Brothers and Sisters in Christ: I hope you all had enjoyable Christmas and New Year’s holidays. It was different for me as it was the first time in 25 years and the first time in 26 of the last 27 years that I was not in front of a church helping to lead worship on Christmas Eve. I was amazed at how “un-tired” I was on Christmas Eve. A special thank you to all pastors, organists, and others who put in extra time to make our Christmas Eve and other worship experiences so meaningful for so many.
The holidays are behind us and a new year is here. I have never been one to do lots of public resolutions for the New Year. There often are times I will privately make a resolution or goal but it isn’t necessarily done on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. However, I have for years chose a watchword for myself and often pray over it or meditate upon it for several days throughout the year (except for the years that I lose it and can’t remember it).
My watchword for 2017 that I selected is: “Turn my heart to your decrees, and not to selfish gain.” (Psalm 119:36) I try to live my life as a servant of my Lord and Savior. I am sure there are times when my own agenda comes into play. I am aware of times when I had a plan for just how things could work out but God gives me another path or a different road to take.
2016 was a year of significant changes for my family and I, but God was faithful. I do not know all of what God has in store for 2017 but I do know that I will still try to live my life as a servant and my prayer for all of you reading this is that you will do that as well. Enjoy the journey wherever it may take you!
Happy New Year,
Pastor Bruce J. Nelson
Western District Conference
The Moravian Western Christian Education Commission (MWCEC) is hosting a District Conference on April 21st – 23rd at Olympia Village in Oconomowoc, WI.
The speaker is pastor, theologian, and author Tripp Fuller. The theme is “Our Changing World . . . Same God.” The goal will be to equip attendees to talk positively about their faith. For more information (including how to register), go to:
Early Bird Discount: $25 if you register and pay before the end of January.
Upcoming Youth & Young Adult Retreats
- Mid-Winter Retreat for youth in grade 9–age 21 will be February 3rd – 5th in Chaska, MN.
- Young Adult Retreat for age 18–30ish will be February 17th – 19th in Mt. Morris, WI.
The Healthy Congregations Task Force is exploring ways to foster congregational health through a newsletter, surveys, and a variety of opportunities and resources. Visit them at healthymoravian congregations.wordpress.com. To get their newsletter, email healthiermoraviancongregation@ gmail.com.
January’s “Resource of the Month” is a Healthy Congrega-tions Retreat Format shared by the Christ’s Community Moravian church. Go to the website above and search “healthy congregations retreat.”
District Clergy Retreat
The annual Western District Clergy Retreat will be held on January 23rd – 26th at Mt. Morris Camp and Conference Center.
Our program will be centered on preaching and public address. Our speaker will be Rev. Greg Renstrom, a retired Methodist pastor who served congregations in Michigan and Minnesota, and also as President of the Minnesota Council of Churches. In addition he has worked for more than 35 years with AA and helped create “The Fosdick Lectures in Preaching” at Augsburg College. He is an active participant in various social and community agencies and continues to speak and preach at churches, treatment centers, and AA meetings.
Registration forms have been sent out. If you have any questions, please contact Rev. Mary Lou Plummer.
The Call Process
Brother Reid Lauderman, pastor of the Bethel and Goshen congregations in North Dakota, has accepted the call to be the new pastor of the West Salem congregation in Illinois. Please keep Reid, his wife Sharon, and all three congregations in your prayers during this time of transition.
Please hold the Morongo, Lake Mills, Bethel, and Goshen 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 Main Street, Grace, and Downey as they lead their congregations.
Conversations on Identity, Purpose and Organization (IPO)
Members of the Identity, Purpose, and Organization (IPO) Task Force are hosting two listening sessions in Wisconsin this month.
The dates and locations are:
- Saturday, January 21st from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm in Green Bay
- Sunday, January 22nd from 2:00 – 5:00 pm in Lake Mills.
These gatherings give all members, but specifically Joint Board members, an opportunity to learn more about the work of the IPO and mostly to offer thoughts and ideas about how best to organize our structure to serve God’s purpose for the Moravian Church Northern Province.
