LCMC Blog [Articles Topic] Read the the latest news, announcements and articles from LCMC. en-us The Joy of Participating in God’s Mission’s-mission/a923.html Sun, 24 Jan 21 00:00:00 +0000 In the gospel text for January 24th from Mark 1:14-20, Jesus comes proclaiming good news. Great news. The long-awaited kingdom of God is near. Jesus comes declaring and demonstrating that a new life, a better way of living life is breaking in on the world here and now. It is a way of living life that is made possible by what God is doing in and through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus; a way of living life that we can never create for ourselves because apart from Christ we are locked in the way of sin and death. We could settle for living the old life. In fact, we cling to the old life even as it is dragging us into death, but we have a God who is not willing to let us settle for less than all He has in store for us. He is not willing to leave us in sin’s grip. So, God sends His only begotten Son to die for us even while we are still stinkers – a theological synonym for sinners. And it is His Son, Jesus, who comes in the gospel text proclaiming good news, who is Himself, the good news.

In that same text Jesus does something remarkable. He is Jesus the Christ; He is the Son of God. He could have carried out this mission of declaring and demonstrating the good news on His own, but He chooses not to. Instead, He calls Simon and Andrew to follow Him, be with Him, and to participate in His mission. Then He invites James and John to join in too. As I read that passage, I was reminded how often throughout scripture God chooses to accomplish His purposes in the world, in and through human beings, in fact, almost exclusively. Abraham. Joseph. Moses. Miriam. Joshua. Rabab. Deborah. The disciples. The woman at the well. Mary Magdala. The list of human beings through whom God carries out and accomplishes His kingdom purposes in the world is long. And now He adds your name and mine to that list.

When Christ made you his own, gave you a new life in baptism, and forgave your sin, something new truly happened. He gave you a calling; a calling to love your neighbor and to be witnesses to the good news. As surely as Simon and Andrew, James and John were called, so are you and so am I. That calling works itself out in all kinds of different ways, in all kinds of different vocations. But the thread that runs through all those calls is being a witness and serving the neighbor as the forgiveness and mercy that Christ is constantly pouring into you spills out to those you encounter.

The Lord has more in store for you and me, and He does not want us to settle for less. He calls us, as He did Simon and Andrew, James and John, to become fishers of people. He invites us to participate with Him as He seeks out those who do not yet know Him as Savior and Lord. He invites us to participate with Him as He reaches out to help Forgetters become Rememberers. In his book on evangelism, theologian Walter Brueggemann, points out that Israel was consistently called by God from forgetfulness to remembrance of His call and purpose for their life as a nation. In the same way, followers of Jesus can be forgetful of God’s activity and presence in our lives, and like Israel, need to be called to remembrance. In these ways and more Jesus calls us to come follow Him and be with Him and to participate in His kingdom purposes in the world; and as we say yes, His joy is made full in us.

I will never forget the joy I experienced when God acted in and through me to give witness to His unshakable love and to share the gospel with someone whom He was drawing to faith in Jesus. When that person responded to God’s activity in their lives, was baptized, believing in their heart and confessing with their mouth that Jesus is Lord, it was amazing—for that person and for me. God completely changed the trajectory of that person’s life and invited me to be a part of it all. What a joy!

Now He is calling all of us in LCMC, just as He called Simon and Andrew, James and John, the woman at the well and Mary, to participate with Him in His kingdom purposes in today’s world. Let’s cast this vision before the members of our congregations. Let’s encourage and equip them to love their neighbors, pray with people, and share their God-stories as the Lord provides opportunities for them to do so. Let’s ask the Lord’s help in creating a welcoming environment for the Holy Spirit who pours God’s love into our hearts (Romans 5:5) and gives us power to be witnesses to those around us of His love and His power (Acts 1:8).

Let’s pray that God would be at work in our association, calling us to follow Him and bringing us together as one so that millions might be drawn by God to faith Jesus as Savior and Lord.

LCMC in Southeast Asia Mon, 26 Feb 18 00:00:00 +0000 I have just returned from South East Asia and want to give a brief update. 

We traveled first to Cambodia, where we discovered that our mission developer there, Pastor Samuel Chim (an LCMC pastor) is doing great work for us. 

We have received another 15 congregations and pastors as a result of the church planting efforts of the congregations there. 

We now have 35 pastors and churches in Cambodia and Pastor Chim is doing a great job mentoring, training and equipping the pastors. 

LCMC, and LCMC Cambodia are both recognized church bodies by the government of Cambodia.

The method of churches planting churches is something we could learn much from our brothers and sisters there. 

Each congregation numbers between 40-70 people and are led by a bi-vocational pastor whose primary work is to train and equip leaders in the congregation for the work of ministry, following the instruction of Ephesians 4: 11-14.

In Vietnam we met with pastors and leaders of two new congregations in the northern part of the country.  These are new ministries and our visit with them included 5 adult baptisms! 

We were so grateful for their efforts to plant and now establish these two new churches in a part of the world that is still cautious about the Gospel, fearing that these believers may try to subvert the government.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The church exists to proclaim the Good News of Life in the name of Jesus and to offer the freedom that comes in His name.

The churches connected with LCMC are connected to Lutheran Asian Ministries (LAM), a mission partner with LCMC and housed within the ministry of Morningside Lutheran Church in Sioux City, Iowa, an LCMC congregation. 

The executive director of LAM is Pastor Tom LoVan, on the pastoral team at Morningside and an LCMC pastor as well.

Introducing LCMC's New Coordinator for Pastoral Ministry, Pastor Perry Fruhling Thu, 23 Nov 17 00:00:00 +0000 The Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that we have a Coordinator for Pastoral Ministry! 

Pastor Perry Fruhling has accepted the position and begins January 15, 2018. 

Perry has served congregations in Texas (Zion Lutheran in Fredericksburg) and in Iowa (Bethany Lutheran, Thompson; Immanuel Lutheran in Independence; and St. Mark’s Lutheran, Marion).  

Perry has additional training and interest in conflict resolution practices and community organizing for service in crisis.  Perry brings his experience with congregations of many different sizes to this position, as well as his training, background, and passion for the Church of Jesus Christ.

In his current call, with Perry’s leadership and other members of the congregation, St. Mark’s created and manages the Lutheran Disaster Assistance fund (LDA).  This fund has been extremely helpful to LCMC congregations in the aftermath of natural disasters, the most recent of which were the hurricanes and forest fires that have affected millions of people.

Perry’s work will focus on continuing the development of call committee coaching, call committee workshops, and the certification process.  Perry will also continue the on-going training of pastors involved with certifying those who wish to be on LCMC’s list of pastors.  He will work with the Ministry Board to develop leadership events and oversee our list of pastors serving in many different capacities.  Perry also hopes to train and equip pastors and others for effective conflict resolution and helping our pastors to equip members for ministry.

Perry is married to Marlys and they live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  They have three children: Chantal, 26, in Cedar Rapids; Ashley, 23, in Atlanta, GA; and Caleb, 20, attending the University of Iowa.

Invitations to district, regional and congregational events are always welcome!  As soon as we have contact information for Perry Fruhling, it will be made available on the staff page of our website January 15, 2018. 

A Word from Mark... Wed, 15 Nov 17 00:00:00 +0000 Our 17th Annual Gathering and Convention was held in Minneapolis, MN on October 8-11, just a few weeks ago.  We had just over 900 people in attendance, representing 412 of the 750 congregations of LCMC. 

This year for the first time we sat around tables so that participants could discuss the information presented and it was genuinely appreciated. 

To recognize the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, we considered three of the fundamental themes of the Reformation: Justification, The Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms, and the Priesthood of All Believers.  We also had a dramatic portrayal of Martin Luther and Katie by Johan and Sonja Hinderlie, and we showed the movie: Martin Luther, the Idea that Changed the World.

At this gathering we had two resolutions come from the floor for consideration by the convention.  Our constitution and by-laws allow for resolutions to come during the convention without advance notice or preparation.  They did not come from either of the Boards and therefore could not be disseminated in advance to give people time to consider or even understand the issues being presented.  Ultimately, no action on the resolutions were taken as the floor voted to table the discussion. The Board of Trustees is meeting in late November and will discuss and evaluate the content of the resolutions along with the discussion from the floor.

Thank you to all who took the time to submit evaluations of this year’s gathering. Critical points of feedback often expressed about our gatherings generally focus on cost and food.  

This year, there was the added element regarding the lack of preparation specific to the resolutions presented from the floor—which is addressed above. 

Cost is real.  When we gather 900-1100 people we look for facilities that can accommodate space for the general sessions, the vendor areas, any service project that might be included, breakout sessions, and the ability to feed that many people in one setting.  There is no LCMC congregation that can do all of that.  They may be able to handle 2 or 3 of the needs but not all five.  Holding our gatherings in smaller markets help keep costs down, but cost is real.

