Dear Fellow Workers in Christ’s Kingdom:
This is the year of Martin. Naturally the 500th celebration of the Reformation highlights the life of Luther. A Return to Grace, a film slated for showing on PBS, will inform thousands of a wide range of blessings from God for church and society through the unflinching efforts of the great Reformer. Yet there is another Martin who should be mentioned. In fact, without Martin Chemnitz (1522-1586), the chief author of the Formula of Concord, Lutheranism would have been squelched, especially in connection with the clarity of justification and the true teachings on the holy sacraments. The quip was made, “If this Martin had not come along, the work of the first Martin would not have survived.” Let us not forget how Luther’s passionate stress on Baptism and the Lord’s Supper carried over in the writings of the Second Martin. For example, Chemnitz stated: “It is certain that God has added to his gracious promise the institution of those signs which are called sacraments, not in order that through them the confidence of our faith might be weakened and rendered unsure and dubious, but in order that the weakness of our faith… might be raised up by the efficacy of the sacraments, as is so correctly said: ‘The sacraments have been instituted to strengthen our faith'” (Loci Theologici). May we continually draw one another to the certainty of salvation in Christ that God has brought to us through the faith-generating sacrament of Baptism and the faith-enhancing sacrament of our Lord’s true body and blood in the Lord’s Supper. Pray we stay sacramental for our daily strength!
Blessings in Christ,
John A. Moldstad
This past month the annual winter youth retreat took place at Lutheran Island Camp, Henning, Minnesota. Pictured, the Rev. Jeff Merseth leads the group in a study of the Solas of the Reformation (picture by the Rev. J. Hendrix).
The Lutheran Youth Association 2017 Convention will be held in Cincinnati, Ohio, July 27-30, on the campus of Xavier University. A major attraction will be the visit to the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky. To register, please see the online information http://www.els.org/lya17/.
Members representing our congregations in California and Arizona attended the annual Women’s Mission Rally. This year the host congregation was Our Savior Lutheran, Bishop, California. The Rev. Dale Jaech (pictured at far left next to his wife, Rebecca) serves as pastor of the Our Savior congregation.
The Board of Regents for Bethany Lutheran College and Seminary and the Board of Trustees held their annual February joint meeting in Mankato, Minnesota. The session is important for sharing information and discussing future projects. Please keep the work of these boards in your prayers as we together center our focus on The One Thing Needful.
On February 1, 2017, the Colloquy Committee met for Part 2 with the Rev. Robert Lawson, Jr., of St. Paul Lutheran, Escondido, California. The decision was made to recommend Pastor Lawson for clergy membership at our June convention. The congregation being served by Pastor Lawson is seeking membership at this year’s convention and has submitted its constitution and bylaws. Those serving as members of the Colloquy Committee (for both Part 1 and Part 2) were: Pres. Moldstad, Vice-Pres. G. Obenberger, the Rev. G. Schmeling, the Rev. E. Ekhoff, the Rev. E. Teigen, Mr. Ron Younge, and Mr. Greg Costello.
The Colloquy Part 2 for the Rev. Steven Brockdorf, pastor at Reformation Lutheran in Hillsboro, Oregon, has been set for March 16. Any pertinent information should be forwarded to the synod president in advance of this meeting.
Leading up to the centennial of our synod’s reorganization next year, the Synod Reports since 1918 have been digitized for preservation and research. They are available on the synod’s website els.org in the “Document Archive” under the “Resources” menu. Our thanks to Elsa Ferkenstad for providing this resource!
Like to help? The small congregation in Linares is trying to find resources to construct a new building. Congregational offerings have been raised and saved. A man named Ariel is donating welding labor and discounted materials. Other donors have contributed. But $10,000 is needed to complete the chapel. Now, a big surprise! An ELS member has offered a $5,000 matching grant challenge for funding the new chapel at Linares. This provides us an opportunity to double the impact of our gifts. Gifts can be sent to: Linares Project, 6 Browns Ct., Mankato, MN 56001. May God bless the construction project in Linares, and our efforts to help build a new church!
In this 500th year of the Reformation, our churches are preparing for the Lenten season as well as our Easter celebration. It is a busy time of year. However, experience tells us that this is one of the best times of the year to reach out to people in our communities. While we often recognize that our churches are preparing for the extra services, we don’t always remember that some churches-and especially our missionaries-are setting up canvas teams and sending out special mailings, as well as following up with visits to prospects, as a part of their work. Can you help support our home missionaries? You may donate at els.org/donate and select Anniversary Offering or send in a gift today to 6 Browns Ct., Mankato, MN 56001. Be sure to visit our els.org/offering website for updates. — Rev. D. Basel, ELS Giving Counselor
Our monthly goal would be $50,000 per month for the next 22 months.
On February 14, 2017, the Board of Regents extended a call for a full-time religion professor to the Rev. Nicholas Proksch of East Grand Forks, Minnesota. Also, the board chose to extend a call to the Rev. Andrew Schmidt of Mosinee, Wisconsin, to serve as dean of students and to teach religion. Please keep these men in your prayers as they deliberate.
On February 13, 2017, certain faculty and staff at our Bethany Lutheran College and Seminary were honored for various years of faithful service. BLC president Gene Pfeifer and BLTS President Gaylin Schmeling made comments, and the Rev. Herb Huhnerkoch presented greetings on behalf of the Board of Regents.
The deadline for items for publication in the 2017 Book of Reports and Memorials is April 1. Completed reports are to be mailed to the synod’s secretary. Requests for presentation time during the synod convention program must be directed to the president of the synod prior to April 15. We thank the many congregations that have completed their statistical reporting for 2016. If you have not already reported, you can complete the statistical reporting form online: http://www.els.org/statistics
March 7 – Synod Review Committee
March 12 – Preaching and presentation at Audubon, MN
March 13 – Circuit 8 Pastors’ Winkel, Audubon, MN
March 16 – Colloquy Committee
March 20-21 – Doctrine Committee
March 28 – Synod Review Committee
April 1 – Deadline for publication in the Book of Reports and Memorials
April 19-20 – Board for Education
April 19-20 – Board for World Outreach
April 25-26 – Great Lakes Pastoral Conference
April 27 – West Coast Pastoral Conference