We will continue to add more information as it becomes available. We hope you will be able to join members from all around the state.

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About Our Assembly

I See Jesus

“Were not our hearts burning within us?” – Luke 24:32 NRSV

The disciples turn to one another in shock, “Were not our hearts burning within us?

He was right there, and we didn’t even recognize him? How could we be so blind?” How often are we in settings and situations where something is clouding our ability to SEE Christ in our neighbor?

We, so often, are just like the disciples, looking back and thinking, “how could we have missed that?”

Sometimes we all just need a little reminder.

Well, maybe we’ve got the perfect one for a time and a season such as this! We are excited to invite you to our 2023 South Carolina Synod Assembly this summer at the Columbia Marriott, June 8th-10th, under the theme I See Jesus!

Throughout the assembly, we will be hearing stories from across our Synod and synodical partners about where God is at work and where we see Jesus in those around us. Within the assembly theme, there will be four lenses through which we reflect – I See Jesus: in unexpected places, in those that look, talk, act, and believe differently than me, in our spaces, and in our community.

All those gathered will be inspired and encouraged to DIG DEEP and REFLECT on where we SEE JESUS in our congregations in both the likely and unlikely spaces.

Come and be renewed and reminded that we are all created in God’s image and all those we meet are God’s children as well.

Come and see and experience God at work in the ministry, your ministry, our ministry, the ministry of the South Carolina Synod!

assembly full playlist

All Sessions playlist

Session One
June 8 - 3:15 p.m.

Worship with holy communion
June 8 - 6:30 p.m.

Session Two
June 9 - 9:30 a.m.

Session Three
June 9 - 1:45 p.m.

Worship with Necrology Report
June 9 - 6:45 p.m.

Session Four
June 10 - 8:30 a.m.

Assembly Stories and News

COTTON PATCH GOSPEL | 2023 South Carolina Synod Assembly

COTTON PATCH GOSPEL | 2023 South Carolina Synod Assembly By The Rev. Rebecca Wicker “The world may be going to pot, but the story is crowned in glory.” This is the framework we are promised at the opening of The Cotton Patch Gospel, a...

read more

about this year’s assembly offering


The offering received at worship at the 2023 South Carolina Synod Assembly Offering is designated to the Lifeline Fund. The Lifeline Fund helps address the economic challenges facing our rostered ministers from student loans taken out to pay for their seminary education. Our pastors and deacons across South Carolina are indebted to you for your investment in their financial well-being. Thank you so much for your gift to our Synod’s Lifeline Fund. Since 2020, through the Lifeline Fund, with matching grants from the Lilly Foundation, we have paid $164,989 to education lenders to eliminate the education debt of nine rostered ministers and a significant portion of debt for two other rostered ministers. Good news! In fact, the cumulative reduction in educational debt for our pastors and deacons provided by Lifeline grants is over 85 years of education debt payments eliminated.

Your generosity furthers this mission. It is tangible grace and love, sent directly to lenders to pay down education debt. Read below what three pastors said about the impact these grants provide:

When this burden is lifted, we firmly believe it means more effective servants. More available pastors! More energized deacons! More prepared to fulfill their life callings! All Lifeline grant recipients must complete financial management education as well as make monthly debt reduction payments. All of this helps establish the disciplines to steward a healthier future.

“I have experienced the grace and love of God in a transformational way through the ministry of the Lifeline Fund.  The gifts you have given us are hope and a relief.”

“The Lifeline Fund helped to relieve a huge burden for us, allowing us to better care for our family, be a healthier leader in the church, and share the fruit of these gifts with the world.”

When this burden is lifted, we firmly believe it means more effective servants. More available pastors! More energized deacons! More prepared to fulfill their life callings! All Lifeline grant recipients must complete financial management education as well as make monthly debt reduction payments. All of this helps establish the disciplines to steward a healthier future.

So we invite you to continue to walk together with our pastors and deacons so that they may walk with less worry about financial concerns and set free to serve vital congregations and flourishing communities. 

Thank you for blessing this ministry with your good gift.


Use the QR code to give or click the link at the top of this page.

Lutheran F.A.Q. | What is Synod Assembly?

