September 2016 Note from Pastor Dave

A note of appreciation to all the persons who participated in the Ministry Site Profile (MSP) surveys that were available after two worship services. The five MSP Task Force members combined all the opinions and have produced several summary pages. For those interested in looking at the summary pages of the raw data, they will be available on the tables at the entrance to the worship area. For those persons interested in a condensed interpretation of the data, continue reading.

There were 39 survey packets turned in with responses on at least some of the pages. There were 27 sheets of page 4 that had one or more hand written comments and another 12 sheets that contained no responses at all regarding the top priorities for the pastor to focus on for the first year of ministry and also what congregational members would do to help the new pastor focus on those ministries. At a total of 39 surveys, the packets reflect the opinions of a limited number of members in the congregation. Some of those opinions converge in agreement and others point in different directions. In other words, we will need to acknowledge that we are individuals and yet we need to work together, not for our own goals, but for the goals that will help in achieving ministry through the congregation.

The opinions of survey participants show the majority agreeing that the perceived critical tasks for the pastor during the first year are youth ministry, worship, pastoral care and visitation, and building a sense of community. There was also an interest in the pastor being an effective communicator and helping people develop their spiritual life. There is much ministry to be done, and in order to accomplish it, the members of the congregation will need to work together with each other and participate in a variety of activities.

Please be in prayer that the guidance of the Holy Spirit will be felt and will lead the decisions of all the many people that will be involved in the call process.

Pastor Dave

August 2016 Note From Pastor Dave

More than a few decades ago and across this nation on the West coast, public schools did not start until the Tuesday after Labor Day and did not get out for the summer until in June. So school starting in August and especially early in August does seem strange. Things that are not part of our experiences seem a little strange and at times foreign or even wrong just because they are different from our background.

Roman Catholic friends of ours became God parents to a baby girl some decades ago. The child grew up and recently got married in Indonesia (the homeland of her parents). Included in all the festivities was the wearing of tradition wedding apparel which was not in the style of United States apparel. The God parents were invited and traveled to Indonesia and were furnished with traditional wearing apparel. The pictures of the God parents showed them looking far different than normal, but they did it out of love for their God child. Because of our love of God, there will be times, when we will need to show our love by better understanding how people different from us are still God’s children and live different lives than we think. People receiving welfare cash assistance are not necessarily lazy slobs, but may have been laid off from their work. In fact in the 20 years since States started receiving cash welfare money in block grants, many States have used much of that federal taxpayer money for other actions. In Michigan part of the welfare money is used to fund grants to help pay for tuition at private colleges of even middle income students. People with criminal records may have made one mistake and that was being in a car with someone else when the car was stopped and drugs were found in the car. What is it like to be a police officer? What is it like to have people treat you differently simply because you are short, or over weight or your skin is a different color or any number of other “differences” that set you apart from others?

The apostles were a different group of people even as we think they were all from the same area. Simon the Zealot (a patriot of Israel) was not likely to think kind thoughts about his fellow apostle Matthew who had been collecting taxes and handing them over to the occupying Romans. Somehow with Jesus’ love they were able to work together and in their situation to even travel together to accomplish what was their ministry for their time and place. May we see not differences that separate us but the love of God that brings us together.

Pastor Dave’s Comments

One of the many steps involved in calling a pastor, is completing a Ministry Site Profile (MSP). The MSP is about the ministry of the congregation and the context in which that ministry takes place. There are questions that need to be answered by members of the congregation regarding what types of ministry would seem to be the most important for the congregation as a whole to be involved in with the new pastor. The five member MSP Task Force will be announcing in the coming weeks the Sundays on which surveys will be available for members of the congregation to complete to help provide data in the MSP. Watch for announcements in the bulletin.

These surveys will ask for your impressions about the congregation and will also be asking what abilities a pastor needs to have to serve the needs of the congregation. The idea is for you to think beyond your individual perspective and preferences to think what would help the ministry of the whole congregation. Additionally, we need to realize that the society around us has changed and therefore what was needed may no longer work well. In the 1950s congregations would form by building a building. Now it takes the individual evangelism of the members inviting persons to participate in some aspect of the ministry of the congregation.

Pastor Dave’s Comments for June 2016

The days of summer vacation will soon be here, but some are already on their summer break, at least local students are on summer break. Some youth from Zion are going to participate in June in the Southeastern Synod’s annual Affirm event which should be fun and inspiring. Some families will take summer vacation trips that hopefully will be fun and relaxing. Summertime is a change of pace for some people and for others their routine continues on unchanged or only changed slightly.

