English District of
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.
Servant to Servant
Greetings!
March 27, 2020
Message from Assistant to the Bishop
Dear fellow redeemed by Christ,

In North America today, ours is not a struggle with political oppression. We are not prevented or hindered from speaking about Jesus, proclaiming the Gospel, or even gathering in a small groups for study and ceremony. What we are compelled to struggle with is the answer to the question of how best to love our neighbor in the midst of the viral pandemic identified as COVID-19.

As always, we can learn from others. Different political or religious regimes have often sought to stop or crush sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ among different people groups. Communist Czechoslovakia was one such situation but we know that God raised up individuals like Rev. Dr. Dusan Toth, who, from across the ocean, recorded scriptural, Gospel messages which were broadcast via radio into that country, words of hope and freedom, not for the body but for the soul. In China, house churches have come into existence where the word of God is taught, and the kingdom of God comes to many souls as God creates faith within them. Even today in the nation of Iran, in the face of harsh punishment, torture and possible death, followers of Jesus are sharing with those who ask, inviting them into their homes to hear and read from forbidden copies of the Bible. God’s Spirit is doing the work in their souls creating faith and emboldening them to tell others.
 
We see there is no one way to love our neighbor just as Jesus never gives us a specific itemized list of how to love God. Rather God exhorts us to do so with all our hearts and souls and minds and strength. (Mark 12:30) This we do daily as we live our lives in the faith he has given us in relationship with those around us.

In this challenging time in history I would offer that loving our neighbor can include setting aside our desire to meet together in a single physical location for a season. As hesitant as we are to do this, yet for the sake of our neighbors' well being and protection, we will set aside our rights and privileges. One of the costs to doing this is knowing the celebration and gift of Holy Communion will be set aside for a time. We must remember, however, the word of God is not hindered in our land nor in our freedom to share it.

We find ourselves as pastors and people on a sharp learning curve, finding new ways to share Bible study and liturgy, pastoral care and community care through the many means available to us in our world. Technology is a tool we can use as we share with joy the message of God’s love and redemption in Jesus, taking care to see the message is not lost.

Loving our neighbor calls us to be creative. Luther used a printing press; Dr. Toth and the Lutheran Hour used a radio; we may use our chat rooms and phone calls; and the word of God is shared and does its work, accomplishing God’s purposes in the hearts of all people.

There is always the call for one-on-one sharing and personal contact, as is happening in China and Iran. While respecting that social distancing is needed right now, the sharing and spread of the gospel is still, as Luther said, given to others as “mere beggars showing other beggars where to find bread.”

Assistant to the President/Bishop of the English District Rev. Derek Mathers
Calls
Divine Calls

Call Received
The Rev. Steven J. Okpisz, Candidate Status, has received a call to serve Peace in the Desert, Palm Desert, CA.

Call Returned
The Rev. John H. Diener, Grace, Wyoming, MI, has returned the call to serve Trinity, Jackson, MI (Michigan District).
Concordia Publishing House

Concordia Publishing House is providing a LIMITED PROMOTIONAL LICENSE during the COVID-19 outbreak. Find the details here .
Hymn for the Times

Rev. Dr. John Stieve, emeritus, has written a hymn for the current times. To God be the glory!
Livestreamed/Recorded Services
English District leadership is very aware that there is much uncertainty about gathering for worship in the current atmosphere of COVID-19 virus transmission. We hope God’s people will make the best choices for themselves.

We also want to encourage everyone to take advantage of alternative opportunities to hear God’s word and to be blessed by the Divine Service. We have compiled a list of opportunities on the English District website that is continually updated.

If your congregation will be recording or live streaming and is not included, please email us at info@englishdistrict.org and let us know how people can access it.

New to live streaming? The LCMS has an instructional video to help you.
Concordia Technology Blog has helpful advice on improving how you live stream services.

Ministerial Health Commission
All of us have our “down” days. All of us have our days (or more) where we “do what we don’t want to do and don’t do what we know we should.” Lord, have mercy! As your Ministerial Health Commission of LCMS English District, we know that our life journey is a struggle at times. What we want you to know is that we are here to be a confidential sister or brother in Christ, walking along side of you in your struggle. We strive to be a listening ear with a non-judgmental heart, supporting you where you are, not where ANYONE thinks you should be! We will encourage, not chastise, listen without advising, and pray without ceasing for you. May God grant you the strength to reach out if and when you need it.

This may be especially helpful right now. Please consider contacting your Ministerial Health Commission during this stressful time.
COVID-19 & Church Finances Webinar
If you weren't able to join the webinar this past Thursday on Church Finances in the midst of COVID-19 below you will find a recording of the webinar as well as a link to all of the resources mentioned. Feel free to share the video or resource links with anyone you think might benefit!
Congregation Statistics Information Update
Thank you to the 50 English District congregations who have submitted their end-of-year statistics on the LCMS Information Support Network (LISN) for Congregations. Those of you who have not done so, please access the page using the link and congregation ID and password sent to you in February and complete them as soon as possible.

