March/April 2010 - The American Association of Lutheran Churches

March/April 2010 - The American Association of Lutheran Churches

the evangelISSUE NO. 150 ― MARCH/APRIL 2010Lord keep us steadfestin your wordconfessing the faithas a LutheranGod’s Word for faithand life22 nd generalconventionannouncement

from the editorWhile Christmas gains the attention of our culture, HolyWeek and Easter are somewhat lost in the midst ofValentine’s Day, Memorial Day, and the Fourth of July.Yes, there is a small fanfare for Easter but nothing like the hype,marketing, and commercialization around Christmas. Withoutthe fanfare surrounding Easter, we can give our full attention tothe most important celebrations for Christians; and that is a goodthing for us.Holy week marks the true high points for Christians, culminatingin the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus instituted his Supperon “the night in which He was betrayed,” by which He still feedsGod’s people with his body and blood. The cross of Christ ofGood Friday demonstrated God’s ultimate solution to sin, becomingone focal point for preaching and teaching. Paul put it thisway: “For I determined to know nothing among you except JesusChrist, and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). Jesus also engaged in abattle with the devil. From the perspective of Friday, it appearedas if the devil won, but the empty tomb on Sunday shows who isthe victor, as Luther so eloquently stated: “Jesus purchased andwon me from all sins, from death, and from the power of thedevil.” The early church worshiped on the “first day of the week”as a weekly celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Andthis became another focal point of the preaching: “because theywere teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrectionfrom the dead” (Acts 4:4).Two Critical Questions:In this issue we examine two critical questions that bothdirectly relate to Holy Week: 1) What is most important? and 2)What is the source? By answering these questions relative to HolyWeek, we not only reaffirm our faith, but we provide a clear witnessto the world of who Jesus is and what He has done for us.inside this issue3 presiding pastorHoly Week: The Center of our Faith7 planting a churchMost important: As Lutherans we confess what is mostimportant is in these words: justifi cation by grace through faith in JesusChrist. Thus, the events of Holy Week draw our attention onceagain to that which is most important, namely, the life, death, andresurrection of Jesus Christ. Rev. Twito writes about that fact relativeto his growth as a Christian confessing the faith as a Lutheran.He reminds us that our connection with Christ is establishedand sustained through Word and Sacrament. Rev. Hays highlightsJesus’ victory over the devil, “not with gold or silver, but with Hisholy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death.”We believe with the apostle John, “the reason the Son of God appearedwas to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Whilethe war has been won, battles still rage until the end of this age.Source: The source for us to determine what is mostimportant is: the Bible. Rev. David Huskamp shares with us theimportance of having the solid foundation of God’s Word as thebackbone of all that guides, informs, and forms his Christian life.How timely this is for us, because we see many in the Christiancommunity look elsewhere for answers to life’s problems.For all of us, the events of Holy Week mark special timesto reflect, remember, participate, and “grow in the knowledge andgrace of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). The weeks afterEaster provide us with continuing opportunities to hear the postresurrectionaccounts and be affirmed in our faith in Jesus Christas “the Way and the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6).We are also excited about introducing our newest congregations:Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran, Frazier Park, CA;Pastor Dave Swarthout has been faithfully serving the congregationfor many years, in active service, and more recently in retirement.Abiding Grace Lutheran, Gillette, WY is a recent missionstart, with great potential for growth. The congregations were officiallyaccepted by the Joint Council on February 14. We welcomeour brothers and sisters in Christ who now walk with us in faith.11 church on the move4 alts president5 lord keep us steadfest in yourword6 wolPhoto page 6 & cover, 3, & 428 confessing the faith as a lutheran9 God’s Word for faith and life10 our newest congregation12 22nd general conventionannouncement14 highlightsRev. Rich Shields, Editor Pro-TempMrs. Claire DiTommaso, Layout & Graphic DesignerEvangel March/April 2010

