God’s Work. Our Hands. – Third St Park

Written by Carol Rodibaugh

lunchMembers and friends of St. Paul’s Lutheran church participated for the first time in service for “God’s Work, Our Hands” Sunday. We got our hands in the dirt of a local park in our town of Frankfort, Indiana; one that was well used but had passed its prime.

 

So we loaded up our trowels, hoses, weed-eaters, rakes, hoes, wheelbarrows, paints, flowers and plants, and spent the day, beginning with a short service, in freshening and beautifying certain areas of the park. The community, and especially the surrounding neighborhood were invited to join us through the use of flyers and a newspaper announcement. Our local Parks Department was delighted and helpful by providing their suggestions, picnic tables and trash cans.

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There was plenty of opportunity for service in different areas, as we also provided two craft stations for children to paint and decorate flower pots to take home, make their hand prints into flowerpot picks, and participate in a brief lesson with coloring opportunities.

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In another area of the park, chalk and space was available for chalk art. Others concentrated on providing a light lunch and drinks, offered just at the right time for a boost of energy. And, gratefully, the weather on September 7 was absolutely beautiful.

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But, for me, the most touching part came at the very end of the day as I was loading up my car with the last of the art supplies. A young girl who had been with me most of the day saw me leaving and rushed up to stop me. She declared excitedly, “I have a statement to make!”. Smiling at her grown-up exclamation, I asked what her statement was. And she said ” I declare this day a success!”  And then we warmly hugged.

 

I’m not sure I’ll see that little girl again, but that affirmation and hug, at the end of a wonderful (but tiring day), made my heart sing. And now, when I think of God’s work, Our Hands Sunday, two weeks past, it is the thing I think of first.

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It took a lot of “hands” to make the day possible.  “Thank you” to all the volunteers, especially,

  • Carol Rodibaugh & David Rojas, for their careful & creative planning
  • Max Rodibaugh & the City of Frankfort Parks Dept, for planning & organizing the landscaping
  • Karen Reidenbach & Teresa Mudd, for providing lunch; (And to Frito Lay for providing the chips!)
  • Erik Dircks & Linda Mooney, for the fantastic photos
  • To all the neighbors, who pitched in a little labor and a lot of love
  • and to all those who came out and got their hands a little dirty, doing God’s work.



Gallery Hours, January 12 – 18

The He Qi art display at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church will be open to the public during the following day & hours:

Sunday, January 12:  The gallery will open following morning worship (which begins at 10:30 a.m.) and remain open through 1:00 p.m.

Tuesday, January 14: The gallery will be open from 3 p.m. -6 p.m.

Friday, January 17: The gallery will open immediately following the presentation by artist He Qi (7:00 p.m./Doors open at 6:30 p.m.) and remain open during the following reception until 9 p.m.

A limited number of the newly published “Art of He Qi” and select posters of artwork will be available for purchase.

 If you have a small group that would like to visit the exhibit or would like to visit at another specific time, please contact the church at office@stpauls39.org.

 

Community Impact Grant

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church is pleased to announce the

Community Impact Grant.

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St. Paul’s Lutheran Church invites organizations, individuals, and churches in Clinton County and adjacent counties to apply for funding for a project or event that will have a positive impact on the community.

Each applicant will need to complete an application form which clearly identifies the need in the community the project will address and describes the desired impact of the project.  Eligible applicants may request up to $1500 to help make it happen.

Those interested in applying should consult the guidelines and submit the completed application by November 18, 2013. The recipient of the grant will be announced December 10.

You may download the application and guidelines here:

Guidelines       Application

 For more information, please contact us via email at office@stpauls39.org.

 

St. Paul’s is called to share God’s love with all people, to proclaim God’s love in word & deed, and to grow together in faith as followers of Christ.

St. Paul’s is a congregation within the Indiana-Kentucky Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Stories of Faith Series

 

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We all have a story to tell.  But sharing our faith sometimes proves difficult.  And yet, as we see in Scripture, our stories are the most powerful witness we have.

We just have to learn how to tell it.

Stories of Faith is an opportunity for Christians to discover, refine, & share their own story of faith.

In this series, participants will reflect together on the stories of people from the Bible and explore how these stories relate to their own faith story.

