Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Final Blog:

Tuesday May 27th
The day started with the remaining students taking an early morning hike at SHC with the sun rising. What a beautiful example of the western NE landscape with rolling hills in a pasture full of cattle!

The group left for Gloria Dei Lutheran which is the last church of a four point parish. Lay leaders talked about their strengths and struggles being part of a four-point parish. One particular issue talked about is financial balance between a congregation’s contributions for leadership as it relates to sharing leadership with other participating congregations.  It was mentioned that lay leaders and again connections were vital aspects for doing ministry. At present, the congregation is participating in the call process.

Students took an early lunch and last [planned] stop at Runza for the trip, a local favorite that the group came to enjoy.

The group had the opportunity to speak with Bishop Maas. The conversation partially talked about inclusivity of racial minorities in the life of the NE synod. Bishop Maas generally conceded that inclusivity of minorities is risky, and the current climate is not necessarily conducive to minority leadership. Another point talked about is the general development of leadership in the synod. New perspectives on leadership, such as emphasis on laity and more specialized leadership is necessary. The analogue drawn was comparing church leadership with the medical field; there are many different types of medical professionals and no one professional does it all.

After the meeting, students were able to tour Leyton High School. Greg Brenner spoke of the difficulties and successes of the school. It appeared that there is a high graduation rate and a high post-secondary continuation by graduates. The school continues to deal with small numbers of enrollment which limit some of the extracurricular activities. It appears that solid engagement between the school and community is important for a successful educational system.
Students were later able to meet with Coleen McKay to learn about the Dalton village government. Local government generally reported that most of the work done centers around billing and enforcing property codes. Very few residents attend village meetings, but residents via word of mouth, are well informed of the issues discussed.

The afternoon was spent with Pastor Eric. The group was able to see the Presbyterian and Lutheran buildings that are currently utilized in various capacities by the ecumenical church formed by two different congregations known as the United Church of the Plains. At this time, much of the congregation is still discerning how to consolidate. One of the major issues that the congregation has faced is the issue of membership and how that relates to participation and congregational census. The issue comes from differing historical polities.
The evening concluded at The Hanger for the “mad cow” burger night- when all burgers at half price. The United Planes church’s ministry called The Way was there to talk about their work and to fellowship. Several success stories were shared about how the community ministry has brought engagement with local area youth. Concerns about connecting with youth continue to persist despite having good attendance.

Wednesday May 28th
After saying goodbye to their host families, the students went to Saint Peter’s Church ruins. It was ruined in a fire; there students found a Geo-Cache box and contributed to the log book inside.
For their final stop, students went to the Nelson family homestead which was established in 1886 and has been in the same family for five generations. Kent’s wife Marsha is memorialized there. The five generations of genealogy connecting the family to the site are listed on the monument. Ending the trip with such an important testament of the connection between the land and the people of NE was a fitting capstone for the immersion experience.

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