"The office of bishop is now committed to you in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
Let me tell you a little bit about the Holy Spirit's work as it played out here at Christ the King last week...
Well...actually, back in September the East Central Synod of Wisconsin elected our first female bishop during our online synod assembly. We had originally planned to have Bishop Anne's installation in early January, however the covid-19 surge that we were experiencing in the fall led us to postpone the service to April 11th, when it would be safer for bishops from other areas, including Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, to travel to this area.
Leading up to last Sunday the 11th, there was a LOT of work from very faithful people done. There was an installation team that was made up of pastors and lay leaders to plan all aspects of the installation, including the worship liturgy, the adornment of our sanctuary at Christ the King, and communicating with both the churchwide office and our local congregations on all the details.
Up until last week, it was all planning, but as soon as Monday hit, the pieces were moving quickly. One of the most remarkable things to witness was the transformation of our sanctuary. For the last several weeks, the installation team had been gathering fabric from congregations throughout the synod. As fabric piled up here at Christ the King we had NO idea what the intention was with it. However, when Pastor Leah (Good Shepherd, Plover) and Pastor Sara (St. John, Marion) showed up on Tuesday, the piles of fabric were slowly transformed into the beautifully adorned wall you saw in worship. Some pieces of fabric came with notes, others came with stories, and all of it from the congregations were combined to show a beautiful representation of our synod coming together to surround Bishop Anne during her installation. Later in the day, Pastors Leah and Sara found they were weary and called for some reinforcements. With a quick phone call and without question, faithful folks of Christ the King showed up to help hang the beautiful arrangements of fabric.
Then there was the video and production piece....WOWZA what a team effort! All music and videos were coordinated by Dr. Kartika Putri who is the music minister up at Good Shepherd in Wausau. Throughout the last month she has been sending me videos of the hymns, which were sung by representatives from throughout the synod. In addition to those hymns, I was also receiving videos from pastors who were serving as readers, as well as photos for the virtual processional, AND our visual storyteller, Sue Wendler, was working tirelessly on powerpoint slides and the paper bulletin for the local worshippers.. ALLL of these pieces, were then passed to one of our CtK producers, Brent Schuettpelz, who sorted, organized, and rehearsed everything you saw on your screens on Sunday, AS WELL AS everything we saw locally in the sanctuary. The time and energy put in by Kartika, Sue, and Brent was a wonderful gift to the synod!
Fast forward to Sunday. Ya'll....the JOY in the room. One by one, bishops from other ELCA synods and leaders of other denominations arrived at Christ the King. Bishop Eaton, who is the presiding bishop of the ELCA came as well, as it is her ministry to install bishops of synods. It's the most people we'd had in the building at one time (15) in over a year, and it felt SO good. There were masked, long distanced hugs, there were people greeting one another from different rooms, and the whole time we all did our best to abide by Christ the King's re-entry plan.
If you had a chance to watch it, the worship service speaks for itself. The Gospel was proclaimed, a fire was lit in the baptismal font, and our Bishop Anne was installed. JOY! JOY! JOY!
After worship we filed outside to take photos and to admire the port-a-pulpit. I didn't get a photo of it, but let me tell you...it was quite the sight to see Pastor Nate explaining to a handful of bishops, including Bishop Eaton, how we use the port-a-pulpit, and to see the amazement on their faces.
I could truly go on and on about what a BIG and Holy day it was on Sunday, but I won't. What I will say however is that Holy Spirit was for surely present, and God's love was alive and kickin' here indeed!
Peace be the journey,
National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) is April 16, always the day after Tax Day as there is nothing more certain in life than death
and taxes (Benjamin Franklin). NHDD is a national initiative to encourage people of all ages to share their personal wishes regarding
their future medical care, and for healthcare teams and facilities to respect those wishes whatever they may be.
Next week Fox Valley Advanced Care Planning Partnership (FVACPP) is sponsoring a series of conversations to share information pertaining to Healthcare decision making. They include presentations from a medical doctor, an attorney, and individuals with
expertise in cancer and hospice care. Click on the link below where you can find out more information and how to
Wisconsin, unlike many states, is not a "next of kin" or "family consent" state for adults - Wisconsin law does not
authorize family members (except for hospice admissions) to make decisions for incapacitated adult family
members. Visit Fox Valley Advance Care Planning Partnership at www.FVACPP.org for information on opportunities
to fill out an Advance Care DIrective and resources to start these conversions with your family.
