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Workshop on Secretariats

Judy Lang


Good afternoon. Joanne has told you about the make-up of the Atlanta secretariat and now I am going to tell you a little bit about the Iowa secretariat and how we serve the whole state. In order to do this, I need to give you a little bit of history of the Iowa Cursillo or Via de Cristo movement. Fred is going to put just a sketchy map of Iowa up there so that you can recognize where these places are when I mention them. We had our first Lutheran weekend in 1972 - same time as Florida started - with a lot of help from the Catholic community. Those weekends were held in a church in Atlantic, Iowa which is in the southwestern part of the state. They had two weekends for the first two or three years. Then a couple years later we started having weekends also at Riverside Lutheran Bible Camp, which is in the central part of the state and this was a much better location for the people from the Des Moines area.

So in 1976 when I attended there were four weekends held each year - two at each site. We grew and expanded in the late 70's and 80's. We held weekends at various sites including we tried one weekend at a church in Pomeroy and one at a church in Rockwell City. We've had several weekends at a mental health center in Sioux City. We had, I think, three weekends at Camp Io-Dis-E-Ca near Iowa City - between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. We've had several weekends at Waldorf College in Forest City which is in the north central part of the state, and many weekends at Okoboji Lutheran Bible camp near Milford, which is in the northwest part of the state. During this time we have been pulling candidates in from Nebraska, South Dakota, and Minnesota. We've also been having a prison ministry in connection with some of the others - it's more of an ecumenical movement, but we have been helping a lot with that through support and we have had prison ministry at Ft. Madison maximum penitentiary, and Mt. Pleasant and Rockwell City. Currently, they are holding them at Mt. Pleasant. Mt. Pleasant and Fort Madison are in the southeast portion of the state.

These states that were coming in - the people from Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota - as these states started their own movements, our need for weekends diminished, so we are currently using four of the sites.

As we grew and used more sites, there was no thought of starting another secretariat. The original secretariat met a couple of hours before the closing on Sunday afternoon. The responsibilities included arranging for the weekend, such as securing sites and dates, selecting the rectors and spiritual directors. The community was small enough that they knew most of the people and those people that were qualified so they could handle all of this. They handled the finances and suggested the donations. They had someone who stored all the supplies in their garage and would see to it that they were taken to the site for the weekend. They prepared the materials for the leaders for the weekend and kept track of all of the talk books. As we grew, this task became more difficult to do in such a short amount of time, so the secretariat decided to meet on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the central part of the state, near Riverside Bible camp, in a church. It was also difficult to know all the people, who would be good, to be rectors and spiritual directors.

It was about this time - the early 80's - that the National Lutheran Secretariat was starting. In the sharing that goes on at these meetings, we discovered that in other areas a new secretariat was started each time a new area or a new site was started. This was new to us. We thought that we're too much of a community and didn't want to separate our secretariat. We did go through a period of reorganization and we did sort of subdivide our group into areas according to the sites, for such things as selecting rectors and spiritual directors and making the arrangements for the sites. This was a painful process for some of our people to go through. Presently, our secretariat meets one Saturday every month in a church at a central location. They coordinate the weekends in the different areas and approve the selection of rectors, spiritual directors and the dates for the weekends so they're a coordinating body now, rather than just planning every little detail.

We are constantly reviewing the finances, to see how we are coming. If there is a need for an appeal to the fourth day community then they decide how that's going to be done. As I said before, we started with the supplies being stored in someone's garage. Then we purchased a snowmobile trailer and someone built the frame around that, so we had a trailer where we stored our supplies and this trailer, then, was hauled from site to site and back to where it was stored and these people kept it supplied. Recently - just this past year we purchased a used rescue truck. This holds our tables, podium, overhead projector, communion-ware banners, hymnals (LBW), our songbook which is "Songs", notebooks, pens, crosses, tissues and much, much more. But these are the supplies for all the weekends throughout the whole state plus our prison weekends. They also make decisions regarding any purchases that we have to do for these supplies. For instance, if we need to purchase some more hymnals or we need to purchase some more communion ware - those kinds of decisions are made by the secretariat.

We also review the materials for the rectors and the rollo room team members and the palanca team which is what we call our support team. The members of our secretariat are usually couples. In a couple of instances we've had a single male and a single female from the same area, and we have even had two women for a short while. We call our leader a lay director. This couple is responsible for conducting the meetings and receiving some correspondence. We have a spiritual director and three or four clergy couples at large. That's how we got started - we were a clergy couple at large. We have one treasurer for the whole state. Originally, our representatives on the secretariat were one couple from each ultreya. This was a nice group to start with, but as we grew, the number of people, because the number of ultreyas increased, the number of people increased, so we became really too large, so that's when we decided we needed some reorganization. We decidedto have one couple or two singles as a representative for each of the areas where we hold weekends. We are now wanting to have an alternate from each one of those areas, too. If the couple cannot make it, the alternate can. Sometimes both couples come.

We also have an assistant lay director couple and from the area representatives we collect a secretary, a financial advisor and a palanca coordinator. The financial advisor is a little different and this was decided upon because our treasurer was not able to come to our meetings - she just sent us a report. Many times we had questions about that report so we decided to have a financial advisor who would receive the treasurer's report ahead of time, review it, and then contact the treasurer with any questions or concerns, and then report to the secretariat at our meeting. Also, the financial advisor would do things such as if we had several thousand dollars there we'd maybe suggest some ways to invest it - or what we should do with that money. We have our newsletter editor and our NLS representative that are also part of our secretariat. We also have something else that I'm not too sure that many of the other secretariats have. We have a liaison who is a member of the synod Congregational Life Board. A person who is on the synod Congregational Life Board is also a member of our secretariat or comes to our meetings. We have three synods in Iowa, and we have one synod that is doing that, but we'd like to have someone from the other two synods as well.

Each area is to have a representative couple to attend the secretariat meetings and an alternate one and each site has its own registrar for the weekends at that particular site. For each weekend and also each area is to select a weekend couple who is responsible for set up, take down of the weekend and also responsible for handling any of the money and bills for that weekend.

Something else that we do that's a little bit different - much of our leadership training is done by experience. We want our people to serve at least two palanca teams or background teams before being in the rollo room. Then, once they're in the rollo room, we'd like to have them serve once as a silent, or auxiliary, before they can give a rollo. Then we'd like to have them give at least two rollos before they be an assistant, and be an assistant rector at least twice before being a rector. Our rectors and assistant rectors are Lutherans. The rollistas do not have to be Lutheran and they are selected by the area representatives with approval of the secretariat.

In other words, our training is done by experience as they move through the weekends and experience more weekends. For our team training we highly recommend 25-30 hours of team meetings and preparation time. We used to have ten weekly meetings of three hours each. Then with the mileage and the gas crunch, we tried all-day Saturday meetings and overnights on Friday and Saturday. We found that one overnight is not enough so we've gone with the number of hours leaving the specifics for the leaders for a particular weekend. If they want to do a combination of weekly meetings and overnights or all day Saturday meetings - that's up to them, but we would like to have 25-30 hours of training. This is just a thumbnail sketch of how we do things in the Iowa Lutheran Secretariat. Minnesota is another state that has a secretariat or a council for the whole state, and I'm not sure there might be a couple of others. We are the minority, I think. Thank you.

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