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Message from CEO Jodi Harpstead

2016 Annual Report

JodiWe take quite seriously our responsibility to take great care of all that’s been entrusted to us, and we have brought all of our compassion and competence to bear this year in using your gifts wisely.

Last year, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota commemorated our 150th Anniversary, something no other non-profit human service organization in Minnesota has yet been able to do.
But that was last year – what about this year? What about the next 150 years? Where do we go from here?

Jesus said in John 10:10, “I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly.” But still, not all of God’s children in Minnesota live in abundance. As we start our second 150 years at LSS, we intend to commit ourselves anew to all of God’s children in Minnesota. 

First, we launched a new discussion guide at our annual Celebration for Changing Lives on race and racial equity for use in our 1,100 Lutheran and other churches this fall. Patterned after our popular My Neighbor is Muslim, our new discussion guide -- And Who is My Neighbor? – gives a grace-filled entry into the conversation on race and ends with a list of ways to get to work.

Second, we began working with the Saint Paul and Minneapolis Area Synods, Luther Seminary, and Augsburg College on kicking off a series of Peace Prayers patterned after the Peace Prayers of our sisters and brothers in Leipzig, Germany. Our vision for the Peace Prayers was to pray together monthly for peace and an end to violence in our country, our communities and our homes with anyone who would join us. Shortly before launch, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that Peace Prayers had already been started in North Minneapolis. We are happy to have joined efforts with our brothers and sisters with similar values.

Third, we will use our position in the community as the oldest non-profit human service organization, woven into the fabric of the dominant culture, to bring the issues of our brothers and sisters to the forefront in the public square. We have an effective advocacy machine and connections with people who can effect change, and we intend to work with the United Black Legislative Agenda, the developing Native American legislative agenda, and others to stand with our brothers and sisters and add our voices to theirs until change starts to happen.

Fourth, we haven’t figured out yet... but will, as the Spirit shows us the way.

It’s past time we faced biases and privileges and confessed those things we have done and those things we have left undone. It’s past time we all invested the time and energy to listen deeply to each other’s pain and really try to understand life from another point of view.

It’s been far too long since Brother Martin told us he had a dream. It’s time for all of us to wake up and stay awake until we make his dream come true.

Thank you for demonstrating that you share our values of trustworthiness, of love and grace for all of our neighbors, of a commitment to make Jesus’ dream come true that “I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly.”

Jodi Harpstead
Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota


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