Elections 2020
Declaring & Teaching – Jesus is Lord ! 
Elections

Well if it is November it must be time to talk about elections. By the time you receive this the big one should be just about behind us depending on when you receive your copy and hopefully we can all move forward in unity in praising the Lord and celebrating the many blessings He has provided to us as brothers and sisters in Christ here at St. Paul. For one, we can continue to celebrate that we have been gathering as such for 142 years and that we continue to grow and thrive in His Spirit ! 

So what about elections? The church will have elections for officers and board members at 12:30 on December 5, 2020. We encourage those interested in serving to contact me or someone on one of the boards and ask to be nominated for a position. We are always looking for people willing to serve the Lord. Currently we are without a Vice President who would normally head-up the election committee. I have asked the board chair persons to confirm that those currently serving are willing to continue to serve for 2021, same for officers. At this time it appears that everyone will continue to serve in their present positions for the coming year.

 If there is anyone currently serving that does not want to continue to serve, please email Terri Green and myself so we can remove you from the ballot.

Council meetings have been sparsely attended and council has agreed to limit in-person meetings. Our next meeting will be at 12:15 on Sunday, December 5th if we have new business that needs to be addressed. Following that meeting council is not planning to convene until March 18, 2021 at 6:30 PM. If there is any new  business that requires a council meeting we may try to conduct it online as a Zoom call where Pastor and I would meet in his office or we will schedule an in person meeting if there is sufficient interest.

Did everyone enjoy Reformation Sunday and the welcoming of our new confirmands? That was truly exciting and something to celebrate. The Elders and Pastor will be working on the calendar Advent.

The Truth Will Set You Free

Here is a reading I found on the LCMS Church Calendar for Reformation Day, The Truth Will Set You Free, John 8:31-36; “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Now that is encouraging !

In celebration of Reformation Day, I thought it appropriate to share some more scripture. A few weeks back we read Mathew 21:23-27; here is the scripture followed by some commentary from Mathew Henry.

The Authority of Jesus Challenged

And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus answered them, I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, We do not know.” And he said to them, Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.

Commentary:

Our Lord Jesus (like St. Paul after him) preached his gospel with much contention; his first appearance was in a dispute with the doctors in the temple, when he was twelve years old; and here, just before he died, we have him engaged in controversy. The great contenders with him, were, the chief priests and the elders, the judges of two distinct courts: the chief priests presided in the ecclesiastical court, in all matters of the Lord, as they are called; the elders of the people were judges of the civil courts, in temporal matters. These joined to attack Christ thinking they should find or make him obnoxious. See how woefully degenerate that generation was, when the governors both in church and state, who should have been the great promoters of the Messiah’s kingdom, were the great opposers of it! Here we have them disturbing him when he was preaching, v. 23. They would neither receive his instructions themselves, nor let others receive them.

This is just the first paragraph of Mathew Henry’s commentary on this reading, it goes on for several pages and I would encourage anyone interested in learning more about this scripture to continue to read it online, it really helps to bring it to life.

Stay Healthy!  Hope to see you in church in the very near future.

In His Service,

Tim Grace

sunbeam over pond

Here we are, it’s September 2020 COVID style. It’s always hard to get started writing these articles, I feel like I need to cover something from the Past, the Present and the Future. So here we go in reverse order.

Future – We will have a voters meeting in September on the third Sunday, September 20th at 12:30. The meeting will be in the Grove if the weather is suitable, if not it will be in the lower level of the church.

Present – The weather has been absolutely perfect the last few weeks, in my opinion anyway. I’m sure many are getting tired of the ongoing conditions as a result of COVID-19. We all miss doing the things we used to do together and have found new things to do in smaller groups mostly consisting of immediate family. I’m one to look for the silver lining and find the blessing in our current situation. I’m learning that I am much happier when I limit my consumption of “news“. With that said let’s focus on Christ and a message from some recent devotionals. Portals of Prayer this week has been on the subject of “My Grace is Sufficient for You.” 

The author has done a wonderful job of emphasizing each word in this phrase on subsequent days. Today’s word is sufficient; what does that mean to you ?  For me it is reassurance that all my needs are being taken care of, even if it doesn’t seem that way sometimes. Our blessings are so many, allow us to count them all and give praise to the one that provides them.

