Synodical Women’s Organization


Synodical Women’s Organization Convention

Saturday, June 16, 2018
Wartburg College, Waverly
8:15 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Blessed are the weary …

Join us for a day of laughing, learning, leadership and loving the Lord at the 31st Annual Gathering of the Northeastern Iowa Women of the ELCA Saturday, June 16, at Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa. All ELCA women of the Northeastern Iowa Synod are invited to attend.

Guest speaker will be Pastor Kevin Doely of Faith Lutheran in Coon Rapids, Minn. He will entertain and teach us using ventriloquism and his amazing sense of human and rock solid faith.

Bishop Steven Ullestad will join us for a question and answer session. This is your chance to just talk with the Bishop.

Sister Bernadine Jax will tap into our creative sides with her beautiful Mandalas. Pastor Mark Anderson will share about disaster preparedness at home and in our churches. Carole Daughton of Big Canoe, Decorah, will share about her experiences serving at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Students from the Bremwood campus of Lutheran Services in Iowa will share their creative worship experiences. 

The Gathering will also include a churchwide representative, a session on estate planning, worship with Holy Communion, and more. The Wartburg College bookstore will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. the day of the gathering.

Download Women’s Gathering promotional materials and forms to register, nominate officers, or submit a resolution.

Women’s Gathering Brochure
Women’s Gathering Poster
Registration Form for Women’s Gathering
Nomination Form for SWO Officers & Board Members (Due April 30, 2018)
Nomination Form for SWO Nominating Committee (Due April 30, 2018)
Motion/Resolution Form (Due May 15, 2018)

First-Time Attendee Scholarship
If you have never attended an SWO Convention, you may qualify for a “first-timer” scholarship to pay for your attendance at this year’s convention.

Submit the application form below by Tuesday, May 15, 2018.

First-Time Convention Scholarship Application (Due May 15, 2018)



Apply for an Educational Scholarship

Thinking about going back to school or furthering your education to advance in a career? The Synodical Women’s Organization offers three scholarships of $600 each to qualified individuals.

Download the application below and apply by Monday, May 15, 2018.

Educational Scholarship Application (Due May 15, 2018)



LWR Tour in Minneapolis

July 30-31, 2018

Join us for a trip to Minneapolis July 30-31 to tour the Lutheran World Relief and Global Health Ministries warehouses and Mary’s Place, along with a stop at the Hmong Village for some shopping. An optional Twins game is also available. 

Cost is $125 per person, which includes transportation and one night’s hotel stay (3-4 per room). Add $25 to attend the Twins game. 

Registration is due by Wednesday, June 20. 

Registration Form



Connect to the Larger Church

WELCA logo2

Women of the ELCA

Our Mission — Mobilizing women to act boldly on their faith in Jesus Christ.


Women and Justice Task Force

Learn about the ELCA Task Force on Women and Justice: One in Christ and share your comments as the task force leads the process to develop a social statement on women and justice.

The Deaconess Community

Women who have answered a call to serve the church and the world in ministries of mercy and servant leadership.

Faithful Friends

Friends of Women of the ELCA who provide consistent, sustaining support for our many ministries.
Faithful Friends Giving Form

Give with a Smile

The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate a percentage of what you spend at Amazon to the churchwide women’s organization when you shop with AmazonSmile and desigate Women of the ELCA as your charity.



Women in the News

Called and Chosen

March 2018

Pages 14-19 of the March 2018 issue of Living Lutheran magazine feature women of color in rostered ministry, celebrating Women’s History month.

See Article


Women of the ELCA learn, serve and grow in faith together

February 2018

Check out the feature story about the Women of the ELCA of this synod in the the February 2018 issue of the Northeastern Iowa’s Synod’s Star newsletter. 

See Article


Sewing for Mission

October 2017

The October 2017 issue of Living Lutheran magazine features an article about how the sewing group from Trinity Lutheran of Hawkeye, Iowa, is giving unused canvas bags earmarked for a landfill new life in mission for the church.

