Greetings in Christ Jesus!

Here we are, last month of summertime and we are in the same mode as we were in the spring. Strange world we live in.  Everywhere you go people are wearing masks.  People keeping a distance from each other.  Limited number of people who can attend church.


 When WILL it end?  Are the politicians keeping us in the dark?  Who can one trust?  What does God’s Word tell us? In 1 Thessalonians 5:11 we read:   Encourage one another and build each other up.” As seniors we have been around the block, so to speak, perhaps several times.  So why aren’t people seeking wise words from us? Perhaps they are too busy racing around the block.


In this strange time we live, let us encourage and help one another.  We will continue our Zoom time each Wednesday at 1:30 pm.  No masks required!  Join us to help build each other up.  After all we have experienced a lot in our lives.  God loves us and will get us through the days ahead.  You are in my prayers! God bless you with peace and love!


In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Rich

from the church mouse



Hi gang,

                        I am tired of wearing a mask.  How about you?  I am lonely.  I miss our Wednesday get together.  Please tell the Governor!  I have been out of PJ for some time.  I hope Paul and Karon will bring me some soon.


Pastor said we should build each other up, so here are some smiles for you. These appeared in church bulletins.


The sermon this morning is about Jesus walking on water.  Next Sunday it will be about searching for Jesus.


Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house.  Bring your husbands.


The Pastor will preach his farewell sermon, afterwards the choir will sing “Break Forth into Joy.”


Potluck supper next Sunday and medication to follow.


The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind.  They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.


Keep smiling, read your Bible and share God’s love with all!




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Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. (1 Peter)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I’m enjoying a much-needed vacation. It would be nice however if the world could take a much needed-vacation as well. As I write this the pandemic, political strife, fires on the west coast and hurricanes in the south are all intersecting. The “living hope” we have in and through Christ’s resurrection however will see us through.

The last several months have been especially challenging for the church. In March we had to figure out in a hurry how to bring worship services to you in your home since you couldn’t come to church. We fasted from the Lord’s supper for two months. In June we began having a small amount of people return to church and receive the Lord’s Supper again while employing Covid prevention measures. Along with that Kathy Prehm, the staff, and the Board of Education have spent a good part of their summer navigating the state’s constantly-changing requirements to be able to have a preschool starting this Fall. It’s been quite a stretch!

But there is much to be thankful for. Our church was one of the few in the area to hold an in-person Vacation Bible School. It was a success and the children and their parents were very thankful for it. One child who attended said she didn’t want it to end because she liked being with actual people instead of people on a computer screen. VBS was only one week though. Since March our church has been broadcasting the Word of God to people whom we’ve never met before and in some cases, people who have not come to church in a long time. Some of you have contributed to the effort to continue the mission of the church and are continuing to do so—thank you very much! Let’s continue making the best of the opportunities God is giving us through this time in which He is teaching us to rely and trust in Him even more.

God’s peace,

Pastor Don 

Greetings in Christ Jesus

It is with a heavy heart that I write this article.  We should be looking forward to Summer and happy days. 

However things are not looking good.  Covid 19 is still spreading, we are not able to worship in a group,  seniors cannot meet at the Center, the riots are still active, and evil is all around us.  We need to wake up!


In my lifetime, I have not experienced anything this sad in our country and in the Christian Church.  In 1 Thessalonians 5:6 we read, “So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.” It is time to wake up before it is too late. The solution is a spiritual awakening.  Jesus is the solution! In Christ alone our hope is found and change must come from within.  Jesus changes people!  Ephesians 5:14 “for it is light that makes everything visible. That is why it is said: ‘Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’” Our prayer, come Lord Jesus, come! Shine on us !  It is my prayer that Spiritual Awakening will happen throughout the world. 


May Jesus give you the hope and peace to live in these days!  He will not forsake us.  Jesus loves us!  May God bless you with His Presence!

At this time, we do not know when we can open the Senior Center for our meetings.  We will continue getting together on Zoom.

In Christ’s Love,
Pastor Rich


from the church mouse

 Hi folks, I sure miss seeing all of you.  The Senior Center is a lonely place. I  Look forward to your return.  You can stop by anytime and drop off some PJ and that does not mean pajamas. 


 Here are some Senior smiles for your day.

Postcard from vacationing Senior: “Wish you were here. By the way, where am I?”

“Sometimes I put my shoes on the wrong feet…but I can’t remember whose feet I put them on. “

Remember when you chose your cereal for the toy, not for fiber? 

Seniors have strict diets, they do not eat between snacks.


