Pastor’s Annual Report – 2013
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The year 2013 was the 165th year that the Lord Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit gathered together a family of Lutheran Christians at Immanuel, Frankentrost. A community that delighted to sing praises to our heavenly Father and receive all the good gifts that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have to give to us (and through us!) as we share in their unending life.
On the 1st day of January of 2013, the newly elected officers, board and committee members stood before the Lord’s Altar as the assembled congregation heard them give their promises to willingly serve in their elected positions and assist me in the Ministry of the Gospel. We thank God for all who faithfully carried out their offices and positions over the past year(s).
Pastor, Elders, and the Altar Guild ladies met on Thursday evening, the 10th, and reviewed and discussed the care of the Chancel and the various sacred appointments, linens, and vessels. All agreed it was informative and helpful.
The elders and I met for the annual “Elder Orientation” most of Saturday the 12th. We began a year’s training using the new Concordia Publishing House resource “Pastors and Elders”.
The Evangelism Committee met to assemble two Resource Centers, one located by each entrance at church. These Centers focus on 23 different topics of spiritual interest. The hope is our members and visitors will make use of these materials personally or share them with others. In order to keep the resource centers stocked, donation envelopes are available on the very top tier. Also, keep in mind that your pastor is always available for counseling.
The pastor cell phone was out of commission for a while, but was soon replaced. This is the best way to reach me: feel free to text or call.
2013 also began the year with a new Sunday morning Bible study on our Synod’s new emphasis: Mercy, Witness, Life Together.
Despite a real dip below normal temperatures outside, God’s warming presence was made known as the blessed waters of Baptism were applied in accordance with Christ’s command and in connection with His Word as Kasondra Leigh Huber, infant daughter of Kevin and Val Huber, was baptized on Sunday, the 20th.
National Lutheran Schools week came early from January 27th–February 3. The theme was the same as that used later in the year for the Synod’s National Convention, “Baptized for this Moment.” The children sang in the Sunday services and prayers were offered on behalf of all our Church schools.
The first Sunday in February was designated as “Lutheran Hour Ministries Sunday”. Many of our members enjoy listening to the Luther Hour and getting daily devotions by the internet. Each year we give thanks to God for both auxiliaries of our Synod at the Synod-wide designated times: LHM in February, and the ILWML in October.
During the winter months Catechism classes were held in the Church Fellowship Hall for 7 & 8 grades students attending public school on Sundays from 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. While we are usually a small group, we work hard and have fun preparing for Confirmation.
Ash Wednesday was February 13 and Lent began. A 7:00 p.m. Vespers Service that evening included Corporate Confession and Individual Absolution at the altar rail. The junior confirmands and parents met with me after the service to begin the final preparations for Confirmation.
Midweek Evening Lenten Services were held each Wednesday during Lent (February 13–March 24) at 7:00 p.m. Our theme was “Fellowship with the Father: The Lord in Prayer.” Each night a portion of our Lord’s Passion from the Four Gospels was read and we sung the familiar Lenten hymns which called us to be mindful of God’s great cost in His Son for our redemption.
On the 24th, Lexi Jane Hetzner was plunged beneath the bracing stream of Baptism Waters and came up from it with her sins forever gone and sealed with the Holy Spirit.
The word Lent means “spring.” And the hope of spring’s arrival in March added to the anticipation of the Confirmands preparing for Questioning Sunday (March 17) and then their Confirmation Day (March 24). Questioning practice was held on the Friday before Questioning, and Confirmation practice was held the day before Palm Sunday.
The hard work paid off, and the Lord heard our prayers on behalf of our Catechumens, granting them strength of body and clarity of mind, and a willing Spirit, and they professed their faith, confessed their Lord, and made their promises. The 10:30 a.m. Confirmation Service was an hour of joy as a full church witnessed Shania Aguilar, Taylor Brechtelsbauer, Dillon Bullock, Meagan Clark, Jeremy Hecht, Alexander Horonzy, Emily Janson, Nicole Kowalski, Kayla Kueffner, Simon Reinbold, Kylee Reinert, and Johnathon Wendland acknowledge the gifts given to them years before in Baptism and confess their Lord at His Altar and promise to be faithful unto death.
New birth was given to Anna Luise Weiss on March 10 as she was baptized into Christ, and into His death, and into His resurrection.
The 24th was also Palm Sunday, at 8:00 a.m. we sang “Hosanna!” to Jesus. Holy week saw us ponder more intently the holy Passion of Jesus. Holy Wednesday offered another Confessional Service similar to Ash Wednesday. This gave the newly confirmed young people an opportunity to prepare for their First Communion of the Lord’s Body and Blood on Maundy Thursday. The Good Friday Service of Darkness considered Jesus’ final prayer from the cross and completed our Lenten theme.