See Article



Women enjoy the Tenth Triennial Gathering

“All Anew”
July 2018

More than 3300 women attended the 2017 Triennial in Minneapolis. The Northeastern Iowa Synod was well represented with more than 60 women attending. Women from all three synods from Iowa had an opportunity to meet one anther.

The Women of the ELCA gather from across the church every three years to attend life-changing workshops, worship together, share Bible study and more. This year’s theme was “All Anew.” The event featured inspiring speakers, preachers and workshop leaders who brought the theme to life. bring the Gathering themes to life. These were opportunities to learn and grow in faith through servant events, and the National Lutheran Choir gave a concert.

Below are some photos featuring women of the Northeastern Iowa Synod Women’s Organization. Also find a list of the hymns used during the Triennial’s closing worship service.

Read more about the 2017 Triennial in the September issue of the Good News newsletter.


View News from the Triennial. 

View more photos from the Triennial.

Visit the Triennial web page.

List of Hymns from the Triennial’s Closing Worship Service



Synod Women celebrate renewal at 2017 Convention

“Hungering for Renewal”
June 17, 2017

Some 113 ELCA women attended the 30th annual Synodical Women’s Organization Convention on June 17, at Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa. The gathering collected $3,932.50 in the offering and three large barrels of personal care items for the northeast Iowa Food Bank.

Highlights included:

  • Opening worship with communion with Pastor Jane Granzow presiding, Pastor Melissa Bills preaching, and Millie Dieter playing piano and leading hymns.
  • Bible study led by Pastor Bills on Psalm 34;8, learning to praise God even in the craziness of life.
  • Vicky Jaeger’s hand and arm massage class was a big draw and very relaxing.
  • A Bible Journaling session showed how to use fun art work, stamping and writing in journals.
  • Pastor Bills led a class on Holy Imagination, getting us to look at scripture in new and unique ways.
  • Pastor Susan Friedrich shared great knowledge and cultural insight about the Young Adults in Global Mission program and her daughter’s work in Madagascar.


Election Results

Officers: Diane Wills, President; Anna Jetson, Secretary
2-Year Board: Della Benson, Nancy Miller, Jane Godson
1-Year Board: Jan Harbaugh
Nominating Committee: Nancy Poppe, Melissa Miller, Vicky Jaeger

Pastor Melissa Bills shared the following poem, “The Question,” at the SWO Convention:

The Question

by Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)

One dervish to another, What was your vision of God’s presence?
-I haven’t seen anything.
But for the sake of conversation, I’ll tell you a story. 

God’s presence is there in front of me, a fire on the left, a lovely stream on the right.
One group walks toward the fire, into the fire, another toward the sweet flowing water.
No one knows which are blessed and which not.
Whoever walks into the fire appears suddenly in the stream.

Continue Reading

A head goes under on the water surface, that head pokes out of the fire.
Most people guard against going into the fire, and so end up in it.
Those who love the water of pleasure and make it their devotion are cheated with this reversal.
The trickery goes further.
The voice of the fire tells the truth saying, I am not fire. I am fountainhead.
Come into me and don’t mind the sparks.

If you are a friend of God, fire is your water.
You should wish to have a hundred thousand sets of mothwings, so you could burn them away, one set a night.
The moth sees light and goes into the fire. You should see fire and go toward the light.
Fire is what of God – is world-consuming. Water, world-protecting.
Somehow each gives the appearance of the other.
To these eyes you have now, what looks like water, burns.
What looks like fire is a great relief to be inside.

Read more about the 2017 Convention in the July/August issue of the Good News newsletter.

Download Convention Program

Read About the 2016 Convention

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Synodical Women’s Organization celebrated “God’s Gift of Age” at the annual convention June 18 at Wartburg College, Waverly. The convention included workshops, fellowship, business, lunch and celebration.

Some 120 people attended, including seven first timers. Offerings took in just under $5,000 and a van full of paper products. Cash and gift cards totaling more than $200 were designated for the Wings of Refuge organization, which helps victims of human trafficking.