Food?  The convention food and beverage divisions do their best to provide good, healthy and tasty meals, but how many of our children ever liked the same foods? 

In spite of the concerns expressed, we had a great time together.  We laughed, prayed, sang, worshipped and encouraged one another.  We re-connected with friends, and made new ones.  There were great conversations about what makes us Lutheran and what makes us people of LCMC. 

To be honest, I am already looking forward to coming together again in Des Moines, October 7-10, 2018!  Mark it down on your calendars, its going to be great!

LCMC Missions Forum Update Thu, 11 Jun 15 00:00:00 +0000 If you are like me, you often feel overwhelmed by all of the negative and depressing reports of world events, as they affect our mission fields. However, I just received the latest mission update from the Augustana District (AD-LCMC), and I wanted to pass along a POSITIVE news update. 

One year ago, the AD sent a 12 person fact finding team to visit with the Tabor congregation in Ethiopia. Out of that meeting came a partnership where the AD committed to supporting in various ways the tremendous mission outreach that the Tabor congregation already had in place, but wanted to expand even further into their neighboring Muslim areas.

In 2014, the AD raised over $100,000 and distributed $85,000 to the Tabor congregation for designated projects, or a 50/50 split of financial support to related mission projects of their choosing. Some of these mission projects included training and sending 39 evangelists to minister to the local people at 50 local community gathering mission centers, and beginning an agricultural mission to reach out and partner with local farmers in heavily Muslim regions.

Today's AD mission update newsletter reports that during the first quarter of 2015, an additional $15,000 was distributed to grow the number of evangelists to 46, add 5 farmers to the agricultural program, help purchase land to construct two more outreach centers, and more gathering mission sites in Muslim areas.

In addition, during the month of June, an additional $17,000 will be sent for continuing 50/50 support of the evangelists and farmers, as well as additional purchases of motorcycles and bicycles to assist the evangelists in reaching out to their local communities. The cost to support each evangelist is $600 per year.

The chairman of the AD Board of World Missions, Pastor Paul Knudson, reports, "The experience of the AD with the Tabor Partnership has been and continues to be a blessing beyond anyone's imagination. The Board wishes to extend its profound gratitude for all of your generosity."

Linked here is a page from last quarter's newsletter which gives a general summary of this positive partnership that is bearing much fruit for Christ's Kingdom.  (Click Here for Article)

Your in Christ,

Jim Dix

LCMC Workshops to Continue in 2015 Mon, 29 Dec 14 00:00:00 +0000 2015.  I am looking forward to a great year together. 

Steve Lien will continue to offer workshops on call committee coaching, Dan Clites will continue to offer workshops on the development of new ministries, and I will continue to offer workshops for congregational leadership

One of the things that we hope to be is a resource to our congregations.  Other models for staffing in church bodies looks to do the work for the congregation; we want only to help, encourage, strengthen, challenge and empower the congregation to do the work that the Lord of the Church has entrusted to her!

To strengthen the churches we have and to plant the ones we don’t is what I am committed to doing for as long as I am able and allowed to. 

The Board of Trustees understands that this is a good use of our time (the staff of LCMC) and the resources of our association, and all it takes is an invitation. 

We are not forming boards, commissions, study committees to develop positions papers, and all the rest of the “institutional” structures that tend only to perpetuate themselves.  In LCMC, from the beginning, we have had a desire to help congregations do what the Lord has called them to do:  “Go, make disciples of all nations!”

2015: Still in the hands of Almighty God.  We know that God is at work.  We just want to be a part of what God is doing.  “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.  May his kingdom come also to us, and his will be done among us!

Annual Gathering and MFTH Project Statistics Announced! Wed, 29 Oct 14 00:00:00 +0000 Earlier this month, 1,012 people from around the world came together in Des Moines, IA for LCMC’s 14th Annual Gathering.  

Throughout the year, the 833 congregations that make up LCMC came together to raise a total of $91,005.40 for our service project with Meals from the Heartland (13.75% more than our goal of $80,000).  On the evening of Tuesday, October 7th, many of the people who attended the gathering met up at the convention center and assembled a total of 291,168 meals[Watch Video]

During the Business Session of the gathering, Pastors Christopher Miller (Area 2) and Kenneth “Corky” Spitler (Area 5) were elected to the LCMC Board of Trustees.  Pastors Nathan Hanson and Stephan Turnbull were appointed to serve on the Ministry Board.  

Rev. Mark Vander Tuig announced the launch of the LCMC Prayer Chain, an opportunity for people to sign up to pray for all of the congregations in LCMC on a weekly basis.  Click Here to learn more and sign up.

It was also announced that our 15th Annual Gathering will take place from October 4-7, 2015 at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Frisco, TX. 

Photo galleries from the Annual Gathering, downloadable copies of our 2014 Book, and presentation notes from our Keynote Speakers are now available at our website.  To view any of these materials, Click Here

Videos of our speakers will not be available until later this winter.  We will announce via E-Newsletter, blog, Facebook and Twitter when these videos have been posted.  

WE DID IT! Mon, 08 Sep 14 00:00:00 +0000 Last year, we announced to all of our congregations that one of our goals as an association for 2014 was to raise $80,000 for our 14th Annual Gathering service project with Meals from the Heartland.  Today, we reached that goal! 

100% of the donations that we have received will be used to purchase enough food, packaging supplies and shipping to feed 400,000 people in need, both in the U.S. and abroad. 

The food packages will be assembled on Tuesday, October 7th from 5:00 to 7:00 P.M. by LCMC-ers from around the globe. 

The process of assembling and packaging the meals will require the help of about 1,000 people, so if you plan to attend the Annual Gathering this year, we need your help!  If you haven't already, please consider signing up to help package meals for an hour or two.  All you've got to do is check off one or both of the "Meal Packaging Project" boxes when you Register for the Annual Gathering

If you have already registered for the Annual Gathering, but did not sign up to package meals and would like to, you can also notify our staff that you are interested via email at

See you in Des Moines! 

Lutheran Church of South Sudan's Emergency Plan for Equipping Faithful Leaders Mon, 16 Jun 14 00:00:00 +0000 Pastor Jordon Long, President of the Lutheran Church of South Sudan (LCSS). 

The LCSS is a new church with no walls.  Most of its members worship in tents, huts, or open spaces. and they have no educational materials written in their indigenous languages. 

On March 14, Pastor Jordon was able to communicate with Eric Swensson and update the current situation for the LCSS. Around the area where Pastor Jordon lived, about 2000 people were killed.  It became necessary for him to leave that area.  The Christian College where Matthew Riak was at when the violence started had one security guard killed before it was taken over and still remains a military post.  Generally, the people of the LCSS have scattered, and are in hiding in the bush or have fled across the border to refugee camps.

Pastor Jordon will be staying in a refugee camp just across the border from South Sudan in Ethiopia. In the midst of all this chaos and despair, Pastor Jordon sees great opportunity to minister to the many desperate people around him in these refugee camps. He says the one thing that would be most helpful to him would be Luther's Small Catechisms translated in their native languages. He knows this would be the most useful tool he could have to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to so many people in need of Him.
Think about that!!! Pastor Jordan did not ask for money, food, water, shelter, or safety from harm, but for Luther's Small Catechisms to help him minister to the people around him in the refugee camps.

Currently, the LCSS website lists only four American friends and partners. They are: LCMC, the Augustana District of the LCMC, the Institute for Lutheran Theology (ILT), and the Disciple Ship.

The ILT has been in discussion with the Lutheran Heritage Foundation (LHF), and they currently have the catechisms translated into the proper native language.  They are willing to work with us to get them to these refugee camps for Pastor Jordon to use. The books cost only a few dollars each. The LHF has a group going to Ethiopia at the end of April, and can help arrange for these catechisms to get to Pastor Jordon.

So, the timing of this appeal is immediate.

Please consider individually, or as a congregation, donating a few dollars to:

LCSS Catechisms
910 4th Street
Brookings, SD 57006

The North American headquarters of LCSS is at the Institute of Lutheran Theology, so please send any checks to LCSS in care of ILT.  100% of your donation will go to the catechisms.

If you have any questions, please contact Eric Swensson at (914) 712-5440, or  He is also a member of the LCMC Missions Forum and will see any post that appears there.

Thank you, and count your blessings, and at least consider praying for all of God's people in South Sudan.]]>
Take Back The Sabbath Mon, 16 Jun 14 00:00:00 +0000 Over thirty years ago the Churches were attended by 26% Christians at any given Sunday. Today Barna states that number has dropped to 17.5% on any given Sunday. A few years ago the United States was declared the fourth largest mission field.  Wake up America! We need to stop this decline in order to avoid following the European Nations decline of 3-5% of Churches occupied on any given Sunday.