the desk of the presiding pastorThey Forgot the DevilNapoleon once said, “He who would be victor, let himknow his enemy.” The most subtle, and the most successful,strategy which Satan employs is the art of havingpeople forget about him.The Second World War and subsequent wars, including thewar on terror, reminds us that there is a personal devil. We haveto admit that man could not, of himself, be so cunningly savage.There must be a world of demons to provoke such horror. C.S. Lewis of England, especially in his “Screw Tape Letters,” hasreintroduced the devil into the literary world.By inclination, however, mankind is eager to forget the devil.For to believe in both God and the devil means that a personmust take sides, and to take sides is a most uncomfortable necessity.We are eager to believe that this is God’s World, and that anyevidence that God is being contested is only the trifling blundersof man. We do not like to think that there is a war on. Evil is butthe growing pains of mankind, and mankind is on the way tobecoming like the angels. That he may become like the demons—such theological nonsense we want to dismiss as superstition.Once upon a time there was an age that forgot the devil.How people could have been so absent–minded, no one knew.The more they neglected him, the more brazenly he wanderedabout. That mattered little. They had set out to forget the devil,and they did it with a vengeance .The trouble began when they no longer read their Biblesaright. They liked to believe what the Bible said about God’s loveand heaven and eternal life. But they did not like the parts thattold of sin and hell and the Satan. And, because they did not likethem, they decided not to believe them. Many still thought it reasonableto believe in God. It did not occur to them that it mightbe just as unreasonable to believe in Him. But fashion votedagainst the devil, and the people voted with fashion.Of course, the devil was delighted. Any shrewd generalwould be pleased to have his foe underrate him. He grew bolderand bolder. At the same time, the armies of righteousness beginto languish. An army is never keyed up without some dangerousfoe constantly threatening. The sentinels of the soul slept at theirposts. The arsenals of the soul smoldered in the dust. The breastplateof righteousness hung forgotten on the wall. The shield offaith and the helmet of salvation lay in the attic.What was perhaps more tragic, the sword of the Spirit, theWord, was declared obsolete. Even in the pulpits, there were nolonger giants who could wield it. And the soldiers on the field —some of them had never seen the sword. Or, if they had seen it,it was in the museums of discarded superstition that they had casteyes upon it. Instead of wielding the Word, they toyed with someplaythings called psychiatry and character education. And in thefield when the devil attacked themwith his hosts, they scattered. Manyhe took prisoner and threw theminto the dungeons of vice and graftand boredom. It was a sad day!It was the devil’s day!That was many years ago. Rev. Franklin E. HaysMeanwhile the devil had becomea mildly amusing legend. He still whispered his persuasions butpeople said the voice was the urge of man’s ego. There were yetcases of “demoniac possession,” but such people were dismissedas morally bankrupt or insane. Whenever the children of this agetried to untangle the mess, they sought for the disturbance withinthemselves. They thought they were wrestling against their ownflesh and blood. Many had never read St. Paul’s warning, “For wewrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers of thedarkness of this world... .” And because they located the disturbancewithin themselves, they sought for the resources of correctionwithin themselves, too! There was much talk of the latentgoodness of man and of his resident powers of righteousness.Highly trained psychologists schemed night and day to exhaustthese powers. But to no avail. Prisons were built more rapidlythan schools, night clubs and discos sprang up like mushrooms onthe shadow of churches.Soon they could no longer escape the fact that they werebeing defeated. Wars and graft and divorce and poverty crowdedin upon them. Their finest machines turned against them in destruction.They tried to battle. But how could they battle againsta secret foe? A babble of voices arose to point out the enemy.Some shouted. “War is the enemy” and began marshalling thearmies on the front of disarmament and arbitration. Others cried,“Capitalism is the enemy,” and amassed huge organizations tocrush the power of industry. Still others said, “Democracy is theenemy,” and rallied to the call of dictators. And so they fought, ingreater confusion than ever. No one remembered the real enemy.Behind the scenes he stood laughing gleefully, to think that thepeople no longer reckoned with him, the father of lies and theprince of all powers of darkness.Then in the armies of men a fearful boredom set in. Itcould not be otherwise, for the morale of any army will fail whenit has no real, obvious foe. To find momentary escape from theirboredom, they began to flit furtively from one excess to another.They drank intoxicants in order to forget. They flocked to themovies, to get an hour’s respite from life’s awful reality. Theydrove their cars, huddled by their radios, chatted in a thousandchat rooms to avoid being bored. It was a tragic spectacle: mankindgalloping here and there in a frantic attempt to escape the“emptiness of living” that engulfed them.Continued on page 9Evangel March/April 2010 3

“Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word”by Marilyn (Lyn) BraceAuthor: Martin LutherTune: Erhalt Uns, HerrIn the hours following the call requesting that I write anarticle featuring a hymn, I prayed for guidance. The hymnthat kept coming to mind was “Lord, Keep Us Steadfast inYour Word.” I really should not have been surprised! We live ina time when people are anxious about government, their future,their families, the job market, terrorism, war … and the list goeson! We are also living in a time when many churches have wanderedfrom the truth of God’s Word, looking at the Scriptures asmerely “advisory” rather than “authority.” Thanks be to God forour church body that believes in the inspiration and inerrancy ofScripture and provides pastors who lead us in the study of HisWord.In Webster’s Dictionary we find the following concerningthe word “steadfast: firm, fixed, established, not changing, fickleor wavering, constant.” It is a powerful word and appropriatelyused in the writing of “Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word!”I admit that I feel inadequate in relating the power of thishymn! However, I believe that when God’s Word is quoted, Hismessage will be clear and adequate.Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word;Curb those who by deceit or swordWould wrest the kingdom from Your SonAnd bring to naught all He has done.Lord Jesus Christ, Your power make known,For You are Lord of lords alone;Defend Your holy Church that weMay sing Your praise eternally.O Comforter of priceless worth,Send peace and unity on earth;Support us in our final strifeAnd lead us out of death to life.Martin Luther penned these words at a time when theTurkish army was threatening to take Vienna (1541). Many Germanrulers called for special prayers for protection from theseIslamic forces. Luther responded to their request and to his ownanxieties concerning the church being under attack by false teachings.He originally wrote the hymn with children in mind, thus itwas entitled, “A Children’s Hymn.” In reading the words, we understandthat Luther was encouraging God’s people to pray thatthe Lord would protect His own, keeping them faithful to HisWord. Luther also makes it clear that the greatest damage that canhappen to the Christian church is to separate itself from God’sholy and abiding Word!“Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word” was written in a“Trinitarian mold.” In the first stanza we pray that God the Fatherwould protect His Church from the power of evil which seeks todestroy it! In the second stanza we pray that God the Son woulddefend us that we may always sing His praises! To complete theprayer, we pray that God the Spirit would give us peace and unitynow and lead us to the life to come!The tune, Erhalt uns, Herr, was adapted from an older chant.Some scholars believe that Luther himself did the arranging ofthe tune for his hymn text. We can be thankful to this man ofGod who restored singing in the church by the people, writing 37hymns for congregational use.Martin Luther had such a love for God’s Word and desireto inhale it! Through studying the Scriptures, he came to believethat the Word was not lifeless and passive but was truly lively andlife-giving, blessing and guiding His Church. Quoting Luther:“You must always have God’s Word in your heart, uponyour lips, and in your ears. But where the heart is idle andthe Word does not sound, the devil breaks in and hasdone the damage before we are aware (Matthew 13:24-30). On the other hand, the Word is so effective thatwhenever it is seriously contemplated, heard, and used,it is bound never to be without fruit (Isaiah 55:11; Mark4:20). These words are not lazy or dead, but are creative,living words (Hebrews 4:12).”“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”Psalm 119:105[Jesus prayed for the church] “Sanctify them in the truth; yourword is truth.” John 17:17Lord, grant us wisdom to abide in your word!Lyn Brace is a member ofChrist Lutheran ChurchChippewa Falls, WIEvangel March/April 2010 5

