Clearwater Lutheran Parish
for the Year Ending December 31, 2008
Many members have expressed concern over the workload that their Pastor faces during the year. I thank you all for your concern and for your understanding when I need to take a break.
I want you to understand and share my priorities. God has called each of us to our own vocations. In my position I rank my priorities this way: my Faith, my family, my duties in my call as Pastor, and then my personal desires.
You all know that our parish consists of 4 congregations. That means that any regularly attending member of our congregations can at best only witness only a quarter of what your Pastor does. And only if you are with me all the time and each congregation was equal in its needs. But none of you can be with me all the time, and our congregations differ greatly in size and needs.
My priority as Pastor is the regular worship service where all members who are able can gather to benefit from the Means of Grace. Next are those who are in special needs; whether life threatening or those sorely oppressed by sin and the conflicts of sin. This includes hospital calls, deathbed calls, marriage problems, and personal problems. I can only respond to those in special need if they make their need known to me.
After special needs come the Shut-ins. Some of the shut-ins are truly unable to attend regular worship. When visiting shut-ins I have to consider several things. First, if my family has sickness that can be passed to a shut-in, I will not go to the shut-in. Second, if there is someone in special need when I have planned a shut-in visit, I will go to the person or family with the special need. Third, the weather frustrates me often when visiting shut-ins. And lastly, some of the shut-ins aren't home when I try to visit.
There are several shut-ins who can attend regular worship, and some who do from time to time. Those who do attend from time to time are not in as great a need as those who cannot. Those who can attend but choose not to are not in as great of need as those who cannot.
Ideally I would try to visit each shut-in each month. But this rarely happens. At best I can expect to visit a shut-in 3 or 4 times a year. There are a few shut-ins that I have been able to visit each month. There are more shut-ins that I have only visited a handful of times during the year. When my family has a cold or the flu I cannot take that sickness to the shut-ins. Weather also plays a big role during the winter months. And, all too frequently, a shut-in is not home or has scheduling conflict that prevents our meeting. Add to this the need of those who are facing critical spiritual issues. Those cannot be scheduled. And they force your Pastor to choose one over the other. My priority is the hospital call, the deathbed call, and marriage problems before going to the shut-in.
In taking care of the shut-ins I ask for each congregation to help take up the slack where I am not able.
After the shut-ins my next priority is Bible Study for the congregations. This past year we had 9 sessions of Bible Study for every member of each congregation. With each session being about 2 to 3 hours on average. [9 times 2 is 18, times 4 congregations is 72 hours, if they went 3 hours each it would be 108 hours total] The Lenten Bible study series covered the Biblical basis and reasons for why we worship in the way we do. The Summer Bible Study covered our practice of Closed Communion. That's not as much as I hoped to cover in a year, but it is as much as I am able to do. Writing Bible Studies takes considerable time. I am regretful that not everyone was able to afford the time from their schedules to attend them. None the less, your Pastor is grateful for those who did attend and benefited from the Bible Studies.
Next comes Confirmation and Wednesday School. We want our children to be able to examine themselves before receiving the Lord's Supper. Originally this is the parents' duty to teach and the Pastor's duty to examine. In our times it has fallen upon the Pastor and volunteers to teach. This past year Dawn N. and Tami S. have taught the lower level classes (grades 3-5). Our Parish owes them a great debt of gratitude.
Confirmation classes require the assent and insistence of the parents to ensure that their children are studying and learning the assigned lessons.
After this comes Saturday/Sunday School. I arrange and manage the general flow of the lessons at three of our congregations. I am the only teacher at one of our congregations. One of our congregations uses material produced by Concordia Publishing House. This is all a bit awkward to manage and involves quite a bit of work and time. But it works. Each of our congregations should acknowledge and thank the teachers in their own Sunday Schools. Your Pastor has meetings with the teachers to lay out the plan and help resolve any scheduling and personal difficulties that go along with managing and teaching the Sunday Schools. And I am very grateful to the volunteers for all the work that they do.
Youth Group is my next priority. Youth Group comes this late because most of the Youth Group members are full members of their congregation. They are responsible for attending worship and admitting themselves to the Lord's Supper. The Youth Groups meet in the school-year months and sometimes in the summer. They have the Presidents' Day retreat (a 2 day event attended by Pastor), the National Youth Retreat (Pastor does not attend), Camp Indianhead (Pastor does not attend), and our fall Clearwater Lutheran Parish Shootout (an all day event the Pastor coordinates, arranges and participates in) as regular events. In addition to this they enjoy bowling, skiing, and a car-wash each year.
I am hoping to add some service oriented activities to the Youth Groups schedule.
Outreach and Evangelism come next in my lit of priorities. I am working with a handful of families on witnessing to them, teaching them, and encouraging them toward attending our churches. Some of these are children or parents of members. Others have no relatives in our congregations. I deeply appreciate the work that some of our members are doing in this direction and work hard to follow up with visits to those people you want me to meet. Outreach and Evangelism are the duties of all members of the congregations as far as their own God given vocation allows. The pressure to get more members is a strong temptation. And it is a temptation. The real issue is presenting the true Word of God to our neighbor. We are not in the business of filling pews for the sake of the congregations. We are called by God to bring the Gospel to the perishing.
Visiting Members is next on my priority list. I have tried over the years to stop at each member's home to visit them. Pastor P. served here in the 1950s as his first call. He had relatives in my home congregation of Rock Dell Ev. Luth. Church. I've known him all my life. And he was my teacher at Seminary. He said, “A home visiting pastor has a church going congregation.” This is true up to a point. A pastor should make every possible effort to know what his sheep are dealing with in their own lives. This makes him able to address the needs of his sheep. But we are spread over many hundreds of square miles in this parish. So my work at this is slow.
Pastor P.'s saying can be taken in a wrong way. The wrong way to understand him is to think that because the Pastor has not visited someone's home, therefore he does not care for those members. If you want me to come, let me know. Even then, it might take some time for me to arrange a visit. There are so many things going on. Please be patient with me and forgiving. Your Pastor is also only just another weak sinful man.
Ladies' Aid; Congregational Voters' Meetings; and Parish Board Meetings:
Your Pastor cannot attend all these meetings. 4 meetings for each Voters assembly each year also is 16 meetings. And add to that 4 quarterly meetings of the Parish Board: for a total of 20. Two congregations have regular Ladies' Aid meetings for 9 months of the year. The other two hold meetings as needed. This means another 18 plus meetings and the time it takes to go to them and get home. That is 36 and more additional meetings where your Pastor could be presenting Bible Studies or devotions. Your Pastor really would like to be able to be present at all of these meetings. But he can't.
I want to be at each of these meetings. In reality, your Pastor can only really attend the Parish Board meetings and try to get to others as he is able.
Social Club and other events that a congregation may hold; for example: baby showers, wedding showers, themed parties, auctions, or dinners have to come after all these other priorities. I rarely attend these events. Occasionally I will get to a bake sale or auction. In 7 years I still haven't been to the Mt. Olive sale at the Gonvick Rodeo, though I would like to. I try to contribute to these events as I am able. For example: if there is a bake sale-and I have the time-I might make something to be sold at the sale. But it is not often that I can.
Your Pastor writes a devotional article for the Grygla Eagle during January and June of each year. The article is titled “The Word of the Week” and is written by the pastors of the Grygla area. These articles can be found on the internet at the following address:
The articles were:
January 6. 2008 Gentile Christmas
January 13. 2008 Missed writing
January 20. 2008 Tragedy and Faith
January 27. 2008 The Church Year
June 1. 2008 The Wedding Feast Luke 24:16–24
June 8. 2008 Eating with “Sinners” Luke 15:1–10
June 15. 2008 Suffering for Christians Romans 8:18–23
June 22. 2008 “Depart from me” Luke 5:1–11
December 10. 2008 Christ: Prophet, Priest and King
The articles are part of your Pastor's commission to reach out to our neighbors with the clear Word of God, and through that Word to bring them to the knowledge of the truth in Jesus Christ. This is a direct outreach and evangelism effort by your Pastor. My prayer is that those affected by the articles can be reached by members in the area for fuller and better instruction.
