Keeping you informed…
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Yes, the season is wearing on but it is still very much the season of Easter. The proclamation is still (as it always is) appropriate. None-the-less there is a subtle difference in our readings and the flavor of each Sunday. The first Sundays of Easter focus on the resurrection of Jesus and his appearance to the disciples. This gives us the assurance of eyewitnesses and the fact of the resurrection. We can and do believe the word and the testimony of these eyewitnesses. But then the focus shifts to what that resurrection means for us. The focus becomes Christ’s resurrected life in us! We see the work of the Holy Spirit (John 14-16), Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer (John 17), and his Ascension highlighted. We see the same movement in the readings from the book of Acts. It moves from proclamation of Jesus resurrection to the life of Christ in the Church. Our season of Easter is a blessing to us in that it reminds us of this connection and the movement we celebrate in Christ’s resurrection. Christ is risen!
April’s Council of Presidents Meeting
As some of you may know, the highlight of April’s Council of Presidents Meeting is always the Call and Placements Services at our St. Louis and Fort Wayne seminaries. This year the St. Louis vicarage placements were at 3:00 in the afternoon on Tuesday. The call service for graduates was that evening. The next day, Wednesday, was dedicated for travel from St. Louis to Fort Wayne with the call service at Fort Wayne being in the evening. Yes, it is a bit of a whirlwind but such joyous days as we celebrate those men and women (most young but not all of them) who are entering church work as vicars, pastors, and deaconesses. The atmosphere is electric with anticipation as workers, spouses, parents, and congregations await the assignments.
The New Jersey District is blessed to be the recipient of a candidate from the Fort Wayne Seminary. His name is Jordan Peiser from Illinois. Jordan is uniquely gifted in that he is a Jewish believer. His call is also unique; it is a joint call between Zion Lutheran Church, Maywood and Apple of His Eye Mission Society. Apple of His Eye specializes in evangelistic ministry to Jewish people. So, when the seminary called asking if we had a place for such a joint ministry I set to work to see if such a place existed that would welcome such a partnership. Zion, Maywood was that place! We rejoice with Zion in receiving this pastor and their partnership with Apple of His Eye. Please pray for Zion, her ministry, and this special ministry to Jewish people.
At the same time, we are disappointed that Prince of Peace, Hamburg did not have her request for a candidate fulfilled. We trust that our Lord, the gracious Lord of the Church, has other plans in store for Prince of Peace. Please pray that the Lord will provide for her pastoral needs. This vacancy situation reminds us to be praying and working toward the enrollment of people in church-work and especially pastoral training. Very simply more individual from New Jersey need to enter the ministry and return to our beloved state to work in God’s kingdom. What a blessing it would be if each congregation would send at least one person into the ministry in the next ten years!
On Monday of the Council of Presidents we met at the International Center (our denominational headquarters also in St. Louis). The chapel service for that day was the observance of the 175th Anniversary of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. For more information go to: https://reporter.lcms.org/2022/lcms-international-center-marks-175th-anniversary-of-synod/
President Harrison preached on Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved”. The sermon title and theme of the service was “Jesus Only” reminding us that, as before, so now, we rely on Jesus alone for our salvation and life.
Coincidently, this year is also the 50th Anniversary of the New Jersey District. Efforts are underway to plan a celebratory service for this anniversary. Expect the service to happen this fall.
IMD (Initiative for Ministry Development) and Small Church Clarity
I reported last month that we had the first session of our I-80 Corridor Small Church Clarity. We had 11 churches in attendance working on developing ministry plans. The second session met on May 15th at St. John, Clifton. All eleven congregations returned for the second session and a twelfth joined in. This is a wonderful retention rate! Congregational leaders continued to flesh out their guiding statements and one-page explanations and started work on campus planning.
At his time, I would like to announce that we will be offering a second Small Church Clarity for our central and south Jersey churches beginning in September. Invitations will be going out by the end of spring. Churches that would like to be a part of this second round of Clarity are encouraged to contact my office to reserve a spot.
In order to offer this second round of Clarity, the start of our NJDU is being postponed until January, 2023. You will hear more about this offering as we draw closer to the time.
Lay Deacon Training
The defining and development of our Lay Deacon Training is underway. For now, let me simply repeat what I said last month. Please keep this effort in your prayers.
Part of our NJ District vision is to train Lay Deacons to work in our congregations under the supervision of our pastors. Our hope is to have at least one trained and certified Lay Deacon in each congregation. We are currently developing this training program and intend to enroll our first cohort this summer to begin training in September. Individuals interested in this training must be nominated by their congregation, endorsed by their pastor, and interviewed by the District before enrollment. Congregations are encouraged to start identifying people for this training and to nominate them to the District.
Older Adult Ministry
Most, if not every one, of our congregations has the opportunity for older adult ministry. If you are looking for ideas or support in how to do that ALOA is a great resource. Shirley Carpenter is our NJD staff person for older adult ministry and she would be happy to talk with you. In addition, you can check out ALOA’s newsletter at https://aloaserves.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/ALOA_March-22.pdf
Synod’s next convention is July 29-August 3, 2023 in Milwaukee. Circuit Forums will be meeting this fall to elect pastoral and lay delegates and alternate delegates. Congregation will have the opportunity to make nominations for various elected positions and to vote for President, 1st Vice President, and Synod Secretary (watch for mailings to your congregation). For more information and a poster to display the timeline of pre-convention events go to lcms.org/convention.
The end of Easter is a kind of mini-festival season. It includes Ascension, Pentecost, and Trinity Sunday. All of these, as well as every Sunday of the Church Year, is a celebration of our God, born out of the resurrection of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. As Christ lives, may he live in you too!
God bless you,