Women of L.I.F.E.(Lutherans in Fellowship & Evangelism)Dear Sisters in Christ,I pray that each of you had a blessed celebration of ourSavior’s birth and a time to see family and friends. My article is abit different this time as I was asked to share about my life as aLutheran.Reared in a Methodist family, I became a member of theLutheran church when I married my husband. He was an engineer,and we became very active in our local Lutheran church. Hiscompany sent him to Hawaii for work. While in Hawaii, we bothhad the opportunity to study under Pastor Norman Hammer. Myhusband made the decision to enter the seminary to be a Lutheranpastor. Called to Maryland for our first parish, we encounteredmany challenges because of our conservative viewpoint.After difficult years, the church split, and we joined the ALC. Thiswas a time of growth for me in understanding Luther’s statement,“Here I Stand.” I believed in the Lutheran Confessions and thatthe Bible could not be changed. It was God’s Word and true —from Genesis to Revelation.When the merger came to join with the LCA, our churchcouldn’t make that move. We joined the AALC and were blessedby pastors and lay people who shared our beliefs, our understandingof the truth of Scripture, and the powerful love of our HeavenlyFather, thru the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.I praise the Lord for the opportunities He has given me inthe AALC Women of L.I.F.E. I have shared a blessed relationshipwith many women. Women who are strong prayer warriors,and have strengthened my prayer life. Women who are challengeddaily to follow the world, but choose to follow Christ. Womenwho desire a strong knowledge of the Scriptures and teach ourWomen of L.I.F.E. Bible Studies. Women who serve without anyfanfare or praise thus showing us the loving nature of our Lord.These women have helped me serve the Women of L.I.F.E. overthe past several years, and it has been a joy and a privilege to serveeach one. Though the Lutheran church was not where I began, Ihave been blessed with opportunities to serve my Lord; to sharewith women all over the country; and have gained a deeper understandingof the love and grace of my Heavenly Father.Our Women of L.I.F.E. Commission has met via telephoneconference, and worked out some of the plans for our Women ofL.I.F.E. Convention, June 23-25, 2010. We will have another teleconferencebefore the convention. We urge each of you womento attend the Convention. Start saving your money now. It is awonderful time to share and pray with women from all over thecountry. It is also exciting to see our seminary, the work of theAALC and meet the people who serve our church faithfully.The Commission would appreciate your prayers for a nomineefor a Chairman of the Women of L.I.F.E. I would gladlyassist the new Chairman and help her get acclimated to her job.Offerings for Women of L.I.F.E. should be sent to:Marsha Benson1714 6th Street WWilliston, ND, 58801-5512Keep strong in the faith, and may each of you be lights inyour neighborhood for others to see the love of Jesus shiningstrongly through you.Continuing to serve our Lord,~Audrey StapfI would also like to extend my sincere condolences fromthe Women of L.I.F.E. Commission and all the women who knewDoris Olderr. She was a strong supporter and hard worker ofWomen of L.I.F.E. for many years and she will be greatly missed.Sadly, Doris passed away before Christmas. Please keep PastorFritz and his family in your prayers.6Evangel March/April 2010