What Was Done This Past Year:
There were 205 scheduled Worship Services held at the congregations during the year. Pastor led 198 of them, Deacons held 10, Pr. Stafford led 1. Pastor held 11 Funeral services (visitations and funerals added together), over 65 urgent hospital or health related devotions, over 150 shut-in devotions. There were 5 couples that participated in pre-marital counseling involving at least 12 hours per couple—two of these were married last year, three couples are planning on weddings this year (2009). I have held personal meetings and devotions with several individuals who were either considering membership at one of our congregations or were in need of special spiritual counseling.
Regular Worship Services Held: 189
Mt. Olive 46 of 50 services were held 4 weather related cancellations,
45 led by pastor, 1 by Pr. S.
Oak Park 48 of 52 services were held 4 weather related cancellations.
45 led by pastor, 3 by Deacons
Nazareth 47 of 52 services were held 5 weather related cancellations.
44 led by pastor, 3 by Randy
St. Petri 48 of 52 services were held 4 weather related cancellations.
44 led by Pastor, 4 by Wayne
Total regular weekend services held was 189
Pastor preached and led 178 regular weekend services during the year.
Lenten Worship Services: 17
Mt Olive 5 of the 6 Lenten services were held, 1 weather related cancellation.
St. Petri 6 Lenten services were held.
Oak Park and Nazareth held joint Lenten services
6 Lenten services were held.
Pastor preached and led 17 Lenten Services and 4 Holy Week Services
4 Thanksgiving Services
2 Christmas Eve Services
2 Christmas Day Services
4 Christmas Programs
1 Whole Parish Reformation Day Service
1 Whole Parish Synod Sunday/Father's Day Service
These extra services involved 4 specially written sermons outside the regular weekend worship cycle.
Jan 19 Mt. Olive
Jan 20 Nazareth and Oak Park, St. Petri had services.
Feb. 9 Mt. Olive
Feb 10 St. Petri, Nazareth, Oak Park; no services at all this weekend.
Feb 19 Lent at Mt. Olive
April 26 Mt. Olive
April 27 Nazareth, St. Petri and Oak Park had services.
Dec 13 Mt. Olive
Dec 14 St. Petri, Nazareth, Oak Park had services
Dec 21 Nazareth, Mt. Olive, St. Petri, and Oak Park held Christmas Programs.
Bert G., d. 3/9; f. 3/13
Tina R. f. 4/12
Rose M. f. 5/26
Hilda S. d. 6/25; f. 7/1
Lyle M. d. 7/9; f. 7/12
Leonard R. d. 8/18 (Tim L. held funeral)
Patty G. d. 9/25; f. 9/29
Nancy T. d. 10/3; f. 10/7
The funerals required the writing of 11 different sermons. Tina, Rose, and Patty had only one service. Leonard was taken care of by Pr. Timothy L. Bert, Hilda, Lyle, and Nancy had both visitation services and funeral services.
Nolan L. TRF RSV
Milan R. TRF Heart
Oscar N. TRF Infection
Darrrow L. TRF Cancer
2 others who wish confidentiality TRF and Bemidji
Milan R. Fargo, 2 heart attacks
Milan R., 2x TRF, heart
Emily M., TRF Eli's birth
Herb W., TRF, deathbed
3 others who wish confidentiality in 2 TRF and 1 Fosston
Bert G., Red Lake, deathbed
Evelyn G., 2x TRF, confusion and fall
2 others TRF
Bernice O., Bemidji, Shoulder replacement
Forest M., Fosston
Brad N., TRF Heart Attack
Brad N., GF, heart
Juell C., TRF, Congestive Heart
Edwin O., GF, Heart Attack
A member at Ebro Corner, Bagley, for Pastor S.
Nancy T. 3x GF, Cancer
2 others TRF
Gloria R., Crookston, Shoulder Replacement
Naomi H., TRF birth of Carter
1 other, Fosston
Edwin O., TRF, heart
Mary A., Fosston, birth of Inge
Pastor had at least these 40 urgent or emergency hospital visits. Besides this there were more than 25 home visits for members facing health issues.