 Seniors know what exercising every day is —That you will die healthier.

Mark Twain: Eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

Show me a Senior who walks with his head held high, and I will show you a man who hasn’t gotten used to his bifocals.

Enjoy your summer.



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There’s still room for you at the church!


Back in March when we entered the stay-at-home order, it was hard to imagine what church would be like in three months. But here we are and I’m glad to see some of you returning to the sanctuary for Sunday worship. For the first three Sundays in June, at both the 8:30 and 10:45 AM services, there were just under 25 people attending, which is within Phase I guidelines for our county. While it would be nice to see more people come back to in-person worship, the amount we have had has been manageable in that we haven’t had to turn anyone away. That being said, there are still a few open seats in the sanctuary at each service, plus we can seat an additional 25 people in the lower level (basement) with sound and video. You can also listen to the service in your car in the parking lot (87.9 FM radio.) For those of you participating in worship at home, you can come to the church and receive communion on the first and third Sundays of the month. I will remain in the sanctuary until 1 pm to commune one family at a time. So far we’ve had a few takers on this and it’s been good to commune with you after such a long fast from the Lord’s Supper.

So what’s in the future? Well, the earliest things could change would be Sunday, July 12th if governor Brown approves our region for Phase II. If that happens, we will still have the 8:30 AM service with a few more designated seating spaces in the sanctuary. We will still have to practice six feet of physical distancing and wear face masks. But we will also begin our 10:45 outdoor service in the grove. Under Phase II, we will be able to have more than 25 people attend with proper distancing, plus, you can stay in your car and still see and hear the service. There are technology roadblocks to livestreaming the outdoor grove service; so what we’ll probably do is livestream the 8:30 AM service just during the summer, so that we can continue offering worship for those who wish to stay home, or cannot come to church.

This summer is certainly going to be a much less active than what we’re used to. A district youth gathering in Idaho was canceled, Confirmation Camp at Lutherwood was canceled, Robin Hood is canceled, a wedding has been postponed, and Mission Festival is up in the air since we won’t be able to have potlucks even in Phase II.

Some things are continuing however on a limited basis including Vacation Bible School and confirmation for our three confirmands; Ben, David, and J.P. I’m hoping to host a picnic for the other LCMS pastors in our circuit later in August. Some things I sure miss are our time together in Bible study, men’s group on Saturday mornings, and new member classes.

The elders and I wholeheartedly appreciate your patience and flexibility during all this. Trying to figure out how to continue worship services amid ever-changing Covid prevention guidelines has not been easy. I also want to thank Frannie, Chuck, and the Praise Team for their continuing dedication to serve you during worship. And, we must all be grateful for Tim, our president for conducting the business of our church, as well as our financial officer Karen Baldwin; Jill for all the communication to you, Charlie, who’s been key in keeping some of our technology going for the online worship; Jennifer and Ellen, in the office; Kathy for a successful close of the school year and preparation for next year’s class; the volunteers on the Board of Education; and Jen Gatke for carrying on with VBS.

Above all we must thank the Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ, for promising never to abandon us, and seeing us through to the end. To Him be all the glory, honor, praise and thanksgiving!


Pastor Don  







Greetings in Christ Jesus

What a crazy 8 weeks this has been!  Life has taken on a different perspective.  Worship has undertaken a new approach.  Online services are available all over the world.  I can join you at St. Paul, or join with our children at their church.  I can watch a different number of services.  You can travel by VR to destinations around the world.  VR =Virtual Reality.  Put a headset on in your home and go anywhere. Technology has come to Senior Saints. 

 You can join us each Wednesday at 1:30 pm on Zoom .  Send us your email at STPSS@pm.me and join with fellow saints.  Thanks to Pary and Peggy for putting this together. 

Things may be rapidly changing, but God’s love is not!  His love casts out fear.  Open your heart to His Love.  His love in Jesus gives us peace, comfort, and hope.

As soon as it becomes possible, we hope to gather at the Senior Center. God bless you all! You are in my thoughts and prayers.

In Christ’ Love,
Pastor Rich

from the church mouse


Hi Folks,
                    Hope you are making the best of things.  It is lonely at the Center.  I hope to see you soon.  My PJ supply is gone!  This “New Normal” is interesting .

 We need to keep smiling. Laughter increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies!


 So here goes…


Wife: you said you were sick.   He:  No, I said I had a case of Corona.


Doctor:  You test positive.  Patient:  That can’t be correct.  I have more than 300 rolls of toilet paper. 


