What’s New With YOU?
Updates from congregations around the church of the Lutheran Confession
If you don’t know where Hecla is, you’re not the only one. I’ve met people who live thirty miles from here who have no idea how to get to our little town of fewer than two hundred residents. I’m not sure my house even has an address! But one thing is for certain, the Lord knows where we are: “Lo, I am with you always.” (Matthew 28:20 KJV)
Sometimes, though, being a touch below the radar has its advantages. Throughout this time of global confusion and hysteria, the Lord has maintained a peculiar peace and order in this tiny corner of His creation, with the result that we continued on with every single regularly-scheduled service without one change: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV)
Since our last update, Prince of Peace has received a steady rate of new members through Holy Baptism, adult instruction, and relocation to the area. Our typical Sunday service attendance reaches into the fifties. One evening I looked out from the pulpit and had to take a deep breath at the realization that I was the third oldest person in the room. These youths in their teens and twenties are pursuing local careers, keeping the area economy alive, and bringing with them the new life of Christ into our communities.
Located just a few miles south of the state line, half of our members live in North Dakota and half in South Dakota. We have confirmation classes in both states. We began offering a monthly service in Aberdeen, right across the street from the former CLC church building there. The group consists of members from our Hecla, Bowdle, and Ipswich congregations, as well as a growing number of those new to the CLC. In the Lord’s perfect time, we look forward to what He has in store for this fledgling flock. As Aberdeen continues to attract immigrants from the Philippines, Myanmar, Thailand, Africa, and Guatemala, it’s becoming increasingly evident that you don’t have to “go” very far to “teach all nations.” (Matthew 28:19)
Facility-wise, the members have built a new parsonage from scratch. Throughout construction, it seemed all local traffic had been rerouted past the church—at 5 mph. “Who builds a brand-new home in Hecla? There’s no resale value in that!” The return on this investment is eternal treasure: “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” (Psalm 127:1 KJV)
When the congregation first started, café gossip had it that we’d close our doors within five years. That didn’t happen, and with all our recent activity, Prince of Peace is now the talk of the town in a way that the Lord is using for His gain: “And this rumour of Him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about.” (Luke 7:17 KJV)
Those who follow us online sometimes comment how they can’t believe what they see going on around here. What’s the secret? Well, the congregation’s preference for a steady regimen of pages five and fifteen, the old King James Version, and the Gausewitz catechism goes to show that it simply cannot be how we do things that makes a church grow. No, it’s the good news of Christ and Him crucified alone! And from my perspective, six decades of this congregation’s faithful spiritual farming—a commitment to home devotion, faithful catechesis, and a relentless drive to “help and befriend our neighbor in every bodily need”—are all bearing Gospel fruit in the Spirit’s perfect time.
We’ve had our share of losses too. The Lord has begun calling our founding generation to glory. Now certainly, there is no greater comfort than the heaven earned by Jesus’ precious blood. But one member commented to me how blessed it was to depart this life with the peace of mind that Prince of Peace Lutheran Church would be continuing on without him for some years to come.
We share these joys in our midst in no way to boast but rather to urge you, our dear coworkers, on in the precious ministry wherever God has placed you. Your “two or three” have every spiritual blessing, as does any other gathering in His name (Matthew 18:20). The results of our Gospel labors are rarely seen with the eye and can never be fully perceived in this life. Any blessing we are granted to recognize is but grace upon grace, meant to build confidence in His unchanging promise: “It shall not return unto Me void.” (Isaiah 55:11 KJV)
Feel free to stop by and visit! All you have to do is type “Hecla, South Dakota” into Google Maps and follow one of the eight different paths it offers (none of them direct). For anyone who makes the effort, we’ll welcome you as though you had always belonged, and hope to send you home so touched by the Savior’s all-forgiving Word that you’ll never forget the way.
Timothy Daub is pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Hecla, South Dakota.