For more information contact Julie Meitzen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Welcome to Holy Week! The deepest, darkest days for Jesus. We find Jesus’ teaching lessons of servanthood while washing the disciple’s feet, breaking bread, and blessing wine for a new understanding of the Passover meal our holy communion, and sharing love, forgiveness, and grace for all to be welcomed. Three days after his death, the disciples and many followers of Jesus awoke with grief, confusion, fear, impatience, and many other emotions.
Is resurrection possible?
How can a dead Savior live?
Is resurrection possible?
What is the new normal going look like?
We know the rest of the story. Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed! It was hard to stay vigilant, faithful, or even believe. Thankfully, in the resurrection, Jesus shows up. Jesus is present. Jesus continues to walk and talk and share the glory of God’s Kingdom and encourage people to believe. Human life and history are changed forever!
Easter 2021 – emotions are high, human life and history is changed forever by the Coronavirus pandemic! What will our new normal look like when we gather for activities and worship? How will faith be lived out and shared? What have we learned? How have we changed? How has God shown up and walked alongside to give us a new perspective? How do we care for and understand our neighbor? The sick? The vulnerable?
As a congregation we have not taken life nor faith for granted. We prepare every day for the ‘New Normal’. Remain prayerful, steadfast, resilient. There will be a day we will move from virtual meeting and parking lot worship to in person gathering for worship.
CtK’s Re-entry Team, a cross-section of people from the congregation, has worked hard to understand from a theological and from a safety perspective to prepare for in person gatherings and worship. A new perspective. We do understand we cannot flip a switch and suddenly open like the ‘old normal.’ It is out of concern for everyone that we have an updated the Plan of Re-entry. If you have not seen the prepared YouTube video or the documents that state this on our website, please take a few moments and review them on the links below.
Easter in Jesus day and Easter today bring about a ‘new normal’. Let us remain faithful and vigilant in the power of Jesus resurrection. When we do this, we see God’s love come to life and understand all are welcome. Let us prepare everyday like it is Easter!
Happy Holy Week,
"RING THOSE BELLS!" we excitedly yelled.
"ONE STEP CLOSER!" we called.
These shouts were just a couple that were proclaimed over the last month and a half as the Christ the King Re-Entry Team met.
This collection of faithful servants from our congregation teamed up to consider when and how we will gather together again in person. Each time the team completed work on each ministry area, they rang a cow bell, played handheld instruments, and did a cheer.
This team is a way God's love has come to life at Christ the King recently. Through prayerful consideration, thorough analysis of data from Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services, and some tough conversations, this team has developed a plan for re-entering into in-person gathering. All of that was done with a love for our neighbors and care for our congregation in mind.
I'll leave it to the team to share their exciting work in an announcement this Sunday as part of worship, so stay tuned to get their full update coming soon!
Peace be the journey,
Thank you, people of CtK for your faithful response! At Christ the King (CtK) we put benevolent giving first! “Taking care of others before ourselves," it just what we do shared one parishioner. The spiritual discipline of stewardship and caring for our neighbor is something we take seriously at CtK! Thank you for your commitment to the Ministry Spending Plan (MSP) and response to God’s blessings.
I share this thank you because we recently received a thank you letter from the Executive Director of LEAVEN (Limited Emergency Assistance Valley Ecumenical Network), Mary Parsons. Here is what the letter said:
Coretta Scott King said, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” Her words, while spoken years ago, aptly describe the Fox Valley area today. The outpouring of support during these unprecedented times has affirmed the strength and character of our community.
Your gift of $1,105 is helping a growing number of people who need LEAVEN assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your generosity is stabilizing individuals and families who were already struggling to make ends meet before the outbreak, as well as those seeking assistance for the very first time.
Whether it’s an everyday crisis or a widespread disaster, LEAVEN is her to help. But we could not do it without donors lie you who rise to the occasion and give with your heart. As an organization, we are confident that we will look back at this difficult time with immense pride in how we individually and collectively responded.
A penned note also said, “Thank you for your generous support. Your gift gives help and hope to our neighbors in need.”
Thank you for your commitment of making a real difference in the lives of people, our neighbors, who are in need! Your faithful giving is one way the ministry of CtK is bringing God’s love to life!