Leonard .l † 8/18
Lyle M. † 7/9
Bert G. † 3/9
Oscar and Mildred N.
Ruby T.n † 1/16/2009
Eli M.l 4/6 Nazareth
Oliver M. 6/28 Nazareth
Carter H. 10/5 Nazareth
Nitro C., Oak Park 4/27
Matthew A., Oak Park 4/27
Shane N., St. Petri
Becky R. and Nathan S., 7/19 at Jim R.'s home, Oak Park.
Aric B. and Erica H. 9/6 at Nazareth.
Regular Work Done By Pastor:
Planning and coordinating an annual schedule for 4 congregations is a difficult task. I want each congregation to thank those from the Ladies' Aids, the Sunday School teachers and helpers, the Voters Assemblies, and the Parish Board for all the hard work they do in bringing together all the information needed for planning and scheduling.
There are often some mistakes that I make in scheduling. Sometimes it has to do with new events that a congregation might want to host. Other times it just has to do with my own forgetfulness when I publish the calendar for each month. Please be patient with your Pastor and help him when the schedule gets confused. I still have to look at the calendar each Sunday to be sure where I'm supposed to go at what time.
Sermons can take as few as 5 hours or as many as 30 hours in a week to write. I would guess that my average is about 10 hours per sermon or bit less.
52 Saturday/Sunday Sermons
7 Lenten/Holy Week
2 Thanksgiving Sermons
1 Christmas Eve Sermon
1 Christmas Day Sermon
1 Christmas Program Sermon
11 sermons for visitations and funerals
2 Wedding Sermons
For a total of 77 sermons written
As mentioned above we had two main Bible Study topics this past year: Our Worship Service, and Our Communion Practice. These were available to all our parishioners in 9 separate sessions at each congregation this past year. Writing the studies takes a considerable amount of time: at least 40 hours per Bible Study, or about 3 ½ hours per session. If you can attend, please do.
These were held Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec.
The “Winkels” are the study groups of our Synod's pastors in our Circuit. We get together regularly for several reasons. The reasons are these: 1) to build each other up through the study of God's Word together as Pastors. 2) to keep track of Synodical and Circuit business and planning: such as the President's Day Youth Retreat, or the Circuit Lay meeting; 3) to share with each other problems and situations that we face in our own parishes for Spiritual counsel and advice.
Pastor presented at all but one of these meetings. The presentations were either oral or written papers.
There are two annual fun events in which the pastors of our Circuit and their families take part. We have a Summer picnic in Itasca State Park during the Summer. And we have a Christmas dinner in December or January.
Each Spring our Circuit holds a meeting for all the membership of our congregations. This past Spring the meeting was at Immanuel in Audubon, MN. on June 1st. Dr. David Menton of the Creation Research Institute presented on the topics of the Bible, Evolution, and Creationism.
In past years your Pastor has presented papers on “The Three Estates” (at Our Savior's Ebro Corner), “Closed Communion” (at Immanuel in Audubon), and “A Comparison Between the PMW and the Circuit 8 Revision” (at River Heights in East Grand Forks).
Conferences and Conventions
Your Pastor has Celiac Disease. Because of this health issue he is not able to attend events that require him to be present for more than two days. For some two day events your Pastor brings his own food or fasts. But events that require extensive travel and long stays are no longer possible for him due to this health concern.
There are two events that I would normally have taken part in: The Synod Convention, and the General Pastoral Conference of the ELS. There are three other events that I would have liked to take part in to further my education and study but could not because of Celiac Disease.
Please thank the members who were willing to go to the Synod Convention. Keep the Synod, its President, Pastors, Congregations and membership in your prayers.
This past year your Pastor was at the annual Spring meeting in Fertile, MN and also presented a paper at the September 27th meeting at Oak Park on the topic “Why So Many Lutherans?”