F.A.Q. For the 2023 Synod Assembly

    • Assembly will be held June 8-June 10. Assembly will be held at the Marriott Columbia Downtown, 1200 Hampton St. Columbia, SC 29201.
    • Registration closes on May 9, 2023 at 5:00 PM. Registration can only be completed with payment through Eventbrite.  There is no onsite registration.
    • Display tables are available through the registration process on Eventbrite. Each table must be manned by at least one person while Assembly is in session.
    • Links to registration and hotel lodging are available on the synod website at
    • Any materials being shared with the Assembly must be approved for distribution by the Reference and Counsel Committee. Please submit copies of your materials by no later than Noon on May 24.
    • Resolutions/Memorials must be submitted for consideration by the Reference and Counsel Committee no later than Noon on May 24. Only those resolutions which could not have reasonably been submitted before the deadline will be considered after the deadline.
    • Display table check in will begin at Noon on June 8.
    • General check in will begin at 1:00 PM on June 8.
    • Orientation for New and Returning Voting Members will be at 2:30 PM on June 8. This session is helpful to both new voting members and those who have attended past assemblies.
    • The first session will begin at 3:00 PM on June 8. Assembly will close at approximately Noon on June 10.  See the website for the complete agenda.
    • The Assembly will be live streamed and photos will be taken throughout our time together. Please be aware of the placement of cameras in the meeting room.
    • Onsite parking is included in your hotel reservation for those lodging at the Marriott. Parking tokens will be provided for those driving in for Assembly (to be given out at Assembly).
    • Parking is limited so please consider carpooling.
    • Parking is available in the city owned garage attached to the hotel. Entrances are located on Hampton and Sumter Street.  Parking is available on levels 1B to 4A only.  Payments for parking are taken at the Sumter Street exit, which is the only exit for departure.
    • Information regarding speakers, the agenda, nominations, etc. is available on the Synod website. Please continue to check back for newly posted information leading to Assembly.
    • Paper packets will be available only for those who requested a paper packet. Everyone else will need to access documents online.  A QR code will be available during Assembly to access the online documents easily on your mobile device.  You may also print them out from the website in advance of Assembly for your use.

Guests, Leaders, & Speakers

We give thanks to these wonderful guests, leaders, and speakers. More will be listed soon.

Unlike years past, we will not have one single keynote speaker, but instead will be spotlighting 4 ministry stories from our synod to stand in that place along with some meaningful takeaways.

We have been working on a way to utilize our Bible reflection time a little differently. We are excited to share we have gathered a cast to help us share 4 pieces of the Cotton Patch Gospel, a modern times retelling of Jesus’s birth, life, death, and resurrection, where he is born in Gainesville, GA.

We are so excited to be able to gather with one another and not only do the business of the Synod, but to hear the amazing stories of ministry going on across the Synod and learn from each other. We are a Synod gifted with so many incredible and creative leaders and we hope this enables us to celebrate that in a new and creative way!

Judith E. B. Roberts

ELCA Representative

Judith E. B. Roberts serves as...

Judith E.B. Roberts serves as Sr. Director for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) within the ELCA churchwide office.  The Sr. Director for DEI is responsible for articulating and championing a comprehensive approach and vision for diversity, equity, inclusion within the ELCA.

Judith is the former ELCA, Director for Racial Justice and co-convener for the National Council of Churches (NCC), Joint Action and Advocacy working group and a task force member of the NCC’s Truth and Racial Justice Task Force.

Judith is an alum of Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts, and a graduate of the University of Mississippi. She was raised in the Lutheran faith and worships at Our Saviour’s Lutheran in Naperville, IL.

In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, visiting museums, cooking and travel.

The Rev. Michael B. Price


The Rev. Michael B. Price is...

The Reverend Michael B. Price currently serves as pastor at Christus Victor Lutheran Church and works closely with the Synod as a member of Reference & Counsel, the Criminal Justice Task Force, and Congregational Vitality. He and his wife Lora, and their three daughters, live in Irmo, with Michael handling dad duties on a daily basis.

The Rev. Joanna Gragg

Worship Team and Necrologist

The Rev. Joanna Gragg is...

Pastor Joanna Gragg serves at Ebenezer Lutheran Church in downtown Columbia, South Carolina.  She is a graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne College, class of ‘99; and graduate of Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, class of 2018. 

She and her husband Nathan, who serves as pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Lexington, have three sons – Jonathan, James, and David. 

Being a minister of word and sacrament (and loving it) is her second career.  She also spends time dabbling in painting, is a lover of history, books, and anything that grows in dirt.