Participants will also receive practical tools and practice sharing their faith by having the opportunity to lead a session on a biblical person of their choosing and by working together on shaping and sharing their own faith stories.

The series will begin with two “introductory” sessions.  The first session, “Stories of Faith,” will explore stories of faith in the Bible.  The following week, “Storytelling as Evangelism” will discuss the elements of a good story and why storytelling is a vital part of our Christian life.  A third introductory session may be held if needed.

Following the introduction, participants will work together to identify a Biblical person, reflect on how the biblical story reflects their own experience (or vice versa), and practice telling their story and inviting others to share their own stories by facilitating the discussion on the Biblical story they have chosen.

After each participant has the opportunity to share, participants will discuss and identify specific ways each of them will share their story with others.

All stories welcome.  Come share your story!

 

Tuesday Night Bible Study meets every week from 6:30p-8:00p at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.  Get directions from Google.

Series Schedule

September 17:            Stories of Faith

Key Text:          Hebrews 11

September 24:            Storytelling as Evangelism

Key Text:          Matthew 28:16-20

October:          Storytelling Groups

October – December  Presentation of Faith Stories

December 10 or 17     Review

Listening Learnings

 

thanksThank you to everyone who took a little time to sit down and share their stories during our Listening Campaign this past summer!  Having been the first experience of a listening campaign as a congregation, I wanted to offer some of my observations and highlight some of the things the Listening Team identified as learnings in this process.

Background

As part of St. Paul’s continual mission discernment, each year three “priorities” are identified as focus areas of St. Paul’s Mission.  These three priorities are used to shape the way our council, ministries and members are live out that mission together through ministry programs, worship, and events.  This past year, the identified priorities were: Faithful in Worship, Growing as Stewards, and Continued Mission Discernment (Read more about these priorities here).

The second priority, Growing as Stewards, includes a special focus on building relationships.  This emerged from a number of experiences over the past three years which highlighted that (1) active participants in St. Paul’s ministries do not know one another as well as we typically assume, and, (2) that our relationships are one of the most valuable things we steward as Christians.

This past summer, the focus on building relationships was lived out through St. Paul’s Listening Campaign.  The campaign launched in March when members of St. Paul’s were trained in the art of one-to-one conversation and formed a “Listening Team.”  Over the next several weeks, this team led the listening process by planning, executing, and debriefing conversations.  A final report of this phase of listening was reported to the congregation on Pentecost.

Reflections on the processListenLearning

The best part of the campaign for the Listening Team was the opportunity to become more familiar with other members of the congregation and hear their stories.  It takes a certain amount of courage to even ask people to sit down together.  But overall, the team found that people were excited and willing to talk and swap stories.

The goals of the listening campaign were fourfold:

  1.  Establish or deepen relationships
  2.  Learn what people value, who they really are, and how their life experiences have shaped them
  3.  Find commonly held interests, goals or values
  4.  Through attentiveness and inquiry, gain new clarity about one’s self and self-appreciation

There were times during the campaign that the team felt a lack of clarity around the goals.  Early on, the team had decided not to “bring up” St. Paul’s unless the other person mentioned it first.  As the campaign went on, members of the team expressed desire to apply a more focused questioning around a particular issue.  This created a real tension for the team – how to discover the common pressures and passions of members without trying to lead the conversation to a particular end through a set of predetermined questions.

This tension was probably most felt when the team met to reflect on their experiences and what they heard in order to prepare for the report to the congregation.  In preparing for the report to the congregation, the team expressed that they did not get a sense of closure from the first phase.  There was still a lot to debrief and unpack, but the short amount of time for the turnaround did not allow for enough conversation.

CHSThe team desperately desired to come up with a report and recommendation that would convey the richness and depth of all that they had heard.  Following the Pentecost report, the general consensus of the team was that the identified action steps did not seem to adequately address the pressures and passions that were uncovered in the conversations.  Additionally, the action steps did not appear to contain any “risk,” which may have contributed to a lack of enthusiasm.

Going forward 

When the team discussed how best to move forward, a key component was finding ways to create opportunities for people to share their stories and build relationships with others.  The Table Talks will be helpful in this regard, but there will likely be more relational work to be done in the months ahead.

engaged-listeningIn identifying their own “next steps,” the Listening Team decided to focus on supporting the work of the grant team through one-on-one conversations with applicants/references and hosting “research meetings” to build relationship with others actively serving the community, learn what motivates them and they got to this point in their life, and discover where their goals and values overlap with St. Paul’s.

