The Encourager
July 2021 Deadline for Newsletter submissions is on July 31st!
Pondering Pastor
I have always dreamt of singing our national anthem publicly at the start of a sporting event. Maybe, someday, I will.
The Star-Spangled Banner is a powerful song, for sure. It musically crescendos in such a way as listeners impulsively begin to applaud and shout even before the song is ended, as happens often while players are lined up on the ice, or on the sidelines before the start of the game or match. Perhaps that is what makes the dream of singing it publicly so appealing.
Yet, as riveting as the lyrics and the music may be for many it is the source of deep pain for many, as well. The lyrics which hearken back to the days of the birth of The United States as a nation, symbolized as nations are by the flying of its colors (red, white, and blue in our case) it is important to reflect on July 4th not just as a celebration of America’s birthday and independence, but of the awesome responsibility behind what that means—an honest reflection on the ways in which we got here, a willingness to address the ways in which that process has hurt so many, and a commitment to be better.
Lutherans understand the centrality of confession, as do other faith traditions, which ought to inform the whole of our understanding and participation in civic life. At the very outset of our weekly worship before we get to anything else we enter into a confessional dialogue before God reflecting upon our short-comings, failures, and holy disappointments in the presence of the Creator.
Now, generally we want to think of ourselves as pretty nice people, well-meaning, and typically good. Yet, when we are honest about ourselves, in those precious moments when we humbly begin our worship, we do it from the vantagepoint that we truthfully are not even really worthy to be there, apart from the fact that God wants us and accepts us, even broken and sinful.
Furthermore, God does not desire us to simply confess for the confessing. God offers in the wake of our genuine sorrow the blessing of having heard our confession and granting us graceful absolution--forgiveness--not as an end to itself, but as a catalyst for our going back into the world better prepared to meet the worlds challenges for our having worshipped and praised and received sacrament and experienced love and fellowshipped in peace and readied ourselves to love anew!
As we celebrate our independence as a nation which we should, let us always do it from the vantagepoint of being confessional—that while independence and the process it took to get here is a vital part of our united history, clearly “independence” has benefitted some a whole lot more than it has others.
Indeed, our independence while it set us as a nation free from colonial tyranny, it left others homeless, in truth nationless, and still others it held enslaved. Confession is not an end to itself, but merely the sacred process of genuinely recognizing one’s failures and shortcomings and being genuinely sorrowful for them, so that on the wings of God’s amazing grace giving us forward-thrust in forgiveness, we are freed from the bondage to sinfulness to be better, in fact to be life-changers.
This Fourth of July enables us an opportunity to once again commit to the reason why the Star-Spangled Banner stands as our nation’s symbol and seeks to inspire us to live as that nation described when the song crescendos to the high notes—for the land of the free and the home of the brave. This Fourth of July offers us still another opportunity to ensure our nation’s anthem sings true for everyone. In fact, as beneficiaries for the reason the rockets’ red glare and the bombs were bursting in air it is our responsibility to ensure independence is realized not only by me, and you, but by our Native American and Persons of Color citizens. Let us in good confessional-Lutheran tradition seek to be better.
Altogether now, “Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light, what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?...”

Peace, Pastor Jeffrey Ingold 
St. Luke's Announcements!
Introducing New Pastoral Relations Committee
Telling the truth in love is at the heart of Christian communication. To facilitate this goal at St. Luke’s, the Council has appointed six members to serve on the new Pastoral Relations Committee. Their names and contact information are listed at the end of this article.
The committee is charged with the responsibility of serving as a liaison between the congregation and the Pastor. This includes providing direction for and support of the ministry. They will review the pastor’s Letter of Call regularly to see that both the Pastor and the congregation are fulfilling their covenant with one another. This will offer a foundation as they assist the pastor in setting priorities for ministry according to the needs of the congregation and community. Praying regularly for the pastor and congregation is also an integral part of their task.
The Pastoral Relations Committee invites members of the congregation to help them carry out their mission in these ways:

1.)   Contact Pastor Ingold directly with any appreciations, questions, hopes, and concerns, just as you would want others to do with you.

2.)   If you want someone to listen to you as you discern how best to communicate with the pastor, contact any member of the Pastoral Relations Committee for counsel.

