Leadership Thoughts From...
Rev. Daniel May
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, "What do you want?" She said to him, "Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom." Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?" They said to him, "We are able." He said to them, "You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father." And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. Matt 20:20-24 Yesterday might have slipped by without you noticing that it was “St. James the Elder” day! Since they did not have cameras in those days I cannot be sure if this picture is accurate! However, St. James was the son of Zebedee. He and his brother John we know as the “Sons of Thunder”. They were devout men of faith and courage and it is likely that James was the first apostle to be martyred around 44AD. As we read the stories of early martyrs or modern day martyrs we marvel at their faith and may at the same time wonder or doubt if we could or would ever be able to withstand such pressure. When I see accounts of people in other places lose their earthly lives because of their faith I think of the hymn verses in LSB (518). This is the verse designated for St. James: O Lord, for James we praise you, Who fell to Herod's sword; He drank the cup of suff'ring And thus fulfilled Your word. Lord, curb our vain impatience For glory and for fame, Equip us for such suff'rings As glorify Your name. (By All Your Saints in Warfare, LSB 518:21) By ourselves we can neither obtain not maintain faith. It is God who equips and enables us in the most difficult of times. We couldn't and wouldn't be able to stand on our own, but I trust that God would enable us and strengthen us at such a time. We are thankful that He did just that for St. James and all other martyrs. By His Spirit and His grace we too are strengthened and enabled. Pray for martyrs today! They follow in the path of St. James and countless others! For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith--that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Eph. 3:14-2
Outreach & Evangelism
Rev. Geoff Robinson
The phrase “human care” may evoke many images in your mind. Human care includes helping those who have just experienced a disaster. In our district, we are blessed with men and women trained to be early responders who also become part of a team; hence the name Lutheran Early Response Team (LERT). They provide human care by going to disaster sites and helping people clean up, and restore and rebuild their homes. Human care also evokes images of life issues. All of us are called by God to promote and support the dignity and rights of unborn children, those who are handicapped and the aged. We have task forces in place that deal with senior adult ministry and the needs of the physically and mentally disabled in our Indiana District. We also try to help the impoverished and displaced. All of these things involve human care. There are 11 Recognized Service Organizations (RSOs) in our district that deal with helping people in various ways. For example: Lutheran Life Villages is an RSO that provides “Aging Services, Chaplaincy Services, Children and Youth Services and Housing Support.” Lutheran Social Services, Inc. provides “Abuse Prevention/ Treatment, Adoption, Advocacy, Children and Youth Services, Counseling and Mental Health, Emergency Services, Information and Referral, Life Enrichment Services, Pregnancy Counseling, Addiction Prevention/Treatment and Trauma Intervention.” Hands of Mercy provides “Advocacy, Life Enrichment Services and Developmentally Disabled Services in South Sudan.” Human care is indeed important and it is something that we all should be involved in. Why is that so? Because Christians are people who live to serve God and others above themselves. The Rev. Dr. Jacob A.O. Preus III has aptly written: “Before God we are only passive and receptive. But before our fellow human beings, we are only active and giving. We live in the neighbor through love. Good works have nothing to do with our relationship of faith with God, but they have everything to do with our relationship of love with our fellow human beings. Our good works are irrelevant and even shameful before the perfection of Christ, but they are not only relevant, they are absolutely necessary before the needs of our neighbor. Thus, the Christian pours himself out and herself out in love for others and gives unstintingly in good works for the neighbor.” LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison reminds us that we have not done all that we should do as Christians if we simply show mercy to others without sharing with them the greatest news of all time. Harrison writes: “This fundamental truth of the Bible, that there is no salvation outside of faith in Christ and His merits, animates the church’s work for those in need. If this is not so, such work becomes merely secular, and may be performed by any entity in society.” Human care is how we show genuine love for others. But it is a rather hollow love if we don’t share with them the Savior, Jesus the Christ! Written by Rev. Geoff Robinson, Outreach Executive First published in the June / July 2017 edition of the Lutheran Witness
Mr. Ron Bleke
After several years of rapid growth in the number of options offered by Concordia Plan Services and a study of how users navigate through the site, CPS is pleased to announce some updates to our public website, concordiaplans.org, that position us to improve the user experience during this key season of Employer Open Enrollment. The first round of updates, which launched earlier this month, included improvements to the forms section and navigation bar, as well as a new section with employer Open Enrollment content. This change is in response to what we learned about how people want to interact with us and how we meet their needs in the digital space. Form Improvements: The biggest opportunity for impactful change came with the “Forms” section of the website. While it is one of the most common places workers and employers visit, it was also challenging to find the “right” form among so many. Instead of a long alphabetical list, forms are now accessible based on the issue they are meant to address for the specific user persona. A guided decision tree leads users on a concise journey to answer the question, “What do I want to do?” And if that doesn’t solve the problem, the section now has a “Help me find the right form” wizard that, with a few clicks, results in the appearance of the correct form. The forms needed by specific groups are now easy to find based on whether they are an employer, member, student, retiree or missionary. The forms are named more intuitively and the lists are smaller, so the whole process should be much quicker for all users. Easier Navigation: A similar user-focused approach led to changes in the website’s navigation bar. Section headers were changed or renamed to better reflect the content held within them. This is the beginning of efforts that will be expanded in a future phase of the project – to differentiate content for employers and for workers. Personalized Open Enrollment: What most employers will likely notice initially is the revamped Open Enrollment section. Based on a user’s employer identification number and ZIP code, personalized results appear that include a comparison of plan options available to that employer, as well as forms related to the CHP options available in your area. The dynamic open enrollment web pages guide employers to consider their options and take the next steps after receiving the 2018 Open Enrollment packet which was mailed on July 7th.
Dr. Jon Mielke
Students at Lutheran South Unity School are learning what it means to live generously by taking the lead on a service project that will benefit school children in Liberia. Students are preparing a 40-foot shipping container, which will be filled with school supplies and used as a classroom when it arrives in Liberia. Despite financial challenges, the school remains outwardly focused, forging ahead with both local and global service projects, and continuing to impact students of all backgrounds and abilities. Lutheran South Unity School serves an ethnically diverse group of students who are excited to give back to the global community. With the phoenix as the school mascot—a mythical bird that rises from the ashes—students are reminded what it means to rise above circumstances and soar despite obstacles. "We try to ingrain in them, no matter how limited your resources, you need to help someone else,” Maurice King, Director of Development at LSUS, says. “No matter how bad you think you have it, there’s someone who has it worse. You have the capacity to give of your time and talent.” LSUS students are learning by doing. Students in grades five and six are painting the exterior of the shipping container in Liberian school colors, while other grades prepare the interior. The third phase of the project consists of filling the container with donated school supplies, books, desks, chairs, a door and two windows. Home Lumber in New Haven provided the wood resources for the interior conversion. Harris Corporation donated chairs and desks for the project. LSUS students are learning hands-on math lessons while working on the project, blending academic goals with life lessons about generosity and serving. Inspired by their phoenix mascot, students are learning about persistence, too. In the past, the school has struggled with ISTEP scores. Last year, though, LSUS students scored much better on the ISTEP — enough to earn their school a B in statewide grading. Testing data showed that students who had historically lagged behind their peers showed remarkable growth, and high-achieving students demonstrated strong proficiency. Persistence will be key to the school’s future. Currently under consequences for past ISTEP struggles, the school is currently unable to enroll new voucher students. School leaders are focusing on sustaining enrollment with voucher returning students, as well as assisting new students with private scholarships. “It all ties into what we’re trying to teach the kids. Some come from a background where resources aren’t as plentiful,” Mr. King adds. “We’re teaching them to use the time and talents we have, so we can be a blessing to someone else.” Once the container project is completed, the pre-fab classroom will be shipped to a Lutheran school in Liberia under the direction of Joe Boway, a Liberian-born Fort Wayne resident who is also a LSUS parent. Boway was instrumental in starting many Christian schools in Liberia, which now serve over 3,500 students. “Who would have thought our little school would take on a container project and help someone they’ll never see?” King adds. “Our kids can say, ‘I had a hand in being a blessing to someone on the other side of the globe.’”
Rev. Phillip Krupski
We pray to the Lord, asking Him to bless our lives with the outflow of His grace. It all centers in what He has given us in His Son Jesus. From that flows all the other things that enrich our daily experience. So we have prayed for our economy. If you have invested in the stock market, you may very well have had huge gains during the past years. You talk with your tax advisor who advises that if you sell that stock, you will have a big tax bill to pay on the capital gains. It has now become a sizable asset that you will never be “able” to use. What do you do? You could consider a Charitable Gift Annuity with the LCMS Foundation. You “gift” the asset to an LCMS ministry of your choice, such as the Indiana District, your congregation, a seminary, Worship for Shut-Ins, etc. The ministry will pay no tax on the gift. You will receive a charitable deduction for a portion of the gift. And the gift will produce a guaranteed annual income payout to you for life. When the Lord calls you home, the ministry will benefit. As we think about outreach and mission, we can contemplate the gifts of the Lord and put them to use in support of ministry, that generations after us will come to know Jesus for their salvation. If I can help you joyfully manage the Lord’s gifts, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-840-3202.
Mr. Steve Strauch
It’s official. After all the work leading up to the sale of ULu’s Chauncey Hill location and the purchase of the former Exponent building—now the University Lutheran Building—at 460 Northwestern Avenue, all that remained was signing more than a few official documents at two separate property closings. We are thrilled to announce that we were able to close on the property at Chauncey Hill on April 28 and at Northwestern Avenue on May 1—both without a hitch! Artist's rendering of concepts for the sanctuary at the new University Lutheran Church on Northwestern Avenue. Throughout the process, Steve Strauch, Lutheran Church Extension Fund district vice president, has seen the hand of God at work in multiple ways. “There’s no doubt in my mind that this is what we are supposed to be doing,” says Steve, who has felt that assurance at each step along the way. “Every time we got close to thinking it wouldn’t work out, or we thought we had encountered a problem we might not be able to step over,” says Steve, “a new opportunity opened up, and the deal became much better in our benefit.” For ULu pastor Justin Herman, the closings mark a change from a “what if” stage to an action phase. “We now have direction and can clearly think about the future that God has laid out before us,” says Pastor Herman. “Now we can begin to focus on how we can use the building. It’s a time when dreams can be shaped and formed.” From here, the relocation process is really picking up steam, with redevelopment construction beginning in June. Initial efforts will focus on the third-floor sanctuary, which will feature a modern look with completely custom-sculpted sanctuary furniture. “It will be very light and airy,” says Steve. “It’s designed to be very inviting and unique to the ULu ministry.” Stay tuned for more details about the sanctuary, along with construction updates, as #ULuOnTheMove progresses this summer.