Highlights of the convention included:

  • Taking compassionate action.
  • Outreach locally and beyond.
  • Presentations by Pastor Laura Gentry and her Laughter Yoga program.
  • Vicky Jaeger’s presentation on “When Generations Collide” (packed the room and glowing comments!).
  • Retrieving Freedom puppies.
  • Lutheran Services in Iowa program on transitioning youth.
  • Joy Fopma and Pastor Anderson’s forum on Human Trafficking

Election Results:

  • Four Triennial voting members: Syd Brinkman, Nancy Poppe, Nancy Miller and Cindy Pogge.
  • Three new board members: Millie Dieter, Jane Godson, and Angela Sadler.
  • New treasurer, Bev Sheridan.
  • Re-elected board member Jane Granzow.
  • Re-elected vice president Cindy Pogge.

Educational Scholarship Winners

  • Kelli Hanken from Zion Lutheran in Castalia.
  • Katie Schwartz from Faith Lutheran in Shell Rock.

Overall, it was a great day!!

— Diane Wills
Northeastern Iowa SWO President

Download presentations by Vicky Jaeger:
When Generations Collide
Chair Aerobics Workout 



Join the $5,000 Challenge for LSI

LSI-page-1-webLSI-page-2-webThe Northeastern Iowa Synod Women of the ELCA have accepted a $5,000 challenge from Lutheran Services in Iowa. Starting with our gathering in June, we will try to raise a total of $5,000 for the LSI Spiritual challenge to support the spiritual aspects of their ministry, which receives no federal funds.

We are asking all units and clusters to also consider sending money to LSI (with the WELCA challenge in the memo line) sometime during the 2017 year. Join us in this challenge to a very worthy organization that is certainly doing God’s work in this broken world!

— Diane Wills



Human Traficking Resources


The Women of the ELCA made a commitment at the 2014 Triennial Convention to promote awareness of worldwide human trafficking, bullying, harassment and related violence, and to work at preventing it through prayer, ministry and political action. The Northeastern Iowa Synodical Women’s Organization has begun reviewing resources that can help us inform, educate and mobilize the women in our units. These resources include speakers, websites, programs, and more that can be used within your units or congregations.

To report something suspicious:
Call the Human Trafficking Resource Center, 888-373-7888.
This number is answered 24 hours a day by trained officials nationwide.  

At the 2017 Synodical Women’s Convention the following resolution was passed asking the Northeastern Iowa Women of the ELCA  to download the app, Traffickcam, to use as a tool to help law enforcement identify hotel rooms used as backgrounds shown in pornographic photos. All you need to do is take pictures of hotel rooms where you have stayed and send using this app. The app gives directions on how to use this important tool to help law enforcement identify places used for human trafficking.  

Human Trafficking/Immigration and Customs Enforcement — ICE’s Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or report tips online.

Polaris Project — an organization fighting to eradicate modern day slavery.

Ralpha House — Joplin, Missouri, 417-621-0373. Speakers available for expenses only.

More Resources

Central Iowa Network Against Human Trafficking Teresa Downing, Cedar Rapids

Wings of Refuge — Joy Forma, Iowa Falls

“Lives for Sale” film documentary

Braking Traffik — organization dedicated to eradicating sex trafficking in the Quad City area of Iowa and Illinois. Cathy O’Keefe, director, or 319-912-1966.

“Any Kid, Anywhere: Sex Trafficking Survivor Stories” — a film featuring three Iowa women who are survivors of human trafficking telling their stories, the Braking Traffik website.

“A Path Appears” a three-part PBS documentary film series. Episode 1: Sex Trafficking in the USA; Episode 2: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty; Episode 3: Violence and Solutions. Discussion guide is available.

Courtney’s House — survivors helping survivors

Find more human trafficking resources listed in Good News, the newsletter of the Northeastern Iowa Synodical Women’s Organization:
January 2015
March 2015
September 2015

“Making Iowa Inhospitable to Traffickersfrom the Northeastern Iowa Synod’s “God’s Work, Our Blog.”

“Raising Awareness About Human Trafficking” — from the Northeastern Iowa Synod’s Making a Difference publication (Fall/Winter 2015)



WELCA logo2
As a community of women created in the image of God, called to discipleship in Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we commit ourselves to grow in faith, affirm our gifts, support one another in our callings, engage in ministry and action, and promote healing and wholeness in the church, the society and the world.


Spring Gatherings

April 28, 2018
Upper Iowa Cluster
Big Canoe Lutheran Church, Decorah

April 28, 2018
Little Flock Cluster
St. Sebald Lutheran Church, Strawberry Point

May 4
LWR Truck Loading
First Lutheran, Decorah

Spring means that SWO clusters will be gathering for fellowship and devotions, and bringing donated items for delivery to a Lutheran World Relief warehouse. 

Here are some guidelines from LWR for packing items:

  • Only one type of article per box. Blankets & quilts are considered separate items.
  • No religious, patriotic or military symbols on any articles.
  • Do not put your congregation name on any item.
  • Use strong boxes and fill them completely. Do not exceed 40 lbs. per box.
  • Secure boxes with heavy packing tape, no masking tape or string. Plastic and paper bags will not be accepted.
  • Print the contents of each box in large block letters on the outside of the box and include the name and address of your church.


2018 Events

April 21   Living Waters Cluster Spring Salad Luncheon, Trinity, Mason City, 10 a.m.
April 28   Upper Iowa Cluster Spring Gathering, Big Canoe Lutheran Church, Decorah
April 28   Little Flock Cluster Spring Gathering, St. Sebald Lutheran Church, Strawberry Point
April 28   Living Waters Cluster LWR In-gathering, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Manly, 8-11 a.m.
May 1   June Good News deadline
May 5   LWR Truck Loading, First Lutheran, Decorah
May 19   SWO Board, Wartburg College, McCoy Room, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
June 15   SWO Board, Wartburg College, McCoy Room, 7-9 p.m.
June 16   31st Annual SWO Convention, Wartburg College, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Nov. 3   Clusters C, E, H In-gathering, Fredsville Lutheran, Cedar Falls, 8:30-11 a.m.
Nov. 3   LWR Truck Loading, Decorah




SWO Board Goals

    • Promote the LSI WELCA Challenge. Our goal is $5,000.
    • Promote the work of LWR — quilts, kits, etc. and sponsor a trip to LWR and Global Health Ministries warehouses in Minneapolis for the summer of 2018.
    • Continue “renewal time” of two minutes at each meeting.


Donate Bandage Rolls

Looking for a hands-on mission project? Consider making and donating rolled bandages to help mission hospitals and clinics around the world.

Download flier.

Read more >



Update Your 2017 WELCA Congregational Constitution

It’s time to update WELCA congregational constitutions. Email a copy of your constitution to Diane Wills, SWO President or mail a hard copy.

Download Approved Model Constitution Units Constitution and Bylaws



Stewardship Resources






Form_A sm

Offering Transmittal Form A — Units use this form to submit regular offerings and synodical convention offerings to the synodical treasurer. Download the form, fill it in, and make a copy for your files before mailing.

Form_B_2016 sm

Offering Transmittal Form B — Units use this form to submit Thankofferings, designated gifts, special offerings and gifts to the churchwide women’s organization.

Stewardship in an All-Anew Way
PowerPoint Presentation


Women of the ELCA Resources

The Women of the ELCA website has a number of resources available for free download.


Lutheran World Relief Shipping Form
Include this completed form with items that are to be shipped to LWR.

Sign up for the monthly e-newsletter Bold Connections,which features the latest news and information about Women of the ELCA programs and activities.

Sign up for Cafe, an online magazine for young adult women.

Visit for more resources.



Future Triennial Convention and Gathering Sites

Phoenix, Ariz. in 2020
Spokane, Wash. in 2023

Read More