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Message From Pastor Leon

posted Apr 24, 2018, 10:36 AM by Tracey Morris   [ updated Apr 25, 2018, 2:43 PM ]

          As you have probably already heard, Pastor Luke Schmidt has accepted the call to serve as our Senior Pastor.  Pastor Luke is currently serving at Zion Lutheran Church in Buffalo, Minnesota where he lives with his wife Jess, and their two children, Kate and Will.  We give thanks to God for the guidance we have received in this past year as we have been engaged in the call process.

          Pastor Luke will be installed on Sunday, May 13.  The actual installation service will be during the 8:00 worship time, but Pastor Luke will speak at all three services.  There will be an opportunity to meet Pastor Luke and family during the coffee time between the services.  I encourage you to be here that morning to welcome Pastor Luke and family, and to be a part of this important day in the life of our congregation.

          The church council discussed with Pastor Luke and me the future of my position here.  All were in agreement that I remain at St. Paul’s and return to my previous position as Associate Pastor.  Pastor Luke and I have met and we look forward to working together.

          I thank you for the privilege of serving as your Interim Senior Pastor, and I am pleased to continue my ministry at St. Paul’s.  God has richly blessed us as a congregation at this time.  I pray that we may make the best use of those blessings and faithfully serve God by proclaiming his Word and serving our community.


On Sunday, June 10th, there will be a  celebration in honor of Helen Skutley’s retirement and 40 years of service to St. Paul’s.  More details will follow as plans are made.

 Helen’s retirement will be effective as of May 31st.  Helen started on the job in an office in the basement of the parsonage on April 15, 1978.   She knows more about this congregation than anyone, and her vast experience, knowledge, and friendly face behind the desk will be missed.  Thank you, Helen, for your many years of service, and congratulations on your retirement!


Yours in Christ,

Pastor Leon


Message From Pastor Leon

posted Mar 25, 2018, 6:44 AM by Tracey Morris

Shadrach Meshach Lockridge (1913 – 2000) was the Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, a prominent African-American congregation in San Diego, California, from 1953 to 1993.  He was known for his preaching across the United States and around the world.

     In his classic message, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Coming!,” Lockeridge expressed the pain at the apparent defeat of Jesus after the crucifixion, while hinting at the victory to come.  Christians celebrate the cross because the story did not end on that fateful Friday.  The story would not end at the cross.  The very instrument Jesus’ enemies used to defeat Him, would lead to His greatest victory.  Little did anyone know that what would happen on Sunday would change the course of the world’s history.

     Here is a portion of that famous sermon by Lockridge.  As you read it, remember that regardless of what today brings, regardless of today’s problems, challenges, or defeats; Sunday’s coming! 


It’s Friday.  Jesus is praying.  Peter’s a sleeping.  Judas is betraying.  But Sunday’s comin’. 

It’s Friday.  Pilate’s struggling.  The council is conspiring.  The crowd is vilifying.  They don’t even know, that Sunday’s comin’.

It’s Friday.  The disciples are running around like sheep without a shepherd.  Mary’s crying. Peter is denying.  But they don’t know, that Sunday’s a comin’.

It’s Friday.  The Romans beat my Jesus.  They robe him in scarlet.  They crown him with thorns.  But they don’t know, that Sunday’s comin’.

It’s Friday.  See Jesus walking to Calvary.   His blood dripping.  His body stumbling.  And his spirit’s burdened.  But you see, it’s only Friday.  Sunday’s comin’.

It’s Friday.  The world’s winning.  People are sinning.  And evil is grinning.   

It’s Friday. The soldiers nail my Savior’s hands to the cross.  They nail my Savior’s feet to the cross.  And then they raise him up next to criminals.  It’s Friday.  But let me tell you something.  Sunday’s comin’.

It’s Friday.  The disciples are questioning.  What has happened to their King?  And the Pharisees are celebrating that their scheming has been achieved.  But they don’t know, it’s only Friday.  Sunday’s comin’.

It’s Friday.  He’s hanging on the cross.  Feeling forsaken by his Father.  Left alone and dying.  Can nobody save him?  Ooooh, it’s Friday.  But Sunday’s comin’.

It’s Friday.  The earth trembles.  The sky grows dark.  My King yields his spirit. 