If you have not received or cannot locate the letter, please contact Synod at 888-843-5267 or rosters.stats@lcms.org to request your login information. Deadline to submit the congregation statistics is Tuesday, March 31, 2020.
Conference Registration
Board of Directors: May 18–19
Professional Church Workers: May 19 (3:00 pm)–May 21 (11:30 am)
Circuit Visitors: May 21 (noon)–May 22 (11:00 am)

Website Feature - Give Online
The English District's Give Online link allows both congregations and individuals to support the mission and ministry of the district financially and to pay invoices online. Our secure online payment page also allows for recurring gifts, where you specify the frequency and number of transactions.

Convention assessment and Lutheran Witness invoices were mailed last week. Due to Michigan’s shelter-in-place order, we encourage you to use the  district’s  secure online giving site  for all of your gifts and payments at this time, if at all possible.
1-1-1 A Dollar for Missions


1-1-1 offering box from Chapel of the Cross, St. Louis, MO.

Contact our District Mission Executive, Pastor   Derek Mathers   or Pastor  Justin Laughridge , Chair of the Missions Council, with any questions regarding 1-1-1.
Worker Wellness
“Building Up the Body: Worker-to-Worker” is a series of church worker wellness devotions on t he LCMS website. The focus for week 52 is on Vocational Wellness .

You can also find more wellness resources at lcms.org/wellness.
Lutheran Hour Ministries

Prayer Requests
Your prayer concerns are important to the English District. When you submit a prayer request, with your permission, it will be posted in this weekly eNewsletter. The Bible's promise is true: "If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us" (1 John 5:14).

Pray for an end to this pandemic, for those affected by COVID-19 and for the workers that are caring for those infected by the virus.

Email   prayer requests to Holly Scheer .
Joyful Response ®
For such a time as this, LCEF recognizes that churches are figuring out their new normal which has a direct effect on the life of the congregation. As your congregation looks for ways to sustain the life of the church, LCEF would like to share with you a service that we have provided for our members and can benefit you today, Joyful Response.

Joyful Response is a stewardship service for LCMS churches, schools and RSOs, A highlighted feature of this service is e-giving. Here is what you need to know:

To start the process, download the enrollment packet found on the District website.
 
Qualifications
  • Congregation must have a StewardAccount®.
  • Only $100 to open an account
  • Congregation can open a new StewardAccount for this process and transfer for another account.
  • If a congregation is opening a new StewardAccount, at this time we are waving the multiply signers needed.

*Forms can be scanned and emailed to request@lcef.org
*Forms can be faxed to 314-996-1129 or 314-996-1131

Benefits and Perks        
  • LCEF call center will help you complete the necessary paperwork to enroll in Joyful Response.
  • The congregation will be assigned to a Vanco (our partnering organization) representative who will walk the church through the set up and how to share/promote the service with their congregation, including instructions.

Two ways to do e-giving through LCEF:
  1. Giving’ button on church website
  2. Mobile App - congregation members can download the Give + app, search for their church and then e-give through the app. The mobile app is called 'Give +’
Contact David Thiele, English District LCEF Vice President, by email or phone 517-980-2857.
For more information contact the English District Gift Planning Counselor Ron Grimm by phone ( 412)-584-7039 or email .
In Our District
Ferry Family Update

The Ferry family is serving God in Asia. Read about their work here .
Naumann Update

The Naumanns are serving God in Latin America. Read about their work here .
Stewardship Template Letter

David Thiele, LCEF Vice President - English District, has written a helpful letter for congregations to use to encourage stewardship during this difficult time. Download template .
In Our Churches
Epic, Shelby Township, MI

Epic has a monthly food bank where people struggling with food insecurity can come get food. Because of the need for social distancing for everyone's safety, they did it as drive thru last Saturday. It was well received by the congregation (they had tons more donations than usual) and was a great way to love their neighbors and share the hope of Christ with them. Since they couldn't have their "prayer and care table," they collected written prayer requests from the cars so Pray Team could pray for their neighbors in need.
Ascension, North Olmsted, OH

Members of Ascension in North Olmsted, OH gathered for “CAR Church: FM”, a service of the Word broadcast over FM radio to members in their cars. Over 35 cars were in attendance. If anyone would like to discuss holding a similar service, Pastor Joshua Ulm would be glad to speak with you: 330-419-2720.
In Our Schools
English District Financial Aid
 
English District Financial Aid information is available on the English District  website.   Please read the material carefully and note that the deadline for submission is  June 1, 2020. 

If you have any questions, please contact Gail Holzer.
Redeemer, Pittsburgh, PA

Devotions from home! Still together even apart.
Faith Preschool of Jacob's Well, Fort Wayne, IN

Art Class at home.

Please share the information from Servant to Servant with members of your congregation.
 
All are invited to subscribe to this weekly publication. Forward the newsletter to members of your church. They can subscribe by clicking on the "Sign up for our emails" link at the bottom. Thanks for spreading the word!
Please share your congregation's or school's unique ministries with the rest of the District. Send pictures and stories for consideration to  Holly Scheer  by Wednesday, 12:00 pm ET. We want to see how YOUR congregation or school is showing the love of God to those in your community and around the world.
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