Talent Scout for Jesus

The Minneapolis Area Synod works together so that all experience gracious invitation into life- giving Christian community and live in just and healthy neighborhoods.

This is the vision statement of the ELCA’s largest synod representing roughly 180,000 Lutherans. Minneapolis has 155 congregations with over 700 rostered leaders in seven counties and a 16-mile radius.

In leading a large group of people in mission, Bishop Ann Svennungsen believes that the synod’s vision statement can be carried out only if people work together. Acknowledging that patriarchy is systemic in American culture, Bishop Ann believes it is important to have diversity represented in leadership positions, including women.

The first female president of the student body at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, Ann entered ministry only after a lengthy process of discernment. While her mother was concerned she would never marry if she became a pastor, she met her husband in seminary and raised a family.

Yet, she often wondered if the cautions from her family would prove the journey too difficult. Women leaders are often subjected to different forces from the public. “Any time you go into a field as a small minority you feel the pressure of scrutiny much greater than when you are in the majority,” she said.

Bishop Svennungsen is grateful for the many mentors who have helped her – mostly male. One of them was Paul J. Christiansen, the longtime choral conductor and composer from Concordia College, where she sang during her college years. He was genuinely excited about her following her call to ministry – one that came full circle when she visited his bedside near the end of his life and preached at his funeral as the senior pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church of Moorhead.

Theologian Frederick Buechner’s quote is one that has resonated with Bishop Ann Svennunsen for a long time:  “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”  Facilitating the connections where people’s gifts meet the world’s needs is important work. Bishop Svennungsen is doing just that – from the inner city to global missions.