Past – We had our vacation bible school and it was a blast as always. A BIG thanks to Jennifer Gatke and company that did a fantastic job organizing everyone and keeping us all safe. We had fun observing social distancing, I have included a few photos, can’t wait for next year.

In His Service,

Tim Grace

holy spirit
June 2020 From Your Congregational President Declaring & Teaching – Jesus is Lord !

 

Following is an extended excerpt from the book of 1 John that I hope communicates a spirit of Love that we all need right now.

 

1 John 1, 2:1-6, 3:1-3

The Incarnate Word

1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

 

God Is Light

5 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

 

Christ Is Our Advocate

2 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. 3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

 

Children of God Love One Another

3 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

 

I encourage everyone to read the entire book of 1 John but thought these portions would make a good start to my article and set the right tone for St. Paul as we continue in these uncertain times. It is important that we remember who we are and that our focus remain on Christ and His will for our lives individually and collectively as His Church. We continue to pray for guidance and direction as we move forward and trust His perfect timing.

Council met on May 21 and approved the preliminary budgets for the coming fiscal year, we are working together to increase a few areas of the budget this coming year including the Family Care Fund to assist our members in these difficult time; our support of the NW District; and support of Local Missions. The plan is to present the budget to the Voters at a meeting on June 28 at 12:30, no potluck this time but we will have some individually wrapped snacks and hot and cold beverages.

We have recently updated our website with a more user friendly and personalized Giving page for St. Paul. This new page allows individuals to create a User Account that will make it easier for our members to give electronically if you are comfortable with that. The page uses bank grade encryption from a service provided by Vanco that has been providing the Simply Giving service that many of our members have successfully been using for many years. There is also an app. called GivePlus+ that can been loaded on a mobile device that utilizes the same user account as the website. The website option, the mobile app. and the Simply Giving donations will all be summarized into a single report for Karen Baldwin to use in recording our donations so she can accurately report our giving and provide annual statements for tax purposes. People are encouraged to use a checking account and routing number rather than the credit card option as the fees are substantially less, but all donations are greatly appreciated.

You will notice there is a place on the website and the app to select where you would like the donation to be directed; currently we have the options to give to the General Fund, the Preschool, VBS and also the Family Care Fund. You can choose to make a one time donation or reoccurring donation depending on what works best for you.

To end on an encouraging note, I saw on the local news that the YMCA has scheduled their day camps to start on June 12. There may just be a light at the end of the tunnel!

 

In His Service,

Tim Grace

rocky shore

1 Corinthians 15:1-8:

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.

Recently I heard this state that we have been in the last many weeks compared to being like an extended Saturday of Holy week, where Christ has been crucified but he has yet to rise and we His many followers aren’t really sure what is happening or what is going to happen. This is a very uncomfortable place for most as we don’t initially know what to do with our uncertainty, but we do know that we need to place it at the foot of the cross and trust in God to lead us and guide us until that dawn breaks on Easter morning, we know that day is coming and we will be there together again worshiping our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I can see us all back in the sanctuary ready to worship and then it comes, the time to greet and welcome each other, what do we do ?

Pause, Pray, Think, what will we do? Well, we will do the right thing of course. Social distancing will be with us for a bit longer and slowly it will fade away and we will return to the loving and embracing each other just like we always have done. Will it be uncomfortable? Sure, at first, for some it always has been uncomfortable and we have all figured that out and read each others cues and we do what, we do the right thing !

We all have different needs, some are comfortable with certain things and others are not, this will be true as we go through the different phases of returning to normal life. There is much we still don’t know about the virus and there is new information revealed every day. Just yesterday I learned that it is estimated that one in five people in New York were exposed to the virus and have developed anti-bodies to fight it. With all of the unreliable information in the news these days, it is unclear if this is even accurate, but there have been similar studies in California suggesting something similar there, either way it is an indicator that for many of us God has provided His protection. There are many whose bodies will not respond that way and thus the need to continue to do the right thing is in protecting the vulnerable among us.

