“Even if I knew the world would end tomorrow, I would still plant an apple tree today.” Martin Luther
I am happy to be home where I can be near all of my congregation and family. And since I had two months of leave, I am certainly being refreshed and rejuvenated. I look forward to my last month of leave (Sept. 17 to Oct. 27) so I can complete the cycle of regeneration that I have started. I want to give you some highlights from my sabbatical work that I have done thus far:
Intergenerational and spiritual renewal
At St. Paul, we should focus on forming intergenerational relationships with millennials and their children. Here are membership age groups and the number of members in each category:
Birth to 16 years = 19 “iKids”; 17 to 35 years = 23 Millennials;
36 to 57 years = 25 Generation X; 58 to75 years = 47 Baby boomers;
76 and over = 23 Builder generation
Notice the majority group of boomers! Boomers and Builders are the most religiously active generations at St. Paul, just like in the wider society. No surprises here.
Looking at the wider population beyond our church, one very important “surprise” is that while younger generations are not as “religious”, most have a belief in God, and ¾ of all Millennials consider themselves “spiritual”. I see this in a very positive light for engaging in “spiritual renewal”, as distinct from “religious activities”.
Our church should collaborate with our preschool and see that spiritual values (forgiveness, compassion, peace, mercy, fairness, etc.) are built into the school programs.
Our members should nurture relationships with preschool parents and their children.
I look forward to great discussions about these ideas and your feedback.
Rev. Ann Marie Perkins
CELEBRATE THE PAST; ENVISION THE FUTURE
“THE LORD ALMIGHTY IS WITH US, THE GOD OF JACOB IS OUR FORTRESS” Psalm 46:7
For human beings, 150 years is a long time to be together! In fact, generations have worshipped and served God through the congregation of St. Paul. Our Lutheran heritage has been handed down with pride. Our core belief in Jesus Christ has remained firm and unchanging: it is that “we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ”. This is a past that we now celebrate with great joy! From our humble beginnings on Vine Street, we have grown and built a beautiful house to God’s glory here on Market Street. “The Lord Almighty has indeed been with us!” (Psalm 46:7) through our worshipping, learning, and serving.
While our core faith tradition has not changed, many things in our world have changed. Just a year ago, in 2017, we celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Protestant reformation, and today the church is still reforming, as it did back then with a prodding from Martin Luther. Christianity is no longer a predominant religion in America. We are again a smaller size community of Lutherans. But that is not the end of our story! “The God of Jacob is our fortress.” (Psalm 46:7)
This means that we rely on the traditions of God’s grace as we envision the future. As Kathleen Norris has written in her book, “Amazing Grace”, “God will find a way to let us know that he is with us.” God will find us and bless us: that is the free gift of grace. When we say we are saved by grace, that means that God finds us where we gather in faith, and Jesus Christ himself is among us with his creative and saving power. May this 150th Anniversary be a time to hold fast to our past Lutheran faith in Christ, and envision a grace-filled, creative future in Him!
Rev. Ann Marie Perkins
FAREWELL TO OUR ORGANIST, JEFFREY TRIMBLE: On Sunday, September 2, after worship, we will have a reception to recognize and thank our Organist/Choir Director for his many years of dedication to our church. Jeff has been part of our church family for 8 years and has played a vital role in the life of St. Paul. We would like to wish him well in his new position at St. Joseph the Provider Catholic Church.
CELEBRATE GRAND-FAMILIES: “Celebrate Grand-families” is a new support group for grandparents raising their grandchildren. St. Paul is reaching out to support these families with Christian compassion and a place to meet and discuss their needs. We are starting with the group with five families from the community, and more are welcome, if you know of anyone who would fit in. While the women meet, we will have crafts, games, bible stories, snacks, help with homework, tutoring, and a fun social time for children. Church members are needed to help with the children. Sessions in September will be on Saturdays, September 8 and 22, from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm. Please contact Brenda Ceplecci or Pastor Ann to help.