From Pastor William D. Leitch

Living Lord Lutheran Church was given a new and exciting focus at our Annual Congregation Meeting on January 28, 2018.  For the past three years, we have been focused on the Shared Ministry with Emmanuel and St. Paul.  That focus made us look at ways to consider our congregations and to investigate how that might look.

The benefit we gained was to introduce ourselves to others and to build relationships that could hopefully help us to move forward together as a larger congregation with the critical mass of members who would then focus on “Growing Young”.  The distracting part of focusing on consolidation was the delay in turning our focus outward and getting trained up to be “Invitational Christians” who would reach out to our unchurched neighbors and find ways to introduce them to God and to build trusting relationships with our friends.

Our Church Council met on February 2, 2018, and formulated a plan for 2018 that would turn us outward and begin to proclaim the Gospel in our community.  This plan begins with training.  Why?  Because we do not invite others into our faith community and that is because we do not know how.  Perhaps you do not think we have anything worth inviting people to our Church, but every Council member has a testimony of what their Committee has been doing that is exciting:

The Parish Education Committee has a summer Vacation Bible School that attracts 35 children – few of whom are members of Living Lord.  The Committee presented a fun and exciting lesson called “Operation Overboard” that was reinforced with skits, dramas, crafts, and, yes, even snacks.  One of our students from last summer ended up presenting the story of Noah to our catechism class this fall.  She took the class deeper than any of the instructors expected her to do – share that!

The Youth and Family Committee has been involved in a cooperative catechism class that has built community among our teens.  In turn, these teens have participated in a Servant Week that has grown to 70 teens and adults serving others in Steubenville, Rogers, Lisbon, and Youngstown – share that and invite others to join us!

The Outreach Committee has a reputation throughout the Mahoning Valley that garnered them a nomination for the Valley Legacy Award.  They bring joy and excitement to the residents at Niles Shepherd of the Valley, serve Community Meals at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, distribute food baskets twice a year that help your friends and neighbors in need, coordinate and deliver school supplies for children, and it doesn’t stop there.  The Committee shows up in force during VBS to lead the children, connect with the parents, and invite those parents into VBS to help and engage – share that with others!

The Worship Committee has prepared us to worship with excellence.  They model a community that values the gifts and talents of every member.  All those who usher, lecture, assist in worship and communion, prepare the altar, bake bread, fold the bulletins, sing, play bells, play the organ, greet, and welcome everyone; touch the lives of everyone who worships.  Those who do assist in these ways do so with joy – invite and train others to share in this joy!

The Later Life Committee touches the lives of every member of our congregation.  They have been there to comfort those in sickness, in grief, and in loneliness.  They have also lifted up and celebrated our joys, and have invited all of us to participate in the comfort and celebration of others.  They have knit us together as a family who cares for one another – share that with others!

Our Fellowship Committee has been in general support of every ministry in our congregation.  They are the ones who provide the hospitality and the opportunity to break bread together – or cookies, pumpkin rolls, and coffee.  Just like Outreach backs up VBS, Fellowship backs up every ministry.  They are like the glue that binds us together – share that!

Our Property Committee is the most highly functioning property team I have ever witnessed – and that is saying a lot.  Several years ago, the Committee formulated a wish list to make improvements in efficiency, appearance, cleanliness, security, and the desires and needs of our entire congregation.  Seventy-two projects were prioritized and most have been completed.  Completed because the priority process brought the least expensive projects that could be completed with our own skills to the top.  The Fuchs Memorial Fund Committee has helped to knock out other projects for which we needed funding above and beyond our budget.  All this results in a church that looks lived in and cared for.  Yes, the Committee is also in general support of our congregation, and you have also supported and joined the team in projects such as the Spring Planting.

The condition of our church is welcoming to all with whom we share it:  Card Classes, AA, Life Line Screening, Sewing Guild, Cooperative Catechism, voters, and members who celebrate events in our Fellowship Hall – share this!

