Recently, we asked those who blog regularly to send us your blog’s web address. If you have not done so, please send it to Chad Schuitema. We will feature a different blog from around the synod each newsletter.
This issue we are featuring Holly Schut. Holly blogs at Mid-Life Momentum Her goal is to help people see God in the everyday occurrences, as well as helping them live with passion and purpose. Check out Holly’s blog!
Pastors and Leadership Teams gathered in Green Lake, Wisconsin for a Ridder Church Renewal retreat. Faithful and fruitful missional living individually and corporately was one of the topics explored during the retreat led by Jim Herrington, Trisha Taylor, Brian Stone, and Chip Sauer. If you or your church is interested in learning more about the Ridder Church Renewal process, please email Chad Schuitema.
Leaders and church from our region will be participating in a First Call Pilot Program being designed by the Reformed Church in America with the help of a Lilly grant.The program is seeking to learn best practices from churches that have done well with pastors in their first call. The hope is that a process can be designed to help churches as they call pastors right from seminary.
Transformed and Transforming is the Reformed Church in America’s new 15 year focus. For more information, including devotions and discussion guides for consistories, click here.
The Journey (formerly Living Fire Leadership Ministries) is a discipleship and leadership development process available in our synod for churches. If your church is interested in training leaders and disciples, begin thinking about participating (you choose the start date, typically in September) in The Journey. For more information, check out the Synod’s link on the website.
Awareness Days and Weeks…
Have you ever checked the website for National and International Awareness Days and Weeks? One can find a treasure of interesting information and history around how these days and weeks got started and how you can get involved. I’ve learned there is a distinction made between national days and awareness days. Usually awareness days are health related and often help to raise awareness around such things as cancers or illnesses. Their purpose is to raise awareness and collect money for various organizations. National days generally have a fun or quirky side to them as they are staged by commercial organizations to help promote their products and services. But they can have a serious side to them as organizations or companies often receive donations to be given various charities. And then of course let’s not forget the International Awareness Days and Weeks.
The choices are many. Get your tongue wagging for International Mother Tongue Day on February 21. You maybe missed Dignity Action Day on February 1 or British Yorkshire Pudding Day on February 2. But you can still get involved in Safer Internet Day on February 11 or World Thinking Day on February 22. Let’s not forget the individual weeks in February that beckon us to increase our awareness of essential causes. February 2-8, for example, is Bramley Apple Week; 7-14 is Marriage Week and Have a Heart for a Chained Dog Week; 10- 14 is International Friendship Week; 10-16 is Go Green Week and International Act of Kindness Week. Of course, lest we forget 16-22, International Flirting Week or my favorite (mark your calendars) 9-15, National Pancake Week.
Wow, what a challenge. Way too much to celebrate and remember: far too many causes—some worthy of our consideration, others meriting our total disregard; some interesting and noteworthy, others in the category of complete nonsense. Perhaps the time has come for us to forget this weekly and monthly awareness thing. Instead, I was reminded again this past weekend at the Wisconsin Ridder Church Renewal event that following Christ means one end game: faithful and fruitful missional living demonstrated personally and corporately. Compelled by the love of Jesus, my entire life becomes missional in who I talk to when I shop for groceries, or work with on a community project, or cross the street to help a neighbor scoop the snow or welcome home my wife when she returns from Utah. All areas of my life are subject to His reign, not only to “go and make disciples” but to be involved in the reign of His kingdom to the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized. Jesus was intentional in how he reached out as a friend to sinners, or healed the broken or pursued the disconnected to connect them with the Father. Let’s live each day embracing the mission of God, doing our very best to do ministry and mission differently–regardless of the day or week or month–to join God on His mission to reconcile the world to Himself. The world tries to clutter up our already busy lives with various awareness issues—some good, some bad—but we have a responsibility to live our lives with the meaning and purpose God created for us – to be on mission in seeing others through God’s eyes.
“From now on, then, we do not know anyone in a purely human way. Even if we have known Christ in a purely human way, yet now we no longer know Him in this way. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. Everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, ‘Be reconciled to God.’ He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
(II Corinthians 5:16–21)
-Wayne Van Regenmorter
11: Staff Meeting/Camp Manitoqua
Wisconsin Classis Servant Team Meeting/First Reformed Church, Oostburg, WI
12: Coaching, Conference Call
13: Meeting/Beecher, IL
14: Go-To-Meeting Great Lakes/Synod of Mid-America Ridder
15: Chicago Classis Meeting/Downers Grove Community Church/Downers Grove, IL
16: Installation of Ron Citlau/Calvary Reformed Church/Orland Park, IL
17: President’s Day
18: Illiana-Florida MLT/Executive Team Meeting/Faith Church/Dyer, IN
Synod Executive Team Conference Call
19: KEZ Conference Call
Travel to Florida
20: Florida Meetings
21: Meeting/Reformed Community Church/Venice, FL
Meeting/West Coast Church of the Cross/Sarasota, FL
22: Leadership Retreat/First Reformed Church/Tampa, FL
23: Travel to St John, IN
You may find the following links helpful:
7 Steps for a More Productive Church Staff – What changes can you make to empower greater productivity in your church’s office and consistory meetings? You’d be surprised how simple they may be and how big an impact they can have.
Develop a Theology of Play – “Playing” is not only a Biblical concept instituted by a creative God, it’s also something that churches need to look at. Sometimes churches seem like the least “fun” places people go every week, but they don’t have to be.
I Believe in Child Labour, Sweatshops, and Torture – The power of grace really comes to light when we realize that it is only as we are able to find this acceptance and admit to our darkness that the darkness begins to dissipate and our basic operating code begins to change. I hope you read this challenging piece by Peter Rollins.
10: Lafayette Office
11: Staff Meeting at Manitoqua Office
Wisconsin Classis Servant Team
12: Lafayette Office
13: Lafayette Office
14: Ridder Church Renewal Conference Call
17: President’s Day
18: Illiana-Florida Ministry Leadership Team
19: Synod Executive Team
20: Multi-Racial Initiatives Meeting
21: Lafayette Office
Resurrection in Fulton, IL
We preach the resurrection, we proclaim Christ crucified and risen but do we believe, really believe in a God of resurrection? Do we believe that God can bring good out of evil, new life out of death? Do we really believe that what we see as an ending God can use as a beginning? Over the past few months I have become more and more convinced that this is exactly the God that we worship.
Trinity Reformed church held its final worship service on December 29, 2013. This could be the end of the story, but God is doing something more in Fulton, IL. For a more than a year before the closing of Trinity a group of people gathered, 5 from Trinity and 5 from First Reformed along with the pastor of First and Classis supervisor of TRC. We met to talk, listen, pray, dream, and wonder – could we be better together than we are separate? Is there more that we could do for God’s kingdom if we worked together? Eventually the question was asked, “What if we unified?” This question sparked the conversations and process, the steps forward and the steps back of the past year.
Today, one month after the closing of TRC, there are about 25 members who have requested transfer to First (this comes to just over half of active membership). This statistic can be read two ways – one to the negative (only half the members are coming here). Or you can choose to understand that change is so hard, losing your church can be so difficult that we praise God for the courage and hope of everyone who has chosen so far to come to be a part of First. There is tremendous hope in these numbers.
But that isn’t all; things are changing around First as well. Last week work began to prepare a room for the “Creative Crew” (a gathering of women from TRC and now First as well, who sew lap blankets and ditty bags for the VA Hospital, Baby blankets for the pregnancy center, and several other projects that serve the community). The Creative Crew are moving to First, this has required movement on our part, painting a room, clearing storage space and installing electrical outlets. The best part of all of this, we are doing it together. The talents of First and TRC are needed to make this happen and in the midst of painting and moving furniture, you can get to know one another and value each other.
This move is symbolic of other moves that are happening as well. We didn’t just invite members over from TRC; we have invited practices, ministries, and input. We have asked for voices on Consistory and Teams, we have looked for ways to get to know one another and fellowship together. I have seen people move out of their usual groups and go out of their way to welcome someone else; I have seen people move across the aisle to sit by a new friend. Questions have been asked – why have we always done it this way? Could we try this? What if we ….? All of this gives me hope. All of this reminds me of the promise of resurrection that what we cannot see, God can. What we do not yet understand, God does.
We continue to pray for the membership of Trinity, we know that not everyone will choose to find a home here. We pray that they will find a community of believers where they feel they belong. We also continue to push and challenge ourselves. If we can welcome in our brothers and sisters from another congregation, why can’t we also do a better job of welcoming those who are not member of Trinity? If we can move outside of where we are comfortable to make someone else welcome, can we also move outside ourselves to love and serve those who are not already coming to us?
We believe in a God of resurrection, a God who can make all things new; it is to this hope that we cling even as we take our steps into the future God has already created for us.