It is with a great deal of sadness that we heard late last night about the death of longtime Network member and a former member of our Board of Directors, Rev. Beverly Conway. Pastor Beverly served at Redeemer Lutheran Church in South Holland, Illinois.
She graduated from Loyola University, and then from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. She has served as a member of the youth ministry team of the Metro Chicago Synod of the ELCA.
Pastor Beverly served for six years on the Board of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network. During that time, she was a tireless advocate within the Network for ways that the Network could support those in under-served communities. Beverly had a prophetic voice and was willing to speak truth, even when it was uncomfortable for someone to hear. She did this with grace and love.
Pastor Beverly had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh. She enjoyed traveling and she reveled in good conversation with friends. I will remember the twinkle in her eye when she smiled.
Her faith was her passion, and she loved being a pastor of the church.
We mourn her loss, but we celebrate the fulfillment of the promises of God in her life.
When we hear of funeral arrangements, we will make those known.
Please keep Pastor Beverly’s family members and her congregation in your prayers.
The Network is excited to introduce new members of our leadership! There are two new people who will be joining the Network’s Board of Directors.
Rev. Regina Goodrich is the pastor at Mediator Lutheran Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A graduate of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, and Waynoe State University, she has been involved in children, youth and family ministry for over 30 years.
Becky Cole is the Director of Children’s Ministry at Holy Spirit Lutheran Church in Kirkland, Washington. Becky has earned both a B.A. and an M.B.A degree, and is in the process of seeking certification from Trinity Lutheran College in Children, Youth and Family Ministry Studies.
In addition, Erik Ullestad, of West Des Moines, Iowa, has been reappointed to a second term serving on the Network’s Board of Directors.
There are also 3 new Regional Facilitators who will begin their terms at the conclusion of the Extravaganza in Detroit.
Abby Triebel of Poughkeepsie, New York, will begin representing Region 7. She serves at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Ashley Strelau, or Moorhead, Minnesota, will begin representing Region 3. Ashley serves as the Associate Director of Youth Ministry at Trinity Lutheran Church.
Region 9 also will be selecting a new Regional Facilitator. They have not yet been identified, but should be in place prior to the Extravaganza.
We welcome these new leaders in our Network! Thank you for your service!
The Network is governed by a seven member Board of Directors. (plus two non-voting members.) The Board is responsible for setting the direction and vision of the Network, which is then carried out by a small, part-time staff and a huge, dedicated and dynamic group of almost 150 volunteer leaders.
The mission of the Network? To strengthen and empower children, youth and family ministry leaders in service to Christ.
This year, there are 3 seats on the board that are open for nomination.
Nominations are made either by the individual themselves (self-nominated) or by someone else (3rd party nomination). Both forms of nomination are equally valued.
The Nominating committee, made up of two board members, two regional facilitators and one at large member, receives input from the board on what its needs are to continue its work, and then it focuses on culling through the nominations and to find the best fit of gifts and need. The Nominating committee presents its slate of names to the board at its fall meeting, and the board either accepts or rejects the slate.
This year, the board has identified three areas of need as it looks at its current board make up:
- Diversity of the board in terms of ethnicity
- Diversity of the board in terms of geography
- A need for someone with expertise in the area of children’s ministry
Of course, all nominations will be gladly received and considered. The broader the pool the committee has, the better a decision will be made.
The Network’s hope is that perhaps you, or someone you know might be a good fit for the board. It is a great group of leaders that makes a difference in the life of the church. If you’re interested in serving, or know someone you believe would be a good fit, please visit the nominations page on the web site for more information.
If you have any questions, please send me an email.
I know both Jake and Erik. Not nearly as well as I would like to, but well enough that I knew I’d buy a copy of this book as soon as I’d heard about it, just because I wanted to support them.
But read it?
I hate cancer. Really, I do. I’ve seen the effects up close and personal. My Mother is a breast cancer survivor and sometimes, I’d go sit with her during her infusion therapy sessions. I have close friends who have lived with cancer. I have close friends who have died from cancer. I have done funerals for cancer victims in my congregation.