Finally, our Evangelism/Membership Committee is relieved to witness a congregation who is ready to focus outward.  The Evangelism Committee will focus on training this year and will sustain that training in the future.  First, we will focus on “Growing Young”.  Growing our congregation young has been the number one objective that every small group has voiced as a priority in our small group discussions.  In order to do that, we need to learn how.  Every Wednesday evening during the season of Lent, we will present what “Growing Young” can look like.  This series will begin on Ash Wednesday, February 14, at 7:00 pm at St. Paul.  There are six sessions.  I will also record these presentations to be shown to everyone who must work or cannot attend one of the sessions.  Thankfully, we have been in this Shared Ministry and have been able to share information and resources that have opened our eyes.  Dr. Andrea Hall will present the first three sessions.  Dr. Hall has her doctorate in Christian Education and is practiced at presenting the “Growing Young” series.  We would never have made this connection without our relationship with St. Paul.  We will continue to find ways to do cooperative ministry that will help both our congregations “Grow Young”.

I will present to the Council a series called “The Invitational Christian”.

I will also lead training on Evangelism and Stewardship on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 to 8:30 pm on Feb. 27, Mar. 6, 13, and 27 at St. John Lutheran Church, 1200 Mahoning Avenue, Youngstown.  This is one of six sessions that the Eastern Conference Ministries Studies Program offers for all our congregations.  I also record these and put these on YouTube.  Please let me know if you can attend these classes.

So this is what is happening in your neck of the woods.  Now, let’s learn how to share it and how to become effective “Invitational Christians”.

Blessings,
Pr. Bill

 

Church Information…Please remember that you can obtain church information from the monthly Lamplighter Newsletter, the Constant Contact emails you receive, on the church website (www.lllc.org), on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Living-Lord-Lutheran-Church-493806727349110/), and postings on the church bulletin board.  Church Council Meeting minutes are posted on the bulletin board and sent out via Constant Contact.  We would like to see a better “open rate” when we send information to you via Constant Contact so that we know you are being informed of the activities that are occurring at the church.  If you have any other suggestions on how best to reach out to our parishioners, please see a Council member.

 

Seeking the Fountain of Youth…It is no secret that the culture in North America is going through a massive shift, and it is no secret that this shift is having a tremendous impact on the church.  With every major denomination (and churches in no denomination at all) in steady decline, churches are wondering about their ability to survive.  In particular, churches long to see more young people walk through their doors, but young people today just don’t seem interested, and most churches have no idea where to start.  The future seems unsure, at best, and downright depressing, at worst.

Yet amid these grim statistics, there are churches that are beating the odds.  That is why the folks at Fuller Theological Seminary decided to research churches that were “growing young” (that is, churches whose average age was decreasing or holding steady).  They wanted to determine what, if anything, these churches had in common.  Was it denominational affiliation (or lack thereof)?  Was it location?  A “contemporary” worship service?  The size of the congregation?  A young, hip pastor?

You might be surprised to learn that they found that none of these factors were particularly significant.  In fact, time and again, they found churches of every denomination, size, geographic location, and worship style that were able to grow young.  Through their research, the team identified six core commitments that every “growing young” church embodied.

During Wednesdays in Lent, we are going to examine each of these six commitments in the hopes of sparking some conversation about how we might begin to help young people discover and love our churches.  The last three strategies will be discussed as follows:

  • March 7 – Fueling a Warm Community
  • March 14 – Prioritizing Young People (and Families) Everywhere
  • March 21 – Being the Best Neighbors

Please join us at St. Paul on each of these days.  We will gather for a soup supper at 6:00 pm and then at 7:00 pm for a worship service where we will explore these themes.

