A Reason for Our Hope

Professional Church Workers' Conference 2023

October 10-13, 2023
Margaritaville Lake Resort, Osage Beach

Based on 1 Peter 3:15, this year’s conference will focus on confessing the hope we have in Christ to a world that often is hostile to our message.  It will address the art of speaking the truth in love about difficult topics.  The conference will be a time of refreshment and encouragement of that hope in Christ for our church workers as they live this out each day.

This gathering welcomes pastors and educators for learning and fellowship. The first part of the conference is designed for pastors, the latter part for educators, with content for all church workers in the middle portion of the week.

Questions? Contact Sue Thompson 314-590-6217 or sue.thompson@mo.lcms.org

Plenary Speakers

Rev. Dr. Lucas Woodford

Rev. Dr. Lucas V. Woodford, MDiv, STM, DMin is President of the Minnesota South District of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod and the Associate Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Farmington, MN.

Dr. Woodford is the author and co-author of several books including “Great Commission, Great Confusion, or Great Confession?”  , “Pastoral Leadership:  for the Care of Souls”, “What does this mean? Responding to Social Justice & Critical Race Theory”, and "Reclaiming Sexual Virtue in Family and School".

Dr. Woodford is a member of the Board of Regents of Concordia University, St. Paul, MN. He has served as an adjunct instructor for Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN and the Institute of Lutheran Theology in Brookings, SD. He is a Fellow in the Collegium of DOXOLOGY: The Lutheran Center for Spiritual Care and Counsel. He is married to his bride, Becca, and they have seven precious children. He is a frequently invited presenter on matters related to soul care, missiology, marriage, sex and gender issues, and Critical Race Theory.

Rev. Dr. Justin Hannemann

Rev. Dr. Hannemann, his wife Katherine, and their four children live in Seward, Nebraska.  He is the Cofounder and CEO of GracePoint Institute for Relational Health.  GracePoint is a counseling and consultation ministry with offices in Lincoln, Omaha, and Columbus.

He is also Executive Assistant to the Nebraska District-LCMS President, with a special emphasis on Ministerial Health.  He has earned an MDiv from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis and a PhD from Saint Louis University’s School of Medicine and is a Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the State of Nebraska.

Dr. Hannemann has a passion for helping people develop and maintain healthy relationships in the name of Christ.  You can find more information about Dr. Hannemann and GracePoint at www.relationalhealth.org

Dr. Brad Alles

Dr. Brad Alles is an Associate Professor of Education at Concordia University Wisconsin, teaching Foundations of Education and Teaching the Faith, and is in his 36th year of teaching.  He earned his Bachelor's degree from Concordia Nebraska, his Master's degree from Concordia Chicago, and his Doctorate from Concordia Wisconsin.

Dr. Alles taught art and religion at Concordia Lutheran High School in Tomball, TX for 3 years, and then religion at Milwaukee Lutheran High School for 25 years.  He has won the Concordia Nebraska Outstanding Student Teacher Award, the Milwaukee Lutheran HS/Heartland Funds Teacher of Merit Award, the South Wisconsin District Teacher of the Year Award, and the CUW Master Educator Award.

Besides speaking nationally in 25 states, Dr. Alles has two books: “Life's Big Questions, God's Big Answers” and “Starting at the End”.  He also has a DVD called Big Questions, Biblical Answers which is also available on Vimeo.  You can visit his website which focuses on apologetics and worldviews at https://bradalles.com/.


Plenary 1

"On Critical Race Theory and Social Justice: A Reason for Hope"
by Dr. Woodford

American culture is full of racial division, tension, and upheaval. How can Christians talk with others about hard topics in contentious times? How do we disagree without destroying the church? Even more, how can we love our neighbor, speak well of them, defend them, and acknowledge injustice and the need for reconciliation while also guarding against misleading or harmful ideologies? This session explores how to maintain a winsome conviction amid difficult conversations on critical race theory and social justice, rooted in Lutheran Two Kingdom theology, so we can give a reason for our hope even amid contentious times.

Plenary 3

"The Anti-Fragile Church-Worker: Relational Health In Ministry"
by Dr. Hannemann

Much attention is being paid to the health of professional church workers in recent years, and for good reason.  This presentation will explore some of the challenges facing Pastors, DCEs, Educators, and Administrators and a model for addressing those challenges.

Plenary 5

"The ABC’s of Defending Your Faith"
by Dr. Alles

Apologetics, or defending the faith, is as easy as ABC: A is for Archaeology, B is for Bible, C is for Christ Jesus…Find out more and get answers to these common questions so your students are always ready to give a reason for the hope they have (1 Peter 3:15)!

Plenary 2

"On Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: A Reason for Hope"
by Dr. Woodford

American Christians live in a sexually explicit society. Marriage, family, and human identity have all been undermined. Transgender ideology pulls biological sex apart from gender. Social media mainstreams once unthinkable behaviors while canceling those who disagree. Yet the church is to be a haven for the broken. How can Christians talk with others, including non-Christians, about hard topics in contentious times? How do we disagree without destroying our witness to an unbeliever? This session explores how to maintain a winsome conviction for difficult conversations on sexual orientation and gender identity, rooted in our Lutheran theology of the body, so we can give a reason for our hope even amid contentious times.

Plenary 4

"Childhood & Youth Mental Health: ACEs, Trauma, and Best Practices for Care"
by Dr. Hannemann

This presentation will focus on the state of mental health of our children and youth.  We will explore some of the primary causes of the mental health decline we are seeing and what our Lutheran Churches and Schools can do to address these challenges.

Plenary 6

"God’s TIP: Truth, Identity, and Purpose in Post-Christian America"
by Dr. Alles

How do we prepare students to engage a culture that says there is no truth, their identity is bound in their race, class, and gender, and their purpose is to fight the oppressors?  Learn why this has occurred and what to do.


Lodging Information

Each church/school makes room reservations for all their conference attendees.  Individuals need to make their own reservations.  The District Office is not responsible for arranging housing.

A block of rooms has been reserved at the following prices for this conference until Tuesday, September 12th:

Guest Room: $117 + tax; One Bedroom Suite: $217 + tax; Two Bedroom Suite: $317 + tax

Click here to reserve rooms.

The applicable taxes are 5.475% state tax plus a county lodging tax of 3%.  When registering at the hotel, remember to bring your tax exempt letter and pay either with a church credit card or check, to avoid the state sales tax.   Personal credit cards will not get you this exemption.  Local taxes still apply. Reservations are from 4:00 p.m. the day of arrival until 11:00 a.m. the day of departure.


Conference Registration Payment Info:

All registration fees are due prior to the conference. If paying by check, please print a copy of your registration confirmation and mail it with the check so we apply your payment to the correct school/congregation/organization.

Mail to: Missouri District Professional Church Workers' Conference

660 Mason Ridge Center Drive, Suite 100
St. Louis, MO 63141


Deadlines to remember:

Conference Registration: Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Hotel reservations: Tuesday, September 12, 2023


Cancellations & No Shows

A full refund of the registration will be given if cancelled prior to September 26, 2023.  After the September 26 deadline, no refunds can be issued, as final numbers will have been given to Margaritaville Lake Resort.

Registrants who do not cancel by the deadline and do not attend will still owe their registration fee as costs have been incurred by the Missouri District.


Questions and Information

Please contact Sue Thompson at sue.thompson@mo.lcms.org