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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


Message From Pastor Leon

posted Jun 27, 2017, 12:34 PM by Tracey Morris

The church council appointed the Transition Team at their May meeting. The members are :

Chairperson Janelle Savitski, Chris Wentzel, Meryl Barthel, Deb Cook, Mark Sedlacek, Tim Hanson, Barb Kiputh, Sharon Griffin, Karen Maeder, and council representative Mark Job. The church council and congregation thanks all of you for your willingness to serve in this way.

The team met for the first time Wednesday evening, June 21. They were informed of the LCMC (Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ) resources available to them, discussed procedures and how to begin, and several members shared their experiences serving on past Call Committees. The Transition Team is a new step in the process, suggested by the LCMC ministry board. The LCMC call process allows considerably more freedom to the congregation as they seek a pastor, but this also means more work for the congregation. The Transition Team does what Call Committees used to do in the first part of the process. Their job will be to provide ways and opportunities for all members of the congregation to have their input in the process, and prepare a report to guide the council and Call Committee in preparing a job description. In the coming weeks and months there will be surveys, meetings, and opportunities for conversation. Feel free to share your thoughts with the members of the team.

Ongoing updates will be provided each month in this column. Please remember the Transition Team as they take these initial steps in the calling of our next Senior Pastor.

Pastor Leon

Message From Pastor Leon

posted May 30, 2017, 9:26 AM by Tracey Morris

A LOOK BACK: 

    Congratulations, Pastor Gordon on your retirement!  Thank you for your twelve years of ministry at St. Paul’s.  May God bless you and Rikka as you enter this new season of life.

A LOOK AHEAD: 

    The first step of the call process is to give all the members of the congregation the opportunity to offer their input on where we have been as a congregation and where we would like to go.

    The LCMC suggests beginning with a Transition Team.  This group’s purpose will be to gather the information needed to help the Call Committee as they seek our next senior pastor.  Previously, this information gathering was done by Church Council or Call Committee.  Having a Transition Team divides the work load, and it helps us to be more intentional and thorough about this part of the process.

    Our Church Constitution requires that the Call Committee consist of seven members that are elected at a special meeting of the congregation.  This will come after the Transition Team submits its report to the council (serving on the Transition Team does not mean you cannot serve also on the Call Committee).

    The Transition Team is not required by the constitution and can be appointed by the Church Council.  The council is now seeking people willing to serve in this way. 

    On May 11 there was a meeting to describe the task of this team.  Those in attendance asked for a more detailed description of tasks and time commitment.  It will be a part of the team’s work to determine the details of how they will accomplish their tasks, but here is a basic outline of what the Transition Team will do:

    1)  Research and select methods to learn from St. Paul’s members their views on the current ministry and programs of the congregation (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats), their hopes for the future of our congregation, and what the Call Committee should look for in our next Senior Pastor.  Methods would probably include a survey, open meetings, and team members being available for conversations with individuals.  

    2)  Gather information for the Congregational Profile that is a part of the Call Packet, including congregational and community demographics, history, and description of current congregational life. 

    3)  Assemble and interpret the information gathered to prepare the Congregation Profile, and, to write a preliminary Job Description to submit to the church council.

    Resources for the above tasks are available at the LCMC website.  There are also documents already prepared (such as the history of the congregation) that can be adapted from previous Call Committee work. 

    The necessary time commitment will depend on the committee’s own decisions about how to proceed.  As we looked at the tasks and the available resources, the Church Council estimates that this could be done in 8-10 meetings over a 5-6 month period, with some members having to do a bit of homework between meetings.  (The 8-10 meetings could probably be accomplished in three months, but this is allowing for the scheduling challenges that will inevitably come with starting in the summer).

    If you would like to serve on this transition team, call Helen at the church office by June 10.  The council will appoint the team members at their June 15 meeting.  If you have any questions you may call council president Bruce Duley (612-986-1785) or Pastor Leon (952-201-5787).

    Communication is important during this transition process, and the church council wants to keep you informed.  This monthly column will be the primary source of that communication. 

    Most important of all is that we keep St. Paul’s and this call process in our prayers.

--Pastor Leon

 

Message From Pastor Gorden

posted Apr 25, 2017, 8:50 AM by Tracey Morris

Endings and Beginnings

Summer is almost here. We have experienced the change once again that signals new life to be born out of the grasp of winter. Yes, there is a definite ending to the bleakness of late winter and the clouds of early spring. This ending ushers in a whole new beginning. This is what life is all about, endings and beginnings.

This is my final communicator article to you as your Pastor. Our days have been filled with excitement over the new season of life in which the Lord is leading us. As a Pastor, I have made some very difficult decisions in the past couple of months. Rikka and I have leaned on the Lord mightily for discernment and direction. Our family and their needs have been very much a part of this decision. We will miss you, this we cannot deny. However, I look on the positive side of being blessed with almost twelve years of ministry at St. Paul’s. The relationships we have made will continue in a different way. We will long remember the love and care shown us while at St. Paul’s. We thank you from deep within our hearts for the partnership in the gospel we have shared.