 Next year you can say:  I survived the great toilet paper crisis of 2020.


Did you ever think that people’s hands would consume more alcohol than their mouths?


When it is time to take the garbage out, do you get so excited about what you should wear?


We are getting to know everyone’s true hair color. 


 If you made it to here, your immune cells have increased. 


 Take care! 

 Love, Zeke



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Dear friends,


Washington County’s goal to enter Phase 1 reopening was targeted for Monday, June 1st. Hopefully it’s been approved by the time you read this. If so, what does it make possible for us in regards to worshipping back in the sanctuary? I’ve listed some things below which might help us get an idea of what it will look and feel like to be “back in church.” 

  • Limited-open services at 8:30 and 10:45 AM on June 7th, Trinity Sunday
  • Both services limited to 25 people in the sanctuary
  • Designated seating in pews
  • Wear a mask
  • Minimize touching things (paper service folders, door person, elevator operator)
  • Communion will resume with distancing and touching measures in place

The elders and I want to keep things as simple and easy to understand as possible. That’s a big challenge though in this ever-changing pandemic environment. Here are additional things to keep in mind as we anticipate coming back to church while considering the risks:

  • People at higher risk of infection should continue participating in worship at home until we are in either Phase 2 or 3 of Washington County’s reopening plan
  • The 10:45 AM service will continue being available online for the foreseeable future
  • Once the sanctuary is full (25 max,) the church lower level can be made available but it’s capacity will also be limited to 25 people. Audio is currently available there, and we will work on video.
  • Audio is available on FM radio, so you can participate in your car in the parking lot
  • The 10:45 services in the grove will commence as usual (first Sunday after Fourth of July through Labor Day weekend)
  • Christian education will resume when we’re in Phase 2

A lot is currently being written about singing in church—there are competing viewpoints as to whether or not it’s safe to sing. If we were to sing in church, we would be distanced by at least six feet and wearing masks. Nevertheless, I’m hearing that it’s prudent to sing low of softly, or even not at all—let a soloist or the pastor do the singing. At the very least we will wear a mask to minimize exposure.

I know I haven’t covered every detail about reopening in this article or addressed every question—there are too many for the amount of space here. Just keep watching the services online and checking your email. I’ll keep you as updated as I can. Or you can email, text, or call me. May we be blessed by the Holy Spirit this Trinity and Pentecost season, and continue being a blessing to each other and our community.

Pastor Don

Greetings in Christ Jesus,

Amazing how fast life can change!  What will our future be like?  For some of us it may look scary.  “Shelter in Place” could change our lives.  At present we seniors may not be able to gather in groups.  We may have to practice “social distancing.” That would keep us from gathering at the Senior Center.  We will need to change how we keep in contact.  I will explore how we can use technology to be in touch.  So how can we survive?  We go to an ancient song book, “The Psalms.” In 46, a song the Hebrews sang says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.” In a time of distress Martin Luther wrote his famous hymn, “A Mighty Fortress,” based on this Psalm.  Today we also take refuge in our God.  He will take us through this. “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,…The Lord Almighty is with us; The God of Jacob is our fortress.”  Maxine and I have you in our hearts and prayers.  Rejoice!  He is in control!  May He be your fortress!

God’s Peace abide in you!

Pastor Rich

from the church mouse

Hi Folks,   

How silent the Senior Center has become. I am lonely.  I miss your presence, your laughter, your joy.  I hope you can return soon!  Also I am running low on PJ.  In the midst of this, I will share some smiles with you. Psychologists say laughter can be good medicine, a powerful coping mechanism.  We have 60,000 thoughts a day and many are       disturbing. 

Laughter helps the brain relax.

 A person tweeted: “How long is this social distancing supposed to last? My husband keeps trying to get into the house.” 

They said a mask and gloves were enough to go to the grocery store.  They lied.  Everyone else had clothes on. 

 Church sign:  Had not planned on giving up quite this much for Lent. 

 A dating app: “single man w/TP seeks single woman w/ hand sanitizer for good clean fun.”

A photo of an elderly, white-haired woman with caption:  “Here’s Sue, 31 years old, home schooling her kids for last 5 days. Great job Sue.  Keep it up.” 

 Just a month ago who would have appreciated being given a roll of toilet paper? 

 Doctor:  “your Covid-19 test came back positive.”  Patient:  “That cannot be correct. I have more than 300 rolls of toilet paper.”

 A new puzzle is available that has 51,399 pieces that should last all of Quarantine.

OK that is enough for now. Hope we can see each other soon. 



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Hello to all of you out there; I hope you are doing well under the circumstances. I’d like to share with you a family devotion from a 1918 edition of Lutheran Witness:


During the present epidemic [Spanish flu] the Boards of Health of many cities have requested that congregations close schools, churches, and Sunday schools until the danger has passed. Not only our pastors, but also the ministers of other churches advised their people through the public press, or otherwise, that during the closing of the churches they should read the Scriptures at home and have family prayers.


In those houses in which this had been a custom before it was easily arranged. To others it was a novel experience. It is to be hoped that some who tasted the spiritual delight of family devotion will continue the practice in the future. Let no one imagine that the churches or the pastors fear that people will take to prayer in the family and neglect public services.


The family that enjoys the reading of the Scriptures and family prayers during the week is the one which is most ready to visit the house of God whenever the doors are thrown open. The more members of a congregation practice home or family devotions, the better will be the church attendance in that congregation. That father and head of the house who gathers his household together each day because it is his intention and determination: “I and my house will serve the Lord,”—that father will be the same mind on the day when the churches are open and the pastor proclaims God’s Word.


Are you looking for some good work to do? Would you do something to glorify God, something whereby you may show your gratitude towards the Savior, something whereby you may be yourself, and where by you may bless your neighbor, something whereby you may be a blessing to your whole community? Institute family devotion daily in your home. Go about in a cheerful, friendly, evangelical manner. If that is daily done, you have accomplished something that will bless you and yours in time and eternity. (vol. 37, p. 359)


For this next part I’d like to offer answers to some possible questions I imagine some of you might have:


            Q – When are we going to be able to come back to church on Sundays?

A – I don’t know yet. Unlike some states which have target dates for easing stay-at-home orders, Oregon does not. We are waiting for governor Brown to announce a lessening of current restrictions. Once she does, the elders and I will work together on what kind of services we can have either in the sanctuary or the grove.


            Q – Some churches are having internet communion. Why aren’t we?

A – I’m aware of two LCMS churches who have had online communion, but the majority of our congregations are following the recommendations from the synod to abstain from any online version of the Lord’s Supper. Non-sacramental protestant churches, i.e. those who do not believe in the real presence of the Lord Jesus in the supper, have no problem with internet communion. But the fact of the matter is, the churches in our synod who have done it already have caused offense for some of our brothers and sisters in the LCMS. I don’t wish to cause anyone in our church to stumble on this issue, so for now we are abstaining from communion. My second reason for abstaining is purely pragmatic: I don’t know how to do internet communion. I have not been trained in it or have any guidance on how to do it. If I were to try doing online communion I would be making it up as I go and I don’t want to do something foolish or in an amateurish way. Going for so long without communion has been hard on me too, and I look forward to the day when we can have it together even more each day.


            Q – Is anyone in our congregation sick from Covid-19 or been diagnosed with it?

            A – Not that I have heard.


Q – How are our church finances? I hear giving is way down for churches and charities. Are we doing okay?

A – As far as I can tell, we are still able to pay the bills. People are tithing using Simply Giving or mailing in their contributions. Some people are using the electronic giving portal on the church website. The lights still come on in the church and office, and we have running water. God provides for his people.


            Q – When church services resume in the sanctuary, will we still have two services?

A – Well, I guess that depends on how many people return to worship. If there are eight of you at the 8:30 service, and 70 at the 10:45, or visa-versa, then the elders and I will have to make some decisions. On the other hand, if there is some sort of Christian revival in the wake of this pandemic and we find our two services overflowing with people, we may need to add more services – who knows what the future holds. In preparation for this however, the elders and I may consider surveying the congregation first to gather information on how we might best use the resources God has given us to conduct worship services.


If there are any other questions you may have about the church or the synod, or anything else, please contact me. Until then, I encourage you to do family devotions at home and participate in the services online. Trust in the Lord ever more, He will see you through this difficult time. May His peace be with you.


Pastor Don




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Greetings in Christ Jesus


Amazing how things can quickly change.  Hard to comprehend all that is happening right now.  The world has been instructed to practice “social distancing.” We have to stay Away from one another.  We can not gather at the Senior Center or church to worship.  We have a resource to get us through this trying time.  We have Jesus, who gives us hope to endure.  Romans 5:5 God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” We do not have to practice “social distancing” with Jesus.  We have His Spirit in our hearts.  Open your heart to Him. He loves you. 

Maxine and I are keeping in touch with our Senior Saints via the phone.  We are amazed how well everyone is coping with the Stay at Home order.  All miss the opportunity to be together.  But we know it will come to an end. While we are staying home, we can learn new things.  Use the time to grow spiritually through reading your Bible and spending time in prayer.  You all are in our daily

prayers.  We pray that your Easter Celebration Will be special.  Jesus Christ Is Risen!

Our Love In Christ,

Pastor Rich and Maxine


from the church mouse Hi Gang,

                          I am one lonely church mouse.  The Senior Center is as quiet as a mouse. LOL.  I for one will squeal loudly when social distancing is over.  In this stressful time, we all need to smile.  So I did some research in my smile library and came up with the following.

Instead of the John I call my bathroom the Jim! That way it sounds better when I say I go to the Jim every morning when I get up.

An elderly woman had just returned home from an evening church service when she was startled by an intruder.  She yelled “Stop! Acts 2:38.  (It reads :  Repent and be baptized in the name of the Lord, so that your sins may be forgiven.)

The intruder stopped.  The woman called the police.  The police asked him why he just stood there.  He replied, she said she had an Ax and TWO 38’s!
And before the fridge, so often my mind is filled with nagging doubt.  Have I Just put food away, or have I come to take some out?

Now I stand beside the mail box with a face so very red.  Instead of mailing you the letter I have opened it instead.

So long for now.
Love,  Zeke


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As I write this article there’s an eerie silence in the office. I’m the only one working here; Jennifer is working from home mostly, taking your calls and continuing various day-to-day operations of the church. Pastor Kiessling is calling those on the phone whom he regularly visits. The preschool is on an extended Spring break; a few cars drive through the campus but there are no visitors. No one from the neighborhood is even bringing their kids to play in our playground, most likely as a precaution so their kids don’t touch anything someone else may have touched earlier. It’s quiet, strange, and lonely.


I’m fortunate to be able to leave the house and work at my regular place; I know not everyone can do that right now. I feel like I’m in a sort of isolated “base of operations”—I make phone calls checking in on people, send emails, texts, record the midweek Lenten services, and prepare the Sunday worship. I think this is going to become a new kind of normal for a while.


By the time you read this we will be about a week away from Easter Sunday, and unless God performs a miracle and wipes out the coronavirus from our land by then, we will be celebrating the Resurrection in our homes. As far as our summer activities go such as VBS and mission festival, those are just too far out right now to be able to make decisions on whether to have them or not. My thoughts are starting to turn to more philosophical questions such as, when we finally come out of this, how different will the church be? Will some people fall away and never come back? Will some draw nearer to God and worship more frequently? Will we simply pick up where we left off earlier this year as if nothing happened? I don’t know, these are the kind of things one thinks about while sitting alone in a quiet place.


We give thanks to God all the time at St. Paul for the many blessings He’s poured onto this church for 142 years. One of His blessings was seeing our church through the 1918 influenza pandemic. Our history book says Pastor Kolb was called to Petaluma California in the fall of 1918. This would have been near the height of the pandemic. It’s interesting that during such a dangerous time, he and his family packed up their things and moved. It’s also noted that the school did not resume in the fall of 1918, but this was because teacher Barrein had resigned in the spring. The church was without a pastor and a teacher until Frederick Westerkamp accepted the call in the spring of 1919. The pandemic was beginning to wind down by then, and by that summer it had finally run its terrible course.


Our history book makes no mention at all of the 1918 influenza pandemic, and the church’s death record notes only three deaths between the spring of 1918 and the fall of 1919, and those three were due to “apoplexy,” a type of stroke. This causes me to wonder if perhaps the pandemic wasn’t so bad in this area. Everything I read about the Spanish Flu however, says it took quite a toll on public services, the nation’s economy, and to some extent the population.


We should have every reason to believe our God will graciously and mercifully see us through this pandemic, as He has through those in the past. Barring any calls to Petaluma California or anywhere else for that matter, I imagine I will still be your pastor when Covid-19 has finally run its course, and we can resume our preschool, worship together in the sanctuary, and whatever else we wish to do for the kingdom of God. Until then participate in worship online, give generously back to God a portion of what He has given you, stay in touch, call me any time, and may God bless you and keep you healthy.


Pastor Don  


We will be offering online church worship during the Covid19 Virus outbreak. You can listen to our sermons online, watch live on Sundays at 10:45am on Facebook, or at your convenience from Facebook or links sent in congregational emails.

Check out our new website at www.stpaulsherwood.org for online worship and other useful resources.


God bless and be well.