A SLICE OF LIFE IN THE CLC
Snapshots of Congregations from Around the Church of the Lutheran Confession
“I lift up my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth”
(Psalm 121:1-2 NIV84).
This Scripture verse has held rich meaning for God’s believers of every time and place. The parishioners of St. Paul congregation, Lakewood, have special reason to be reminded of its comfort. Our church is located in the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies. On a clear day, when we see mountains like Longs Peak (sixty miles to the northwest, ascending to over 14,000 feet) or Pikes Peak (looming high above the southern horizon), we’re reminded of the precious promises the Lord has given His believers in this Psalm: He Who fashioned the mountains by His power is our ever-present Helper. He watches over us 24/7, extending to us His fatherly care. He sees that no evil befalls us, directing our footsteps dependably by the lamp of His Word as we travel as pilgrims through the darkness of this world to our heavenly home. All for the sake of Jesus His Son who was crucified on a hill near Jerusalem two thousand years ago.
The people of St. Paul have experienced the faithful care of the Lord, as expressed in Psalm 121, from the founding of their church. The date was January 17, 1993. On that day members of two Lutheran churches (St. Luke of Denver and St. James of Golden1) gathered for a joint meeting so that they might take a bold step of faith. They voted to merge and become a single congregation under a new name, St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, believing the work of God’s kingdom in their midst could be better served in this way.
The faith of the parishioners of St. Luke and St. James (now St. Paul) hasn’t been put to shame. Over the years they have been on the receiving end of a vast array of God’s blessings. Through the Good News of the crucified and risen Savior preached from their pulpit, presented in Bible class, taught in Sunday School, and shared among members, they have received strength for their faith and inspiration for their Christian calling. By the sacrament of Baptism their little ones have been spiritually reborn and adopted into God’s family. Through the Lord’s Supper their communicants have received the personal assurance of His forgiveness. There have been a number of trials and tribulations over the years, as is always the case for God’s saints living in the Church Militant. Yet, through every struggle they have been called on to endure, they have found to be true the Lord’s promise to be their ever-present Helper. He has been their shade at their right hand and He has seen to it that the sun will not harm them by day nor the moon by night (Psalm 121:5-6).
During the early years of St. Paul’s history, the members worshiped for a time in the St. James church building, after it had been sold to another group. Eventually a parcel of property more suitable for their needs was located in the nearby suburb of Lakewood. A church edifice was constructed there and dedicated to God’s glory in January of 2000. Because of its strategic location on a busy north-south highway of Denver (Wadsworth Boulevard) with thousands of motorists passing each day, St. Paul has been blessed to have a good number of drop-in guests at its services. Our current membership numbers 118 souls, including twenty-four pre-communicants. Since our church’s beginning, seventy-five souls have been baptized (eight adults), fifty-two have been confirmed (sixteen adults), thirty-two marriages have been conducted, and fifty-one souls have gone on ahead to be with the Savior in the Church Triumphant above. Pastors who have served St. Paul are Delwyn Maas (1993-1998), Victor Tiefel (1993-1998, associate pastor), James Sandeen (2000-2014), and Thomas Schuetze (2014 to the present).
In regard to current activities, we’re blessed to have an active “Mary and Martha” ladies group with many women using their God-given talents to lend support to our congregation’s ministry in a variety of ways. We have a “Feeding His Lambs” cradle roll program which assists our parents in the spiritual training of their pre-Sunday School children. St. Paul also conducts monthly services in Colorado Springs (seventy miles to the south). We meet in a rented chapel of the First United Methodist Church. The services are held generally in the afternoon of the fourth Sunday of the month, with attendance averaging in the teens. Another current mission project of St. Paul is the sending of postcards with a brief Gospel message and invitation to visit our church. These are mailed out each month to fifteen hundred families living in ZIP codes in and around Lakewood. We pray that through these outreach efforts the Lord will provide extra opportunities for sharing His Good News.
We look to the future confident of His blessing and clinging joyfully to His promise: “‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you” (Isaiah 54:10 NIV84).
Thomas Schuetze is pastor of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lakewood, Colorado.