Grace Lutheran Church & Preschool

Newsletter - January, 2024

17880 E. Covina Blvd. | Covina, CA 91722
Church Office (626) 332-4536 | Preschool (626) 967-5855
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Join us for a blended, in-person service in our Sanctuary every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. 

Sunday Worship is streamed on the Grace-Covina FaceBook page, and posted to YouTube on Monday. If you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 or have had contact recently with anyone with COVID-19, we ask that you worship safely with us online. We also welcome our Grace family and friends from around the world to our online Worship!

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From Pastor Steve

Merry Christmas Grace Family!

No need to check your calendar, yes, it is January, but by the time you receive the newsletter it will still be the Christmas season according to the church calendar. I’m sure you’re aware that the season lasts 12 day and is thought to be the period of time from the birth of Christ until the arrival of the Magi. Of course, in our secular world Christmas lasts quite a bit longer with the arrival of Christmas decorations sometime in October. But it definitely ends on the 26th of December.

It is a busy time of year for many, and often filled with a fair amount of pressure, obligations and responsibilities. I can imagine that once all the presents and cards have been opened, the dishes washed from the holiday meal, and goodbyes said to family members some breath a sigh of relief and may even say out loud, “I’m glad that’s finally over!” Such is the nature of the biggest and most profitable retail holiday.

Of course, Christmas is not a retail holiday, but a celebration of the birth of our Savior. As I wrote last month some of us need to be intentional about combating the hostile takeover that is the retail holiday. One of the blessings of the extended Christmas season is for at least the 11 days following Christmas Day the pressure that often accompanies the blessed holiday is gone (though those credit cards bills are yet to come!) and we can maybe recenter and focus on the blessing of the Day.

I haven’t always felt that way. For years Christmas meant the busiest time of the year for me. Not, because of my life in ministry though. I spent the better part of two decades in the restaurant and retail business and frankly dreaded the hoards of people that flooded my workplaces celebrating or searching for that perfect bottle of wine to give as a gift. I definitely breathed a sigh of relief when it was over and shouted, “I’m so glad it’s over!” It wasn’t until my life in ministry that I truly developed an appreciation for the extended Christmas season. 

I love the build up of Advent and the eagerness of anticipating that blessed day. I also love the 11 extra days we celebrate in the Church. And it’s not just because I’d like to delay taking down the plethora of Christmas decorations that cover the outside and inside of our home. As I’ve gotten older and matured in my faith and my relationship with Christ that moment we celebrate on the 25th has become a more profound blessing in its meaning and whose impact lasts well beyond the overbearing retail holiday and 11 days that follow. 

How can it not? What happened that day thousands of years ago in Bethlehem had an indescribable impact on our collective world and set in motion the fulfillment of our secure salvation. That seems to me to be something that should be celebrated every single day of the year, not just for a few weeks or even months. I get the retail fatigue, and I am relieved when the retailers begin to focus on Valentine’s Day. But the sense of profound gratitude for the birth of our Savior is something I give thanks for every day and embrace the hope, peace, love and joy that the incarnation made possible. I need all of it to thrive in a world where the birth of Jesus is, from a capitalist perspective, an opportunity to shore up the bottom line and finish out the year in the black.     

Just as I tried to encourage you all to be more intentional during Advent to embrace the joy of the season, I do so again in January with regard to Christmas. I like to leave a reminder of Christmas up all year in our home to remind me of all that the blessed day represents. I may even sing a Christmas song or two in my head in May or August. What took place so long ago in a little town in a distant land has shaped me to be the person of faith I am today, and I continue to be amazed and awed by the gift God gave us every day. How about you?

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Steve

December Council Report

From the Council Meeting of December 12, 2023

• The council voted for the special fourth quarter benevolence, in the amount of $1000, to go to CVUSD Wellness and Outreach Center, which is located at the former Lark Ellen School.  This facility aids all students and families of CVUSD if there is a need.

• The HVAC system in the sanctuary has been repaired.  The heater blower motor was replaced on the sanctuary unit.  The AC fan was also fixed.  Both units were converted from DC to AC power.  Finally, the thermostats were replaced.  The bill, in the amount of $2235, was paid to Affordable Air Conditioning, from the FRF.

• Grace has opened a new savings account with First Internet Bank. Funds are being transferred there from a credit union Money Market account.  The council voted to make this change because of the low interest rate at the credit union, and the much higher rate at First Internet.  

• The council would like to encourage all members to give to the Facility Renewal Fund.  Grace is an aging facility and is in need of a multitude of repairs.  We do not have the funds in our general budget to pay for these repairs, so we rely on the FRF and your generosity to cover these costs. 

• The Annual Congregational Meeting will be held on Sunday, January 28 at 10:45 am, immediately following worship.  Please put this on your calendar and plan to attend.

In His Service, 

Brenda Noriega

Council President

January Scripture Readings

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Baptism of Our Lord

Genesis 1:1-5

Psalm 29

Acts 19:1-7

Mark 1:4-11

Click here for readings

Sunday, January 14, 2024

2nd Sunday after Epiphany

1 Samuel 3:1-10 [11-20]

Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

John 1:43-51

Click here for readings

Sunday, January 21, 2024

3rd Sunday after Epiphany

Jonah 3:1-5, 10

Psalm 62:5-12

1 Corinthians 7:29-31

Mark 1:14-20

Click here for readings

Sunday, January 28, 2024

4th Sunday after Epiphany

Deuteronomy 18:15-20

Psalm 111

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Mark 1:21-28

Click here for readings

In-person (at 11:00 a.m. on the Grace campus) or online (at 7:00 p.m. via Zoom), our Bible study is a space to be curious, to ask questions, to give feedback, to wrestle with tough topics, and to express doubts and frustration. Consider joining in Wednesdays as we continue our study of Romans!

January Birthdays

Chris Turner | January 6

Emily Turner | January 13

David Brown | January 14

Austin Hernandez | January 17 Brian Akey | January 20

Natalie McHugh | January 20 

Martha Olson | January 23

Maureen Colwell | January 27

January Anniversaries

Steve & Lindi Otte

January 17

Jerry & Maureen Colwell

January 17

January 2024 Calendar

Please see the online calendar here for the latest updates

Make or update a prayer request here

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry – Psalm 34:15 

Please pray for those with medical needs, including: Michelle Heyne, Stuart Merkel,  Jerome Elparin, George Fuller, Billy Thompson, Joyce Gower, Chris Saltonstall, Martha Olson, Leo and Audrey Fuller,  Victor (EGM Pastor), Emma Reardon, Tony Alvarez Sr., Marge Clark, Steve Quick, Diane Syslo, Spencer,  Jim Oravetz, Deneice Hadley, Alma Pasos, Marie O'Malley, Judith Tury, Cindy Skolaski, Elena Navarette, Nancy Klotzche, Larry Weidner, Barry Gustaferro, Yolanda Weidner, Joan Pelleren, Shelly Ruiz, Elizabeth Ordonez, Patty VanRaalte, Elva Maldonado, Felix Noriega, Holly Masters, Gen Alley, Ray, Arlin Heyne, Gil and Yolanda Erro, Linda Dalton, Rick Turner, Herb Westerfield, Noa Buhler, Rose Marie Quesada, Jaxon Turner, Art James, Trina Clay, Connie Brown, the Davidson Family, Jamie Wilcots, Joan and Lee Juneau, Kari Watson, Pam Elparin, Ed McGee, Sarah Encabo, and victims of COVID-19.

Please pray for others in need of prayer, including: the family of Robert Larsen, the family of Aaron Melland, Christopher Oravetz, Jeffrey Saltonstall, Timothy Morgan, the family and friends of Marie Dabbs, Rocio Orozco, and our Grace neighbors.

Please pray for the men and women currently serving in the military, who are bravely protecting us and our country, including: Richard Larini (Navy), Andrew Ranabarger (Marine Corps), and Christian Van Allen (Navy), and Phillip Beserra (Air Force).

Please pray for all victims of natural disasters.

Please pray for those who are being faced with grief, and all who know violence and hate.

Please pray for our Grace Lutheran Church Congregation and partners in ministry.

Please pray for the teachers and children of our preschool and infant care program, and for the teachers and students of Ben Lomond Elementary School, our school districts, and all schools, that they and their families will be safe.

Please pray for hospital staff, all medical personnel and first responders, those in essential services, and the leaders of our world, state, country, and local governments.

Please pray for the ACTION Food Pantry, the clients that they serve, and all those in need.

Your Church Council

President | Brenda Noriega 

Vice President | Johna Stienstra 

Secretary | Diana Alley 

Treasurer | Robert Ordonez


Cindy Skolaski | Nancy Adzovich | Sarah Encabo

Your Church Staff

Pastor | The Rev. Steve Otte

Director of Worship & Music | Jeffrey Saltonstall

Preschool Director | Christy Arreguin

Custodian | Laureen Alvarez

Parish Administrator | Samantha Henderson

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