What’s New With YOU?
Updates from congregations around the church of the Lutheran Confession
Since our article appeared in the Lutheran Spokesman under the heading “A Slice of Life in the CLC” (November 2015), quite a bit has changed in our congregation. The most devastating change was the closing of our school in the fall of 2016 due to the lack of students. The desire to keep the school going was there, the funds were there, but the children were not.
The congregation turned to the Lord and asked for His guidance and blessings. We re-called our teacher, Miss Claire Abbas, to help initiate a pre-school for our congregation and be the pre-school teacher, if and when we opened one. Organization was begun. Supplies were purchased. State and county requirements were paid for and met. Advertisements were put out, and we waited for responses.
However, during this time Miss Abbas received and accepted a call from Gethsemane Lutheran School of Spokane, Washington, to be its lower-grade school teacher. Undeterred, the congregation then called Miss Miriam Bernthal, of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, to be our pre-school teacher. She accepted in September 2017. We anticipated opening our pre-school in January 2018.
We needed at least ten students to enroll in order for this venture to be able to financially take off. Unfortunately, we only got four who were interested. Our area has quite a few pre-schools already in existence. With sadness, yet confidence in the Lord’s direction, we shut down our pre-school plans and released Miss Bernthal from her call in February 2018.
In August 2018 the congregation began a Wednesday morning Children’s Play Group, which attracted numerous children and parents who got to know about our church and our desire to re-start our school someday. Unfortunately, because of COVID, this venture has been on hold since March 2020. We intend to restart it in September 2021.
The congregation’s desire is to re-open the Christian day school, and we have been setting aside monthly offerings for that endeavor, the Lord willing.
Over these past six years, other changes have taken place in regard to membership. The Lord removed from this vale of tears to Himself several of our founding and longtime members: Duane Riggert, John Birkholz, and Bruce Templeton. He has also blessed us with several new members through adult baptisms and adult confirmations. We also have had an influx of young couples transferring into the Madison area from other CLC congregations.
Second greatest change: COVID! Amazingly, the Lord prepared us for this pandemic when at our January 2020 annual meeting we decided to start video recording our services. Unknown to us, a couple of months later our public services would be shut down for a month. We have had livestream and YouTube services going since February of 2020. When views on livestream and YouTube are added to physical attendees, more people are receiving the Gospel from our church now than ever before. Praise be to the Lord!
Zoom has become a big part of our church life. Wednesday night Bible Classes, monthly “Hannah’s Helping Hands” meetings, church council meetings, and quarterly voters’ meetings all have been held via Zoom. In May we finally had our church council meeting in person.
Since our congregation was last featured, we have implemented several outreach efforts: In 2016 we held our fourth Salt and Light Evangelism Seminar. Theme: “Using everyday conversations to learn about your neighbor’s faith-family relationship, family health, current events, politics. . . .”
In 2017 the congregation hosted the Gospel-centered 500th Reformation Seminar with Pastor Emeritus John Schierenbeck, Pastor Caleb Schaller, and Pastor Mark Bernthal speaking on Reformation history and its application to us today.
• A Christian Apologetics Seminar was sponsored by our congregation with guest speaker Matt Starland, a member of Berea Lutheran, Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota.
• Our Evangelism group distributed “Invisible Sunday School” materials to waiting rooms in doctors’/dentists’ offices, the public library, and wherever children gather.
• In August the congregation celebrated its 45th anniversary with thanksgiving to the Lord for 45 years of proclaiming God’s Word here at Peace Thru Christ. The anniversary sermon was based on Psalm 27:4-6.
• The congregation hosted the Joint Reformation Service with CLC congregations from southern Wisconsin.
• In November we hosted a “Christianity and Islam Seminar” at the Heritage Senior Living Community in Middleton, with guest speaker Pastor Emeritus David Koenig.
In spring of 2019 the congregation presented a seminar on “Christian Masculinity and Femininity.”
In the fall of 2020, during Bible Class time, Pastor and members of our Evangelism Committee held weekly discussions intended to support our efforts to talk about our faith. The series was entitled, “Whom are you reaching?” It was an interactive series in which we shared experiences and various ways to view the obstacles that challenge our resolve to share our Savior with the people we see every day.
Every year but 2020, we had a float with a Biblical theme at the annual Middleton Good Neighbor Parade.
Through all the challenges, changes, and events of the past six years, our God has remained the same faithful Lord, blessing us with His Word of grace and forgiveness through Jesus. Because of our Savior’s suffering, death, and resurrection, His unchanging word of “Peace Thru Christ” has been preached and proclaimed every Sunday. And we trust that He will continue to abide with, and shower His grace and mercy upon, His children as they work in His kingdom on the shores of Lake Mendota, casting out the net of the Gospel to the lost.
Change and decay in all around I see.
O Thou, who changest not, abide with me! (TLH 552:2)
Mark Bernthal is the pastor of Peace thru Christ Lutheran Church in Middleton, Wisconsin, and Vice-President of the CLC.