Planting a ChurchCurtis E. Leins, PastorA Divergent PathGlorious Presence Church was born on November 1,1992. I had not wanted to start a church, nor did I want to leavethe ELCA. However, during the months and years that precededthis new work, it had become increasingly clear that I was on adivergent path from my mother Church. I say “mother Church”because I loved and love the ELCAand its parent LCA. This was the onlydenominational home that I had everknown. It was the place of my spiritualbirth and had provided me withtheological education and paradigmaticleadership. Still, by 1992 it wasextremely apparent that the view ofScripture proclaimed and exhibited byits hierarchy and the view of Scripturethat I myself held were significantlyand irreconcilably different. I cast noaspersions upon those whom Godplaced over me in the ELCA. I only say that the inerrant andinfallible Word of God had taken the position of highest authorityin my life.Humble BeginningsSo, with some genuine sadness and absolute uncertaintyregarding the future, my family and I left our Church home andbegan a new work. We left the city and state where we were living.I was determined not to be schismatic, to the best of my ability.We settled in a small town in Maryland near the Delaware border,Elkton. We knew no one in the city and only one family outsideof town. I went to the local elementary school principal and askedif I could start a mission church. (As a boy, my family had beenpart of an LCA mission that met in an elementary school.) Theprincipal gave her approval.My wife and children and I went to the elementary schoolon that first Sunday. I wore a cleric and carried my robes. Ibrought a guitar. I didn’t have a church organ or piano andcouldn’t play one anyway. My wife sang with me and my sonsplayed other instruments or ran the overhead projector that wegot from the local library. We had no hymnals and did not havecopyright privileges to use one.I had the certainty of my callingas a pastor and my family hadthe certainty of our faith in God. Weprayed that God would send someoneinto that school and that somehowGod would build a church. Duringthe months that followed, we continuedour prayers. Initially, we askedthat God would send 50 people. Wethought that with that many, we mightbe able to eat and pay our bills. As theyears passed, we found that God haddifferent and better plans than we had first imagined.Today, the church is seventeen years old. We have 400 activemembers and support 24 missionaries. We have three fulltimepastors, three part-time staff persons, and have begun threemore congregations. Our church is characterized by exuberantworship, active laity (especially male leadership), and lots of youngfamilies. Though much has changed, our passion for the HolyWord of God has remained the same.Finally, I rejoice once again to be a Lutheran pastor andmake my new home as a member of the AALC.One day (Reformation Day), I was the pastor of a large,inner-city congregation. I conducted services in English (traditionaland contemporary), services in German (once a year forour older folks), and gave oversight for services in Spanish. I hadbeen a Lutheran pastor for 15 years and pastor of that particularcongregation for eight years. The next day (All Saints’ Day), I wasno pastor at all. I had no church building, no congregation, noinsurance, no pension contributions, and no income.Evangel March/April 2010 7

Confessing the Faith as a LutheranRoger Twito, PastorAs a small child my Christian faith was nurtured at 31stand Chicago in downtown Minneapolis. I sat in wonderat the feet of Dr. Paul Manz as he played the organ anddid what seemed inconceivable to me with his hands and feetall hammering out melodies and harmonies and rhythms thatwere unique yet magnificently blended together. I participated inthe services sometimes understanding what was being said andsometimes without understanding. I climbed the ranks of theSunday School department choosing a favorite teacher based onthe fact that she brought the best treats for the end of class! Iendured Confirmation and had some great times and some notso great times with the youth group. In the midst of it all, faithwas formed and a Christian Lutheran understanding of life wasdeveloped.Through the years there was Ongoing Ambassadors ForChrist, Youth For Christ, Bible camps, Bible studies, missiontrips, a Via De Christo weekend, and many other experiencesthat shaped who I am as a child of God. But even though I havestruggled with whether or not the Lutheran understanding is acorrect understanding I’ve always come back to it.God comes to us in Holy Baptism and claims us as Hisown. He grants to us the gift of faith that we might receive allthat He has for us in a way that is appropriate for our faith development.His Spirit is at work in our hearts causing us to trust Himmore and more, and acknowledge our brokenness and allow Himto forgive, heal and restore us, so that we might live to the praiseof His glory.God comes to us in Holy Communion where we receiveChrist’s body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins. Hestrengthens us with His presence so that we might walk in faithand repentance — trusting His promises and confessing wherewe have fallen short of His perfect standard and receiving onceagain His grace and forgiveness. We look back and rememberChrist’s sacrifice even as we look forward in anticipation of Hispromised and sure return.Lutheranism sits on the landscape of Christianity. It’s ajewel that reminds us that we are justified by God’s grace, throughwhat Christ has done, and our relationship with God is based onfaith not our works. Others within Christendom who emphasize,“You have to do this, and you have to do that,” place a burden onmany. Sadly some mistakenly believe they can bear that burden,and everything works pretty well — until life starts to unravel.At that point there is no grace to offer. All that can be offeredis, “Try harder.” As Lutherans, we understand that we are saved8by God’s grace and we are sustained in the faith by God’s grace.Thus, when Paul urges us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices(Romans 12:1) and exhorts us to walk in the good works, they aregood works that God has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). So wefight the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12). But at the end of the daywhen you or I fall miserably short, our security in Christ is notdependent on our efforts. Rather, we’re pointed to the Word andSacraments, which bring the benefits of the cross (where Christhad done it all) and the empty tomb, namely forgiveness andhope.The AALC sits on the landscape of Lutheranism. It is ajewel where people love the Lord and one another as best theycan, where people take seriously the inerrant, infallible, Word ofGod, where people can laugh one minute at a good joke and thenext wrestle profoundly with the mission and ministry to whichGod has called us. I was drawn to The AALC because of its clearstand on the Word of God and its commitment to the LutheranConfessions. The AALC also had its priorities straight — theprimacy of evangelism and world missions. There were other dimensionsthat drew me as well — an openness to different formsof worship, the authority of the local congregation, the willingnessto struggle with what the church has referred to as “openquestions” throughout the ages, and the ability to accept thosewho have been part of the renewal movement within Lutheranismwithout making it central to who we are and not allowing it tofracture us either.Others who visited our conventions would say things like,“This is the first convention I’ve been at in a long time where Ifelt renewed and recharged!” People from other situations wereused to fighting losing battles or defending their conservative,confessional position only to get put down because of their convictions.Others were tired of fighting wars over worship and politywhere there seemed as though there should be some room formore than one idea only to find in The AALC that indeed therewas acceptance and encouragement to keep the message the samebut prayerfully consider new ways to communicate it.I thank God for the Lutheran heritage that I have beenblessed with that emphasizes God’s grace and the gifts Hebestows upon us. I also thank God for The AALC, a faithful remnantthat has carried forth the ethos and convictions of the oldALC and continues to pray that God the Holy Spirit would leadus and guide us as we seek to be faithful to what has been passeddown while open to new ways of ministering in an ever-changingworld. It’s been a thrilling ride with The AALC so far. I can’t waitto see what God has in mind for the future!Evangel March/April 2010

