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Fall Theological Conference

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This year we are gathering in a new location!

Embassy Suites,
Olathe, KS

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Registration Deadline: October 1, 2023

October 10-12, 2023

The Church -
What's Church Got To Do With It?


What does it mean to be the church? What is the purpose of the church? How are we called to be the church? In these changing and challenging times, we really do need to come together to learn and listen to one another.

Rev. Dr. Cheryl Peterson - Keynote
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The Rev. Dr. Cheryl M. Peterson joined the Wartburg faculty as Academic Dean in the summer of 2023. She previously taught at Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capital University for 18 years, where she also served as Associate Dean for Academics and held the Trinity Endowed Chair in Mission and Ministry and taught courses in the areas of systematic theology, the Lutheran Confessions, and the history of Lutheranism in America. Ordained as a pastor in the ELCA in 1991, she served parishes in Tyrone, Pennsylvania and Milwaukee, Wisconsin for 12 years. She holds degrees from Wittenberg University (BA), the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (MDiv), and Marquette University (PhD).

She is the author of Who is the Church? An Ecclesiology for the 21st Century (Fortress, 2013), and the forthcoming, The Holy Spirit in the Christian Life: The Spirit’s Work For, In, and Through Us (Baker Academic, 2024), as well as several articles and book chapters. A frequent keynote speaker at synod assemblies, theological convocations, seminaries, and colleges, she has also served as faculty for the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Retreat for Newly Elected Leaders (Bishops and Presidents) and the 6th LWF International Seminar for Lay Leaders. Her research interests include pneumatology, ecclesiology, the sacraments, Lutheran theology, Pentecostal theology, mission, and ecumenism.

She served on the 11th round of the U.S. Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue (2006-2010) – with her future colleague, the Rev. Dr. Winston Persaud – and the first round of the Lutheran World Federation International Dialogue Commission with the Pentecostals (2016-2022). She chairs the editorial council of Dialog: A Journal of Theology and holds memberships in the American Academy of Religion, the Society for Pentecostal Studies, and the Catholic Theological Society of America.

She is married to the Rev. Dr. Charles W. Peterson who currently serves as an ELCA Global Mission professor of Lutheran Identity in Indonesia.

Tuesday, October 10

1:30 p.m.    Welcome and introduction

2:00 p.m.   Bishop Candea

Nature of the church

3:30 p.m.    Break

4:00 p.m.    Dr. Peterson

“Who is the Church – Starting with the Spirit”

6:00 p.m.    Dinner

7:00 p.m.    Opening Worship

8:00 p.m.    Dessert and fellowship

Wednesday, October 11

8:30 a.m.   Morning Prayer

9:00 a.m.   Dr. Peterson

“The Marks and Practices of a Spirit-breathed Church”

10:30 a.m.  Break

11:00 a.m.   First round of workshops (1)

Noon          lunch

1:00 p.m.     Second Round of workshops

2:00 p.m.    Free afternoon and evening to explore KC (2)

Thursday, October 12

9:00 a.m.    Dr. Peterson

“Twelve Suggested Shifts for a Spirit-breathed Church”

11:00 a.m.    Sending Worship

(1) Wednesday Workshops. . . 


First session options. . . 

An Introduction to the Lutheran-Pentecostal Dialogue -


The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) just concluded the first round of an International Dialogue with Pentecostals (2016-2022). The report of the dialogue was published on the LWF website last month.  As the North American representative to the dialogue team, Dr. Peterson will share the background of this dialogue, topics discussed, and the report itself—and why she believes it is important for Lutherans to know more about the fastest-growing branch of Christianity in the world today.   

- Rev. Cheryl Peterson

Church Together: Our Interdependent Relationships -


The congregations, synods, and churchwide organization are interdependent expressions sharing responsibility in God's mission. What does it mean to be in an "interdependent" relationship? What functions do we have in our congregations or ministry settings? What are our responsibilities in the synod and as part of churchwide? What should we expect from one another? We will explore those questions and discover how being part of the ELCA addresses who we are as church.

- Rev. Susan Candea

Leading in Times of Transition - 



When we use the phrase "Congregation in Transition" in the ELCA, most think of a congregation preparing to call a new pastor. But aren't all of our congregations in transition? By the word's very definition, a transition is a time of changing from one condition to another. If we are going to be a church following the way of Jesus, we will always be transitioning. Join us to discuss what it means to be a leader of a transitioning congregation.


- Rev. Dave Whetter

Second session options. . . 

Reimagining the Church:  Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? -


We are a time of intentional reimaging of the church at all of its expressions. 

  • The Commission for a Renewed Lutheran Church has begun its work to reimagine the structure and polity of our denomination. Gathering input from all across the church. 

  • The Candidacy Leadership Development Working Group is reimagining how we develop leaders in new ways.

  • In a little less than two years, we will have a bishop’s election in our synod, calling us to reimagine our ministry as a synod. 

How can we participate in this time of reimaging? How can we assist our congregations and ministry settings to embrace this reimaging as an opportunity to be more fully the church?

-Rev. Susan Candea

& Rev. Dave Whetter

Cultivating Innovation -


Churches are not the most innovative organizations. We gather around a gospel that was perfected two thousand years ago, use worship patterns that are nearly that old, and, as Lutherans, we claim a Reformation heritage formed a half millennium ago. Yet, we find ourselves in a world skeptical of institutions, seeking fresh paths for spirituality and community. What's needed is "traditioned innovation," a concept championed by Luther Seminary's Dwight Zscheile. It’s a model of experimentation that “remain[s] rooted in the riches of Christian wisdom and practice from other times and places in order to offer deep, sustaining, faithful gospel witness.”  Cultivating this innovation requires delicate care, preserving tradition while meeting the needs of evangelism today.  Join us and learn how to foster a cycle of listening, acting, and reflecting in our congregations. We’ll devise an experiment to try when you return home.

- Rev. Donna Simon

Healthy Communications, eliminating triangles - 

Every congregation has side-bar and parking lot conversations, but what do you do when those conversations become disruptive or maybe even destructive? Creating a healthy culture of communication is an intentional process, and it takes diligent practice. In this workshop, we will discuss ways you can develop a strong and healthy culture of communication that is grounded in our theological values. Whether or not your congregation is currently dealing with a conflict, it is always a good time to commit to improving and growing healthy communications.

- Rev. Aimée Appell

(2) Things you may enjoy during your stay in the Kansas City area!



      Outlet shopping adjacent to Nebraska Furniture Mart





  • Knuckleheads – (3 stages)

    • Carl Butler’s Gospel Lounge
      7:30 p.m. show, Free admission

    • Drayton Farley
      8:00 p.m. show, $15 admission

    • The Steel Wheels
      8:00 p.m. show, $17.50 admission








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