Synodical Women’s Organizations receive $1,000 Seed Grants through Katie’s Fund

Eastern North Dakota

The Eastern North Dakota Synodical Women’s Organization took its seed grant, combined it with its fund for cluster gatherings and created one large “Round-Up” on April 20, 2024. The entire day was offered free of charge to attendees, and registration was at least four times greater than in past years. A catered noon meal was provided by Casa de Fe, a mission group that funds an orphanage in Central America. The group shared their story and mission goals.

Educational sessions were provided various ministry partners, including “The Woman Behind the Man: an Interview with Katie Luther” (an original skit performed by Karen Retzlaff and Amy Jo Paukert; authored by Amy Jo Paukert). Triplicity, a trio of women, provided entertainment at the close of the day.

Northern Great Lakes

The Katie’s Fund grant to the Northern Great Lakes Synodical Women’s Organization (SWO) supported ministries in two ways. The SWO gave the Upper Peninsula Human Trafficking Task Force a portion of the grant, directing it to victim support. The SWO used the remaining portion to fund scholarships for first-time attendees to its synodical convention/retreat in October 2023. Might Northwestern Ohio and Northern Great Lakes work together to expand their anti-trafficking work? Other SWOs can help, like Northwestern Pennsylvania, for example.

Northern Illinois

Those attending the Just Love Gathering from northern Illinois will have a special guest among them: Ms. Faustina Nillan Manyangu, the national director for women and children in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT). The North Central Diocese of the ELCT is the companion church of the Northern Illinois Synod, so the synodical board hopes to foster a companionship message with Nillan’s visit to the Just Love Gathering and time spent on the synod territory. They hope her visit will contribute to her own leadership skills as well. The grant from Katie’s Fund, combined with dollars earmarked in the SWO budget, will make Nillan’s visit possible. This project supports the global connections and leadership development goals of Katie’s Fund.

Northwestern ohio

The seed grant to the Northwestern Ohio Synodical Women’s Organization (SWO) hopes to multiply ministry and service. A portion went to the Northern Ohio Regional Efforts Aimed to Combat Human Trafficking (REACH) which works to develop appropriate prevention strategies and intervention responses to victims of trafficking in five Ohio counties. The SWO hopes to expand its anti-trafficking work, both with REACH and in other ways. A portion of the grant enabled a voting member to the Twelfth Triennial Convention to attend the Just Love Gathering that followed the convention. The synodical board, which is in a time of rebuilding after COVID-related shutdowns, felt it was important to build leadership development through the gathering, learning from workshops, sharing in fellowship and acquiring ideas from other SWOs.

Northwest Lower Michigan

The Northwest Lower Michigan Synodical Women’s Organization used its seed grant to support women at Thistle Farms, a Nashville based social enterprise that provides women survivors with free housing, healthcare, counseling, job readiness training, and employment.

Northwest Synod of Wisconsin

To foster global connections, the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin Synodical Women’s Organization (SWO) used a portion of its grant to support the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawi, its companion synod, in their goal of supplying as many villages as possible with their own well. With another portion of the grant, the SWO chose to give subscriptions to WELCA’s Gather magazine to women in our synod. Ten subscriptions were given, with eight going to new subscribers and two as renewal subscriptions. The final portion of our money funded five scholarships to a conference-sponsored retreat, open to the entire SWO. Three of the scholarships were awarded to returning attendees and two went to those attending for the very first time.

Saint Paul Area

The Saint Paul Area Synodical Women’s Organization held a “thank you dinner” for women who had been involved with the SWO over the years and asked each of them to bring someone with them. “It was great to thank those who have been involved … and get them back in the feel that our SWO is alive and well and that we need them to once again be active in our SWO,” reports SWO president Becky Maier. “Since this event we have seen a rise in participation at cluster meetings and at our SWO Soup Lunch and have seen excitement in what is to come.”

South Carolina

Ten congregational units in the South Carolina Synodical Women’s Organization (SWO) closed or became inactive during the COVID-19 pandemic. To counteract this trend, the SWO board wanted to help revitalize struggling units and help start new units. The board determined that congregational units needed some “how to” knowledge, and, in turn, created a task force to create a handbook to be given to each ELCA congregation. The handbook, funded by the $1,000 grant from Katie’s Fund, provides information for congregational units, conferences, the synodical organization and the churchwide organization. The handbook was distributed at the 2023 convention, and it is available online. The board has also developed unit training on how to best use the handbook which is occurring in 2024. “This grant allowed [the SWO] to add a significant tool to our toolbox to fix an identified problem. More tools are needed, but with this flexible addition we will ensure all tools will be utilized with maximum impact,” reports Risse Snelgrove, president of the South Carolina Synodical Women’s Organization.