For the congregation there will be some slight changes and there will be some significant temporary changes as in the case of providing a Vacation Bible School program for the first full week in June. The ministry of a congregation may change at times from the hectic-ness (and sometimes hectic mess) of Holy Week to a more relaxed schedule in the summertime (but only after VBS is accomplished). Yet there is always ministry to do and there is always the need for disciples supporting the ministries of the congregation with their presence, their abilities, their prayers, and their financial resources. There is no break from maintaining the facilities of a congregation even when members are absent from worship, whether it is winter or summer or at any time of year. So remember that even when you are away from worship because of vacation, work, illness, or any other reason, your congregation needs your continued financial support.

Pastor Dave

Pastor Dave’s Thoughts for May 2016

Living is a serious matter and so is the need for some humor to help bring some joy to our living. Comic strips bring humor and also sometimes carry a point. The April 17, 2016 edition of the Savannah Morning News contained Sunday comics and on page 4G in the upper right corner was the man Brutus walking and meeting the little neighbor girl Hurricane. She asks where he is going and he says to the public library and invites her to come along. She says yes and then explains why she loves to go to the library by saying “They have computers you can use. They have concerts and show movies ..and they have tons of DVDs and CDs you can borrow.”

Brutus responds, “Yes, they do. Times certainly have changed! Would you believe when I was your age, libraries didn’t offer any of those things!” The little girl’s response was “Really? Then what did you go to the library for?” You could supply the answer to the young girl’s question, but what if Brutus was going to church? Times certainly have changed for libraries and also for congregations.

Today libraries continue to share knowledge not just through books but also through the use of computers and DVDs and get people into the building through movies and other events. Today congregations still have the task of increasing the spiritual awareness of individuals who come through their doors, but times have changed and how we share a spiritual awareness is also changing. Individual Christians need to be able explain to others why there still is meaning and purpose in entering through the doors of a church to worship within the community of faith. Think about and be prepared to answer the question ”Why do you go to worship?”

Pastor Dave

April Update from Pastor Dave

The Easter season of the church year has arrived early this year with Easter Sunday occurring and there are still four more days before April even begins. The festival nature of Easter Sunday is a joyous celebration giving us hope for eternal life with God coincidentally fostered in the Northern Hemisphere by the budding and blooming of spring. Sometimes Christians get so focused on the promise of heaven for them as an individual that they are of little help on earth. Christian faith is more than receiving through faith in God’s grace eternal salvation. Christian disciples are given new life here on earth to make a difference in the world around them. It is like those dormant plants that when spring arrives they are the same plants, but they do SHOW a difference as spring arrives and they grow during the year. Consider the words of 2 Corinthians 5:17 “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything has become new!” Let us celebrate the hope of the resurrection to eternal life with God as we work together to share the message of the Good News of God’s love for this world* and the difference it makes in our daily living.

Pastor Dave

March Pastor Message

Opportunity is about to knock. Will you consider responding to the knock? Specifically to the opportunity to invite people to Easter Sunday because it is seen as a “special Sunday.” A Sunday that people find is easier to come to even though the resurrection of Christ is celebrated on all the other Sundays during the year. Who do you know that does not participate in the ministry of another congregation? If you do not know, this is an opportunity to give an invitation and find out if they indicate they participate in a congregation. As part of the invitation offer to give them a ride or to meet them outside the church building at a certain time. Invitations can be extended to neighbors, relatives, coworkers, and people who belong to another group that you both participate in such as a scout group. Do consider in the coming weeks who you will invite to Easter Sunday worship, March 27th.

Pastor Dave

Interim Pastor Dave Rasmussen’s Comments

Pastor Dave Rasmussen
Pastor Dave Rasmussen

The words “Pastor Dave” may sound like you have heard them before and that is possible        because for 30+ years I served as Pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran in Garden City and recently served as an interim  pastor at Jerusalem Lutheran at Ebenezer. There is also the possibility that “Pastor Dave” sounds familiar because Pastor Dave Hendrix served in     Effingham County at the Clyo Parish and has retired and lives in  Effingham County.

During the coming months, I hope to learn your names as we work together to carry on the ministry of Zion Lutheran and to do the difficult work of seeking what ministries God would have this congregation aim to accomplish. Let us all seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit through intentional prayer, respectful conversations, and thoughtful consideration of this congregation’s potential ministries that can utilize the abilities and resources of disciples within the congregation.

