The North/West Lower Michigan Synod’s Autumn Leadership Event for Rostered Ministers will be held October 9-11, 2022 at the Comfort Inn & Suites in Mt. Pleasant. 

The theme of the event is “Ministry in a Season of Trauma and Loss” and will feature presentations from Dr. Anna Madsen from OMG: Center for Theological Conversation and Dr. Kimberly Wagner from Princeton Theological Seminary.

Registration Information

Hotel reservations and registration for the Autumn Leadership Event must have been completed online by September 23, 2022. 

Speaker Information 

Dr. Anna Madsen
OMG: Center for Theological Conversation

After graduating from Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Dr. Madsen served a small South Dakota parish before earning a Ph.D. in systematic theology in Regensburg, Germany. Immediately prior to her return to begin teaching as a college professor, an accident killed her husband and severely injured her young son. Her daughter was eight months old at the time. This event shaped her theology and her life profoundly, not least of all by being a springboard to create OMG: Center for Theological Conversation.

Joy. After these last few brutal years of life, and more specifically ministry, joy can seem either like an illusion or an aspiration found in cursive print on a stressed wooden panel at a hobby shop. Despite its elusiveness, joy is a thing, and a thing from and expression of our faith tradition at that. However, joy is often misunderstood, used interchangeably with happiness. But happiness is fleeting, a feeling.

Joy, on the other hand, is—not least of all in the Psalms—precisely anchored in events of trauma, anger, betrayal, and lament. It is therefore a defiant way of being, one lived in gratitude for a God of transformation, an expression of life both in spite and to spite death. It acknowledges the reasons for grief and anger, engages them, and then says—not obliviously but quite intentionally—‘nevertheless.’

In our time together, Anna will lead us in conversation about the reasons—culturally, societally, politically, denominationally, and personally—why there are some legit reasons to lament, specifically as rostered leaders. She’ll then address reasons and ways that our tradition has ignored the tradition of lament, could instead tap into it, and is. Last, she’ll wrap matters up with joy’s promise: death is real, but life is real-er. We’ll explore ways that we can be ambassadors of joy to others, and find renewed sources and expressions of joy to ourselves.

Dr. Kimberly Wagner
Princeton Theological Seminary

Dr. Wagner is Assistant Professor of Preaching at Princeton Theological Seminary. An ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Dr. Wagner is passionate about supporting students’ formation and helping clergy and communities navigate the realities of an ever-changing world and church. Her current writing and work focus on preaching and ministry in the midst and wake of trauma, particularly thinking about collective trauma, the role of the preacher, and the resources of Scriptures and faith to respond to these moments.

When Good News is Harder to Proclaim: Ministry and Preaching in a Season of Loss

Whether due to the ongoing scourge of gun violence, the increasing impacts of natural disasters, or the realities of pandemic-scarred living, ministry in this season requires us to contend daily with trauma and loss. In our time together, we will discuss the nature of trauma, particularly how it impacts individuals and communities. With this understanding, we will think together about how our ministry, teaching, and preaching might be both responsive to pressing traumatic realities and sensitive to the lingering and ongoing reality of trauma and loss. Looking to Scripture and our ancestors in the faith, we will seek to find ways to care for our communities—and ourselves!—as we seek to minister to God’s people and proclaim God’s grace in this challenging season.


A draft schedule is available. The schedule is subject to change.

Session Handouts

When Good News is Harder to Proclaim: Ministry and Preaching in a Season of Loss – Dr. Kimberly Wagner


Links to worship bulletins are available below. If you would prefer a printed bulletin, please download and print the bulletins prior to arriving at the Autumn Leadership Event. Printed copies will not be available onsite.

Sunday Opening Worship Bulletin

Monday Morning Prayer Bulletin

Tuesday Closing Worship Bulletin