Growing young can be a difficult process.  It requires some change and a whole lot of faith to step out and embark on something new.  But, it is necessary if the church is going to thrive amid the changing cultural tides.  And, more importantly, it is necessary if we want a new generation to know and follow Jesus.  While many things have changed, some things have not:  Jesus is still the only one who has defeated sin and death, he is still calling his children to follow him, and he is still calling his church to go and make disciples.  Join us as we talk about the ways in which we can embrace our role in God’s mission in the world – even if that world is a bit different than the one we used to know.  Andrea Ceplecci Hall  (Andrea Ceplecci Hall was baptized, confirmed, and married at St. Paul.  She has a Master’s degree in theology from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and a Doctorate in Educational Ministry from Columbia Theological Seminary.  She is married to Rev. Dr. Sean Hall, and they live in Greenville, PA, where Sean is the pastor at Hillside Presbyterian Church.)

 

Praying Together During Lent…Our PRAYER EMPHASIS for March is “Growing Young”.  Will you pray for youth and young families, especially those in our churches?

WEDNESDAY EVENINGS DURING LENT:  The Worship Committee at St. Paul is preparing a Service of Preaching and Teaching called “Growing Young Presentation and Prayer”.  The 7:00 pm prayer service will include song, scripture, prayers, and a key presentation.  Come learn and worship!  Everyone is also welcome to the Soup Suppers which begin at 6:00 pm each Wednesday.

From the President, Bob McKinney

I want to thank everyone who attended our Annual Congregation Meeting on January 28.  It is so important for all of us to be involved in the business of our church.  We had our Council Retreat on Friday, February 2, from 9:00 am to 1:30 pm.  I want to thank Pastor Bill and Nancy Walters for the great breakfast.  As you heard from Pastor Bill, we had a good meeting with lots of good ideas brought up and discussed, including ways to grow our church and presence in our community.  Working together as members of Living Lord Lutheran Church we should have no problem moving our church in the right direction.  Another topic that was brought up was information flow from Council and Committee Chairpersons to our members.  We will do our best to get information out in a timely manner.  Each Council Chairperson will give a verbal or written report during all regular Council Meetings which will be included in the Council Minutes.  When the minutes are completed, they will be sent via Constant Contact to each member who has provided us with an email address and posted on the main bulletin board.  Any other important information or meetings will also be sent via Constant Contact to each member.  Please remember all church business reports are posted on the bulletin board in the narthex.  One last topic that was discussed during our meeting was the issue of same sex marriage.  Our intended goal will be to gather as much information as we can and get that information out to our members.  We will set up one or two Town Hall meetings in the fall to discuss our options.  Then the matter will be on the agenda for our Annual Meeting in January 2019.  In closing, I again want to thank everyone for your help to me as President of Council during 2017.  I look forward to forging a new path for Living Lord Lutheran Church during this year.

From the Fellowship Committee Chairperson, Nancy Walters

Spring is almost here, I keep telling myself.  So several committees have been working in the church doing some early spring cleaning.  The kitchen was no exception.  I needed to clean out some items that I do not believe have been used for many years.  February was a busy month.  We had fellowship on February 11 after both services enjoying some Valentine treats.  On February 25 we hosted a reception in honor of the Bishop following the service.  Thank you to all who helped, baked, cooked, served, and/or cleaned up.  So much food, so little time!

Lenten Soup Suppers…In March, Living Lord Lutheran Church needs to provide food for the Soup Suppers on March 7 and 14 at St. Paul Lutheran Church.  Each time, we need four pots of soup, salad, and desserts.  There will be a sign-up sheet on the main bulletin board.

Easter Breakfast…On Easter Sunday, April 1, we will have an Easter Breakfast between services.  Everything will be provided by the Fellowship Committee.  There will be a sign-up sheet just to get a head count.  If you have any ideas on a theme or what could be provided, please call me or leave a message in my mailbox.  We will try our best to make it happen.

From the Later Life Committee, Member Lynne Walters

Card Class…Join us for a card-making class on Thursday, March 8, in the Activity Room.  We will be making 4 cards.  Our theme will be “Fantastic Folds for Spring/Easter”.  Classes will be at 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm.  The cost is $12.00.  Please bring adhesives like double-stick tape and liquid glue.  There is a sign-up sheet on the bulletin board.  The deadline for signing up is Sunday, March 4.  St. Paul members are welcome to join us – call Lynne Walters to get signed up!

