October Bishop's Blast
Our 50th Anniversary!
October is usually highlighted by our celebration of the Reformation. You are certainly encouraged to do
that this year as well but I would also like to encourage you to add a very special celebration to that; the
50 th Anniversary of the New Jersey District. Yes, fifty years ago in 1972 the Atlantic District gave birth to
three smaller Districts, the Atlantic, the New England and the New Jersey. While not overtly stated in
the proposal document, one could surmise from the reasoning there that a rationale for birthing these
three districts was so that each could focus more specifically on the needs within their boundaries. That
remains as a rationale for our being and a motivation for our gospel ministry.
On Saturday October 29 th at 3:00 pm we will gather at the Princeton University Chapel, Princeton
University for a service of thanks and praise. Our theme is Christ: Our Past, Our Present, Our Future. Past
Presidents Sandmann and Klettke will join us for this service and share God’s Word with us. Presidents
Lecakes (Atlantic) and Beinke (New England) will be with us to bring greetings. Pastors of the NJ District
are invited to robe with red stoles and process. We are hoping that each congregation can bring 10
people which, if it happens, would give us a congregation of 500! What a marvelous gathering that
would be. I am asking you to make plans to come and to bring a friend. Your presence will help make
this a wonderful celebration.
Early publicity for this event offered light refreshments after the service. Regrettably that will not be
able to happen. But we are encouraging people to gather outside the chapel after the service for
conversation and even for groups to make plans for dinning out together.
Happy 50 th birthday NJD!
The memory of Hurricane Ian has begun to fade from our memories even though it has only been about
three weeks. But let’s not forget the people who were victims of this storm and its destruction. We are
thankful that the congregations and church workers of our Southeast District were spared and report
few needs. However, that is not the case with our Florida/Georgia District. President Rockey reported,
As of this writing, we now know that we have at least a dozen churches with varying degrees of
damage. This damage ranges from approximately $50,000 to several hundred. In many cases,
the damage is either below their deductible or they have no coverage i.e., no flood insurance etc.
In addition, we now have requests for assistance from more than 60 workers (pastors, teachers
etc.) and anticipate that we may reach 100 with need for assistance. We have several homes
with flooding and only one of those with flood insurance. Most of the damage in the others is due
to wind (lost roofs) and resulting water damage.
The NJ District is committed to helping our brothers and sisters in need. We will match dollar for dollar
gifts given to the Florida/Georgia District through the NJ District. I know some churches are already
giving through other pathways. Please keep doing that. We only hope to encourage others to be
generous as well. Please keep these people and congregations in your prayers.
Fall is often the time when we think more about stewardship. Thanksgiving at the end of November and
budget preparations for the coming year quite naturally turn our minds to this subject. So, allow me to
share several thoughts about stewardship.
God knowing how much he has given to us?
God’s people about genuine stewardship and the joy of stewardship and then ask for them to
respond generously. Ask them to increase their giving, ask them to work toward the OT
guidance of the tithe. You are far more likely to receive a faith response if you ask than if you do
not. Speak God’s Word faithfully and let him work in people’s hearts.
those needs. Many times, I have given thanks for people of faith who have stepped up and given
when the church had a need. We should be bold to ask when the church has a true need. The
second kind of giving is more purely stewardship. This kind of giving, mindful of the gifts God has
given us, responds in faith and thanksgiving. This giving is not to a need but out of thankfulness.
Ultimately this is what we want to teach because this is what God ask of us.
lead us into giving out of what is left over after we have paid the necessities and had our fun.
Pledging can help us give generously to the Lord and curb our appetite for things of the flesh.
I hope these few words about stewardship will help you as pastors, congregations and the people of
God to think about how you will address stewardship in your congregations. And as you prepare your
budgets, I ask that you be generous in your gifts to District and increase what you gave last year. Above
all, whatever we do, let it be out of grace and in joy.
Congregational Lay Deacon Program
We began the training for our Congregational Lay Deacons this past September and they should be
approaching the completion of their first course! Many expressed interest in entering the program but
to date few have actually done so. Participation in the program, however, can happen at the beginning
of any course. Depending on the credit value, courses run either one or two months. That means there
are many opportunities throughout the year for students to enter the program. Please contact the
District Office if you are interested and we’ll get you enrolled. We anticipate these Lay Deacons being a
great blessing to our congregations.
Initiative for Ministry Development (IMD) Update
Small Church Clarity (SCC). The first offering of SCC which was for churches along the I-80 Corridor was
completed in August. These congregations now continue their work of developing a ministry plan.
Coaches have been assigned to the seven churches that actively participated in the process. These
coaches will help the pastors and congregations complete their plan and implement it. A second offering
of SCC began in September. Another six congregations are fully engaged in the process, have completed
two of the sessions, and are building out their Master Plan.
NJD University. NJDU is a more in-depth version of Small Church Clarity. This is the flagship component
of IMD and meant for congregations that are a bit further along in their ministry development than the
churches in SCC. So, if your congregation was not invited to SCC then you can expect that you will be
invited to NJDU. We anticipate NJDU to start in February. Again, the purpose is to help congregations to
manage well the planning and ministry development portion of their work. This is not a program where
we tell you what to do. Rather it is a process that helps you to develop ministry plans and create a
ministry plan unique to your congregation and community. Congregations that participate are expected
to bring a team of 4-6 congregational leaders to each session. Information with more detail will be
forthcoming or you can contact the District Office.
Please keep these congregations who are in the call process in your prayers.
has received and considers a call to St. Paul Lutheran Church, Tunkhannock, PA.
We love because he first loved us. We give because he gave to us. We serve because he served us.
God bless you,