Church of the Lutheran Brethren Vol 76, No.3 April/May 2009
Why Are We Here?
Why Are We Here?
When you walk through a mall, an airport, a hospital, school, park, or any other big place where it is possible to get lost, you might find a directory or map that displays where everything is. Then you might see a little “you are here” flag letting you know just where you are relative to everything around you. Those little notifications are really, really helpful if you are in a strange place. They help you know where you are and that helps you in your planning for getting to where you want to go. Of course, you have to know why you are here, in order to make good plans...but the little flag won’t tell you that. “Why am I here?” is a really good question. Especially if you find yourself in a strange place or situation, or, if you are just wondering about it in light of everything that is going on around you. Why am I here and why are we here together? As individuals and as the Church? This issue of Faith & Fellowship is designed around these questions and we make one promise: You will have to answer these questions for yourself! As you read, you might get some good ideas from the way other people are answering these questions for themselves and their churches. Let us know what some of your answers might be!
Why are we here? Stan Olsen, Director for CLB Clergy & Congregation Relations, digs into Matthew 28:19-20 for answers to this age-old question which remains as fresh as it was for the first person who asked it.
New Life @ the Well
Keith Luna and his congregation in Mt. Vernon, Washington are learning as they go in their response to God’s call to a unique mission. It’s not always easy...maybe it never is! Pastor Luna shares the heart of a new ministry that is taking them out of any box they ever dreamed of.
How Does God Work in Your Life?
Another great question! Randy Ostman, an Elder at Nanuet LBC in Nanuet, NY shares about one dream that led to an entirely new one. From a spring boutique to comic book catechism. Who knew!
9-12 13 & 14 14 15 16 17 18 20 NEW
Face To Face
Women’s Ministries is getting up-close and personal all around the CLB as Director Ruth Vallevik visits our churches. Cheryl Olson reports. Women’s Ministries Annual Convention info and registration material included on page 12.
CLB Annual Convention Information Thoughts & Opinions SnapShot - Maple Park in Lynwood Do You Innovate? Ebenezer in Minneapolis has a party May We Recommend...a book about treasure? Will Planning BLog - Bruce Stumbo’s New Column
FAITH & FELLOWSHIP Volume 76 - Number 3 Editor: Bruce Stumbo - firstname.lastname@example.org Graphic Design: Carol Dumonceaux - email@example.com Director of CLB Communications: Tim Mathiesen - firstname.lastname@example.org 2
Why Are We Here? by Stan Olsen
Matthew 28:19-20 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” One answer to the question “Why Are We Here?” is given in these verses we call the Great Commission. The focus of this article is on that answer. Jesus makes clear in Matthew 28:19–20 that one of the reasons that we are here is to “make disciples.” But as soon as that statement is made, questions likely arise—such as what does it mean to “make disciples” and how do we do it? I understand making disciples to have two primary aspects that are “fleshed out” by the rest of verses 19–20. The first step of making a disciple is for a person to put their faith in Christ, to initially become a believer in Jesus. This initial step is indicated by the word “baptizing” in verse 19. Secondly there is a continuing element of growth and maturing in faith indicated by the word “teaching” in verse 20. So my understanding is that the Great Commission has this two-fold emphasis on both “reaching” and “teaching.” Unfortunately, it’s easy to lose this focus in the day-in and day-out activity of our churches. The focus can easily become a bottom line
of “paying the pastor’s salary and keeping the lights on.” Of course these are important things for every church to do, but when they become our focus and purpose, we’ve shifted away from one of the primary purposes of our church. Our church buildings are important tools of ministry, and it’s important to maintain them well, but when they shift to the center of our focus, we’ve lost sight of the focus of the Great Commission – to make disciples. And as important as our pastor is to the ministry of our church, when the focus shifts to having enough money to pay his salary, we’ve also lost the focus of the Great Commission. But the question of how to make disciples still remains. Ultimately, it is the Lord alone who makes disciples, but he uses people to accomplish this task. So we have both the awesome privilege and the tremendous responsibility of
allowing God to use us as he reaches people with the gospel. So, the question becomes what is the most effective way for God to use us as He reaches people? The answer to this question is very complex, but in general, God is able to use us most effectively as we communicate the gospel in ways that are easiest for not-yet Christians to hear and understand. In our culture, that often is in the context of personal relationships and friendships. As people have an opportunity to see what it means to be a believer in Jesus being lived out in front of them, they are more likely to understand the spoken message of the Gospel, and Christ’s teachings often come alive in that context. Why are we here? One clear and primary reason is to make disciples. As the Scripture says in Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good…” (ESV)
It has been exciting to see God’s hand at work in touching the lives of many people.
by Keith Luna
How does the saying go?