It’s Friday.  Hope is lost.  Death has won.  Sin has conquered.  And Satan’s just a laughin’.

It’s Friday.  Jesus is buried.  A soldier stands guard.  And a rock is rolled into place.  But it’s Friday.  It is only Friday. 

Sunday is a comin’!!

SUNDAY:  (Luke 24:1-6a)  On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.  They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.  In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; He has risen!”


Pastor Leon


Message From Pastor Leon

posted Feb 21, 2018, 1:11 PM by Tracey Morris

A story from Tony Campolo’s Let Me Tell You a Story:

     A new recruit went into training at Parris Island, hoping to become a Marine.  He was one of those young men who seemed to be a bit out of step with the norm, and he easily became the subject of ridicule for those who enjoy picking on people.

    In the particular barracks to which this young marine was assigned, there was an extremely high level of meanness.  The other young men did everything they could to make a joke of the new recruit and to humiliate him.  One day, someone came up with the bright idea that they could scare the daylights out of this young marine by dropping a disarmed hand grenade onto the floor and pretending it was about to go off.  Everyone else knew about this and they were all ready to get a big laugh.

     The hand grenade was thrown into the middle of the floor, and the warning was yelled, “It’s a live grenade.  It’s a live grenade!  It’s about to explode!”

    They fully expected that the young man would get hysterical and perhaps jump out a window.  Instead, the young marine fell on the grenade, hugged it to his stomach, and yelled to the other men in the barracks, “Run for your lives!  Run for your lives!  You’ll be killed if you don’t!”

     The other marines froze in stillness and shame.  They realized that the one they had scorned was the one ready to lay down his life for them.

     And so it was with Jesus.


   We are in the middle of the Season of Lent in which we remember how Jesus suffered the scorn and ridicule of those who he came to save.  The Old Testament prophet Isaiah foretold that the Messiah would be “despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.”  Mark 15 describes some of the abuse Jesus received at the hands of the soldiers:  “The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace and called together the whole company of soldiers.  They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him.  And they began to call out to him, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’  Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him.  Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him.  And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him.  Then they led him out to crucify him.”

    Though despised, Jesus, like the soldier in Campolo’s story, was determined to save these people.  John 1:10-12 says of Jesus:  “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”  In John 15:13 Jesus said of himself:  “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

    Take the opportunity this Lenten and Easter Season to remember Jesus, who gave his life for you.

Pastor Leon


Message From Pastor Leon

posted Jan 24, 2018, 3:29 PM by Tracey Morris

Just like the season of Advent is meant to help focus our minds and prepare us for Christmas, the purpose of Lent is to do that for us in regards to Easter.  Lent is actually an ancient tradition of the church where people would take this period of 40 days (not counting Sundays) to prepare themselves for baptism, which would only take place on Easter.  Lent wasn’t really centered on giving up something, but it focused more on making sure that you had space in your life for Christ and your faith in him.  You wanted to be sure that you were ready to accept his call on your life, and fully give yourself over to him.

Lent begins early this year, with Ash Wednesday on February 14. That evening we will have our traditional Ash Wednesday worship services with Holy Communion and also the Imposition of Ashes.  Worship will be at 5:30 and 7:00 p.m., with a meal served in the Fellowship Hall at 6:00 p.m.  That same schedule will continue for the five following weeks of mid-week Lenten services.  The messages for this year’s services will look at the negative responses to Jesus by several of the people who were with him in the last hours of his life.  The five mid-week services after Ash Wednesday will be about:

    February 21  --  Peter
    February 28  --  Judas
    March 7  --  Caiaphas
    March 14  --  Pilate
    March 21  --  The Guards

Join us each Wednesday evening for worship, fellowship, and a meal as we take time to prepare for the Holy Week remembrance of Christ’s death on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.  Holy Week this year begins with Palm Sunday on March 25th and concludes with Easter on April 1st.