God’s Word for Faith and LifeFor me to be a Lutheran is to love, trust, follow and obeyGod, as revealed in the Word of God. If we examine thewritings and teachings of Martin Luther, everything he didwas because of the power, authority, respect, and love he had forGod’s Word. As Lutherans we gladly follow in Martin Luther’sfootsteps…and his steps followed the footprints of Christ, as weread in Hebrews: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to youthe word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, andimitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7).For Luther, following Christ meant following, studying, andknowing God’s Word. In Luther’s numerous writings and hymns,the importance of the Word of God is clearly evident. It was Luther’sunderstanding of Scripture, and especially this passage, “therighteous shall live by faith,” that started the Reformation. TheHoly Spirit using the unchanging Bible empowered him to takeon the errant church, the status quo of his day with its defunctleadership, and to call for reform. Early in the Reformation helabored to translate the Word of God into German so that thepeople could read it for themselves in their heart language. TheBible guided every aspect of Luther’s life, and he believed it to beessential for everyone, not only the priest.Luther never valued his own thoughts or writings aboveGod’s Word. By the end of his life, Martin Luther had writtenabout 60,000 pages; yet Luther considered his own writings oflittle value in comparison to the Word of God. So insistent wasDavid Huskamp, PastorLuther on the high value of Scripture above any other writing thathe wrote, “I’d like all my books to be destroyed so that only thesacred writings in the Bible would be diligently read.” (“MartinLuther — The Early Years,” Christian History, no. 34).Luther saw the great danger in neglecting the Word ofGod. In his Galatians Commentary (2:14-16) Luther wrote,“Nothing is more perilous than to be weary of the Word of God.Thinking he knows enough, a person begins little by little to despisethe Word until he has lost Christ and the gospel altogether.”The preaching and teaching of the pure Word of God, and thehunger for it, are essential for living for Christ.According to Luther, when armed with the Word of God,one did not have to be a great theologian to have great power andauthority. Luther said, “A simple layman armed with Scripture isto be believed above a pope or a cardinal without it.” (“MartinLuther — The Early Years,” Christian History, no. 34).What does it mean to be a Lutheran? I believe it means toaccept the Word of God as true and without error. It points us toChrist, and gives us all that is necessary to live the Christian faithevery day. I love the Lutheran teachings and the AALC becausethey love and esteem the Word of God above all other words.Continued from page 3…They Forgot the DevilOh, if they had a great, common enemy, against whomthey again could rally! If they could hear the call of battle again,rush out of their million dugouts, and hear the fanfare of trumpetson the open field.But they had forgotten the enemy!For awhile they clung to an anemic belief in God. Therespectable citizenry trickled into the churches. But it did not lastlong. For if there were no enemy, there of course would be nobattle. And if there were no battle, there would be no need forreinforcements. And if they needed no help, they had no need forGod. Gradually, therefore, God, too, became a mere legendarygrandfather in the sky, and passed into forgetfulness.And darkness descended on the children of men!Once in his room at Wartburg Castle, Martin Luther threwhis inkwell at the leering face of the devil, and the ink spatteredagainst the wall. It would be well for us 21st century moderns torecapture some of that dramatic quality in our fight against evil.For the devil is not just a goblin. The Bible is not known to dealin fairytales. It speaks of a triple alliance which we face: the devil,the world, and our own sinful flesh. If we remember the last two,the fallen world around us and the wicked nature within us, butforget the devil, we will be like stupid generals, who move theirunsuspecting forces to swift and certain disaster.We need not be superstitious, and go back to the days ofSalem witchcraft. We need only to adopt the realism of the Scripturesand understand that this great war between good and evilin our lives has deeper roots than the grudge and indispositionsand whims of ourselves. The conflict is more than meets the eye.What we see is but a sector of a profound disturbance in existenceitself, and behind the struggle in our lives the cosmic warbetween good and evil, God and the devil.If I understand clearly that I have an enemy outside of theworld, I will be more likely to look for help outside of myself —even outside of the world. Here is the secret, never stop lookingto God and his Christ for we are the victors not the victims. Weare engaged in a struggle, but worry not He has overcome theworld and the devil!Evangel March/April 2010 9