“Be careful what you pray for, you may get it.” The saying sounds like a warning but as we have found out God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think.” In November of 2008 two churches from Mount Vernon, Washington (New Life Lutheran Brethren Church and The Well) met to discuss serving the Lord together. Our question was, “What might happen if two churches came together around the common mission of bringing the love of Jesus to our community?” As we made plans, we believed God was using our churches to join together in mission. Since part of that mission is to demonstrate the love and unity of the body of Christ, why not do something crazy like begin worshipping together too? We had no idea how this would go, but both groups felt a strong leading of the Spirit and a desire to share the love of Jesus in concrete ways. As for those plans, we knew that if we waited until we thought we had all the details figured out we would never act on God’s leading. We trusted that if God were calling us together he would give us the patience and direction to make it happen. His calling to serve the Lord together in mission was clear. On Thanksgiving Day we served dinner for the working poor in our community and began worshipping together the following Sunday. The dinner went well and our first worship service together was very exciting. A week before Thanksgiving I received a phone call from another pastor in town wondering if our churches would like the opportunity to host a “BelowTwenty-Five Ministry” on behalf of the community churches. The idea was to provide temporary shelter to the homeless when the temperature hits below twenty-five degrees (not a frequent thing here but it does happen several times a year). Our church building is in a unique location, situated near some of the homeless camps. As hosts, our responsibility would be to provide a warm space, and other churches would provide staffing, food, etc. Amazing: another opportunity for mission. continued on page 6
continued from page 4
The idea of a Below-Twenty-Five Ministry is pretty simple. When the local paper’s low temp forecast for the day is 25 degrees or colder we will open our church doors from 5:30 PM – 7:30 AM as a cold weather emergency shelter. We would provide a safe and warm environment for anyone desiring to get out of the cold. In addition, they would receive a hot supper and breakfast, a blanket or two, and access to our free clothing store. We would be part of a network of four churches in the county working together to provide emergency shelter. Last year the network involved seven churches and 110 volunteers. In that time all the shelters received only two guests. We entered into this cold-weather emergency shelter ministry thinking we would have a few weeks to get ready and even then we might be open only for a day or two at a time. With a volunteer base of 110 from other churches we figured our main task would be to keep the building open and warm and provide a few staff; so much for our prophetic gifts. Only days after agreeing to be part of the network, a cold snap hit the Northwest. Let me share some details, and some of our challenges. On December 13 we quickly opened the shelter and a mad scramble ensued. Upon activation we pulled our resources together. The volunteers were contacted for scheduling purposes; it requires about 10 people to cover the 14 hours that we are open. After calls were made, we discovered that our 110 volunteers were now down to 11. It turns out that most of the volunteers were unwilling to help if the shelter was not hosted in their building. We pulled our material resources together and we had a few meager canned goods and about 15 blankets. Policies and procedures for the shelter were still in draft form, but the temperature was forecast to hit 22 degrees so we opened. Registration is from 5:30-7:30 PM. If nobody shows we close and contact the rest of the staff to keep them from coming in. On night one nobody showed. It turns out there was confusion: the emergency phone number was down and the temperature didn’t go below 25 until early morning so people thought we were closed. As we prepared for night two we wondered if anyone would show. That night four men came by for shelter. This was a very manageable group and we asked them to spread the word as the forecast called for 10-plus days of cold weather, sometimes dipping into the low teens.