From the Outreach Committee Chairperson, Judy Shaffer

Bingo at NSOV Update…The Outreach Committee would like to thank everyone who donated items and/or assisted with the Bingo at Niles Shepherd of the Valley on February 21.  The residents had a wonderful time!

Easter Food Baskets…We will begin collecting food for the Easter Food Baskets on Sunday, March 4.  The last day to bring in items will be Sunday, March 18.  A chart will be in the hallway for items to bring.  If you know anyone in the church or anyone in need, please call or email the Parish Office (330-856-5302 or secretary@lllc.org) to order your food basket by Friday, March 9.  We will pack and distribute the baskets on Wednesday, March 28, beginning at 9:00 am.  Pickup will be from 10:00 am until 12:00 noon.  No deliveries.  There will be envelopes to donate for the purchase of hams available at the food chart in the hallway.  Please mark “Easter Food Baskets” in the memo portion of your check made payable to Living Lord Lutheran Church.  You may also place your check in the collection plate.  If you have any questions, please contact the Parish Office.

From the Parish Education Committee, Member Pat Was

On March 4 the Adult Forum will continue reviewing the Ray Vander Laan series “Path to the Cross”.  The remaining five sessions before Easter will follow the path of Christ leading up to the Passover and concluding with the Last Supper.  Mr. Vander Laan is an extraordinary teacher and historian who guides us through the Holy Land with geographical and cultural detail.  Those looking for a meaningful Lenten experience should take the time to bring a friend and join us on Sunday morning.

From the Property Committee Chairperson, Rolland Walters

Wi-Fi has been installed in all areas of the church.  Thanks to my son, Brad, for doing the installation.  Please see Pastor Bill or a member of Council for the guest password.  The Property Committee is going room to room and closet to closet to eliminate unneeded and unused items.  This will free up space for storage for the various committees.  The Property Committee will meet on March 19 at 6:00 pm.  All are invited to attend.

From the Larry L. Maggiano, M.D., Memorial Scholarship Fund Chairperson, Lorraine Bell

Scholarship Fund Challenge…Due to a generous gift by the family of Larry L. Maggiano, the Larry L. Maggiano, M.D., Memorial Scholarship Fund was created.  In order for a named fund to be created, a gift of at least $20,000.00 must be received.  That gift is invested, administered by the Scholarship Board, and proceeds from that fund are used each year to award scholarships.  In order to grow the principal of the fund, you are asked to help.  Envelopes are available for donations to the fund in the basket on the shelf under the bulletin board in the main hallway.  Your donation will be invested with the principal.  You may place your check in the offering plate or mail it to the church office made payable to Living Lord Lutheran Church with the notation “Maggiano Scholarship Fund” in the memo portion.  The family of Larry Maggiano has issued a challenge to each of you.  Each dollar you contribute to the fund, the family will match up to $1,000.00.  The generosity of the Maggiano family and your generosity in making this opportunity available for the young people of our congregation are greatly appreciated.  Thank you for your support.  If you have any questions, please contact any member of the Committee:  Lorraine Bell, Ronda Leitch, and Jo Maggiano.

Scholarship Applications…Attention High School seniors and current college students:  Applications and stipulations for the Larry L. Maggiano, M.D., Memorial Scholarship are available in the Parish Office.  Completed forms must be returned by Sunday, April 29, 2018.  Please direct any questions that you may have to Lorraine Bell.

From the Worship Committee Chairperson, Jan Was

Easter Flowers…The sign-up sheet for ordering Easter flowers is on the main bulletin board.  We need 17 lilies donated in order to complete the cross arrangement that we usually put up.  The lilies are $8.50 each.  Hyacinths and tulips are $8.00 each.  Your flowers are to be paid for when ordering.  You may put your check, made payable to Living Lord Lutheran Church and marked “Easter Flowers” in the memo portion, in the offering plate or mail it to the church office.  The last day for ordering your Easter flowers is Sunday, March 18.

