Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Prayer, Praise & Progress

Dear Friends in Christ,

      “Praise, Prayer, and Progress” is the theme that has been chosen for our month-long celebration of God’s grace at St. John.  We are going through a time of transition at St. John.  The Lutheran School auction (Phase 1 of the transition) has already taken place, and this past month there has been a steady stream of items being removed from the building in preparation for its removal.  The voters have approved Phases 2 and 3 of the remodeling project which involves the removal of the old school building and the Sunday School house to the south of the church and the construction of new Sunday School rooms in the church basement.  We are still awaiting approval of Phase 4, which would be the addition of a Fellowship Hall onto the south end of the current church building.
      At the quarterly meeting in April the voters directed the church council to study and make recommendations on raising funds for the new addition.  The Council believes that the time is right for proceeding with the project.  They have determined that around $200,000 is available for the project from the current Building Fund, from an existing LCEF note, and from undesignated anonymous gifts. They have set a goal of raising $300,000 for the construction of a new addition.
      The Church Council believes, in the words of Esther 4:14, that we as God’s family have been brought together at St. John “for such a time as this.”  We invite you to join us on a journey of Praise, Prayer and Progress beginning this month:
      --Praise for the countless blessings that God has granted to St. John Lutheran Church in the 130 years of its existence.  Especially this month we remember the many individuals, current and former members, who were blessed through St. John Lutheran School and Noah’s Ark Preschool.  Many children growing up in Charter Oak received their elementary education at St. John Lutheran School, and learned of Jesus daily in worship, devotions, and religion classes.  Many of those children have grown up to be leaders in our congregation or in other congregations in the communities in which they settled as adults.  Some of our current junior high and high school students still remember their days at Noah’s Ark Preschool.  The Lutheran School building has been a blessing to us all.  We give glory to God as weretire the building on Sunday, June 19,  and celebrate one last “school picnic” that day.
      --Prayer for the present needs and challenges facing our congregation and community.  The Church Council believes very strongly that a project like this must be undertaken with prayer.  We hope all members will participate in the Day of Prayer scheduled for Saturday, June 11.  Options include a more liturgical prayer service at 9 a.m., a “prayer walk” around the church property beginning at 10 a.m., and a “prayer vigil” from noon-5 p.m. where members can sign up to pray quietly in the church for 15-minute intervals.  Even if you are unable to participate in any of these events, we encourage you to set aside time that day to pray for the needs of our congregation and community.
      --Progress as we ask, “What is the future of St. John here in Charter Oak?”  The Council firmly believes that St. John Lutheran Church is called to be a beacon of hope in our community, offering with open arms the love of Jesus, nurturing our own members and reaching out to those who do not know Him.  The question before us is, what facility improvements are necessary to continue and expand the Lord’s work here at St. John?  A special voters’ meeting has been scheduled for after church on Sunday, June 12.  The purpose is to discuss the approval of Phase 4, the construction of a new addition.  If approved, the fund-raising process will need to begin.
      As we give Praise to God for His blessings of the past and seek His will for our future in Prayer, we remember that Progress is in the hands of the Lord, whose word to us in Christ is, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”  (Jeremiah 29:11)  May the Lord continue to bless St. John congregation and guide us through this transition, to the glory of His name.

                                                Peace to you in Christ,
                                                      Pastor Merrill

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