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) 

What we have done here together is just a beginning. God in Christ will continue to lead and direct you as long as you remain faithful to your calling. Individually we will continue to follow our calling as God’s children. This means you will continue to share in the powerful message of the gospel, which is “good News” for those who choose to believe it. This message of life found within scripture will continue to be our common bond.

Pastor Leon is ready to lead the congregation during this time of transition. He has the benefit of knowing many in the congregation and has experience in leading congregations during a time of transition. He will do a good job. It is my firm belief that the very best in the life of St. Paul’s is yet to come. This will be an exciting time for the church family to pull together and forge a path into the future.

For some time we have known that we would one day retire and do something new. Our retirement date is clear. However, we are waiting for the Lord’s guidance as to what will come next. We plan to stay in our home for the time being and do some traveling this first year.

As I close this letter I would like to share the reason why I came to St Paul’s in 2005. These words from the Apostle Paul have been my guide throughout my ministry.

“When I came to you, people, I did not come preaching to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2) 

Once again, thank you for your love and friendship. May your blessings always be numbered in the richness of your faith. You will be in our prayers.

God’s grace and peace be with each and every one of you!
Your friend in Christ,
Pastor Gorden

Message From Pastor Leon

posted Mar 26, 2017, 9:40 AM by Tracey Morris



We began the season of Lent on March 1st with our traditional Ash Wednesday service and the imposition of ashes. Everyone came forward to have ashes put onto their forehead as a symbol of our future state. Along with the ashes, we heard these words from the first pages of the Bible, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). The ashes on the forehead are a graphic reminder of the most significant and certain fact of life, which is that life will end.

William Willimon is now one of the top preachers in the country. Fifty years ago he was in basic training for the Army ROTC. Here is what he says now about that experience: “They took a group of us college boys over to Fort Bragg for summer camp. The first day, they marched us in and shaved our heads down to the skin. They couldn’t do much worse to a 20 year old in the 1960’s. Then they made us strip down and paraded us around naked for three hours of examinations. It was humiliating and pointless, I first thought. Then I got to know more about the Army. Turns out, they had worked with college boys before. They knew that we were smart, self-confident, arrogant, and independent, and the Army knows that people like that don’t make good soldiers. So what they do is they strip you of your individual pride, wrench from you all that you were holding on to, and then they make you shut-up and fall into line. You find out that you aren’t so self-sufficient, but that you have to cling to your platoon and rely on your buddies to survive. It works.”

Life, says Willimon, is like Army basic training. Life has a way of shaving your head and stripping you naked, so to speak. It has a way of showing you that you need to rely on something greater than yourself. Life has its way of breaking through your pride and your self-sufficiency.

Self-reliance is a good thing in life’s secondary concerns. We should want to pay our own bills, for example. But in life’s biggest things, like the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting, self-reliance will get us nowhere, because that ‘self’ which we must rely on, will, in just a few years, be dust and ashes. Only the power and the grace of God will be able to bring anything out of that; or, as we Christians say as we bury our dead: “Out of the dust you are taken, unto the dust you shall return, and out of the dust you shall rise again.” That is the message of Easter which we will celebrate April 16th.

At the beginning of Lent, Ash Wednesday reminds us that we are but dust and ashes. The season of Lent ends on Easter Sunday with the celebration of Christ's resurrection from the dead, and the promise that, believing in Him, we too will rise out of the dust and ashes to live eternally with him.

At our Maundy Thursday and Good Friday worship services (7:00) we will remember the sufferings and death of our Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins. On Easter Sunday we will worship Christ as the risen Lord, and his victory over the grave. Join us for worship.

"He is Risen!"

"He is Risen, indeed!"

Pastor Leon

Message From Pastor Gordon

posted Feb 22, 2017, 3:18 PM by Tracey Morris   [ updated Mar 1, 2017, 4:15 PM by Carolyn Isch ]

Each year the church calendar sets aside 40 days (plus Sundays) to hear again the story of the last week of Jesus’ life. This Season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and ends with Holy Week. For centuries Lent has been a time of humility, repentance, self-denial, and soul searching as one draws closer to the Passion of Christ. Various churches have developed different traditions to observe the Lenten Season, and many individuals observe Lent by making it a time of self-sacrifice or renewed spiritual discipline. At St. Paul’s we continue the tradition of having additional weekly worship services on Wednesday evenings.

Easter is Sunday April 16th this year so Lent begins Wednesday March 1st. That day we will have our traditional Ash Wednesday worship services with Holy Communion, along with the Imposition of Ashes. Services will be at 5:30 and 7PM. A lenten supper will be served at 6PM each night. Each week a different serving group provides the meal.

This year marks the international observance of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. To honor Martin Luther and this anniversary, our midweek Lenten series will focus on Luther’s Small Catechism. Luther wrote this book to be used not just in church, but also in the home. Luther’s intention was that the faith be first shared and taught at home. He created the Small Catechism as a simple explanation of the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Sacraments.