   What could we do as a group of Christians?  We need to act upon this now. If we rally together we could help make a difference. We can't change the world ....but we can change, "ONE THING " to advance the Kingdom of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2 Compares the Christian Life to a RACE. How is the Kingdom of God more like a relay race than a marathon or a sprint?  The relay is a beautiful thing, in some ways rivaled by no other sporting event.
Beautiful, that is when it WORKS, but UGLY when it doesn't.

The amazing thing about a relay race is that no matter how excellent, talented, trained, and just plain fast the team members are, unless that baton is in the hand of the man or women who finishes the anchor leg and crosses the line, THERE IS NO VICTORY. If the baton is dropped the team is VICTORY LAP...and no GLORY.

The BATON provides a near -perfect illustration of the HEAVENLY CALLING on our lives and the LIVES OF THE GENERATION BEHIND US......OUR LEGACY OF FAITH. God ENTRUSTED US to a BATON (A LEGACY of FAITH) 
He appointed us to PASS on THAT BATON. As Ministers, Members and Parents it is our job to pass on the baton to the next generation. If they are not in Church they are not there to hear the Word, capture the message and plant it in their hearts. We need to correct this.  (1) Douglas Cherry book “Stick.” 

What keeps us from doing that? 
If our children are not in Church…they don’t hear the Word. They don’t experience the Fellowship God intended for them. When they are forced to “CHOSE” between the School event and Church…the school event usually wins.  If the student doesn’t practice or rehearse before the event (Sunday morning) they are unable to participate in that event. 
Matthew 10:8
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received.
What a simple ordination. Take what you received from Me and give it to OTHERS.
We can do this.  
We need to get the parents and students back in the Churches so that they are able to be there to hear the message and are able to pass the baton on to the next generation.
How Do We Do This?
  1. Pastors/Parents need to contact your local School Superintendent and set up a meeting to talk to him/her about changing the policy of having activities on Sundays before noon.  .
  2. Parents should get involved with the PTA and challenge anyone anytime a function is being scheduled on a Sunday morning beforenoon.
  3. Gather other like- minded parents to join your cause.
  4. Run for offices in the PTA to get this passed. 
Recently I presented this to our South Monroe County Ministerial Association and they are getting on board with this as well. Your participation and your comments are appreciated. I highly recommend the book, "Stick"  for parents as a guide to help parents with passing on the baton. I believe that once we get the children back to Church they will be able to benefit by your book to pass on the baton. (1) Stick: Making the Handoff to the Next Generation.
ISBN 978-0-9839082-0-3 Copyright 2011 by Doug and Lisa Cherry Po Box 460 Carbondale, Ill 62903 Publoished by Frontline Families Ministries (
LCSS Seeks Translated Copies of Luther's Small Catechisms Tue, 25 Mar 14 00:00:00 +0000 Pastor Jordon Long, President of the Lutheran Church of South Sudan (LCSS). 

The LCSS is a new church with no walls.  Most of its members worship in tents, huts, or open spaces. and they have no educational materials written in their indigenous languages. 

On March 14, Pastor Jordon was able to communicate with Eric Swensson and update the current situation for the LCSS. Around the area where Pastor Jordon lived, about 2000 people were killed.  It became necessary for him to leave that area.  The Christian College where Matthew Riak was at when the violence started had one security guard killed before it was taken over and still remains a military post.  Generally, the people of the LCSS have scattered, and are in hiding in the bush or have fled across the border to refugee camps.

Pastor Jordon will be staying in a refugee camp just across the border from South Sudan in Ethiopia. In the midst of all this chaos and despair, Pastor Jordon sees great opportunity to minister to the many desperate people around him in these refugee camps. He says the one thing that would be most helpful to him would be Luther's Small Catechisms translated in their native languages. He knows this would be the most useful tool he could have to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to so many people in need of Him.
Think about that!!! Pastor Jordan did not ask for money, food, water, shelter, or safety from harm, but for Luther's Small Catechisms to help him minister to the people around him in the refugee camps.

Currently, the LCSS website lists only four American friends and partners. They are: LCMC, the Augustana District of the LCMC, the Institute for Lutheran Theology (ILT), and the Disciple Ship.

The ILT has been in discussion with the Lutheran Heritage Foundation (LHF), and they currently have the catechisms translated into the proper native language.  They are willing to work with us to get them to these refugee camps for Pastor Jordon to use. The books cost only a few dollars each. The LHF has a group going to Ethiopia at the end of April, and can help arrange for these catechisms to get to Pastor Jordon.

So, the timing of this appeal is immediate.

Please consider individually, or as a congregation, donating a few dollars to:

LCSS Catechisms
910 4th Street
Brookings, SD 57006

The North American headquarters of LCSS is at the Institute of Lutheran Theology, so please send any checks to LCSS in care of ILT.  100% of your donation will go to the catechisms.

If you have any questions, please contact Eric Swensson at (914) 712-5440, or  He is also a member of the LCMC Missions Forum and will see any post that appears there.

Thank you, and count your blessings, and at least consider praying for all of God's people in South Sudan.]]>
Blessman Ministries Plants First LCMC Congregation in South Africa Wed, 26 Feb 14 00:00:00 +0000
The church will be in a rural country school house building that has electricity, running water and an outdoor toilet.  It is a gathering place for our rural farm area, is the voting polling place, and has a soccer field where nearby farmers gather on Sunday afternoons. 

There is no other church of any denomination for several miles, and there are hundreds of farm workers in our area who do not have vehicles, so they have been unable to attend church.  This area definitely needs Jesus. 

Please pray for us as we walk down this new path.  We are in immediate need of chairs, musical equipment, hymnals, a cross, signage and praying for a church bus to bring many more people to church.  

For more info:

Phone: (515) 343-5920
LCMC-ers Celebrate Second Annual Three Days of Prayer Sat, 01 Feb 14 00:00:00 +0000 Three Days of Prayer.  

For the second time in the association's history, LCMC Service Coordinator Rev. Mark Vander Tuig invited members of LCMC to start off the New Year with three consecutive days of prayer, focused on confession, petition and vision, and organized in any way that made sense to the participants.  

The goal?  To see LCMC become more and more a people of prayer. 

"We too often see prayer as the last resort, and even as an acknowledgement of defeat. But it is not! It is the greatest and most effective thing we can do," Rev. Vander Tuig said.  

Based on a survey conducted during the month of January, 52% of people who took part in the event this year were first-timers.  

Hosting prayer services or vigils and distributing prayer booklets proved to be the most popular methods for organizing the three days, and an effective way to encourage participation from congregation members.

One such congregation, Holy Cross Lutheran Church of Maple Lake, MN, distributed themed pamphlets to its members each day and hosted prayer vigils, which were attended by 45 people, each night. "People really enjoyed the prayer stations on "Petition Day", Pr. Culynn Curtis said.  "Although it was part of our worship service, these Lutherans got out of the chair, focused on an object and offered prayers of petition for themselves, family and friends, creation, the world, the hungry and homeless, and those in need of healing."

Over a third of the people surveyed also reported coming up with other creative ways to boost participation and emphasize the importance of prayer.  

"We offered a prayer clock to each person. These were distributed in the bulletin and via email from the pastor. The clock consisted of 3 areas of prayer for each hour of the day, " said Linda Lerum of First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Idaho Falls, ID.  "We had three areas for prayer in each hour: One, to praise God for who He is using the attribute listed; Two, to thank God for what He has already done; and Three, to ask God for the needs listed on that hour, [at] which there was three requests: a person (staff), a ministry team, and a mission we support outside our walls."

For other LCMC-ers, the event was an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the power of prayer.

Hawley Lutheran Church of Hawley, MN encouraged participation by offering people a chance to submit written prayer requests and conducting a prayer walk.  "Prayer is intimidating to a lot of people, so our goal is to try to make our prayer experiences less intimidating; more practical,"  said Pastor Jeff Teeples.

Others thought even further outside the box, thinking up creative ways to help people with weekday commitments find time to participate.

Congregation members at First Lutheran Church of Washburn, ND were invited to lunch, complete with a speaker and time set aside for prayer, on each of the three days.  Many students and working people were able to attend the event on their lunch hour.  Judy Beaudry, who helped coordinate the event, enjoyed the fact that many of the congregation's younger families were able to attend.  

When asked what their favorite part of Three Days of Prayer was this year, 31% of people mentioned that they enjoyed praying together as a congregation and/or as part of LCMC as a whole.  Another 31% of people enjoyed the event's focus on Confession, Petition, and Vision.  

"I prayed on my knees each day.  It felt good to emphasize national and international concerns with other LCMC-ers who were doing the same," said, John Magness of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in New Braunfels, TX.

Many others seemed to agree.  

"One participant said that it was so refreshing to pray together, they wished we could have a prayer service every month!  We will have to think about that," said Lila de Waal, a Diaconal Minister at Victory Lutheran Church in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada.

