Lutherans Engage the World | Winter 2017

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winter 2017


Winter 2017 Lutherans Engage the World is published quarterly by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. © 2017 The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Reproduction for parish use does not require permission. Such reproductions, however, should credit Lutherans Engage the World as a source. Print editions are sent to LCMS donors, rostered workers and missionaries. An online version is available at Unless otherwise noted, all photos are property of the LCMS. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version ®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Cover image

The Rev. Duane Meissner, LCMS missionary to Belize, looks over the Caribbean Sea. Meissner’s objective is to plant the first Lutheran churches in the country.

executive director, communications executive editor director, design services managing editor/staff writer manager, photojournalism designer designer designer webmaster

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winter 2017

David L. Strand Pamela J. Nielsen Erica Schwan Megan K. Mertz Erik M. Lunsford Lisa Moeller Annie Monette Chrissy Thomas Rudy Blank

the world

Loving Others, One Soul at a Time


o be loved by another — truly, deeply, enduringly — is perhaps the most powerful experience of our humanity. In the faith begun at the baptismal font, Christians know this love: what it is to be loved by Jesus and to love Him, to live in Him and to live by Him, having contentment in every circumstance (Phil. 4:11b–13). Admittedly, in our fallen state, our awareness of this love waxes and wanes. Nevertheless, His magnificent love endures. So the apostle offers an encouraging reminder: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. … In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:7, 9–10). This is uncompromising, sacrificial, abiding love! “It takes two to tango.” No one can love or be loved in a vacuum. Love intentionally takes on flesh, accompanied by willful movement and action toward another. First and foremost, this is God in Christ for us. Being loved by Him in this unworldly way — in His incarnation, suffering, death and resurrection — is the only thing that enables each of us, as individual members of Christ’s Body, to embody and return that love — truly, deeply, enduringly — to another. It happens person to person, even within the wider context of the Church — a multitude, but nonetheless a multitude constituted by many faces, every one unique. In this throng, you are there. Consider the individuals loved in the following pages of this issue of Lutherans Engage the World. The Gospel is spoken from one person’s mouth into another’s ears. Mercy is delivered from the hands of one who serves to another who is suffering. Joyfully Lutheran, we proceed along the way of love, one soul at a time. In Christ, Rev. Kevin D. Robson Chief Mission Officer, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod



We’d love for you to join us on the journey. To receive the magazine in your mailbox, please call the LCMS Church Information Center at 888-THE LCMS (843-5267). To be notified when new issues are posted online, visit

Editorial Office

314-996-1215 1333 S. Kirkwood Road St. Louis, MO 63122-7295 888-THE LCMS  |

From the Editor Epiphany greetings, dear reader! Inside this issue of Lutherans Engage the World is a collection of brightly shining stories about people and how the Gospel changes lives one soul at a time. God is working through teachers, pastors, missionaries and people like you — in cities, villages and crossroads all over the world. These are your stories! God hears your prayers, and He blesses your gifts given in support of this work. We thank God for you! Happy reading! In Christ, Pamela J. Nielsen Associate Executive Director, LCMS Communications


“It’s a big leap [for Spaniards] to leave the church they were born into.”

— Rev. Adam Lehman

Camino de los 12 ElLuteranos Pamela J. Nielsen



Shining the ‘Pure Light’ of the Gospel in Belize Megan K. Mertz The Rev. Duane Meissner has been sent as the Synod’s first missionary to Belize.



Christ’s Mercy in a Year of Devastating Disasters Roger Drinnon In 2016, caring Lutherans came together to provide the comfort of the Gospel.



Lutheran School Accreditation: Pursuing Excellence and Evangelism Jeni Miller Accreditation helps schools provide quality education coupled with the love of Christ.

Departments 6 Q&A with the Rev. Dr. Daniel L. Gard 11 Mercy Moment A grant supports young mothers in Texas. 16 Witness Moment A grant helps to provide for campus ministry in Pittsburgh. 21 Steward’s Corner The first round of National Offering allocations have been made.

e h t g n i n ’ i t h h S ure Lig ‘P l e p s o G in of the


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The Rev. Duane Meissner (right), LCMS missionary to Belize, chats with Ina Martinez at her home — one of his regular stops during his walks through Seine Bight.

Hello, Pastor!” people call out cheerfully, as the Rev. Duane Meissner walks down the sandy streets of Seine Bight, a coastal village in Belize. Since arriving there in June, Meissner has become a common sight in the village, where he eats in the restaurants and stops to chat with residents on their porches. But this isn’t a tropical vacation for Meissner; he is a man on a mission. As The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s first missionary to the Central American country, he has been tasked with planting the first Lutheran churches in Belize. “At first, everyone just assumed that I was a tourist,” he said. “But very few tourists come back to Seine Bight a second time. So by the second week, they realized I was someone a little different.”

Why Belize? Many tourists only experience the country’s private islands and glittering resorts, but Meissner knows a much different Belize. In Seine Bight, most of the village’s 1,000 residents still live in wooden stilt houses

with metal roofs. Historically, the residents have been Garifuna — descendants of Carib Indians and Africans — although the village has recently become home to a growing Hispanic population as well. Residents continue to grapple with the effects of poverty and substance abuse, even as expensive resorts spring up on either side to accommodate the growing number of tourists who f lock to nearby Maya Beach and Placencia.

