Dear People of God,
Greetings in the name of Christ!
I write with exciting news that Deacon Erin Power is joining the Eastern North Dakota Synod Staff as the Director for Evangelical Mission. We give thanks to God for Deacon Erin’s call as she joins the synod staff team in this role.
Born and raised in North Dakota, Deacon Erin is excited to call the prairie lands home once again! A background in outdoor ministry and hospitality, Erin graduated with a Master of Divinity from the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, CO and served as an Assistant to the Bishop in the Rocky Mountain Synod. A gatherer at her core, her passion and joy in ministry is creating spaces for transformational gatherings, authentic community, and challenging conversations, while always tending to who is missing around the table. She loves the question “why” and imagining what could be and how God is calling us as church into the future. Her desire to change the world is fueled by a deep call to justice and vegetarian cooking. Deacon Erin is most excited to put miles on her car visiting our congregations and ministries to share a meal, worship together, and explore what the future holds.
Deacon Erin will begin her ministry with us on February 1. May God richly bless our work together as we walk with one another in mission.
Bishop Tessa Moon Leiseth
Transitions abound! As you might already know, Associate with the Bishop Shar Gumke will be retiring soon. She has been gracious and flexible with the timing for the sake of the next chapter in the Eastern North Dakota Synod. While it will not be easy to see her conclude her synod staff work, her employment in the synod will end in December 2021. Please stay tuned for details on a celebration of her ministry among us.
In the midst of this transition, I am happy to share with you that the Rev. Bradley Skogen will be joining the Eastern North Dakota Synod staff on December 1 as an Associate with the Bishop for Congregational Leadership and Transitions. Pastor Bradley will work with the call process in congregations, as well as interim ministry, conflict, and other areas. He comes to us from Northwestern Minnesota Synod.
Pastor Bradley has most recently served as Synod Minister for Community and Leader Engagement for the Northwestern Minnesota Synod and as Senior Pastor at First Lutheran Church, Battle Lake, MN. He is originally from Detroit Lakes, MN and is a graduate of Luther College, Decorah, IA, and Luther Seminary, St. Paul. He fulfilled the requirements to become a Board Certified Chaplain and has 15 years of experience in rural healthcare. He is also a certified Spiritual Director. He served previous calls as Chaplaincy Services Director, Lake Region Healthcare, Fergus Falls; Chaplain, Lakewood Health System, Staples, MN; and Associate Pastor, Faith Lutheran, in Staples, MN. He has served as a Boundaries in Ministry trainer and been a member of the Northwestern Minnesota Synod Council as well as a variety of committees and task forces in the Northwestern Minnesota Synod. He has special interests in spiritual formation, leadership and organizational development, and resilience in healthcare and ministry professionals, along with experience in acute health care, long term care, hospice, and congregational ministry. Brad is husband to Laura, father to Berit and Sorine, and loyal human to golden retrievers, Sophie and Maiken.
Please join me in welcoming Pastor Bradley to this side of the Red River!
Bishop Tessa Moon Leiseth
I am excited to announce that Mr. Bob Otterson has joined the Eastern North Dakota Synod staff as Director for Philanthropy and Mission Innovation. Building upon the synod’s vision to steward resources for the sake of God’s mission, Otterson will work with individuals, congregations, and the synod infrastructure to grow the possibilities for mission innovation across the synod. Additionally, he will work with the launching and growing of the Holy Innovations Endowment which will provide opportunities for congregations to adapt and experiment for the sake of God’s mission in this ever-changing world.
Bob Otterson brings 25 years of senior leadership experience to the Eastern North Dakota Synod, most recently as the president and chief executive officer of Lutheran Social Services. He announced the imminent closure of the agency on his 46th day as CEO and has directed the arduous shut-down process since January.
Otterson, a native of Marshall, MN, invested most of his professional career in public higher education, serving universities and colleges in three states. In January 2020, he was recognized for his professional efforts and achievements with the District VI Distinguished Service Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, an international association for professionals in educational fundraising, marketing and communications, and alumni engagement. He also was named to the inaugural group of CASE Laureates, professionals recognized for their leadership and contributions to the organization.
He has served as president of two ELCA congregations: St. Stephen in Marshall, MN, and Ascension in Brookings, SD. He has also served on boards for the Campus Religious Center and Lutheran Campus Ministry, both in Marshall, MN.
Otterson received his B.A. in Communications from Augustana University and an M.S. in Mass Communications and Journalism from South Dakota State University. He also completed the coursework for a Doctor of Education degree from the University of South Dakota.
Bob and his wife, Lisa, have three children, all attending universities in neighboring states this fall. The Ottersons joined Olivet Lutheran Church in Fargo a week before the pandemic was declared in March 2020.
Bishop Tessa Moon Leiseth