2017 Conference

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:

What did you like most about the conference?

  • New RelationshipsRelationships with new people; Building relationships; meeting new friends; learn from peers; Hearing about other ministries; The relationships I built were impactful, as were the speakers and sessions.
  • NetworkingNetworking and connecting with other mission-focused folks; Networking with different individuals; The networking and the World Café; The time to connect and network with others; Networking with fellow agencies; Networking gave so many new ideas and produced so many relationships and partnerships; The networking opportunities; Table conversations; Like always, networking is the best part of the conference.
  • World CaféWorld Café was a great addition; Keynotes and World Café.
  • ConnectingMission empowerment and connection with other mission agencies; Mission awareness for mission trips; Connecting with mission groups and people; Chance to connect!; Catching up with fellow mission workers; Encouragement.
  • LearningLearning about dozens of Lutheran grant-giving organizations, getting a glimpse of ALMA’s strategic planning, Millennial panel; Because I’m a student finishing my final semester, it was greatly beneficial for us to hear people in the field who are dutifully responding to God’s love and grace through service to His people and the world; Topics were very helpful; Good topics and speakers.

Comments about any of the speakers?

  • I also really enjoyed the whole Millennial panel
  • Very wonderful speakers
  • Amazing speakers
  • Funding panels very helpful
  • Very engaging presenters
  • Like attendee participation
  • All very good!
  • The speakers, both plenary and breakout, did a very good job of both inspiring and informing.
  • The keynote speakers were incredibly inspiring, Biblical, passionate, and applicable in their presentations.
  • They were all awesome!

Topics you would like to hear at next year’s conference?

  • Mission encouragementMission empowerment and more encouragement for mission agencies to move as God leads them; Mission support for agencies to do more things to those they serve; Call to wake up our local Christians and their congregations to send, motivate, and equip people; mission stories to inspire the conference.
  • PartnershipsNext steps in creating partnerships with mission groups that relate to similar efforts and areas; How to form healthy and valuable partnerships; More updates from OIM and ONM.
  • ManagementNonprofit organizational best practices; More training practices.

Other Comments?

  • Enjoyed the multi-cultural entertainment.
  • Larger font on the nametags!
  • Well organized and publicized.


ALMA wishes to acknowledge and appreciate the following:


  • LCMS Office of International Mission:  John Fale, Dan McMiller, Susan Collins, Barbara Hoffmann, Erin Alter, Anne Gonzalez
  • LCMS Office of National Mission: Bart Day, Steve Schave, Suzie Foote, Dorothy Krans, Cara Patton, Renee Lorenz
  • Lutheran Legacy Foundation
  • Lutheran Hour Ministries
  • Three Avocados Coffee
  • Concordia Publishing House
  • Family Shield Ministries
  • Insurance Consultants Int’l www.missiontripinsurance.com
  • Rau Imaging


  • Blessman International
  • Christian Friends of New Americans
  • Concordia Publishing House
  • Cross-Cultural Ministry Center (CMC) at CUI
  • Family Shield Ministries
  • Insurance Consultants Int’l www.missiontripinsurance.com
  • Global Lutheran Outreach
  • Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
  • Lutheran Federal Credit Union
  • Lutheran Heritage Foundation
  • Lutheran Hour Ministries
  • Ministry in Mission
  • Rau Imaging
  • Three Avocados Coffee
  • Thrivent Financial



"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