Saturday, November 17, 2012

New Hope Lutheran Church in Charles City

Carter Melrose was confirmed at New Hope Lutheran in Charles City on 11/10/12. He is the congregation's first confirmand . Carter is pictured with Rev. Brustuen.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Rev. Daniel Johnson

Local Pastor accepts call to Siberia and Baltic Churches

Rev. Daniel Johnson

Many people, when they hear that I am going to Siberia to serve as a catechist ask, “What great sin did you commit that you are being sent to Siberia?”  Well maybe my sin was answering the phone back in 1999 when Dr. Timothy Quill [Director of the Russian Project at Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana], called me.  He wanted me to teach in Siberia.  So in February 2000, I traveled to Siberia for the first time.  That was to be my first of many visits over the next twelve years.  It was those visits to Siberia which would prepare me for a full-time call, through the Office of International Mission.

Dr. Collver [Assistant to President Harrison] explained that the LCMS Office of International Mission (OIM) wants me to take my 22 years of pastoral experience and work with the Siberian and Baltic Bishops as a catechist to their pastors.  After serving as Senior Pastor at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Marshalltown for 19 years, I was now being asked by the Church to become a Catechist in Siberia.  My twelve years traveling to Siberia and working, not only with the Russian Project but also as a charter member of the Siberian Lutheran Mission Society, was a training ground for this new assignment by the Church.  And I would be remiss not to thank Redeemer – Marshalltown for the many teaching sabbaticals provided over these twelve years.

The challenges in the Baltics and Siberia are very similar, yet unique.  Lutherans first appeared in Russia in the late 1500s. Under the Russian Empire of the 18th and 19th centuries, Lutheranism flourished.  Lutherans were respected and welcomed into Russia.  By 1900 Lutheranism had grown to be the second largest Christian confession in the entire Russian Empire. -- Second only to the Russian Orthodox Church The Lutheran Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, were the only two church bodies recognized by the Russian government.  Neither the Roman Catholic or Baptist Churches received official government recognition. 

Scattered across the southern Siberian trade, from the Urals to the Pacific Ocean, Lutheran churches could be seen.  Lutherans had also settled in the Volga region of western Russia as well as in the prominent cities of Petersburg and Moscow. Many prominent Russians were Lutheran.  Catherine the Great was a Lutheran, as were many military and naval officers, academics, craftsmen, musicians and authors.  The Empress, Tzariza,Elizaveta, wife of Nicholas II (who was executed by the Bolsheviks in Ekaterinberg in 1918) was Lutheran.  She was the former princess of Hesse.   

In 1917 the Bolsheviks came to power in the bloody and politically motivated October revolution.  This changed everything for the Lutherans in Russia.  During the purge of the late 1930s, Stalin sought to use the Lutheran Church as a means to “control” the people.  The Russian Orthodox capitulated to the Soviets.   The Lutherans did not. They responded, as the confessionalists they are.  They said, “This we believe teach and confess,” quoting from the Book of Concord.  The Lutherans knew that to compromise with the Soviets was tantamount to abandoning the Gospel.  They refused to cooperate with the Bolsheviks.  Stalin, therefore, marked the Lutheran Church for extinction.  Every Lutheran pastor was executed and every Church in Siberia was torn down.  Many church members were sent to Stalin’s “death camps.”  The number of Lutherans put to death by Stalin from 1930 until 1953 is impossible to determine.  However, some researchers have estimated the number between 7-10 million.

Today, the Lutheran Church is showing resurgence.   However, the clergy roster is filled with first generation clergy.  There are no “senior clergy” to provide direction and catechesis to the young pastors.  This is where I come in.  Bishop Lytkin and the Baltic Bishops have asked the LCMS to supply experienced clergy to help catechize their clergy.  Professor Alan Ludwig is assigned to teach at the seminary in Novosibirsk, Siberia.  Dr. Charles Evanson is assigned as a theological educator to the Baltic Churches.  I will work with both of these men as I visit the congregations and provide catechesis to the pastors now serving in the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC) throughout Siberia and in the Baltic Churches.