 

If you are curious about the listening campaign, wonder why St. Paul’s is doing this, or are interested in being a leader in the process, send a note to Pastor Joshua, who would love the opportunity to sit down together and discuss these things further.

Sunday, Sunday, Sundae!

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Join us September 8th for

Sunday School.  We’ll gather together in the sanctuary at 9:15 a.m. to kick off the fall Sunday School program!

Sunday worship.  We’ll meet back in the sanctuary at 10:30 a.m. to celebrate the Word with bread & wine!

Sundae Social.  Bring your favorite topping (enough to share)!owing service, and plan to stick around after service for sundaes and conversation about St. Paul’s being a part of a new shared ministry!

And share this with others on Facebook!

Listening Campaign Report

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This year, St. Paul’s has launched a “Community Engagement Project.”  This project officially launched on March 16th, when 5 members of St. Paul’s were trained and launched together the first-ever “Listening Campaign.”

Over the next several weeks, these members met, listened and shared with as many members of St. Paul’s as they could in one-to-one meetings.  In these meetings, they shared stories, learned what members of the congregation value and discovered some of the pressures they face.  This “internal” listening campaign was the first phase of the “Community Engagement Project” and laid the foundation for the work that still lies ahead.

On Pentecost Sunday, the Listening Campaign reported back some of the themes and issues that were rising out of their conversations.  Overwhelmingly, the most common theme mentioned was the “value of family.”  This came out in a number of ways, but became the focal point for discussing how to move forward together as a church community.  As the team tried to outline a few “next steps” to suggest to the congregation, they discovered a few surprises:

  • various roles within families, and each of these roles may face different pressures and have different concerns.
  • Even though “family” is a value, it can also be a source of pressure
  • church programming, rather than supporting and nurturing families, can become an additional pressure for families

In the end, what we learned is that we need to do more listening.  So, for our next steps as a congregation, we will be hosting a few “Table Talks” over the summer.  These casual gatherings will be ways for similar people to gather together in a guided conversation, share a little about their own family, talk about the pressures they face, and identify a few ways that the church can support and nurture the faith of our families.

As a starting point, we have identified three “groups” to gather around tables.  These groups were identified by thinking through what groups would have a “critical mass” of folk who would be able to talk together.  The first two are fairly common and self-explanatory.  However, you don’t have a to be a parent or grandparent to have a family (maybe you’re the crazy uncle!).  Everyone is part of family – whether they are single, have no children, divorced, etc. – and so, we’ve created a third group to help make sure everyone gets a place at a table.

The groups are:

  1. Grandparents
  2. Parents w/ young families
  3. Other parts of the family

Our hope is that through these conversations, we will build relationships with each other, gain a sense of clarity about who we are (as family members and as a faith community), identify some of the common struggles we have, and plan out a few next steps to suggest to the congregation.

But in order for all this to happen, we need everyone to participate!  So we are asking everyone to sign up for a group (only one!) by June 24th.  You can sign up on the boards outside the sanctuary at church or online.  It takes at least two people to move forward, but we’re hoping for a lot more!

Then, once everyone has had a chance to sign up for one of the three groups mentioned above, we’ll break out into small groups around the kitchen table and have a chat sometime in July or August.

 

If you have questions about the Table Talks or Community Engagement Project, please contact Pastor Joshua.

Android Beta Test

Android-Dvlpr  Don’t mind us . . . We’re just running a little Beta test for Android.  

If you have a smartphone that runs on an Android platform and would like to participate in our little experiment, please contact Pastor Joshua at pastor@stpauls39.org.

We are also look for a few mystery shoppers to provide a little feedback about our website, Facebook page, and other places of online presence.  Interested?

Contact Pastor Joshua at pastor@stpauls39.org.

2013 Mission Priorities

At its last meeting, the church council identified three “Mission Priorities” for St. Paul’s next year.  These priorities (discussed below) have given shape to the 2013 budget proposal that will be discussed at the annual meeting on December 9th.   An intentional focusing on building relationships, both new and old, underlies all three priorities.  Through building relationships, we not only grow as faithful followers of Christ, but take part in building the kingdom of God a little closer to home.