David Turner


The Rev. Martin Lopez

Worship Team Linguistic and Cultural Interpreter

The Rev. Mike Shackelford


The Rev. Mike Shackelford is...

Pastor Mike Shackelford has been an ELCA pastor for 26 years. He has served two congregations in Florida, did a year chaplain residency at Tampa General Hospital, served two congregations in South Carolina, served as a chaplain for Lutheran Hospice. Currently Pastor Mike most recently served as the chaplain for Affinity Hospice in Greenville, and as the Interim Pastor for St. Matthew Lutheran in Pomaria. Pastor Mike is married to his college sweetheart, Carolyn who is an elementary school teacher. They both reside in Moore, SC. They have two young adult children. Megan, an elementary school teacher who lives in Tampa, FL and Nathan, a 3rd year student at Lenoir-Rhyne University.

The Rev. James Henricks


The Rev. James Henricks is...

Rev. James Henricks currently serves as the Director for Evangelical Mission in the South Carolina synod. Prior to entering ministry, Rev. Henricks received his M.Div from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary and an MTh from the University of Helsinki’s Religion, Conflict, and Dialogue program. He has since participated in seminars focusing on conflict management and resolution with the Lutheran World Federation, culminating in a contribution to the LWF’s publication Blessed are the Peacemakers. He and his wife are foster parents through LIRS and Lutheran Services Carolinas’ transitional foster care for unaccompanied minors. In addition, he serves his local community as a volunteer firefighter and chaplain in Friendly Fire Department and the City of Newberry Fire department.

The Rev. Chris Christopher


The Rev. Christopher Christopher is...

Pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Greenwood.

I was born in Burlington NC to a single mother, and put up for adoption when I was 2 years old.  In case you are wondering, my first name was already Christopher, and I was, two years later, adopted by the Christophers.  Ha!

During my school years, my greatest joy was playing trumpet (I still play some). My closest friend was my maternal grandmother.  She raised me in the faith, and taught me about unconditional, steadfast love through our relationship.  My college years at Elon College are my “wilderness years”, as I was lost completely in everything the 70’s were about.  I dropped out my Senior year and enlisted in the USMC.  Later I was able to finish my degree and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant.  In the following 3 years, I served as a Combat Engineer platoon commander in Okinawa, being deployed to mainland Japan, South Korea, and to Tinian/Guam USA. I grew up some and learned a lot about myself.


My wife, Theresa, and I met during my last year of active duty, and were married 4 months after our blind date! That was 39 years ago in March!  She has helped me to continue to grow up. We have 2 adult children and 3 grandsons. What a joy those boys are!


Since graduating LTSS in 1994, I have served in 3 parishes in western NC, served the Metro NY Synod as Executive Director of Koinonia Outdoor Ministries, and the Texas Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod in New Orleans.  We retired in July 2021 and moved back to NC to be closer to the 2 younger grandsons. I never got around to submitting my retirement paperwork, and 8 weeks into my “retirement” I was invited to interview with Immanuel in Greenwood, SC.  What a God Thing that was!  I have now been serving alongside them as their pastor since October 2021.


Here at Immanuel, we operate a weekly Soup Kitchen, and a twice weekly Food Bank. We have a team to visit the Greenwood County Jail every Thursday night providing Bible Study for the inmates, and are now in the process of developing a weekly meeting with those inmates, after they are released, to help them create a new future. 

     For the past couple of years, we provide support, community, and love through Restoration Chapel, for Kinard Manor Women’s Addiction Recovery House.  I serve as their Chaplain.  And beginning in April, we will also be housing at Immanuel, Trinity Recovery Services (a ministry of Lutheran Services of the Carolinas) to provide additional recovery resources for Greenwood County. 


     We just completed raising the funds, painting, purchasing furnishings and other necessities 2 rooms a our Greenwood DSS office to provide a space for children caught in the foster care system.  It is a kid-friendly, comfortable place for them to have some privacy, away from the hustle and bustle of the DSS office.  We are continuing to support with clothing, snack food, and gift cards for restaurants for the staff to feed the children as they await their foster parents. 


     For now, I am loving it, but I am still not sure what I want to do when I finish growing up!  Peace – Chris

The Rev. Kara Stewart


The Rev. Kara Stewart is...

