Workshop Descriptions

Workshops last 45 minutes leaving 15 minutes in between sessions. All workshops will be presented at both 7:00 and 8:00pm.

1. Sacred Digital Connections: Social Media and the Church

A conversation about "why to" rather than "how to," led by Desta Goehner

Description:  We'll go over some basics of what social media is and then dive into conversation around why and how we could be engaged online. Desta feels strongly that the Church needs to use digital media as our new Gutenberg Press…as a tool for evangelism and ministry. Why would we tweet during the sermon...wouldn't that be distracting? How can we have meaningful experiences online? Why should we invest in online relationships and community? Desta is passionate about getting people of all ages together in community online and in person. Please join Desta Goehner as she guides us in conversation around taking the pulpit to the people through social media. 

Bio: Desta is a name that comes from Ethiopia, it means “happiness”. My mom lived there for a year a long time ago. I have lived all of my life in Southern California and graduated from Cal Lutheran. I am a Spiritual Director, married to an ELCA pastor and we have three children under 14. I have served the Church for 20 years in this synod in congregational youth ministry, Lutheran outdoor ministry and on the staff of the Southwest California Synod. I am the Director of Congregational Relations at Cal Lutheran. My job is to connect the University and the Church. I live at the intersection of spirituality and social/digital media.

2. Walk for Water

Synod Hunger Team regarding the Walk for Water, led by Sherri Groenveld

Description: The Walk for Water is an opportunity to experience firsthand what it is like to carry a 5-gallon jug of water (41.5) pounds) though a simulated water collection experience (we also have lighter water jugs available).  Throughout the simulation each person is confronted with different obstacles that help them realize some of the struggles those walking for water may encounter. The distance around the track is one-tenth of a mile (528 feet).  This is much shorter than the average 3.7 miles a woman in Africa must walk each day to retrieve water for her and her family.  By learning about this issue, we can make a difference – creating healthier families, stronger economies and a future filled with hope.

Outcomes:  Experience walking WITH water 

3. Lectionary Bible Study

Led by Rev. Jennifer Chrien

Description: The summer months of 2017 will find the church in the Season after Pentecost. Congregations that use the Revised Common Lectionary will hear readings from Matthew chapters 9 through 16, Paul's letter to the Romans, and the narrative of Abraham and his descendants in the book of Genesis.

Outcomes: This Bible study will provide an overview of the lectionary texts for the summer months. It is intended for preachers, worship planners, or anyone who wants a "sneak peek" of what they will be hearing in worship this summer.​

Bio:  Pastor Jennifer Chrien serves at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Simi Valley. She earned her M.Div. in 2012 from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg with Honors in Old Testament Studies.

4. A Welcoming Church

Led by Rev. Caleb Crainer

Description: Is your church interested in becoming more welcoming of our Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender neighbors? Do you want to better understand how our faith and our sexuality can inform each other? Are you looking for resources for ministry with LGBTQ communities? Please attend our workshop led by SoCalLutherans, our local chapter of Reconciling Works.

Outcomes: This will be a highly interactive session covering topics of faith and sexuality.

Bio: Rev. Caleb Crainer serves as Pastor at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church on the west-side of Los Angeles. He loves Bollywood movies, science lectures, and playing his Tuba in church from time to time. 

5. Young Adults and The Church

“A Panel Discussion” led by Rev. Steve Simpson

Description: Young adults (roughly defined as those ages 22-35) are often not well represented in churches. Even when young adults do attend worship, they are not always fully integrated into the life of the congregation. Come and listen to a panel of young adults in our Synod discuss the needs, hopes, and challenges of young adults in the church. Learn some "dos and don'ts" of welcoming young adults. Hear the joys and frustrations of being a young adult in a church community. The panel discussion will be moderated by Pastor Steve Simpson from King of Glory Lutheran Church in Newbury Park.

6. "When life gives you lemons, make sure you have a handbook" 

Led by Colleen McCarthy

Description: “We don't need no stinkin' handbook!”  We're part of the ELCA and we all want what's best for everyone.  So why does your church need a handbook?    It ensures all employees understand what is expected of them, but helps show new hires how you live yours and the ELCA's mission.  Handbooks act as an extension of your voice. You are swamped with ensuring all parts of your worship run smoothly, so in order to be more efficient, let the handbook offer answers to common questions.   An employee handbook is the perfect place to outline your benefits packages, especially things that are different from employment in the non-church world.  And lastly, at one time or another, employees don't leave well.  They have been known to threaten legal action against you and the Church.  Usually these lawsuits center around discrimination or wrongful termination, but no matter what the circumstances are, you need paperwork to back you up with the lawyers, and a current handbook is the first thing they look for. 