Faithful in Worship

Since worship occupies a central place in our identity as a community of faith, council leaders discussed ways to encourage regular worship attendance among members, extending personal invitations to those without a church home, and building relationships with those who come to worship on Sunday morning.

Part of this includes continuing to make opportunities to serve in worship (as Assisting Minister, Reader, etc) more available and for those who regularly fill these roles to intentionally invite others to step into these roles.  And this includes an emphasis on making worship more accessible to families by finding creative ways for children to actively participate in worship and providing more options for parents, like nursery care.

We will also proclaim God’s love through the Art of the Passion. Last year, the exhibit reached over 350 people, many of whom do not regularly attend church.  In 2013, we hope to find ways to improve and expand the exhibit, so that the good news may be extended even further into the world.

Growing as Stewards

The second  priority is that our members and regular attenders continue to grow as stewards of the gifts that God has given them.  Our past stewardship campaigns and cottage meetings have laid a great foundation for understanding our role as stewards of God’s gifts.  The particular ways our mission is lived out is shaped by the individual gifts of the people who recognize how God has blessed them and are eager (even if sometimes reluctant) to share it with the world.  Throughout the year, we will be using the wholeness wheel to identify and encourage each other to grow as stewards of God’s gifts.

This process will begin early in the year, with an exciting chance for everyone to get involved through a congregational listening campaign.  A handful of people will be trained in the art of one-to-one conversations and then will schedule times to interview other members in a mutual discovery of passions & gifts.

Continued Mission Discernment

The third priority identified is that St. Paul’s continues the process of mission discernment.  In the past, churches have engaged in this kind of visioning once in a blue moon – and more often than not, it involved some kind of building campaign.  However, mission is a ongoing process of discernment.

Building upon the discernment done in 2010, we’ll continue working with the Indiana-Kentucky Synod’s Latino Strategy Board and implementing the partnership objectives to discover ways that we can overcome cultural boundaries in our community and become a community that truly shares God’s love with all people.

A big part of discernment is listening.  So once our congregational listening campaign is completed, we’ll turn it outwards, inviting more members to be trained and listening to those in the community who are not participants at St. Paul’s.  All of this will come together at our Triennial Mission Discernment Retreat, where participants at St. Paul’s will have the opportunity to select and award a grant to a local agency with whom we would like to work together to make God’s love known in our community.

 

Through focusing time and resources on these priorities, St. Paul’s will continue to grow as vital ministry in our community.  There is much to be excited about in the coming year and a lot of ways to be involved.  No matter how young or old, near or far, quiet or boisterous you may be, there is a place for you.   There will be a chance to discuss these priorities and share your ideas at the congregational meeting and weeks following.

In the meantime, keep watching announcements in church or on Facebook; talk about it with others and ask a lot of questions; share it with God in prayer; think about what part you a most interested or gifted for – and together we’ll continue to share and proclaim the love of God, while growing in faith as followers of Christ.

The 2012-2013 Congregational Meeting will be held on Sunday, December 9th following worship.

 

2012 Thanksgiving Drive

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2012 Thanksgiving Drive!  Through your faithful efforts, St. Paul’s collected 1669 lbs of food for local families this Thanksgiving holiday, well exceeding our goal of 1200 lbs!

Thanksgiving BasketsOn Monday, members of St. Paul’s gathered together to sort and pack the food into Thanksgiving Baskets that were delivered the following day to over 40 families.  The remaining amount of food was delivered to the monthly food pantry at First Baptist Church.  The volunteers were delighted to receive this food,

The Thanksgiving Drive is a huge ministry that is continues to grow each year.  This worthy ministry is built on the loving action of many volunteers – from those who prepare soup for the Eat2Feed Soup Supper to those who enjoy the soup while contributing to the cause; from the staff at Marsh Main Street Market to council members who organize the logistics; from members who pack & deliver baskets to the many volunteers across our county who faithfully serve day in, day out in the fight against local hunger.  This year, we are especially thankful for those who serve at the monthly food pantry at First Baptist Church.Delivering Thanksgiving

So this Thanksgiving, as we all prepare to sit down at the table and enjoy a holiday feast with those we love and thank God for the blessings we enjoy in life, let also give thanks to God for the many hearts and hands that put faith into action and work hard to see that others may join in the praise of thanksgiving to God.