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Note from the Pastor

Dear Friends of the Good Shepherd,

A heartfelt thank you for everyone who made the Installation Service and Dinner so special! I was overwhelmed by the powerful worship service and the hospitality shown to all our guests: some people were surprised by the wonderful meal after the Spirit-filled service. We welcomed Bishop Gary Wollersheim, as well as many pastors and guests, including some of our friends and family from out of town. An installation service is a community event for our church and our church family throughout the area, rather than an event focusing on the pastor; and yet I was deeply moved. The Lord willing, I look forward to Living and Sharing Jesus with you for a long time to come!

This season of Lent, this season of rebirth, renewal, and recommitment, is both a healing and an empowering time for me, and I hope it is for you too. For me, this season has revealed to me the importance of the Ancient Christian Spiritual Practices in centering our daily lives.

In her book, The Practicing Congregation: Imagining a New Old Church, Diana Butler Bass writes, “One of the lesser-noted findings of the Hartford Institute for Religious Research’s massive Faith Communities Today (FACT) study was the link between ‘personal spiritual practices’ and congregational vitality. According to study co-director David Roozen, ‘The study does confirm that the more emphasis a congregation gives to the values of home and personal religious practices the higher the congregation’s vitality and the more likely it is to be growing in membership.” (Thanks to The Reverend Pamela M. Hillenbrand for this quote.)

As Brian McLaren notes, Christian faith is more a way of life than a set of beliefs: that is why the first name for followers of Jesus is the Way. We are people on the Way, following Jesus on our life journey. The Ancient Christian Spiritual Practices help us find our way as we follow Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. These practices include daily prayer, weekly worship, fasting, communion, pilgrimage, and tithing. The long term vitality of the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd is tied to how we help one another deepen in faith not just on Sunday mornings but throughout the week, in our homes, our workplaces, and our neighborhoods.
Take a moment, if you will, and reflect on these words from Psalm 46:

Be still, and know that I am God.
Be still, and know that I am.
Be still, and know.
Be still.
Be.

God’s Work, Our Hands,

Pastor Eric Lemonholm

Categories
Writings

Note from the Pastor

Dear Good Shepherd Church Family,

Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, through the love of the Holy Spirit! I have been called to be the new pastor of Good Shepherd, and have accepted this call with great joy and excitement for the adventure of faith that we will share in the years ahead. Mindy, our children, and I thank God for the warm welcome we have received in this community of faith.

Here is part of my letter of acceptance of the call to Good Shepherd:

After prayerful consideration and discernment, it is with great joy that I accept the call as pastor to the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd. I “hereby promise to fulfill this pastoral ministry in accord with the standards and policies for ordained ministers of the Evangelical Church in America,” and to be “diligent in the study of Holy Scripture, in use of the means of grace, in prayer, in faithful service, and in holy living” (quoted from the Letter of Call).
My family and I have been called by God to the next chapter of our life journey in your urban, diverse community, in which both Mindy’s gifts and my own will be utilized, and in which our children will have ample opportunities for growth. I am excited for the opportunity to serve as pastor of Good Shepherd. I look forward to walking with you as we live out God’s mission as brothers and sisters in Christ, reaching out to people in west Rockford and beyond with the love of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

As I begin my second week at Good Shepherd, I have already experienced so much hospitality in this church community and the community of Rockford, including the potluck my first Sunday, Bible study groups at church, the Rockford Partners for Excellence at West Middle School, local clergy groups, and more.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once summed up Christian faith in a world come of age as prayer and righteous action, action for others. Good Shepherd’s mission statement is another way of saying the same thing: Living and Sharing Jesus. It is my hope and prayer that we will together grow closer to Jesus Christ in prayer, worship, and reading Scripture, and share Jesus through serving others and building relationships with them.

God’s Work, Our Hands,

Pastor Eric Lemonholm