Friday, August 27, 2010

homeward bound

Vacations are great and mine was very relaxing and enjoyable. Will be home soon and back to work Monday. I was honored and privileged to have been asked to perform the wedding of a former member. She is a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Utica, Michigan. When she was a teenager she came to me for spiritual advice. Sometimes you never know how the Holy Spirit uses you to touch a person or guide and direct him or her to walk with Jesus and change his or her life. Apparenty what I told her changed her life for the better and she wanted me to share the Word with her at her wedding.

Julie and I turned the treke to Michigan into a much needed vacation. We also went to Lansing, Frankenmuth, Pigeon, as well as to our son's delightful Bed and Breakfast in Millersburg, Ohio.

Have you ever learned that the Holy Spirit used your words helped change a person's life for the better? If so, let me know about it.


Pastor George

Monday, July 19, 2010

New Orleans Day 4

Greetings from New Orleans – Blog #4

The Youth Leaders meet every morning at 7:15 am to discuss ideas, share concerns, review the day’s events, and handle any questions that might arise. This is followed by the daily challenge of waking up our Youth so we don’t show up late for the day’s first event. Like most teens, anything before 10 am is early rising.

Most groups have a couple of different colored t-shirts with the logo of the Gathering printed on them which they wear on different days. Our own Youth have three different colored shirts to wear. Sunday it was grey, Monday’s the color was teal blue, and tomorrow’s will be bright green. Most groups do the same, some don’t. I will say, from the perspective of an “old” pastor, husband, and father, modesty in terms of girls’ tops appears to have disappeared down here. However, we can be proud of our Youth and chaperones because their clothes do reflect the modesty of Sarah that St. Peter praises highly in his first epistle.

The morning group Bible study was very good. It is led by the campus pastor at the University of Michigan. (I would have written “U of M” but most of you from Glen Burnie would have thought I meant “University of Maryland” and our principal would have thought about the “University of Missouri!” WRONG!) The study focused on John 9, the healing of the blind man. Over 3000 were in the study together. The presenter did a great job!

One of the interesting side blessings of the trip has been watching our Youth when it comes to dining out. Well, the nutrition is not exactly on their top priority in ordering meals! (I wonder if they ever learned in school what a vegetable is or the value of having fruit everyday?) But what is even more fascinating is listening to them decide on what to tip the waiters or waitresses. Either they only eat out at McDonalds and Pizza Hut, or they have never in their lives seen mom or dad lay down a tip after a meal. What is the suggested tip on an $18.00 meal these days? “Is one dollar enough??? Ha! Ha!

After the Bible Study our Youth and chaperones attended a session called “Look Off Site.” These sessions are designed to teach the youth something about New Orleans culture. We walked about ¾ of a mile to a large warehouse which is the home of Mardi Gras World. Here we learned about the history of the Mardi Gras, the relationship to the Mardi Gras and Christianity (Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday,” which is the day before Ash Wednesday!), and how the Mardi Gras floats are made. We also saw the many floats that are stored and reused year after year in one of the many annual Mardi Gras parades. (Trivia question: when does Mardi Gras begin? January 6, Epiphany.)

We walked back to the convention center for our next sessions. The Youth can select various workshops or Christian concerts to attend. These last between on1-1 ½ hours. They are repeated every two hours so if one time slot is filled, a person could come back and attend a second offering. At the same time the youth are in their sessions, there are sessions for the adult leaders, too.

When the afternoon sessions ended we walked about a mile to a restaurant where we were joined by other youth groups from our Southeastern District. In addition to a delicious banquet of New Orleans cuisine, a local entertainer taught us how to do four different “line dances.” Only Leslie Jaseph, Sean Jones, Jeff Sullivan, and I were brave enough to venture out on the dance floor. My pride could be embarrassed for only so long before I sat down. Only Sean must have dancing legs because he stay out there the whole time.

After dinner we walked about ¾ mile to the Super Dome for our second Mass Event. It was most exciting. Again a Christian band played and a praise team led us in singing contemporary songs. Two comedians got us all laughing to their antics and Christian humor. A magician portrayed Jesus calming the storm and did some mind boggling tricks. Another comedian portrayed a nightly news broadcaster and there was the second installment of a Christian soap opera. The highlight of the night was a mother sharing her faith and moments of doubt when her eighteen year old daughter was killed in an auto accident. You could hear a pin drop in the Dome as she shared with 27,000 youth how God’s love and faithfulness pulled her though the most awful and tragic night in her life.

I think I now understand why they have us walk so much and so long to the different event sites. When we walked back to the hotel from the Dome, we reminded our Youth that they have a midnight curfew. I think just about everyone chose to go to bed instead: tired from walking all day!

Keep us in your prayers as you are in ours!

Pastor George

Saturday, July 17, 2010

National Youth Gathering, Day 3

Hello from the National Youth Gathering, Day 3,

The day began with a two and a half mile walk outside along Convention Center Avenue. After breakfast we ventured over to the French Quarter and Bourbon Street. Many of our Youth were surprised at the number of Voodoo shops. I was surprised at how narrow Bourbon Street really is. In the all the television news reports and movies on the Mardi Gras make the street filled with merry makers seem so wide. It really is not big at all! The French influence on the architecture very fascinating.

In the afternoon our Youth went to the convention center for orientation. The structure is a mile long and most of our day time activities will be held in various rooms and convention halls right here in the convention center. So it was good to walk through and get the lay of the land.

The big event today was the mass youth gathering at the Super Dome. As we walked a mile from our hotel to the Dome, the youth came together on Poydras Street like a human river. Hundreds of young people flowed onto the sides of Poydras from the side streets like tributaries filling the main river. Each time a new group joined the flow, the electricity and excitement grew. By the time we reached the Dome, over thirty thousand people had come together. You could feel the excitement in the air!

What a sight: thirty thousand people, standing and praising God. Lutherans from 46 different states are in attendance. People sang out to the music of a great praise band. There was a group of very talented singers leading the pre-service music. The program included skits, liturgical dancing, a sand painter, and even fire crackers! Our Youth heard a very dynamic message from a Lutheran pastor who has lost 96% of his vision due to a rare hereditary eye disease. It was very moving and uplifting.

I was very impressed with the role that technology played in this mass event. It is something that the young of our nation are growing up with and have come to know and expect. For their perspective technology really enhanced the message as well as the music and other parts of the service. It got me to think that if this is reaching the younger generation, and if we are truly interested in reaching the youth and keep our own in worship, then we need at St. Paul’s need to be ready to rethink how we can use technology to further the kingdom of God.

After we returned to the hotel, we held a short group meeting to talk about the day’s events. Many different aspects of the service touched our Youth as each one shared his or her highs and lows concerning the program.

Each hotel hosts a dance following each night’s massive worship event. This gives our youth the opportunity to meet youth from other congregations and from other states. These are well chaperones and end at midnight. A number of our youth attended. I will report on their findings in tomorrow’s blog report.

All in all our youth are learning quite a bit about themselves, the scope of our Lutheran church body, and the magnitude of God’s love for them.

Keep us in your prayers as you are in ours!

God bless you and your worship this weekend!!!

Pastor George

Friday, July 16, 2010

National Youth Gathering Day 2

Day two from New Orleans!

For me the day started out at 5:30 am with a trip to the health club. A few of the boys said they would meet there. After a 55 minute workout I returned to my room to shower. On the way back I passed them heading for the gym!

After breakfast and a short meeting, our group headed for the National Aquarium. While it had many similarities to the one in Baltimore, it also had a few different things to offer. There was a fabulous Caribbean reef exhibit will eels and sting rays, and a Louisiana swamp display which included an all white alligator. The Amazon River display included a huge Anaconda. And the Mississippi River exhibition featured some monstrous fresh water fish. Many of our youth and all of our chaperones were impressed by the number of turtles that were in the Mississippi display that had been rescued from the recent BP oil spill. It was most impressive and heart-warming to see their concern and compassion for God’s creatures who were victims of man’s disaster.

In the afternoon we went to the I-MAX Theater and saw a documentary on Hurricane Katrina. It was very well done. It showed how even before Katrina the making of canals destroyed huge areas of swamp lands and actually weakened New Orleans’ natural defenses against hurricanes. The building of canals for shipping brought salt water into the swamp lands and killed off thousands of trees. This weakened the hold on soil which resulted in extreme damage by erosion. All in all it was very enlightening and thought provoking.

Later in the afternoon a number of us went to the Convention Center to register our group, pick up our NYG t-shirts and bright green back packs, attend a short information meeting, and gather a water bottle for each participant.

For dinner we walked about a mile to a fine little Italian restaurant on the edge of the French Quarter. After a filling meal we took the trolley-train back to the Riverside Hilton Hotel.

At nine we gathered together for a devotion based on God’s creation and being good stewards of the environment. Then everyone filled out an activities schedule indicating which workshops, lectures, and concerts he or she would like to attend. Then we reviewed with our youth the safety suggestions that the police and conference planners recommended that we all adhere to whenever we ventured outside of our hotel.

Then about 10:30 we broke up and went to our rooms for bed. We have another busy day ahead of us on Saturday.

Please keep us in your prayers, as you are in ours.

God bless,

Pastor George

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Convention - Tuesday 7-13-10

Dear Redeemed,

This will be my last blog note on the LCMS Convention. You can still keep up with Convention events daily by going to the LCMS Website and look for the link on the Convention.

The elections were a bit of a surprise to many, including myself. Rev. Matthew Harrison was elected on the first ballot, gaining 54% of the votes. All of incumbent vice presidents were not reelected except for Rev. Dr. Paul Maier.

Rev. Harrison has served our Synod well over the last nine years as the Executive Director of Lutheran World Relief and Human Care. (Not to be confused with Lutheran World Relief that is headquartered here in Baltimore.) As Chairman of the LCMS Foundation’s Board of Trustees, I have personally worked with Rev. Harrison. For seven years the Foundation was responsible for raising money to fund their budgetary needs. We had a number of meetings together as the Foundation worked hard to meet their budgetary goals.

We pray for his success as our Synodical President for the next three years and pledge our support to his leadership. We also thank Rev. Dr. Jerry Kieschnick and all of the outgoing vice presidents for their outstanding service to our LORD and His Church.

Today, (Wednesday) I am in the office at St. Paul’s. Tomorrow morning I will leave with ten of our high school youth and two adult chaperones to attend the LCMS National Youth Gathering (NYG) in New Orleans. You can keep up with our daily events on this blog site.

The Youth attending the NYG include: Jessica Blucher, Danielle Dishop, Brian Hiltner, Robert Jaseph, Sean Jones, Doug Shenton, Tim Steward, Jeffrey Sullivan, Michael Swiger, and Bayley Warther. The other two chaperones are Leslie Jaseph and Crystal Jones. Please keep us in your prayers, as you will be in ours!

God bless,

Pastor George

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

LCMS Convention 7-12-10

Dear fellow workers in God’s Kingdom at St. Paul’s,

Monday was a very intense day. The floor committee on restructuring continued its report until late morning. Then the delegates began voting on the proposals. Strangely, the motion to change the constitutional requirement that the Synod meet in convention every three years to every four years, which would say the congregations about one million dollars, did receive a majority of votes but failed because it needed a 2/3rds majority.

The following resolutions only needed a simple majority and they passed. These included to restructure the Synod into only two program boards, one for national ministries and one for international ministries; that every congregation vote for the Synodical President; and that the President elect then picks five candidates to be voted on for his 1st Vice President.

As you read this you might ask, “Is this all that was done in one day?” You must remember that each of these included lots discussion, and I mean lots and lots of discussion, as well as mega amounts of questions, and unfortunately, some political maneuvering. President Kieschnick’s humorous comments kept us in good spirits. Sadly, there seems to be some who fail to realize that the word “synod” means walking together. It appears that about 52% support our current President, Rev. Dr. Kieschnick, and around 48% do not.

While the election for the President is Tuesday afternoon, I will predict that Dr. Kieschnick will be re-elected!

Monday’s agenda including two uplifting devotions: one starting the day and one after lunch when the convention reconvened. And the Bible study for the day was another fantastic study on forgiveness.

At the end of the day’s business the delegates were invited to go into the hall next to where we were meeting and visit the exhibitions of the various ministries of Synod. I had already walked around the displays yesterday, so tonight I helped out at the LCMS Foundation’s exhibition.

Then around 7:30 pm, Tom Ries and I went on a 45 minute walk through the downtown streets. It seemed as though the day had cooled down considerably, but when we passed a bank with the temperature displayed on its sign, I suddenly felt warm. It read 89 degrees!

Keep me in your prayers as you are in mine.

God bless,

Pastor George

Sunday, July 11, 2010

day three at the convention

Dear Fellow Saints of St. Paul’s,

The day began early with a breakfast at 6:30 am for all the delegates of the Southeastern District. Today I finally saw all of the members of my flock from St. Paul’s who are delegates to the convention. They include Tony Hansen, Troy Bauer, and Rev. David and Susan Maack.

The convention opened at 8:00 with a prayer service. I fear that this convention is going to need a lot of prayers. It took them almost 40 minutes to agree on the standing rules of the convention. Then there was a challenge to the “orders of the day.” (The agenda for the day.) That lasted another 40 plus minutes before we could agree on what we wanted to do today. I must confess that about then I began to think of all of you back in Glen Burnie worshipping together and praising our God and Savior at St. Paul’s. I pray you had a wonderful time in our LORD’S House today.

The convention was designed to spend the first two days discussing and then voting on the purposed changes to the structure of our church body. The voting for the President and other positions would follow on Tuesday. This made perfect sense to me because depending on the outcome of the structure issue, the positions to be filled could be different. Call it a major victory for the President of Synod, the convention finally agreed to follow the purposed “orders of the day” and keep the agenda as he had purposed.

We had a wonderful Bible study today on the topic of “Forgiveness.” What joy it is to be certain that in Jesus Christ we are forgiven. And how much more will life be enjoyed and be meaningful when we forgive others. It was a tremendous study.

I ate lunch with my good friend Butch Almstedt, chairman of the Board of Missions. Butch served on the Foundation Board with me for nine years. The Foundation still raises gifts for the Mission Board through its gift planning efforts.

After lunch Rev. Dr. Bill Dickelman led a very good devotion. You might remember that he was the guest preacher at my 30th year in the ministry anniversary three years ago.

Throughout the afternoon session the committee on structure presented its proposal to change the structure and governance of the Synod. Every 45 minutes or so, time was allowed for questions and discussion. The afternoon went fairly smooth. Tomorrow things will begin to heat up when the proposals are actually voted on.

True to the agenda, the session ended around 6:00 pm. (Shortly thereafter!) Then it was off to dinner and networking for the Foundation until bed time.

Keep me in your prayers, as you are in mine.

Pastor George

Convention - opening day

Good evening good friends and fellow Redeemed,

Another day of early rising: 6:00 a.m.! Tom Ries and I walked a couple of miles before it got too hot. Not much traffic on downtown Houston streets on a Saturday morning. Sadly, there was a lot of “homeless traffic” on the sidewalks. There appears to be a big ministry opportunity among the poor and homeless in this big city.

After breakfast the floor committees held open hearings in the various ballrooms of the Hilton Hotel. During a break time I ran into Troy Bauer, one of our fifth grade teachers at St. Paul’s. Troy is an advisory delegate representing the non-ordained church workers in our Southeastern District. The only St. Paul’s member attending the convention that I have not seen yet is Rev. David Maack. As one of the vice presidents of our District, Dave serves as an advisory delegate.

I attended the floor committee on Finance and Administration. I attended this one in case someone had a question about the finances of the Synod that related to the LCMS Foundation. If one did have questions, either Rev. Tom Ries, the Foundation President, or I would be able to address it. No one had any questions concerning the Foundation.

I enjoyed lunch with Tony Hansen. Then I worked at the Foundation’s display until the delegates met for an orientation workshop on convention procedures. Our Synod has a number of interesting policies and practices regarding parliamentary procedures at its conventions. For instance, there is the two minute rule: no one can talk at a microphone for more than two minutes.

Then we gathered together for a most inspiring opening worship service! What a service: an orchestra leading every hymn and song; a unique blend of contemporary songs and traditional hymns were sung; multiple languages were spoken during the readings and prayers; and thousands of worshippers all praised our gracious and almighty God and Savior. President Kieschnick had a powerful sermon on forgiveness.

It was estimated that between seven and ten thousand worshipped as one in the opening service. Most of us, if not all, took part in the LORD’S Supper. It was distributed in a organized and respectful way. A number of altars were strategically placed in the convention center. Ushers directed the worshippers to one of the altars near to where you sat. You walked in a continuous line up to celebrate pastors and received the body and blood of our LORD in, with, and under the bread and the wine. Then you returned to your seat for prayer.

Then it dawned on me, next week when I help chaperone our Youth to the LCMS National Youth Gathering, there will be over 30,000 youth and leaders celebrating Holy Communion together. I am sure that too will be well planned. Image the numbers united together in communion!

Following the two hour worship service, the delegates met in the Hilton Grand Ball Room for a Texas family style barbeque. One of the great things about the dinner was the absence of any speaker or planned program. It gave everyone a great opportunity to do some personal networking.

All in all it was busy day preparing for tomorrow’s start of the convention’s business of working together to do the LORD’S work as a Church body.

Please keep me in your prayers, as you are in mine. God bless!

Pastor George

Friday, July 9, 2010

at the LCMS Convention

Good evening Fellow Redeemed,

Well, my travels to the convention started early today. I was up at 5:00 am to walk my dogs. As you know Julie is a wonderful wife. She got up to drive me to the airport at 6:30 am! Bless her!!!

The Southwest Airline flight went better than expected: we arrived in Houston 30 minutes early!!! On the flight with me were our Southeastern District President, Rev. Dr. Jon Diefenthaler and his wife; Pastor Hank Simon from Galilee Lutheran Church and our circuit’s pastoral delegate, and my long time friend from the ELCA, Pastor Robert “Bob” Driver-Bishop. Rev. Driver-Bishop is currently a pastor in the D.C. area but was flying to Houston to interview for a senior pastor position in the Houston area.

At the Houston airport I ran into our fellow member Tony Hansen. Tony is our circuit’s lay delegate. Tony took an earlier Air Tran flight but was routed through Atlanta. We rode to the hotel together on the “Super Shuttle.” We also ate lunch with the Diefenthalers.

During lunch our Synodical President stopped by to say, “Hello” and respond to an e-mail I had sent him earlier in the week. Part of it was LCMS Foundation business; and part of it was a request for him to meet with our Youth who are going to the National Youth Gathering. He agreed to meet with our teens in New Orleans sometime between Sunday and Tuesday.

Tony and I went across the street to the convention hall and registered: Tony as a voting delegate and I as an advisory delegate. After that we walked through the exhibit area where a number of ministries and church related businesses had displays. I introduced Tony to a number of friends in those ministries as they were setting up their displays.

Later I took a three mile walk through the downtown area with Rev. Tom Ries, the President of the LCMS Foundation. I thought I was back in Baltimore as the temperature was in the high 90’s and the humidity was just as high!

After a succulent dinner as a local Coney Island hot dog eatery about a ½ mile walk away, I returned to the hotel where I met with some fellow pastors before retiring to my room for prayer and a good night’s sleep. My prayer is that God will continue to bless each of you and the ministry we share together at St. Paul’s.

I will probably find a very more delicious dining spots like James’ Coney Island as the hotel prices for food is very high. As an example, breakfast meals are between $15.00 and $25.00! Alright, don’t call me “cheap” – call me “frugal!”

Good night and God bless you all!

Pastor George

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Hello! Glad you logged on to my new blog site. I pray that this will be blessing for God's kingdom, for you, and for me.

There is a lot happening at St. Paul's and in the LCMS. I will be attending the LCMS convention in Houston starting July 9th. On the 17th I am honored and thrilled to be a chaperone for 11 of our Youth who will attending the LCMS National Youth Gathering in New Orleans. I will keep you updated on both of these events though this, my new blog site.

God's blessings,

Pastor George