Updates from congregations around the Church of the Lutheran Confession
The Apostle Paul was known as the “Apostle to the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13). What a fitting namesake for our congregation in Vernon, British Columbia! Christianity is not as widely accepted along the West Coast as it is in the Midwestern states and provinces. Therefore, like the Apostle Paul, we seek to bring the Gospel to the unbelievers.
Being surrounded by unbelieving influences poses many challenges and dangers in our life as God’s witnesses. Therefore, God gives us this warning and encouragement through the Apostle Peter: “Beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:17-18)
This past year, by the grace of God, Saint Paul congregation has enjoyed evidence of this spiritual growth. Last spring, four young people had grown in their faith through their study of God’s Word in Luther’s Small Catechism to the point that they were ready to confess their faith publicly before the congregation, and they were confirmed. What a joy to witness their growth in faith and to hear them testify of their faith! We also currently have a young man who is finding great joy and strength as he grows in his faith through an adult instruction class.
This growth in the grace and knowledge of our Savior does not end when one is confirmed. In the 2 Peter passage above, the Greek word for “grow” is a present imperative, which indicates an ongoing command. Literally we are to continue to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” We should never think that we know it all or have nothing more to learn.
Saint Paul congregation offers opportunities for this continued growth at all age levels.
A youth retreat this past summer brought growth to our elementary and high school children through a study of several Proverbs. The young adults enjoyed the beauty of the mountains in Jasper National Park while they discussed the challenges faced in a public university. They plan to continue a discussion of how a Christian may survive the university experience with his faith intact.
As we grow in our own knowledge and faith, we become better equipped to witness to the unbelieving world around us. Our Sunday Bible class this fall is focused on the physical evidence for the reliability and truth of Scripture so that we can “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” (1 Peter 3:15) It is our prayer that this will be not only a source of strength and growth for our faith which helps to keep us from being misled and deceived by the unbelieving world around us, but also that it will be effective preparation for us to give a meaningful defense to those who challenge or question our faith. In that way we seek to reach the unbelieving around us. We are also exploring ways to use various forms of social media to proclaim the message of life and salvation through Jesus Christ alone.
Most importantly, as our namesake did, we continue to grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ by focusing all our teaching on the cross. The Law points us daily to our sin and the Gospel points us to the cross of Jesus Christ for our forgiveness and relief. There, at the cross, God’s grace fills us with joy and confidence in Christ.
It would appear that God is granting an answer to our long-held prayer for another form of growth. Up to this point we have not been able to obtain our own church building to worship in. We have always worshiped in a rented room in a community building. This past summer Resurrection Lutheran Church in Calgary, Alberta, has sadly come to its final chapter. With only five members remaining and no resident pastor, they made the decision to sell their church and disband their congregation. They very generously decided to donate the proceeds from the sale of their property to Saint Paul in Vernon to help make it possible for us to finally obtain our own church building. We thank the Lord for this overwhelming gift and pray that the Lord will bless those remaining members in Calgary that they too may continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of their Savior. We also pray for God’s guidance and blessing to utilize this gift in a God-pleasing way and lead us to a suitable property where His Word may be proclaimed for many years to come and where His people may continue to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18-19)
Above: some of the women of the congregation on Mother’s Day.
Below: young adult camp-out.