Theo-Con '18: We Are Church Together. Together?

We Are Church Together. Together?

Monday, October 29, 2018 12:00 pm- Wednesday, October 31, 2018 4:00 pm
Cornhusker Hotel, Lincoln, NE.

(For Hotel reservations contact the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel at (402) 474-7474. Ask for the Nebraska Synod rate of $109 per room. Special room rate ends Oct. 8)

TheoCon 2018 Keynote Speakers/Presenters:

Rev. Dr. Michelle Carlson and Rev. Dr. Rick Carlson (First Lutheran, Kearney; and previously professors at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg/United Lutheran Seminary) and Rev. Dr. Andy Root (Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN).

Workshops for this year's Theo Con Include:

  • Together? In Worship- How do we show up together in worship, as Children of God with different gifts, strengths, passions, challenges, abilities, etc.? 
    To be the Body of Christ as we are called, everyone should feel welcomed and valued.  For people with disabilities, this is not always true.  We will explore the diverse languages of proclaiming the Gospel that can come from interaction with persons who are deaf, blind, mentally and physically challenged. This workshop will look at worship as an avenue to build fuller, more inclusive and vibrant community so that we might be the Church for the sake of the world.
  • Together? In Mission- How have we responded to division in the past? What adaptations have we made? What structures and practices have proven critical in drawing people together? Which ones are working now, or hold promise? 
  • Together? Inside- What are the challenges to us being together with God, in significant relationships, without our soul and psyche, physically, emotionally? 
    Join Rich Sheridan and Anna Terman-White as we consider things that enhance our relationships with self, God, and others and things that hinder these relationships.  We will share an overview of concepts and tools from mental health care, spiritual formation, and theological reflection.  Bring your thoughts and questions too.  We look forward to conversation about what it means to be together inside.  
  • Together? In Our Confessions- "The Last shall not be First: The Formula of Concord and  the unsichtbare Kirche" (Rev. Dr. Neal J. Anthony) 
    What fundamental principles guide our identification of and our responding to threats of our being “Together?” 
  • Together? Congregationally- Are we really together? What are the splits within us? How do we address them? How does a congregation teach the value of gathering together in this climate of growing individualism? (Rev. Emily Johnson) 
    Even in the most together congregations there is always some conflict. This workshop will address strategies for addressing conflict in congregations. We will do this by examining the example of the early Church through an in depth study of Acts 15 and move to discussion our own congregations and strategies.
  • Together? In Justice and Mercy- How do we show up together in living out our faith in the world, doing works of justice and mercy? What are the challenges and barriers to going about this work, grounded in our baptismal promises and vocational identities? 
  • Together? As ELCA, LWF, and the Body of Christ- What are the fissures and the bridges of being church together? (Bishop Maas, Rev. Will Voss, Rev. Dr. Ashely Hall) 
    The Nebraska Synod and its congregations are part of larger networks of connections that also wrestle with the question of “Together?” in polarizing national and international climates. This workshop will provide brief glimpses into priority highlights and concerns in those networks, and time for questions about them. Rev. Will Voss is a member of the ELCA Church Council, to which Bp. Maas is a Liaison Bishop, and Rev. Dr. Ashley Hall is a delegate to Round XII of the official dialogue between the ELCA and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and has been engaged internationally in efforts of the Lutheran World Federation.
  • Together? In Welcome- How do we show up together, welcoming one another? How might this look in a congregation working through tough conversations about identity, and orientation?
    Three Nebraska Synod pastors will lead this workshop, by sharing stories about their different congregations and contexts (one rural, one suburban, and one urban) and their experiences in working to become Reconciling in Christ (RIC) congregations.
  • Together? In Raising Up Leaders- How do we notice and uplift those with gifts in our faith communities to consider and discern that God might be calling them to leadership in God’s church? 
  • Together? Online- How do we engage and share in worship as the Body of Christ, digitally and online? Members of the Nebraska Synod Outreach Table will lead this workshop focused on best practices particularly for using live-streaming as a tool to share the Gospel. (Outreach Team)
    How do we engage and share in worship as the Body of Christ, digitally and online? Members of the Nebraska Synod Outreach Table have invited four Nebraska Synod panelists to share best practices. We will primarily focus on live-streaming as a tool to share the Gospel. This workshop is highly interactive with opportunity to share what’s worked for you as well as to ask questions.

Five of these workshops will be offered during the workshop period on Monday afternoon, and the other five will be offered during the workshop period on Tuesday afternoon. 


