Lifelong Faith Formation 2023

Study the Bible.  Explore church traditions. Talk about contemporary issues and so much more.  In its fourth year, Lifelong Faith Formation has become one way for the people of the Northern Great Lakes Synod, and beyond, to be church together.  Join the conversation and enjoy the fellowship through courses offered each fall and winter.

Held online via Zoom, with occasional in-person options, classes are FREE but may require the purchase of textbooks or other materials. 

Contact Deacon Lori Ward if you have any questions or to sign-up for announcements when new class schedules open for registration.  

(615) 519-1969 or

Fall class registration has closed, but this listing gives you an idea of what we offer. 

Lifelong Faith Formation Tree

Christ's Kaleidescope

Instructors: Samuel Brink, Fortune Lake Lutheran Bible Camp intern and Pastor Bruce J. Thorsen, Faith, Okemos, Michigan

Sundays for five weeks, September 24-October 22

4 -5 p.m. Eastern Time, 3-4 Central Time;

This five-week study focuses on resources that educate and deepen cultural competency regarding racial equity, our indigenous neighbors, and the LGBTQIA+ community. Together we will navigate media and text sources and engage in weekly group discussion as we seek greater awareness and deeper understanding of these groups. The material for each week invites dialogue surrounding historical perspectives, contemporary realities, and implications for future action and advocacy. As an extension of the 2023 Lenten Kaleidoscope Challenge, each week of the study is grounded in our Christian faith and Lutheran tradition.

Who are the Evangelicals? A former evangelical pastor turns whistleblower
(without being mean).

Instructor: Dr. Lon Hider, Christ the King, Escanaba

Mondays for 10 weeks, September 25-November 21

6:30-8 p.m. Eastern Time, 5:30-7 p.m. Central

Meeting in-person at Christ the King Lutheran Church, 1230 N 18th Street, Escanaba and online.

Capacity: 8 in-person, plus 6 online

Who are the Evangelicals? Why are they identified with right-wing politics?  How can you tell them apart?  How are they different from Lutherans?  What can we learn from them? What are your questions????? 

Materials Needed: Please read before class starts in September: Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America. The cost of the book ranges from $2 used to $12 new on Amazon. Click here to purchase.

If you want to participate via Zoom, contact Deacon Lori Ward

A Book Study of “Embracing God’s Future without Forgetting the Past: A Conversation about Loss, Grief, and Nostalgia in Congregational Life” by Michael Girlinghouse

Instructor: Bishop Katherine Finegan, Northern Great Lakes Synod

Mondays for four weeks, October 2-October 23

6-7 p.m. Eastern Time, 5-6 p.m. Central

“The church in North America is in the midst of change, and much that we knew and experienced post-World War II is disappearing,” said Presiding ELCA Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. “Girlinghouse’s insight that nostalgia is not a disease but a powerful tool to move into the future is liberating.” This 4-week book study will review and discuss Girlinghouse’s book and the insights it offers for our own contexts, ministry efforts, and faith communities.

Cost of Book: $10 to $20, paperback; $5.99 Kindle

Purchase Information: In addition to selling on its site, Fortress provides links to purchase from other sellers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Click here to visit the Fortress web site.

Time needed to obtain materials, if applicable:  Students should have the first 50 pages of the book read by the first class on October 2.  Order books in early September.

The Gospel of Mark: It’s Story and Meaning

Instructor: Pastor Phil Johnson, Ascension, Minocqua

Tuesdays for six weeks, September 19-October 24

 7-8 p.m. Eastern Time, 6-7 p.m. Central

This highly interactive, 6-week class will enjoy reading Mark as a story. It will explore Mark’s narrative qualities such as characters, settings, and plot. Throughout, the class will consider the unique meanings and message of Mark that a narrative reading generates as well as its applications for following Jesus today. At the end of this class, students will be equipped to better apply narrative reading techniques to biblical stories and experience a deeper joy and appreciation for biblical storytelling.

Stewardship Of Animals

Instructor: Cindy Sjoquist, First, Gladstone

Tuesdays for three weeks, October 3-17

6:30 – 8 p.m. Eastern Time, 5:30 – 7 p.m. Central

Meeting in-person at First Lutheran, 1212 Minneapolis Ave., Gladstone, with Zoom option

We will explore the treatment, use, care of, and beliefs about animals in the Bible and currently, along with traditions in other countries. We hope to include guests with animals.

*Attendee/Viewer discretion is advised; some graphic materials will be displayed*

Capacity: 15

If you want to participate via Zoom, contact Deacon Lori Ward at

That’s Not in MY Bible: a survey of the Apocrypha

Instructor: Pastor Tommy Richter, Zion, Manistique

Wednesdays for 10 weeks, September 20 – November 22

7:00 p.m. Eastern Time, 6:00 Central

How many books are in your bible? Most protestant bibles sport around 66 books in total, but Catholic bibles can have 73 or even as many as 88 or more if you are an Ethiopian Catholic. In this survey class, we will be taking a look at 15 of the books (and additions to books) that Martin Luther put in a separate section when he translated his bible in 1546, which he thought were “not held as equal to scripture, yet which are useful to read.” These so-called Apocryphal (or hidden) books are still often left out or skipped over when we think about scripture today. Come and see what these books have to offer, and maybe we can peel away the mystery and obscurity to find some of that usefulness that Luther saw in them.

Materials Needed: There are no assigned readings for this class! But it might deepen your enrichment if you had access to a copy of the books we are discussing. As the title of this course suggests, your bible might not have the Apocrypha in it. So you could try to borrow a bible from a Catholic Friend, or you could purchase one of these two Bibles that the instructor recommends: The Egalitarian Translation contains most of the Apocrypha (with the exception of  the Esdras, Psalm 151, and the Prayer of Manasseh) integrated in their natural places in scripture and is the instructor’s preferred translation. Or if you want to see all of the Apocrypha in one tidy place as the NRSV translates them, The People’s Bible is another great resource.

Stewards of Children

Instructor: Pastor Kari Vadis, Trinity, Rhinelander 

Choose one of two sessions: 

Thursday, October 19, 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Eastern; 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Central 


Thursday, October 19, 6 – 8:30 p.m. Eastern; 5 – 7:30 p.m. Central 

If you are a rostered leader, participation in this program will meet the Northern Great Lakes Synod recommendation for boundaries training once every three years.

Pastor Kari Vadis is an authorized facilitator with Darkness to Light, an international, non-profit leader in child sexual abuse prevention, research, and advocacy. This training session empowers adults to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse through awareness, education, and stigma reduction. Join the movement toward a world free of child sexual abuse—a world in which adults form prevention-oriented communities that protect the child’s right to a healthy childhood. Join the movement to make your faith community a safe space.

Materials and cost: The cost of the workbook required for the training is $25. After registration, you will receive information on how to order the workbook.