3.)   Pray for Pastor Ingold and St. Luke’s congregation that together we may live in harmony as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, living and sharing God’s love in the world.

Members of the Pastoral Relations Committee
Pastor Jeffrey Ingold: 704-523-7981 (W) 919-961-3850 (C) pastoringold@stlukeselca.org
Erin Pushman-Aldred, Chair: 704-502-8737 (H) epushman@limestone.edu
Julie Bartlett: 704-281-2032 (C) jbart3400@gmail.com
Dale McKee: 704-544-9822 (H) whatis.dm@gmail.com
Joel Moser: 704-552-0996 (H) joelmoser@earthlink.net
Sue Setzer: 704-607-5033 (C) suesetzer@bellsouth.net
Michael Vucovich: 404-513-1799 (C) mvucovich@gmail.com
Daily Devotion Coming Your Way
Beginning July 1, 2021 Pastor Jeffrey Ingold will provide a daily devotion for you via email. The devotion will come to you Monday through Saturday and focus on Paul’s Letter to the Philippians. 

Beer and Bible
Tuesday, July 6th, 7:00 pm
Brewers at 4001 Yancey
 
Join us for good food, good imbibes, and good Biblical/Topical conversation among good people.

Please RSVP with Pastor Jeffrey at pastoringold@stlukeselca.org

Katarina Circle 
The Katarina Circle is meeting at Kristy Elgart's house for a pool party on July 24th at 4:30.
McCauley Diehl Circle
The McCauley Diehl Circle will meet July 6th at 1:30 in the Conference Room.
Connie Counts Circle 
Connie Counts will not be meeting until September.
Lutheran Men In Mission 
1.     Our Lutheran Men In Mission group who meets at St. Luke’s had their first joint meeting in over a year on May 12, 2021. It was wonderful to have all of us together in fellowship. At this meeting, it was decided that we will continue to meet during the summer months.
 
2.    The decision was made to continue supporting the prison ministry and the India orphanage.
 
3.    We will reinstate our congregation/community help program. If you need assistance with small repair jobs, like changing fire alarm batteries, yard work, plumbing issues, or computer problems. We provide the labor, you supply the materials. This service is for those who can’t do it for themselves. If you need minor repairs or transportation needs, call Tom Frick (704-542-2086).
 
4.    In our June 9, 2021 meeting we had Kevin Walsh make a presentation on the status of our church’s prison ministry. Kevin continues to commit to doing this ministry in which 250 mailings are sent each month. He stated that we have lost two key people that helped make the process operate smoothly. If anyone who would like to help Kevin, please give him a call(704-713-2830). Also, he said they need donation to help support this effort.
 
5.    Since we had eight orphans graduate last year(2020), we reduced the total number from twelve to eight orphans. Pastor Samuel communicated that the orphanage is abiding by the covid-19 recommendations and staying in at orphanage. Pastor Samuel reported that the Covid-19 virus has spread rapidly in India including the villages where they are. The Government has imposed lockdown in their district. Schools and churches are closed. We pray for them. Please see the picture of the orphans that are now in the orphanage. 
St. Luke's Women's Fall Retreat 
All women of St. Luke’s are invited to grow in faith together post-pandemic and to have just plain fun in the mountains. If there is anything the pandemic has taught us, it is that we need each other. The Women’s Retreat begins at 7:30 pm on Friday, October 22, 2021 at Lutherock in Newland, NC and ends at 11:00 am on Sunday, October 24.
“Faith and the Pandemic: A Word from Job” is the theme. These 2019 leaders are returning: Diana Brooks, Retreat Coordinator; Sue Setzer, Worship and Bible Study; Yvonne Richie, Community Building; Karen Chien, Creative Crafts; Helen Morris, Movie and Pictionary. Barbara Franche will be our chef again. Ample free time is built into the schedule.
Details will be published soon. Please contact Diana Brooks at 704-542-6825 with any questions.
God's Work, Our Hands 
Thank you to all that have signed up thus far to bring in material for our 'Welcome Home Kits'! We do still have some items that have not been claimed in the sign-up. The Sign-up Genius is linked below.
If you are unable to come by the office between 8:00-2:00pm Monday-Friday, you are welcome to bring your donated items on Sundays after the service! Bring your items to room 234 (there is a sign on the door for GWOH). We ask that you keep your items in a bag(s) labeled with your name. The office will sort them, and record what has been brought so far. This helps to keep us better organized.
Thanks!
Roof Above Lunches
Our next day for making lunches for our homeless neighbors is Sunday, July 11th. Thank you for your continued support of this important ministry!
Crop Walk
Crop Walk will be on October 24 this year, so please put that on your calendars. It will be a hybrid - virtual or in person, as you choose. The walk itself will be at Memorial Stadium, but if you so choose, you can walk in your neighborhood and/or at a time that works for you.
 
