The 2022 Synod Assembly will include several mini-keynotes from energizing voices who will help us think about children in our communities from theological, historical and grassroots community service points of view.
Dr. Amy Marga
Amy Marga is Professor of Systematic Theology, and has been at Luther Seminary since 2006. A summa cum laude graduate of Concordia University, St Paul, MN (1995), she received a Master of Divinity (1998) and Doctor of Philosophy (2006) from Princeton Theological Seminary.
She is the author of the book, Mothers and the Christian Imagination (Baylor University Press, 2022). Her present research focuses on Feminism, mothering, and children in the Christian tradition. A selection of scholarly papers given on this topic include those given at the American Academy of Religion on “White Mothers, Black Mothers and the Bible” (2016), “The Redeeming Act of Giving Birth: Martin Luther’s Theology Concerning the Bodies of Mothers” (2014), and “Children in the Theologies of Luther and Barth” (2015).
Dr. Marga's earlier research focused on the life and thought of Karl Barth and twentieth-century theology. She is the author of Karl Barth’s Dialogue with Catholicism in Göttingen and Münster (2010), the translator of Karl Barth’s The Word of God and Theology (2011), and a contributing translator to Barth in Conversation: Volume 1, 1959-1962, (2017). She is also the author of several essays about Karl Barth’s theology including in The Westminster Handbook to Karl Barth; the Karl-Barth Handbuch; Thomas Aquinas and Karl Barth: An Unofficial Catholic-Protestant Dialogue; T&T Clark Handbook of Political Theology.
Dr. Marga is a trained racial justice facilitator through the Minneapolis YWCA and teaches a course on Race and Protestantism at Luther Seminary. She enjoys speaking on feminism, gender, race, mothers, and children in the Christian tradition in congregations. She lives in St. Paul with her two boys and a poodle.
She will address the assembly on Friday morning, May 13, with "Eight Things You Need to Know About God and Children."
Marcus Pope is president of Youthprise, a non-profit organization based in Minneapolis that works to increase learning, leadership and economic opportunities and safety in community for Minnesota’s disadvantaged youth. Marcus works with the Board of Directors and oversees all aspects of the organization’s work. Growing up in St. Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood, he benefitted from high-quality child and youth development opportunities at the Hallie Q. Brown Center and the Science Museum of Minnesota. These experiences and opportunities – along with the poverty, community violence and inequity he witnessed throughout his childhood – inspired him as an adolescent to pursue a career in youth development. He began working with Youthprise at its inception in 2011, was promoted to Vice President in 2017, and named President in 2021.
Before joining Youthprise, Marcus served for five years as Associate Director of the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community (IDVAAC) at the University of Minnesota (U of M). He also served as Director of Youth Programs for the Neighborhood Involvement Program in Minneapolis and Academic Advisor for the Youth Studies Department at the U of M School of Social Work. He is a respected leader in the Twin Cities’ nonprofit community, having served or currently serving on a number of boards and leadership committees (MN Council on Foundations, the Mardag Foundation, Friends of the St. Paul Public Library, St. Paul Promise Neighborhood Community Council, and more).
He has been honored by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, Harvard Business School’s Young American Leaders Program and as a Rising Alumni of the U of M’s College of Education and Human Development. Throughout his career, he has authored or co-authored several published works, including journal articles, commissioned reports, and book chapters that address youth engagement and leadership, education and intimate partner violence. He earned undergraduate (sociology) and graduate (education, program evaluation) degrees from the U of M. He also holds a Mini-MBA from the University of St. Thomas’ Opus College of Business.
Marcus will address the assembly on Saturday morning, May 14, with "Eight Things You Need to Know About Young People in the East Metro."
In August of 2021, Alexis Oberdorfer was named the first Vice President and Chief Officer of Community Engagement and Partnerships for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS). In this role, Alexis leads LSS in partnering with other organizations and community leaders to advance new innovations, partnerships that build healthier, more sustainable communities and to improve the lives of the persons LSS serves. She joined Children’s Home Society of Minnesota (Children’s Home) in 2008 where she held various positions, most recently as President and Associate Vice President of Adoption for LSS. She spearheaded and operationalized the partnership and subsequent affiliation between LSS and Children’s Home that began in 2012.
With a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Minnesota, Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare, Alexis has worked in both the private nonprofit sector and across the public child welfare continuum for more than 25 years, including the Minnesota Department of Human Services and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. She is a recognized subject-matter expert who has testified at the Minnesota Legislature and has led innovative public/private sector partnerships to further family preservation.
Alexis has received awards from the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) and was a Child Welfare scholar for the Center of Advance Studies in Child Welfare (CASCW) at the University of Minnesota. She serves on the Advisory Board of the National Training and Development Curriculum for Foster/Adoptive Parents. Previously, Alexis served on the boards for the National Council on Adoption (NCFA) and the Joint Council of International Children’s Services (JCICS) and the Advisory Board of the Permanency & Adoption Competency Certificate, at the University of Minnesota, CASCW. As an adopted person herself, Alexis brings credible lived experience to her work being raised in a multi-racial, multi-cultural family. She and her husband have three children, two of whom were adopted as siblings.
Alexis has been a close colleague in the collaboration of the Families Together project on the East Side of St. Paul through the synod's Planting Hope Campaign. On Saturday morning, May 14, she and Bishop Patricia Lull will join Dr. Marga and Marcus for a conversation about how we best care for all of our children.
The Rev. Keith Fry - ELCA Churchwide Representative
The Rev. Amy Reumann can no longer attend our assembly and will be replaced by the Rev. Keith Fry.
The Rev. Keith Fry serves as executive for administration in the Office of the Secretary in the churchwide organization. He has been in that position for a little over two years, having begun his call there one month before the beginning of the pandemic. He oversees record-keeping and statistics concerning congregations and management of the rosters of pastors and deacons of this church; minutes of official proceedings of the Churchwide Assembly, Church Council, and Conference of Bishops; and the ELCA Archives. Prior to receiving the call to the Office of the Secretary, he was a congregation pastor in Elgin, IL, and Evanston, IL. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He resides in Chicago with his spouse, Tom, and with Archie and Edith, a Labrador retriever and a Cornish Rex cat.
Click the links below the learn more about the 2022 Synod Assembly: