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A Letter from Bishop Maas - September 21, 2012

posted Sep 21, 2012, 3:18 PM by St Pauls Lutheran Church
Greetings in the name of our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ!  

I write to you mindful of what an overwhelming task and an overwhelming privilege it is to share ministry with you in the Nebraska Synod. My thanks to you for holding the synod, its staff, my family and me in prayer these last several weeks. Please let your prayers continue, and know that you and your ministries remain in mine.

We are all now undergoing a significant transition as we accept with gratitude the gift of the last 12 years of faithful service by Bishop deFreese and his staff, and look ahead to ministry yet to unfold. That transition brings countless questions, and far fewer immediate answers.

It's my intent for our relationships within this synod to be as accountable and transparent as possible. Communication is a high priority-even when, as now, there seems to be little to communicate.

For the sake of fulfilling that priority, I'm going to violate the first rule of good preaching by resorting to clichés. Here goes:

  • If it ain't broke, don't fix it. There are so many thriving ministries and initiatives in the Nebraska Synod; sustaining their momentum is a priority. There'll be no change merely for change's sake.
  • Measure twice, cut once. Discerning the most effective staffing constellation, and identifying the best staff to fill it, takes time. Staff transitions have begun, but are far from complete. My plan is to have all staff transitions completed by January 1. See below for specific staff changes.
  • There is no place like Nebraska. This synod, with its people, ministries, identity and can-do attitude, is among the strongest in the ELCA-that's the good of its uniqueness. The bad is primarily its geography-the distance really stretches our efforts to remain well-connected as a synod staff. But we're working on it, striving to be physically present as much as we can, as often as we can, in as many places as we can. Your patience and grace-and your invitations-will help us meet this challenge.
  • If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there. Our synod's most recent strategic plan has run its course. It's time to develop a new one. That process will get underway-after a time for getting acquainted and listening, listening and listening to you and those among whom you serve.
  • God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good. Transition and change are always challenging, but we live in the company of the unchanging One, whose constancy ensures that all will be well.
I look forward with excitement to the future Spirit has in store for us all, and I'm grateful to be sharing that future with you.

With joy in Christ,

Brian D. Maas, Bishop



The following staffing transitions are in process. Additional transitions will be announced as they are made.
Assistants to the Bishop
  • Pastor Lee Griess retired September 1 from his position as Director for Evangelical Mission.
  • Pastor Judy Gifford will continue in her half-time position as Assistant through the end of October.
  • Connie Stover, AIM will continue in her full-time position as Assistant.
  • Pastor Harold Stromer has agreed to extend his interim as Assistant through October 7 to assist with orientation and transition of staff, after which he will return home to Arizona.
  • Pastor Steve Meysing will be joining staff October 1 as a full-time Assistant.
  • Pastor Tom Miller will continue as Interim Director for Evangelical Mission through the end of December.
  • Pastor Damon Laaker will continue as half-time Assistant and Director of Lutheran Metro Ministries while discernment about the structure of that position continues.

Program Staff
  • Mitch McCartney will continue full time as Director of Communications and Development.
  • Lisa Kramme will continue full time as Director for Faith Formation.
  • Betty Heier will continue part time as Candidacy Coordinator.
  • Vera Hummel will continue part time as Director of  Seeking the Spirit Within.
  • Bill Davis is now volunteer staff as Tanzania Ministries Coordinator.

Support Staff
While discernment about the exact structure of support staff continues, the office roster is as follows:
  • Sharon Miley will continue as full time Office Manager/Event Coordinator.
  • Linda Parsons will be retiring as full time Administrative Assistant to the Bishop in October. Diane Harpster will be assuming that position.
  • Stephanie Lusienski continues as full time Support Staff.
  • Karen Pickering will continue as part time Support Staff.
  • Chris Kendall is retiring as part time Accountant.
Please join me in extending deep thanks for the faithful service of each of these dedicated people, and in lifting up prayers for successful transitions and gratifying work in the months ahead.

--Brian Maas