Meissner said there is a dearth of solid Christian teaching in the area, since most local pastors have very little, if any, formal education. Sometimes what other groups have taught has actually been harmful. That’s why his work is so vital. “It’s important for there to be a pure light in their midst and the proclamation of the Word of God — a ministry that’s there to stay, a holistic ministry that ministers to the people’s souls and also to their bodies,” he said.

It’s important for there to be a pure light in their midst and the proclamation of the Word of God.” |   L EA RN MO RE  |

Meissner hopes to bridge the gap and create a church that welcomes people from the various demographic groups in the village. In 2015, the LCMS Office of International Mission (OIM) called Meissner to Latin America, where he is building on the work of the Belize Mission Society, an LCMS Recognized Service Organization that has been sending mission teams to the village since 2003. Those teams hold vacation Bible schools and sports camps, organize dental clinics, complete construction projects and sponsor a feeding program for children in the local school. “It is critical that, under the leadership of our regional directors, our Synod collaborate in the fine work that has been done by the Belize Mission Society,” said the Rev. Daniel McMiller, the OIM’s associate executive director for Recruitment and Regional Operations. “A long-term, caring pastoral presence in the midst of uncertainty, fear and death is the obvious next step for the expansion of God’s kingdom in these ignored communities so close to our shore.” engage. l cms .o rg

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Primary school students pray before eating a free lunch provided through the Belize Mission Society’s feeding program.

A homebound woman listens attentively as Meissner shares the Word of God with her during his weekly visit.

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One Person at a Time Meissner’s ministry is extremely personal. Each day as he walks through the village, he has a list of people to visit. Among his regulars are a woman whose teenage son is suffering from a severe but undiagnosed medical condition, a double amputee who is confined to her rickety home, and an older woman who lives alone. During a home visit, he may provide a devotion, lead a prayer, answer questions about Lutheranism or just sit and chat, as the individual desires. He also learns all he can about the village, its history and the needs its residents see. “The choices that I make and the impressions that I give at the very beginning are going to affect the ministry — not only my ministry, but the ministry of the missionaries that come long after me,” he said. “So it’s been really important for me to go slowly, be very careful and do a lot of listening.” One sunny day in late September, resident Ina Martinez questioned him about Lutheranism as the two ate ice cream on her porch and discussed some of the differences between the established churches in the area. “I like his company. I like the way he talks to me. I understand what he’s talking about,” Martinez said. “That’s why I am going to go to the [Lutheran] church, because I find somebody there that I care for and understand.” Although Meissner’s main goal is to plant a church, he also hopes to develop mercy ministries to address

community needs — a task his wife, Elizabeth, is already working on. After getting to know several local mothers who were hitchhiking to and from work, Elizabeth had the idea of starting a one-on-one reading program based out of Seine Bight’s new library. “People rarely own cars in Seine Bight, and they typically work in Placencia because it’s very touristy, so they hitchhike

back and forth,” she said. “I pick up moms and kids, and that’s how I found out there’s such a need for a reading program. Moms were telling me that their kids don’t know how to read.”

Planting the Church Meissner’s work is already starting to take root. In October, he began leading two different Bible studies in the village.

Meissner stops to talk with an elderly man on the beach.

|   C O ME A LO N G   | Drive through Seine Bight:

On Friday evenings, a small group of people gather under a villager’s stilt house to discuss the Book of John. And every weekday, Meissner meets with a diverse group of Mayan, Garifuna and Hispanic women in the local school courtyard to study the Book of Matthew. Meissner also continues to meet new people every day, as those who attend the Bible studies bring friends and family members. “Our biggest need is our own church building,” Meissner said. “I really think that will give us an appearance of legitimacy and permanency that will attract more people. It would also give us better protection from the elements. “Right now, we simply cannot hold Bible studies at either of our locations when it rains above a drizzle,” he continued. As soon as Meissner’s application to form a legally recognized nongovernmental organization is approved, he will be able to pursue property and establish a permanent presence in Seine Bight. “I am the son of a biologist, so this is really the ideal setting for someone who has learned to love God’s creation — to love plants and animals and bugs and birds,” Meissner said. But most importantly, he continued, “I love being in villages where I may well be sharing the Gospel with people for the very first time. It’s a very exciting mission field.” Megan K. Mertz is managing editor of Lutherans Engage the World and a staff writer for LCMS Communications.

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Q & A

Ships, Sailors, Students and Stoles: Q&A with Chaplain Rev. Dr. Daniel Gard BY PAME LA J. NI E LSE N


How have your years of military service impacted you? It is actually a very hands-on Word and Sacrament ministry. I’ve been able to bring the grace of God directly to military families one on one. It puts lots of things into perspective.


hat moments will you W never forget? Some years ago, a Marine from Fort Wayne was killed in Iraq. He had just married his sweetheart. I had to show up and tell a 19-year-old she was a widow. “God made me a Marine’s wife,” she said.

I also think of going to Iraqi Freedom, [when] our son, Caleb, had just been born. I baptized him and was planning a sabbatical to write and be with Caleb. Instead, I had three days to report to [Naval Station] Norfolk. I have personal memories, pastoral memories.


For many years, you served simultaneously as a professor at Concordia Theological Seminary. How did being a military chaplain inform your teaching? It kept me grounded in handson pastoral and mission work. A military chaplain is sent to an environment that is about killing people and breaking things. It’s part of what we Lutherans call the kingdom of the left. In the military, you are surrounded with people who don’t share your faith and have no concept of it. It is true mission work. I learned things I wouldn’t have had the chance to learn, and it brings very deeply the need for the Gospel.


