Dear Fellow Workers and Friends:
Lent is already upon us! Ash Wednesday is February 22. PONDER is a word that sticks in my mind when we go into Lent. Maybe it’s because of the hymn, “Jesus I Will Ponder Now” (ELH #287). Maybe it is simply because the season moves us toward deep reflection and meditation. May all of us – people in the pew, lay leaders of our congregations, teachers, missionaries and pastors – see this as a time when the whole message of the cross of Jesus comes together with special meaning for our lives. His cross addresses a big need – our sins deeply grieve God and can only find forgiveness by what occurred at Calvary. His cross means a big salvation – our sins have been put away because of the work of God’s Son! His cross stands as our big boast – this is our banner by which we march through life and the very banner of victory we bring to other fellow sinners! “May I never boast,” says Paul, “except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14). Lift high that cross we ponder, and may we the love of Christ proclaim!
Ordination in Florida
On January 1, 2012, Candidate of Theology Matthew J. Moldstad was ordained and installed as pastor of Peace Lutheran Church in Kissimmee, Florida. Rev. Herb Huhnerkoch, the circuit visitor, served as liturgist; Pres. Gaylin Schmeling (Bethany Seminary) served as lector, while Pres. J. Moldstad (Matthew’s father), preached the sermon on 1 Timothy 4:16. Other pastors who participated in laying on hands were: Rev. Matthew Luttman, Rev. Andrew Palmquist, Rev. Timothy Schmeling, Rev. Charles Keeler and Rev. David Lillegard. Earlier that same day, Rev. Huhnerkoch was honored while retiring from the pastorate at Peace; however, he will continue to serve the Hispanic ministry at Kissimmee known as Iglesia Luterana Paz en Cristo .
Installation in Missouri
The Rev. Jeff Merseth was installed as pastor of Peace Lutheran Church, Jefferson City, Missouri, during a 4:00 p.m. service on January 15, 2012. The Rev. Micah Ernst served as the liturgist and as circuit visitor he also performed the rite of installation. The Rev. John Merseth delivered the installation sermon based on 1 Timothy 4:10-12 with the theme “What is a Pastor?” Longtime member of the congregation, Paul Junkans, served as organist for the occasion. Following the service, an excellent dinner was provided by the congregation in honor of the new pastor and his family. Pictured are: front row, L to R: Reverends John Merseth, Jeff Merseth, Micah Ernst; back row, L to R: Reverends Edwin Lehmann (WELS) and Michael Dietz (WELS).
(Photo by Anne Brown of Carthage Press)
Sara Buelow, the regular organist at Faith Lutheran in Carthage, MO, is pictured by the congregation’s newly dedicated organ. Her husband, Timothy, serves as the pastor of Faith. We invite all to read the story behind acquiring this organ by going to the link below: http://www.carthagepress.com/lifestyle/faith/x1987742862/Pipe-organ-the-pride-and-joy-of-Faith-Lutheran Sara also writes: “Here are a couple corrections to the newspaper article. The actual number of pipes: 1853. Also, I was misquoted. In an effort to describe what the difference is between playing an imitation pipe organ versus the real thing, I said: “It is like the difference between delivering a speech to an empty room compared to standing in front of a live audience. With the pipe organ I get ‘live’ feedback: the pipes ‘talk’ to me.’ (Just didn’t want you to think I refer to the congregation as my ‘audience.’ Besides, I don’t have any problem hearing what the congregation hears, pipes or no pipes.) Mark your calendars! We will be planning a special concert event for Sunday, June 3.”