"I personally felt an amazing presence of the Holy Spirit the moment I walked through the door.  All my cares, burdens, and worries were lifted and [this] allowed me to have peace.  It was awesome.  I felt 'blessed' to have this experience," said Rhonda Zingler of Gloria Dei Lutheran in Tomah, WI.  

Next year's Three Days of Prayer is set to take place from January 6-8, 2015.

"I think it is something that should continue year after year," said Pr. Frank Remski.  "It gives you a time of reflection and calmness."

As always, more information and additional resources can be found by clicking here.
Thoughts on Housing Allowance Tue, 10 Dec 13 00:00:00 +0000
Office of the General Assembly (OGA) has been receiving inquiries and questions regarding the November 21, 2013 decision of a federal district court (Western District of Wisconsin) judge in Madison, Wisconsin which held that a portion of Section 107 of the Internal Revenue Code is unconstitutional. Section 107 is the provision dealing with tax - favored housing benefits for “ministers of the gospel.” Specifically, the court held that Section 107(2), which permits ministers to receive tax-free cash
“housing allowance,” is unconstitutional because it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  Section 107(1), which allows ministers to reside tax-free in a church-provided manse, was not affected by the court’s decision.

In the case, Freedom From Religion Foundation, et al. v. Lew, et al., the United States government was the party which defended the constitutionality of Section 107, a federal law enacted by Congress many decades ago. As the losing party, the government must now decide whether it wants to appeal this decision to the next level of the federal court system, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. Based on available information, an appeal is likely. The court in Wisconsin delayed the implementation of its decision until any appeals which may be filed by the government are concluded or until the deadline for filing an appeal has passed whichever is later. OGA understands the government will have sixty (60) days to file an appeal, and so the district court’s decision will have no effect until sometime in 2014 at the earliest. Therefore, this ruling should not affect a minister’s 2013 income tax return filing or the employer’s designation for 2014. If an appeal is filed, this case could take several more years to be finally decided. Further, should the ruling of this court stand without appeal, the ruling of this court has limited impact in that its decisions apply only to its geographic district.

It is too early to fully understand the impact of this case or to predict the chances for this decision to be reversed. OGA will continue to actively monitor the case and be in conversation with ecumenical partners as it develops.  Email inquiries to Kathie Lyvers at

The Rev. Dr. W. Maynard Pittendreigh, PCCA, D.Min

Senior Pastor

Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church
Lutheran Youth Take the Urban Plunge Fri, 15 Nov 13 00:00:00 +0000 Over the past eight years, groups of youth from Lutheran churches all over the country have gone to love the poor, serve the homeless and care for their communities; trading in their weekends and vacations of relaxing, catching up on homework, and enjoying their comfortable nights in front of the television, to take the Plunge. The Urban Plunge; forty eight hours of working with the poor; feeding the homeless, visiting the jail; and serving, serving, serving.

82 Lutheran groups have taken the Plunge, most recently including Bethany Lutheran Church from Spencer, Iowa, the First Lutheran Church from Bottineau, North Dakota, Bethany Lutheran Church from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the King of Kings Lutheran Church from Woodbury, Minnesota, Our Savior Lutheran Church from Albert City, Iowa, the Immanuel Lutheran Church from Dixon, Illinois, the Peace Lutheran Church from Pella, Iowa, the Messiah Lutheran Church from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, St Johns Lutheran Church from Bennington, Nebraska, and the Lutheran Church of the Master, from Omaha, Nebraska.

The teams have all had the experience of a life-time, stepping out of their suburban bubbles to discover what life is really like for so many less-fortunate in and around their own nation.

"It put faces to the homeless and really changed my perspective on how approachable people in poverty can be” said Bethany Johnson, from the Bethany Lutheran Church, Cedar Rapids, “I am more aware of the needs others might have, and seeing what I can do to help make a difference. "

"It showed me that everyone has a need, and as God's child, it is my duty to help fulfill them. It showed me a little work goes a long way" commented Annette Hanke, from Immanuel Lutheran Church, Dixon Illinois.

During the weekend, all the groups visited 8-9 different faith-based organizations that are working among the poor, discovering what their passions and gifts are, and how best to use them in their local area.
The Urban Plunge, operated by Christ For the City International, does not provide a ‘tour of poverty,’ but instead, helps participants to grasp how they can use their talents and passions to assist faith-based social-service agencies who already work alongside those who are in great need. They therefore aim to meet need, offer practical love and assistance, and ignite lasting passions to help back home.
"It showed me just how much more the church can do for the people in need in our area" said Mindy Lavender, from the Bethany Lutheran Church, in Spencer Iowa.

"Now I know that they are really in need, I want to do this for the rest of my life" encouraged Addison Baker, from the Messiah Lutheran Church, Oklahoma City.

"I learned that compassion is action" said Weston Grunke, from the Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Omaha.

The Urban Plunge operates all year round in Lincoln, Omaha, Kansas City, Dallas, Des Moines and Sioux Falls.

For more information, visit

Two Congregations Unite in Downtown Seattle Mon, 13 May 13 00:00:00 +0000 There came a day when the Apostle Paul stiffened his back and said, “No!” His “no” was hurled
at Barnabas, his partner, who wanted to take Mark along with them on the second journey to
build up new infant congregations. (Acts 15:35-41). Paul could not dismiss the fact that Mark
had bailed out in a previous mission effort. Verse 39 puts it succinctly, “And there arose a
sharp contention , so that they separated from each other...Barmabas took Mark...Paul chose
Silas and departed.” RSV

Conflict is no stranger to Christians, Christian congregations and Christian Church Bodies
throughout the world. That painful fact makes it all the more joyous and glorious when our Lord
brings blessing upon blessing to congregations and pastors that seek His will and follow it.
This is happening in downtown Seattle. It involves two small congregations. One is Denny
Park Lutheran Church (DPLC), Douglas Lindsay, Pastor. The other is Lutheran Church of the
Resurrection (LCR), Phil Lee, Pastor. Here are some snatches from the story. I’ll begin with

Denny Park Lutheran congregation goes way back, almost as far back as Seattle. Their
birthday is April 19, 1888. They came together as Norwegian Immigrants. Through the 125
years of their history they have had their ups and downs. In recent decades they have seen
their neighborhood move away and give way to urban inner city realities, not least to apartment
and condo dwellers who live within the enforced privacy of gated surroundings.

Pastor Lindsay described some of their recent dilemma by saying, “We were $10,000 in the hole
and wondering how we could continue. We even had to borrow from our mission funds to pay
our bills. We had no young people. And if you don’t have young people, it’s hard do get young

But DPLC moved forward in three important ways. They voted to join LCMC three years ago.
After several years in the discussion stage, they decided to sell a small slice of their property for
the construction of a seven story low-income apartment building with assured underground
parking for church members. Thirdly, they accepted a proposal to rent worship and education
space, of which they have plenty, to LCR.

Meanwhile, LCR had a vastly different history. It was only three years old, a break-away
congregation from Magnolia Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Seattle. Their first Service was held on
Easter Sunday 2010. Their pastor, however, was soon on his way to an LCMC congregation in
California. That left them with the need to call a new pastor without delay. Somehow they did.
They called Pastor Phil Lee who began his ministry in August, 2010.

It took little time to find a temporary church home at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Ballard, a
Seattle neighborhood. They continued there for almost two years. But it was not ideal,
especially for education space. When the rent was about to be raised, they began looking for
new space. It was discouraging. They were turned down by church after church. To build from
scratch in Seattle was far too expensive.

While they had inquired earlier about DPLC’s facilities, it took a second more formal proposal (in
writing) to spark genuine interest. The proposal was to rent space and to worship at a different
time than the DPLC. But this arrangement lasted only from November 2011 until June 2012.
By then both congregations were asking, “Why should we be worshiping separately?” They
soon learned that they were cut from the same theological cloth. By that summer they joined
hands and spirits and worshiped together!

The two pastors led the way in their trust and respect for each other. Sunday by Sunday they
traded roles in their preaching and conducting the Sunday Service. As Pastor Lee put it, “Each
congregation got to know the other, including each pastor.” It didn’t take long for both churches
to ask the obvious question about their future. And since last fall they engaged in serious
discussions that led to the Sunday of April 7, 2013.

Each congregation met separately after their Sunday Service on that day. They addressed one
major question. Shall we unite with the other congregation effective today? The vote was
remarkable, some would say “Miraculous!” There was not a “No” to be seen or heard
anywhere in these two congregational meetings! God be praised!

It was understood by both DPLC and LCR that, if the motion passed, both pastors would receive
a new Call. Pastor Lindsay, however had announced that his retirement from active ministry
would take effect at the end of this year. Pastor Lee would obviously continue. It was also
understood (a non-negotiable) that a “yes” vote would also mean that both the church facilities
and DPLC’s urban ministries would also continue into the future, not least an anticipated
ministry to the low income people who would live next door in the expected new apartment

Pastor Lee captured this thought when we said, “Ahead of us is choosing a new name and a
new constitution that makes clear our need to be externally focused on the urban
needs that surround us rather than be internally focused on ourselves. My hope is that this fall
we can launch into a visioning process for just this reason.”