Shortly after you were promoted to chief of chaplains, you accepted the call to Concordia University

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Chicago. How have these worlds intersected? On campus, I approach life a bit differently as I face the challenge of leadership. When you are on a ship, you learn to focus on your real mission, and nothing else matters. At a university, the focus is on the students and providing a real education grounded in the Gospel.


What would you say to young men or women considering military service? It’s a great start to life, whether one stays for four years or as a career. You will learn and see things that your contemporaries will have no clue about. You will come out disciplined, with pride in having defended your nation. It’s a true service to God by serving the people of the U.S. You will be challenged — your faith, ethics and morality — just like elsewhere. It is especially important for LCMS military members to become connected stateside to a local parish. You won’t have that overseas, so the only choice for those folks is to wait for a chaplain to serve them.

What would you say to a seminarian or young pastor considering military chaplaincy? I would ask them: Do you want to be a missionary? Do you want to go places nobody else is going with the Gospel? Are you certain about who you are in Christ and as a Lutheran pastor? Is your wife good with you leaving home for long periods of time? It is, in my view, the greatest mission opportunity that any pastor can have.



Why do we need military chaplains? Are there human beings in the military for whom Christ has died and risen? If you answer “yes,” then there is a need for military chaplains. L EA R N MO R E

Deaconess Pamela J. Nielsen is associate executive director for LCMS Communications. Contact her at pamela. or on Twitter at @deac_pam.



ear Adm. Rev. Dr. Daniel L. Gard, deputy chief of chaplains for Reserve Matters, ended a 28-year career as a Naval Reserve chaplain with his retirement Sept. 22. During his long career, Gard deployed overseas; taught at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.; and served as president of Concordia University Chicago, River Forest, Ill. — a position he still holds.


When it comes to sharing the Gospel, few organizations open more doors than our Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) schools. There, the good news of Christ is shared with thousands of children and families. During the 2015–16 academic year alone, 2,336 students in LCMS schools were baptized into God’s family.

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Fourth-grade teacher Craig Schaubs tests a student on her reading progress at First Immanuel.

Teacher Heather Oechsmer (right) leads an after-school program at First Immanuel Lutheran School, Cedarburg, Wis.

The accreditation process includes a rigorous self-study assessment, followed by a visit from an NLSA team to evaluate the school’s findings.

“What’s interesting today is that so many people are not coming [to our schools] for religious reasons,” explained Terry Schmidt, director of LCMS School Ministry. “They have other motivations on their dashboard: a school with sound academics that is safe, affordable, convenient. Many of our schools enroll more non-Lutherans than Lutherans, which is great because the real reason we exist is to proclaim Jesus to children and families. They’re going to get Jesus in our schools.” To help bolster the schools’ success, LCMS School Ministry provides support all year long through mailings, social media, consulting, conferences, service contracts, leadership coaching, National Lutheran Schools Week materials, Chapel Talks resources, and numerous other services. Perhaps one of the most unique and important services they provide, however, is school accreditation. 8  •  LU THERAN S EN GAG E   |   WI NT E R 20 17

“National Lutheran School Accreditation (NLSA) is a tool, created and operated by the LCMS, to accredit Lutheran schools,” Schmidt shared. “Right now, we have 690 accredited schools. These and other schools that are involved with an accreditation process demonstrate a commitment to quality and improvement, and they’re completely engaged in making the school the best it can be in serving its students.” Among the 690 is First Immanuel Lutheran School (FILS) in Cedarburg, Wis., with Principal Dawn Walker, who helped guide the school through its accreditation in 2015. “Completing the accreditation process is like taking an assessment,” Walker said. “A good assessment shows you where you are in relation to a set of standards. We wanted to see where we were in relation to the NLSA standards so we knew what we needed to improve as a school to be the best we can be as we strive to offer a quality Christian education to our students.” Throughout the accreditation process, First Immanuel found much to celebrate and maintain, yet there also were a few areas of improvement that came to light. “First of all, we learned what we were doing well,” Walker recalled. “It’s hard to know this until someone from the outside comes in to evaluate you. It was rewarding to learn that many of the things we had implemented over the last several years were well received and had become an effective part of our ministry at FILS. We also learned what we can improve; the accreditation process led to us creating a new dismissal procedure, since we scored low in this area. As we came up with this new process, I witnessed our entire FILS staff working together to share ideas, develop a process and fine-tune the steps to come up with a dismissal procedure that is working fabulously.”


Meeting the Mission in Cedarburg

Benefits of Accreditation •  Publicly acknowledges the quality of the school through an objective outside agency •  Employs the expertise of an objective site-visit team •  Validates the mission of the school

•  Identifies and celebrates the strengths of the school •  Pinpoints weaknesses for correction •  Provides a solid foundation for faculty professional development

•  Measures a school with a set of •  Provides accountability for objective national standards the school, constituents, congregation and school •  Examines the spiritual community component of the school

•  Provides the “blueprint” for school improvement for the next five years •  Encourages the support and involvement of a broad constituency •  Provides the opportunity for public acknowledgement and celebration •  Connects a school to a network of several hundred LCMS accredited schools