Our newest congregation…Greetings from Shepherd of the Mountains LutheranChurch to our Lutheran family at AALC. While notofficial membersto date, we have been therecipient of the gracious andongoing prayers from AALCPastors and staff during ourtransition from ELCA to theAALC churches.We are a mountain community,named “Lake of theWoods”, located in SouthernCalifornia in the Los PadresNational Forest. Being fromSouthern California there isno actual “lake” in Lake of the Woods. Perhaps “Valley of Fire”would have been more appropriate. (Ha Ha)Our congregation was formed and located at a LutheranYouth Camp in our community in 1978. It was an ALC affiliateand converted to ELCA membership when it was formed. We leftthat facility in 2002 and shared a church building with another denomination.At long last we purchased a three acre site and completedphase one of our own church in 2007 with the final phasecompleted in early 2009. This church was built with all volunteerlabor, mostly seniors, and is a showplace in the community as thephotos show. In additional to volunteer labor another LutheranChurch donated beautiful pews, an altar, lectern, baptismal fount,and other altar accruements. Several building supplies also camefrom “God” and charitable people. We give full credit to God as itwas amazing to see it all come together.Our congregation is 145 members strong and contains agood age mix from youth to seniors. We are blessed to have astrong Shepherd in Pastor David Swarthout who has been at thehelm for over 25 years and is the catalyst for our growth. PastorSwarthout has led his Christian family in a faithful, Bible-basedphilosophy that will mesh well with the AALC. His strong beliefin Bible Study, currently five groups a week, results in a high percentageof member participation.Recognizing our duty to the community at large we have awell stocked food cupboard and make monthly donations to theFamily Resource Center (formerly known as Head Start). We supportThe Vine Pregnancy Center (Christian based) with our timeand monetary contributions.David Swarthout Jr., with the assistance of his wife Heather,has directed a Christian Youth Group for the past six years.This group meets weekly and is open to all community youthwhich mixes God’s word with healthy physical activities.10Evangel March/April 2010

Our Elder program is active and of great value and assistanceto our Pastor and congregation. We have a group thatadministers to seniors called AIM, an acronym for Agape-In-Motion. This program engages seniors in social activities suchas plays, musicals, museums and outdoor gardens. AIM suppliestransportation for shut-ins to doctor’s visits, shopping assistance,minor home repairs, and any reasonable requests based on memberskill sets.Additionally, we have an active Women’s Group, PrayerChain, Men’s and Women’s prayer breakfast groups, Praise Band,and Christian fellowship, following Sunday services.Once again we want to thank all who prayed for our decisionto join the AALC, with a very special thanks to Pastor RichardShields, ALTS President. Pastor Swarthout was deeply movedby Pastor Shields prayers for the recent health issues of his wifeand son.God bless all of you,Your brothers and sisters atShepherd of the Mountains Lutheran ChurchChurch on the MoveGeorge Mather, PastorOn March 2, 2007, nineteen people attended a meetingat the home of Mr. and Mrs. Warren Schwecke in Mesquite,Nevada. Mesquite, a small gambling communitytwo hours north of Las Vegas, is noted for it’s great golf courses.It’s a great retirement community too. The group gathered todiscuss the formation of a new mission congregation representingthe Lutheran faith. During the meeting, they discussed the potentialproblems and challenges that might be incurred, challengessuch as the money needed and the amount of work involved inthe start-up process. They knew it was not going to be easy.After a lengthy discussion, a vote was taken, and 18 of the19 people present voted in favor of moving forward. Wayne Kuntze,one of the founders and now gone to be with the Lord dueto cancer, suggested the name “Prince of Peace.” This was readilyaccepted by all those present.Securing a Pastor was next discussed and volunteers for thedifferent duties came forward. The group quickly decided a datefor their first service and nine days later they celebrated their firstdivine liturgy. Services were held each Sunday morning at 11:30.Warren Schwecke and Rev. Jim Murray next went looking for aPastor to serve the fledgling church, God sent them to PastorGeorge Mather then serving Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in St.George, UT, some 40 miles north of Mesquite. With the consentof Our Savior’s, Pastor Mather immediately began serving thesmall community of Lutherans then presently meeting in a newstorefront. Over the next two years, Prince of Peace would growfrom 19 to almost 80 members and is still growing.From the beginning, all the members understood the importanceof “being” the church, so nearly everyone volunteeredto serve. Early on they built a cross for our altar, then the lecternthat also served as our pulpit. They soon constructed other piecesof furniture including the altar, a stand to hold the lectionary, anAdvent candle stand, and a baptismal font. New chairs and theLutheran Service Book along with The Other Song Book were purchased.Our liturgy is most often Creative Worship making sure theInvocation, Confession and Absolution, the Lord’s Prayer andthe Creed are always present. In addition, we offer a wonderfulmixture of contemporary and traditional music, being carefulto assure that the Theology of the Cross and Law and Gospelare properly presented in every liturgy. Our president, WarrenSchwecke’s wife, Lois, is the music director and heads up ourchoir while a talented Pedro Urias is our pianist. Pedro is a recentconvert from Mormonism.The focus of our church is “Each One Reach One” andthis has become more than just a cliché. The reason our churchsees growth is of course due to God’s grace, but the congregationrealizes “sheep beget sheep.” As a whole, our church is evangelismconscious and mission minded. Our Bible studies oftenconsist of not only discipleship, but studying apologetics makingour people aware of contemporary issues. Because of our desireto reach all with the Gospel, it’s not surprising that our congregationalmembership consist of various backgrounds, includingLCMS, ELCA, WELLS, Baptist, Episcopalians, Presbyterians andeven recent Mormon converts. Last month four former Mormonswere baptized into Christ.Evangel March/April 2010 11

22 nd General ConventionOfficial NoticeJune 22 - 25, 2010On the campus ofConcordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, INPlanting…Growing…Maturing“I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused it to grow.”1 Cor 3:6 (NET)