There are several important decisions ahead for this new congregation. They include not only a
new name and a new constitution but the election of a new church council, and issuing new
Calls to each pastor. Their goal is to make decisions on as many of these factors as possible
on June 16th.

In closing let me offer a personal observation. I have worked with both congregations in various
ways again and again in recent years in behalf of LCMC. I have interviewed and certified both
pastors for pastoral ministry in LCMC. If ever I have seen the hand of God at work among His
flock with blessing upon blessing, it is here in the midst of this urban jungle we call “downtown
Seattle”, just across the street from a two-square-block plot of walkways, trees, grass and
benches called Denny Park.

--Rev. Dr. Paul Braafladt, Seattle]]>
Introducing Rev. Dan Clites, LCMC's Coordinator for New Ministry Development Mon, 04 Feb 13 00:00:00 +0000 When I was a kid, I dreamed of being an astronaut-- a bold pioneer of exploring outer space and the moon.  At the time, it seemed like the coolest job ever with all its intrigue and danger.  Trouble is, very few ever received the opportunity and now the whole idea of space exploration is grounded.

Thanks, however, to the LCMC's heart for bold ministry, we can all suit-up and blast-off again with a God dream!

As your new, New Ministries Coordinator (see Service Coordinator Mark Vander Tuig's note [in the upcoming edition of By the Word] for more details), I've been blessed with what I now believe is the coolest job ever--- to serve side-by-side with LCMC astronauts who are hearing Jesus' voice calling them to be pioneers of a space that seems ignored or grounded.  By the grace and wisdom of the Lord, together we will plant and develop new ministries across the nation that are effectively focused on reaching the disappeared, the disconnected and the disappointed.  This calling is filled with intrigue and danger...and I love it!  It is so huge a mission that it will require all of us to radically depend upon the Lord's dream to ignite 1,000 new ministries over the next decade!  But, as Romans 8 declares, "If God is for us, who can be against us?"

So, why is starting new LCMC ministries important, even urgent?  
  • Eternal life or death are in the balance for those who don't follow Jesus.
  • Practicing Christians get renewed in the Great Commission to Go and Make Disciples. 
  • Most effective manner to reach new generations, new residents and new people groups with the true Gospel. 
  • Best way to grow quickly and have an immediate Christian-impact in a community. 
  • Fosters new ideas and methods that can benefit other churches. 
  • Challenges and renews the whole Body of Christ to be one in a community.
  • Triggers mission-mindedness rather than maintenance-mindedness.
  • Gives a mother church the excitement of giving birth to effective outreach.

Friends: I look forward to firing-up our adventure by meeting many of you at our upcoming San Diego and Birmingham Leadership gatherings.  Please register so we can connect and start developing friendships that blast-off a Great Commission movement.  Over the next few months I will also be developing and launching new ministry "boot camps"--- opportunities for you to see if church planting is something that you're wired and called to do. My job is to help you get in-line with the Lord's mission, pray with you, coach/equip you and love you like Jesus loves His Church!

Dan Clites

Rev. Dan Clites starts his new LCMC position on March 1st.  He has been the planter and lead pastor of Rejoice! in Northfield-Dundas, MN for the last 10-years.  Before that, he served Lutheran congregations in Clearwater, Brainerd and Cannon Falls, MN.  Before graduating from Luther Seminary in 1995, Dan worked 9-years as a television sports anchor/reporter in Fargo, Grand Forks and Minot, North Dakota.  Dan and Joanne have been married 27-years and have two adult daughters, a son-in-law, and a grandson born this past Christmas Day!]]>
Shepherd of the Falls Lutheran Church Installs Pr. Susan Westland Mon, 17 Sep 12 00:00:00 +0000 The congregation of Shepherd of the Falls Lutheran Church, LCMC, welcomed Pastor Susan and Rich Westland in June of this year, celebrating her installation on Sunday, August 19, 2012 at 4:00 P.M.
Pastor Susan and Rich, of Bellevue, Nebraska, were called to Shepherd of the Falls in June of this year and arrived in the small agricultural town of American Falls, ID on August 3. 
The next day was the annual American Falls Day Parade, and preparations had been made to have them ride on a horse with a buggy, decorated in royal purple.
On Sunday, Pr. Susan's husband, Rich, sang with the "Shepherd Singers" at an outdoor summer concert called "Gospel on the Grass". 

On August 12, approximately one week later, Pr. Susan conducted her first service and performed a wedding ceremony, all at one service. 
Shepherd of the Falls Lutheran Church has been without a pastor since its beginning in September of 2010, when approximately 70 people walked out of another church group and began worship the very next Sunday. 
"God has so richly blessed us with miracles and more miracles as we followed His timing to get a pastor," said Ms. Juanita Burgemeister, the congregation's secretary.
Shepherd of the Falls Lutheran Church began the search for a pastor in March, and through many resumes and interviews, decided to call Pastor Susan Westland, a certified LCMC clergy. 
She is a graduate of Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul, MN with a Master of Divinity.  Pastor Susan also has a BS degree in Human Resources and Family Science from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.  Some of her training includes clinical pastoral education and Stephen Ministry leader training. 
During her time in Nebraska, she served 16 counties in developing Drug and Alcohol Prevention programs for teens, assisting communities in developing mentor programs for at-risk youth, and authoring the state guideline manual for juvenile diversion programs. 
She has extensive training in substance abuse prevention and early intervention programs; domestic violence, and victim advocacy programs and has served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer.
Susan and Rich have been married for ten years and are parents of four adult children and grandparents of two. 
Pastor Susan previously served as Vicar in charge of pastoral care at Thanksgiving! Lutheran in Bellevue, Nebraska.  Rich is a retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Colonel and plans to attend classes at ISU. 
They are active in the Christian Motorcyclist Association and enjoy the ministry with love and compassion.
Pastor Susan and Rich are truly thrilled to be in American Falls and look forward to meeting those in the community sharing the Gospel and the love of Jesus Christ.  God has moved mountains and has blessed them in so many ways in bringing them to American Falls. 
Spirit of Hope Youth Group Helps Peace Lutheran with Outreach Program Tue, 07 Aug 12 00:00:00 +0000 From July 20-31, 10 youth and 4 adult chaperones from Spirit of Hope Lutheran Church in Parker, CO went on a Mission Trip to Gulf Shores, AL to help Peace Lutheran Church LCMC with their Vacation Bible School and Back to School Outreach program.
The people of Peace Lutheran Church have been reaching out to families in their community who have experienced difficulty due to natural disasters and the BP gulf oil spill. 
The youth at Spirit of Hope were eager to take part in the missions trip.  Although their church is currently undergoing a building project, the Youth Mission Team held fundraisers, eventually earning enough money to go on the trip. 

Youth Mission Team members are Blayze and Dakota Fittje, Courtney Giles, Chloe and Nick Lehnerz, Chrissy Nefe, Dylan and Tiffany Poch, Gregory and Sarah West, along with adult chaperones Pastor Dave Fisher, Cathy Meyer, Glenn and Wendy Poch traveled from Colorado to Alabama by car.
Along the way, the team was offered food and a place to stop for the night by Trinity United Methodist Church of Muldrow and Roland OK. 

When they arrived, members from both churches came together, putting their musical, theatrical, organizational and leadership skills together to host Vacation Bible School at Peace Lutheran.

At the conclusion of the program, participants received tote bags full of school supplies and school uniforms. 

LCMC Announces September Missions Conference Thu, 02 Aug 12 00:00:00 +0000 This September, the Great Commission Lutherans of Northwest Iowa will host A Light for All Peoples!, a Missions Conference aimed at equipping pastors and church leaders with the skills to ignite a passion within their congregations for sharing God's mission beyond the walls of the church building.
Keynote speakers Rev. Dr. Gemechis Buba, Ethiopian Evangelist and NALC’s leader of World Mission, Rev. Ken Kimball, Dean of the Iowa Mission District of the NALC, and Rev. Mark Vander Tuig, Service Coordinator of LCMC will take the stage at this two day event, which takes place September 28-29, 2012 at Faith Lutheran Church of Spencer, IA.
On Friday evening at 6:00 P.M., a forum designed for congregational leaders will be held.  Featuring all three keynote speakers, this session will offer pragmatic help to "lead congregations into mission".
Saturday's programming will feature discussion on local and world missions with Rev. Dr. Gemechis Buba, as well as an open forum with all three keynote speakers.
Those attending the conference will also have an opportunity to learn more about several missions organizations through breakout sessions and exhibit tables. 
Breakout sessions scheduled include:
  • John Spaulding – “Christians Meeting Muslims”
  • World Mission Prayer League
  • Rusty Bailey – Haiti
  • Ken Kimball – NALC Update and Information
  • David Lerseth – Madagascar Ministry
  • Kevin Grimes – Dream Center
  • Jan Turner – Cherish Center
  • Rod Quanbeck/Dan Antoine – Ingham/Okoboji
  • Julie Schieb – Discovery House
  • Mark Vander Tuig – LCMC Update and Information
The cost of registration is $20.00 per person.   To register for this event, please contact Faith Lutheran Church via email at or call (712) 580-4316.
Additional details for this event will be announced as they become available.
Frescoes for St. John's [Update][update]/a273.html Wed, 27 Jun 12 00:00:00 +0000 Article originally published to this blog on May 16, 2012
Updated information can be downloaded below.

