FROM PASTOR ANN MARIE WINTERS:  As I write this article on “Preparing for the Renewal of our Church”, I want to tell you so much.  I have written this letter as well as articles on “Strengths for Navigating Change” and “Taking a Risk,…What would God want us to do?”  Please take the time to sit with these thoughts and pray for our churches.  Then share your thoughts, too.

“Preparing for the Renewal of our Church”
We are planning a renewal series to begin in October.  You can prepare by reading the following scriptures and asking these sorts of questions…

October 8, The Burning Bush (Exodus 3:1-12) LISTEN
How does your church need God’s help?  How do you need God’s help?

October 15, The Valley of Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14) LOOK
What looks “dry” in your congregation?  What new life do you seek from God?

October 22, Jesus Sends out 70 Disciples (Luke 10:1-24) RESPOND
Where is God sending your congregation?  How is your congregation responding to Jesus’ call?

(October 29, 500th Anniversary of the Reformation – Joint Festival Worship at St. Paul)

November 5, Finding the Lost (Luke 15) FORGIVE
Who is “lost” in your community?  To whom is God calling your congregation to announce God’s gracious forgiveness?

November 12, The Great Commandment (Matthew 22:34-40) LOVE
How does your congregation love God?  How do the disciples in your neighborhood love their neighbors?

November 19, The Great Commission (Matthew 28) GO
What is the risen Lord Jesus commanding your congregation to do?

Praying with you and for you,
Pastor Ann Marie Winters

What are three strengths that help you navigate change?  (taken from an article by Homaira Kabir)

Strength #1:  Vision:  A vision helps us sit with confusion and ambivalence, while our minds connect the dots and look for creative solutions that keep us moving in the right direction.

Strength #2:  Humility:  Humility is a form of acceptance – the acceptance of not knowing.  It keeps us growing, it keeps us hungry for knowledge – and in our changing times, it keeps us open to the opportunities that surround us.

Strength #3:  Connection:  Human connection is one of our most basic needs.  A smile, a touch, or someone who listens and understands can regulate the sympathetic nervous system, return us to a state of calm, and ignite our own compassion, so we can extend it to others.


Taking a risk, and what would God want us to do? 

When Jesus teaches on “taking a risk”, we see that God rewards those who are willing to invest their resources, wisely (not foolishly).  We may learn from this that whatever God gives us is on loan to us from Him, and God wants us to do our best to use it with wisdom and to increase its value.

Excerpts from Matthew 19:12-26 (The Message)

There was a man who called ten servants together, gave them each a sum of money, and instructed them, “Operate with this until I return.”  When he came back, he called those ten servants to whom he had given the money to find out how they had done.  The first said, “Master, I have doubled your money.”  He said, “Good servant!  Great work!”  The second said, “Master, I made a 50% profit on your money.”  He said, “I’m putting you in charge of five towns.”  The next servant said, “Master, here is your money safe and sound.  I kept it hidden in the cellar.  To tell you the truth, I was a little afraid of you.”  Then he said to those standing there, take the money from him and give it to the one who doubled my stake.”  He said, “Risk your life and get more than you ever dreamed of.  Play it safe and end up holding the bag.”

The Lutheran churches in Warren are in such a place now that we may need to take a risk with what we have and who we are.  We are considering what our mission may be if we come together, to work more closely together.  What could happen if we pooled our financial resources?  We could have more capital from which to operate.  What would happen if we used a single building for worship, and had a ministry site for our mission activity on the west side?  We could have less overhead.  What could happen if we put our human energy together for service to others, for worship, and for outreach with the Word?  More energy could develop through synergy.

These are the risks before us…What would God want us to do?


Empty Nest:  Blessed Sacrament Parish will host Tom Sauline, author of Empty Nest, for three consecutive Tuesdays in September.  He will lead us in working through change in our lives, letting go, and learning to love anew.  The evenings are open to all!  We begin on Tuesday, September 12, from 7:00 to 8:30 pm, continue on September 19, and conclude on September 26.  A simple call to Paula Pierce at the parish office (330-372-2215) to sign up will do!


FROM PASTOR WILLIAM D. LEITCH:  WOW!  It’s September already!  Although it is the season for harvesting for agriculture, for the church it is a time for planting, cultivating, and nurturing.  Rally Sunday at Living Lord is September 10.  We prepare to join together every Sunday to study Scripture and understand how God called others and how God is calling us now.

On August 20, we launched our Catechism Class for the 2017/2018 year.  It’s a great bunch of kids who have energy and a real desire to go deeper into their faith.  I get excited about VBS and Servant Week, and I am blessed to be with these youth.

It’s a time for all of us to go deeper into our faith.  Our Council, along with our Shared Ministry Team, have also decided to take our congregations into a conversation that will focus on our future.  Our desire is that we intentionally and collectively look at who we are and how God is calling us now.

We will have a one-day retreat on Saturday, October 7, at St. Paul.  Everyone is encouraged to attend.  There are three different five minute informative DVD presentations followed by discussions.  This retreat will prepare us for six Sundays of discussions during sermon time.  We pray that you can share with others pertinent things that we need to consider in future decisions that others have not witnessed.

If you cannot attend the retreat, I strongly encourage you to attend the Adult Forum beginning on September 10.  Pat Was will be leading a six session class on how to listen to God that later moves us to how then to speak.

We have collected real data about our congregation, our building, the building plans that were considered over ten years ago, and we hope to learn more from each of you that may open our eyes to the opportunities to which God would lead us.

Living Lord has shrunk from 465 members in 2010 to 250 members by the end of 2017.  It “seems” that we are relatively strong in spite of this shrinkage, but the reality is we will not be able to sustain our congregation in 5-10 years at this rate.

Although consolidation can extend our life, we also need to have a focus on God that will spread the Gospel and grow the church.  During our August Council Meeting, we had a practice discussion about what consolidation might look like.  We realized that there will be loss and grieving.  We will need to be sensitive to this.  We also realized that there are God Focuses that we can work toward even now.  Kara Busefink and Stacey Stredney led us on a discussion that brought us great encouragement.  We plan to have a youth lock-in to hear the voice of our youth and their parents.


God’s Work, Our Hands…On Saturday, September 9, our area Lutheran Churches will be out serving the community at various locations and times.  Living Lord will join together at Emmanuel Lutheran from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm to pack and deliver school bags.  This will allow many of our folks to get back and set up for Rally Day the next day.