So I bought the book, but would have been content to let it sit on my shelf. To open it would be to voluntarily re-engage a world that brings back painful thoughts, feelings and emotions. Why would I possibly want to do that. And besides, cancer scares the crap out of me.
But I also felt conflicted. Yes, I can learn more…yes, there are some interesting writers in this set of essayists…yes, I’m a grown up and I shouldn’t let base fears and emotions drive my actions.
So I picked a time and place to read it where if it got to be too much, I could just look away, and my setting would restore my soul: on the beach in Jamaica. Not bad. And so I read. And I never had to look away.
This collection of essays is full of wisdom. And there were no cliche answers…nothing designed to just make cancer seem “all right.” There was brutal honesty and powerful reflection. Not all of the essays spoke to me, and I’m sure that some of the ones that did wouldn’t speak to others. Our journeys and contexts are unique enough that the beauty of the book is that it will speak to the diversity of our experiences in some way, shape or form.
But what I loved most is that in these pages, even though I have not experienced cancer myself, I found stories of brokenness to which I could relate. Because really, we’re all broken. And while for some, the brokenness may be called cancer, for others it will have a different name.
And in the midst of the essays I still found hope and promise. Even in the stories that did not end well. There was evidence of the work of God in those stories.
I’m glad I read this book. I think you should too. It will help you remember from where you came and to whom you belong. And it will remind you of the promise of the resurrection, lived out in the the lives of God’s people, and of your life. And in reading these stories, the stories of those you know and love who have experienced cancer will resonate. And you will learn how to better connect with those who experience this disease.
I still hate cancer, with all of my heart. And while it still scares me when I hear the word…this book reminds me how to not be afraid.
Networked in Christ
Cancer Theology is edited by Erik Ullestad and Jake Bouma. Erik serves at Windsor Heights Lutheran Church in West Des Moines, Iowa and Jake Bouma is at Faith Lutheran Church in Clive, Iowa. They are both members of the Network. Erik is currently serving as the chairperson of the Network’s Board of Directors.
There aren’t enough ways that I can say “thank you.” I wish there were, but I haven’t figured out how to do that yet. I’m still in St. Louis, here for one of the post-E meetings that typically takes place at the end of the event. I have to admit that I’m having just a little bit of trouble focusing, because my mind is still completely wrapped around the Extravaganza we just experienced.
This was a great event! I know that we’ll go through evaluations soon, and that there will be good, constructive criticism that comes from those evaluations. And, we’ll learn from them. But my gut tells me that it was a good event.
How does this all of this happen? There are a whole bunch of people who make it possible.
The E-Team is 26 of the strongest servant leaders I have experienced in the church. They worked in unbelievably creative ways to pull together an event with more than enough space for the Holy Spirit to do its work. And they are led by Scott Maxwell-Doherty, one of the church’s strongest and most creative leaders. These people need to be thanked.
But there are more: The Network’s Board of Directors, the Regional Facilitators, and so on and so on. The Network is full of leaders.
But here’s the deal: These gifted, blessed children of God are not the reason the Extravaganza was great. They’re a part of the reason, but they are not the whole. I often say that the Extravaganza isn’t an event, it’s a community. We gather as friends to share in our common mission. An Extravaganza is a “wiki-like” experience, created by community. And for that to happen, it takes exactly 653 people. Because that’s how many people were “in the house” for the Extravaganza.
653 of you put together this Extravaganza. They gave their time and energy. They shared their knowledge and wisdom. They contributed to the conversation. They gave, and they received.
I wish I could thank you all individually. Because it is all of you who made this happen. Thank you for being in St. Louis. Thank you for sharing who you are with the rest of us. we are all stronger in our ministry because of it. So I’d like to make 653 thank you’s. One for each of you. Because you made this event work. So please, please, please accept my thanks.
With gratitude, and networked in Christ,
Sue Megrund and Tom Schwolert have been appointed to fill vacancies on the Board of Directors of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network. Their three year terms will begin at the conclusion of the Network’s Extravaganza, January 30-February 3, 2014.
