FROM THE PASTORS

From Pastor William D. Leitch… The gospel texts during the month of October speak about preparation, being ready, and having no excuses.  OK, the “no excuses” part is how I interpret the results in the text when we come up short.  Still, “come up short” we will.  Yet, Jesus tells us not to worry about coming up short, but rather work hard, stay focused, look ahead, learn from your mistakes, make corrections, care for those around you, bring them along with you, train them up, work together, get better, never quit, and love your neighbor as yourself.

OK, after that long “to do list”, my head is spinning!  But doesn’t our work in the church seem busy and chaotic at times?  Yet, I find it exciting and a blessing.

As I write this today, I also promised to consolidate information collected by our three congregational property committees about our buildings.  I owe that to the ad hoc Building Committee represented by the three congregations by 4:00 pm today.  Next, I have already sent out information to our families with students in the 8th through 12th grades concerning the National Youth Gathering in Houston June 27 through July 1, 2018.  We need to commit right now to that endeavor so we can get travel deals and reduced early fees.  Next, I have two Board of Directors meetings this week, along with Shared Ministry and ad hoc committee meetings.  Oh yes, it is my turn to teach catechism this Sunday night.  Oh, did I mention that Camp Frederick is having the Fall Festival on Sunday from 2:00 to 5:00 pm before catechism class at 5:30 pm?  I am in charge of parking.  This will be my quiet time as I simply point, direct, smile, and greet people.

Jesus says take on my yoke and I will make your burdens light.  I believe that!  And with Jesus and the entire Body of Christ, we can move mountains as we pull together in the same direction and with the same purpose.

I pray that there will be a record number of youth and adults, 40,000, show up in Houston to work, worship, change people’s lives, and celebrate Christ together.  The theme for the NYG is “This Changes Everything”.  It will!

I pray that as we learn more about each of our congregations that we also will see opportunities to “Focus on God” that will excite us and bless us.

I pray that as we move forward that we give thanks for what God has given us and grieve gracefully those things that we will miss and give God the glory for what God is giving us renewed.

 

October 7 Retreat…It’s a time for all of us to go deeper into our faith.  Our Council, along with our Shared Ministry Team, have also decided to take our congregations into a conversation that will focus on our future.  Our desire is that we intentionally and collectively look at who we are and how God is calling us now.

We will have a one-day retreat on Saturday, October 7, at St. Paul beginning at 9:30 am.  Everyone is encouraged to attend.  There are three different five minute informative DVD presentations followed by discussions.  This retreat will prepare us for six Sundays of discussions during sermon time.  We pray that you can share with others pertinent things that we need to consider in future decisions that others have not witnessed.

If you cannot attend the retreat, I strongly encourage you to attend the Adult Forum which began on September 10.  Pat Was will be leading a six session class on how to listen to God that later moves us to how then to speak.

We have collected real data about our congregation, our building, the building plans that were considered over ten years ago, and we hope to learn more from each of you that may open our eyes to the opportunities to which God would lead us.

Living Lord has shrunk from 465 members in 2010 to 250 members by the end of 2017.  It “seems” that we are relatively strong in spite of this shrinkage, but the reality is we will not be able to sustain our congregation in 5-10 years at this rate.

Although consolidation can extend our life, we also need to have a focus on God that will spread the Gospel and grow the church.  During our August Council Meeting, we had a practice discussion about what consolidation might look like.  We realized that there will be loss and grieving.  We will need to be sensitive to this.  We also realized that there are God Focuses that we can work toward even now.  Kara Busefink and Stacey Stredney led us on a discussion that brought us great encouragement.  We plan to have a youth lock-in to hear the voice of our youth and their parents.

 

Joint Reformation Service…We will have a Joint Reformation Service at St. Paul on October 29 at 10:30 am.  THERE WILL BE NO SERVICES AT LIVING LORD OR EMMANUEL ON THIS DATE.

 

Sign Language Classes…American Sign Language Classes will be held at Living Lord for adults and children (great for hard of hearing folks, too).  Classes will be held on Oct. 11 & 25, Nov. 8, 15, & 29, and Dec. 13.  Classes run from 6:00 to 8:00 pm and the cost is $75.00.  Please contact Pam Beish at pamelabeish302@gmail.com or at 330-646-1637 if you are interested in taking these classes.

 

From Pastor Ann Marie Winters… This is an exciting time to be the church!  We have the challenge before us to “Fan the Flame” of the spark that God has planted in us.  The groundwork for this will be done in a morning retreat on October 7.  Any member who would like to look at their discipleship (following Jesus in the world) will want to attend.  Also, at the retreat we will sample the discussion process that we will all experience together on Sunday mornings in the “Fanning the Flame” series at St. Paul and Living Lord.  You will find the scriptures and questions for each week later in this newsletter, if you want to pray and study and prepare at home.  The series begins October 8.