As mentioned above, your Pastor teaches Confirmation Class to students at Wednesday School, to adults desiring to enter our congregations, and to some individuals with special needs. Wednesday School is held for 36 Wednesdays of the year at Oak Park during the regular school year. Individual instruction for adults and special needs students is held throughout the year whenever possible.
Wednesday School starts at 3rd Grade. This past year Dawn Neuschwaner has taught grades 3-5. I have taught grades 6-8. The goal is that grades 3-5 will know Luther's Small Catechism by heart before they enter Confirmation Class with the Pastor.
Your Pastor written a three year curriculum in place for grades 3-5 and a separate curriculum for grades 6-8. The main goal is that each of our children is able to know the basic teaching of God's Word so that they can examine themselves properly before going to receive Christs Body and Blood in the Sacrament of the Altar.
As a teacher your Pastor is doing the duty of the parents who are to “Train up a child in the way he should go,And when he is old he will not depart from it. (Prov. 22:6). As a teacher your Pastor needs your support in eliciting discipline from your children so that they memorize, learn, recite, and can discuss the subjects presented to them in class. As Pastor I am required to evaluate whether or not I think that these children are able to properly examine themselves before taking part in the Lord's Supper.
The better your children have memorized the material we assign, the better they will be able to talk about it's real meaning. And when it comes to evaluating their ability to examine themselves, if they know the Catechism and the Bible's teaching, the better off they will be.
The main purpose of the Youth Group—called LYS for Lutheran Youth Society—is to provide regular Biblical and devotional study for our youth from the age of Confirmation class through the end of High school. The goal is to help them grow in Christ so that they become responsible members of each congregation by knowing God's Word and how the world works. They need to generate the income to do the activities in which they want to take part. The Pastor's aim is to have them realize that supporting a living congregation with Word and Sacrament has now become their responsibility both Spiritually and with the secular gifts that God has given them.
Our Parish Youth Group is very active. Clearwater Parish LYS hosts its annual Shootout which is very well attended by other area youth from our Circuit and elsewhere. We have an All Saints' 'Eve party (Halloween) in where your Pastor teaches on different parts of the Reformation. This past year we studied Papal Indulgences, what they were, what they are, and why Martin Luther wrote the 95 Theses—which are considered the start of the Reformation. Our Circuit has an annual President's Day Retreat. Your Pastor has presented a devotional Bible Study at the retreat last year and in years past. He also leads the morning exercise period. The Oak Park and St. Petri LYS and their families host Lenten suppers. There was a ski trip in the winter of 2008 and a day of bowling in the Spring. Meetings with the whole Parish youth are held almost every month of the school year with devotions led by Pastor. The youth have summer camp, Camp Indian Head, organized by Pr. Thompson in Audubon, and held at Luther Island Camp south of Perham. And they have the Summer ELS LYA convention available to them. They washed cars to earn some money for these trips. The Lenten suppers helped to provide funds. And the various congregations have helped out through the Ladies' Aids and other organizations.
Your Pastor has a lot of different hobbies that he does with great enjoyment. But he tries to keep current on the Biblical Languages by regularly reading the Bible in Hebrew, Greek, Syriac, and Aramaic. He has been working intently on an issue with they Synodical President along with the rest of the Circuit 8 pastors. He has been learning and reading the Norwegian Synod founder's works along with Luther's, the Reformers', and the Confessors' works in Latin, in Riksmal/Bokmal Norwegian, and in German.
Your Pastor has also been working on several other projects that may see fruition in the near future. Besides writing the curriculums for Wed. School and Sunday School, planning the hymns and regular worship services; he has been working on three topics that have reached book length. The first is a Biblical and Historical study on the issue of Women in the Church. The second is a comprehensive evaluation of the regular worship services in use in the ELS, WELS, LCMS and other Synods that refer to themselves as Confessional. The third is a resource for Lutheran worship, a study and application of the Historic Lessons and their use in the Divine Service.
After giving the report to my congregations several members mentioned that I had not included my visits to them in the report, nor several projects that I did for specific members; whether food and necessity related or something like making a dog-house. The point is that the report I gave is under reporting what was done this past year.