Of course, the most compelling reason According to Schmidt, parents, congregationfor seeking accreditation through NLSA al stakeholders and others need to be assured is to determine where a school excels and that their school “strives to serve students well where it is weak in its religious education and with intent, with a commitment to quality and spiritual life. According to Walker, “the Christian education.” In addition to the satisbenefit of NLSA specifically is that not only faction it brings to the school and its families, are we evaluated on standards to which all accreditation, while voluntary, is often worth schools are held, we are evaluated on how the effort and expense, since some states offer we are meeting the mission of the LCMS and a monetary award, reimbursements and tax our relationship with the LCMS church that credits for being accredited. supports and guides our school.” First Immanuel member Laurie McGraw and From Schmidt’s perspective, “NLSA is the her husband enrolled their two boys — Grant, perfect tool for Lutheran schools because not now in eighth grade, and Reid, now in sixth only does it evaluate the school as a whole, but grade — in the school after visiting nine differit delves into the spiritual aspect of the school, ent schools in their community. evaluating and recognizing strengths and “Our boys … have been at FILS since kinderaddressing concerns. It’s designed specifically garten for Grant and 3K preschool for Reid,” for our schools and the religious component McGraw explained. “It was hard to narrow it of our schools.” down, but then it just became clear. [On] our And that religious component is a huge draw first visit to FILS, we were immediately greeted for families in the community, and one key by Pastor Jon [van Sliedrecht], and he talked aspect of Lutheran schooling that encourages with us. The kindergarten teachers and principal at the time were very friendly, and we were looking for a school for both kids to be at through eighth grade.” Since then, the McGraw family has appreciated the improvements that have resulted from the accreditation in 2015. “We’ve heard about the accreditation process the past few years, and I believe it’s brought good changes to the school with a higher level of academics, security and safety for the kids,” McGraw said. “I love that the kids love to go to school! They don’t want to miss a day and enjoy Terry Schmidt (back right), director of LCMS School Ministry, leads the NLSA team doing their projects, sports assigned to River Roads Lutheran School, St. Louis, during an October 2016 visit. and being with friends.” engage. l cms .o rg

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“It [was] a team effort because, in order to be successful and paint the best picture of your school, everyone needs to be involved,” Walker explained. “This included administration, pastors, teachers, students, parents, stakeholders and the NLSA visit team. A lot of work needs to be done by all of these people!”

Walking Alongside Schools

Parent Nicole Meyer helps her son and another kindergartner during a class activity at First Immanuel Lutheran School.

Student work decorates the walls at First Immanuel Lutheran School.

families to come, stay and see their children’s Lutheran education through. “The kindness and encouragement at school continue with the kids at home, [on] their sport teams or [with] community people they’re in contact with,” McGraw said. For many families, the accreditation status of a school is just the icing on the cake, another attractive feature that sets the local Lutheran school apart from others in the area, opening doors to Gospel-sharing that might not otherwise take place.

A Team Effort According to an NLSA document explaining its approach, “accreditation involves a school in a rigorous self-study process in seven distinct areas that are related to school quality: purpose, relationships, governance, professional personnel, teaching and learning, student services, and facilities.” The self-study helps a school evaluate its actual conditions that are strong indicators of school quality, using an objective, evidence-based approach. Then, an NLSA team visits to assess and confirm what the school found throughout the course of the self-study. 10  •  LUTHERAN S EN G AG E   |   WI NT E R 20 17

“LCMS School Ministry supported FILS by providing a specific process to follow,” Walker said. “The accreditation information is well presented, and the instructions are very specific and thorough! They provide suggestions for what can be used as evidence. Through the network LCMS School Ministry has created, we are provided guidance by our district executive and the district NLSA representative — this is extremely helpful to a principal who has never led a school through the process before.” Since school accreditation is a rigorous and often intense process for schools, LCMS School Ministry has made it a goal to walk alongside schools throughout accreditation, helping to ensure success for the benefit of everyone involved. “We don’t just provide the platform, but truly the opportunity for schools to study who they are and to plan intentionally for improvement,” Schmidt said. “The accreditation process is a roadmap for getting that done, and NLSA is the only [accreditation agency] that assigns a consultant to assist the process at the school, so they can work with experienced, well-trained people who will walk alongside them and ensure success. We never go in with the intent of the school not making it; we want them to conclude [the accreditation] successfully.” With LCMS School Ministry partnering with schools, not only through the accreditation process but as a partner in the Gospel, more and more families will continue to be served with a quality education coupled with the love of Christ. “We have loved the years at FILS for our kids and family,” McGraw said. “It’s hard to believe they will be going onto high school, college and beyond before we know it! I believe … they are given a great faith foundation here and will be able to build on it as they go into their futures.”

Deaconess Jeni Miller is a freelance writer and member of Lutheran Church of the Ascension in Atlanta.

| L EA RN MO RE | Hear more from Laurie McGraw: lutheran-school-accreditation-winter-2017



Addylin eyes her mother as caregiver and teacher Edith Cardiel waits at ACTS of Love Early Childhood Center in Leander, Texas.

Caring for Young Mothers in Texas BY E RIK M . LUN SFO R D

Katie Evans, a recent graduate of Concordia University Texas, Austin, Texas, serves as the center’s director. Between diaper changes be in a much different place. “I’d proband holding little hands, Evans writes grant ably be a dropout,” said the graduating high-school senior. reports and helps build relationships with |   L EA RN MO RE  | In the little town of Leander, Texas, which outside organizations, including Head Start Hear more from Mariah Garcia: borders burgeoning Austin, ACTS of Love and Parents as Teachers. space with its parent church, ACTS “It’s great to see the mothers care for each childhood-center-winter-2017 Lutheran Church Leander, and a Mexican other,” Evans said. She prays for expanded Find Reformation resources: grocer. The early childhood center — which space to accommodate new children, while is at capacity with a waiting list — opened in also speaking teary-eyed about the prospect 2015 to provide for a pressing need in the comof seeing some of the first children in the promunity: child-care services for young mothers gram grow older and leave. who are still in high school. On a warm November morning, a mother In 2016, the center received a $25,000 grant through The entrusted her infant daughter, Addylin, to Edith Cardiel, a careLutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s “Stand With Your giver and teacher at ACTS of Love. The baby cooed with delight Community” grant program. The program is part of the Synod’s while the two played with a ball on a mat. In the next room, efforts leading up to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in fellow ACTS teacher Laurie Harkey read the story of David and 2017, and it focuses on inspiring and empowering laity for local Goliath to toddlers Aleah and Zayden. witness and mercy outreach opportunities as a reflection “I am very thankful for ACTS of Love,” Garcia said. She said the of Martin Luther’s passion to share the Gospel. staff treats her son as if he were their own child. “It means the “ACTS means the world to me,” Garcia said. “The joy of ACTS world to me, and I thank all the donors for their support.” is like coming home. … There’s no judgment of how young you are … they make you feel as if you’re a part of them.” Erik M. Lunsford is managing photojournalist for LCMS

If it weren’t for ACTS of Love Early Childhood Center, Mariah Garcia would


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El Camino de los Luteranos (The Walk of the Lutherans)

Bringing the Church to Spain


“It’s a terribly dramatic story,” says the Rev. Adam Lehman, LCMS missionary to Spain. “There is a Lutheran history here; it’s 500 years old, and it’s mostly tragic and violent and bloody, and the fact that the Lutheran doctrine has returned to Spain after all that is really kind of cool.” Lehman and fellow missionary Rev. David Warner are a lonely sight as they walk across the Plaza Mayor in Valladolid, Spain, on a cold, rainy November day, with their wheeled bags rumbling behind them. They are here to visit the only Lutheran family living in this ancient city where 458 years prior, 16 Lutherans, convicted

as heretics, were burned at the stake. The missionaries are greeted with hugs and cheek kisses and loud words of welcome as they enter the apartment home of Jose Antonio; his wife, Sandra; and their son, Juan Jose. The two are doctors and native Columbians. The family has eagerly waited for this visit

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from their pastors. Soon, the dining room table is covered with Spanish olives, salamis, cheeses and bread, and red Spanish wine fills glasses as these parishioners visit with their pastors long into the night.

Church on the Move But first things first. This is

not a social call. The Church has come to these souls hungry for the bread of life. Warner wastes no time as he unpacks his bag and prepares an altar with the communion vessels. On his iPad is the Concordia Organist, which provides musical accompaniment as the little flock sings the liturgy and hymns for the Divine Service. Jose’s voice cracks as he describes what such visitations mean to him: “It has two faces — the first is that it is a privilege. The other is that there is no Lutheran





Gijón Logroño

Monforte de Lemos Valladolid




community here, so it is very good for us that the church is beginning here. It’s not easy to be three Lutherans here alone.” This is the situation for at least half of the 75 members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Spain, who are spread throughout the country in 17 cities. “If we are blessed, we are together four to five times a year,” Warner says, speaking of his scattered flock. “It’s a big part of the challenge.”




Palma de Mallorca


Faro Huelva


Cartagena Granada





The missionaries frequently pass through the Valladolid train station in northwestern Spain.


The Revs. David Warner (center) and Adam Lehman head to the train station accompanied by parishioner Jose Antonio (left) after their visit with his family in Valladolid, Spain.

The dispersed Lutherans are a result of online outreach efforts by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Argentina some 16 years ago, when they partnered with two Spanish families to lay the foundation for a Spanish Lutheran church. For Warner and Lehman, ministry is always on the move — by foot, train, cab or plane. There is even a member family in the Canary Islands. Monthly travel costs exceed $1,200 for the two of them.

Small congregations exist in Madrid, Cartagena and Seville, where a group of people live and come together weekly in rented spaces — a hotel meeting room, an Episcopal church and, hopefully soon, a former discotheque. “In Madrid, it’s completely lay driven,” Warner says. “I’m there once a month. The other weekends they get together on their own in their homes. I give them some liturgies and sermons and Bible studies.” In Cartagena, there’s a seminarian who leads the devotion the missionaries provide. He studies through the online program Formación Pastoral Hispano, a partnership between Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., and Seminario Concordia in Argentina. The men are grateful for the regular extended visits of the Rev. Dr. Arthur Just Jr., a professor at Concordia Theological Seminary, who helps to care for the flock and mentor these new missionaries. Just lived in Spain as a teenager and has been making visits for nearly a decade.

Celebrate the Reformation? As the Lutheran world celebrates the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, that milestone occasion is tempered by the daily realities and challenges faced by the Spanish Lutherans. They are much more concerned about what will happen to their Lutheran church. They want to be Lutherans, but they worry about what will happen if the missionaries leave. “This is a big topic,” Warner says, as he talks about the three former Argentine missionaries who have come and gone in the span of 10 years. “It’s not about persons; it’s about Christ and His Gospel, and He is going to do it,” Sandra says with conviction. “But it is about persons because someone has been your pastor, or your mother or grandmother. Someone has read you Bible stories. Someone spoke the Word to you. And those someones are really important on a basic human level.” She often wonders what will happen. “We’ve had pastors leave before,” she says. When asked to explain why engage. l cms .o rg

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Warner and Lehman lead the Divine Service in a rented hotel room in Seville, Spain.

The missionaries pack their vestments after holding the Divine Service in a rented sanctuary in Madrid, Spain.

Jose Antonio (second from left) and his family join in the Divine Service led by Warner at the family’s home in Valladolid, Spain.

The two missionaries poke fun at each other during the hours-long train ride from Madrid to their homes in Seville.





1559 1560s

2000 2004




400 years without Lutheranism

The Reformation begins on Oct. 31

1,000+ Lutherans/ Protestants worship secretly across Spain

The New Testament is translated into Spanish

16 Spanish Lutherans are convicted as heretics and burned at the stake

The Reformation is snuffed out in Spain

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Lutheranism returns to Spain

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Spain is established

The first Spanish Lutheran pastor is ordained

The first LCMS missionaries are sent to Spain

There are 75 Lutherans in 17 cities

One of many extravagant altars in the Church of the Divine Savior in Seville, Spain, where Christopher Columbus is buried.

A horse and carriage driver pass by the Palace of San Telmo in Seville, Spain. A typical Spanish breakfast of bread, pureed fresh tomatoes, olive oil and Spanish ham.

he is a Lutheran, 14-year-old Juan Jose says, “Because I believe in what’s in the Bible — for me the idea is that Jesus came, He saved us. I am Lutheran because I believe in what God said.”

The Plan for Spain Warner and Lehman are concentrating their efforts in Seville, while continuing to care for the members who are spread far and wide. They want to establish a permanent location for ministry efforts of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Spain. Doing so will provide legitimacy for Spaniards who are skeptical of yet another non-Catholic religious group entering their country.

The two have set clear priorities, which include focusing on growing congregations and providing regular theological education for the one Spanish pastor, the two seminarians and other emerging lay leaders — an effort aided by visiting pastors and professors from the LCMS and Latin America. At the heart of their ministry, Warner and Lehman are focused on providing the Gospel in Word and Sacrament even as they begin to intentionally teach and practice the theology of mercy. Key to their outreach is the use of digital

In May 1559, 16 Lutherans were burned at the stake in Plaza Mayor, the central plaza in Valladolid, Spain. Now the plaza is a tourist site.

technology to proclaim the Gospel throughout Spain. This seemingly odd couple — Lehman with his carefully curated attire of aviator glasses, jeans and tweed blazer and Warner in his relaxed wardrobe of cargo pants, jacket and polo shirt — enjoys a wonderful repartee frequented by verbal pokes and jabs. Their personalities clearly complement each other. The two former Marines are focused, determined and working their plan, all while also being realistic about the challenges they face.

| E X PE R I E N C E |

Hear more from the missionaries at: Learn about the LCMS in Spain:

“To a large degree, it’s a big leap [for Spaniards] to leave the church they were born into,” Lehman says. “The Roman Catholic Church affects everything, it’s so ingrained in society — to leave that is to leave a significant part of what the daily life is.” However, in this country of almost 50 million where 70 percent of the population claims to be Roman Catholic, most are Catholic in name only. As Warner sips a coffee at an outdoor café in Seville, where steeples and religious symbolism are ever present, he says, “It’s almost otherworldly to have so much appearance of Christianity but so little real Christian life, but that’s normal here.” engage. l cms .o rg

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Keeping College Students IN THE


At the end of a University of Pittsburgh Panthers football game in mid-November, blanket-clad students retreated back to the student center for warmth. The Rev. Eric Andræ sat at a table in the university’s soaring Cathedral of Learning, waiting for those students to pass by. Prominently displayed on the table was a sign that read: “Free prayer.” Often, students notice the sign and stop for prayer or to ask questions.

learn,” he said. Price was catechized and baptized two and a half years ago after being invited to church by Nowak. “Our mercy work and evangelism is all really geared toward bringing people to the font, the altar, and then back out to the community and campus again,” Andræ said. Andræ begins Sunday mornings at First Trinity with Bible study with students. Knowing that 70 percent of

renewal and strength,” he said. Andræ has a strong opinion on campus ministry: “It’s our most important domestic mission, as we retain our young adults and reach out to people who increasingly have no religious affiliation, as well as to those who come from countries indifferent or even hostile to Christianity. “All the issues at the forefront of our Synod’s discussion

“Our mercy work and evangelism is all really geared toward bringing people to the font, the altar, and then back out to the community and campus again.” —Rev. Eric Andræ

On a Sunday after worship in November, CMU senior Brandon Price and Pitt senior Kristi Nowak made sandwiches for the homeless — one of First Trinity’s many missions. The two — joined by other student and community volunteers — later walked around to witness and give away the free lunches. Price said First Trinity has been a home to him for the last three years. “It’s a place where myself, and all of the other students, can feel comfortable asking all sorts of questions, knowing that we all have something to

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young people abandon their faith once they leave for college (according to a fall 2016 study from Young America’s Foundation), Andræ is keen on outreach and retention, as well as helping students navigate the challenges of secular education and young adulthood away from home. “They realize they are not alone. When there are the inevitable struggles and even failure, here they have a home where there is forgiveness,

converge on campus, many of them even originating from academia: sexual ethics and identity, evolution, race relations, proper ecumenical and interfaith relations, the Christian voice in the public square, marriage and family, and much more,” he continued. “Our LCMS U chapter addresses these issues directly by engaging the lost and equipping the saints — all from the uniquely powerful Lutheran perspective.”

|   WATC H   | Hear more from the Rev. Eric Andræ: Find Reformation resources:


“All these schools, all this area, this is my parish,” said Andræ, campus pastor and international student chaplain out of First Trinity Lutheran Church. In this role, Andræ works at a cluster of colleges near the church: the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt), Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Chatham University, Duquesne University, Point Park University and others. “If you’re a student, and if you’re on these campuses,” he said, “it’s just a matter of resources and time for us to seek you out and to try to connect you with our life together.” To assist Andræ in this work, The Lutheran Church— Missouri Synod recently gave First Trinity a $25,000 grant through the “Stand With Your Community” grant program. The program is part of the Synod’s efforts leading up to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, and it focuses on inspiring and empowering laity for local witness and mercy outreach opportunities as a reflection of Martin Luther’s passion to share the Gospel.