Sue Megrund is the co-founder of Interserve Ministries, an organization based in Minneapolis that works with congregations in children, youth and ministry staff transition, and provides trained interim staff to walk them through the process. Sue has 24 years of congregational experience and completed her M.A. from Luther Seminary as well as NALIP Interim Ministry Training. She has completed the training for and implemented Healthy Congregations and Bridge Builders processes.
Tom Schwolert is a 26 year veteran of congregational ministry in Minnesota and most recently in Texas. He recently left his position at Faith Lutheran Church in Flower Mound, Texas. Tom has his M.A. in children, youth and family ministry from Luther Seminary, and has helped to provide leadership within his synod. In addition, Tom has done speaking, consulting and training, primarily around youth leadership and peer ministry. He co-wrote a curriculum on “Full-Circle Relationships.
Board members serve three year terms, renewable once. Tom and Sue will be filling seats being vacated by Yvonne Steindal, who has served two full terms, and Rev. Mike Ward, who has served one term. Mike was recently elected to the ELCA Church Council and elected not to continue his work on the Network’s Board, though he will be working with the Network to further develop organizational partnerships. I will give more information about Mike in this role in an upcoming blog posting.
The process for selecting board members begins in February every year as the board identifies the kind of gifts that are needed at a leadership level to help move grow the Network. A nominating committee made up of 2 board members, 2 regional facilitators and 1 at large member is appointed, and they begin their work in March, when nominations are opened up. Nominations are accepted until July 1, and are open to all. The board meets 2-3 times in online meetings from July until the middle of September, narrowing the candidates down to the number of vacancies. That slate of candidates is voted on by the board at it’s meeting in the middle of October.
We are excited for the gifts that Sue and Tom bring to the board, and look forward to their service!
Someone recently made a comment to me about the leadership structure of the Network that piqued my curiosity. Someone wondered how leadership was developed within the Network, and if the Network’s leadership structure was ‘insular.’ It’s a great question, and one that we need to regularly be taking a look at. So I decided to do some analysis and find out.
5 or 6 years ago, the Network’s board restructured itself and the way leadership happens within the Network, moving to a “Policy Based Governance” system, and creating teams that work different areas of the Network’s organizational life. This move, in my opinion, breathed new life into the whole of the organization.
I think of leadership within the Network happening in two different concentric “circles.”
The first circle would include the Board, the Regional Facilitators, the E-Team, the Connect Journal Team, the 3TC Team, the Membership Team, the Communications Team and the Practice Discipleship Leadership Team and the “staff.”
There were a total of 54 people involved in these groups. These 54 people are in what I’d call a key leadership role within the Network. Please note that some of these folks may have held different roles in that time. (i.e. one person who has been in leadership for 7 years, but 4 of those were on the E-Team and 3 as an RF. I didn’t differentiate these roles in this analysis. I just counted the total number of years in service within the Network.
The total number of years of all those in leadership when added together: 205
The average number of years in a leadership role for individuals: 3.79
Of the 54 people I analyzed:
Those who have served 0-3 years: 33
Those who have served 4-10 years: 17
Those who have served 10+ years: 4
So 61% of those in leadership in the Network came into their leadership role just within the last 3 years.
The second circle of leadership is made up of the 65 members of the Regional Teams that are coordinated by the Regional Facilitators. Basically, each of the 9 RF’s have a team made up of one person from each synod from their region.
I didn’t do an analysis of this group because I didn’t have data about all of their longevity. Suffice it to say that as I looked at the list, many of the names were of people that I didn’t know. While that’s not exactly scientific, I do think it speaks to the steady flow of new folks entering leadership within the Network. In fact, one of my great joys is that there are so many people involved who I don’t have a direct connection with, and then hopefully, developing a connection with them.
So what does this mean? Hopefully it means that leadership is continuing to be developed…that new people are feeling welcome entering the Network and finding a place to grow and give leadership. Hopefully it means that we have a fairly ‘open system.’ Hopefully it means that we are living in the tension of harnessing experienced leadership and growing new leaders.
If you’re interested in connecting with leadership, please consider this your open invitation. You can go to our volunteer page to see where we currently have needs. Or, you can contact me and I’ll try and get you connected.