Pastor Leon


Message From Pastor Leon

posted Dec 27, 2017, 12:16 PM by Tracey Morris

          The Call Committee has posted our Senior Pastor position on the “Lutheran Congregations for Christ” website.  Any LCMC pastor may submit a resume, or, contact the Call Committee for more information.  Resumes will be reviewed as received, and the committee will arrange to interview those candidates who they believe might be qualified to serve our congregation.  If any member of the congregation knows of a pastor who might be interested in this position, you are encouraged to tell that pastor to check the website posting (www.lcmc.net,  ‘Church Life’ tab, ‘Church Staffing’ column, and then click on ‘Open Positions’).  Lutheran pastors who are not now in the LCMC may also apply, but before being called to St. Paul’s they would have to go through the LCMC certification process.  Please continue to remember the Call Committee in your prayers.

          Congratulations to our interim visitation pastor Karis Hagen on receiving a call to be the pastor of St. Peter Lutheran Church in Red Cross, Pennsylvania (founded in 1774!).   Karis is the daughter of World Mission Prayer League missionaries in Nepal, and has been serving in our congregation since June of 2017.  Karis is a graduate of Luther Seminary.  She will be ordained January 21, 2018 at her home congregation, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.  May God bless you, Karis, in as you begin your ordained ministry.

          I will resume my Wednesday morning Bible Study on January 17th (9:30 a.m. in the Mary Room).  We just completed reading Philippians together, and next we will study I Peter.  Christians are being severely persecuted in many areas of the world today.  I Peter was written in the context of the Roman persecution of the First Century Christians. 

May God be with you and bless you in the New Year!

Pastor Leon


Message From Pastor Leon

posted Nov 27, 2017, 2:26 PM by Tracey Morris

     On behalf of the congregation, I thank the Transition Team for a job well done, as they completed their part in the call process in early November.  They reported to the congregation a summary of the congregational survey, and they prepared the Congregational Profile for use by the Call Committee.

     The seven-member Call Committee was elected at a special meeting of the congregation on November 12th.  Elected at that meeting were Heidi Kiphuth, Tim Hanson, Ryan Edick, Chris Wenzel, Sharon Griffin, Matthew Lee, and Meryl Barthel.  We thank each of these members for their willingness to serve on the committee for this important task.

     At their November meeting the Church Council discussed the next steps in the process.  Council President Bruce Duley and I will meet with the Call Committee at their first meeting on November 27th, after which they will begin their search for our next senior pastor.

     I encourage you to continue to remember to pray for our congregation during this important time.  I included a suggested prayer last summer as the Transition Team began their work.  I revised that prayer to reflect where we are now at in the process, and again include it here for your use:

 Almighty God, we give you thanks for the many ways you have blessed our congregation.  We thank you for calling men and women to serve as pastors, and we remember with gratitude those you have sent to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.  We pray that you continue to send us godly and gifted pastors to lead us into the future.

We pray, Lord, that your Holy Spirit will guide the Call Committee as they begin their work.  We thank you for their willingness to serve, for their experience, and for their enthusiasm for the task. Bless their efforts as they search for 

and interview interested candidates. May your Spirit be present in every interview, bless each conversation, and guide all decisions.

We pray for the Church Council as they oversee and direct this process, along with all their other duties. 

Finally, we pray in the confidence that you are already preparing our next Senior Pastor for the work of ministry among us.

We thank you for the privilege of serving you. We thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and the Good News he has given us to proclaim.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

    Finally, I encourage you to use the coming Advent Season to prepare your hearts and minds for the Christmas celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The First Sunday in Advent is December 3rd, which will be our annual Worship with Bells at all three services.  The Second Sunday in Advent, December 10th, will feature the choir's Festival of Carols at all services.  On December 17th, the Third Sunday in Advent, the Sunday School will present their Christmas program at the 9:15 and 10:45 services.

     The Fourth Sunday in Advent this year is also Christmas Eve Day.  There will be one service in the morning that day, at 10:00 a.m., with the advent readings for that day.  The afternoon and evening Christmas Eve service will follow the usual schedule: 1:00, 2:30, 4:00, 5:30, and 10:00 p.m. (the last two of the day will be Candlelight Services).  

     There will be one service on Christmas Day at 10:00 a.m. (There will be no Stable Communion Service this year).

     May God bless you during this Advent and Christmas season.