South Dakota

At the South Dakota Synodical Women’s Organization’s convention in 2023, Diane Glover portrayed Katie Luther, telling her life story. The SWO board felt it was important for women to know more about the namesake of the Katharina von Bora Luther Endowment Fund. The portrayal was recorded and is available online. SWO board members encouraged every congregational unit to view the recording as they considered their gift to 2122: Growing Katie’s Fund for the next 100 years. This effort was funded by the seed grant. The remainder of the grant was used to offer two scholarships to the Just Love Gathering, knowing that a triennial gathering is an inspiring and life changing event.

Southeastern Iowa

The Southeastern Iowa Synodical Women’s Organization used its seed grant to support women at a local organization called Circle of Freedom. Circle of Freedom helps women in need – those who are struggling with life-controlling problems –  and includes a jail ministry and a residential recovery program.

Southeastern Minnesota

The women in the Southeastern Minnesota Synodical Women’s Organization (SWO) chose to use the seed grant for ministries within the synod’s two companion synods. A portion went to the Women’s Department of the Central Diocese Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania to fund a seminar for 26 women leaders from the 11 districts of the Central Diocese. The seminar focused on leadership, homosexuality and the importance of taking care of families. A portion of the grant funded a weekend retreat for women pastors of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia (IELCO). During each event the women recorded video greetings that were shared at the SWO convention in September.

Southwest California

The Southwest California Synodical Women’s Organization (SWO) used the $1,000 grant from Katie’s Fund to purchase translation equipment for use in the synod, allowing not only those using the equipment the ability to understand presentations but also giving them voice. The equipment has 20 earphones and the facilitating technology for communicating translations. The SWO used the equipment for its March 2023 Winter Gathering and its October convention. The Southwest California Synod used the equipment for its 2023 synod assembly as well as training events. This project supports both global connections and leadership development.

Southwestern Pennsylvania

“Planting Seeds of Leadership” was a weekend retreat offered by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synodical Women’s Organization (SWO) in late April 2023. Costs for the retreat were underwritten by the seed grant from Katie’s Fund. Four women—an ordained pastor, an executive director of a church camp, a synodical lay worship leader, and the synod vice president—presented. The goal of the retreat was to inform women of the many ways to serve in leadership positions in their congregations and the synod. The “planting seeds” theme was carried out in many ways, including a literal seed planting session for participants to take home in terra cotta pots. Participants received a pampering bag of goodies and had a photo op with cutouts of Martin and Katie Luther.

Southwestern Texas

Eight participants from the Southwestern Texas Synodical Women’s Organization attended the Texas United Women of Faith/Texas Impact Legislative Event with the seed grant dollars. These eight participants are supporting Project Radical Hospitality, a synod-wide effort to foster a deeper understanding of community by direct, tangible actions of hospitality. While at the event, participants studied current Texas legislatives issues related to Immigration, women’s (maternal) health and reproductive rights, climate action, and gun violence, among other topics. “As we begin our next strategic plan’s cycle, Project Radical Hospitality members are concentrating on service to immigrants/communities/services along with education and legislative priorities,” reports Lisa Lopez, SWO president.


Lutheran women in Virginia are learning how to be allies of and advocates for the LGBTQIA+ community. The members of the synodical women’s organization started 2023 by reading Love Without Limits: Jesus’ Radical Vision for Love with No Exceptions, written by Dr. Jacqueline A. Bussie. Having received the $1,000 grant from Katie’s Fund, the board decided to purchase 75 copies of the book which were then distributed to those who attended the July 2023 synodical convention. “We are excited about reaching out and learning about our fellow Christians who may need our support as we learn to be more welcoming and inclusive,” reports Lavelva Stevens, president of the Virginia SWO. The remainder of the grant funds will be applied to expenses involved in having Dr. Bussie present on the book’s theme at the All Lutheran Women’s Retreat held in Virginia in November 2024. This project supports both living theology and leadership development.