Schultzes in Haiti
Many of our ELS members may not have seen the WELS Connection showing the work Pastor Terry Schultz is now doing in the country of Haiti. We urge you to check out this video: http://www.wels.net/news-events/wels-connection
Planning and Coordinating Committee 2012
On January 17-18, 2012, our synod’s largest board, the Planning and Coordinating Committee (P&C), met at the seminary building in Mankato, MN. Much of the two-day session focused on further aspects of the ELS strategic plan known as “Engage Others With Jesus.” The P&C is recommending to the June convention two full-time positions: Communication Director and Evangelism/Home Missions Counselor. Both of these positions are viewed as clergy positions. The Communication Director is intended to assist the president in responding/promoting on behalf of the synod. Since the P&C also is entrusted with presenting a proposed budget, a $750,000 “congregation contribution portion of the budget” will be brought forward for consideration. This represents a $25,000 increase over 2011, with the increased amount going toward Evangelism/Home Missions as this board leads our synod in the strategic plan. Pictured above are (from left to right): Rev. James Braun, Mr. Dennis Behr, Rev. Erwin Ekhoff, Rev. Craig Ferkenstad, Rev. Steven Petersen, Mr. Tom Reason, Rev. Piet Van Kampen, Rev. Wayne Halvorson, Mr. Keith Wiederhoeft, Rev. Alex Ring, Rev. Glenn Obenberger, Rev. Bernt Tweit, Pres. Moldstad, and Prof. Michael Smith.
Our Savior Lutheran Church and School, Naples, Florida
Forty years ago (1972) a small group gathered and organized as Our Savior Lutheran Church. Today the average Sunday attendance at the church is over 150. During this time of the year, with winter visitors, the attendance is over 200. Pastor Greg Schmidt has served Our Savior, first as vicar and then as pastor for a total of ten years. Here he is pictured with wife Julia and their five children (Bjug, Karina, Anders, Kjersten, and Soren). A noticeable feature of the congregation that operates a sizable preschool is the stained glass window depicting Jesus blessing the little children. On January 22, President Moldstad preached for both services and also presented on the synod’s strategic plan. Church council members in the course of the past year have provided input to the synod.
Please keep in your prayers the Honsey and the Handberg families. Elizabeth Honsey (wife of Prof. Rudolph Honsey), age 88, died on January 10, 2012, in Mankato, MN. Harriet Handberg (wife of former Rev. Hugo Handberg), age 85, also died on January 10, 2012, in Tacoma, WA. For any who may wish to send cards, please address them to: Honsey Family, 710 Mound Ave #4030, Mankato, MN 56001; Handberg Family, 11017 S Park Ave, Apt 204A, Tacoma, WA 98444. Blessed be the memories of Betty and Harriet as they now enjoy eternal rest through faith in the Lord Jesus.
Rev. Norman Pommeranz was called to his heavenly rest on January 29, 2012, after a long struggle with congestive heart failure. He was a faithful member of Resurrection Lutheran Church in Winter Haven. Pastor Pommeranz came out of retirement to serve Our Savior Lutheran Church in North Lakeland. He had been a member of our sister synod, WELS. Please keep his wife, Helen, in your prayers. Cards can be sent to: 816 Gladiola Drive, Auburndale, FL 33883.
Changes are coming to the Lutheran Sentinel. You may already have noticed changes to the look of the magazine and some changes to the content. Changes are also coming to the publication schedule. The Lutheran Sentinel will be increased to 20 pages from 16 and become a bi-monthly magazine (published every other month). Special collections of articles will be available on the ELS website (els.name) during months in which the magazine is not printed. These collections will begin in April and be known as “Lutheran Sentinel Online.” This schedule will allow us to continue producing a high-quality publication available to the greatest number of readers.
Congregational contributions toward our synod’s 2011 $725,000 “congregational contribution portion of the budget” totaled $699,000. We pray that God will enable us to carry out the kingdom work we have committed to do, trusting in his gracious providence.
February 7-8 – West Coast Conference, Yelm, WA
February 9-10 – Emmaus Free Conference, Tacoma, WA
February 11 – ELS Historical Society
February 16 – preach at Bethany Lutheran college chapel
February 19 – preach at Belview, MN
February 21 – Board for Christian Service
March 6 – Synod Review Committee
March 11 – preach for 125th at Our Saviour’s, Madison, WI
March 15 – Committee for Communication
Blessings to all of you through our Redeemer,
John A. Moldstad