While Bishop Eaton
was still our synodical bishop she challenged
every congregation in Northeastern Ohio to participate
in a spiritual discernment process she dubbed
“On the Journey Forward.” Even though
Bishop Eaton is now serving as the Presiding Bishop
of the ELCA the Journey Forward continues.
First Church has
a Journey Forward team consisting of Ray Treudler,
Darden Blake, John Brinzo, Kurt Blankenship, Connie
Nielsen, and the pastors. We are part of a cluster
of nine congregations who will meet together regularly
to participate in this process. Our team will
also meet on its own, in between cluster meetings,
to work on a variety of assignments designed to
help us understand our identity and what God has
called us to do and be in the Strongsville community.
The Journey Forward
process involves four general phases. Discovery
is the data gathering phase, designed to give
us an accurate picture of our congregation and
community. Diagnosis is the analysis
phase where we will attempt to interpret the data
and what it reveals about our mission and ministry.
Decision is the planning phase
where we will design a mission plan with measurable
goals. Because we are working within a cluster
we may discover that a partnership with another
congregation in some particular area of ministry
may be beneficial. Do is the
implementation phase, and well … it’s
where we will actually start DOING something.
As this process
continues the congregation will be updated and,
at times, invited into the process to provide
valuable information and insight. In the meantime
the team invites the prayers of the congregation
for clear insight and understanding of God’s
intentions for us.
Faith: (1) complete
trust or confidence in someone or
something; (2) strong belief in God
or in the doctrines of religion, based
on spiritual apprehension rather than
proof. While we would all consider
ourselves to be people of faith, my
guess is that we don’t always
feel that we have complete trust or
confidence, or a strong belief in
God. And in those times of incompleteness
or weakness perhaps we wonder what’s
wrong with us. Or, we look at some
and wish we had “their faith.”
Maybe we ask ourselves, “Why
can’t my faith be strong and
confident all the time?”
The truth is –
at least based on my own personal
experience – faith has an ebb
and flow to it. Sometimes our faith
is unshakable, other times it wavers.
Other factors come into play like
the condition of our health, the death
of a loved one, what’s happening
in the world, the state of our most
valued relationships, or even last
I recently heard
a pastor talk about her faith life,
and how she often feels that her faith
is inadequate. But then she spoke
about the importance of the body of
Christ or the church community. She
said she tries to remember that each
member of her church is at a particular
place in his or her own faith journey.
Nobody’s faith is complete.
But when the community comes together
faith becomes collective. That is,
each one’s faith – no
matter how strong or how weak at that
particular moment – is knitted
together and becomes a resource for
each person to draw upon.
That was a new concept
for me. I had never thought about
faith in that context before, and
I found it to be very helpful. I find
it comforting to know that my faith
does not have to be all things for
all people, and that when my faith
wavers I can draw on the strength
of others. Think about that the next
time you are in church. Know that
your faith, no matter its condition,
is enough because you are surrounded
and supported by the collective faith
of your brothers and sisters in Christ.
you have a prayer request?
Please use the bulletin
board over the water fountain to make your prayer
concerns known, or Click
Here to submit one for inclusion
during our next service.
Your Talents with
do I get involved?
on the “Share Your Spiritual Gifts
Volunteer Form” link below if you
know the gifts you have been given, and
let us know how you would like to share
them with First Church this coming 2013-2014
on the “Discover Your Spiritual
Gifts” link below. The survey is
simply a list of questions that help identify
what gifts, skills and interests you have
been given. Once you submit the completed
survey, we will score it and email you
with the results. We will also include
a few suggestions regarding volunteer
opportunities that are a good fit for
your gifts. If you would like to share
your gifts, please take the “Share
Your Spiritual Gifts” survey and
we will get you connected!
regarding the surveys, or opportunities
to share your gifts with First Church,
can be directed to Connie at (440)238-7890
or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
News, Photos, etc..
- Important Dates - Stuff.....
“For we are what he has made us, created in
Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared
beforehand to be our way of life.” Ephesians
Thanksgiving and Christmas Food Baskets
A heartfelt THANK YOU to the many congregation members
that donated an abundance of nonperishable food
items, monetary gifts, and their time during the
busy holiday season to maintain the long-standing
tradition at First Lutheran Church of helping those
Over 50 volunteers, of all ages, helped pack over
44 food baskets that provided a holiday meal to
over 165 people through the Southwest Hospital’s
Neighborhood Care Center and Gatekeeper programs,
the county’s FrontLine Service programs, and
within our congregation. A special thank-you goes
out Don Nielsen and the Curtiss Wright Company,
who donated a generous amount of extra turkeys and
other food basket items; and to all members of the
congregation who donated turkeys. As it turned out,
there were plenty of turkeys for all of the Thanksgiving
and Christmas food baskets. Finally, a very special
thank you goes out to the Confirmation youth, under
the direction of their mentors, in a huge food collection
effort from area neighborhoods and the youth group
which provided delectable baked goods and thoughtful
homemade cards for the Thanksgiving and Christmas
Christmas Sharing Tree
104 gifts for children in families that would not
be able to afford Christmas presents were purchased
for the Children's Sharing Tree. A special thank
you goes out to Connie Nielsen for her leadership
role and all her elves who helped make that program
Many thanks to those that donated blood at the First
Lutheran Blood Drive. 25 units that were collected
gave hope to those urgently needing blood. Each
pint of donated blood can help save up to 3 lives!
Look for the blood mobile to return to First Lutheran
the first weekend of November in 2014.
click on a link below to view the current
newsletters published by First Lutheran Church.
community Food Bank is running low on food.
Donations may be dropped off in the shopping carts
located near the doors. Items needed most: canned
soup, canned tuna, canned vegetables, peanut butter,
SCS offerings thru the
end of the program year will go to Providence House,
one of the oldest child care organizations in the
country to house newborns to children age 10 for
an extended period of time. They are voluntarily
placed there when there is fear of abuse or neglect
within the family. The family also receives needed
help and support to change the home environment.
Watch for more details on this service project.
Prayer & Care Group prepares and sends
cards to those of us, young and old alike, who are
lonely, suffering from illness or injury, or those
with on-going issues. Join us the first Friday of
every month at 10 AM. Questions? Contact Sue Ludwig
(440.238.5164 or email@example.com).
Lutheran Busy Bags contain quiet items,
crayons, and books for children to use during the
service. They can be found under the table at the
back of the church. Just ask an usher if you would
like one of these bags for your little one.
FrontLine Service, formerly
MHS, has several families who were recently
homeless and are now in need of beds and living
room furniture. They also need TV’s and a
microwave. If you have donations, please call Tammy
Street Ministry continues to collect
men’s socks for the homeless. Please place your
donation in the marked box by the Fellowship Hall
entrance. Questions? Contact Steve Gall (440.238.3019).
the Red, White, and Blue Team!
new Mission Ministry is being kicked
off to help military families within
our congregation and community that
have a parent or loved one currently
deployed overseas. We are looking for
volunteers to provide meals, home handyman,
and babysitting services for military
families that could use a little extra
help and support.
fulfill your patriotic duty while doing
the work our Lord has called us to do!
ELCA Malaria Campaign intends to contain
malaria on the African continent by 2015.
To help, make a donation using the special envelope
in the pews. Make checks payable to First Lutheran
Church, and place envelopes in the offering
plate. Our goal is to raise $5,100.
you have a prayer request? Please use the bulletin
board over the water fountain to make your prayer
get rid of your old cell phone? Recycle
the old one! Please drop off old cell phones
and used ink cartridges – boxes located
on the table under the youth bulletin board
by the Fellowship Hall entrance. Questions?
Contact Debbie Brighter (440.572.2627).
by the Welcome Center, in the
lobby, for additional information on our activities
your altar flowers to local nursing
homes or our own church shut-ins. Please contact
the church office if you are interested in donating
for a Reason - If you know any woman
currently undergoing Chemo, please pass the
word to her that there is a cleaning service
that provides FREE housecleaning – 1 time
per month for 4 months while she is in treatment.
All she has to do is sign up and have her doctor
fax a note confirming the treatment. Cleaning
for a Reason will have a participating maid
service in her zip code area arrange for the
Emergency Food Bank - The Food Bank
is open to Strongsville residents year-round:
Monday thru Friday, 9:30 – 11:30 AM and
including the 2nd Saturday of every month. Call
440/846-0197 for more information. Nonperishable
food items can be placed in the shopping carts
by the side and Fellowship Hall entrances. This
is taken to the Strongsville Food Bank.
Both pastors offer open office hours
for anyone who wants to stop by to share &
concerns. It is helpful to call in advance for
an appointment. Drop-in visitors are received
on a first come, first served basis. Pastor Chuck’s hours are 10
- noon on Tuesday.
Pastor Kathy’s hours are 10 – noon
parties, or just everyday living ... if you
shop at GFS - don’t
forget to mention First Lutheran when checking
out and help First earn credit to supply future
CWWV clients need
women’s size 16 jeans or pants and XL
solid color tops. Also, men’s size large
and size 18 boy’s shorts for a 15-yr-old.
Please place donations in the church office.
Questions? Please call Tammy Widdows (216.548.2761).
The PATH Program
(serving those living under bridges and in the
woods) needs canned food to hand out to people
they find. Please put your donations in the
shopping carts. Questions? Please contact Tammy
WOW will continue
to collect women’s full-size personal
hygiene items and diapers for Laura’s
Home. Donations may be placed in the container
on the Welcome Center.
Church has a program to provide CD recordings,
currently of the lesson readings, Gospel
reading, and sermon, for members who are
unable to attend regular services.
shut-in will be provided with a CD player,
on loan from the church, with which to listen
to the service recording mailed or delivered
to them each week. Plans are to expand the
recording capability to the entire service
in the future.
you know of any or our members, or nonmembers,
who may be interested in participating in
this program, please contact the church
office or click
now have a special page on this Web site
devoted to the prior sermons from each week
here to view the sermons you
following are church events and fellowship opportunities
at First Church. A complete listing of all of the
Church Events can be downloaded by clicking on the
"Weekly Revelations" located in the box
to the left.
First Lutheran Members,
want to keep you updated about the future of the
music program at First Church.
I can tell you that we have secured coverage for
our Sunday services and midweek Lenten services.
Nicole Barrick, who was with us during Lent last
year, has once again agreed to lead our worship
on the piano. While we may prefer to be led in song
and liturgy by the organ it has been very challenging
to find someone who would commit to an unpredictable
time frame. Nikki is both an excellent and reliable
musician. We are blessed that she is able to help
us again on such short notice, and that she has
committed to be with us through April 27.
search for a new music director will begin shortly.
The Congregation Council will conduct a review of
the job description and a search team will be formed.
In the meantime I invite your prayers and support
for the leadership of the congregation. I'm sure
there is some frustration with our current situation,
but I ask that you remain committed and confident
that we will once again have an exciting, dynamic
music ministry under new leadership. Please continue
to worship regularly and trust that God is in control.
are beginning the process of searching for a new
Director of Music Ministries and will keep the congregation
updated as we move forward.
VerKuilen, submitted his letter of resignation on
Thursday, February 20, 2014 and has informed us
that he has accepted another position at a church
in Little Rock, Arkansas.
last day will be on March 9 and we wish him well
in his new position.
offering envelopes are in the lobby!
and donuts are available in the Fellowship Hall
on Sunday mornings. This is a service
project of our Confirmation students and their
families. The donuts are purchased at a cost of
$.50 per donut.
All other items are donated. Please help us cover
the cost of the donuts.
“Forgiveness: Finding Peace through Letting
Go” is the topic of a new adult
class in the Fellowship Hall. All are welcome.
your Lenten journey with worship on Ash Wednesday,
March 5, 7:30 PM. Imposition of Ashes and Holy Communion
will be offered.
Need a Ride?
As our Lenten season begins March
5 with an Ash Wednesday service at 7:30 PM
our evenings are still shrouded in winter’s
darkness. In the event you do not drive after dusk,
the Celebration Team is offering to arrange the
round-trip ride for you! Transportation is also
extended to our five-week Tuesday evening suppers
(6-7 PM), the Holden Evening Prayer services (7:15
PM), Maundy Thursday and Good Friday (both at 7:30
PM). If this sounds inviting to you, or if you have
a question, please contact Linda Walker
at 330.225.9340 (sooner than later) so that a volunteer
driver schedule can be arranged. Also,
anyone who would like to be a volunteer driver,
please call me.
Drop-in Night – Thursday,
March 6, 6:30 – 8 PM.
Prayer & Care Group will meet
Friday, March 7, 10 AM.
Strongsville Food Bank will be open Saturday,
March 8, 9:30 – 11:30 AM. Proof of
Strongsville residency and photo ID are required.
(K-5th gr) – Lutheran World Relief Service
Project – Sunday, March 9 – 12:30 –
Group will meet Tuesday, March 11 at 12:15 PM.
Join us for fun and fellowship. Bring a brown bag
lunch. Dessert and beverage will be served by Bonnie
Newling (440.465.6125) and Yvonne Buehner (440.846.8055
Come check us out!
services begin Tuesday, March 11 at 7:15
PM. Holden Evening Prayer will be used
and our theme is “Beyond Question.”
A light supper will be served each week beginning
at 6 PM.
(6-8th gr) – Ice Skating – Sunday, March
16 – 12:30 – 2:30 PM – Ice Land
USA (Strongsville). Cost: $14
We are seeking one male
delegate for the Synod AssemblyMay
15-17. If you would like to help elect our
next bishop, please contact Pastor Chuck.
Quinton Wiggins – Join us on Sunday, March
16 at 6 PM to hear the inspirational story
of how Quinton Wiggins, a senior in high school,
experienced and overcame homelessness. For additional
information, contact Andrea Mueller (440.465.4528).
Lunch & Games – Sunday, March
30 – 12:30 PM at Dave & Buster’s.
Service Project: All women are invited
to a Baby Shower to benefit Providence House on
Sunday, March 30, 12:30 PM. Join
us for a luncheon followed by a presentation where
we will learn about the various programs and services
offered at Providence House. Wish List and sign-up
sheet are at the Welcome Center!
All women of First Lutheran are
invited to come together on Wednesday evenings
in April (startingApril 9 at 6
PM) for a new Bible study. Our first session
is titled “A Gardner, Two Travelers and a
Cheat.” Come learn about the lives of Biblical
characters as you travel your own faith journey.
Sign up at the Welcome Center or with Jeanine Kowalewski
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