Nominations open today for the Board of Directors of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network. Two seats on the board will become available when the next term begins. Those terms don’t begin until February 3, 2014, a long time from now. So why are we already opening up the nomination process for terms that don’t begin for 10.5 months?
Because good leadership matters.
The Network occupies an important place in the life of the church, and this is an important time in the life of the Network. Good, progressive, forward-thinking leadership is needed as we live into our strategic plan. And finding good leadership is a process that needs to happen thoughtfully…deliberately. The board of directors serves as the organization’s governing body, providing primary direction and leadership of the organization as it achieves its mission.
Specifically, the board of directors:
- guides the vision and strategic planning of the network,
- implements plans for the organization’s future,
- directs the work of the executive director,
- dictates policies to ensure efficient operations,
- monitors the organization’s finances,
- assists in financial resource development (fundraising), and
- assesses the organization’s overall performance.
- The board’s work is further described in ELCA Youth Ministry Network Bylaws and GoverningPolicy of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network (Sections 1 and 2).
While serving on the board of directors, members are expected to:
- be members of the Network,
- be active in their own ELCA community,
- care for their own spiritual life,
- view their role on the board as their primary volunteer priority,
- actively engage each other in discussions and decision making, and
- attend all board meetings and the Extravaganza. Complete expectations of board members are detailed in Governing Policy of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network (Section 3).
So do you feel gifted in these areas? Do you know someone that you think can lead well? Do you know someone who has demonstrated good leadership within the community of the Network, or their synod, or their congregation?
Take some time. Think. Pray. And then nominate. We are excited for the future of the Network. And we know that this future lies in the hands of the Holy Spirit who so clearly blows through this community.
Help us find good leaders.
Last week, the Network’s Board of Directors had a final, online discussion, and voted to approve the new strategic plan for the ELCA Youth Ministry Network. This vote comes after a year of development that included prayer and conversation, writing, editing, re-writing, more editing, release of drafts, feedback, rewriting, writing, and so on and so on…
We received great feedback at the Extravaganza in Anaheim from regional meetings and other groups that were meeting during the event. All of this feedback has been looked at and considered. Much of it influenced the editing of the plan.
We are very excited about the direction this plan is going to take the Network as it grows and develops over the next 3-5 years. You can take a look at the completed plan here.
As I said, we received great feedback. Most of the questions and critique of the plan can be put into just a few categories. I thought it might be helpful to respond to a few of these as best as I’m able:
- “This plan is all about numbers. It feels cold. It doesn’t feel mission driven.” Please note that the piece we distributed last fall on the web site, and in paper at the Extravaganza is only the “strategic plan” portion of a much larger vision, which we have already worked on and adopted. So it makes total sense to me that when you just look at the “plan” portion it would not look missional. I think we didn’t make that clear when we distributed it. When this plan is seen nested inside the larger mission and vision, then I think it makes total sense, and it becomes more clear how it all ties together. No, the piece that we have been collecting feedback on, and approved last week is our new strategic plan. It is the “how” of how we’ll fuflill our mission and vision. And to be honest, for the last couple of years, we really haven’t had enough of a detailed plan. The approved document shows how the plan is nested within the Network’s mission and vision.
- 1000 is it? That seems low for a big goal! That was my initial reaction too. But then we remembered, while the goal is only 250-350 more than our current level of membership, it is also a goal that we have never hit. For the last few years we’ve kind of “plateaued” and “hovered” at our current level. To push through to a new level is going to take some additional effort and energy. Here’s hoping we hit it quickly! Then we can set a new goal!
- “There aren’t details. How are you going to do this?” Well first, let me be clear. “There is no “you” and “us.” To put this plan into reality is going to take all of us. The Network’s members are its owners. The members’ investment is their energy, passion and time, along with their membership dues. To build this Network into what we believe God is calling it to be will require all of us to be a part of the process. Second…you’re right. We’re lacking some of the details right now. This plan is the broad strokes of the areas in which we want to grow. Now we’ll drill down into each of the seven priorities and work the details. Now is where the work begins! This will be the agenda of the board when we meet at the end of April. More info on the details will be forthcoming!