Editor’s note: 
If you desire to hear more about the history and resurgence of the Lutheran Church in Siberia and the Baltics, Rev. Johnson is available to visit your congregation or organization and give a presentation. 

Thursday, November 01, 2012

St. John Lutheran Church in Waverly

St John Evangelical Lutheran church, Waverly, Iowa launched it’s 100th anniversary celebration on Sunday September 23.

Dr Brian Saunders, Iowa District East President, delivered the sermon at both the 8 and 10:30, services. Special music was provided by the CMC choir directed by Jean Hilmer and the bell choir directed by Eleanor Killen.

Both services honored an old tradition from a hundred years ago where the men sat on one side and the women and children sat on the other. On this day many of the St John women wore vintage hats and gloves.

The Theme for this celebration is:  ONE LORD ONE FAITH ONE CENTURY OF GODS GRACE

Celebrations will continue throughout 2013 with special worship services in April, July and October.

In October of 1913, a group of Missouri Synod Lutheran families began meeting for worship in a house that remains on 4th St SW. The congregation was chartered on October 19, 1913. The first church building was located on the corner of 4th St SW and 4th Ave SW. The present structure was built in 1957.

Presently the congregation has a membership of 622 baptized members and is being served by Pastor Matthew Versemann and Pastor Keith Brustuen.

Trinity Lutheran Church in Vinton

Trinity Lutheran Church - Vinton Welcomes Pastor Stephen Preus

Pastor Stephen K. Preus was ordained and installed at Trinity Lutheran Church, LCMS, on Sunday, August 5th.

Just a little over a year after a major wind storm damaged their church, the congregation of Trinity filled the sanctuary to participate in the first ever Ordination of a Pastor in their church. The Rev. Dr. Brian S. Saunders, District President of Iowa East District, LCMS, was the Presiding Minister for the very moving and uplifting service. Candidate Preus’ father, the Rev. Rolf D. Preus gave the sermon address while his brother, Rev. John C. Preus, served as Liturgist and Lector. Twenty-three other Pastors came to give the new Pastor their blessing and support, including another brother, a cousin and his father-in-law, the Rev. Dr. John Stephenson. The glorious sound of the 26 trained voices of the Pastors singing the hymns was extremely emotional and not something that many will ever forget. The Parish Hall was filled to overflowing during the reception that followed.

Pastor Stephen Preus was born in Grand Forks, ND. After completing his B.A. In Economics at Minnesota State University, he attended Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, IN. Then he spent his second year at Westfield House of Theological Studies in Cambridge, England. In 2011, he received his Master of Divinity degree from Concordia, and spent the next year completing his course work for the Master of Sacred Theology (May of 2012). On May 2, 2012 Candidate Preus received a call into the Holy Ministry to serve as pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Vinton, replacing retiring Pastor Clarke Frederick. Pastor Preus and his wife, Margaret, moved to Vinton on July 27th.

Front (1-r): David Klinge, Dr. John Stephenson, David Preus, Stephen Preus, President Dr. Brian Saunders, Paul Nus, David Miller, Michael Knox and Dean Duncan.

Middle (l-r): Brian Thorson, Tom Wegener, Lawrence Schmidt, John Preus, Rolf Preus, Hans Fiene, Jordan McKinley, Edward Killian, Anthony Dodgers, and Timothy Frank.

Back (l-r): Mark Leckband, Andrew Gray, Michael Holman, B. Andy Wright, Dave Rempfer, Dean Rothchild and David Lingard.

Faith Lutheran Church in Waterloo

Photos of the people of Faith setting up and taking down the "Witness of the Crosses."Steve Woolery, Pastor Killian, Paul Collins, Kenny Maas, and Gordon Elbert (not pictured) set them up on October 6. The Killian family and the Dalluge family helped take them down. It was an impressive display up for two weeks.

 This was during the 40 Days for Life campaign that Faith was also involved in with the Catholic community. On October 14 we had the annual Memorial Service for Victims of abortion with several non-Lutheran people in attendance that have been active with the 40 Day prayer vigil.

