Dr. Lee K. Mwakalinga, Medical Director, Itete Hospital, Konde Diocese

Presenter: Dr. Lee K. Mwakalinga, Medical Director, Itete Hospital, Konde Diocese, will give a presentation under the Synod Assembly theme of “For the Healing of the Nations: Christ’s Healing in a Broken World”

Presenter: Dr. Rhonda Brandon, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for Duke University Health System, will offer a message on leading and thriving in the church.

Dr. Rhonda Brandon, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for Duke University Health System

Edification Day Schedule May 18th, 2024

8:45AM – 9:00AM Registration/Log-Ins/Hospitality
9:00AM – 9:05AM Opening Prayer from Rev. Michael Yesenko, Assembly Chaplain
9:05AM – 9:15AM Opening Remarks from Bishop James Dunlop
9:15AM – 9:35AM Presentation from Rhonda Brandon, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Duke University Health System
9:35AM – 10:15AM Presentation from Dr. Lee K. Mwakalinga, Medical Director, Itete Hospital, Konde Diocese
10:15AM – 10:30AM Break
10:30AM -11:20AM Forums w/Q&A
11:20AM – 11:30AM Break
11:30AM – 12:20PM Forums w/Q&A
12:25PM – 12:35PM Closing Remarks & Sending From Bishop Dunlop

An email will be sent to all edification day registrants on Monday, May 13, providing zoom access links.

Edification Day: What to Expect

Registrants for Synod Assembly are welcome to attend Assembly Edification Day. Since the event will be presented digitally, participants will need a computer, tablet or smartphone device with a stable internet connection, and with a camera and microphone if you wish to engage in real-time with the keynote presenter or forum presenters.

A majority of the programming will be offered by ZOOM videoconferencing. Registrants will receive a link to the presentation ZOOM, and links for each of the forums by email in the weeks preceding the scheduled Edification Days. It is not necessary to pre-select or register for your chosen forum, as you will placed in the ZOOM room that corresponds to your forum.

Edification Day FORUMS

All forums will be offered twice, during both forum breakout sessions, unless otherwise noted.

Rev. Matthew Best, Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church, Allison Hill

Healing Conversations: Gun Violence in America

Rev. Matthew Best, deeply moved by a tragic mass shooting in early 2023, found himself immersed in the disheartening cycle of societal response—a mere offering of “thoughts and prayers,” followed by a divisive debate where genuine dialogue was drowned out by opposing voices. Recognizing a profound absence of humanity in this cycle, he turned his lament into a powerful testament embodied in the book “American Roulette.” This forum, rooted in our faith, delves into the harsh realities of gun violence in society. We seek to explore the faith-based perspectives on the ELCA’s social message concerning gun-related violence and trauma. We will engage in challenging conversations that center on the profound theme of healing. How can our faith guide us in these difficult dialogues, fostering understanding and compassion? Moreover, we aim to discern actionable steps to bring about healing.

The Rev. Matthew Best serves as pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Allison Hill, Harrisburg, PA as well as the executive director of the Christ Lutheran Health Ministries, where in the last year approximately 10,000 people visited the free medical outreach and dental clinics that serve the surrounding neighborhood. Rev. Best serves as the chair of the LSS Housing Equity Task Force as well as the chair of the Synod Mission Committee. He also is one of the coordinators of the Memorial Blanket Project. In addition, Rev. Best is one of the authors of “American Roulette” – a novel about a mass shooting that focuses on the humanity in order to change the conversation about gun violence.

Lutheran Disaster Response – Bringing Healing, Help and Hope; How you can Make a Difference

This forum will present a brief overview of how long-term recovery works following major disasters like flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.   It will highlight how faith-based organizations, like Lutheran Disaster Response, are essential to return disaster survivors to their homes in a timely way.  It will also demonstrate how volunteers are a major part of the recovery process and you will learn how to recruit volunteers from your congregation and organize a trip to a disaster-affected area.

 Rev. Glenn A. Beard, Jr., Coordinator of the Lower Susquehanna Synod LDR Network

Rev. Christian Aguilar

Fruitbelt Farmworker Christian Ministry — Physical Therapy for the Church

Local mission is essential to heal the body of Christ — just like physical therapy heals our own bodies — and to restore relationship with the neighbor. This forum explores the Fruitbelt Farmworker Christian Ministry (FFCM) here in south central Pennsylvania which engages with local congregations in providing outreach, fellowship, prayer, and support to roughly 2,500 migrant workers from Central America and the Caribbean.

Through the lens of loving God and loving our neighbor — Jesus’ Great Commandment — this presentation examines how the FFCM’s local mission engages workers from other nations in a way that opens hearts and overcomes misperceptions. Attendees will hear concrete examples of healing done right here and now through caring for those from other nations who are far from home.