Pastor Leon


Message From Pastor Leon

posted Oct 25, 2017, 2:57 PM by Tracey Morris

The Transition Team is nearing the end of their work, completing the first phase of the process in calling our next senior pastor.  They thank you, the congregation, for your excellent response to the surveys—269 surveys were completed.  On October 21st a representative from Holy Cow Consulting Company met with the Transition Team and the Church Council to present and explain the results.  It was a very informative meeting and the team is working on summarizing the results for the congregation.  They will be getting this information to you in the near future.

            The next step in the process will be the election of the Call Committee.  The Church Constitution directs us to have a special meeting of the congregation to elect a committee of seven members to serve on the Call Committee.  The council has set this congregational meeting for Sunday morning, November 12th, at 11:30 a.m. in the sanctuary (immediately following a shortened 10:45 service).  This is also the date for our Annual Appreciation Dinner.  That dinner will be at 12:00 noon in the fellowship hall.  If you have not already signed up in the folders on Sunday morning, you may call the church office by November 6th to be added to the list.  There is no charge for the meal.  We just need to know how many will be there.

            I want to again remind you of the opportunities for Adult Education here at St. Paul’s.  There are small groups meeting for Bible Study at the church on Sunday and Monday evenings, and at a member’s home Tuesday mornings (all meet twice a month).  I teach a class each Wednesday morning in the Mary Room at 9:30, and that is followed by a Caring, Sharing, and Prayer time at 10:30 in the library with Pastor Karis.  You may call the church office or contact me about the details of any of these opportunities. 

            Again, I encourage you to remember St. Paul’s in your prayers, especially during this time of transition.  Give thanks for all the ways God has blessed us in the past, and pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance into this next phase of our work and worship together.

Pastor Leon


Message From Pastor Leon

posted Sep 26, 2017, 6:57 PM by Tracey Morris

f you have not yet taken the congregational survey, please do so by the October 4th deadline. A link to the survey was in the email you received from the Transition Team, or, you may pick up a paper copy of the survey in the church office. Many thanks to those who have already completed the survey.

The Transition Team will continue to meet to assemble and evaluate the survey results. This information will then be used to write a community and congregation profile, and prepare a job description to post on the LCMC website.

The next step in the process will be to elect the Call Committee. If you are interested in serving on the Call Committee, please contact Church President Bruce Duley by October 18th. Our Church Constitution requires that a Call Committee of seven people be elected at a special meeting of the congregation. The church council has set that meeting for Sunday, November 12th at 11:45 in the Fellowship Hall. This is day of our annual Appreciation Dinner, so the meeting will be held after the third service, and before the meal is served.

Serving on this committee will involve a considerable commitment of time over the next several months. Committee members will finalize the details of the job description, decide on a plan for seeking candidates, develop a process for interviewing the candidates, and conduct the interviews. Finally, the committee will select a pastor to present to a congregational vote at another special meeting.

This month marks the 500th anniversary of the event that is considered to be the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. On October 31, 1531, Martin Luther nailed ‘95 Thesis’ to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. These 95 statements were posted to stimulate discussion of church practices and policies that Luther believed contradicted the Bible. This resulted in much more than discussion, leading to divisions and reform within the church, along with dramatic changes in all of society. Our Reformation Day worship services on October 29th will remember and celebrate this important event.

Message From Pastor Leon

posted Aug 28, 2017, 12:06 PM by Tracey Morris

Rally Sunday on September 10 marks the beginning of our Fall programs here at St. Paul’s. Sunday School, Confirmation, and Adult Bible Studies all begin this month, along with Choir, Hand-bell Choir and a few more things. Throughout this month’s newsletter you will find more information on all these activities and opportunities.

The Transition Team continues their work in the preparation of calling St. Paul’s next Senior Pastor. The first step in the process will be a Congregational Survey to give everyone the opportunity to take part in this process. I strongly encourage all of our members to take part in the survey. Please read the article below by Janelle Savitski, the Transition Team chairperson, to learn more about this survey. You will also receive more information on Rally Sunday and in future mailings.

There will be several opportunities for Adult Bible Studies:

1) The Sunday evening Small Group Bible Study, now in its fifth year, will begin meeting Sunday, September 17th, at 6:00 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall, and will continue meeting the first and third Sunday of each month. New members are always welcome. This year they will be studying the Bible using Charles Swindoll’s book about the Holy Land, Experiencing the Land of the Book. Scott Bultena and Chris Wenzel will again be leading the group.