Carleigh May, a freshman at Chatham University, listens during Bible study.

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Baton Rouge Deluge


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In the aftermath of the Aug. 11-12 deluge that fell on the Baton Rouge, La., area, residents and volunteers acted quickly to remove flood-damaged drywall, insulation and debris during the “muck-out” phase of flood recovery so rebuilding could begin. Thousands of homes were damaged, including the homes of 110 Trinity Lutheran Church, Baton Rouge, members; 91 school families from Baton Rouge Lutheran School (BRLS) and Trinity Lutheran Child Development Center; and 16 staff members from the church and two schools. “Very few people have returned to their homes [as of Nov. 7],” said the Rev. Dave Buss, Trinity’s pastor. “The work is slow, the demand for building materials greatly outpaces the supply, and reputable contractors are scarce. But the spirit of the people of Louisiana is strong, and God is at work providing hope through His people.” Soon after the flooding, Buss helped establish Camp Restore—Baton Rouge with the help of an $85,000 grant from LCMS Disaster Response, which was made possible by designated gifts from LCMS donors around the country. In total, LCMS Disaster Response was able to provide over $235,000 in grants and other aid to help with recovery following both the Baton Rouge flood and the 2016 California wildfires. This included providing gift cards for victims’ immediate needs and supplying emergency tuition assistance to families with children attending BRLS. Buss said Trinity also has distributed some 70 “We Care” tubs. These are large tubs filled with items needed to set up a home, including devotional material provided by LCMS Disaster Response. “When I went to pick up my [We Care tub], I had no idea of what I was receiving,” said Trinity member Angela Phillips. “God truly blessed me in so many ways. I know I left the church for a few years. When I came back, everyone made me feel so welcome. “And the blessings just keep coming,” she continued. “God has proven to me over and over He is always with me, even when I have stepped away from Him. I am blessed to be a member of this amazing church.”


Hurricane Havoc in Haiti Less than seven years after a magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti, the Caribbean country again found itself reeling from calamity — this time from Hurricane Matthew, which fell on the Tiburon Peninsula in southern Haiti Oct. 4. Thanks to people in the LCMS who responded in the days following the disaster, coupled with some funds already on hand for disaster-response work, two aircraft were chartered to airdrop some 60,000 packaged meals and supplies to the people in the hardest-hit areas of Haiti. On Oct. 6, LCMS leaders approved a $10,000 grant for a partner organization to coordinate the vital airdrop. Just days after the hurricane struck, LCMS Disaster Response Director Rev. Ross Johnson traveled to Haiti to help determine how best to provide additional aid to Haitian victims, including pastors and members of the LCMS partner church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti. Matthew’s 140-mile-per-hour winds ripped roofs off and left homes in shambles. To make matters worse, an outbreak of cholera soon followed, leaving people struggling to find safe, clean water. “We are partnering with [Recognized Service Organizations] and [nongovernmental organizations] that have a long track record of effectively working in Haiti and that have a good working relationship with the LCMS Office of International Mission Latin America region,” Johnson said. He said the first phase consisted of a $10,000 grant for emergency medicine for cholera and malaria to be distributed through Lutheran communities, as well as $10,000 for food and $50,000 to provide roofs for the homes of 50 pastors. So far, materials have been purchased locally and construction has begun on 40 pastors’ homes, with two homes completed as of November. Another $10,000 was provided to help with subsistence farming, including for 1,000 laying hens and coops to shelter them as part of a long-term sustainable food project. Johnson said LCMS Disaster Response also is providing a grant to build five deep, clean-water wells near the churches. “We made an intentional choice to drill water wells near churches and to focus on stabilizing the personal situation for pastors in an effort to draw people in close to where they can hear the life-saving Gospel and receive spiritual care,” Johnson said. “We do all of this in Jesus’ name, because we want people in distress to hear the Gospel and receive Christ’s comfort. These people experience the Lutheran church as part of Christ’s Body, the very Savior who cares for them long after other relief agencies and news crews are gone.” Johnson said the second phase could begin as early as February. It likely will involve as many as five more deep wells at an estimated cost of $25,000 and roofs for some 10 church properties at an estimated cost of $50,000. He noted that the extent of the Synod’s response is contingent upon the funding God provides through the people of His Church. Hurricane Matthew later moved through the Caribbean toward the U.S. southeastern coastline, eventually making landfall in the Carolinas.