Each Wednesday of Lent we will learn more about the faith, Luther’s way. During worship we will have readings, which draw our attention to a portion of the Small Catechism. You may bring your Small Catechism with you to church on Wednesday nights. Or you can bring your Free Indeed devotional book. The Daily Text devotional also includes the Small Catechism. Each night there will be a meditation on a portion of the Small Catechism.

During worship on Wednesday nights you will receive a handout. Included in the handout will be a dialogue shared each week before the message. You will have two or three questions on the handout for conversation. My hope is for us to engage in a conversation with our neighbors in worship about the topic for the night. This sharing time has been a rich experience the past couple of years. We might also get acquainted with a new person!

Join us each Wednesday evenings for worship, fellowship, and a meal. As we take time to reflect on how God’s unconditional love has made a difference each of our lives.

Message From Pastor Leon

posted Jan 23, 2017, 5:41 PM by Tracey Morris

          When I was in seminary, the writings of Ole Hallesby were still popular.  I don’t hear much about him anymore, but I still have a few of his books.  I have always appreciated his down-to-earth insights into the Christian faith. 

          Hallesby grew up on a small farm in Norway and did not lose the common touch after he became pastor, and then a world famous theologian and author.  The following quote is typical of his deep, but still practical faith: “I need not exert myself and try to force myself to believe or try to chase doubt out of my heart.  Both are equally useless.  I have let Jesus into my heart, and he will fulfill my heart’s desire.  I need only to tell Jesus how weak my faith is.”  

          Hallesby might have been referring to that story in the ninth chapter of Mark where a man come to Jesus to ask him to heal his son.  Jesus makes a comment to the father about the need for faith, and the father replies with words that have become a prayer for doubters ever since: The boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”(Mark 9:24).

          Faith in Jesus is not the same as feelings for Jesus.  Faith is stronger than feelings.  It is stronger than knowledge.  Faith often becomes a sheer act of will.  A person may say, “I don’t feel like believing, but I want to believe.”  And it may very well be that if a person were to say, “I don’t know whether this Christianity is true or not, but with all my heart I want it to be true,” then in God’s sight he has faith.

          To be sure, feelings are important.  In fact, Jesus will give us deep and lasting feelings.  He will help us to feel joy, to feel repentance, to feel hope, to feel love, to feel faith.  But when the dark days come, and these feelings seem to slip away, Jesus has not abandoned us.  He does not make feelings a condition for his being with us.  He is with us, even in those gloomy and depressed days when we hardly dare to think that he cares at all.

          Former Luther Seminary president Al Rogness told of how a man once said to him, “I feel that God has left me.”  Rogness replied, “Perhaps that does not make any difference to God.”  

          After all, God is our Father, and Jesus is our great Brother and Savior.  He has promised never to leave us or abandon us.  He has given us his Word.  We rest there.

--Pastor Leon

 

Message From Pastor Leon

posted Dec 27, 2016, 9:19 AM by Tracey Morris

 Many movies have been made about the life of Christ, and I am always interested in seeing how each movie portrays the Biblical account. Some movies follow the Gospel record too closely, and the words and action seem artificial and unrealistic. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are Gospels, not movie scripts, and one expects the moviemaker to use some creativity in telling the story, even if it means adding some dialog or rearranging the context. However, many other movies do not respect the Biblical record at all, and end up telling an entirely different story. They are free to do that, but I am not interested in seeing those movies or recommending them to others.
In my opinion, the best life of Christ ever portrayed on film was the four night television mini-series Jesus of Nazareth. This was first aired forty years ago, on NBC during Holy Week in 1977. The film may to some people seem slow moving at times, but many of the scenes are unforgettable. To this day, whenever I read the Gospels I am often reminded of how the story I am reading was portrayed in Jesus of Nazareth. Order it from Netflix or Amazon, or watch for it on TV. The 382 minutes it will take to view it is well worth your time. A 270 minute edited version is also available.
Two more recent wonderful movies are The Nativity Story (2006) and Risen (2015). The Nativity Story tells the story of Mary and Joseph, from the time of their courtship to their escape to Egypt after the birth of Jesus. The 100 minute movie adds much to the brief Biblical account of these events, but what is added respects the story that we do have, and it true to the historical context of the New Testament. Risen (as you may have guessed) tells the story of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, but does so from an interesting and creative angle. The main character is not Jesus, but a tough Roman centurion who has no time for religion of any sort. But Pontius Pilate gives him the job of finding the dead body of Jesus after there are persistent rumors in Jerusalem that he rose from the dead. (Spoiler alert: He doesn’t find a dead body.) This movie also respects the Biblical account and context, and tells a powerful story.
In January and February I will teach a four session class on these two movies. We will watch both movies in their entirety, stopping for explanation and discussion at frequent intervals. These movies have added much to my appreciation of the story of Jesus, and perhaps you also will find them educational and inspirational.
Classes will be on the second and fourth Thursdays of January (12th and 26th) and February (9th and 23rd), from 7:00 – 8:15 p.m. in the Mary Room. No sign up is necessary and the only textbook for the class will be your Bible.
I wish you God’s blessings in this New Year.
Pastor Leon

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