men who normally live under bridges or in wooded areas; many struggle with addiction to alcohol and drugs. Our initial supplies were quickly gone, but as the word went out, other churches and individuals brought dozens of blankets and supplies, and began helping with food. Volunteers trickled in–enough to keep things staffed but not enough to give us a comfortable cushion in our scheduling. The newspaper carried articles, the radio made announcements, and social agencies spread the word to let the community know about the shelter. As the cold snap continued, the three other shelters closed their doors due to no one coming. When it finally warmed up we were open from December 13-26. • Number of guests registered—27 • Number of volunteers serving—47 • Number of churches involved—8 • Total hours of volunteer service—350+ • Blankets provided—60+
The word spread and in the following days more guests arrived averaging about 15 a night with a few more coming by for breakfast and supper, or to get some warm clothes or a blanket. Those we served were mostly
• Individual receiving clothing—40 + • Nights of lodging provided—130 • Meals served—280+ It has been exciting to see God’s hand at work in touching the lives of many people. The homeless are very appreciative of having a warm and safe place to go. Churches have been grateful to lend a hand in terms of resources and volunteers. More and more I am running into people who want to be involved in meaningful hands-on ministry. When our churches came together, this is where we were praying that God would lead us; we just didn’t think we would get here so quickly. Our ideas involved a gradual build up with lots of time to plan and gather resources before we would begin this ministry. God seems to prefer just throwing us into the river at flood stage so that we might trust Him. We have had to adapt to a lack of resources and staff. We have had to learn how to relate to the homeless and how to deal with guests who want to use alcohol and drugs on the property; and how to send some back out into the cold night when they are unable to follow the rules. This is by far the hardest ministry work I have been involved in and, quite honestly, I am not hoping for too many cold days. In the end, our resources were stretched but God showed Himself to be faithful. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Jesus calls us to have compassion and to demonstrate his love. A cold weather emergency shelter is a ministry of compassion; most likely those we serve will continue in their lifestyle. Our guests experienced God’s love as they received compassion from those volunteering at the shelter. Those volunteering experienced the joy of serving with compassion. Those watching from the outside – our church neighbors, my co-workers who upon hearing what was happening with tearful eyes donated money, other churches who came responded to our pleas for resources – were thankful as they witnessed compassion. I think the lives of everyone involved were impacted and the testimony of the church in the community benefited as churches set aside their “differences” and came together for the sake of mission. As I write, those two churches that met in November of last year continue to serve in mission and worship together. Legally we remain two separate churches but we have come together around the common mission of bringing the love of Jesus to our community and serve and worship together under the name New Life @ The Well.
In the middle of the cold snap I pulled
into our snow-covered parking lot, cleared the snow and ice off the cold weather shelter sign and then noticed one of our neighbors waving me over. She told me she had been watching what we were doing and wanted to help. She had just made two large pots of homemade chicken noodle soup and wanted us to have them. I wasn’t sure what to do—we already had a church committed to bringing in a “Thanksgiving dinner” for the night. They were having a mission celebration dinner and wanted to provide our guests with a meal. I, myself, was hungry and looking forward to it. I thanked her but explained that we already had supper planned and since we have limited storage space would she mind storing it in her refrigerator for another day or two. She was agreeable and as I left I was thinking how a number of times people have come forward wanting to help but haven’t checked to find out what we need. Our supper is at 7:00 PM. At 6:40 PM the church promising the dinner called to inform us they would not be able to provide dinner but had some desserts for us. Thank God that He knows what we need even before we ask. Thanks to our neighbor, everyone had a great supper and dessert.
Pr. Keith Luna serves at New Life Lutheran Brethren Church in Mount Vernon, WA.
How Does God Work in Your Life? by Randy Ostman
Have you heard? Nanuet Lutheran Brethren Church is hosting a spring boutique this weekend!
What a terrific idea! Let‛s get all our friends to go!!
The old saying, “God works in mysterious ways,” is true. I am fairly certain that most people will agree, but how does He work in your life? I can attest to God hitting me over the head a few times, and at other times whispering to me to try this or that. Over the years, I have found the manner with which God chooses to let me know what I am to do is always appropriate to the current situation. I would like to relate one of those how -He - tells - me - what - to do times with you. In January of 2008 a woman called our church office asking if we were planning to have a vendor boutique. My wife and I have wanted to hold one for years but the idea never gained traction. We also did not know how to get a boutique started. This woman, Lisa, put us in touch with Barbara and we met them at a local restaurant and planned a boutique with Barbara willing to take the lead in helping us out. Barbara did indeed take the lead and organized the whole effort. For a first-time event, our Spring Boutique in May 2008 was a wonderful success. The money that we raised went into our ‘Outreach Team’ fund for future projects. During the planning and execution of the Spring Boutique, Barbara and I got
Isn‛t it amazing how one good idea leads to another?!! Read on!!
to chat about a wide range of topics – faith, hopes, dreams…and during our chats, she told me that she was ‘legally blind’ with Retinitis Pigmentosa – a retinal degeneration. I remember sort of smiling when I told her that I have the same eye condition and have been legally blind since 1972. We both often felt alone – we both did not know anyone else in our families, friends or acquaintances with this particular disorder.
key local demographic languages. I suggested to them that what we need is a Christian ESL comic book that explains faith issues. Pastor McIvor and I are working with this new company to put Luther’s Small Catechism into a comic book format. The comic book pages will have the story text in English alongside of another language – the pictures for both texts are the same. We will use these comic books in our Confirmation Classes, and to share with ESL students.
Because of our interactions with Barbara, my church has opened its doors as a meeting place for a social club for the blind and has helped to raise money for guide dogs for the blind. Contacts made through the social club have put us in touch with other organizations assisting the handicapped. We have been able to invite some of our new friends to several of our church events and services.
For me, this is a story of how God works in mysterious ways. Mysterious because a year ago, I would not have envisioned meeting either the people that I have or how these new outreach opportunities could have come about. God desires and is able to use each of us for His glory, and it is within this context that He presents us with opportunities for spiritual growth. The question is, will we let Him use us, for our own good? I know that when we do, the results are astounding!
Barbara has a friend who is an artist who has worked with a major comic book company. To make a long story short, Barbara, her friend Luis and some others formed a comic book company to reach the English as a second language (ESL) market within my county and beyond. They are well on their way to completing the first issue in several
Randy Ostman is an Elder at Nanuet Lutheran Brethren Church in Nanuet, New York
Face to Face Women’s Ministries by Cheryl Olsen
“… seeing how many women are being affected by job loss and financial stress made a big impact on me. Others are facing family illnesses, church conflicts, and loneliness. Their faith is being tested. I spoke several times about the hope that is ours in Jesus; the firm foundation on which we can stand in these days that for many are unsettling and dark.” ~Ruth Vallevik (Director, Women’s Ministries of the CLB)
Because of the gifts of women across the U.S., this year our Director of Women’s Ministries has been criss-crossing the country meeting small and large groups of women in church after church through the National Project, “Face-to-Face.” Eastern women met face to face in eight locations in five-days. Pacific Northwest women gathered in two main locations and one informal venue. Read some of the results…and look for Ruth’s visits to your district!
“Ruth Vallevik’s ‘Face to Face’ visit to the Pacific Northwest got off to a lovely start as ladies from the north-end of our district gathered at Grace LB in Lynnwood for Friday evening’s ‘Dessert Night.’ We enjoyed the gracious hospitality of our hostesses, as well as beautiful singing, scripture and prayer, district updates and an encouraging message from Ruth. It was obvious that everyone enjoyed each other’s company as we lingered well into the evening!
“What a blessing it was to meet with women from so many of our churches in the district! I had the privilege of traveling with Ruth Vallevik, as she shared her heart for ministry - to, for and by women. We had the privilege to hear the vision these ladies have for each other, for their communities and for missions. God is at work! ~Ruth Christenson (President, Eastern District Women’s Ministries)
“On Saturday morning, we trekked down to Oregon for the ‘South-End District Brunch’ at Greater Grace LB in Portland. A special highlight was the unveiling of a greeting card designed by Shirley Embanks for the benefit of our national ‘Cup of Blessing’ campaign! continued on page 10
“I was so happy to see the attendance at these events - with many women driving distances to come, and often at inconvenient times. I was welcomed into homes, I was prayed for, and I heard positive stories of ministry to women going on in church after church…. Meeting with 14 pastors’ wives at Tuscarora was a treat, and I’m grateful for the faith and commitment I saw in them. I was so glad to hear about the newly-invigorated and youthful face of WM at 59th St. Church in Brooklyn, and met a 98-old saint named Lily in Princeton who faithfully sends greeting cards to our missionary families… The twinkle in those eyes was unforgettable.
Eastern District, East Hartland, CT
“Are you married to a CLB pastor? Did you know that a special ‘prayer and share’ email group exists just for you? Email DWM Ruth Vallevik at brave@ bresnan.net to join your sisters in ministry!”
Eastern District, Pastors’ Wives Retreat
continued from page 9
“We then held an informal ‘Sunday Forum’ at Hope at Silver Lake in Everett, where many encouragements and ideas were shared. It is exciting to hear how the Lord is using our ladies to minister to one another and to our communities. Many thanks to Ruth for spending time in our district, and encouraging us to keep doing what we’re doing, as well as continue seeking fresh avenues to reach other women for Christ.” ~Michelle Aandahl, (President, Pacific Northwest District)
Ruth Vallevik, with artist Shirley Embanks, Greater Grace, Portland, OR
“Cup of Blessing” Cards for WMCLB Artist Shirley Embanks was left with a traumatic brain injury as a result of a car accident in 1986. After many years of therapy, and through the healing power of Jesus Christ, Shirley’s ability to draw has been restored. Although other deficits present challenges, her strength remains in the God of Grace! Shirley’s effervescent attitude is truly a testimony of her deep love for the Lord and heartfelt gratitude for His faithfulness to her.
Eastern District, Mount Bethel, PA
When Shirley heard about the “Cup of Blessing” fundraising project, (Women’s Ministries’ project to collect spare change) she asked if she could give a design for a notecard to be sold for Women’s Ministries. The cards are 4.25” x 5.5” and depict a teacup surrounded by lilacs. The cards are priced so that at least $1 per card can be given to the WM Cup of Blessing campaign. There are special prices for bulk cards to sell at your church and to send the proceeds directly to WMCLB. Send questions or pre-orders to Jan Sorenson via email email@example.com.
Eastern District, Pastors’ Wives Retreat
Women’s Ministries As of 2/27/09 our contributions we have received are $27,965.56 towards the $44,600 goal by 4/30/09.
Your Day is Coming…
For Women Only!
Endurance: It’s not about hanging in there, getting by, surviving, keeping your chin up, or having positive thoughts! It’s about a Hand in yours A Guide on the path A Light for the journey A Living Truth… and His Name is Jesus We invite you to come and hear keynote speaker, Teresa Szobody speak on the theme “Enduring Faith,” Saturday morning, June 13, 2009 at Bethel, Fergus Falls, Minnesota. Teresa is on furlough from mission work in Chad where she serves with her husband Paul and six of their twelve children. We invite you to stay for the afternoon, learning from and participating with women who will help us to expand on our theme of Enduring Faith. 1. Enduring the Pain: Casey Baardson and a panel of women who will share their stories of living through trials and coming out with praise 2. Training for the Test: with Ruth Christenson – Lifeskills that will prepare the believer for the challenges of the walk of faith 3. The Long Wait – Enduring in prayer for our children, with Joy Mathiesen 4. Invitation to the Race: with Janet Kilde and Suzanne Bowman – Learn some practical ways to reach out to your neighbors and friends with the good news of salvation and becoming a Christ-follower 5. Coaching to Run the Distance: with Teresa Szobody - She will share her experiences of encouraging children of faith and instilling in them a desire to follow the Lord 6. Unique Challenge – Special Joy: Workshop for Pastors’ Wives with Ruth Vallevik We invite you to learn about what Women’s Ministries of the CLB has accomplished through your giving this year and to participate in decisions for next year.
Hebrews 10:35-36—“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” continued on page 12 11
continued from page 11
We invite you to share a delicious luncheon with over a hundred other women from around the U.S. and Canada, view displays, and to meet new friends as well as old!
Join us for our Women’s Ministries (WMCLB) Annual Convention at Bethel, Fergus Falls, Minnesota Saturday, June 13, 2009 Registration begins 8:15 am
WMCLB Convention Saturday, June 13, 2009 Bethel Lutheran Church, Fergus Falls, MN Name:_________________________________________ Address:_ ______________________________________ City:__________________________________________ State:__________________Zip:_____________________ Email:_________________________________________ Phone:_________________________________________ Church home:___________________________________ State:__________________Zip:_____________________ Childcare information: • Please enclose $5 non-refundable childcare with reg. • Name and ages of children who need childcare • Someone will be contacting you ______________________________________________ ______________________________________________ ____ My $20 registration check for Luncheon and Convention Sessions is enclosed. ____ $5 non-refundable childcare fee included
91 1, 2009 Please registerPsalm by June
Send registration form and checks (payable to WMCLB) to: Lori Christopherson, WMCLB Treasurer 8010 24th Drive SE Everett, WA 98203 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 12
Teresa Szobody has served in mission work in Chad, Africa alongside her husband since 1999, after two years of language study in France. Paul and Teresa are the parents of twelve children, (six still at home) and are looking forward to their seventh grandchild next summer. Teresa has endured ants in her cupboards, living without running water, and pottytraining twelve of her own toddlers! She continues to endure the separation from her adult children and six grandchildren, with an ocean between them. Born in Elkhart, Indiana, Teresa met her husband in high school, where they were biology lab partners. Her education took her to Seattle Pacific University where she studied applied music and mission courses. She traveled several years with the Continental Orchestra, playing the french horn. Paul says, “I want you to know that my wife is very modest, but she basically gave up a life she could have had as a professional musician to marry me. She laid down her career to raise a large family and go with me to the mission field.” Teresa has a down-to-earth, tested wisdom. She is passionate about her faith and the love of her Savior. Come hear her share the Word and her heart – about Enduring Faith
2009 Church of the Lutheran Brethren Annual Convention Sunday, June 14-Wednesday, June 17 Fergus Falls, MN Tentative 2009 CLB Convention Program Sunday, June 14, 2009 4:00-6:30 p.m. Delegate Registration at Bethel Lutheran Church 6:30 p.m. Prayer Gathering 7:00 p.m. Evening Worship: We Look to the Lord, Speaker: Joel Egge 8:45 p.m. Social Gathering Monday, June 15, 2009 7:00-7:45 a.m. Delegate Registration New Delegate Orientation—Bethel Fireside Room 8:00 a.m. Bible Hour—Communion Service: He Himself is the Resource Speaker: Paul Szobody 9:30 a.m. Opening Business Session—Call to order 10:45 a.m. Business Session: Financial Report & Presentation of Proposed Transition Motion 1:15 p.m. Convention Committee Meetings / Discussion of Plans, Budgets & Amendments 3:00 p.m. Business Session 5:00 p.m. Recess / Dinner Hour 6:45 p.m. Prayer Gathering 7:15 p.m. Pre-Service Concert 7:30 p.m. Evening Worship: He is With Us Now, Speaker: Brad Hoganson Tuesday, June 16, 2009 8:00 a.m. Bible Hour: He is With Us in Mission, Speaker: Bob Heggestad 9:00 a.m. Business Session 10:30 a.m. Business Session continued 12:00 Noon Benefit Participant’s Luncheon—Bethel Fellowship Hall 1:30 p.m. Business Session 3:00 pm. Business Session Continues 5:00 p.m. Recess / Dinner Hour 6:45 p.m. Prayer Gathering 7:15 p.m. Pre-Service Concert 7:30 p.m. Evening Worship: He is Our Unity, Speaker: Rick Bridston Wednesday, June 17, 2009 7:00 a.m. Lutheran Brethren Homes Annual Meeting—Breakfast—Fellowship Hall 8:30 a.m. Bible Hour: He is With Us Always, Speaker: Tony Karlik 10:00 a.m. Final Business Session / Tribute Pastor’s Continuing Education will take place on Saturday, June 14 followed by a Dinner for all participants and spouses. Watch for upcoming details and registration at your church or on the web. For additional Convention information and registration materials contact your church, the CLB website: www.clba.org, or the CLB offices at 218-739-3336. 13
Annual Convention 2009 Lodging Information For the Annual Convention June 14-17, 2009---Blocks of rooms are reserved at the following hotels: AmericInn (13 rooms blocked) 866-736-5452 or 218-739-3900
Super 8 (15 rooms blocked) 218-739-3261
*Fergus Inn (14 rooms blocked) *formerly Days Inn 218-739-3311
Motel 7 (6 rooms blocked) 218-736-2554
Hillcrest Academy (rooms available at the Hillcrest Boys Dormitory--Sletta/Strom Building) 218-739-3371 Other Options to check into around the Fergus Falls area: Comfort Inn 218-736-5787 Best Western 800-293-2216 218-739-2211
WesLake Resort 800-258-9056 218-826-6523 Ten Mile Lake Resort 218-589-8845
Swan Lake Resort Fergus Falls 800-697-4626 218-736-4626
CLB Annual Convention 2009
We invite you to share your thoughts and opinions about each issue with us. If we continue to share our ideas, this magazine will help keep us united as one body as we serve God through testimonies, teachings, opinions and devotions. This magazine is an important part of our fellowship and I hope that it will encourage us to stay faithful in our work as servants of Christ. Please e-mail your comments to: email@example.com - Or regular mail: Faith & Fellowship, P.O. Box 655, Fergus Falls, MN 56538 My husband and I really appreciated the article Inside Out (Jan/Feb 09). What a refreshing new approach to church and how to reach people. Promoting flexibility and creativity in order to reach people where they are. I hope that Faith and Fellowship continues to report on Journey’s Church and other churches that are finding innovative ways to reach people for Jesus. - Rosanne Eastling, Community of Joy LB Church, MN
Ten-year-old Veronica took a look at the cover, (March 09) opened up to the next page and then started flipping it back and forth. “What are you doing?” Mom asked. “I’m making the little boy smile. I wish there were more pictures so I could make him do more stuff!!” Cathy B. in Grand Forks, North Dakota “Stellar issue!” from Aimee N., Oakhill LB Church, MN
Editor’s note: I don’t do much with design but I know design helps communicate, challenge, inform . . . the cover photo and it’s follow-up on page three made me want to know who that kid is! If a picture paints a thousand words…these two make me want to ask a couple thousand questions. Note to our servants in Chad & Cameroon: introduce us to this little boy, his family, and what makes him ‘tick!’ -bgs
God moved in the hearts of the people at Maple Park.
the breaking point. That chapter is closing and a new chapter is being written.
Yesterday the young man who started the fire that destroyed Maple Park’s sanctuary pled guilty in Superior Court. He’s being sentenced to three months in jail and his restitution to Maple Park will be around $13,000. Although the damage was more like 3/4 of a million and the rebuild an additional 3/4 of a million, his plea brings to a close this chapter in the life of Maple Park. It was a long chapter.
God moved in the hearts of the people at Maple Park. Not only did he put resources into the hands of our congregation, he moved them to offer them up to him. We have discovered anew that in the area of stewardship of all our resources, it is more blessed to give than to receive. This fall we moved into our new facility and it is truly a remarkable building. Our first Sunday was a celebration and a thanksgiving. People wept as they sang Praise to the Lord the Almighty the King of Creation. The Amen was sounding from the people again as we exhorted each other to join in glad adoration.
For the last 2 ½ years our ministries have been extremely limited by available meeting space. Leadership resources were stretched beyond the normal operational demands as building committees, design committees, stewardship committees, and finance committees demanded immediate attention. We were designing as we built. Financial resources were taxed. Patience with certain city officials demanded spiritual intervention. Each Sunday our worship space reminded us that we were in the middle of construction. Hundreds, no, thousands of hours were expended in volunteer labor adding great value to a building that we hoped would in some small way reflect a bit of the glory of God.
Ministries have been restarted, some have been revived, and some are starting for the first time. During these stressful times we continued with our mission efforts at home and in other places around the world. New people are discovering this church that they watched come up from the ground. New talent, new energy, new life is breathed into the congregation. God has raised a church up from the ashes to bear testimony to his glorious name. God will write the final chapter of this story but we’ve had, and continue to have, the privilege of being a part of this wonderful thing he is doing. .
We were told, and we expected, this project would take a toll on the congregation and its leadership. It did. Time, energy, and resources were stretched at times to
by Pr. Dave Overland, Maple Park Church in Lynnwood, WA
Ebenezer Church is over one hundred years old and is located in south Minneapolis. Over the past three decades, the community around the church facility has significantly changed, but the congregation has not connected much with our new neighbors. In 2001, the congregation adopted this vision statement: “Our vision is to be a Christ-Centered, community-based, outreachfocused church that intentionally embraces people of all cultures.” This sounds great, but the changes required of us to actually become community-based and outreach-focused remain quite a challenge. Yet by God’s grace, we are living more and more into this vision that God has given to us.
Ebenezer Church and National Night Out On the first Tuesday of every August since 1984, neighborhoods across the United States and Canada gather to get to know one another and to increase awareness about local police programs, such as drug prevention, town watch, and other anti-crime efforts. It’s called National Night Out. Initially communities held lights-on vigils. Now, many communities hold block parties, festivals, and other events to help bring neighbors together. Since people would already be looking for something like this, we thought we’d host a block party for the folks that live near our church facility in south Minneapolis. Our youth were serving in local mission with another youth group from a sister congregation in South Dakota, and together with the Evangelism and Service boards of Ebenezer, we planned and threw a party last August that our neighbors still talk about to this day. We purchased food from a famous meat market in the neighborhood, rented a couple of inflatable games and created a host of other children-oriented games, and gave away prizes donated by local businesses and purchased by the congregation. We handed out fliers to over five thousand homes, and then prayed. We didn’t know how many people would show up. We had done something like this a number of years ago, but didn’t have too many people other than Ebenezer folks show up. So, we optimistically planned for 200 people. Well, to our delight, over 400 came to our party that night. We raided any food that we could grill from the church kitchen, and quickly bought more food to serve. We gave away prizes from 6:00 – 9:00 pm. The key to the evening? (It’s not very spiritual.) We gave away free iPods! We had advertized this on the fliers, and people young and old all wanted the iPods. If Ebenezer Church wishes to be community-based and outreach-focused, we will need to look a lot more like we did during National Night Out than we currently do on Sunday mornings. Above all, we want to remain Christcentered in all we do. (To see a video clip of Ebenezer’s National Night Out, go to www.myebenezerchurch.com) From Pr. Todd Mathison Ebenezer Lutheran Brethren Church, Minneapolis, MN
May We Recommend...
