake
11000 Craguns Drive, Brainerd, Minnesota 56401


Why does scripture matter for 21st century Christians? In addition to the experience of weekly preaching, what other ways do people of faith engage God’s word? In our days together, we will explore questions like:

  • What is the place of disciplined Bible study – both corporate and individual?
  • How does Luther’s Christocentric hermeneutic shape our deeper engagement with God’s word?
  • How important is our grounding in scripture for living a courageous life of discipleship?

 Our guide for this rich conversation is Dr. Michael Chan, renowned Biblical scholar; recognized for keynote presentations that are creative, challenging, and humorous.

Michael has just returned to the faculty of Luther Seminary – and we are delighted to be among the first to welcome him back to Minnesota.

We will also be hearing from Rev. Tania Haber, Rev. Babette Chatman, and Rev. Martha Schwehn Bardwell.

Babette Chatman has served as Associate Pastor at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Minneapolis for two years, while also serving as collaborating ministry partner at Augsburg University Campus ministry for more than ten years. She is a Detroit, Michigan native, where Black Christians loved to “tote and quote the Bible.”  An unapologetic African-American Lutheran, Babette will give testimony to the fact that, in the Black community, Scriptures were “our source of hope, courage, strength, and comfort against the force of oppression.”

Tania Haber has served as Senior Pastor at Westwood in St. Louis Park for 16 years, and prior to that served three other congregations in the Minneapolis Area Synod.  Her husband, Pastor Bob Wertz, serves at LSS. Their oldest daughter, Ali Tranvik, is a pastor in Durham, North Carolina, and their younger daughter, Sophie Wertz, believing that three pastors in the family was enough, teaches in San Francisco. During her 34 years as a parish pastor, she has watched the preaching and teaching of scripture change significantly, so she’ll share some reflections on that and how Westwood has experimented to keep God’s Word alive.

Martha Schwehn Bardwell has served as Associate Pastor at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in South Minneapolis for almost four years. She is married to Sam Bardwell, an actor and educator who loves to learn and perform Scripture by heart. They are raising two kids in North Minneapolis, Naomi (5) and Will (2). In ministry, she is always seeking ways to bring Scripture to life so that we will not be ‘conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds’ to be the people of God in these challenging times (Romans 12:2).

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Sunday, September 22

  • 5:00 pm Arrival and Check-In, Main Lobby
  • 5:30 pm Supper, Dining Room
  • 6:30 pm Welcome and Announcements, Dining Room
  • 7:00 pm Evening Worship, Lakeshore 3 & 4
  • 8:30-10 pm Hospitality Hour, Marina, boat dock behind dining room

Monday, September 23

  • 7:30 am Breakfast, Dining Room
  • 8:30 am Devotions
  • 8:45am Why Scripture Matters: Dr. Michael Chan, Lakeshore 1 & 2
  • 10:15 am Break with snacks and coffee, Lakeshore 1 & 2
  • 10:35 am Why Scripture Matters: In Context, Lakeshore 1 & 2
  • Rev. Tania Haber, Westwood Lutheran Church, St. Louis Park
  • Rev. Babette Chatman, Redeemer Lutheran Church, Minneapolis
  • Rev. Martha Schwehn Bardwell, Our Saviours Lutheran Church, Minneapolis
  • 12:15 pm Lunch, Dining Room
  • 1-5:30 pm Free Time
    • Information about canoeing, golf, biking, fishing, and other activities is at the front desk.
      Nominal fee for some activities.
  • 4:00 pm Optional Workshop
    • The ELCA as a Sanctuary Denomination: What might it mean locally?
      Panel of Leaders, Lakeshore 1 & 2
  • 5:30 pm Supper, Dining Room
  • 6:30 pm The Bishop’s Hour, Lakeshore 1 & 2
  • 8:00 pm Social Time, Hospitality Suite, Room 340

Tuesday, September 24

  • 7:30 am Breakfast, Dining Room
  • 8:30 am Devotions, Lakeshore 1 & 2
  • 8:45 am Why Scripture Matters: Dr. Michael Chan, Lakeshore 1 & 2
  • 10:00 am Break with snacks and coffee, Lakeshore 1 & 2
  • 10:30 am Panel Discussion: Dr. Chan, Revs. Haber, Chatman, and Bardwell, Lakeshore 1 & 2
  • 11:30 am Final announcements and Closing Prayer, Lakeshore 1 & 2

Download the agenda as a PDF
(One will also be provided at the conference)

Join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

We will be posting (and hope you will too!) with the hashtag #MASBTC2019

Each fall, rostered ministers gather together for the Bishop’s Theological Conference at Cragun’s Resort on Gull Lake near Brainerd.

With time for worship, theological reflection, deep conversation, rest, golf, canoeing, and friendship,  there is something for everyone. The synod’s rostered ministers make this event a priority every year and leave feeling better equipped for ministry in their contexts.

Previous Themes

Held September 22-24, the 2013 Bishop’s Theological Conference was titled, “Practice Discipleship!” and featured key speakers Terri Elton, Jeremy Myers, Rozella White, and Hans Wiersma.
The 2014 conference, held September 14-16, was titled, “A New Pentecost: Becoming a Culturally Competent Leader.” Attendees heard from Dr. Eric Barreto, Jessica Vazquez Torres, and Rev. Kelly Chatman.
The 2015 Bishop’s Theological Conference, Faith and Public Voice, was held at Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd, September 27-29. Speakers included the Rev. Barbara Lundblad, the Rev. Peter Rogness, and Ms. Judith Roberts. Rostered leaders gathered around tables to discuss the role of clergy in the public square.
Held September 25-27, the 2016 Conference was titled, “Real Presence: With our neighbors, in our neighborhoods.” Rostered ministers left feeling inspired and equipped with practical resources for leading people intotheir neighborhoods, work places, gyms, daycare centers, and schools. Speakers included Rev. Kris Capel, Rev. Meta Carlson, Rev. Chaplain Nancy Carlson, Rev. Kelly Chatman, and Rev. Rob Moss.

Gathered under the theme, “Your Next Bold Step: Faithful Leadership for a Time Such as This,” rostered ministers enjoyed presentations by Rev. Heidi Neumark and had table discussions with colleagues.

Former Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson presented on “Serving the Gospel for Such a Time as This.”