Planting…Growing…MaturingThe Church: What a magnificent thing God creates!Imagine, he calls and gathers sinners, with nothing to offer, andthe Holy Spirit working through the Word, fashions them into theChurchSadly history shows that sometimes we in the Church getsidetracked. In Corinth the Christians began to focus on oneleader or another as the insider track for the Church. Paul writesto correct them by writing: “I planted, Apollos watered, but Godcaused it to grow” (1 Cor. 3:6 NET). Note that each one is importantin God’s work of building the Church; favoritism regardingleadership detracts from God’s work.We in the AALC have had the privilege of seeing that truthworked out in our own midst. Over the past year we have addeda mission start, several existing congregations, and several pastorsto our roster. We have increased the number of seminary studentsand began a distance seminary program. We are planting, growing,and maturing congregations.For all of that, we thank and praise God.Plan now to join us this Summer in June at the 22nd AALCNational Convention in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It will be a time tomake new friends, reconnect with old friends, but especially torejoice together as we see God working in our midst: planting,growing, and maturing congregations.Call for NominationsThe Nominating Committee of The American Associationof Lutheran Churches officially calls for candidates for thefollowing positions. All nominations must be ordained pastors onthe Clergy Roster of The AALC or lay persons who are membersof an AALC congregation and in good standing. Nominationsmust be made by AALC congregations, not individuals. Allcandidates must have written consent and qualifications for officepresented with the candidate. All nominations must be in the NationalOffice of The AALC no later than May 22, 2010.The following positions are open for nomination:Executive Committee:• Presiding Pastor –four year term• Secretary – four year termBoard of Appeals and Adjudication: (six clergy and fivelaity, may serve two consecutive four year terms)• Need three clergy and three laityClergy Commission: (five clergy and two laity, may servetwo consecutive four year terms)• Need three clergy and one laityBoard of Directors of The AALC Foundation: (twoclergy and three laity, may serve two consecutive four year terms)• Need one from each regionCommission for Higher Education: (three clergy andthree laity, may serve two consecutive terms of four years)• Need one clergy and two laityCommission on Doctrine & Church Relations: (threeclergy and two laity, may serve two consecutive terms of fouryears)• Need two clergy and one laityA Call for ResolutionsThe Resolutions Committee of The American Associationof Lutheran Churches officially calls for all resolutions to beconsidered by the 22nd General Convention of the AALC to beheld in Fort Wayne, Indiana, June 22 – 25, 2010. All resolutionssubmitted by individuals must be in written form and signed bythe maker and the seconder. All resolutions submitted by churches,regions and duly constituted entities of the AALC must besigned by the chairman and secretary of the entity. All resolutionsmust be in the national office of The AALC no later than May 22,2010 if they are to be included in the convention workbook.Official DelegatesEach congregation of The American Association of LutheranChurches is entitled to send one pastor delegate. They arealso entitled to one lay delegate for each 50 confirmed membersof the congregation. These will constitute the voting delegatesfor that congregation. Congregations may send as many membersas they want; however, only the above number will be designatedvoting delegates to the convention.Please fill out your 2009 Statistical Report and send it into the AALC national office in Fort Wayne, IN by Mar. 31, 2010.Without this form we have no way to determine how manydelegates your congregation is entitled to. There is an interactivePDF form on our website, which can be found here: March/April 2010 13

highlightsPilot Knob Lutheran Church, Forest City, IAPilot Knob Lutheran Church, seven miles East of ForestCity Iowa, is boldly proclaiming their place among localcongregations. We are here to worship our Lord and offerspiritual food for the hungry soul withthe inspired and inerrant Word of Godand His Sacraments. We believe andstand upon the authority of Scripturefrom the very first verse to the last.PKLC has been proclaiming thegospel for the past 134 years. At theturn of the century on the eve of July4, someone intentionally set fire to the100 year old building rendering it unusable. We know, however,that what Satan intended for our demise, God himself will useto bring himself glory and honor and to develop and nurture themembers of that church. Painful as that time was, the Lord raisedup from the smoke and ashes a congregation that will not dieElmer ReinerElmer Reiner, lay minister for American Lutheran Church,Mandan, ND, passed away on November 19, 2009. Hewas born in Otter Creek, ND on June 6, 1927. He issurvived by his wife, Mary; daughter, Linda and her husband, KimFilipek; daughter, Kim Reiner; daughter, Ruth Yoder; son, David,Rev. Gary Lissy Installedbut will look to her Lord for continued life and mission withinthe Lutheran tradition of the American Association of LutheranChurches.Prior to this year’s ELCA conventionwe thought it wise to run a small adin the local paper and air a radio spot.This later led to a dream of one day beingable to rent the billboard south of town.One idea led to another, and we believe itto be directed by God and his will to beable to rent the sign for the months ofOctober and November. Since Forest Cityis the home of Waldorf College, we thought it was beneficial tolet people know of a great Lutheran option.We praise God for his continued faithfulness and provision.and his wife, Lana Reiner; four grandsons; and five great grandchildren.He will be missed by his family and friends at AmericanLutheran Church and in the American Association of LutheranChurches.On Sunday, February 7, 2010, the Rev. Gary Lissy was installedas pastor of Christ Lutheran, Ellis, KS. Pastor Frank Hays,Presiding Pastor of AALC, preached the sermon, and PastorRich Shields, President, ALTS, lead the service; both participated in theinstallation. Special music was provided by the Christ Lutheran Choir,directed by Glen Keller, and an original composition by A. J. Herl, whoplayed guitar and sang.Rev. Rich Shields, Rev. Gary Lissy, Rev. Franklin HaysSelected portion of letter from Al Quie andBob Lee, Minnetonka, MNMembers, the ELCA has left us.The leadership of the Evangelical LutheranChurch of America turned its back on members ofELCA churches and threatens the very existence of the churchby allowing noncelibate pastors in homosexual relationships tobe ordained into the ELCA. The ELCA has acted contrary tothe inspired Word of God the authoritative source and norm of14Evangel March/April 2010