A Testimony of Faith 

Internationally renowned Portrait and Fresco Artist Mark Balma, best known throughout the Twin Cities for his frescoes at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis and the Cathedral of St. Paul, is donating six frescoes to St. John's Lutheran Church and the community of Stacy.
The gift, according to Balma, is his means of supporting a community that has seen some pretty tough times. “With so many people unemployed and so many families facing foreclosure, I wanted to give something to the community as a whole, something that would bring people together, that would strengthen their spirit and their faith.”
The frescoes will be painted on three gothic arches to be constructed to the east of the main entrance of St. John's Lutheran Church at 31075 Genesis Ave. This corner of land overlooks the Carlos Avery Wilderness Area along County Road 19.
A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, May 20 at 11:30 AM. Artist Mark Balma, Pastors Dr. Alfred Valerius and Edward Wheatley, Brad Hildreth, owner of PEI Construction and Mason Joe Fisk will be in attendance. The entire community is welcome to attend. The painting of the frescoes will begin in early July. It will take approximately five weeks to complete the first three panels of frescoes. The remaining three panels will be painted in the summer of 2013.
According to Pastor Ed Wheatley of St. John's, "These frescoes will be the centerpiece of a memorial garden dedicated to the lives of our congregation and our community. In John 15:16 Jesus said, ‘I appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.’ For generations to come, this living memorial will bear testament to the lives of our community, our triumphs, our trials and more importantly, our faith."
Memorials will range from major dedications of the fresco panels to benches, gardens, and engraved paving stones. "The funds raised from this project will support our ministry for years to come," said Pastor Ed, "and God willing, we might even raise enough to pave our parking lot. That's something we've dreamed of for over 20 years!"
To learn how you can support this project or to request information on memorial dedications, contact the church office at (651)462-5115.

What is a Fresco?

Fresco is the process whereby ground up earth pigment is applied directly to a wet lime plaster. As the fresco cures, the colors are absorbed deep into the plaster and eventually harden to stone. Fresco is one of the world's most lasting and permanent art forms because the images do not just rest upon the surface, but actually become part of the stone. The images that Balma creates will literally stand for centuries to come.
In the proposed project, Balma is taking the traditional application of fresco one step further to create a fresco completely unique to North America. Rather than adapting a fresco to fit within a pre-existing structure, Balma will use the frescoes to define an exterior space through the construction of three, free-standing, gothic arches. The center panel will stand 17 feet high and the side panels will stand 15 feet high. Simply put, rather than the space defining the art form, the art form will now define the space, creating a grotto setting and the centerpiece of a memorial garden. When viewed from this perspective, the application of this ancient art form becomes virtually limitless.

The Images

The first three images to be painted on the frescoes were chosen by Rev. Dr. Alfred Valerius, who has served the congregation of St. John's for over 25 years. When asked what the theme should be, he announced without hesitation, "The Transfiguration of Christ."
According to Dr. Valerius, the Transfiguration on the mountain top is the pivotal moment in the ministry of Christ when he revealed his divinity. Moses, renderer of the Law, and Elijah, representing the prophets, were also seen in this glorified vision of Jesus. "The Transfiguration shows the union between the Old and New Testaments. “Christ becomes the bridge between heaven and earth, divinity and humanity, the prophets of old and the prophets of new," according to Pastor Valerius.
Many paintings of the Transfiguration have been done over the centuries. What makes this fresco rendering unique is a combination of artistry and science. Balma is currently working with CG artist Ray Downing of Studio Macbeth. In March of 2010, the History Channel released a two-hour documentary of the Shroud of Turin. This fourteen-foot length of cloth is believed to be the actual burial shroud of Jesus. Using the information encoded in the shadowy image imprinted on the fabric, Downing produced a three-dimensional image of the face of Jesus. Together, Balma and Downing are using the information garnered from his work to create the most historically accurate artistic rendering of Christ ever produced.

The Construction Process

While Balma is donating the frescoes, the congregation of St. John’s is responsible for constructing the arches. It was through a leap of faith, a belief that God would provide the funds needed, that the Church Council voted in April to move forward with the project.
St. John’s contacted Brad Hildreth, local business owner of Professional Exteriors, Inc. and Mason Joe Fisk, a graduate of the Brick Layers and Allied Craft Workers of the International Masonry Institute, and asked them to head up construction of the project. When the concept was first presented, they were both taken aback. “It’s not often somebody comes to you and announces you have to build a structure that will stand for at least 200 years,” Mason Joe Fisk said. “At that point you begin to re-examine every aspect of the construction process.”
Brad Hildreth set about to find the most cost-effective means to achieve the best possible results. “Let’s face it,” Hildreth quipped, “we’re talking about something that my great, great grandchildren will come to see. At this point, I'm in it for the bragging rights.”
In a curious twist, or perhaps some might say "divine intervention," PEI Construction was also hired during that time frame to renovate an old St. Paul residence, removing its 100 year old brick veneer. When the owner learned of the Fresco project for St. John's, she enthusiastically agreed to donate the brick for the project. Not only will that donation significantly reduce the cost of constructing the arches, the antique brick is quite literally the ideal surface for a fresco, and according to the artist, will ensure that the frescoes last for centuries to come.


Creating a fresco is a labor intensive project. To facilitate their completion, Balma will be taking on several volunteer interns throughout the month of July. Interns will receive first hand training in this ancient technique by one of the few fresco artists alive today. Interested individuals should submit a resume, including background information and formal training as well as samples of their work to St. John's Lutheran Church, P.O. Box 308, Stacy, MN 55079. Additional information regarding internships may also be obtained by contacting Mary Welty at St. John's, 651-462-5115. Applications should be received no later than June 15, 2012.
LC Keynote Speaker Releases New Book Thu, 22 Mar 12 00:00:00 +0000 book coverRev. Dr. Walter Sundberg, who will be one of three keynote speakers at this year's LCMC Leadership Conference next month, has published a new book.
Worship as Repentance: Lutheran Liturgical Traditions and Catholic Consensus, which was released by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. earlier this month, discusses the idea that repentance is at the heart of authentic worship.
The book is available to purchase for $18.00 via the publishing company's website.
For more information on Rev. Dr. Sundberg, visit our Leadership Conference 2012 page for keynote speakers.
Albuquerque Congregation Builds House for Community, Second Campus Wed, 07 Mar 12 00:00:00 +0000 The House that Faith Built

The people of Faith Lutheran Church in Albuquerque, NM have provided $75,000 and all the “people power” in order to build a new house in cooperation with Habitat for Humanity.

This project is called “The House that Faith Built” and is on target for completion in mid-April.

In 2005, the members of Faith built a Habitat for Humanity house in celebration of their 50th anniversary as a congregation.

As part of Faith’s ongoing ministries and mission, the decision to build a second house this year was put before the people…and God’s people said, “Let’s do it again!”

Second Site in Rio Rancho

In January, the dedication of Faith’s second site took place with great joy and thanksgiving.

Faith Lutheran Center in Rio Rancho is now open for worship, learning, fellowship and outreach.

Bruce Wilder, Senior Pastor, shared his vision for a second campus on the west side of the ever expanding metro area.

After prayer, discussion, viability studies. and more prayer, the decision to move forward was approved unanimously by the members of the congregation.

Pastor David Breidenbach has primary responsibility for leading worship and preaching at Faith West, but all of the other pastors preach from time to time as well.

The idea of one congregation with two sites is a new concept for many Christians, especially those in our Lutheran family.

That said, God is doing something wonderful and amazing through this second center for mission.

Emmanuel Lutheran Church of Easley Dedicates New Home Wed, 22 Feb 12 00:00:00 +0000 This past Sunday, the congregation of Emmanuel Lutheran Church of Easley dedicated their new church home in Easley, a gift, through generous members, from a provident God. After two years of faithful worship at Partee Time, a children's play area, the congregation purchased this Tabernacle, moving in just in time to celebrate our second anniversary with Divine Worship and a pot luck dinner on Christmas Eve. The building, previously serving others as a place of worship, was move-in ready. Our property search committee first discovered the availability of the building in early October. Ed and Irene Schlosser had previously provided funds set aside to purchase land for a future home. Recognizing the advantage of the immediately available and move-in ready Tabernacle, they increased their gifts, allowing us to purchase and close on the building within six weeks of the initial visit.

