Bishop's Blast May 2023
Keeping you informed
Frequently through the years I have taken notice of and reflected on the shift that happens in the middle of the season of Easter. It comes with the Fourth Sunday of Easter which we call Good Shepherd Sunday. Before that the readings focus our attention on the fact of the resurrection of Christ. We have eyewitness accounts of the resurrection and the stories of the disciples moving from incredulity to belief. These texts of course do the same in us. We are brought to faith or confirmed in the faith. We respond, “He is risen indeed! Alleluia!”
Then in the fourth week of Easter the focus changes to the meaning and results of the resurrection in our daily and eternal lives. Because Christ is risen it means that Jesus is our Good Shepherd. Because Christ is risen he protects, nurtures, and guides us in this world and into the next.
This theme is fleshed out for us in weeks 4-7 of Easter in our Gospel readings which come from John 14-16. This selection of readings has always seemed to be something that needs a bit of a mental adjustment as we listen and reflect. After all, this is the season of Easter in which we celebrate the resurrection and yet these readings are coming from Jesus’ teachings the night before he is betrayed, before he is crucified and raised! If we do not pause for a moment and orientate ourselves to the timeline and the reason for choosing these passages we can become confused.
So why do we use these teachings? Because they speak to the reality of life post-resurrection! Look at those chapters again.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
NJDU Homecoming for all NJD Churches!
The third session of NJDU, called Homecoming, is being opened up to all congregations of the NJ District.
What is Homecoming? Like a high school or college homecoming, all of our congregations are invited to come together for a day of learning and discussion. We will have both plenary and breakout sessions aimed at training and developing your leadership team to be more effective leaders. In the breakout sessions Elders will gather in one room, Treasurers in another, Presidents and Council members in another and Pastors in yet another. As well as there being a teaching specific to your area, you will be able to share and cross pollenate ideas with those form other churches.
We don’t envision this as a one-off event but hope that, with some success, this can develop into ongoing training and sharing (perhaps held annually). For this to become a possibility we will need your participation this year.
Homecoming will be held Saturday June 17th 9:00 am – 3:00 pm at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Westfield. Please register your church’s team (including who will be attending) so we can plan appropriately for space and lunch. You may register by emailing or calling the District Office.
Call Day and the Fort Wayne and St. Louis Seminaries
The April Council of Presidents Meeting is always built around Call Day at the seminaries. Although we did not receive any Vicars or Pastors this year it was still, as always, an exciting day. The sad news was that the class this year (and in the next several to come) was small. There were approximately 80 students placed (40 from each seminary) which meant that there were 54 congregation who asked for a candidate who did not receive one.
We are reminded by these statistics that there is a lot of work to be done in the areas of raising up workers for the church. We have been talking for years about a crisis coming. Now it is here. A new initiative called “Set Apart to Serve” has begun to help the church raise up workers. The program is being piloted right now and I expect that all of our congregations will be asked to participate in the near future. But don’t wait. If there are young men you can encourage to be pastors and young women you can encourage to be deaconesses and church workers please do so. But not just the young. Second career pastors and church workers are to be encouraged as well.
District Short Clips
As always, there is a lot going on in the District. Here are a few to keep you abreast of what is happening.
The following congregations are in the call process:
Bethlehem, Ridgewood is working with her second call list.
St. John, Bloomfield and Calvary, Verona are preparing to receive a second call list.
Holy Trinity, Somerset is preparing for her first call list.
St. Paul Incarnation, Pompton Lake will become a dual point parish with Holy Spirit Montville. Rev. Michael Dunne will pastor both congregations.
Five NJD pastors have announced their retirement. Their congregations will be entering the call process.
Circuit 3 has a new Lay Representative for the NJD Board of Directors. Jason Kiefer is approaching ordination through the SMP program and will no longer be eligible for this Board position. With Jason’s resignation the Board has appointed Larry Chenault of Good Shepherd, Randolph to fill the position. Welcome Larry and may God bless your service to the District!
The deadline for filing Synodical Statistical Reports has been extended to May 30th. This is both good and bad news. The good news is that if your congregation has not filed its 2022 Statistical Report to Synod you have more time to do so. The bad news is that the deadline has been extended because far too many congregations have not filed their report. This is an obligation that each congregation has agreed to do as part of our walking together in Synod. These statistics are import because they aid in the planning and strategizing Synod does. It also helps you as a congregation understand the trends in your congregation. Please be diligent and faithful in filling out your report. Pastors, Presidents, and Elders are responsible for the completion of this obligation.
The 2023 Spring Pastors Conference has been scheduled for May 22-24th at the Shawnee Inn. This is a Respite Retreat conducted by Doxology. Through this retreat we are seeking to give attention to the health and well being of our pastors. When they are healthy they serve better. Pray for our pastors as they gather for this important event.
Thank you to the 70+ golfers who gathered at the Heron Glenn Golf Course for our 17th Mission Classic Golf Outing. The weather was overcast and a bit chilly but there was no rain! For that we thank God and also for the $3000+ that was raised for our NJD missions. Bragging rights for a little less than 50% of those who entered the Beat the Bishop contest were earned as well as a commemorative mug that says “I beat the Bishop”. If you got one, enjoy it. I intend on making them more rare in the future! :>)
2023 Synodical Convention
Once every three years (four in this cycle because of co-vid) Synod holds it national convention. The event will take place this year in Milwaukee from July 29th – August 3rd. Each of our four Electoral Circuits is allowed a voting pastoral and lay delegate. The Board of Directors is also allowed to send two non-voting delegates.
While the purpose of the convention is to be educational, inspirational and motivational, the majority of time is taken up by the consideration of the resolutions being brought before the convention for action. Our delegates will be gathering on Saturday June 24th at the District Offices to discuss the issues and prepare to vote and participate.
As important as preparing for the convention is, we are also preparing to bring the convention back home with us to you. Our Board of Director representatives will be monitoring the resolutions and discussions noting which of them directly relate to our District and which one relate to our congregations. These resolutions will be evaluated and prioritized in light of our District’s goals. Both the District Board and you as congregations will be able to join the conversation about the ones you desire to prioritize and implement in your ministry. We are hoping in this way to bring Synod, District and congregations closer together.
I am please to announce that I will be starting my Official Visits to congregations. My goal is to visit each congregation once every three years for in an official capacity. My first cycle of visits was simply to introduce myself to you and to get to know you a bit better. I am thankful for your warm welcomes. Now in this second round of visits we can go deeper.
I, of course, hope to continue building our relationship in these visits, but also would like to learn more about your ministry and congregational life. I will join you for worship and Bible Class on a Sunday morning and then we can share a lunch together before we move into a time where you can share with me about your congregation and I can share with you about the District. A key part of this conversation will focus on your plan for ministry. I hope to be a help and encouragement to you as you seek to bring Christ to our world.
This week is Ascension and soon after will follow Pentecost. Both flow out of the resurrection but are significant events in and of themselves. May all these festival days and seasons bless and strengthen you as you live post-resurrection as Christ’s Easter people.