10088 Prairie Knoll Ct.
St. John, IN 46373
Mobile: (941) 302-1281
2104 Campbell Street
Valparaiso, IN 46383
Office: (815) 464-9181
Mobile: (765) 237-7678
President: Bob Wierenga (Wisconsin)
Vice President: Vacant
Past President: Edie Lenz (Illinois)
Organic Outreach Conference – Organic Outreach is being used by some of our RCA churches in the west coast and Michigan as an easy and natural way to integrate an outreach lifestyle as part of of outreach. Wheaton College is hosting this event on Saturday, March 18. Cost of the conference is $25 per person, unless you bring a team of 10 or more. You can register for it HERE.
The New Issue of RCAToday, featuring stories from our region, is available for online viewing HERE.
Coaching Offered by RSMA – If you are in need of a coach, the Regional Synod of Mid-America offers ministry coaching for pastors needing coaching on specific areas of ministry focus. Contact Chad for more details.
The RCA is featuring a new resource from Todd Billings, professor of Reformed theology at Western Theological Seminary. In these three videos, Todd examines what it means for Reformed Christians to read and interpret the Bible as the Word of God. The accompanying study guide is intended to help small groups engage with and process Todd’s teaching. The videos are designed to be used either in one 90-minute session or in three separate, one-hour sessions—whatever better fits your context. The videos and study guide, entitled “A Light to My Path: Interpreting Scripture as Reformed Christians,” are available on the RCA website.
The Third Annual Celebration of Women in Church Leadership will be held Saturday, March 4, 2017; 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan. Come for a day of celebration, encouragement and equipping. All RCA, CRC and ecumenical sisters welcome!
. A Youth Corresponding Delegate to General Synod is still needed for this year’s RCA General Synod taking place in Holland, MI at Hope College from June 8-13, 2017. This non-voting delegate is one who is somewhere around traditional college age. In addition to participating in the regular business of the General Synod, the youth corresponding delegates meet and do things together. It is anticipated that the youth delegates have given some thought about the possibility that God may be calling him or her into ministry, but that does not necessarily mean that a decision has been made. It is an intention of the participation in General Synod as a youth delegate to help that person discern hearing the Holy Spirit’s voice. Do you know of someone who might be a candidate for this youth delegate? Please contact Chad.
Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism
The Wisconsin Council of Churches will be putting on this event led by Dr. Drew G. I. Hart. Dr. Hart is a professor in theology, an author, and an activist with ten years of pastoral experience. This event will be held March 3-4 at Sun Prairie United Methodist Church, 702 North St, Sun Prairie, WI. You can learn more about this event by clicking HERE.
News from Camp Manitoqua
You are invited to our Summer Camp Open House at Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center. Join us on Tuesday, March 7, 2017, anytime between 4pm and 7pm, starting in the Chapel. Come take a tour of our facility and meet staff. Summer campers, now is the time to bring your friends and introduce them to Camp!
Fathers and sons, join Camp Manitoqua and Retreat Center for our Forge weekend retreat, March 10-11, 2017. Designed to give fathers the opportunity to commission their sons to begin the process of becoming men through biblical teaching and hands-on learning. Visit Manitoqua.org/forge for information and to register or call the office at 815.469.2319.
Join Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center for a one-day paintball event, March 18, 2017 called Operation New Horizons, for ages 7th grade and up. Experience a full, memorable day of paintball built on our wooded course. For more information or to register online visit Manitoqua.org/paintballdays or call the office at 815.469.2319.
Summer Staff: Have you considered spending a summer in ministry? Applications for 2017 summer staff at Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center are available online at www.manitoqua.org/jobs and are being accepted. Cooks & Summer Kitchen Assistants: For cooks, food service experience and sanitation license is preferred. No experience needed for summer kitchen assistants. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for an application or call the office at 815.469.2319.
Registration for ‘Summer Camp 2017 begins February 1st. Remember to register early for preferred dates. Visit Manitoqua.org for more information and to register, or call our office at 815.469.2319.
STORIES OF CELEBRATION
We share stories of celebration to glorify God. This month’s story comes from Rolling Hills Community Church in Zellwood, FL. We hope these stories inspire and encourage others in our region. If you’d like to share what God is doing in your church, please email Chad.
Rolling Hills Community Church in Zellwood, FL was established by Robert Schuller and Norman Vincent Peale nearly 30 years ago to be a convenient worship location for the retirement community of Zellwood Station. In the following years, families and folks both young and old have made up the vibrant and friendly congregation. Over the years Rolling Hills has seen growth primarily through retirees moving into the area and the “snowbirds” migrating here for the winter. Wanting to expand their outreach, the church decided to actively reach out to young families.
In early 2016, Rolling Hills hired Pastor Joe Robinson who, with his wife and 3 daughters began serving at the church alongside the current pastor Bill Bengtson and the consistory with the goal of expanding the reach of RHCC into the local community. They began an additional prayer night to petition God to reveal His will for the direction of the church. Church members worked together to put in place many new initiatives that year. Starting with small groups in the spring, the year was off to a running start. Elder Eric Stapp planned RHCC’s first Vacation Bible School event over the summer. It was a great success with nearly 25 children attending – many from the homeless and drug rehabilitation residential shelter nearby. Church members kept joking about having more volunteers than children which actually was a wonderful blessing for the kids to have such individual attention.
Fall brought more opportunities for outreach when the church decided to host a pumpkin patch on site and hold a fall festival. The pumpkin patch served as a wonderful outreach ending with new interest in the church and a new family immediately attending. The fall festival, complete with bounce houses and a trunk or treat was a huge hit. Church members decorated their car trunks and handed out candy, or helped grill burgers and bake pies. Total attendance was close to 50 with a large majority being moms and kids from the nearby homeless shelter who were very grateful for the special opportunity.
Momentum continued building as the year drew to a close and God brought an experienced children’s church director who volunteered to run children’s church as a second service was started that would focus primarily on attracting younger families. With that, and a volunteer to run the sound system, a new service was born. Even getting that building ready for worship (it had previously been leased to a school) was a church family effort. Church members cleaned and painted and prepared for another community outreach. Local neighborhoods even donated all the items for the nursery! The new service is contemporary and casual giving Rolling Hills the flexibility to offer a traditional worship service at 9:30 meeting the needs of the entire community
Now, the church continues to focus on the community. Rebecca Robinson leads a weekly class at the Anthony House which is a local shelter for homeless families. The church continues to faithfully pray seeking God’s will, knowing that every next step is a step toward bringing Christ to a desperately needy world. Plans for 2017 include an Easter event, along with an expanded VBS and fall festival. The church is increasing their promotion and marketing presence in the community with yard signs and Facebook ads while the new pastor spends time in the community personally inviting people to church. God is working in Zellwood, FL!
THOUGHTS FROM WAYNE
African American Church Leadership…
Parnell Lovelace, Jr. talks about the unique role that the African American pastor plays during this time of uncertainty and frustration in our nation. The division in the political climate and the crises in police-community relations calls for a strong role in leadership in the church. Historically, the African American church has served as a place of refuge, a place where education has been handed down from generation to generation, a place where skills were learned and leaders were produced. But Lovelace says that the overall decline in church attendance, and the increasing lack of a cultural moral compass, has left many disillusioned, confused and lacking direction. Credibility of leadership is no longer taken for granted and holding a position no longer assures respect. The African American pastor today must expand his/her leadership role from the traditional confines of the African American church to multi-ethnic and multi-cultural opportunities. In order for this to happen Lovelace identifies five essentials that need to be addressed:
“1. The pastor must embrace a healthy theology and historical perspective that has served as the catalyst of the African American church. The African American church was the heart of the African American community. However, many leaders have lost a heart for the community. The introduction of the “prosperity gospel” and a health-and-wealth theology has diminished the theology of suffering. People still suffer. Yet, this truth does not align with the message of many pulpits. 2. Within a pluralistic society that celebrates multiculturalism and multiethnic expression and worship, there is a need for the demonstration and full inclusion of African American spirituality and expression. The African American church brings thought, style, passion, and experience that enhances the overall tapestry of spirituality within our nation. Its cadence of preaching, singing, and communication enriches the global church as a whole. 3. The leadership of the African American church and the educational community must realign themselves. Many of the historical African American colleges and universities have their foundation in the African American church. The clergy must see education as an ally in strengthening credibility and as a place to reach younger generations that are detached from the church. The college campus must be viewed as a training ground for our youth, and the church as the spiritual undergirding of our youth. The African American church must invest in scholarship programs, after-school tutoring, and campus ministry that ensures positive affirmation and presence. 4. The leadership of the African American church must explore, research, and speak into the difficult and diverse issues of the community; specifically, the discussion of police and community relations, the economy, incarceration policy, foster care, and health care disparity. The church must not abandon its advocacy role. The post-election culture suggests that there is a more need than ever for leadership to assume this posture of care and support. 5. Character and integrity must be foundational within the African American church. Many have lost trust in the church due to abusive and manipulative components that have allowed scandals to occur and have diminished the efficacy and influence of the church. We must return to being people of the Bible.”
African American leaders are being called upon to take the steps necessary to turn around the trends in our churches and our communities. The development of healthy African American leaders is essential for the ongoing mission of the church as it navigates the challenges of the days ahead.
— Wayne Van Regenmorter
LINKS YOU MAY FIND HELPFUL
10 Reasons Churches Don’t Reach Millennials – Many people are pessimistic about millennials, but others believe this generation is poised to transform the culture (and the world) for good. For many churches and leaders, however, millennials are (to borrow a quote from Winston Churchill) “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”
Faith-Rooted Organizing Brings People Together to Create Change – Community organizing is in many ways about empowering people and achieving democracy, but faith-rooted organizing takes a very different approach from that of its secular counterparts, says the Rev. Peter G. Heltzel, the co-author of “Faith-Rooted Organizing: Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World.”
Only 1 in 7 Senior Pastors Is Under 40 – The pulpit has been graying for decades. In the ’60s, a majority of pastors were under 45. In 2017, most are over 60. The age shift stems from evolving career expectations and difficulty passing leadership on to millennial-aged pastors, Barna reported.
3 Ways Some Churches Grow without Getting Bigger – Sure, there are healthy churches that are growing numerically, and a lot of unhealthy ones that aren’t. But there are a lot of healthy, outward-reaching churches that don’t see the kind of butts-in-the-seats growth they’ve been told is inevitable.