Our three congregations in the Shared Ministry are in the process of sharing information in three ad hoc committees about our buildings, finances, and envisioning mission.  We are exploring what it might be like if we joined together into a brand new consolidated church.  There will be a packet of information given to each member in early November that will share whatever information we have collected so far.  Then on December 3 we will have individual town hall meetings for Q & A.  On January 7 we will have a joint town hall at St. Paul at 1:00 pm for more Q &A for all members.  Letters were sent to your homes with this information.  In late January, each congregation will have a yes/no vote on gathering more information.  REMEMBER THAT THIS IS GETTING YOUR PERMISSION FOR DEVELOPING A CONSOLIDATION PLAN – NOT YET A VOTE ON DOING A CONSOLIDATION.

In the midst of our renewal and planning for a future, we are celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation on October 29.  It is St. Paul’s turn to host a Joint Festival Worship at 10:30 am.  I think Dr. Luther is smiling to see us “renewing” and “re-forming”, whatever that will mean for us in the 21st century.

May blessings abound on you and yours,
Pastor Ann Marie Winters

 

“FANNING THE FLAME” RETREAT – OCTOBER 7, 2017
9:30 – 11:30 am
ST. PAUL LUTHERAN CHURCH

Why are we “Fanning the Flame”?  God gives us a spark of life as Christians, and to grow we need to fan the flame of our calling.

Who should participate?  As many members as possible!  Everyone’s voice is important as we look at the future mission of our church.

Group leaders:  Council members and others will serve as discussion leaders for the series in October/November, and this Retreat will give you the preparation you need to lead others.

Please sign up in the narthex so we know how many materials to prepare.

This morning Retreat will be in three parts:

Part One provides three brief (5 minute) DVD presentations followed by small group discussions.

WHY DO WE FOLLOW JESUS?

  1. The purpose of discipleship – Being transformed
  2. Taking God’s love into the world
  3. Lutherans are church for the sake of the world

 

Part Two prepares us for the October/November Sunday church series, Fanning the Flame, “WHAT IS GOD’S DREAM FOR THE CHURCH?”  The renewal series of October/November prepares us to discern God’s dream for the church.

How will our small groups function?

What is the leader’s role?

One-on-ones

 

Part Three is a practice session from the “Fanning the Flame” series.

Hear the Scripture:  Exodus 3:1-12 LISTEN

One-on-one discussion and group feedback

How does your church need God’s help?

How do you need God’s help?

 

“Preparing for the Renewal of our Church”
We are planning a renewal series to begin in October.  You can prepare by reading the following scriptures and asking these sorts of questions…

October 8, The Burning Bush (Exodus 3:1-12) LISTEN

How does your church need God’s help?  How do you need God’s help?

 

October 15, The Valley of Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14) LOOK

What looks “dry” in your congregation?  What new life do you seek from God?

 

October 22, Jesus Sends out 70 Disciples (Luke 10:1-24) RESPOND

Where is God sending your congregation?  How is your congregation responding to Jesus’ call?

 

(October 29, 500th Anniversary of the Reformation – Joint Festival Worship at St. Paul at 10:30 am)

 

November 5, Finding the Lost (Luke 15) FORGIVE

Who is “lost” in your community?  To whom is God calling your congregation to announce God’s gracious forgiveness?

 

November 12, The Great Commandment (Matthew 22:34-40) LOVE

How does your congregation love God?  How do the disciples in your neighborhood love their neighbors?

 

November 19, The Great Commission (Matthew 28) GO

What is the risen Lord Jesus commanding your congregation to do?

 

Praying with you and for you,
Pastor Ann Marie Winters

 

REFORMATION 500TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION:
DVD Course discussion “Lunch with Luther” Sunday noontime
8 weeks, Sept. 3 to Oct. 22
Seminary teachers make topics accessible to laity; hosted at St. Paul for Trumbull Area Lutherans; bring a brown bag lunch; drinks provided

DVD Course Description – Luther’s Legacy for Laity:  Martin Luther’s legacy is a rich treasure for all Christians, but particularly for lay people.  Luther, through the doctrines of justification, freedom of the Christian, bondage of the will, and vocation, provides Christians with an understanding of what God has done for us and what God wants to do through us for the sake of the neighbor.  All the big questions of faith and life are found in the abundance of Reformation theology.  These theologians shape how Christians view their place in the world.  These presentations were filmed live at the Lay School of Ministry in the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin, ELCA.  This 8-week course will have a DVD presentation and discussion totaling 90 minutes each Sunday.  Come to one or all sessions.  Please reserve a place by calling Lynn Golen at St. Paul Lutheran Church at 330-394-5741.  All are welcome!

Movie:  “Martin Luther:  The Idea that Changed the World”
Tuesday, October 24, 7:30 pm
Special showing for area Lutherans at Tinseltown, Southern Park Mall (Youngstown)

Shared Ministry Joint Worship
Sunday, October 29, 10:30 am
At St. Paul Lutheran Church; finger food reception in Cassel Hall following worship

Anniversary of the Reformation
Sunday, October 29, 6:00 pm
At St. Columba Cathedral, Youngstown, Catholic-Lutheran Ecumenical Evening Prayer