Lent Boxes…The proceeds from the Lent Boxes will be given to Camp Frederick for the Grief Camp.  The Lent Boxes will be collected on Palm Sunday, March 20.

Organ Concert…An organ concert featuring all aspects of organ repertoire such as Bach, Mendelssohn, Boëllmann, Franck, and Hindemith will be held at Living Lord Lutheran Church on Sunday, March 11, at 4:00 pm.  Organists are Dylan Sanzenbacher and Chase Castle.  Dylan Sanzenbacher, a native of Warren, Ohio, is a sophomore Music Education major at Baldwin Wallace University Conservatory of Music in Berea.  In his time at BW, he has studied piano with Dr. Sungeun Kim, and organ and harpsichord with Professor Nicole Keller.  He is currently employed as organist at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Elyria, Ohio.  He has performed in master classes and Brownbag concerts at Trinity Cathedral and Baldwin Wallace University’s Lindsay-Crossman Chapel with Todd Wilson.  Dylan enjoys accompanying the Howland Middle School Solo and Ensemble contests, accompanying Mrs. Nancy Moore’s Warren Civic Chorus Children’s Choir, and substitute playing organ for Living Lord Lutheran Church and his home church, St. Mark Lutheran Church, both in Warren, Ohio.  Dylan loves spending time with his family, reading, cooking, and learning about his family history and their impact on the Canfield/Warren area.  Chase Castle is an active organist and collaborative musician from Norwalk, Ohio.  Chase studies music history and organ performance with Nicole Keller at Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music in Berea, Ohio.  He is on faculty at Far Around Recording in Norwalk, Ohio, as a keyboard instructor and serves as Director of Music at Church of the Epiphany in Euclid, Ohio.  Chase enjoys exploring all aspects of organ repertoire, with particular emphasis on ethnomusicological and world music compositions.  Chase has performed in master classes with Todd Wilson, Marie-Louise Langlais, and James David Christie.  He has played concerts in Ohio, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Florida, Mississippi, and Kansas.  Chase spent summer 2017 as the resident organist and choirmaster of the Squirrel Island Chapel in Squirrel Island, Maine.  He enjoys collaborating with other artists and musicians and promoting diverse artistic projects.

From the Parish Nurse, Dora Muller

“Be happy…not because everything is good, but because you can see the good in everything.”

The signs of spring are just around the corner.  To renew and energize is a good thing.  However, with our daily life struggles, it can be difficult to focus on our mental well-being.  We can examine a few strategies to improve our mental health.  For example, do you wake up looking forward to your new day?  Do you take the time to recognize what you are grateful for each night?  Do you have at least two friends outside of your immediate family who you feel free to talk with about anything?  Those questions are well known to those who search for mindfulness and inner peace.  Let’s analyze the meaning of “looking forward to your day with a goal” when we wake up every day.  It can be as simple as enjoying a cup of coffee, inhaling the fresh air, taking a walk, admiring the neighborhood, or rediscovering your community.  My husband and I enjoy hiking downtown in Packard Park along the Mahoning River or in Mosquito Lake State Park.  These walks are one way we reconnect with our community.  When the weather is nice, it is easy to participate in outdoor activities.  However, even when the weather is not great, one can participate in activities such as reading a book, involving oneself in hobbies such as watercolor painting or crossword puzzles.  By being grateful for each little blessing helps us to feel positive energy and look forward to a better future.  Having friends is vital as we are social beings in need of social interaction.  Loneliness, especially among the elderly, can lead to physical and/or mental pain.  Cultivating friendships is essential because when we share our lives, we can find happiness and support in the moment of need.  My advice is to be grateful, count your blessings, enjoy the beauty of life, appreciate the colors of the season, find a reason for waking up, and tomorrow start all over again.