Connecting our Congregations through Story

The Christian faith thrives on storytelling. The Bible is full of stories, narratives, and parables that guide and challenge our way of understanding, our way of thinking and living. Many of us grew up hearing these stories, and through them learning more about a God who created us and who invites us to join in the redeeming work of a broken world.

Stories appeal to our senses and our emotions, connecting us in ways that make sense of confusing or uncertain circumstances. For thousands of years, humans have been drawn to stories that lead us to greater understanding, to solidarity, to empathy. Jesus, a masterful storyteller, understood this well.

Many congregations today struggle to tell their own story – the story of what God is doing in them and through them. Congregations must learn to better describe the current work of the Holy Spirit in their midst and the life-changing impact of shared ministries. Sharing such stories remind us that God has drawn near, that God is active, and while God is part of our own story, that we, in turn, are part of God’s story.

Learn more about why stories are critical for today’s congregations, how to better tell your own congregation’s story, and how to celebrate those stories as part of intentionally growing and strengthening ministries.

Jennie Wolf Smith, GSB

Deacon April Trout, Lower Susquehanna Synod-ELCA liaison to Konde Diocese-ELCT

Building Up the Body of Christ: A Konde Partnership Update

“So now there are many members, but one body. Now you are Christ’s body, and each of you is a member of it.” – I Corinthians 12: 20,27

For almost 30 years our Synod has worked in partnership with the Konde Diocese in Tanzania to build up the body of Christ in our respective cultures. Hear the latest from Deacon April Trout, our Synod’s liaison in Konde Diocese, about recent events and the ongoing work of the partnership.

Hosting a Death Cafe

What is a Death Cafe? How can our church host one? Do I need expertise in death? Until the second coming of Christ, all people face death. There are experiences, and questions that people need to examine and share. A Death Cafe gives a community a place to examine and offer an opportunity to do that.

Rev. Liz Polanzke

Deacon Kristin Vought

Health & Healing at WellSpan

This forum will provide an inside look at the work of WellSpan Health, south-central PA’s only locally governed health system. Deacon Kristin will provide an engaging overview of the non-profit healthcare system and how it provides health and healing through various community benefit programs and initiatives that serve neighbors in need.

ELCA Youth Ministry Network Formation Co-Op: Youth Listening, Healing, Leading and Empowering TOGETHER

This workshop will outline the ELCA Youth Ministry Network Formation Co-Op nation wide initiative to provide deep listening opportunities for youth and create supports and programs to meet those needs.  With a focus on both youth programs and church ministries, Alex and Molly will highlight listening sessions, trauma informed ministry model and ways to accompany youth through their own experiences.   They will outline ways in which collaborative ministries could benefit our synodical and local ministries.

Pr Molly Haggerty and Alex Norden-Mabee, Coordinator of TOGETHER: Change Through Community

Rev. Jillian Riddle, Pastor of Epiphany, Harrisburg

Hunger Ministries: Sharing Our Stories

This year, ELCA World Hunger is celebrating 50 years. In this forum, we’ll explore the various ways ELCA World Hunger continues to respond to root causes of hunger and poverty, providing sustainable solutions through partnerships, health clinics and microloans, water wells and animal husbandry, community meals and advocacy. We will discuss ELCA Domestic Hunger Grants, as well as our synod’s unique gift of granting funds for hunger ministries throughout our synod through the Legacy Fund. Come and see to learn more about what is happening around hunger in our synod! How might God be calling you to get involved?

Setting the Captive Free – Trauma-Informed Soul Care for Marginalized Groups

Release Faith Chaplaincy is an incubator Ministry of the LSS under Justice Ministry offering trauma-informed soul care to three distinct marginalized groups – individuals residing in nursing homes, justice-involved individuals who identify as female residing in prison and the community, and survivors of domestic violence. Several different spiritual practices are used including worship services, group spiritual direction and bible study. The forum will address how these practices are used: Worship services in nursing home adapted to meet the physical and cognitive needs of residents, Group spiritual direction focusing on how the stories of women in the Bible can be used to assist justice-involved individuals as they transition back into the community, Bible study addressing the emotions survivors experience through scripture and how texts can be used to heal the wounded spirit

Gale Wenk du Pont, Primary Facilitator, Release Faith Chaplaincy

Deacon Alicia Anderson, Campus Minister

Young Adult Voices

What are young adults seeking faith communities? How do they find faith to be relevant in their daily lives? Hear from young adults as they share what they have experienced, what they need, and what they hope to find in congregations and other communities of faith. Conversation, reflection, and Q&A will be included. Facilitated by Deacon Alicia Anderson from Lutheran Campus Ministry at Penn State and Pastor Libby Baker-Mikesell from St. James in Gettysburg.