2017 ALMA Conference - January 26-27, 2017 - Hilton St. Louis Airport

Theme: “ReforMission 2017: On His Mission!ALMA Conference 2017 logo

Best Practices in Missions

Networking – Learning – Mission Resources – Fellowship – Best Practices


The 2017 ALMA Conference was themed “ReforMission 2017: On His Mission!”  Attendees gathered January 26-27, 2017 at the Hilton St. Louis Airport for two full days of networking, keynote speakers, and breakout sessions on various aspects of missions, including a panel of speakers on the topic of understanding and involving Millennials in God’s mission.  The ALMA Board also presented updates on the ALMA Strategic Plan, conducted an election of several board positions, and inaugurated a presentation of “Best Practices in Missions Awards” at the conference banquet.

This year’s keynote speakers included Rev. Michael Newman (Mission Strategist & Church Planting Catalyst, LCMS Texas District), Susan Hewitt (Executive Director, UpWorks, St. Paul, MN), and Rev. Dr. Victor J. Belton (Pastor, Peace Lutheran Church, Decatur, GA).  Rev. Newman encouraged attendees with excerpts from the Book of Daniel to examine how new and uncomfortable contexts can open the doors for healthy and vibrant mission.  Susan Hewitt charted a collaborative pathway for agencies to facilitate relationships, strengthen communities, and engage local congregations in powerful partnerships.  Rev. Dr. Belton shared moving lessons and blessings from personal experience, being used by God to help and support the establishment of Sudanese immigrants in Atlanta and their mission work in South Sudan.  Keynote sessions are available on the ALMA website for public viewing.

Bill Ney from LAMP (and ALMA 2nd VP) provided the opening devotion, with musical assistance by Liisa Tino. Featured lunch speakers were Dan McMiller from the LCMS Office of International Mission and Steve Schave from the LCMS Office of National Mission. Each provided program updates and information about resources and new initiatives. ALMA Best Practices Breakout sessions included topics on:  Public-Private-Nonprofit Partnerships (Susan Hewitt), Making Short-Term Mission Efforts Strategic & Impactful (Steve Hughey), The Latest on Viruses: Zika, Ebola, Swine Flu, and Newly Emerging Pathogens (Stephen White, Craig Robinson), District Resources (Michael Newman), Training Short-Term Teams (Erin Alter, Anne Gonzales, Tim Frusti), Funding the Mission (Melissa Salomon), Avoiding Violence & Terrorism (Steve Heimer, Craig Robinson), and Funders Panel (LWML, Thrivent, Lutheran Legacy Foundation, Rupert Dunklau Foundation, Let’s Build Hope, LCMS Grants, and St. Charles City-County Library District).  The final general session on Millennials and Youth in Missions was insightful and engaging as millennials and their leaders engaged the audience in panel discussion. LWML National President Patti Ross brought greetings and encouragement for mission agencies from LWML, noting the effective mission partnerships between ALMA members and local, district, and national LWML entities.   

The ALMA Board introduced three new components into the annual conference, which were well received.  First, The World Café was a time of structured networking that yielded a greater appreciation and understanding of participants’ challenges and successes on the mission field.  The ALMA Board will incorporate these ideas to better serve the membership.  Second, the ALMA Board issued three Best Practices in Missions Awards (and a free 2018 Conference registration), acknowledging Central American Lutheran Mission Society (CALMS) for leadership development of preschool teachers in collaboration with the public sector, MOST Ministries for leadership training aligned with recognized standards of excellence, Ministry in Mission for responding to local feedback and engaging people for elder care ministry in Haiti.  Third, congrats to Kirsten White for winning the most social media posts about the conference (22 on Twitter) with #almacon17!

The ALMA Board updated its positions with an election.  The Board members for 2018 are Rev. Dr. James Tino (President), Ms. Christy Weber (1st Vice President), Rev. Bill Ney (2nd Vice President), Rev. Jeff Thormodson (Treasurer), Mr. Samuel Deressa (Secretary).  The Board appreciates Rev. Christopher Ng (Secretary) and Rev. Miguel Toneire (Ethnic Liaison) for their term of service (2015-2016).  The Board values the hard work which ALMA Director Lorraine Roach has pioneered in laying out the Strategic Plan for ALMA.  We encourage ALMA members to review the Strategic Plan and join achieving the objectives of ALMA.  Together, our statement is: “ALMA is dedicated to connecting and equipping Lutherans for God’s Mission.” 


Participant Feedback on 2017 Conference:

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ALMA wishes to acknowledge and appreciate the following:





"Uprooted for Mission" Rev. Michael Newman, LCMS Texas District Missions

"Imagine . . . If" Susan Hewitt, Upworks St. Paul, MN

"Mission Mindset Chalolenges" Rev. Dr. Victor J. Belton, Peace Lutheran Church, Decatur, GA

"Millennials & Youth in Missions! - Part 1" Best Practices with Millennials Panel: Tim Preuss, CUIrvine; Tim Hetzner, LCC; Julianna Schults, Manager for LCMS Youth Ministry

"Millennials & Youth in Missions! - Part 2" Fresh Faces in Missions Panel: Jackie Haas, John Tape; Cheyenne Zlatic, Erin MacKenzie, Rebecca Kehe, Sarah Gierse