Keynote Speakers

Rev. Dr. Andrew Root

Andrew Root (Ph.D., Princeton Theological Seminary) is the Carrie Olson Baalson professor of youth and family ministry at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. A former Young Life staff worker, he has served in churches and social service agencies as a youth outreach associate and a gang prevention counselor.

Dr. Andrew Root is the Carrie Olson Baalson Professor of Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary, USA. He writes and researches in areas of theology and youth ministry.  His most recent books are The Grace of Dogs (Convergent, 2017), Faith Formation in a Secular Age (Baker, 2017), and Exploding Stars, Dead Dinosaurs, and Zombies: Youth Ministry in the Age of Science(Fortress Press, 2018).

Rick Carlson (Ph.D., Union Theological Seminary; Richmond, VA) is one of the co-pastors at First Lutheran Church in Kearney, NE. Previously, he served as Professor of New Testament for 27 years, as well as Director of Internship and Post-Internship Candidacy at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg.  Dr. Carlson also served two calls in congregations prior to his work at the seminary in Roseau and Moorhead, Minnesota. Dr. Carlson is called to serve God’s gospel mission as embodied in Jesus Christ. His passion is to be the Spirit’s conduit so that people can experience the fullness of God’s grace through Word and Sacrament, and to be empowered to live out their baptismal vocation in daily life.

Michelle Holley Carlson (Ph.D., Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary; Evanston, IL) is one of the co-pastors at First Lutheran Church in Kearney, NE. She served a solo pastorate from 2008-2017 in the Delaware-Maryland Synod.  Dr. Carlson was also the Director of Lifelong Learning and Certificate programs as well as Visiting Professor of Christian Education at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg.  She is a trained Healthy Congregations Facilitator. Dr. Carlson’s passion is getting people excited about the Gospel through Word and Sacrament while simultaneously equipping others to join in ministry, be they rostered or lay ministers.


(Proposed Schedule, schedule is subject to change)


Monday 10/29

12:30 = Opening Entrance Rite

12:50 = Welcome Announcements

1:00 = Speaker 

2:00 = Bishop’s Time with Bishop Brian Maas of the Nebraska Synod

3:00 = Break

3:30 = Workshops (See descriptions above)

  • Together? In Worship (Rev. Dr. Dave deFreese, Rev. Fruehling, Rev. Gosswein)
  • Together? In Mission (Rev. Dr. Ashley Hall)
  • Together? Inside (Rev. Anna Terman-White, Rev. Rich Sheridan)
  • Together? Congregationally (Rev. Emily Johnson)
  • Together? In Raising Up Leaders (Rev. Dr. Adam White)


4:30 or 4:45 = New to Nebraska

5:00 = Reception

5:30 = Banquet Buffet

6:30 = Travel to Sheridan Lutheran via shuttles and personal vehicles

7:30 = Lincoln Area & TheoCon Celebration of Holy Communion, Sheridan

            Lutheran, Lincoln. 


Tuesday 10/30

7:30 am = Breakfast

8:30 am = Morning Prayer 

9:00 am = Speaker 

10:15 am = Break

 10:45 am = Speaker 

Noon = Lunch

1:00 pm = Workshops (see descriptions above)

  • Together? In Justice and Mercy (Professor Wendy DeBoer)
  • Together? As ELCA, LWF, Body of Christ, etc. (Bishop Maas, Rev. Will Voss, Rev. Dr. Ashley Hall)
  • Together? In Welcome (Rev. Jan Peterson, Rev. Chris Hjelmstad, Rev. Jim Killough)
  • Together? In Our Confessions (Rev. Dr. Neil Anthony)
  • Together? Online- live streaming in the life of the congregation (Outreach Team)


2:30 pm = Free time 

8 pm = Beer & Hymns at Lazlo’s Brewery & Grill in the Haymarket downtown,

            210 N 7th St, Lincoln, NE 68508 (need to confirm location, time, music and details)

            Possible Open AA/12-Step meeting with Otto Schulz


Wednesday 10/31

8:30 am = Speaker 

9:30 am = Panel of all speakers in dialogue with each other & TheoCon


10:40 am = Break

11:00 am = Closing Communion Worship

Registration Information

Early Bird Registration ends 9/2/18

Rostered ministers- $180

Clergy Spouses- $100

Interns/Retired Pastors- $100


Registration starting 9/3/18

Rostered ministers- $200

Clergy Spouses- $120

Interns/Retired Pastors- $120


Registration ends Tuesday, October 16. 


Last Day to Register for the special group rate at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel is 10/8. Ask for the 2018 Nebraska Synod Theological Conference rate of $109/night.