Outcomes: In this session we'll discuss why you need a handbook and outline the issues that should be covered in it. 

Bio:  Colleen McCarthy is a human resources (HR) professional with experience in education, entertainment, professional sports, high-tech, biotech, government, and non-profit organizations, including Churches of the ELCA.  Over her more than thirty-eight year career, Colleen has specialized in caring for the employees so they can do great work for their employer. 

Recently retired from California Lutheran University where she was the Associate Director of Human Resources, Colleen uses her experience (both good and difficult) as teaching tools to coach and mentor others, helping them discover their purpose while helping them develop the skills necessary to reach their goals.  A life-long Lutheran, Colleen directed senior, youth and cherub choirs in Northern California from 1970 until 2003.  She has sat on Mutual Ministry, led youth groups, VBS and Sunday Schools.

When not working, Colleen loves sharing good food and great wine with fabulous friends.  With a degree in music and theatre arts, she loves attending live performances of opera, musical theatre, symphony and choral music.  Don’t ask her about her cats Finbar and Seamus unless you want an earful and too many pictures. 

7. Christians in Palestine

Led by Rev. Dean Nelson, Bishop Emeritus SWCS ELCA and members of the Synod's Middle East Peace Task Force

Description: A look at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) and the many ministries it engages in to bring the good news to the people who live in the land where Jesus walked. Although there are only five congregations of this sister church to the ELCA in the West Bank, they continue to make a significant impact on the daily lives of those living under Israeli occupation. Come and learn about Redeemer Lutheran in the heart of the old city in Jerusalem, the schools and Dar al-Kalima College in Bethlehem, Augusta Victoria Hospital on the Mount of Olives, and the House of Abraham for interfaith dialogue in Beit Jala, as well as the many ways the ELCA in partnering with our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Holy Land. 

8. Decolonize Lutheranism: The Birth Pangs of a Movement

Led by Lenny Duncan

Description: It started with a meme in April of 2016. From the meme came a hashtag, and from the hashtag, a movement. What does it mean to #decolonizeLutheranism?

Lenny Duncan will present on the history of #decolonizeLutheranism as a praxis for faithful resistance in an age where leaders may have to have to risk it all for the Gospel.  

Bio:  Lenny Duncan is a Vicar at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and Candidate for ordination to the office of Word and Sacrament in the ELCA. Formerly incarcerated. Formerly homeless. Formerly “Unchurched”. He is also the Evangelist for the #decolonizeLutheranism movement, as well as a frequent voice on the intersection of the Church and the cries of the oppressed. He pays special attention to the #blacklives movement in his work, but also lifts the frequent intersection with other marginalized peoples.  He believes that the reason the ELCA has remained so white is a theological problem not sociological. He is currently an MDiv Coop student at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and holds a Bachelors of Biblical Studies from Lancaster Bible College, with an emphasis in New Testament theology.  

Find Lenny on Social Media:
Twitter @lennyaduncan

9. Cal Lutheran Tour

Led by California Lutheran University Admissions

Description: The Admissions Department is delighted to provide a walking tour of Cal Lutheran. Wear your comfy shoes, we are going to walk all over the place

10. Preventing Gun Violence in Today’s Culture

Led by the Episcopal-Lutheran Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, Virginia Classick

Description: Our Joint Episcopal-Lutheran Gun Violence Prevention Task Force educates, equips and engages congregations in the work of gun violence prevention.  This workshop will frame gun violence as a public health epidemic that is also a challenge to faith communities whose baptismal covenant commits us to work for justice and peace.  Myths and realities of gun violence will be discussed.  Resources and a range of actions for congregations will be presented. 

11. Meet Our Synod’s New Recovery and Spirituality Team!

Facilitated by the Co-Chairs of the Recovery & Spirituality Team, Pastor Dan Gibson and Deacon Shannon Savage-Howie, CSD.

Description: We believe our society is under the control of various forms of addiction that prevent us from more fully experiencing God’s grace and freedom in our lives.  Not only does this relate to various substances, but traditions and ideologies as well.  

