CCB Directory

Courageous Conversations  

Today’s airwaves are flooded with reminders of our deepening divisions and the back-sliding of many social justice issues that we had long taken for granted. It is easy to lose heart and to wish to bury our heads in the sand. Yet we know that hope is a critical element to human flourishing, together with agency and dignity.
After decades of research, scientists are discovering that hope is more like a muscle than an emotion. It is the belief that your future can be brighter and better than your past and that you actually have a role to play in making it better (“Hope Rising,” Gwinn & Hellman). If it were an equation it would look something like: Hope = Goals + Road Map + Willpower.
Among victims of trauma, this kind of hope appears to be one of the most effective antidotes yet studied.
This year our Courageous Conversations will feature speakers who will share stories of hope and resilience in the midst of struggle. It is our hope that we, in turn, might better understand how to reject injustice where we find it, and to work together to envision a better future for all.
Courageous Conversations are recorded, and posted here

Your donations help pay honorariums to our speakers, and purchase materials for the missions we support.

Donate with PayPal Link

Click on PayPal logo. Or send your check, made out to WELCA, and mail to St. John’s Lutheran Church, 500 Third St. West, Northfield, MN 55057.

We thank you, ahead of time, for your gifts.


Courageous Conversations are recorded, and posted here

MAY 2, 2024, 7:00pm

Dr. Samuel Lotegeluaki,  Professor Emeritus- Psych & Soc (Concordia, St Paul); PhD, Aquinas Inst. of Philosophy; MDiv & Couns, Luther Sem; BDiv &B.Ed (Tanzania); Author: I Am a Prisoner of Hope (©2023)

“I Am a Prisoner of Hope” was written at a time when political divisiveness, polarization, extremism, hate crimes, xenophobia, and violence are increasing at an alarming rate. The racial inequality and injustices that led to the Civil Rights Movement have not been fully remedied.

Lotegeluaki, a St. John’s member, will offer insight into the assumptions, attitudes, fears, and greed that have led to some of these current problems. Hope is seen as the driving force that sustains people through horrific circumstances and propels them to seek a better situation. He will challenge us to view ourselves as stewards (not owners) of this earth and to look for what we have in common with others, rather than what divides us, and provide suggestions for how me might begin to heal the hurts and make the world a better place. We are thrilled to host a member of our own congregation, on such a timely topic, completing our 2023-2024 “Courageous Conversations: Hope is a Muscle” program year.

April 4, 2024, 7:00PM

St. John’s Hall

“From Trauma to Triumph: Cultivating Hope and Resilience – A Lakota Perspective”

Embark on an enlightening journey with Dr. Kelly Sherman-Conroy as she explores the power of hope and resilience in overcoming trauma, rooted in the rich tapestry of Lakota wisdom. With her extensive research and profound understanding of Lakota spirituality and Christian practice, Dr. Sherman-Conroy brings to light inspiring stories that have empowered individuals to chart a course towards a brighter, more equitable future. In this transformative talk, you’ll discover how hope, much like a muscle, can be nurtured and strengthened, fostering resilience in the face of adversity. Delve into Dr. Sherman-Conroy’s compelling formula where hope equals goals plus a roadmap plus willpower, serving as a potent antidote to trauma. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to be part of a conversation that promises to inspire, motivate, and illuminate pathways to resilience and recovery.

Dr. Kelly Sherman-Conroy, a prominent member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and trailblazer within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), is the first Native woman to earn a Ph.D. in theology in the ELCA. Born in South Dakota, her Lakota roots deeply influence her unique theological perspective. A dedicated educator, she teaches on social justice and spirituality’s role in societal change. Beyond academics, she actively advocates for marginalized groups and policy changes. Known for her compassion and humor, she inspires change through embracing shared sacredness.

MARCH 7, 2024, 7:00PM

St. John’s Hall
Racial Justice: Planting Seeds for Social Change


February 1, 2024, 7:00pm

Love Your Transgender Neighbor: A Biblical Basis for Allyship
Our speaker: Austen Hartke, former member of St. John’s, graduate of Luther Seminary, author, and founder and director of Transmission Ministry Collective
Have you heard Bible verses used against transgender people, and you’re wondering if there might be more to the story? Ever wondered whether there were people who didn’t fit neatly into gender boxes in ancient times? In this session we’ll dig into stories of biblical characters who lived outside gendered expectations and talk about how these stories can inspire us to stand with our gender-expansive siblings today. Austin’s latest book will be available for purchase.


November 2, 2023, 7:00pm


If your heart is heavy with the stories of devastation, destruction and human loss in the Middle East, you will not want to miss the next St. John’s Courageous Conversations event: “Stories of Hope and Resilience in Occupied Palestine.” Kris Ducett, executive Director of Bright Stars of Bethlehem, has just returned from Palestine and will share riveting stories from students at Dar al Kalima University. This accredited university, in Bethlehem, was founded by Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb to educate the next generation of creative leaders. Raheb is a Palestinian Lutheran theologian and a prolific writer, whose latest book is “Decolonizing Palestine.”

UPDATE: Within hours of Ducett’s return from ten days in Palestine/Israel, our world was changed. Along with our Bright Stars friends, we are heartbroken, and mourn the loss of thousands of Palestinian and Israeli lives. Please come to hear Ducett’s stories and updates on this crisis, and hear how we might BE the hope for these Bright Stars of Bethlehem and all of Palestine/Israel.

Kris Ducett will have copies of “Decolonizing Palestine” at her presentation for $20 cash or via QR code. (It will also be made available at Content Book Store, Northfield).


Decolonizing Palestine: The Land, The People, The Bible - Orbis Books 


October 5, 2023, 7:00pm

Sexual and Gender Minorities: Social Justice and the Importance of Family Support

October’s program will feature a mother/son team who will share personal stories related to sexual and gender minorities, highlighting the importance of family support.

Elliott Kunerth, MSW, LGSW, social justice advocate, therapist and Gender Diverse trainer at Illumé North in Duluth.

Laurie Sieve, mental health RN, retired faculty at St Catherine, certified LGBT Health Policy advocate Allina; Elliott’s mom

Open to the public. Refreshments.


September 14th, 2023

7:00pm St. John’s Hall
Finding Common Cause Across Religious Differences: a Voice for our Neighbors in Need at the State Capitol

Leah Patton, executive director of Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (JRLC); Public Policy and Strategic Messaging professional is our featured speaker.

“The session will explore JRLC’s process of finding common cause and mission in interfaith advocacy. Since 1971, our organization has established a legacy of building trust and mutual sharing between religious traditions, instead of viewing these differences as threatening to our own devoutly held beliefs. Through a foundation of respect and grace, we enrich our personal faith observance while rallying with our brother and sisters of other religious traditions around a common cause- to be a voice for our neighbors in need at the State Capitol. We are excited to share the lessons our community has learned with you!”