The Treasure Principle By Randy Alcorn
Recommended by Joel Nordtvedt I vividly recall the experience of being fitted with my first pair of glasses as a fifth grader. The blurred vision that I had grown accustomed to suddenly sharpened and I saw things I had never seen before. I had a similar experience reading “The Treasure Principle,” by Randy Alcorn. I am afraid that, over the years, the cares of this life have blurred some of the basic truths that I learned as a child from my parents. Randy Alcorn’s stunningly simple and biblical book burns away the fog that has clouded my view of wealth. The basic message is that eternity is real and we are invited to live in that reality. In other words: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). This practical book, a tiny gem that can be read in one afternoon, is full of scripture that backs up the basic principles related to material possessions. Read it if you dare. It may change your life.
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First Steps Lead to Lasting Impressions Overcoming Your Fears Can Be The Hardest Part of Creating Your Will Many people are intimidated by the prospect of creating a will, but they shouldnâ€™t be. Preparing a will is about as simple as writing a letter. A well-written will is nothing more and nothing less than a statement of what is important to you. The most complicated part of preparing a will is simply taking the first step â€“ deciding to do it.
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Letter to Family
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Faith & Fellowship is the official publication of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren, 1020 Alcott Ave. W., P.O. Box 655, Fergus Falls, MN 56538-0655, issued eight times a year (January/February, March, April/May, June/July, August, September/October, November, December) by Faith and Fellowship Press, 1020 Alcott Ave. W., P.O. Box 655, Fergus Falls, MN 56538-0655. Phone (218)736-7357. The viewpoints expressed in the articles are those of the authors and may or may not necessarily reflect the official position of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren of America (CLBA). Periodicals Postage Paid at Fergus Falls, Minnesota 56538.
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Over the past few years I have been introduced to a variety of ways to communicate with family and friends, and people I have never heard of. The Wonderful World of Web networks has enabled instant contact with anyone who has a computer, an internet connection, and the inclination to sign in, sign on, or sign up to engage in conversation, share information, post pictures, or just say, “Hi.” In this first Blog (Bruce Log) I’m going to make a confession, then an apology and then offer some advice. That’s what usually happens with repentant people: You are sorry for something; you apologize for it, change your behavior, and then tell everyone else that they should, too. Well, sorry, but here goes: I’m already tired of Facebook, Twitter, Ning, forums, networks, on-line chat, instant messaging, text messages, blogs, posts, uploads, downloads, avatars, icons, jpgs, mpgs, and all the bells, whistles, and other notifications that come along with all these things. Okay, that’s my confession. I apologize. I’m sorry because I think all of these things are truly very helpful and they can be used very effectively for communicating important things with people, literally, around the world. I recently ‘chatted’ with a friend I hadn’t spoken to since 1987. I can ‘talk’ with a missionary friend in Japan, for free, anytime we’re both on-line. Unbelievable. And terrific. So, I’m sorry that I’ve grown weary of trying to keep up. Now, let me give some advice (and I’ll try to take my own in this): Choose your on-line communities carefully, and just enjoy them from time to time. It isn’t about keeping up with everything that’s out there, but using some of these tools to establish, affirm and/or renew relationships in unique ways. I can talk to Denny in Minneapolis or Dean in Japan (I will soon, Dean!). I’ve started a couple of on-line communities using Ning sites (www.ning.com) over the past two year and I can’t think of a better tool to use for groups that have members in far-flung
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by Bruce Stumbo
places to communicate news, information and ideas. Thing is, you’ve got to have active users. There has to be a reason for people to want to go to the site. So, both those sites have been irrevocably deleted from the WWW and no longer exist (sorry, Jason) due to lack of activity. But, I have high hopes for future ventures with Ning and other services like it. District pastors, Synod committees, Cluster groups, Youth worker networks, or any group of people with similar interests can be invited into on-line communities that will greatly help them stay in touch. I’ve grown to understand that Facebook and Twitter, and all the rest, are just plain fun for most people, and, these days, that’s a very good thing. But, you already knew that. Blog on!
firstname.lastname@example.org Bruce Stumbo is Editor of Faith & Fellowship and serves on the pastoral staff at Bethel LBC in Grand Forks, ND
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