Rev. Kara Stewart has served as Executive Director of Neighbors Together since January of 2020 and has led the organization through the challenge of the pandemic into a new season of growth. She began her ordained ministry in 2002 in Charleston, serving Redeemer West Ashley, St. Barnabas downtown and St. Luke’s Summerville. In 2009 she took a call to Living Christ Lutheran in Flagstaff, AZ and later served as Campus Pastor at Texas Lutheran University, located south of Austin. Pastor Kara is passionate about helping people discern God’s call to use their gifts to help people in need. Pastor Kara is a graduate of Furman University in Greenville, S.C. and holds a Master of Divinity from Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. She is a certified Kripalu yoga instructor and a Contemplative Prayer Group Leader (Shalem Institute.) Her son, Ethan, is a senior at Wando High School and plays the bassoon for the Bands of Wando and snare drum for Charles Towne Percussion.

The Rev. Rachel Hoffman

Conduct of Elections Chair

The Rev. Mike Watson

Conduct of Elections Advisor

Linda Shealy

Reference & Counsel Chair


Celebrating 50 years of Ordination

The Rev. Dr. Craign A. Boehlke & Georgia Boehlke

Ordained: July 8, 1973
Retired: 2010

Grace Lutheran, St. Paul, MN
All Saints Lutheran, Cottage Grove, MN
Christ the King Lutheran, Mankato, MN
Region 3 Coordinator for Ministry Leadership, ELCA
St. John’s Lutheran Beaufort, SC
Good Shepherd Lutheran, Walterboro, SC

The Rev. D. Rodeny Gunter & Dell Merchant Gunter

Ordained: May 28, 1973

Good Shepherd, Swansea, SC
Sandy Run, Swansea, SC
St. Mark, Blythewood, SC
Silverstreet, Silverstreet, SC
Union, Leesville, SC
Beth-Eden, Newberry, SC
St. James, Newberry, SC

The Rev. Glenn L. London, Jr. & Anne London

Ordained: June 3, 1973
Retired: 2004

Transferred from VA Synod
Martin Luther, Charleston, SC

The Rev. Kyuzo Mihaishi

Ordained: May 28, 1973
Retired: 2001

Frankie San left his homeland of Japan after WWII and served in prison ministry in the South Carolina Dept of Corrections for almost 30 years.

The Rev. Ralph Duncan (Rus) Stilwell & Barbara Stilwell

Ordained: July 8, 1973
Retired: 2010

Nativity Lutheran Church, Spartanburg, SC
Nazareth Lutheran Church, Lexington, SC
St Paul Lutheran Church, Columbia, SC
Grace Lutheran Church, Gilbert, SC
Mt Tabor, West Columbia, SC

The Rev. Richard Webber & Jeannie Webber

Ordained: June 1, 1973
Retired: 2010

Trinity Lutheran, Bradenton, FL
King of Glory, North Myrtle Beach, SC
St David, West Columbia, SC
Mt. Horeb, Chapin, SC
Shepherd of the Sea, Garden City, SC
Cedar Grove, Leesville, SC
Redeemer, Newberry, SC

South Carolina Synod Congregational Special Anniversaries

150 years – Mount Olivet, Chapin

150 years – St. James, Leesville

125 years – Mount Hebron, Leesville

100 years – Grace, Rock Hill

 75 years – St. Michael, Greenville

orientation slides


Report of Committee on Agenda and Program

Report of Committee on Agenda and Program (PROPOSED AGENDA) for the 2023 South Carolina Synod Assembly

Thursday, June 8, 2023


12:00 p.m.


Display Table Check in and Set Up


1:00 p.m.


General Check In Opens


1:30 p.m.

Staff Meeting


2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Committee of Reference and Counsel (by invitation, as needed)

Committee on Conduct of Elections (by invitation)


2:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Carolina Ballroom

Orientation for Voting Members


3:15 p.m.

Carolina Ballroom

Session One

I see Jesus in…unexpected places
We worship a God who came to Earth, to be with us, to be among us. We worship a God who could have come as a mighty warrior but instead entered this world just as we did, as a baby. Let us gather together to hear stories of God’s work in this Synod in unexpected places.

(As a courtesy, please be sure to mute your phones and devices.)

This session's schedule is...