Remember that 1/4 of Crop Walk monies raised in Charlotte stays here and goes to Crisis Assistance, Loaves & Fishes and Second Harvest Foodbank.
 
Church World Services, who sponsors the walk, is celebrating 75 years this year. They are active in communities worldwide where there have been disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes, and the rest of the monies go to that effort.
 
St. Luke's did a great job last year, 20 walkers and raised $4148. The challenge this year is to get even more walkers and raise more money this year. There is a great need to feed people and assist after earthquakes and hurricanes. Let's step up to the plate.
 
Marilyn
Noisy Offering
On the 3rd Sunday of July (the 18th), Noisy Offering returns! This year's collection will go to Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita Support Inc (AMCSI).
Altar Flowers
The Flower Chart is back up in the hall outside of the main office! Sign up on the date you would like to honor someone or remember someone important to you and your family. Please call Starclaire House of Flowers at 704-553-2435. Payment is by credit card or check in advance to the florist. Remember to tell the florist the date you are giving. Call Holly at the church office at 704-523-7981 with the information you would like put in the bulletins by Wednesday morning of the week you are giving. If you have any questions, call Pam Moser at 704-552-0996. Thanks! 
What's going on at St. Luke's?
From Erin Pushman-Aldred
The last few years have been uncertain for the world generally and--with our daughter's tumor, drug therapy side effects, and spinal myelopathy--for our family specifically. Continuing to give in the face of uncertainty feels a bit counterintuitive or at least counter-logical, but sometimes faith is like that.
Two things shaped my idea of giving to the church. The first was when I was 19 and talking with my Uncle Don. I told him the church seemed to have plenty of people to support it, and I was thinking of donating to charities instead. Uncle Don explained that we needed to be stewards of our churches, each doing our part in whatever way we could. Give to charities? Yes. But support your church if you want your church to survive. 
The next was when I was 20, and two of my friends who were newlywed graduate students decided to tithe, even though they were living on graduate assistant stipends. When the rest of us students asked them how they thought they could make it work, they said they felt God would provide, and if He didn't, the church would forgive them for not meeting their commitment. God did provide. They got a caretaker gig that came with free housing. 
When we found St. Luke's, we knew our giving would support our church and the ministries of our church, which often meet people where they have an immediate need. After the first year of our daughter's illness, when we met our high deductible six months in and paid medical bill after medical bill, we wondered if we should step away from our church commitment, at least for a while. But we didn't. Instead, we took a leap of faith. 
What can I say about this except that God has often provided for some--or even most--of the medical bills? First in the form of two checks we weren't expecting from two people we didn't know very well. Then in the form of grants to help meet deductibles. And, in the midst of the worst times, even a Make-A-Wish trip to Disney.  
I can't say what will happen next year. Will we ask each other whether we should renew our pledge? Yes. Will we be nervous when we do? Yes. Will God provide? I can't say what God is up to. But should we find ourselves unable to meet our commitment, we could simply tell the church we cannot do it. I doubt this will happen, but if it does, we have the assurance that our difficulty would be met with nothing more than forgiveness and grace.”

