Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
We find ourselves near the end of another year. Soon enough we will be turning the calendars over to 2018 and soon enough we will be thinking of all that is coming our way in a new year. But before you get to the end of this calendar year, I encourage you to pause for a few moments and to live into the days of Advent and the Christmas season.
The Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas season have always been some of my favorite times of the year. I love Thanksgiving because I belief we ought to be thankful. In fact, I have said for years that I think we ought to be concentrating on thanksgiving more than just one day per year. It is something we as Christians ought to be mindful of every day of the year.
The days of December can be some of the busiest of the year for us. Often there are work Christmas parties, school concerts and programs, Sunday School Christmas programs, extra tasks to be done around the church, and duties to be completed before the end of the year.
On Christmas Eve I have often heard or read Luke’s rendering of the story of Jesus’ birth. My favorite verse in this passage is Luke 2:19 which states, “But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” (New Revised Standard Version) I wonder how many of us in the midst of our busy-ness take time to treasure all the words that we hear? And just as importantly I wonder how many of us take the time to ponder these things in our heart?
I hope that during this Advent and Christmas season you will find time to treasure the words of those who love you and to ponder them in your heart.
God’s blessings to you and yours,
Pastor Bruce J. Nelson
Online Book Study
Need a new way to connect with others? Need a new opportunity to talk about your faith? Can you commit to six weeks? An online books study opportunity is coming in the new year. We will be studying and discussing the book, “Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile.”
The sessions will be led by Rev. Jason Andersen, Rev. Greg Behrend, Rev. Brian Dixon, Jill Kolodziej, Dason Kurkiewicz, Rev. Dan Miller, and Justin Rabbach. We will meet for an online video chat series every Tuesday at 7pm CT / 8 pm ET starting January 2nd and ending February 6th. Sign up by December 18th by going to https://goo.gl/VsX4qX. Get the book at https://goo.gl/vkv81M.
Youth/Young Adult Retreats
- Mid-Winter Retreat for youth in grade 9–age 21 will be February 2nd – 4th in Watertown, WI.
- Young Adult Retreat for age 18–30ish will be February 16th – 18th in Mt. Morris, WI.
- 4th Berea (143 years)
- 21st Lake Mills (161 years)
- 22nd Freedom (151 years)
The 2018 Synod of the Moravian Church Northern Province will be held in Bethlehem, PA on June 21-25, 2018. In order to prepare delegates for synod, we are hold-ing meetings across the province. All delegates and alternates are expected to attend..
1 – 4 pm
|Shepherd of the Prairie|
10 am–2 pm
|IN and IL||Mar 24th10:30 am–2:30 pm||Hope|
|Central and NE WI||Jan 20th
10 am–2 pm
|Green Bay West|
|South WI||Jan 21st
1 – 4 pm
Lights! Camera! Action! A Synod Video Invitation
As we look ahead to Provincial Synod, we invite every congregation to produce a quick and exciting video to tell the story of how you are caring for your neighbors! Follow the link below to find the full invitation, with guidelines. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2JcyNktFzNzb0F1UU1NbTJYX0E/view?usp=sharing
The Call Process
Brother Garritt and Sister Sanette Fleming have accepted the call to serve as co-pastors of the Schoeneck Moravian Church in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. Garritt has been serving at the Freedom Moravian Church in Appleton, Wisconsin and Sanette has been on Leave of Absence. Garritt’s final service at Freedom will be December 31st. They will be installed on January 21st, 2018. Please be in prayer for Garritt and Sanette and the Freedom and Schoeneck congregations in this time of transition.
Sister Jennifer Moran has accepted a call to Specialized Ministry to serve as a Chaplain at Auburn Homes in Chaska, Minnesota. She has been under call to District Service. She began her ministry at Auburn on November 13. Please be in prayer for Jenny and the people at Auburn Homes in this time of transition.
Please hold the Christ’s Community, Glenwood, and Freedom congregations in your prayers as they work in the Call Process to seek pastoral leadership.
The District Board continues to be grateful for the leadership of the Joint Boards of Grace and Main Street as they lead their congregations.
- 1st Amy Gohdes-Luhman (21 years)
- 27th Aden Ward (47 years)
- 27th Staci Marrese-Wheeler (25 years)
Brother Al Helms, who served in Moravian congregations in Wisconsin and Michigan, passed into the more immediate presence of our Lord on Friday, November 17, in Fort Wayne, IN. As we near this season of hope, love, peace, and joy, let us pray that these gifts of faith attend the Helms family, along with our own thoughts and prayers.