An interim pastor is like a called pastor in that an interim pastor   functions as a preacher, pastoral care giver, and organizational leader etc.,  but within a temporary time line. What is also different is that my wife, Frances and I have a home in Chatham County and I have a study in our home in Chatham County and that is where I will be spending  time preparing for Sunday worship and other tasks.  I am usually available through phone calls to the home number 232.6215 or (cell) 596.5466.

I look forward to working with you to accomplish Our Lord’s ministry as we begin this New Year of 2016.

 

Pastor Dave

 

(There will be a reception to welcome Pastor Dave following the January 3rd worship service. Please plan to attend and thank him for serving as Zion’s interim pastor.)

 

A Farewell Blessing from Pastor Barb…

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The dawn of a New Year is always a time of endings and beginnings, as one year ends, and we look forward to the new.  It is a time of introspection and anticipation, all mixed up    together.   That is what this New Year has been like for Bob and me – a time of introspection and anticipation, all mixed up together.

The decision to leave Zion was not made lightly.  Although there were financial concerns, that was not the only factor in my decision.  Pastors are always evaluating their ministry, always asking the Lord       for guidance as to whether they are in the place that God would have them be. Congregations, too, in order to be good stewards of the ministry they have been given, need to be about the work of self-evaluation.

Discernment is an ongoing process that both pastors and congregations must always be about, if we are to follow the Spirit’s leading and God’s will for our lives and work.  So, while I would have liked to have stayed at Zion until I retired, obviously, God had other plans, or it wouldn’t all have worked out as it did!  So, while Bob and I look forward to the new call that God has placed on our hearts, we are sad at the same time, as we will miss all of you.

Bishop Gordy has asked Pastor Dave Rasmussen to be the Interim Pastor at Zion, and I am glad to know he has accepted that call.  As he says in his comments to you, he has a long history of ministry in this area, and he is well prepared to lead you through the process of finding a new pastor. I am glad to leave Zion in such good hands.

In order that Zion may focus on its future with a new pastor, I will not be available for any pastoral care or ministries, such as weddings, baptisms, funerals, hospital/home visitations, or pastoral counseling. I will refer all such requests to the care of Zion’s Interim, Pastor Dave, and the next pastor called to serve, with thanks for thinking of me.

Saint Paul writes in his letter to the church at Philippi, “I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:3–6  That is my hope and prayer for you, too.

It has been an honor and a joy to serve God along side the people of Zion Lutheran Church.  Many fond memories go with me, and I pray only the best for you all.  May God bless you in the New Year!

Your Sister in Christ,   Pastor Barb <><

 

Out of the Mouths of Babes…

The Christmas decorations went up in the stores the day after Halloween, which always sets my teeth on edge. We hadn’t even gotten to Thanksgiving yet, let alone the Advent season! Yet, here I was, in line at Walmart, praying that the young woman who was wrapping her work station in shiny foil gift wrap wouldn’t fall off her ten foot ladder and spend the holidays in the hospital! “Christmas has become so commercialized!” I muttered to myself, which is nothing new. People have been muttering about the loss of meaning of the season for so many years their protest has almost lost it’s meaning! But, every year, it seems to get worse. I worry about the message we are sending our children – that they will never learn what really matters in this life, and it isn’t your “stuff”. “I know!” I said to myself. “I’ll make that my Children’s Sermon next week!” So, when Sunday rolled around, and I had twelve little faces looking up at me, I began. “What is the most important thing in your life – something you think you could never live without?” I asked. Then, I waited for their responses, expecting things like, “My bike! My toys! My video games!” To my surprise, I heard, “My Mom!” “My Brother!” “My Dad! He’s deployed, and I miss him a lot!” Every last one of those children told me the most important thing in their lives was a person! It wasn’t till after a little prodding from me that they came up with any of that other stuff – “Candy! Computers! Books!” It was a teaching moment, for sure. But not for them. For me! Here I was, prepared to teach them something that they already knew – that the most important things in life aren’t things at all – it’s people! How did they learn that? It couldn’t be from the culture around them, pushing them to “Buy, buy, buy!!!” It had to be what they were being taught in church and at home! So, kudos to all of you teachers and parents who are teaching our children what really matters. You have given them a gift that will last a life time! And, I thank them for teaching me that I don’t have to worry so much about their future. God has them in very good hands indeed!

Happy Advent, and a Blessed Christmas!

Pastor Barb <><

…and a little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11:6