In spite of the weather, we were joined in our celebration by pastors and members of other South Carolina LCMC congregations, including St. Paul, Gaffney (Pastor Bucky Brown), Abiding Presence, York (Pastor Charles Aurand), and St. Mark's, Blythewood (represented by Mike Gibson). Patrick Young, currently taking Seminary Studies through ILT, and awaiting call, also participated. The Dedication service was based on the 1917 Common Service Book of the grandmother of our Musician, Donna Schultz. Donna also read a stirring tribute to the people who served to light our path, and those who joined together on this faith journey. She again told of our path, from bewilderment and disappointment in August, 2009, through our search for a new path, to the guidance from Pastor Bill Sullivan, Pastor Gary Coble, and Pastor Bill Ketchie, on a rainy evening in Salisbury, NC, in October, 2009. She highlighted the roles of Pastor Bucky Brown, and the congregation of St. Paul, Gaffney, SC; where we were strengthened in our faith by their display of theirs.  It was through them that Pastor Charles Aurand found us, and guided us to our first celebrant, Pastor Corky Spitler, and to our Pastor, Greg Longtin. She acknowledged, on behalf of all, the gifts of Brian and Michaela Mullins in providing our worship space for the first two years, and in providing leadership in financial and real estate matters. She thanked God for the gifts we received in the Call of Pastor Greg, and the beautiful gift to enhance our worship, the voice of Judy Longtin.  She also thanked God for the gift of Generosity He gave to Ed and Irene.

We have received gifts from others along our path. The congregations of Hopeful, Florence KY, the home church of Pastor Greg and Judy, provided us with the funds to purchase our sound system, and then, sent their Youth Clown Troop, sharing this wonderful ministry in an inspired and inspiring Divine Service. St. Matthews, Salisbury, NC, has designated us as a Mission Congregation, and continues to provide benevolence, which we have used to provide for worship, fellowship, and evangelism needs. Spirit of Joy, in Indianpolis, provided us with a most generous gift, which we used for youth, worship, and evangelism needs. We know that we have an obligation to pay it forward.

God has been with us, indeed, as our name proudly states. In our service, Pastor Brown read from 1 Kings the words of Solomon, as he dedicated the Temple that he built. His words are our prayer, that His eyes may be open, day and night, toward this church house. Our choir sang, "Surely, the Presence of the Lord is in this Place," and all felt and celebrated that presence. And Pastor Longtin, emphasising that we, the congregation, were the "Official Party"for the dedication, lead us all in reading, and declaring, the formal dedication. One of our altar banners, made by our member, Mabel Lunsford, declares, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God," and so we all rose up as sang Martin's Hymn together. And, of course, we had plenty of food for our congregation, and our guests.

Photo (Left to Right):  Pastors Charles Aurand, Patrick Young, Greg Longtin, and James "Bucky" Brown.
Haitians Learn to 'See Through the Scriptures' Fri, 18 Nov 11 00:00:00 +0000 As the saying goes,

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day;
Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

That is why Rev. Dr. Harry Wendt, President of Crossways International, developed See Through the Scriptures, a visually based program designed to help people in countries around the globe develop a strong understanding of the meaning of the Scriptures and gain the ability to teach the Message to others.

Rev. Jeanel Jerome, who looks after an orphanage in Saint Marc, Haiti, has been using See Through the Scriptures as a tool for teaching others, both in Haiti and in the Dominican Republic, for the past six years.

Since he began teaching See Through the Scriptures to adults in 2005, he reports approximately 7,000 people having studied the material.

Of those 7,000, 65 of them have been trained to teach the program to others, fifteen of which are able to do so professionally.

"He's a committed person," said Rev. Dr. Wendt, who met Rev. Jerome at a workshop in 2004.

According to Rev. Dr. Wendt, Rev. Jerome, a Haitian himself, has a good understanding of what the people he works with need.

As one would most likely assume, the norms and standard of living in Haiti are, for the most part, significantly different than those in a country such as the U.S.

To gain somewhat of an understanding of life in Haiti, here are some quick statistics, courtesy of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA):

  • A Haitian's average life expectancy is 62.17 years
  • Nearly half of the country's population is unable to read or write
  • It is estimated that approximately half of the population of Haiti practices voodoo
  • 80% of the country's population lives below the poverty line
  • The country's unemployment rate in 2010 was 40.6%
    • For comparison purposes, the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report this month ranking Detroit, MI as having the highest unemployment rate of the metropolitan divisions in the U.S. Detroit has a 13.1% jobless rate.

While the statistics listed above are limited in number and reflect a general picture of a few aspects of life in Haiti, natural disaster has had a profound impact on the country over the past two years.

The BBC reported that when the 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, approximately 230,000 people were killed, 300,000 were injured and 1.2 million people were left homeless.

Furthermore, the BBC also reported that 1 in every 15 people affected by the earthquake in Haiti died, in comparison with 1 in every 190 killed in Italy's 6.3 magnitude earthquake in 2009 and 1 in every 595 killed in China's 2008 7.9 magnitude quake.

In response to the Haitians' immediate needs for items such as food, shelter, water and healthcare, various organizations across the U.S. have made an effort to address the immediate physical needs of the despairing country.

According to ABC World News, Americans raised over $1.138 billion for Haiti relief efforts within the first six months after the disaster took place.

Organizations such as Mercy Corps, AmeriCares, and Habitat for Humanity have made efforts to provide the Haitians with clean drinking water, food, medicine and shelter since the disaster.

Despite these efforts, there are many emotional issues the Haitians must cope with that many people feel are not being addressed.

"People there are looking for peace, meaning, hope in death," Rev. Dr. Wendt explained.

The proposed solution? Help them to understand the Message.

The problem?

The CIA reports that only 52.9% of Hatians over the age of fifteen are able to read and write, making education, in many cases, a struggle.

Rev. Jerome uses a French language translation of See Through the Scriptures in Haiti and a Spanish translation in the Dominican Republic, however the material taught in these books is very much visually-based, making it easy to explain the Message to those who do not have the reading and writing skills necessary to simply study the written Word.

The program is designed to help understand the basic principles of the Scriptures without requiring strong literacy skills and to enable those who have studied it to be able to teach these ideas to others within the community.

"Not only is he teaching the material," said Rev. Dr. Wendt, "He's equipping pastors and people to go out and do it."

While copies of See Through the Scriptures are relatively inexpensive at $2.00 each, Rev. Jerome has access to limited resources and therefore must resort to using as few printed materials as possible.

"This man cuts lawns and gardens in order to raise the money to be able to do what he does," said Rev. Dr. Wendt.

The hope is that, through the See Through the Scriptures program, Rev. Jerome will be able to help people to better understand the Bible and show them the skills that they need in order to bring Jesus into the lives of others.

If you are interested in learning more on this story, or would like to help support Rev. Jerome's ministry, contact Crossways International at:

Crossways International
7930 Computer Ave. South
Bloomington, MN 55435
Phone: (952) 832-5454

Far Above Rubies: A Resource for Teenage Girls Mon, 17 Oct 11 00:00:00 +0000 Who can find a virtuous woman?
For her price is far above rubies…

--Proverbs 31:10

Mrs. Rebecca Meidinger, who will be speaking in Fargo, ND at the LCMC Annual Leadership Conference this April, is the director of Far Above Rubies, a program designed to help young women explore their true identities in Christ and teach them to build healthy relationships.

Far Above Rubies is a one-day conference, created especially for teen girls and their mothers or mentors, and aims to give women a better understanding of love, identity and self-worth.

To learn more, visit or download the article below.]]>
Annual Gathering :: Wednesday Wrap-Up Thu, 06 Oct 11 00:00:00 +0000 The LCMC 11th Annual Gathering concluded in the early afternoon on Wednesday, October 5.

Bible Study Leader Rev. Carl Billings of Discover Church was the first to present on Wednesday morning.

His talk was followed by a presentation by Keynote Speaker Rev. Dr. Gemechis D. Buba, Missions Director of the North American Lutheran Church.

"Buba really set the tone well," commented Robert Thompson, who was in the audience during the morning program.

After a half-hour break, the fourth and final day of the gathering concluded with a closing worship service, during which Rev. Jaynan Clark preached a sermon.

As the festivities in Des Moines came to a close, people were eager to share their feedback on this year's experience with the LCMC staff.

"It's been uplifting," commented Donna Thompson of the 11th Annual Gathering as a whole.

"All in all, I thought it was a positive experience," said Kathy Williams of Minneapolis, who was a first-time attender of the event.  "I thought the speakers were excellent.  I feel inspired, and I feel the need to take that back with me."

"I come to these things to get recharged," said Rev. Mark Schimmel, who is a seasoned participant of LCMC Annual Gatherings.