- “The details of the various discounts and incentives for membership are a little confusing.” This was really helpful feedback. We’ve simplified and clarified in the final draft. Thank you!
- “In our congregations, we are being asked to do more and more with less and less. Can the Network expand to support those of us who are also working in children’s ministry, or young adult ministry?” Yes, we can. In the last couple of years, at the behest of our members, we have been doing more to support those who also work in children’s ministry. We will continue to explore other ways we can support folks in ministry as responsibilities continue to expand. We’ve added Extravaganza workshops in children’s ministry, and have a growing library of children’s ministry resources in MartinsList. Of course, this depends on our members submitting workshop topics and online resources. Please do!
- Some of the language around “professional,” “volunteer,” “lay” and “rostered” needs to be cleaned up and made consistent. Great feedback! We tried to do that. Please read through it and see if there were areas we missed. Thank you!
- The plan talks about diversity, but then only really digs into ethnic and geographic. What about other kinds of diversity? That’s a fantastic question, and one that we spent a lot of time talking about. There are lots of kinds of diversity that we need to pay attention to. While we worked up a long list, we didn’t want to list them all in the plan for fear of leaving one out. However, both ethnic and geographic diversity are ones that rose to the top as we talked about felt needs within the Network. Ethnic and cultural diversity has been one of our goals for a long time and while we’ve made some incremental progress, we need to continue to grow in this area. Geographically, there are whole parts of the country, entire synods, that are unaware of the Network and the resources it provides. These tend to be the regions that we think might benefit the most. So we listed these to lift them up as areas that we want to include special focus upon in the next couple of years. But the other forms of diversity are important and will not be ignored as well.
- Can volunteers have a different (lower) membership rate? I wish that we could. As it is, we run on a budget where our membership rates don’t even completely cover our costs. We fundraise for the difference. And the reality is, it doesn’t cost the Network less to be the Network for a volunteer than it does for a professional. We did introduce on March 1, as a part of our plan, both 3 year (discounted) memberships, and congregational team (bulk discount) memberships. Hopefully those options provide ways to continue to make membership accessible.
Those are some of the questions we heard more consistently through the process. Really, really helpful questions. Thank you very much! If you continue to have questions, please contact me.
I want to thank the members of our board, in particular, Rev. Mike Ward of Lutheridge+Lutherock Ministries in North Carolina, who walked the board through the strategic planning process. He did a fantastic job.
Networked in Christ,
The Network is excited to introduce two new membership level options! First, let’s be clear: we are a membership based organization. In other words, the bulk of the funds needed to do what we do come from the members. We do receive some funds from our specific Network partners, but they tend to be designated towards specific projects (Extravaganza, Practice Discipleship Initiative, etc…). Our “operational funds” come mostly from Network dues. Our members are critical to both who we are as an organization, and what we do together…how we are church together. And we really believe that there is great value in being a member of the Network. More on that another day.
For several years, folks have asked us about offering new options for membership. We’ve had to wait until the technology on our web site has caught up to the need, in order to make this happen. However, when we switched from our old service (Infusion) to our new service (Wild Apricot) in the past couple of months, a bunch of new options opened up for us.
I’m excited to announce two new options for membership.
First, a quick review: The options that we have now for people to join the network include the following:
Full time student: $35
The two new options will offer greater flexibility, ease and savings for individuals and congregations. They are:
A 3 year membership
Join for a 3 year period, for a reduced rate. Your total for 3 years is $205, which represents a $50 savings.
A Team Membership
Up to 6 individuals from your congregation can join at a significantly reduced rate. The total cost is $300, which represents a $210 (42% savings!) This is a great way to make the Network accessible to your volunteers, or if your congregation has a larger staff, to get more folks in at a lower cost.
And all of the same Network benefits apply to all of these membership levels.
When are these new membership levels available? Today! We hope this makes the Network even more accessible to even more people!
Beginning today, these new options will be listed with the other memberships when one joins or renews. Or, if you’d like to change or upgrade your membership level, you can go to the site, log in, and click on “view profile” in the top right-hand side of the screen. Please let me know if you have any questions!
Networked in Christ,