Alleluia! Easter was the feast of joy that it always is to us – from the Saturday egg hunt for the young children, to the Sunday morning Easter breakfast (thank you, youth group!). The breakfast was almost cancelled because of gym floor repairs, but the needed repairs were put off and the breakfast went on as usual. Easter Services held on Sunday the 31st, with the Feast of the Resurrection celebrated at the 6:30 a.m. Sunrise Service and the 10:30 Divine Service.
Over Easter Pastor Loest was in Chicago. It was 22 years that his mother had passed away on March 31, 1991–also Easter Sunday that year–and he wanted to be with his family. He would hurry back upon news of a death in the congregation.
April began with Good News that “Christ is Risen!” “He is Risen Indeed” as the greeting each Sunday of Easter. The importance of those words were impressed on us three soldiers, brave and true, were summoned home to the Lord that month.
Just two days after we had rejoiced in the news of the Lord Jesus’ resurrection on Easter, we learned on the 2nd that Edgar Scharrer was with the Lamb whose Kingdom has no end. At the conclusion of the funeral service, Edgar was honored for his service in the Korean War.
Then on April 8, the Lord called Donald Twietmeyer home to heaven. Don would never miss a church service, even under great difficulty, and his answer to “how are you?” was always, “I’m still here!” He was also laid to rest with military honors for service to his country during the Korean War.
Lastly, our oldest member at the time was called from this vale of tears when Louis Schuler died on the 26th. He was always thankful that the Lord gave him life for 98 years and that he had enjoyed a long retirement of 41 years. He served in the U.S. Army during WW II in Europe and fought in the Battle of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge, earning five battle stars for his service. He received military honors at his burial.
The Saturday following Easter our shut-in/ homebound members gathered in the church still decorated for Easter to celebrate the Lord’s Supper and sing alleluias to the Risen Savior. This was a change from previous years and proved to be a good move. Attendance was greatly improved, as the Saturday before Easter was just too difficult for everyone in a number of ways and for a number of reasons.
On Sunday the 7th of April, the Voters met at 2:00 p.m. in the church and voted to call Jonathan Kamin as Principal/ 5th & 6th grades Teacher for our school. Up until this time, he had been contracted by the School Board, but had since completed the requirements for colloquy and was now eligible to be called and commissioned as a rostered teacher of Synod. Our prayers were answered with his accepting the call shortly after.
May traditionally brings a mission emphasis and speaker, however various circumstances put off our annual Mission Sunday until August.
Ascension Day Service was held the Thursday, May 9, at 7:00 p.m. The Order of Service was Vespers with familiar Ascension Day hymns. “God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.” (Psalm 47:5)
I was away from Frankentrost the weekend of May 19 to bring Audrey home from her second year at college at Concordia University Wisconsin where she is pursuing a church work career.
The Service of Commissioning and Installation of Jonathan Kamin as called principal and teacher of Immanuel Lutheran School took place on Sunday, May 26, at 10:30 a.m. A reception followed the Service.
The first Sunday in June is always Picnic Sunday. The outdoor service was attempted but everyone quickly moved to the gym when rain began shortly before 9:30 a.m. It was cold, and did it pour! Of course, by the time service was over the rain seemed to disappear and the rest of the day continued as planned. The day also served as graduation for our 8th graders and recognition of all our graduates from high school and colleges, etc.
On June 9 we started something new: Green Sheets inserted into the day’s worship folder which have the Propers and Readings for the day. Why Green Sheets? The Green Sheets are intended to be saved and used during the week as part of our daily devotions. They also have the Daily Lectionary and Book of Concord readings for the coming week. Many people agree that the Green Sheets are handy. (A reminder: take yours home with you each week!)
An Information and Membership Class was started, meeting Wednesday evenings in June–September. Our first class was June 12. We continued through the summer months taking breaks for holidays and vacation. A couple of times we had to find air conditioning, but then the summer turned real cool in late July and we took advantage of the evening breezes. We had a nice class size and even added members as we went along!
New life flowed to little Cecelia Joan Little on June 9, and Ashton Roderick Wanless on June 23, as the Savior claimed them as His very own for time and for eternity in Holy Baptism.
The one wedding of the year was the service uniting Emily Horonzy and Nathaniel Simpson, who were married in the church on June 12th.
On the 30th our MOST Team to Guatemala was commissioned in church. They left on the 4th of July and returned safely to us on Saturday, July 13th. We were thankful for God’s protection and blessing upon their travels, and upon their witness of faith in Jesus and their acts of mercy including two eyeglass clinics.
July was a year-off from VBS. Plans are for a return in 2014.
Nationally, the election for the Synod’s President was held electronically ahead of the Convention of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Synod met in St. Louis July 20–25. We were able to follow the convention and find much of interest including the workbook and daily proceedings on the web.
August meant taking Audrey back to Concordia University and some vacation in Wisconsin and Illinois. It was hard to find a substitute pastor, so I had to return from vacation, do services and then continue.
Immanuel has two members preparing for professional church work. Audrey Loest is in her third year attending Concordia University – Wisconsin (Mequon) in the teacher education program. Daniel Wojtowicz is a junior completing an undergraduate degree at Concordia University – Ann Arbor. He is in the pre-seminary program. Daniel continued to teach Adult Bible Study this fall in the school library on Sundays.
Membership Classes continued to meet–with just a vacation break. A cooler August was a relief.
Some people may not realize the rigors of membership. All are well catechized and are made welcome through the love of Christ in Word and Sacrament.
The Evangelism Committee arranged for and hosted the Rev. Prof. John Nordling from Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana to be our guest preacher and lead our Bible Study on the 11th. A generous door offering provided for his future travels to South Africa to teach pastors and seminarians who otherwise would not have the opportunity to receive the pastoral training we take for granted here in North America.
August also saw a new school year begin with opening chapel on Wed. the 26th, and the children gathering to learn about Jesus, as well as the other important lessons of Lutheran elementary school education. I always enjoy in having the opening chapel and asking, “who is new?”
In September music returned to the glory and praise of our Triune God. Sunday School teachers were installed and Sunday Classes and Bible Studies began on Sunday the 8th.
The fall session of my Sunday Morning Bible Study in church was also an adult instruction class. This provides an opportunity for those with children to attend while their children are at Sunday School and there are those who want to attend both church and class on the same morning. Regular class members attended for a refresher-course, (always a good thing!). The hard work of the two classes paid off, and our church membership grew this year (see final paragraph below).
The Summer class Adult Confirmations on the 29th included: Andrew Lucio, John Figone, Jenifer Figone, Julie Mossner, Alicia Beythan. Also added to our membership rolls were the two Figone children, Erin and Allie.
Also on the 29th, a Baptism “double header” brought forgiveness of sins, rescued from death and the devil, and gave eternal life to Ezekiel Ryan Drake and Madison Marie Smith. All total our church grew by 9 members that day!
October brought our usual joys with LWML the first weekend. The ladies’ singing added to the services. On the 14th we observed Kirchweih and our congregation’s 165th anniversary.
On the 7th, the Lord called home to Himself Hildred Schaeff after an extended illness. At the funeral in church on the 11th, we gave thanks to God for Hildred’s life and faith and were comforted by the assurance of the resurrection and eternal life that is for all who die in faith in Jesus.
On Sunday the 13th Abigail Sarah Hahn received the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit when she was baptized.
October also brought a three-week financial education program titled “Financial Counsel from God’s Word” Members were encouraged to pick up and read the daily readings from the booklet “Financial Counsel from God’s Word: Five Steps to a Transformed Financial Life” provided by Immanuel’s Stewardship Committee and made available in the narthex.
The 1st of November is All Saints and the remembrance of the faithful departed over the past year took place at both services on the 3rd.
Two more Baptisms would give us a total of 10 this year with Noah Robert Kamin on the 10th, and Averie McKenzie Suppes on the 24th. Jesus wants all to be saved, including the little children. Truly, through baptizing disciples are made as He has commanded and promised.
In November we also received a transfer of membership for Jennifer M. Weiss: welcome home!
On Thursday, November 28, a late Thanksgiving Day Matins Service included a generous ingathering of gifts of mercy for those in need. God had blessed our congregation bountifully in the past year and His people respond in kind to others!
The 1st of December was also the first day of Advent. Midweek services were Wednesdays the 4th, 11th, and 18. Living Nativity, was held the 7th, 8th, and 9th. I enjoy visiting with our guests at the Evangelism Committee’s table and going among the cast, encouraging and lending a helping hand where needed.
Once more we were to grow in numbers as Paula Butzin joined Immanuel by profession of faith the 15th.
A Communion Service for our homebound/ shut-in members included the 3rd and 4th grades children singing favorite Christmas songs. Refreshments followed. The weather was cold, but there was no wind. A good group was able to attend.
Choral Matins was on the 22nd; Christmas Eve saw a traditional children’s service (to a packed House) and the Lessons and Carols by candlelight ended with the ringing of the church bells and the singing of “Silent Night” both in German and English.
Christmas Day, we sang our joy with the angels and archangels over the Word becoming Flesh and dwelling among us.
Again a busy year–a year filled with difficulties and challenges placed upon us by a Lord who will see us through to a good end. This year was evidence of this truth.
We welcomed many new members. We are blessed to remain Immanuel, Frankentrost, a community of evangelical Lutheran Christians meeting in Blumfield Township in Michigan’s Saginaw County.
At the end of 2013, the baptized membership of Immanuel stood at 672. We had grown from the previous year! The communicant membership, 557. The average attendance, 251 per week. Approximately 37% of our members were in attendance in a Divine Service in any given week. We would like better numbers. But in our world and culture today those are real blessings (when many churches hardly see 25%).
Respectfully submitted by Mark A. Loest, Pastor of Immanuel Ev. Lutheran Church of Frankentrost, Michigan, in the 10th year of this pastorate.