The Church Council and I are excited to share the news that Abiding Presence is launching the “Abiding Presence Lutheran Church Fund for Leaders Scholarship” through the ELCA Fund for Leaders in Mission. The ELCA Fund for Leaders scholarship program supports students of tremendous promise attending ELCA seminaries. By making seminary more affordable, the ELCA Fund for Leaders enables more future ministers to go to seminary and helps them graduate with less debt, empowering those whom God calls into ministry to go and serve as the church needs and the Holy Spirit leads.
As we celebrated our 40th anniversary earlier this year, we remembered the many pastors our congregation has lifted up over the years. We have sent six sons and daughters of the congregation to seminary. As an internship congregation, we have also provided training for six seminarians. Looking to the future, I believe we have several future pastors, deacons and church leaders who we are raising up in our midst.
Rev. Mark Olsen, one of the sons of the congregation who Abiding Presence sent off to serve the larger church as a pastor and now the Associate Director for the ELCA Fund for Leaders, will be will us on Sunday, January 27 at the congregational meeting to celebrate the launch of our Fund for Leaders scholarship. For those of you who would like to visit with Pastor Olsen and his wife, Kari, they will be worshiping with us at the 8:45 a.m. service as well.
On a personal note, this week I will celebrate my 13th anniversary of ordination. When I began seminary in 2002, I received a full tuition Fund for Leaders scholarship. The scholarship was not only allowed me to graduate seminary without having to take out loans, but was also a constant reminder of the support of the whole ELCA of my call to ministry. On the hard days of ministry, I still find strength in the support and financial investment the larger church was willing to pour into me. I live out my ministry hoping that the larger church sees a return in their initial investment in me.
As I look ahead to another year of ordained ministry serving Abiding Presence, I am also mindful of who will step into my shoes in the future. The need for innovative, faithful and willing pastors to serve ELCA congregations is great. I wonder how the Holy Spirit might be working in the lives of our young people and even, too, our older people to answer that call. One of my seminary classmates was in his early 70s when he began seminary, so you’re never “too old” for the Holy Spirit to call! I believe that in our next 40 years together that we will send off even more people to seminary to serve the larger church as pastors and deacons and I’m delighted that we are taking the steps now to prepare to be able to fund their theological education for the sake of the whole church.
We’ll be talking much more about the “Abiding Presence Lutheran Church Fund for Leaders Scholarship” at the café sessions this weekend and at the annual meeting next Sunday. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to be in touch if you have any questions about it.
Maybe you've heard of "Shark Week" on the Discovery Channel, but you probably haven't heard of "Labyrinth Week" at Abiding Presence! Join us for our first ever "Labyrinth Week," as we start the new year with an opportunity to embrace an ancient form of prayer. There’s a week’s worth of activities and opportunities to help you be in conversation with God through this form of prayer.
We know that the federal government shutdown is impacting some in our faith family. If you are in need of support or assistance during this time, please reach out to Pastor Keseley. If you know of people in the community who could benefit from food assistance, we are happy to confidentially and discretely provide food bags anytime.
If you have listened to the weather recently, you know there is talk of snow this weekend. At this point, we anticipate holding services as scheduled. If there is a need to cancel Sunday School and the Abiding Table, we will do so by 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning and announce it on our Facebook page, website and with a congregational email. If more snow comes in than predicted and we need to make a decision about worship, we will announce on those same platforms.
We are putting plans in place to keep the parking lots and sidewalks clear for anyone who can safely make it to church if there is snow. If you are willing to be part of the Sunday morning snow shoveling team, please contact Pastor Keseley or simply show up with a snow shovel in hand.
If there is snow, then be sure to check our Facebook page as we will likely “go live” Sunday morning with our worship services so you can tune in from home. If there’s a LOT of snow then we might even go for an “Abiding in the Snow 2.0” video service.
As some of you may have heard, I had some minor post-holiday foot surgery to take care of an old injury that flared up and wouldn’t heal on its own. At this point, I’m well on the way to recovery with the minor inconvenience of not getting around quite as easily as I normally do. I’ll be back to worship this weekend and look forward to seeing all of you.
While I’m always grateful to be part of our amazing faith family, I’m especially grateful in times like these. Having so many offers for help from people who I knew I could call on was invaluable. Thank you!
Here at Abiding Presence, we’re always looking for ways to support each other and the community. We’re excited to be launching a new support group this month for parents and caregivers of children with ADHD that is affiliated with CHADD, a national ADHD organization. The first meeting will be Thursday, January 24 at 7:00 p.m. and is open to people in the church and community. The support group was the idea of one of our members who was looking to connect with other parents of children with ADHD. Abiding Presence was happy to help provide encouragement and resources to make the group a reality.
Our Parents of Teens Group will also resume meeting this month on Wednesday, January 23 at 7:00 p.m. This group is facilitated by a licensed social worker from the community who comes in to provide conversation and guidance for parents raising teenagers. We also host a monthly Metal Health Family Support Group facilitated by a pastoral counselor.
If you have an idea for a way that we can better support one another and you’re willing to help take a lead in making it happen, please reach out to me. The church and I are here to provide encouragement and resources. I’d love to see a relaunch of our meal ministry to provide meals to members of the congregation who may be recovering, grieving or welcoming a new family member. I also know there are plenty of other support groups that might be helpful for us to launch or community groups with which we can connect. There are lots of possibilities, we just need people with a bit of time and passion.
There are lots of reasons people look for a church home. Sometimes it is because of a move, a life event or a transition. It could be that you keep hearing that still, small voice of God in your heart or have a nagging feeling that maybe there's more to life than what you are currently experiencing. Maybe you want to find a community and friends. Perhaps you have a child who you would like to have baptized or are recently engaged and looking for a church in which you can get married. You (or your kids) might have big questions about God and are looking for answers. Whatever your reason, we're glad that you are looking for a church home and we're especially glad you are looking at Abiding Presence!