In order to help publicize these events, please spread the word and post the following two links in your bulletin, on your website, and on your congregation’s Facebook page. One is a video about the event, and the other is a website with resources on IPO.
News from Mt. Morris
Mt. Morris Camp and Conference Center will be looking for a new executive director. Joel Jarvis has announced he will retire on March 31st. We are very grateful for his years of service! The Mt. Morris Board has begun the process to hire a new executive director and will formally post the job opportunity in January. Any questions regarding the position can be directed to the chair of the Personnel Committee, Ms. Linda Lippens (920) 253-8137.
Crossroads Lay Leadership Courses
Crossroads Winter Semester includes two courses which link together nicely or can be taken alone.
Beginning January 9th is Discipleship with Pam Weiss, Dir Adult Spiritual Formation at FPC Allentown, Rev. Dr. Bill Falla, Philosophy Professor at Moravian College, and Rev. Cynthia Geyer, Dir Youth & Young Adult Minis-tries, Moravian Church Eastern District. These three gifted present-ers will cover history and NT foundations for Discipleship, how to structure programs for teens and young adults and also a comprehensive look at congrega-tional discipleship programs.
Beginning January 5th, My Journey / Our Journey is a closer look at our own personal spiritual formation and then how to apply that to groups that you might be leading within your congregational. Rev. Maggie Wellert will lead this course.
For more information on either of these courses: www.moravian seminary.edu/crossroads or contact Dr. Jill Peters at jpeters@ moravian.edu with any questions.
Board of World Mission
Did You Know. . . that in November 70 people were baptized in the recently established Mbaoma Moravian Church in Sierra Leone? The BWM’s Judy Ganz and Sam Gray baptized 24 infants and 46 youth and adults. It was a glorious Sunday with visitors from the other two Moravian congregations (Morfindor and Ngiehun) as well as from other denominations. Brother James Lansana was also commissioned as a Provincial Acolyte. Please continue to support (with your prayers and your contributions) Mohamed and Safie Braima and this growing ministry. www.moravianmission.org/give
- 1st Chaska (158 years)
- 1st Waconia (101 years)
- 20th Wisconsin Rapids (127 years)
- 30th Sturgeon Bay (152 years)
Moravian Youth Convo will be held on July 1st – 6th in Washington, DC. It is an interprovincial gathering of youth for the purpose of building community, spiritual formation, mission engagement, and fellowship. Participants must have completed grade 9 through grade 12 in 2017. Chaperones must be at least 21 years old and be approved by the Convo Planning Committee. Total participant cost is $800 and total chaperone cost is $650. For more information and registration forms, go to www.moravian.org/?p=9031.
From the Moravian Ministries Foundation
The New Year brings a few changes for the Moravian Ministries Foundation staff. Laura Watson, Director for Faith and Philanthropy, will now oversee Morningstar Campaign Services, our service that helps churches and agencies with capital campaigns and stewardship. Laura has been with the Foundation since April 2012 and has assisted with both capital campaigns and stewardship ministries since 2015.
Kara Yates, Business and Financial Services Manager, will provide support for our Common Fund investors, including processing requests, sending reports and updates, and troubleshooting any issues that arise.
We will be hiring a Director for Gratitude and Generosity; this person’s primary responsibility will be overseeing our planned giving service, which includes working with individuals, couples, and families who want to create a planned gift to benefit a Moravian ministry, as well as our church-based program that helps congregations and agencies encourage their members and supporters to remember them through an estate gift. For more information about the position, please contact me at email@example.com or 336-725-2589.
We are excited about what 2017 will bring for the Foundation and our Moravian Church as we work together to ensure its strength and viability for generations to come. Please let us know how the Foundation can serve you and your ministry.
Tour the Holy Land
The Rev. Sanette Francis and the Rt. Rev. Hopeton Clennon are organizing a Moravian pilgrimage to the Holy Land through Education Opportunities Tours 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. You may register online at www.moraviantour.com.