2) I will continue the Wednesday morning Bible Study that Pastor Gordon had been teaching. We will meet in the Mary Room from 9:30-10:30 a.m. every Wednesday morning (note the time change—a half hour earlier than last year). Options for this year’s study will be discussed at the first meeting on September 13th.

3) Following Bible Study Wednesday mornings will be something new-- a “Caring, Sharing, Prayer Time.” This will not be a Bible Study, but a time for informal conversation and prayer. All are invited. This group will also meet in the Mary Room, meeting from 10:30-11:30 a.m. They will meet each week beginning September 6th (a week earlier than the Bible Study begins). For more information contact Linda Wagner, or Interim Visitation Pastor Karis Hagen.

4) The Tuesday morning Small Group Bible Study will also continue meeting at Roy and Shirley Trullingers’ home. They will meet every other Tuesday at 10:00 a.m., beginning September 19th. They have limited space, but room for a few more. If you are interested, contact Pastor Leon.

5) Finally, if you are unable to fit anything else into your schedule, I continue to post an on-line daily meditation as an opportunity for your personal devotions, prayer, and Christian education. Each day there is a reading, three Bible verses, and a brief prayer. You may read them at my website, at the church’s website, or, you can subscribe to have them sent to your email each day. The website is: www.emailmeditations.wordpress.com

I hope you had a great summer. Keep our congregation in your prayers, and especially the Transition Team as they continue their important work. 

Pastor Leon


Transitions Committee Update:

The transition team has met several times this summer to prepare information to call a new pastor for St. Paul's Lutheran Church. They are working to assemble the information needed for the Call Committee to do their work. They will assemble a Congregation and Community Profile to present to interested candidates, along with a description to post on the LCMC website. In order to gather information for the Congregation Profile, the team has researched and found a tool to seek the input of the members of the congregation. This was presented to the Church Council and they approved it. The tool is from a company called Holy Cow Consulting. The tool that will be used to get this information is a survey called the Congregation Assessment Tool or CAT for short. This tool will help assess and identify the following information:

· Discover where members would like the church to go in the future.

· Identify the critical success factors for improving the congregation's ministry.

· Identify the strengths of our congregation.

· Gauge readiness for change.

· Measure the level of satisfaction and energy in the congregation.

· Uncover potential resources we may be missing.

Prepare for a search for your next pastor.

The CAT survey will be sent in September by email and a letter with a link to the survey. If needed, paper surveys will be available in the office. Also, computers will be available for members to use on selected dates in September with a sign-up sheet. Please look for more details on Rally Sunday, September 10. The Transition Committee members will be available to answer questions.

We are one in the Spirit!

St. Paul's Transition Committee

Message From Pastor Leon

posted Jul 26, 2017, 9:00 AM by Tracey Morris

The Transition Team has had three meetings. They are working to assemble the information needed for the Call Committee to do their work. They will assemble a Congregation and Community Profile to present to interested candidates, along with a briefer description to post on the LCMC website. In order to gather information for the Congregation Profile, the team is looking for the best ways to seek the input of all the members of the congregation. I encourage you to watch for and respond to these opportunities.

I also encourage you to remember to pray for God’s guidance in this process. Here is a suggested prayer for your use:

Almighty God, we give you thanks for the many ways you have blessed our congregation. We thank you for calling men and women to serve as pastors, and we remember with gratitude those you have sent to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. We pray that you continue to send us godly and gifted pastors to lead us into the future.

We pray, Lord, that your Holy Spirit will guide the Transition Team as they begin the Call Process. We thank you for their willingness to serve, for their experience, and for their enthusiasm for the task. Bless their efforts, and may all the members of the congregation be diligent in responding to the Transition Team’s efforts to seek their viewpoints and suggestions.

We pray also that you guide our election of the seven members of the Call Committee who will search for, and then interview interested candidates. May your Spirit be present in every interview, bless each conversation, and guide all decisions.

We pray for the Church Council as they oversee and direct this process, along with all their other duties.

Finally, we pray in the confidence that you are already preparing our next Senior Pastor for the work of ministry among us.

We thank you for the privilege of serving you. We thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and the Good News he has given us to proclaim. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

It is a privilege to serve as your Interim Senior Pastor during this process.
Pastor Leon

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