Archive for category: News & Announcements

A Day in Dahlonega – Celebrating the Reformation!

Categories: News & Announcements

When:    October 24, 2017

At St. Peter Lutheran Church,
        109 Tipton Drive, Dahlonega, Georgia 30533

9:30 A.M.  Gather for Coffee, Juice, Donuts, Bagels, and Fruit

10:00 A.M.   Welcome and Opening Worship

10:20 A.M.

Presentation:   “Sola Agape Dei: The Way to Reimagine the Reformation 500 Years After”
Dr. Albert Garcia, Professor Emeritus of Theology at Concordia University Wisconsin

11:20 A.M.

Adjourn to the Auditorium at the Hoag Student Center at the University of North Georgia, Dahlonega

At the Hoag Student Center,
University of North Georgia, Dahlonega 30597

12:00 – 1:00 P.M.

Presentation:    “Martin Luther: Controversial Reformer and the Reformation after 500 Years” – Dr. Scott Hendrix, Professor Emeritus of Reformation History, Princeton Theological Seminary

1:30 – 3:30 P.M.

Luncheon for Religious Leaders with the opportunity to dialog with Dr. Hendrix, Banquet Room at the UNG Food Service

TBD:

Display of Reformation posters from the German nation

 

Background on our presenters:

Dr. Albert L. Garcia, a native of Cuba, immigrated to the United States in his youth, who became a Lutheran in his teens. Educated at Concordia Theological Seminary, he earned Th. M. and Ph.D. degrees from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He is Professor Emeritus of Theology at Concordia University Wisconsin, where he taught for 21 years. The translator of Luther’s Latin commentary on the Minor Prophets into Spanish, he has also written numerous books and articles, his most recent being Wittenberg Meets the World: Reimagining the Reformation at the Margins, which he co-authored with John Nunes. He lives in retirement in Decatur, Georgia with his wife, Mori.

Dr. Scott H. Hendrix is Professor Emeritus of Reformation History at Princeton Theological Seminary. Prior to that,  he taught at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, and the Lutheran Theological Seminaries in Philadelphia and Gettysburg, PA. The author of many articles and books on the Reformation, his most recent is the widely acclaimed biography: Martin Luther: Visionary Reformer. Together with Guenther Gassmann, he wrote the Fortress Introduction to the Lutheran Confessions. A graduate of Duke University; he earned his M.Div. from  Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Columbia, SC; and his Th.D. from Eberhard Karls University, Tuebingen, Germany. The recipient of significant grants and awards, he now lives in retirement in North Carolina with his wife, Emilee.

Laboring for Jesus!

Categories: News & Announcements, President's E-news

Dear Friends,

In just a few days we will celebrate Labor Day. This was a day originally set aside to recognize and celebrate workers who built this nation. Tracing its origin to the labor movement in the late 19th century, in 1894 Labor Day became a federal holiday. Today it is primarily associated with the end of summer and lots of sales! The Bible has much to say about labor and laborers, beginning in Genesis after the fall, when God made it clear that man would be required to work the soil to get his food (Genesis 3:17-19).

Later God would make clear that despite our labor, we are to set aside a day for Sabbath. In Exodus 5:13-14 we read, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.”  The nation of Israel labored to restore the walls of Jerusalem when they returned from the exile.  The Psalmist also wrote about the fruits of your labors.

Even Jesus spoke about labor, but He put it in context of service. In Luke 10:2 He said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” We are the laborers for which Jesus encouraged His disciples to pray. Isn’t it fascinating that all these years after Jesus spoke this to His disciples the words still ring true two thousand years later. The harvest is still plentiful and we are the laborers chosen in this generation to work the fields for the sake of Jesus. And the field is huge and continues to grow!

The Florida-Georgia District is almost 110,000 square miles, providing a home to over 30 million people. Our population continues to increase while many of our congregations experience a decrease. Jesus continues to bring people to our shores and to our doors, but somehow reaching them with His love has proved to be a difficult challenge for us. The fields are white unto harvest, yet fewer seem to be willing to answer the call from Jesus.

As I’ve considered these facts I have thought about reasons why it might be so. Perhaps people lack training? Perhaps they lack time? May it never be that they lack the inclination or desire to engage in the Master’s business to connect people to Jesus! To push this off on another, as if it is the responsibility of someone else, is to ignore the call of Jesus, who has called you and me and promised to give us all we need to carry out the task He calls us to. More than that, He walks beside us every step of the way to empower our witness for Him.