In addition to inspiration, those who attend also enjoy the opportunity to reunite with old friends and connect with new people.

"I love the camaraderie here.  That's the most important part to me.  It's almost like a big family reunion," Rev. Schimmel said.

AWAKEN Performs at Annual Gathering Wed, 05 Oct 11 00:00:00 +0000 AWAKEN Ministries performance at The PlexAttenders of the Annual Gathering joined together at the Polk County Convention Complex on Tuesday October 4 for dinner and a dramatic performance by AWAKEN Ministries.

The dramatic ministry group, mainly comprised of college students, acts out the story of God to contemporary music.

More unique, the actors of AWAKEN carry out their entire performance without the use of words.

As people piled into the The Plex's auditorium on Tuesday, many had no idea what to expect.

Just before the start of the performance, members of the audience were asked to keep the aisles between seats clear, to take anything that they were handed, and to eat any food they were given.

It was on this note that the presentation began.

While AWAKEN's presentation heavily involved the use of mime, choreographed battles and interactivity with the audience enhanced the experience for those who came to watch.

Also unique to AWAKEN's performance was the use of a character donning a gray shirt, a representation of the viewer and his own struggles in life.

From beginning to end, the focus of the audience was kept not on any single aspect of the performance, but on God Himself.

The drama concluded with a standing ovation from the audience.

Many members of the crowd blotted tears from their cheeks while they cheered.

"I thought it was fantastic," said Theodore Rice, who was in the audience that evening."Everything kept building and building and each scene just fit together."

"It was fabulous," agreed Sharon Rice."The best part was they way they staged the ending and Jesus' resurrection."

Cathy Pannkuk, a first-time attender of the LCMC Annual Gathering, enjoyed the performance as well.


"I thought it was very enjoyable," Pannkuk said."It's amazing how they did it without using words.It's also encouraging to see young people involved in ministry like this.


The performers and crew from AWAKEN also appeared to be fired-up after the performance.

When asked what she enjoys most about being a member of the group, actor Emily Miller said, "I think it's an awesome opportunity to share the Gospel in an unconventional way and to a new audience every single time."

"It was really awesome being here," said Jon Anenson, who formed AWAKEN Ministries in 2005 while working as a member of the staff at Riverside Lutheran Bible Camp in Story City, IA.

Anenson spent eight summers at Riverside, where the mime-style drama began in the 1980s as part of the weekly programming.

He said that his idea to form AWAKEN was a response to the popularity of Riverside's "mime drama" program.

Since the program's beginnings, Anenson reports putting on performances for approximately 13,000 people in 63 venues across four states.

The team is based in Des Moines, Iowa and generally tours the Midwest from February through April, thanks to financial support provided by donors and local congregations.

"Our mission," said Anenson, "is to "AWAKEN" hearts to the story of the Gospel."

Annual Gathering :: Tuesday Highlights Tue, 04 Oct 11 00:00:00 +0000 The 2011 LCMC Annual Gathering continued into Tuesday, October 4 with a full day's worth of programming.

Attenders of the event appeared to be in high spirits throughout the course of the day.

Rev. David Preus and Rev. TJ Anderson addressed the crowd on Tuesday morning.

The day continued with a presentation on international focus efforts and business announcements, followed by the last two time slots for breakout sessions.

Delegates from LCMC congregations met later that afternoon for area caucuses and the election of Board members.

Rev. Becky Lee and Rev. Martha Nelson were both re-elected to the LCMC Board of Trustees for another three year term.

The evening concluded with dinner and dessert at the Polk County Convention Complex, followed by dramatic portrayal of the story of the Gospel by AWAKEN Ministries.

At the end of the evening, Cathy Nichol, LCMC Administrative Assistant, and Sharon MacFadyen, LCMC Director of Operations, reported walk-in registrations for twenty one individuals for the day.

The four-day event will conclude on Wednesday afternoon.

Annual Gathering :: Monday Recap Mon, 03 Oct 11 00:00:00 +0000 The LCMC 11th Annual Gathering continued Monday, October 3 at the Polk County Convention Complex with a full day of music, meetings, presentations and time to socialize.

Social TimeThe registration table opened at 8:00 AM and received approximately 25 walk-ins over the course of the day.

Reverend Elisa Ashley of Redeemer in Mission for Christ and keynote speaker Reverend Greg Ogden of Christ Church addressed the crowd during the morning program.

Attendees were presented with announcements and business information following a 12:00 PM lunch.

The first breakout session of the gathering took place at 4:30 PM and was followed by meetings for various area caucuses.

Annual Gathering participants then met up with others from their respective districts for dinner at 6:00 PM to wrap up the evening.

Annual Gathering :: Sunday Evening Synopsis Sun, 02 Oct 11 00:00:00 +0000 The PlexSunday, October 2 marked the first day of the 2011 Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ Annual Gathering, the eleventh of its kind.

The event, which is being held at the Polk County Convention Complex (The Plex) in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, will take place for three more days, wrapping up on Wednesday afternoon.

Today's festivities began with registration at 4:00 PM, followed by dinner at The Plex.

The evening continued with an opening worship service, which was preached by Reverend Bill Bohline of Hosanna! Lutheran Church.

The evening commenced with desserts and fellowship time at The Plex.

According to Sharon MacFadyen, Director of Operations for LCMC, approximately 1,100 people pre-registered for the Annual Gathering this year.

Sunday Dinner"They were just flying in today," said LCMC Administrative Assistant Cathy Nichol, who helped handle registration for the event.

Nichol reports thirty-eight at-the-door registrations for day one of the gathering.

Day two of the Annual Gathering will begin at 8:00 AM tomorrow and feature singing and Bible study led by Reverend Elisa Ashley, a presentation by keynote speaker Reverend Greg Ogden, and the first installment of the Annual Gathering Breakout Sessions.

Interested in seeing more photos from the 11th Annual Gathering? Click here to view the photo gallery.

Idaho Congregation Invites Local Community to 'Come Grow with Us' Sat, 01 Oct 11 00:00:00 +0000 If you really want to speak effectively to a group of people, it is best to find a common ground of understanding on which you can relate to them.

floatAt least that is what the members of Shepherd of the Falls Lutheran Church thought when they decided to design a float for the American Falls Day Parade, part of an annual county fair and homecoming festival that takes place every August within the tiny farming community of American Falls, Idaho.

When the congregation's steering committee met in July, member Gary Tiede suggested that Shepherd of the Falls get involved in the parade by constructing a float.

The committee agreed on Tiede's suggestion and asked for ideas and input from the church community.

"Being a new LCMC congregation and being a rather small congregation, we really wanted people in the community to know they had another Christian church in town and another option for a Lutheran congregation in which to worship," said Shepherd of the Falls secretary Juanita Burgemeister.

The church agreed on the theme of "Come Grow with Us", which was suggested by 13 year-old Evelyn Bitikofer.

Once the concept was put into play, members of the congregation then needed to decide how best to communicate the idea of growth to the American Falls community.

Members of the congregation donated patio plants for the construction of the float, while the town's local fuel, farm and feed store agreed to let Shepherd of the Falls borrow several potted live trees.

"The idea of "growing" in a farming community is naturally associated with live plants and the color green," explained Burgemeister.

The large wooden cross on the front of the float was made in the spring of 2011 for Shepherd's first Easter Sunrise Service by member Vernon Bethke.

Construction on the float began on a Thursday evening, just two days before the American Falls Day parade was to be held.

"It took about three hours that evening to get the majority of the float built," said Burgemeister."If we came upon the need for a tool we didn't have, someone would call out, 'I've got one. I'll run and get it.' Real teamwork was exhibited. Our congregation worked very closely, sharing and accepting others ideas and skills."

When Saturday morning rolled around, the members at Shepherd piled onto the float, excited to show their idea to the onlookers who lined the streets to watch the American Falls Day Parade.

"As in any parade, many floats throw candy.We were to be no different, but we wanted the candy to be more than just candy, we wanted to share the message," Burgemeister said. "We threw 'scripture' candy to those who lined our streets: hard strawberry creme candy with a scripture on each wrapper."

The parade itself was filled with floats from schools, businesses, and civic service organizations, however Shepherd of the Falls was the only Christian church to enter a float into the parade.

When the parade commenced, compliments poured in from the people of the American Falls community.

According to Burgemeister, one onlooker even commented that if there had been a contest, Shepherd would have won first place.

Ultimately, the members at Shepherd were pleased with the way their float turned out and was received by the local community.

Not only did they feel that their creation turned out colorful, personalized and easily identifiable, the members of Shephard were satisfied with the message that their float communicated, an invitation to "Come Grow with Us--All are Welcome".

"Our first desire was that it would make us, a new congregation, known in the community. Hopefully, those needing a church home or [who were] just were inquisitive, would come, be welcomed, worship, and come to be a believer in Jesus Christ if they didn't already know [Him]."

Photo courtesy of the Power County Press.