News and Resources from the Upstate New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Women of the ELCA

Cherish All Children: Start A Children’s Ministry

By Dianne Klafehn

Q. How can we start a Cherish All Children ministry?

A. Give us a call: National Director Amy Hartman, 612-280-1259, or Upstate New York Synod Leader Dianne Klafehn, 315-216-4416. We can help you explore ways in which your congregation can begin and/or sustain this ministry. Our Congregational Manual has tips, practical examples and a suggested structure for developing a Cherish All Children team. Our website has resources for safe church policies, prayer booklets, books and Internet resources. Join our email lists to receive the weekly Wednesday Prayer and the E-Quipped for Prevention newsletter which provides ideas and resources for congregations.

Also: attend our bi-annual National Gathering where congregations from around the country receive training and share best practices. The National Gathering is a time for pastors and lay leaders from around the country to meet one another, share ministry stories, work through challenges, grow in leadership, and live in God’s abundant grace together. The Fourth National Gathering of Cherish All Children, to be held in Whitehouse, OH at the Lial Renewal Center in the Northwestern Ohio Synod, September 18-21, 2014. We have chosen the theme “One generation shall laud God’s works to another…” (from Psalm 145:4) for this year’s National Gathering. The registration fee $150 person (registration ends August 15, 2014) includes all the Gathering sessions, Fri/Sat/Sun breakfast and lunch, Fri/Sat dinner, snacks, and drinks. The Saturday evening banquet, with Bishop Marcus Lohrmann speaking. Bishop Lohrmann was instrumental in starting Cherish All Children in the Northwestern Ohio Synod, and he remains a consistent supporter of this ministry. Go to and click on National Gathering for more information. There is some housing available at Lial Renewal Center. Reservations for this housing are first-come, first-served. To reserve a room at Lial Renewal Center, contact Sister Mary Dean Pfahler at or 419-877-0432.

Cherish All Children Q and A

By Dianne Klafehn

Q. What is Cherish All Children?
A. Cherish All Children is a national Lutheran ministry which equips congregations to prevent child sexual exploitation. The heart of this ministry lies in congregations, where staff, leaders, and members pray, educate, build relationships, and act on behalf of children within and outside their congregations.

Q. What do we have to do to establish a Cherish All Children ministry in our Congregation?
A. There is no set process. You are free to participate in any or all components of the ministry. You could start with prayer or action or you could start all components at once. Your congregation is unique and you are better suited to determine the timing, process and outcomes that will work best for your congregation. Many churches have established polices to protect the children in their congregation and we applaud them for doing so. Contact Dianne Klafehn, Cherish All Children Synod Leader for the Upstate New York Synod and we will explore together how best your congregation can implement the components of Cherish All Children. 315.216.4416 or

Cherish All Children

By: Dianne Klafehn

We have changed our name. The Board of Directors made the decision to change our name. They wanted a name that would encourage congregations to think more broadly about the children they serve and expand their prevention efforts beyond their own children. We also want to provide greater clarity to the public about our identity as an organization. A vote was taken across the participating congregations and it was decided that Cherish ALL Children fit that need.

It’s a good thing, every now and then, to look again and be reminded of our mission: Cherish All Children is a national Lutheran ministry of prayer, education, relationship-building, and action to prevent child sexual exploitation.

As an organization, we empower, equip, and encourage congregations and leaders to get more deeply involved in prevention. We invite congregations to:

  • Pray for children, ages birth to 25, within their congregation and beyond;
  • Educate members about preventing child sexual abuse and exploitation;
  • Build relationships with others in the community who also work on prevention;
  • Be in action on behalf of children.

On our website you can add your name to the Wednesday Prayer. This offers thoughts and prayers around one of the upcoming Sunday’s lessons. Use them as you speak with God quietly and/or share them with your congregations during worship.

Also on our website is the E-Quipped for Prevention newsletter, you can find stories, resources, and ideas for moving this ministry forward in your congregation. You may also add your name to our E-Quipped mailing list, if you are not already on it.

For those who have not begun or are considering participation in this ministry and would like more information contact Dianne Klafehn, Cherish All Children Synod Leader for the Upstate New York Synod Women of the ELCA at 315-216-4416 or

Thank you for being a partner in this ministry!

Women of the ELCA Ninth Triennial Gathering

Of Many Generations is the theme for the ninth triennial gathering of the Women of the ELCA.

Join the conversation as we explore the triennial gathering theme of many generations. Listen to inspiring speakers; participate in worship and praise; learn by attending workshops, viewing films and engaging in servant events. Visit the exhibit hall where you can gather, shop and connect. And don’t forget our special events where women in their 20s and 30s can eat chocolate and join others to run it off later. And where’s it all happening? The Charlotte Convention Center July 24-27, 2014. ()

While this is an official event of Women of the ELCA, all women in the church are invited to attend. One need not be a participant in Women of the ELCA. In fact, we invite all our ecumenical partners to attend as well, so share this invitation.

Registration is now open.

Contact Karen Settembre, Triennial Gathering Promoter for the Upstate New York Synod Women of the ELCA, for information about carpooling and room sharing.