So we ask for God’s protection for all and ask that He continue to keep us all safe and that He lift us up in His perfect timing to come back together and continue to Worship and Praise Him this day and every day. As our Pastors and Elders continue to meet and pray about the timing and manner that this should happen, I strongly suggest that folks reach out to each other, to the church office, both our Pastors and our Elders for any needs you have. If you need help with errands or shopping, please call Debbie or I and we will make sure that your needs are met.

Also be in prayer about God’s timing for the opening of our church and determining what the summer of 2020 will hold for us as we plan the many activities that we all love and enjoy. I would love to hear from as many of you as possible to get your input on how we should proceed, I’m confident that the Lord can remove any fears and raise up the right leaders to lead and guide His ministry and kingdom here at St. Paul Church and Preschool in Sherwood, Oregon.

In His Service,

Tim Grace

bible-budget

 

FAITH—WORKS is a reminder for today and every day: “Pray daily for Faith. It is God’s Gift. It is our only requisite for accomplishment of mighty deeds. Certainly you have to work, you have to pray, but upon Faith alone depends the answer to your prayers—your works.”

Here are the first four Agenda items from the February Council Meeting that will provide a starting point for this article:

  • President to provide overview of budget process that will start approximately a week after Easter.
  • Motion to move April Council Meeting back a week to the 4th Thursday to allow additional preparation time for the meeting following Easter; review calendar for March and April 2020.
  • Review Investment Committee recommendation of reallocating approximately half of the checking account funds to an investment account.
  • Trustees Motion to pay-off Ed Building Remodel Loan with a portion of the recent gift received by the church.

These items make up just a small portion of the business conducted at the February council meeting. Each represents a jumping off point for a larger discussion on the health and direction of St. Paul Lutheran Church and Preschool for the coming year but more than that the coming decade. We have know since this past October that we have a bust in our budget of approximately $30,000. That means we will likely over spend our regular giving by this amount for the current fiscal year. But there is good news, the church has been blessed with a substantial one time gift from Elsie Borchers. More about that to follow.

Many are aware of the announcement of the closing of Concordia University in Portland, while we do not know many of the financial details associated with this decision, there is a lesson to learn and it is one most already know. Often it is easy to just go along and continue on ones current path even when there are warning signs along the road that something isn’t quite right. As Lutheran’s we have a possibly well deserved reputation of being averse to change. The last few years we have adopted deficit budgets without making significant changes to our overall spending. In our fiscal year 2017-2018 we had $36,000 in unfunded expenses. So the warning signs are there, something needs to change.

What about the good news. Anyone attending the last Voters’ Meeting is aware that we have significant financial resources many of which were given to the church as a designated gift, meaning they can only be used for the purpose given. The most recent gift from Elsie was given as an unrestricted gift. She had her funds invested in nationally know investment firm that has a local office in Tualatin. To receive the gift we were asked to open an account with that investment firm so we could receive a portion of the bonds and mutual funds that she had invested in.

So why is this important and why are you telling us about this?  St. Paul needs some additional members on our investment committee to review how we are using all of the gifts that we have received. We also need to look more closely at the investment of this most recent gift as well as what should be done with a portion of the money in our checking account that needs to be invested to earn a reasonable return as commanded by the Lord in many places including Matthew Chapter 25, Verses 14-30 in Jesus’ Parable of the Talents. We simply must do better in investing the resources we have been given and do something different with this gift other than what we have done with some of our other (gifts) investments that are barely keeping up with inflation.

The investment committee that currently consists of Karen Baldwin and myself with input from the Elders have recommended that we keep the gift from Elsie at the institution that she chose to invest her life savings at and that we engage a financial adviser with that firm to recommend funds that meet the church’s needs. It is also recommended that we move approximately half of the money that is in our checking account that is not earning anything into this same fund. Based on current cash flow needs these funds will be invested for 3-5 years, but that could change if our needs change and we find that we need the funds sooner.

We pray that all Voters earnestly pray about this opportunity and that we come together in unity around this gift and that we are able to find consensus and vote to affirm the recommendations of the investment committee at the April Voters’ Meeting that will be the last Sunday of April, April 26, 2020. Additionally the Trustees have recommended that we use a portion of the funds to retire the current loan for the Education Building Remodel. It is good stewardship to actively use the gifts that God has provided.

In His Service,

Tim Grace