A few weeks ago I was preparing a sermon on Peter’s confession of faith in Matthew. That section of Matthew 16 ends with this line: “Then He strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that He was the Christ.” I joked with the congregation that this seems to be the only part of the story that we, as followers, consistently carry out! Imagine if everyone who proclaimed Jesus as their Lord and Savior actually lived out and shared their faith with others. It could change the world as people are connected to Jesus!

This is where our labor really isn’t hard work. Years ago our Synod had an evangelistic push, “Each one reach one!” How the world would be different if we did! Telling people about the One who has transformed your life is a privilege! We get to tell people about how we have a God who provides; a God who heals; a God who forgives sins; a God who loves and cares with a deep compassion; and a God who claims us and will never forsake us. More than that, imagine the joy of adding brothers and sisters to our family as God uses us to rescue those lost in the darkness of sin.

Certainly making time to share our faith in Jesus isn’t always an easy task. It takes a level of commitment that is often reserved for other self-interests. It takes courage and vision, having our eyes open to the opportunities all around us, not to mention inspiration by the Holy Spirit. It also takes coaching and encouragement. Someone has said that the purpose of the church is to bring people in, build them up, and send them out into the world to proclaim Jesus. Looking to the future, we will be providing more intentional training opportunities to equip people for ministry. In fact, there are some great resources online through Lutheran Hour Ministries right now that you can learn from in your own home! The Florida-Georgia District will continually emphasize the need to engage in the Master’s business to connect people to Jesus. This is our calling! Another way of stating this is we have a great opportunity and privilege to multiply ministry and reach more people for Jesus while there is still time. Don’t wait for an invitation; as the old Nike commercial used to say, “Just Do It!” One of our former Synod Presidents used to remark that time is short and hell is hot, so we need to be out there reaching the lost and pointing them to Jesus!

In the midst of this, Jesus promises to be beside us all the way. In fact, Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mt 11:28–12:1). Jesus invites us to come and rest in Him so that we can be strengthened and renewed for service. His yoke really is easy, and His burden is light. He will equip us and empower us to go in His name to connect people to Jesus!

We don’t go it alone—ever! Jesus says He will never leave us nor forsake us. He always walks beside us as He empowers us to tell others about Him. We may not always see the result that we anticipate or want, but Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brothers [and sisters], be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” I’ve often said that God is less interested in our ability and more interested in our availability.

As we live in a mission opportunity world, my heart’s desire is to see leaders trained in the Florida-Georgia District among our pastors, all professional church workers and laity to reach more people for Jesus while there’s still time. Could there be a more glorious labor for us to be involved with? As you celebrate Labor Day, remember Jesus’ call to be in His harvest field, engaged in the Master’s business, connecting people to Jesus!

Happy autumn!
Peace in Jesus,
Greg

Hurricane Harvey Hits Texas

Categories: News & Announcements

We have fielded several inquiries here in the District office today regarding Hurricane Harvey and the District’s plans to respond.  We are in touch with the Texas District , and even though the situation is still unfolding, it is clear that the need will be great.  But as it is with flooding, it will take quite some time for the extent of the damage and a plan to deal with it to unfold.

The Florida-Georgia District has pledged to work with the Texas District to help in any way that we can.  Most of the need will be financial, but there will most likely be opportunities for congregations to put together their LERT teams for an extended trip to Texas to help.

We ask that you keep an eye on our Facebook page and Web pages for future announcements.  In the meantime, if you or your congregation would like to donate directly to the Texas District, you can do so here. ->  http://txlcms.org/congregations/disaster-relief/

Alternatively, you can also donate to Synod’s Disaster response here. ->  https://www.lcms.org/disaster-response

If you have further questions, please direct them to the District Disaster Response Coordinator, John Elliott at 407-258-5054 or jelliott@flgadistrict.org

John Elliott
Business Manager, DDRC
The Florida-Georgia District, LCMS
5850 T. G. Lee Blvd, Suite 500
Orlando, FL  32822

Direct: 407-258-5054

Fax: 407-857-5665

Email:  jelliott@flgadistrict.org

God’s Grace at Work in Us

Categories: News & Announcements, President's E-news

Dear Friends,

Grace came with joy and excitement to her new community. She was happy to meet new people, and excited for the opportunity to grow in her faith. She had come from a congregation that embraced her with love, had nurtured her faith, and taught her about Jesus. Grace didn’t know that every church wasn’t like the one she grew up in. But now out of college and entering the workforce for the first time on her own, Grace came to the big city. She didn’t know anyone, but with the help of her new coworkers she found a place to live, and she was thrilled that it was only about a mile to the church her pastor had recommended. It was called Ebenezer Church. Once she moved into her apartment, she called the pastor at Ebenezer to schedule an appointment to learn more about the ministry there.

Pastor Smalls agreed to meet her the next day and she came to the appointment eager to get involved the way she had been at home. She knew that one of the best ways to settle into a new community was to jump in and serve. Pastor Smalls began their meeting with a cheerful smile, and a welcome. He showed her around the church, told her about service times, and shared with her some of the ministries that the congregation currently offered. Grace listened intently, wondering how she could plug in, but it seemed to Grace that most of the ministries were designed to serve only the people of Ebenezer Church. So she asked Pastor Smalls, “What are the ministries that reach into the larger community to share Jesus with those who don’t know Him?” Pastor Smalls responded with a quizzical look on his face as if to suggest he didn’t comprehend her question. He explained that Ebenezer had grown quite small, and there was not enough interest or volunteers to do more than what they were doing. Pastor Smalls gave her some literature and offered to pray with her, and Grace understood that their meeting was over.

Grace was unsure about worshipping at Ebenezer, but she decided to go that Sunday. She arrived early, and found a greeter at the door who shook her hand and said welcome to worship. She tried to strike up a conversation but got little to no response. She milled around the narthex hoping to be noticed and welcomed by others. Nobody approached her. She found a seat in the sanctuary on the front left side about two rows back, and it seemed that there were plenty of seats available. About five minutes later she was asked to move because “that’s where we usually sit.” Grace moved to another pew. As the service began it was familiar, but she found that there was little energy and enthusiasm in the participation. As she looked around the sparse attendance she understood what Pastor Smalls had said about the congregation. Pastor Smalls preached a very good sermon, but Grace noticed that some people kept looking at their watch and yawning. Sunday at Ebenezer was uninspiring.

Grace left Ebenezer a little discouraged and disillusioned. She thought that all churches had joy-filled worship with people who liked to be with one another. She thought that all churches understood the call of Jesus to “Go and make disciples of every nation,” and that worship was to build believers up to go out into the world to connect people to Jesus. One of the very first Bible verses she memorized came from John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” The pastor she grew up with had taught the congregation that Jesus was pointing them to go into the world. This same Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Mt 9:37–38). Grace was certain that Jesus meant the world needed to be harvested, and that the Church was to be sent out as the laborers to reach those who didn’t know the truth of salvation in Jesus. Yet it seemed that Ebenezer was focused on caring only for itself. She went home that day confused and disheartened. She knew that the only way that a church like Ebenezer would grow is if it reached beyond itself to share the good news to the people in the surrounding community. She struggled with whether to return to Ebenezer or to find another church to attend.

Grace’s story, while fictional, is actually a compilation of stories I’ve heard and even experienced in my own life. The reason people worship at a church is as varied as the people themselves. We do a great disservice to our Lord when we allow the church to become self-serving. When we evaluate our ministry and find that most of what we do serves only our needs, we are off track. Jesus has sent us into the world, and the ministry of the church is to encourage believers to live out their faith in ways that show the love and grace of Jesus to the world around us. Church isn’t about “putting in our time for God,” but rather about being built up and prepared to live out our faith wherever God places us. It’s not about impressing God–as if we could. Through Jesus He’s redeemed us, called us His own, and wants to work through us to reach into the world and show people His grace, His forgiveness and His love. He does that through you and me!

So let me ask you. How do you make the visitor feel when they enter your church campus? What is the impression that people who are not members of your congregation have when the leave? Every church sees itself as a friendly church because often members are friendly with each other. When a stranger appears, how are they received? Often we feel like someone else will be responsible to greet them, when God may just be calling on you. In Hebrews 13:2 we read, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Our motivation isn’t to score points with Jesus. Instead, consider the privilege we have of welcoming others in His name. When people visit the church it is a responsibility of every member to welcome them in the name of Jesus. Making people feel welcomed and special is a reminder of grace, neither earned nor deserved, but freely given!

August is a time when people seem to get back into the routines of life. Schools are starting up again and often people seek to establish new patterns of life. That may include attending church. Are you ready to receive those who might come? Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” Do it for Grace, do it from grace, but do it all for Jesus!

In His peace,

Greg

What is the New Song in Your Heart?

Categories: News & Announcements

A recent devotion included the following thought: “And like the Psalmist writes, “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.” (Ps 40:3)  We have much to be thankful for in Jesus Christ.  What new song is on your lips today?”

Rev Dr. David Sieg took that literally and sent a new song for us to sing and listen to.  It is called “Often As You Do This” and the words have been posted on our website, along with a .mp3 audio file for your listening enjoyment.  He wrote:

You asked yesterday about a new song.  How about this one?  Along with the written version, I’m sending a mp3 file.  I asked the keyboardist to play just enough for two verses, and improvise it as a piano solo.  (His improvisation is not written anywhere.)  Please let me know what you think of it.  Love in Christ, David

Have a blessed and powerful day!      Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.     ~Ephesians 3:20,21

Click here to listen to the song

Click here to see the music

 

Lutheran Life 2017 v 4

Categories: Lutheran LIFE, News & Announcements

The latest issue of Lutheran Life is in the mail to subscribers and is also available online.

This issues features the following:

  • LIFELINES:  Message from the President
  • President Greg Walton Celebrates Ministry Milestone
  • Candidates, Vicars Assigned to FLGA District
  • Time for Another Reformation:  Re-Forming Living Stones
  • 2017 District Annual Report
  • Congregational Support Enables Florida-Georgia Mission & Ministry
  • LWML Celebrates 75 Years of Mission, Outreach, Service
  • Courage for Today
  • “Flip a Coin?  Roll the Dice?  Cast Lots?”  How to Pick Leaders
  • Consecrated Stewards Instructors Ready to Assist District Congregations
  • Understanding the Dynamics of Stewardship
  • Responding to God’s Abundant Blessings
  • Martin Luther Explains the Significance of His “Luther’s Rose” Logo
  • District Capsules
  • Regional news
  • and much more

Watch for it in your mailbox, or read it online by using the link below:

Life 2017 vol 4

Doug Kallesen’s Outreach Blog

Categories: News & Announcements

Please take a look at Rev. Doug Kallesen’s latest blog!Outreach Blog - Wait on the Lord

A Time to Celebrate

Categories: News & Announcements, President's E-news

Dear Friends,

The Psalmist wrote, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom He has chosen as His heritage!” Ps. 33:12. What a blessing to know that despite our sinfulness, despite our weaknesses, our gracious God has still chosen us in Jesus, and claimed us as His very own. It isn’t by random chance or mistake that the God who chose us places us where we are. He has a plan. He always has a plan, for your life, for my life, for all of those He has redeemed through the blood of Jesus. He has placed us in this great Nation, and in this 241st year of existence, we celebrate the freedoms we have as citizens of this country. Of course our true freedom comes through Jesus, and what a grand opportunity to celebrate again and again the 500th Reformation Anniversary celebration of the freedom of the Gospel! Still, it’s a great time to celebrate this Nation!

Irving Berlin is noted among 20th Century America’s most beloved lyricists and composers. In fact, George Gershwin once called him “the greatest songwriter that has ever lived.” While some may argue that point, Berlin, in his time, produced many familiar and popular tunes during the Second World War, that brought comfort and hope to our Nation. Many of his tunes were used in some of the great Broadway shows of that time, and they have an enduring quality even today. One of my favorite songs that Berlin wrote he penned on a hot July in 1940 in California. No one could have predicted just how popular the song, “White Christmas” would be, but even now at Christmas it still has a strong sentimental place in many hearts.

Long before his success with “White Christmas,” in about 1918, Berlin wrote another tune that captured our Nation. The song is “God Bless America,” and he wrote it while serving in the Army during World War I. Later, during World War II, he revised the words to the song that most of us have heard again and again. “God bless America, land that I love; Stand beside her and guide her, through the night with the light from above.” Here is what I find so fascinating. Berlin was born Israel Isidore Baline in Tolochin, Russia. With the persecution of Jewish people, his family fled to the United States when he was still a baby, but he heard the stories, and he was grateful to be in a country that not only received his family, but gave him unparalleled opportunities. Berlin held a deep appreciation for his adopted country, and he was considered by many to be a patriotic supporter. He celebrated this nation!

Last month I was summoned for Jury Duty, and almost got on a case. As we gathered in the Jury Room at the beginning of the day, we were sworn in, and then we stood together, well over a hundred of us, and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. I must admit that it’s been some time since I’ve had occasion to do that, and my immediate thought was, “Do I remember the words?” Honestly, as we began speaking it, like riding a bike (which I also haven’t done for a while…) the words just came. Amidst all of the issues we face as a nation, it almost seems as if we have forgotten being “one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

How easy it can be to take our liberties for granted. While there are certainly things that perhaps each of us would wish to change, we live in a marvelous place filled with ample opportunities and experiences that many others in our world simply don’t ever get. God has blessed us in so many ways, and while there is work to be done, God has placed each of us here for such a time as this, as witnesses of the love and grace of Jesus Christ. What a joy to celebrate our faith in this nation!

In Acts 3:17-21, Peter says, “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.”

God’s calling on our lives is to proclaim the saving name of Jesus to the nations, beginning in our own neighborhood. He washed us clean in the waters of Holy Baptism, He has given us the gift of His Word, and we have the right, privilege and freedom to worship Him, all so we can grow in our faith. God is purposeful in all He does. His desire is that all are saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. He equips, empowers and engages us as His missionaries in the conditions He has placed us so we can tell others of His love and grace. So, let me ask you, do your neighbors see Jesus living in you? Often, because of ignorance or sometimes even willful disobedience, we have not allowed the light of Jesus to shine through us.

If that’s true for you, and I admit there are times it’s true for me, we aren’t alone! Consider the Apostle Peter. We often remember him as the leader of the Apostles, but the truth is, he wasn’t always a particularly good witness throughout his sojourn with Jesus, sometimes putting his foot in his mouth. He knew how to talk the talk, but he learned that walking the walk takes time and is a learning experience. Right before the crucifixion of Jesus Peter pledged his undying loyalty to Jesus, and then quickly denied him when the pressure was on. Following the resurrection Peter hid with the rest of the disciples, and they slowly went back to their former life of fishing. Yet, God’s call was on Peter’s life. That wasn’t the end of the story. One morning, following the resurrection, as the disciples were fishing, Jesus called to them from the shore. You no doubt remember the story. From John 21 we read, “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

Jesus restored Peter and refocused him as a servant. It wasn’t until the power of God’s Spirit came on Peter that he really began to catch on, and even then, from time to time, he made blunders. Even then, he knew who to turn to for forgiveness. Here’s the point. Peter is an example for each of us of the true power of restoration.

We, too, can know the relief from sins forgiven and God’s refreshing restoration. Jesus sets us free to engage in the Master’s business. He desires to renew us and refresh us so that we are better equipped and empowered and engaged to connect people to Jesus. In Him we have been given such an awesome gift to share with the world. So take time to celebrate your freedom, as a child of God redeemed in Jesus, and as a citizen of this nation. May God bless America, and may He draw us back to the principles upon which this nation was founded and make us bold witnesses of our faith in Jesus. Keeping our eyes on Jesus, we can do this for His sake.  As the writer to the Proverbs says, “It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:8.

Celebrating our nation and our Savior with you,

Greg

Flood Bucket Challenge

Categories: News & Announcements

In cooperation with The LCMS Disaster Response program of Synod, The Florida-Georgia District invites your Congregation to join the joint effort to create one thousand (1,000) or more prepared Flood Buckets to assist LCMS Disaster Response mercy efforts to those affected by flooding.  There is no set limit to the number of Flood Buckets your Congregation prepares.  The District is asking that each participating Congregation try to put together at least ten (10) Flood Buckets.

Please click here for complete information

Lutheran Life 2017 v 3

Categories: Lutheran LIFE, News & Announcements

The latest issue of Lutheran Life is in the mail to subscribers and is also available online.

This issues features the following:

  • LIFELINES:  Message from the President
  • Candidates, Vicars Assigned to FLGA District
  • Innovative Program Equips Church Leaders
  • Living Stones…Being Part of the Lord’s Army
  • District Students Complete LYF Leadership Training
  • District Campus Ministry Helps Develop Future Church Leaders
  • Registration Opens for President’s Equip Conference
  • Just A Volunteer
  • Connecting with the Persecuted Church
  • The Coaching Leader
  • LCEF Investment Option for All
  • District Educator Team Travels to Haiti
  • Life Size Mural Celebrates Reformation’s 500th Anniversary
  • District Capsules
  • Regional news
  • and much more

Watch for it in your mailbox, or read it online by using the link below:

Life 2017 vol 3