Upstate New York Women of the ELCA Convention Challenges and Inspires

By: Marilyn Dyer, President, Upstate New York Synod Women of the ELCA

A glorious weekend in the Adirondacks saw 100 women from across upstate New York gather together at Camp of the Woods, Speculator, New York, for their 26th Annual Convention. Themed “Let Justice Flow,” the keynote, workshops, songs and worship focused on how to act upon your faith in bringing justice to the world.

Keynote speaker, Inez Torres Davis, Director for Justice for the Churchwide Office (CWO) of Women of the ELCA, offered insights into our perceptions of a fair and just society which left us moved and challenged to look into our hearts and lives to see where we might be acting in a racially insensitive manner without even knowing it. Her workshop, “At the Crossroads: The Intersection of Oppressions,” helped attendees understand that for many women sexism coupled with racism, classism, anti-feminism, homophobia, lack of education, religious intolerance or any other bias, makes it that much harder for them to break free from the constraints that prevent them from living life to the fullest. Inez made us laugh, feel uncomfortable, and eager to engage our synodical Racial Justice Advocacy Team to help us wrangle with and move forward in our understanding of these issues.

Susan Drane, CWO Board Representative from Mesa, Arizona, spoke to us about all the ways in which Women of the ELCA assists other women to reach their goals. She explained the vast array of resources available for Bible study, personal and group spiritual growth, good stewardship, advocacy, mission and many other topics that are available to congregational units. She helped us understand how our offerings to the CWO are paid forward through scholarships, grants, overseas missions, world hunger, disaster relief, and programs worldwide through which women and girls are assisted in their struggles. Pastor Gail Wolling shared that, during her time at seminary, she had been the beneficiary of a $1,000 grant from Women of the ELCA which had helped her get through some lean financial times.

Other workshops included one on Stephen Ministry led by Mary Tennerman, St. Timothy, Troy; Advocate, Me? led by Susan Drane, CWO Board Rep; Fill It to the Brim with Justice- Lutheran Coffee Hour and Fair Trade led by Carole and Ed Grove, Zion, New Hartford; Building Schools in Zambia led by Pr. Gail Wolling, Luther Memorial, Syracuse; and Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Attending Triennial Convention led by Karen Settembre, St. Michael’s, Camillus.

Ten women got up very early on Saturday morning to walk a 5K route for the benefit of Pastor Wolling’s school projects in Zambia. Through pledges they raised $675 for Pr. Gail to use for school construction or other needs. There was afternoon free time to enjoy the beautiful lakeside camp or enjoy hands-on activities such as tying quilts (Grace, Oswego), learning how to make Little Dresses and Britches (Faith, Troy), dabble in the arts with a stamping project (Megan Tennermann), or enjoy the SERRV Sale (Betsy Liljeberg, St. John/St. Mark, Canajoharie). There was lots of foot-stomping on Saturday night as the women enjoyed Stone Soup – the band featuring Betsy’s own Pete Liljeberg. Great music and great fun!

Morning prayer, led by Phyllis Keeler, Emanuel, Stuyvesant Falls, and evening prayer, led by Susan Nalle, Grace, Oswego, gave us the perfect beginning and end to each day – by praying first and last! Part of each day included singing with Jan Walz, Our Redeemer, Scotia, and Sarah Fisher, St. Peter, Malta, as we learned about the history of some of our favorite hymns and sang them! So interesting and what beautiful music a room full of Lutheran ladies can make! Our Chaplain, Sandy Shear, AIM from the Otsego County Lutheran Parish, led our Saturday morning Bible study based on our theme verse, Micah 6:8, What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.

435Sunday morning worship featured Clowns at the Cross from St. Timothy’s, Troy, who led us in a warm, funny, moving worship celebration featuring a “camp” theme complete with the camper who cried both arriving and leaving! By the way, Bishop Marie looks great with big red lipstick circles on her cheeks, forehead, and nose! I wonder if she was able to get those off before her afternoon installation service! What a great ministry which helps us see worship and the love of Jesus through different eyes.

We were delighted to have with us 22 first time attendees, 7 scholarship winners, and several guests from the Slovak-Zion Synod and Wesleyan churches. As you can see, it took a team of women from all over the synod to put the convention together. We have such talented and willing workers who want to share the Good News in sisterhood and love.

Next year’s convention will be held in Syracuse, October 3-5, 2014, at the Best Western Carrier Circle with the theme of “Mission.” Watch this space for updates as they become available. Hope you’ll consider joining us for that event.

And don’t forget the Ninth Triennial Convention and Gathering, “Of Many Generations,” July 21-27, 2014, in Charlotte, NC. It’s the closest it will ever be to Upstate NY and we hope to put together a large delegation! Go to for all the info! Registration has already begun – register early to get the best hotel rooms.

If you have any questions about Upstate NY Women of the ELCA, would like information about starting a unit in your church, or would like me or one of your local board members to visit your congregation to learn more, please contact me. We would love to share all the wonderful things that are Women of the ELCA with you.


Zimbabwe Sister Organization
Vashandiri Women’s League, Zimbabwe, is the sister organization of the Upstate New York Synod Women of the ELCA. Upstate New York Synod Women of the ELCA has a Vashandiri Fund to support our sisters from Zimbabwe in their education and mission.
Click here for more information.

Cherish All Children
Cherish All Children is a prayer and educational ministry to combat child abuse in all forms.

  • National Director: Amy Hartman, 612-280-1259
  • Upstate New York Synod coordinator: Diane Klafehn

Click here for more information.