Greetings in the name of our gracious and merciful Savior Jesus Christ.
My Presidency has yet to reach its one-month mark but it has been plenty eventful. We started off the month with a vicious strike from Ida. The whole of the state felt her fury with flooding and tornadoes. Mike Dunne (NJ Disaster Relief) and our Vice Presidents reported back about many of the difficulties our pastors, congregations, and members experienced. While some of our towns suffered great loss, we are pleased that, with the exception of a few cases (see below regarding Fenco and Bottoms), we did not see worse.
The month continued with the Council of Presidents in St. Louis. I know the analogy is trite but it was like drinking from a fire hose. With time I am sure the job will become easier. However, for the present, much of my time is being taken by the necessity to learn systems and procedures. I would like to say that, while there wasn’t always agreement among COP members, there was an incredible love for the Lord and his Church that came from every single member of the Council. Thanks be to God!
I have also had the joy of being in four of our congregations and with one Circuit Pastors Meeting. I have had the privilege of meeting a number of our wonderful and faithful members. It is so good to be with God’s people as they celebrate God’s mercy in Christ and the fellowship of his Church. I look forward to being with more of you in the coming days
In all of this I want to thank you for your prayers. They are much needed as I, along with you, seek to guide this District into the God pleasing work he has given us.
Below are a few other items that might be of interest to you.
It has been reported that a number of our churches experienced flooding as a result of Ida. Among them are St. Paul Flemington, Our Savior Fair Lawn, and Luther Memorial Tinton Falls. In addition, some of our pastors experienced flooding in their homes. For the most part the damage was minimal and clean-up went quick.
The most extreme damage came to the homes of the Fenco and Bottoms families. A tornado hit in the Bottoms’ neighborhood resulting in great damage. The Bottoms were spared major loss but experienced the loss of trees, a fence, roof shingles, and a window. The Fencos fared much worse and lost their house when flooding filled their basement reaching the first floor and a gas explosion occurred next door. The house was ruled uninhabitable. The Fencos are working with their insurance company to determine what steps to take in the future.
The District has set up a place on its website where people can contribute to relief for them. I also hear that many congregations are collecting funds to help. The District is happy to be of assistance to gather and distribute the funds. Checks may be sent to the District or you may use the website.
I encourage you and your congregations to be active in the relief efforts. My congregation, St. Peter, gathered funds both for the Fenco family and for two nursery school families from Lambertville who lost much in the flooding. Cheryl and I were able to volunteer at the pop-up pantry located at the elementary school in Lambertville on Labor Day (the town’s two food pantries we lost in the flooding). We received donations from the community, stocked the tables with goods, and helped those who came for aid find what they needed.
NJ District Pastors Conference
The NJ District Pastors Conference will meet on Tuesday November 9th at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Flemington. Please set this date aside for us to be together. Registration materials will be sent out shortly. Our speaker will be Rev. Larry Vogel, most recently of the CTCR. He will speak to us on the subject of Catechesis, particularly
1. Catechism Writ Small--On the SC and Our Explanation
2. Catechism Writ Large--On the LC Then and Now
3. Catechism as Narrative
I am pleased to inform you that two of our congregations have received acceptances to the pastoral calls they issued!
Rev. Jon Hodges has accepted the call to Christ the King, Ringwood. He has already arrived and will be installed at a service on Sunday, October 10th at 3:00 pm.
Rev. Andrew Wolfgram has accepted the call to Holy Cross, Bordentown. He will be arriving the second week of October and will be installed at a service on Sunday October 17th at 3:00 pm.
LCMS clergy are invited to vest and participate in the service and all are welcome to attend to celebrate God’s gifts and give thanks for his provision.
The annual observance of the Reformation is quickly approaching. You are encouraged to mark this movement of God in his Church and celebrate the freedom of the gospel. Keep in mind that in these days there are many 500th anniversaries to be celebrated. This year you might celebrate:
1. Luther translating the NT into German
2. The theological and social reforms of Luther’s return to Wittenberg; education for all,
musician and poets encouraged to write hymns for church services
3. Zwingli eats sausage in Lent (OK maybe this is best for a tangent in Bible Class)
Perhaps Circuit gatherings or area gatherings for the celebration of the Reformation can bring a sense of the wider fellowship of the Church. Do you know your brothers and sisters from neighboring LCMS congregations? Special services with a dinner for the Reformation, Advent, Epiphany etc. could be a good way of bringing us closer. Especially given the more difficult times in which we live, we need one another. We need to know one another better.
Four LCMS congregations in the Trenton area, calling themselves Partners in Mission, are sponsoring a Reformation service at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Lawrenceville. Others are welcome to attend and clergy from our churches are welcome to vest and process. It will take place on Sunday October 31st at 4:00 pm.
We are blessed to have been gifted with a church in which we can be nurtured and in which we can nurture. God richly bless you as you worship and serve.