Beloved People of God at St. John’s/San Juan Lutheran Church:
Ministry, like life itself, is always evolving. Someone said that “change is the only constant in life”. As Texas continues facing the unprecedented changes caused by Hurricane Harvey, we pray for hope, healing and the rebuilding of the precious infrastructure which has been lost in Houston and many other communities along the Gulf Coast. It is indeed overwhelming and dislocating for thousands of our fellow neighbors. Recovery will take a long time. We must pray yet translate our prayers into tangible actions of solidarity and compassion!
Events like Hurricane Harvey make us realize that material things can be lost quickly, that as much as we like to think we are in control, it is not always the case. Reality happens around and beyond us, always spinning out of our control and causing us to wonder in whom we place our ultimate trust and hope, our very lives and futures. Without pretending to give pre-fabricated and pious answers to the complex realities of human suffering, our Christian faith assures us that beyond all the turmoil, all raging waters, turbulent storms and frightening winds, we remain anchored in the promise given to us in the life-giving waters of our baptism by which we are called by name and forever kept in the care and love and mercy of God!
As you receive this newsletter, as your Transitional Pastors we take this opportunity to update you about the ongoing rhythms of ministry at St. John’s/San Juan Lutheran Church.
• Our Calling Committee has completed the task entrusted to them by putting together our Ministry Site Profile. After reviewing by our Church Council, it will be submitted to our Southwestern Texas Synod. This Ministry Site Profile will be shared with interested pastoral candidates. Please keep this ongoing process in your prayers!
• Our Preschool-Day Care Center bid farewell to Ms. Maudena Dunn and welcomed Ms. Connie Falls as New Director. We have also expanded the Board of Directors. After the temporary closing during July and mid-August, the Preschool-Child Care Center has open again its doors. We pray God will continue sending children our way.
• As we prepare to interview possible pastoral candidates, we will also start to engage the critically important work of updating our Constitution according to the guidelines of our Southwestern Texas Synod and ELCA. The Constitution has not been updated in the last 21 years. We will also start to work on the accompanying bylaws.
• In these unique times of ministry transitions across our Synod, where 56% of all congregations are being served by a half-time pastor, we realize how critically important it is to discover opportunities for ministry cooperation with neighboring congregations. After all, what we do together far exceeds what we can do alone. Cooperation belongs to the DNA of ministry and mission. In this light, we are pleased to announce that beginning and exploratory conversations between the Church Councils of St. John’s/San Juan Lutheran Church and Holy Cross are now taking place. At this early time, we cannot say exactly what such cooperation may look like yet we remain hopeful and confident the Holy Spirit will indeed guide these conversations. Integral part of these conversations is the participation of as many members as possible so we will provide such opportunity!
• Our Steering Committee for the Fall Festival continues to plan for September 30th. Please put it on your calendars and consider the ongoing invitations put forward by the Steering Committee for different donations and for people to help the day of the Festival.
Finally, in the context of the unprecedented devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, we share these reassuring words by Bishop Ray Tiemann: “Always remember that we do not walk down these difficult roads alone. Whether in storms or life’s turmoils, God walks beside us to give courage, hope, and strength for our work. As we partner together to address this crisis called Hurricane Harvey, I pray you will all be upheld by the Holy Spirit.”
With evangelical joy and thanksgiving,
Pastors Natanael Lizarazo & Barbara Wangsness
Transitional Pastor St. John’s/San Juan Lutheran Church