Ugh, we have reached a year of pandemic! I hear lament around me.
Lament Psalms are the expression of pain, distress, and suffering. None of us is immune from encountering such experiences. We all can relate and lament of the tiresome, dragging on of the pandemic. Glimmers of hope seem illusive.
I don’t have the answers, at least, not with an exact date or time. However, I am hopeful! Because I see the numbers headed in the right direction. Vaccinations are becoming more available. There are better days ahead! Continue to let your resilience, patience and adaptability abound. The day is coming. Let us be ready.
My dear friends in Christ, there is Good News! As we see declining numbers of new cases for COVID. Vaccinations are on the rise. A team of CtK lay people are making plans for in person gathering and for in person worship. That, of course, assumes the trend we are on continues to move in a positive direction.
With prayer and planning, this team considers the path forward with everyone’s interest and safety at hand. A phased approach will be necessary to ease into worship life and communal living. We cannot expect to flip a switch, however we will slowly return. Remain faithful. Remain positive. Remain hopeful and remain accepting of the possibilities for what newness comes out of our experienced pandemic to face each day that is provided by God. Very soon the plan to return to in person worship and gathering with bee shared in our weekly Constant Contact e-newsletter and on our website. God’s love is coming to life! You can do this. We can do this together 😊
Christ’s Lenten Blessings & Peace,
Jesus loves me, Jesus loves everyone, even “the crabby people”, Jesus’ love is with me everywhere I go, communion is for everyone, there is a place for everyone at Jesus’ table. These are just some of the take-aways after this past Monday’s first night of communion instruction, for our fourth graders. Every year I am blown away at the depth of understanding our youth have of God’s grace and love. This year, first communion, will look quite a bit different than years passed. We will welcome the newest diners to The Lord’s Table on Palm Sunday. Each student’s family can choose which worship service, virtual or parking lot, works best for them. I hope that you will be able to join us, Palm Sunday, March 28th as we celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and this important milestone of our 4th grade siblings in Christ.
Your Sibling in Christ,
Susie Selle (she/her)
It's an interesting time to be church. As awareness of social injustices grows throughout the country and the world, the same is happening within the church. As the Gospel shows us time and again, Jesus' favor, attention, and ministry was directed toward freeing and uplifting the poor and oppressed. However, the way ELCA churches have lived that out has been...well...not the best.
When I was going through the assignment and call process, I distinctly remember all of my seminary classmates and I being called to a meeting with our discernment person from the seminary and the Bishop of the Western North Dakota Synod. During that meeting, they laid out the process we were entering into. They told us what we needed to do to stand out to bishops and churches, what paperwork we needed to fill out, they gave us deadlines, and they let us know what we could expect in the process ahead. Then...they laid out some realities for us.
They told us:
Why is this a reality? Well...because it turns out there are many churches who are simply not ready or willing to consider more diverse candidates. It's an injustice happening right inside our church body. When we embrace the full diversity of God's church and open ourselves up to leaders with voices different than our own, we are opening ourselves up to the Holy Spirit's work to take us to new places for the sake of the Gospel.
To be fair, often times the first time a congregation is asked to consider looking at a female, person of color, or LGBTQIA+ candidate is when they have already entered into the call process. At that point they're grieving the loss of their pastor, and they have a short amount of time to make a decision to keep the process toward a new pastor rolling. Realistically, it's simply not the right time to enter into the many deep threads of conversation and dialogue that are needed to consider diverse candidates, and how to make the congregation a welcoming place for those candidates should they become the congregation's pastor.
When congregations are unwilling to partner with diverse candidates, not only does the church miss out, but seminary students who invested at least 4 years of their lives and a lot of money into becoming a pastor are left to live in a constant waiting game.
So how do we address this injustice?
We start with conversation in our own congregations who already have called pastors and are not in the call process.
But how do we get congregations to do that?
Through a resolution! A resolution is an official statement that is lifted up, voted on, and adopted at our annual Synod Assembly. A well-written resolution will state a problem, then offer up a way of resolving that problem. In order for a resolution to be lifted up at Synod Assembly, it has to be endorsed by a congregation, a committee, or a minimum of 10 individuals.
Luckily, the Christ the King Church Council has endorsed a resolution to address this very issue!