Why I Serve As An Assisting Minister
I absolutely love serving as an Assistant Minister! I feel a much deeper involvement in the service, leading everyone in prayer and the profession of our shared faith. But the most fulfilling part of assisting, for me, is the close, personal connection with each and every person to whom I serve Communion. The responsibility of sharing our Lord's body and blood with everyone is a humbling, yet joyful, experience that I treasure each time I do it.
Please prayerfully consider joining me in this service for our pastor and our congregation. You will be given very helpful training and guidance by Pastor Ingold or any of the current members. If you are interested in learning more, please contact me at:
In Christ,
Pete Schmidt
Why Altar Guild?
Serving on the Altar Guild team continues to be a very special blessing for me. When I am on the schedule to prepare communion for the Sunday service, I look forward to spending time alone in the church. This gives me an opportunity to spend time with God, just talking to Him and asking for grace, wisdom, patience and a lot of forgiveness. Preparing communion allows me to reflect on what this part of our service really means and how I can take this into the world and share show special it is to truly know Jesus and understand His gift of forgiveness.
My grandchildren, Kaleb and Ava, love to join me when I am preparing the communion. They have an opportunity to ask questions and to just be a part of this time of ministry.  One example is when Kaleb read the inscription on the altar “ The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us”. I had the opportunity to share with him what this really means. What a blessing!!
I ask that you prayerfully consider joining our team. You will never be alone as you serve. One of our members will gladly share the experience with you, giving guidance about the steps we follow. Once you have confidence, you may want to consider this “alone time” with our Father.
Please contact Karen Smith, Judy Hall to find out more about our team.

Blessings,
Terri Wells
Hopeful Thoughts From Fellow Member, Tom Ainsworth
"I got a big and unexpected laugh during the middle of last month while I was recuperating at home from hip replacement surgery I had gone through earlier in June. My birthday was about 10 days after the surgery and I received, as I do every year, a birthday card from the oldest friend I had growing up outside Philadelphia. I’ve known him for about 64 years (yikes!) since we met in nursery school. He’s always had a pessimistic streak, compounded these days by the fact that both he and his wife are unemployed, living on Social Security and unemployment benefits, and having to sell their home in New Jersey soon. He naturally wished me a happy birthday, but then went on to write: “It seems like life in the USA should be getting back to normal after the pandemic! But now we have to look forward to huge inflation, racial chaos and invasion by Central American drug pushers and terrorists from around the world! Seems like our country is headed for distinction!”   

Despite the obvious malaprop (I do hope he’s right though about us headed for world prominence once more), I was saddened by his take on our recovery from the Covid crisis. Yes, it has been a terrible pandemic which has killed over 600,000 of us and still counting unfortunately. But the speed in which the vaccines were created and distributed in record time, the effort getting most of us (with regrettably some exceptions) vaccinated in record time, and the way in which our first responders sacrificed themselves and ordinary citizens helped each other during the worst of it gives me great hope in our ability to overcome most everything. I think we can honestly say that we have a lot to be thankful for and a lot to look forward to again. We have optimistically turned the corner on the virus, we’re opening back up and gathering again (smartly and safely I hope) and getting back to work again to the point where we should have a positive outlook for the rest of the year. Sure, we still have problems and always have (mostly political it seems) but weathering a crisis like the one we just went through should be heartening to us. It should encourage us to know that we can accomplish anything if we work together for a solution. Optimism should be the lesson we take away from this experience. When we need to, we can do anything -- with God’s help as well."
Council Liaisons
The work of St. Luke’s reflects our mission together and is organized into different ministry areas. These areas are effective through the collaboration among pastor and staff, council, and members of the congregation (committees). There is a place for you to share your gifts in one or more of these ministry areas. Please contact the Staff Member or Council Liaisons for the ministry area(s) of interest to you to begin sharing your gifts and building the body of Christ here at St. Luke’s.

Worship (Music, Altar Guild, Worship Adjunct Groups)
Staff Member - Jan McCoy
Council Liaisons - Terri Wells and Pete Schmidt

Nurture Faith (Sunday School, Confirmation, New Members, VBS, Mid-Week Learning, Youth/Young Adults)
Staff Member - Pastor Jeffrey Ingold
Council Liaisons - Alex Jenkins and Jonathan Wolff

Community Care (Social Awareness, Outreach Ministries, Benevolence)
Staff Member - Pastor Jeffrey Ingold
Council Liaisons - Emily Phillips and Lisa Rhyne

Member Care (Bereavement, Homebound Ministries, Visitors/Prospective Members, Archives, Communications)
Staff Member - Holly Day
Council Liaisons - Rebekah Woodward and Julie Fosbinder

Operations (Building and Grounds, Finance, Stewardship)
Staff Member - Kathy West
Council Liaisons - Kristen Conner and John Hofland

Planning (Sustainability & Vitality, Personnel)
Staff Member - Pastor Jeffrey Ingold
Council Liaisons - Wanda Ebright and David Sweet