College Hills Lutheran Church in Cedar Falls

  Barbeque and open house on the first Sunday before the start of classes, August 19th

College Hills Lutheran Church in Cedar Falls

College Hill students mini-golfing at Lost Island Waterpark in Waterloo on August 26th.

College Hills Lutheran Church in Cedar Falls

 Canoe trip to Lake McBride Sept. 9th.

College Hills Lutheran Church in Cedar Falls

 Working at Camp IO-DIS-E-CA.

College Hills Lutheran Church in Cedar Falls


A memorial was dedicated for Captain Matthew Nielson who was killed in Iraq in June 2011.  The ceremony was held at the site of the memorial, College Hill Lutheran Church, 2322 Olive Street in Cedar Falls, Iowa on Sunday, September 30, 2012 at 2:30 pm. In addition to the formal dedication, led by Reverend John Wegener, remarks were shared by Matt’s father, Roger Nielson and LTC (Ret) Chris Lukasiewicz of the ROTC program. The dedication of the memorial was followed by informal visiting and refreshments. Approximately 150 friends, family and the cadets from the current ROTC program attended.

Matthew Nielson, from Jefferson, Iowa, was a member of the ROTC at the University of Northern Iowa where he achieved his academic degree as well.  Matthew was an active member of the Lutheran Student Fellowship and a regular attendee at worship services and other church events.  When Matthew was killed in action in Iraq congregation members wanted to erect a memorial in his honor at the church. The resulting memorial is a flagpole with a surrounding area of block and rock, a plaque noting the purpose of the area, a concrete bench and appropriate plantings.  The plaque reads “In memory of Captain Matthew Nielsen and those who have served in the US Armed Forces.”  Following is a second line reading “Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  “John 15:13”
The first flag flown is the casket flag presented to the family of Virgil Mauer, Air Force veteran and long time member at College Hill Lutheran Church.  The flag was hoisted by Virgil’s son, Steven, and his grandson, Nicholas, of Overland Park, Kansas.

St. John Lutheran Church in Marengo

June 24th ordination and installation of Andrew Gray at St. John Lutheran Church in Marengo.

 Back: Nicholas Huelsman, Wilfred Karsten, Dean Rothchild.
Front: Paul Nus, Andrew Gray, Brian Saunders, Philip Meyer.

St. Paul's Chapel In Iowa City

Fall Semester – It’s Good!

Every fall semester is the start of something amazing at St. Paul’s. New students begin their college careers full of hopes and goals – and a bit of terror at the craziness that is Iowa City. Returning students, more confident in their roles and fresh from summer job experiences and internships, begin to focus more intently on their majors with one eye looking at jobs and/or grad schools down the road. Internationals arrive, bewildered by American slang, new foods, new living situations, and a culture vastly different from their own. In the midst of all this, St. Paul’s Chapel reaches out and welcomes all of them.  

A highlight of campus ministry continues to be our International Student Ministry. Rebecca Schaff now serves as the director of the program. Rebecca just returned to St. Paul’s after a year studying abroad in China. Rebecca’s understanding of the culture and language make her a tremendous asset as we welcome many new internationals. The outreach, however, would not be possible without our fantastic team of volunteers. These men and women from our sister congregations continue to be a source of strength and joy as they work with small groups and with individuals to not only help with English language, but more importantly to share the Gospel message. Outings to area attractions, cooking classes, knitting classes, and the conversation times are all possible thanks to their efforts.

Our outreach to undergrads and grad students includes a schedule packed with activities and events. A bonfire and hayrack ride at Camp Io-Dis-E-Ca, softball and flag football games, a tailgate and watching the Iowa City high schools rivalry football game, and a tailgate before the Hawkeye football game are just a sampling of what has filled our fall schedule. These opportunities are important as they not only provide alternatives to the “party school” atmosphere of a college campus, but they also help the students form lasting friendships. Of course, the central activity each week is the Divine Service, and each week all of these students, have the opportunity to hear God’s Word and receive his gifts.

At St. Paul’s, fall is our favorite time of year!