Gathering Time
Order for Opening of Assembly
Welcome and Announcements
Introduce Voting Procedure
Organization of Assembly
Reference and Counsel Introduction of Advisory Members and Special Guests
Report of Synod Council (Part 1) Procedural Matters Affecting this Assembly
Nominating Committee Report
Cotton Patch Gospel Storytelling
Keynote 1 – Rev Chris Christopher
Report of Synod Council (Part 2) Proposed Budget and Treasurer’s Report
Ministry Story – SCLRC
New to Synod Introduction
Lifeline Grant Story


5:45 p.m.

Travel Time to Ebenezer

Please remember to take your travel bags as you leave to head toward Ebenezer Lutheran Church.


6:30 p.m.


Ebenezer Lutheran Church
1301 Richland St, Columbia, SC 29201


After Worship


On your own

Youth and young adult pizza run

Lutheran Campus Ministry Task Force is hosting a Young Adult Pizza Party.

Friday, June 9, 2023


9:30 a.m.

Carolina Ballroom

Session Two

I see Jesus in…those that look, talk, act and believe differently from me
Conflict and disagreement are all around us and our congregations are not immune, but yet we worship a God who calls us into community with one another. Let us gather to share tools of how best to work together through conflict.

*We have a later start to allow for participation in the SCLMM Breakfast at St Paul’s

(As a courtesy, please be sure to mute your phones and devices.)

This session's schedule is...

Gathering Time
Opening Prayer
Ministry Story – SCLMM
Report of Reference and Counsel 1
Ministry Story – Campus Ministry
Cotton Patch Gospel Storytelling
Keynote 2 – Rev Kara Stewart
Ministry Story – Global Missions (Tanzania)
Break with Food
Report of Synod Council (Part 3) Recommendations on Compensation Guidelines and Constitutional Matters
Report of Registration
Prayer for Election
General Elections Ballot 1 (majority needed to elect)
Ministry Story – NovusWay
Camp Song/Stretch
Report of Bishop
50TH Anniversary Slides
Prayer for Lunch


12:00 p.m.

Capital Ballroom


Recognizing those who have celebrated 50 years of ordination.


1:45 p.m.

Carolina Ballroom

Session Three

I see Jesus in…our spaces
Jesus flipped over tables when he saw temples being turned into spaces that were not worshipping and honoring God. Let us gather to hear stories of creative ways congregations are using their space to honor God and serve their communities.

(As a courtesy, please be sure to mute your phones and devices.)

This session's schedule is...

Gathering Time
Opening Prayer
Ministry Story – LTSS
Lutheran Disaster Response Coordinators
Ministry Story – Tom Cassem
Report of Registration (if needed)
Prayer for Elections (if needed)
General Elections Ballot 2 (if needed)
Ministry Story – ELCA Foundation
Report from VP
Ministry Story – Newberry
Report from ELCA Representative
Report of Registration (if needed)
Prayer for Elections (if needed)
General Elections Ballot 3 (if needed)
Report of Synod Council (Part 4) Response to Resolutions
Break with Snacks
Ministry Story – WELCA
Cotton Patch Gospel Storytelling
Keynote 3 – Rev James Henricks
Ministry Story – Lutheran Homes


5:00 p.m.

Capital Ballroom



6:45 p.m.

Carolina Ballroom

Worship with Necrology Report


7:45 p.m.


Social with dessert bar and beer & hymns

Saturday, June 10, 2023


8:30 a.m.

Carolina Ballroom

Session Four

I see Jesus in…community
In worship, in the sacraments in congregational meals, in grief support groups, in small groups, in Bible studies, in youth group – when we gather in community and live out the kind of radical love Jesus modeled for us, we see and experience Christ’s love. Let us gather to hear stories of the incredible work of congregations who are radically gathering in community.

(As a courtesy, please be sure to mute your phones and devices.)

This session's schedule is...

Gathering Time
Opening Prayer
Ministry Story – LCY
Cotton Patch Gospel Storytelling
Keynote 4 – Rev Mike Shackelford
Ministry Story – Lutheran Services Carolinas
Report of Reference and Counsel 2 (if needed)
Report of Synod Council (Part 5)
Ministry Story – Partnership
Report of DEM (and Mission Support Video)
Ministry Story – Candidacy
Storytelling Update
Report of Reference and Counsel 3 (if needed)
Report on 2022 Resolutions
Unfinished Business
Report of Reference and Counsel (Final Resolutions)
Installation of Synod Council
Closing of Assembly

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