Here is the resolution being lifted up:
Resolution Title: Opening the Way for Women, People of Color, and LGBTQIA+ Candidates
WHEREAS, the body of Christ is made of a collection of diverse images of God; and
WHEREAS, God calls us to work for peace for all people through justice; and
WHEREAS, women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ candidates wait longer for calls than their white, straight, male, cis-gendered colleagues; and
WHEREAS, the ELCA is the the least racially diverse denomination in the US; and
WHEREAS, representation in leadership matters; and
WHEREAS, the covid-19 pandemic is leading to burnout of clergy and a push toward transitions of call; and
WHEREAS, faithful discernment in the calling of pastoral candidates takes time and discussion facilitated by trusted leaders; and
WHEREAS, the first time many congregations engage in conversation about calling women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ candidates is when they are just about to or have already entered the call process
THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that congregations of the ECSW with a called pastor begin conversation and discernment on the future calling of women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ candidates; and BE IT FURTHER
RESOLVED, that congregations in conversation also create action plans for making their congregation a more safe working, living, and ministry environment for women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ pastors through a commitment to education, training, continued prayerful discernment, and systemic change.
Let's be clear here: This resolution is not aiming to force any congregation to accept a female, person of color, or LGBTQIA+ candidate. That doesn't serve congregations or candidates well.
What it IS doing however, is encouraging congregations to have discussion about accepting diverse candidates while they STILL have a trusted pastor who can lead and facilitate those conversations. Additionally, it is asking congregations to take an honest look at their practices and congregational culture to explore how they could move themselves toward being a more accepting or hospitable place for candidates to serve.
The endorsement by the Church Council is representation of all of you! By endorsing this resolution, you all are taking an active role in addressing injustices that happen within the larger church -- this is work to celebrate! Thanks, Holy Spirit!
Peace be the journey,
Only in Wisconsin! What a great day for parking lot worship -5 degrees! Everyone was warm in their cars and I was warm in the porta-pulpit! In fact, the preacher was so full of hot air the window fogged up! God sure has a sense of humor!
It has been bitterly cold, but with Ash Wednesday beginning Lent last night, Spring will be in the air soon! Lent can be a good break from life which can feel overwhelming from - busyness, anxiety, responsibilities, alienation, or even the temptation to compare our lives to someone else. This world likes to push us around and tell us we are less than anything. Thankfully, Jesus has come for all of us to know a different way of living and seeing the world from God’s perspective.
During the Wednesdays of Lent we will be focusing on the theme “Embodied.” A liberating way of integrating our thinking, actions, emotions, and spirituality to live for God. I hope you will plan to use the spiritual discipline of Lent to see how one’s mind, body, heart, and soul are called to be in-line with our daily thoughts and actions as Christians.
Embodied for Lent will take on many ways to feel deeply and have a sense of wholeness. Beyond our weekly livestreamed worship on Wednesdays (6:30pm), we have daily devotionals, coloring pages, discussion after worship, and a host of other ways to connect. Contact the church office for details or pick up materials in the tote outside the office doors, next to the mailbox.
Join in, be made whole, and beat the low temperatures. Together let us see God’s love come to life!
Christ’s Blessings & Peace,
Lent is a time for spiritual growth and stretching. In the middle of a LONG winter and a LONG pandemic, there's certainly space for us to grow, learn, and stretch our faith a bit. We have a WHOLE LOT of opportunities for growth coming up this Lent, but I wanted to feature one in particular this week, as I think it's a GREAT opportunity for anyone who is missing getting to interact with the friendly folks from church.
Starting on February 23rd, we're excited to offer another round of the ALPHA series, which will be facilitated by two Christ the King partners in ministry.
Alpha is an 11-week series that is designed to get people asking questions about faith TOGETHER.
Each time the Alpha group gathers, they'll watch a video that introduces the question of the night, and they'll get to talk it out and explore from there. THAT'S IT!
The bonus of joining an Alpha group is that you'll get to meet people from our community and get to form an authentic and meaningful relationship with them.
So far, we have had a handful of cohorts who have done the Alpha series together, including our 9th grade confirmation students. All involved have reported how meaningful it was for them, and how they grew as the weeks went on.
Check out the video below to learn a little bit more about it, and if you'd like to join the group starting on February 23rd, please email Denise Barnaal at email@example.com .