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M AT T H E W ’ S 1 4 0 - M P H W I N D S

Destruction in the Carolinas Not long after Johnson left for Haiti, LCMS Disaster Response Manager Rev. Michael Meyer joined LCMS Southeastern District President Rev. Dr. John Denninger to travel through some of the hardest-hit areas in North and South Carolina. These areas took on torrents of rain and fierce winds as the hurricane moved up the coastline. “In North Carolina, it was primarily a flood event,” Meyer said. The “Lumberton and St. Paul areas had some of the worst flooding, and we were providing spiritual care for families living in emergency shelters and distributing gift cards for essential, immediate needs. “In South Carolina, they had a lot of rain, but they also had more wind, so there are a lot of trees down, so tree and debris removal will be key to ensuring the safety of victims in the area,” Meyer continued. “Trees were just blowing back and forth and back and forth, and I said, ‘Oh boy, this is going to be scary,’” said Marion Bogle, a member of Risen Christ Lutheran Church in Myrtle Beach, S.C., as she recalled the night the hurricane struck. “Also with that was the noise of all the branches and pine cones hitting the top of my roof, which sounded and felt like a war zone.” Thanks to the compassion of people across the Synod who gave to the recovery effort, LCMS Disaster Response was able to provide more than $50,000 in grants and other assistance for people in these areas.

Ongoing Recovery in the Midwest Efforts to assist the Midwestern communities affected by flash flooding in late December 2015 carried over well into 2016. Giving in early 2016 allowed LCMS Disaster Response to provide grants totaling nearly $98,000 and to spend nearly $67,000 to help congregations assess the damage from these disasters and coordinate assistance for people in their communities. St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Eureka, Mo., received a $20,000 grant to continue flood-relief work, while New Beginnings Lutheran Church in Pacific, Mo., received a $10,000 grant. Both churches also received $5,000 to purchase a disaster-response trailer. LCMS Disaster Response also was able to provide a $14,939 grant to Lutheran Church Charities and the LCMS Northern Illinois District to purchase commercial-grade pumps and the trailers to move those pumps. “It’s important for people to know that recovery, rebuilding and healing go on long after the initial responders have gone,” Johnson said. Roger Drinnon is director of Editorial Services and Media Relations for LCMS Communications.


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Donor-Guided Ministry Makes ‘Tremendous Impact’ BY K I M PLUM M ER K R U LL



ew training to better equip congregations to invite, welcome and receive people from outside the church is just one ministry guided by the people of the LCMS that’s moving forward with the help of National Offering supporters. “Their gifts help us help our congregations do what the Church wants and is supposed to do: take the Gospel into communities,” said the Rev. Mark Wood, director of LCMS Witness & Outreach Ministry and the Synod’s revitalization initiative, re:Vitality. Such ministries that “offer tremendous impact” and otherwise risk “grinding to a halt” are benefitting from gifts totaling $411,305.69 — the first round of allocations through the 2016–19 National Offering, announced in October by LCMS Chief Mission Officer Rev. Kevin Robson. “These generous gifts provided by the people of the LCMS beautifully reflect the love of Christ — His love for them, their love for Him — and in every instance will offer tremendous impact on the lives of others, both in the current generation and those

that follow,” Robson said of the Synodwide gathering of gifts to support ministry priorities as determined by LCMS members, including delegates to the 66th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church— Missouri Synod, held July 9-14 in Milwaukee. Those ministry priorities include work by the Synod’s Offices of International and National Mission (much of which is backed by convention resolutions) and by the LCMS seminaries in St. Louis and Fort Wayne, Ind. MAJOR MINISTRY EMPHASES AIM TO STRENGTHEN:

✚ Evangelism and outreach, congregational revitalization, youth engagement and life ministry initiatives in the U.S.; ✚ Theological education in international mission fields served by the LCMS; ✚ Human care in the wake of natural disasters; and ✚ The formation of future pastors and trained theological leaders for LCMS congregations, while reducing demand for tuition-based seminary revenues.

Appreciation for Gifts to Shape Next Triennium Each project “takes the Gospel into the world and to people who are vitally important to the future of the Christian Church. Allocations are tied to the priorities for our Synod for vigorously making known the love of Jesus Christ in Word and deeds,” said Mark Hofman, executive director of LCMS Mission Advancement, which coordinates National Offering gift processing and reporting. PROJECTS RECEIVING SUPPORT THROUGH THE NATIONAL OFFERING INCLUDE:

✚ Scholarships to the Lutheran Center for Theological Studies in Dapaong, Togo, Africa, for future Lutheran pastors who otherwise could not afford to attend; ✚ Luther Academy conferences for Latin American pastors to grow through study and fellowship; and ✚ Age-appropriate curriculum to teach the sanctity of human life to students in U.S. Lutheran and public grade schools.

These generous gifts provided by the people of the LCMS beautifully reflect the love of Christ — His love for them, their love for Him — and in every instance will offer tremendous impact on the lives of others, both in the current generation and those that follow.” — Rev. Kevin Robson

|   D OW N LOAD  | Find the complete report:

This debut allocation includes $139,200 each (34 percent each of the total allocation) to international and national mission projects and $69,600 to support both LCMS seminaries through the LCMS Joint Seminary Fund (17 percent of the total). The National Offering began in conjunction with the 2016 Synod convention and continues as a giving opportunity until the next convention in 2019. Wood joins his fellow ministry leaders in expressing appreciation for brothers and sisters in Christ who have made National Offering gifts — and who will continue to give and strengthen ministry. “We are completely dependent on our donors. They are the ones who make it possible for us to plant and to water as co-workers in Christ (1 Cor. 3:8–9),” he said. Contact Mission Advancement at 888-930-4438 or mission.advancement@ with questions. Kim Plummer Krull is a freelance writer and member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Des Peres, Mo.

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