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Pastor's annual report

It is that time of year when things begin again. I guess you could call it “new life.”

I have learned to be cautious when I think of new beginnings because for the Christian, they come with the baptismal idea of a death to bring about new life.

Just as Jesus dies and rises, we die with Christ and rise to new life with Him in our baptism. Daily new beginnings; how welcome they can be!

Recently I had cause to write a letter to someone and fill them in on the ministry of the church. I was struck by the new beginnings. I made my list and some I share with you.

These came at a cost. Many put themselves outside their comfort zone so these may be possible. And, of course, Christ died so this body of Christ could now move forward as it does.

Here is a portion of that list:

• Our Vacation Bible School was extremely well planned and carried out. We had a larger number of visiting children (unchurched) and 37+ volunteers to carry out that ministry. It was done by YOU every step of the way from opening prayers and teaching to the closing praise!

• We enter this fall with six options for Bible studies. Most are lay-led as you stretch your faith knowledge and share bread with others that hunger.

• Our Wednesday Night Community takes on a new opportunity; we will meet 10 weeks to go through the story line of the Bible. We join to break bread together, we view and discuss God’s story.

We also rejoice to have a children’s program run by Lisa Walker at our neighboring church, Assembly of God, and her leaders. This gives more of us opportunity to develop our small groups while our children also learn more about some Bible characters and learn more about worship and prayer.

We celebrate a common story with others of faith. From there we open conversation about Lutheranism.

• Our Confirmation program will have a new curriculum and student Bibles. It also will have more parent involvement in teaching!

• We begin a Post-Confirmation Youth group under the leadership of Jan Brasel and Kate Rennicke

• Our Sunday School plans are in place. Some new faces share the teaching and leadership this year.

• Finally, I would mention that after five years of hard work by the council and congregation, we will end our financial year very close to what we had budgeted. This is cause for celebration! We did it with our ducks in a row, finally, and the hope of living within our means.

Now we have the opportunity to give more so we can do more mission, more ministry and service to the poor, the vulnerable, the imprisoned and all the suffering that Christ loves. It will take all of us moving forward in contributing our time and talents and resources. But we can do it.

We have weathered the challenges of ELCA division and find ourselves disagreeing on issues, but committed to moving forward, as a body, in the love of Christ. You can almost hear the words of Revelation 21:5 as we move into the new future:

“And the one sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new!’”

May we continue to grow in faith and courage and live into the will of God.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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