proclamation, faith and life (ELCA Constitution Section 2.03).Most members were caught off-guard when just a few hundredpeople at the ELCA Church Wide Assembly in Minneapolis madethis decision in August.There were 4.6 million members of ELCA congregations,and those members did not have a voice in this criticaldecision. In fact, the ELCA Articles of Incorporation (ArticleVIII) prevent us from voting. Members of Congregations of theChurch shall not, as such, have any voting rights with respect tothis corporation. Congregations fund the ELCA from members’offerings, but members have no voice.the decision. In September, 91 percent of the members surveyedat a congregational meeting of Hosanna Lutheran Church ofLakeville, Minn., one of Minnesota s largest ELCA congregations,supported separation from the ELCA. Also, the two largestELCA congregations in North Dakota, Hope Lutheran and FirstLutheran of Fargo, voted to stop funding the ELCA.Not only were the members of the ELCA denied a voteon this controversial proposal, those members do not have theopportunity to directly elect the presiding bishop nor the nationalchurch council that theoretically runs the ELCA. No one representsall the laity.The ELCA leadership certainly did not want congregationalmembers voting on this controversial and unprecedentedproposal because the vast majority of us would have opposedNew Lutheran Church in LiberiaAfter 14 years of war, it has taken four Lutheran churchbodies in Liberia, West Africa, just two years to cometogether and form the Evangelical Lutheran Church ofLiberia (ELCL).The new church body of some 350 congregations wasformed earlier this year when the separate Liberian Lutheranchurch bodies merged. Leaders of the four churches, the EvangelicalLutheran Church — Liberia Synod, the Universal Houseof Prayer Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia, the EvangelTemple Lutheran Church, and Christ Assembly Lutheran Church,signed a “memorandum of unification” during a five-hour serviceon 14 May 2009 in Monrovia.New Leader in LCSAConvening in Klerksdorp from 30 November to 2 December2009, one of the major decisions for the LutheranChurch in Southern Africa (LCSA) was to elect a successorto Bishop Dr. David Tswaedi, who did not make himselfavailable for another term of office.On the second ballot, Rev. Dr. Wilhelm Weber, rector ofthe Lutheran Theological Seminary in Tshwane (LTST), received aclear majority of the votes and was elected the third Bishop in thehistory of the LCSA.“We were all taken by surprise that an all-Black votingdelegation of 71 persons could settle for a non-Black candidate,”outgoing bishop Tswaedi commented the result. “But quicklyour surprise was removed by the realization of two aspects: 1. InChrist Jesus there is no Tswana, Zulu or German, we are all baptizedand forgiven children of the heavenly Father. 2. It remindedus again of the same grace of God that still over-shadows our* The AALC has been a member of the International Lutheran Council (ILC) since 2007Quie is a former Republican governor of Minnesota. It appearedin, and is reprinted with permission of, the Grand Forks Herald,January 09 2010.Major goals of the ELCL include establishing a seminarywith both pastoral and deaconess programs, and applying formembership in the International Lutheran Council. In the yearsbefore the merger, each of the church bodies had started congregationsand schools throughout the country, so the new ELCL“now has congregations, Lutheran schools, pastors … and churchleaders in almost all of the 16 language/cultural groups and majorregions of Liberia,” notes Dr. David Erber, area facilitator forEnglish speaking West Africa with LCMS World Mission. “Thechurch is in a tremendous position to share the message of JesusChrist to the entire nation.”Source: ILC News, Vol. XXI, No. 1, 1 February 2010 (A Publication ofthe International Lutheran Council)*country, that we South Africans are indeed on the road to becomingthat wonderful Rainbow Nation that we have been talkingabout since 1994!”Weber studied Lutheran Theology in Pretoria, South Africaand in Oberursel and Erlangen, Germany. After serving the Wittenbergcongregation of the Free Evangelical Lutheran Synodin South Africa (FELSISA) from 1992 to 2000, and earning hisdoctorate at the University of South Africa in 2003, he accepteda teaching position at the LTST in Pretoria, whose rector he becamein 2004.The 48 year old theologian is married to Angelika Scharlach.The couple has four children.The installation of Bishop-elect Weber will take place on 21March 2010 in the Mofolo North congregation in Johannesburg.Source: ILC News, Vol. XXI, No. 1, 1 February 2010 (A Publication ofthe International Lutheran Council)*Evangel March/April 2010 15

The American Association of Lutheran Churches921 East Dupont Road, #920Fort Wayne, IN 46825-1551ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTEDThe American Associationof Lutheran Churches921 East Dupont Road, #920Fort Wayne, IN 46825-1551Phone: (260) 452-3213Fax: (260) 452-3215Evangel Response FormWe’d like to give you an opportunity to subscribe to the Evangeland to help us send a gift subscription to someone else. Simply fi llout the form below and we will make sure you receive a copy everyother month. If there is anything else we can help you with, please indicateit on this form and mail it to the address listed at the bottom ofthis page. God bless you and thank you for supporting this faith ministry.Name ________________________________________________Address ______________________________________________City, State, Zip _________________________________________I am enclosing $ _______ for a gift subscription.VISIT US ON THE WEBwww.taalc.org_____New Evangel Subscription for $10.00 per year._____Renewal Evangel Subscription for $10.00 per year._____Please note my new address._____Please send me information about The AALC.

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines