A SLICE OF LIFE IN THE CLC
Snapshots of Congregations from Around the Church of the Lutheran Confession
Thus says the Lord: “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls”
With the desire among so many today to have something new, it may feel strange to be encouraged to “ask for the old paths.” That is, unless by God’s grace one is given faith to see that it is in the old paths “where the good way is” and where “you will find rest for your souls.” Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church is a congregation that desires the “old paths” in the middle and the muddle of everything new.
Nestled in the heart of Cheyenne, Wyoming’s capital city, Redeemer Lutheran got its start in 1940 as a mission congregation of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS). It was served for several years by Pastor Victor Tiefel (of nearby Greeley, Colorado), but the mission closed when it was unable to acquire a permanent pastor. The desire for the “old paths” of God’s truth was strong among those first faithful few, and the mission was reopened in 1949 with Pastor Winfred Schaller, Jr., being called to serve.
The Lord would richly bless the small congregation through the tireless efforts and leadership of His faithful servant, Pastor Schaller. By 1952, the congregation had built its own church/school/parsonage combination. Just two years later, in 1954, they opened a Christian day school, with a desire to seek for the “old paths” in the Christian education of its youth. The school began with an opening enrollment of twenty students, just two of whom were members. For that first school year, Pastor Schaller would serve not only as the overall shepherd of the congregation, but also as the congregation’s first full-time teacher, teaching all subjects in kindergarten through seventh grade
The congregation would be served by many different teachers over the next five decades. Sadly, in 2008, after fifty-four years of operation, the Christian day school was closed for lack of students. However, increased growth in the Cheyenne area has the congregation hopeful that the Lord may be working to re-open the school. An exploratory committee has recently been formed to look into the possibility of reopening the K-8th grade school.
Out of its desire to cling to the “old paths” of true doctrine in Scripture rather than the appealing newness of false teaching, Redeemer congregation terminated its membership in the WELS in 1957. The following year, Redeemer served as host congregation for a meeting of the Interim Conference. This meeting continued discussions regarding the false teaching being tolerated in the various Lutheran church bodies of the Synodical Conference, and also the prospect of beginning a new church body (later the Church of the Lutheran Confession) that would be dedicated to asking for the “old paths” of God’s truth, “where the good way is.” It was also this Interim Conference that gave birth to the devotional magazine which you are now reading. In fact, two of Redeemer’s previous pastors (Winfred Schaller and Paul Fleischer) have served as editors of the Lutheran Spokesman.
Redeemer congregation has developed a few fellowship/worship traditions over the past years which assist the members in encouraging one another on the “old paths” of God’s truths in Christ Jesus. Midweek Bible classes run from September through May. Every summer the congregation has an outdoor worship service and fellowship meal in the nearby Vedauwoo Recreation Area. Each winter, members of the congregation travel into the mountainous region north of Laramie, Wyoming, to a member’s cabin for the purpose of selecting the church’s Christmas tree and for a time of fellowship (see photo at right).
Redeemer is also looking at bringing the “old paths” of God’s Word to the Cheyenne community in new ways. In 2012, the congregation built a new addition onto the front of the church, thus allowing for a handicap-accessible entrance. Part of this new addition included a new mezzanine window which the ladies of the congregation use to post short statements of gospel truth. A pane of beautiful stained glass is soon to be permanently installed in this mezzanine window.
Also in 2012, a new church sign was added to the property. Because the church sits on a busy road in Cheyenne, the sign is easily viewable by the public. The congregation uses the sign to proclaim God’s Word, and to inform the community of special worship opportunities. One of those special opportunities takes place in the summer months with a Summer Lecture Series, in which the pastor takes one or two evenings to give a forty-five minute lecture on Scripture’s application to a popular topic of the day.
Also, for the first time, the congregation now has a presence on the internet in the form of a Facebook page, which it uses once a month to present devotional posts to the community. The pastor also regularly posts sermon snippets to the Facebook page, along with other devotional posts from various sources for the spiritual edification of those who follow the church’s page.
Redeemer has a membership of fifty-six souls, with an average attendance of twenty-nine for Sunday morning worship and twelve for Bible class.
In an age when everyone seems to chase after the next new thing, Redeemer congregation is thankful to God and His grace for the eternally-reliable and ever-relevant “old paths” of unchangeable truth from God’s Word, for it is in these “old paths” that we learn of the good way of salvation in Christ Jesus and how His life, death, and resurrection have provided everlasting rest for our souls.
“I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.
I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true;
It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.”
“I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.”
~A. Katherine Hankey
Chad Seybt is pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming.