Friday, October 15, 2021

Open Forum Agenda

Members of St John,

It has been 3 years since Pastor Voigt accepted a call to be the pastor of another congregation.  Since that time, we have had 3 Vacancy Pastors at St John.

We hired Pastor Stroh to help us move forward at St Johnshortly after Pastor Voigt left.  Some of the plans were to call another pastor and become a breakout congregation, merge with another congregation, or to close our doors and help our members find another congregation to join.  

The members at St John decided that we should merge with another congregation.  We have pursued that effort and tried to merge with Divinity.  That endeavor did not come to fruition.  Then our members decided to merge with Immanuel Hmong and that endeavor did not happen due to the cultural differences between us.

At our last open forum meeting, we concluded that St John could not sustain ourselves both financially and do the work needed here at St John due to the number of members who volunteer their time to accomplish that work.

Our God has been watching over us. He has given us the financial means to continue serving Him at St John. The Journey School’s interest to start a Charter School at St John was delayed, but when that looked like it would not happen for a while, God gave us another opportunity to lease our school facility to CLUES. The 5 year lease with CLUES is in the final stages and would be enough to provide for a pastor’s expenses. God also provided an endowment that would help us to continue His work at St John.

We have been in contact with the MN Mission Board and they expressed the need for a WELS presence on the east side of St Paul.  We are in a good location for outreach to our neighbors.  Our efforts to bring them into our congregation to hear His Word have not been fruitful and we need to pray that God will guide and strengthen us in our efforts.

Since our last merger attempt with Immanuel Hmong, the Council decided to have an Open Forum meeting to decide what we should do next.

We are asking for your thoughts and input on the following options.  This will not be a final decision, just a straw poll to find out what our members believe would be in the best interest of our people and the Lord’s church.  Please circle your first and possibly second choice and provide the reasoning for your selections.  We will be mailing this agenda to our members who could not make it to the meeting today.  This feedback will assist the Council in determining our next steps as a congregation.  We look forward to sharing the results and planning our future with the help of our Lord here at St John.  Please return this sheet by October 31.

1. Merge with another congregation.  Possibly considering a merger with Mt Olive.

2. Become a breakout congregation and call a pastor. Breakout means that we are willing to put additional efforts into outreach.  However. there is a currently a shortage of WELS pastors.

3. Find a pastor in our area that would be willing to serve 2 congregations at different locations.

4. Close our doors and help our members to find another WELS church to join.

5. Other ideas.                           Comments sheet on next page

COMMENTS SHEET

 

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Thursday, October 14, 2021

Worship-Sunday, October 10, 2021-Link

Worship-October 10, 2021

Open Forum Reminder

 There will be an Open Forum at St. John, following worship on Sunday, October 17th. 

A Note from Pastor Al - Grace

 GRACE

What is grace? By classic biblical definition, grace is “underserved love.” What does that mean in practical terms? It means that God is intent on providing gifts for a world full of humans who do not or could not ever deserve his intricate and patient attention.


Grace is complicated for several reasons. One, we don’t typically operate on the principle of grace in our world so we are startled by its presence; we may not even know how to accept it. In our world, life operates on the dictum of receiving what you deserve. You wander into a store and see something you would like, you can only deserve to have it if you put enough dollar bills on the counter or swipe your credit card.  If you simply walk out without paying, you don’t deserve to have that item and you may even be charged with theft. Grace does not govern the exceeding majority of our life.


Another rationale for expressing that grace is complicated relates to our view of self.  We don’t like to think that we don’t deserve things. On the contrary, we intuit the notion that we deserve to be treated well when going into a restaurant. We deserve to be treated like a normal, decent human being. The assumption is that something about us or in us is worthy of proper treatment. But is that completely true as God views His world and our place in it? 


When we work hard on a project, it is natural to believe that we deserve proper recognition for that work. How many of us might express some form of this statement: “I don’t deserve an ounce of credit for the 85 hours of work that I put into building this report”? That much time and effort deserves proper acknowledgment. But what do we really deserve? 


In God’s world, according to God’s way of calculating our level of “deservedness” we must start from the premise of origin, ownership, and performance. 


Origin

Our origin is not from our own intent. We exist because God is the starting point. God made the effort to call every human being into existence. Even from that viewpoint, God is the first cause of anything good we do; we are not the first cause. 


Ownership

God is the origin and God is the owner of all our resources, all our ability, all our time. If he owns our life, ability and all our resources, then every effort we ever make must point back to him. He deserves the credit for anything good that comes out of our life because it is not really our life but his.


Performance

Or to go further with this. How did each of us develop into the person we are today? Two human parents are to be credited with this achievement. We are the result because they gave us life. This means that our financial situation, our educational opportunities, our athletic prowess [or lack of] is attributed to someone other than ourselves. A coach refined and drove the human spirit to accomplish more. This is at least part of the reason great athletes, actors, scientists, etc. give credit to parents, previous teachers, professors, coaches and more when receiving career accolades. Even humanly speaking, we see that the good we pour out is, in part, attributed to those who came before us and to those who nudged us along.


But let’s take this one step further and uncover the spiritual side of this point. We don’t deserve anything good from God because of sin.  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  Sin disqualifies us from deserving anything good. The opposite is actually true: “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). What we deserve is not what we might think we deserve. 


This is why we need God’s Spirit to enter our thinking through the power of His Word. When God’s living and holy Word enters our minds, it fights to erase our entitlement and secures our understanding of God’s charity. It asks us to examine the truth of our fallen state and then, at the moment of humble acceptance, it lifts us out of any worthless gloom to see that God still desires our good.


In the hymn, Before the Throne of God Above, there is a verse that states how grace is displayed at the cross:


Because the sinless Savior died,

My sinful soul is counted free;

For God, the Just, is satisfied

To look on Him and pardon me.


God the Just is satisfied with the death that we all deserved because the sinless Savior died in our place. May God let that grace-filled truth erase our complacency, reduce our reticence to his compassion and empower us to praise the One who set us free. Jesus deserves our praise!

Special Voter's Meeting

There will be a Special Voter's meeting on October 24, at 9:30 AM, to extend a call to 
Pastor Al Schleusener, as Vacancy Pastor at St John from Dec 1 through May 3.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

SCLA Festival of Seasons Boutique

 

The Festival of Seasons boutique is an annual craft and bake sale that serves as the largest activities fundraiser of the year on Saturday, November 13 (same weekend as WELS National Choralfest in New Ulm). This fundraiser hosts up to 100 hand-craft vendors from the local community and hundreds of shoppers each year. Learn more at StCroixLutheran.org/fos

Team leaders are urgently needed to help coordinate volunteers, food (concessions, bake sale, and vendor lunches), decorating, and set-up/take-down. Contact Amanda Fuhrmann if you can serve as a team leader.

This parent-run fundraiser requires the help of many parents, students, and volunteers to serve as greeters, at the raffle table, concessions, bake sale, and more! Click here to serve and sign up to bring baked goods!

If you, your student, or anyone you know would like to play background music during a half hour time slot, contact Lisa Streckert.

Men of His Word - Men's Conference

The Men of His Word conference "equips Christian men to take a leadership role within their family, within their congregation, and in their community." This annual conference is scheduled for Saturday, October 23, 2021 in Rochester, Minnesota, that brings men together to discuss relevant issues and shares resources for both individuals and groups to challenge men in their homes and congregations. Learn more here and here.

Worship-October 3, 2021-livestream


A Note from Pastor Al - link - Thorns and Thistles


Encouragement from Pastor Al

 Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal. 
// Isaiah 26:4