District Clergy Retreat
We’re pleased to have Dr. Audrey West as our program leader for our upcoming Western District Retreat coming up at Mt. Morris Camp and Conference Center January 22nd – 25th, 2018. Dr. West is an Adjunct Professor of New Testament at Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, IL, a contributor on the Working Preacher website, and she has been published in Feasting on the Word and Christian Century. Dr. West’s program will focus on the gospel of Mark, a gospel written for people in a world consumed by wars and rumors of war, where a foreign government exerted a powerful and sometimes violent threat. Huge gaps separated the haves and the have-nots. Religious institutions were in turmoil, and people wondered how best to live out their faith. Mark is also the primary Gospel text for the 2018/Year B Lectionary cycle. Join us as we explore Mark’s particular story of Jesus (including overarching themes as well as selected passages), with an eye toward preaching “the beginning of the good news of Jesus the Christ, Son of God” (Mark 1:1) in our varying contexts today. Please mark your calendars and join us for rest, renewal, and recharging! Registration forms have been sent to local church offices. If you have any questions, please contact Rev. Mary Lou Plummer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Western District Lay Ministry Conference
The District Board will be hosting a District Conference at Mt. Morris Camp and Conference Center on November 2nd – 4th, 2018. This conference will focus on Lay Ministry – fellowship, how-to’s, and encouragement. Mark your calendars now and stay tuned for more information in the new year!
Unity Discussion Paper
The Unity Committee on Theo-logy, chaired by Sister Amy Gohdes-Luhman, prepared a Discussion Paper on the Role of the Unity for the 2016 Unity Synod, who commend it to the provinces.
Please try to make time this fall to offer this as a 3-session study – and offer feedback from your congregation – by December 31st. We will send your feedback to the Unity Board Administrator and UCOT. This is available as a PDF downloaded at www.moravian.org/moravian-church-northern-province/discussion-paper-on-the-role-of-the-worldwide-moravian-unity/
Tour of the Holy Land
Rev. Sanette Francis and Rt. Rev. Hopeton Clennon are organizing a Moravian pilgrimage to the Holy Land from January 3rd – 12th, 2018. The price starts at $2,998 and includes roundtrip international airfare from New York Kennedy airport, deluxe motor coaches, first class hotels, and daily buffet breakfast and dinner. Register online at www.moraviantour.com.
From the Moravian Ministry Foundation
Did you know the Moravian Ministries Foundation maintains a brokerage account solely for the purpose of facilitating stock gifts for Moravian churches and agencies? Over the last twelve years, we have assisted Moravians in making over $1.5 million in stock gifts to their churches and favorite Moravian agencies. Those gifts have ranged in size from $500 to $200,000; there’s no minimum or maximum for the size of the gift, and there’s no fee charged.
If you or a member of your church is interested in making a gift of stock, please give us a call (888-722-7923). As long as the gift has been transferred into our brokerage account by December 31, it will count as a charitable contribution for the year.
Ohio Churches Host Denominational Leaders
On October 26, nearly thirty members of all three District Boards and the Provincial Elders’ Conference descended on Tuscarawas County, Ohio, for a two-day meeting focused on the identity, purpose, and organization of our province. The second of three such gatherings, the purpose was to foster one common vision and mission as we seek to live out our calling across three districts. Intermingled with large group meetings, each board met individually. We held our meetings at the Gnadenhutten church, which provided lovely hospitality. Gnadenhutten, Sharon, and Schoenbrunn prepared delicious evening meals. We toured all the churches and historical sites, and helped Dover celebrate its 175th anniversary. We extend our deep appreciation to all of the pastors and leaders of the area for grace and hospitality, which strengthened the partnership we share in the gospel.
From the Board of World Mission
Did you know that the Board of World Mission (BWM) has had summer interns the last three summers? It has been a great opportunity for college students to fill their summer learning about and helping to support the work of the BWM. Interns have helped lead Mission Camp programs at Laurel Ridge, create BWM fundraising and team training materials, updated our website, and started our Instagram account (@Moravian BoardOfWorldMission). Do you know someone you think would be good in this role? Tell them to be in touch and be ready to formally apply in early 2018 for the upcoming summer! www.moravianmission.org
1021 Center Street
Bethlehem PA, 18018
“As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” John 20:21b
Moravian Texts Bless Hurricane Survivors
The 2018 Daily Texts arrived one day in October and the staff of the Interprovincial Board of Communication began shipping them out. Executive Director Mike Riess approached Provincial President Betsy Miller with a dream – and a request. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to express our prayers and support of the Moravians in the Eastern West Indies whose lives have burned turned upside down by hurricanes by providing Daily Texts to them – at not cost? The PEC tapped a fund that held gifts from both Southern and Northern Province Moravians in order to provide Daily Texts and shipping for all of the churches in areas ravaged by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. As Moravians in the Eastern West Indies open their Daily Texts throughout 2018, they will be reminded of our ongoing love and prayers.