Outcomes: This workshop is an opportunity for you to meet our new team, hear about our strategies to address these issues; and welcome your voice in order for us to bring about a healthier and more effective church! 

12. “How the Protestant Reformation Changed the Way We Look at Art”

Led by Dr. Victoria Sonstegard

Description: The Reformation put an abrupt end to the relative unity that had existed for the previous thousand years in Western Christendom under the Roman Catholic Church. Before the reformation, all art was sponsored by the Church of Rome, but after....join me to discover what happened.

Outcomes: Come advance your knowledge and visual acuity regarding ‘reformed’ art.

Bio: Dr. Sonstegard is an artist and an art historian. Her Ph.D. was earned through Warnborough College, Ireland, and her dissertation explored six female artists working in the United States during the years 1900 to 1940. Dr. Sonstegard has been an Art History instructor for 15 years and has been blessed to share her knowledge and eagerness to learn by teaching adult education classes at  Ascension Lutheran Church and for the Eastern Ventura County Chapter of the AAUW.

13. Going Global

Led by Rev. Ellen Jennrich

Description: Global Partnerships Team Updates from Synod and ELCA churchwide global partners

International connections in our congregations

Sister congregations in El Salvador

Immigration concerns, with Justice Team

       Report on visit to detention center at the El Paso border

       Welcoming Congregations network, Guardian Angels, Sanctuary

Outcomes: How your congregation can get involved
Upcoming mission trips

14. "This Changes Everything" - A crash course on taking youth to the ELCA Youth Gathering in Houston 2018

Led by Janet Renick

Description: Every three years, the ELCA hosts a High School Youth Gathering of 30,000-40,000 young people, which has actually become an international event. The next Gathering will be in Houston, TX, June 27-July 1, 2018. It takes a lot of time and effort to coordinate taking a group, raise funds, and meld it all together in the Faith Formation of your students. Come and learn more about the Gathering, logistics, travel ideas, and explore some of the best fund-raising ideas ever!

Outcomes:  The hope is that adults will leave feeling more informed, equipped, supported, and excited about Houston 2018, and can take this info back to their congregations as they prepare to register in September. 

Bio:  Janet Renick has been doing Youth Ministry for nearly 40 years! She currently serves in two congregations in our Synod:  Christ, West Covina, and Prince of Peace, Covina, as well as being part of our Synod Staff in the area of Children, Youth & Family Ministry. In addition, she is the Adult Chair for our Synod Youth Team, helping students find their place in the Church and in the world. Janet also serves as our Synod's "Gathering Synod Coordinator", your "go-to" person for information & support about next year's ELCA Youth Gathering in Houston.

15. Lutheran Social Services - Voices of Hope

Led by Kristal Shipp

Description: Join us for a virtual tour of Lutheran Social Services, Ventura County. This interactive learning experience is designed to dispel the stereotypes and myths surrounding poverty and homelessness in our community. Participants will have the opportunity to learn more about these communities through first person testimonials and experiences. 

Outcomes:  Participants will leave with a clear understanding of the mission, vision and  values of Lutheran Social Services, Southern California and the work being done to fight the cycle of poverty in the Thousand Oaks/ Ventura County communities.

16. PLTS of CLU, Now and Next

Led by Rev. Melissa Maxwell-Doherty and Rev. Holly Johnson

Description: Our west coast seminary is making some exciting advances.  A new building, the shaping of a new curriculum, a new Rector, new students.

Outcomes: Stay informed about the west coast Seminary experience.

17. Immigration - Loving the Stranger: Guardian Angels, Sanctuary, Matthew 25

Led by Pr. Stephanie Jaeger and Guardian Angels leaders

Description: What is currently happening with immigrants entering and living in the US? How are faith communities responding to the needs of refugees and immigrants? This workshop will inform about humanitarian crises such as in El Salvador (Lutheran Church of El Salvador is a companion synod) that are producing refugees including children entering our country. We will clarify how the immigration process works, and share best practices about how our churches are ministering with immigrants through programs like Guardian Angels, the Sanctuary movement and Matthew 25.

Outcomes: Participants will receive information, resources and inspiration to help their congregations engage in ministry with immigrants, as well as connect with a growing network of Lutherans doing God's work with immigrants.