PASTOR'S PAGE..................................NOVEMBER 2019
Forgiveness. The word is central to what we believe. We hear it often, and hopefully we speak it more often. We pray for it. “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Recently we saw and heard what that looked like in a Dallas courtroom where Brandt Jean forgave Amber Guyger, the ex-police officer who mistakenly killed his brother Bothom Jean, and embraced her in open court before television cameras. He not only forgave her, he urged her to turn to Christ for peace and forgiveness.
If this doesn’t cause you to weep, you may need to do a little self-reflection or at least pinch yourself to see if you are still alive. Even the judge, the representative of impartial, unemotional, blind justice, was wiping her eyes with a tissue.
This is what forgiveness looks and sounds like. Pure grace, almost too much to bear, too difficult to watch. Raw and unrehearsed and real. The young man speaks haltingly and admits he wasn’t planning on saying what he did. He hesitantly asks the judge for permission to break with courtroom protocol and hug this person who killed his brother. He has to ask twice, the second time begging “please,” because the judge has to think about it carefully. This is not supposed to happen in a court of law. Victims do not embrace their victimizers.
What strikes me the hardest is the sight of Amber Guyger running to meet the embrace of the man whose brother she killed. She’s the prodigal running to the forgiving arms of his father. She’s Mary Magdalene embracing Jesus’ feet in the garden. She’s the woman of the streets who anointed Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. She is us running to confession with the miserable mess of our lives longing to hear the absolving words “I forgive you.” She’s all of us, all of humanity, standing before the cross of Jesus and hearing Him pray, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing,” embracing us in His death. The sinner longs to hear forgiveness, to be embraced and be held by grace – undeserved kindness and love. We long for it every breathing moment of our lives.
The Spirit-wind of God mysteriously and creatively blows across the face of the Deep. Like the wind, we cannot see the Spirit, but we can hear Him in forgiveness spoken and in the stammered words, “trust Christ with all you have done.” Brandt Jean hadn’t planned on saying what he said or doing what he did that day in court, but the Spirit had other plans for him and for the world who watched and listened. The Spirit blew through that Dallas courtroom in a mini-Pentecost, and a “victim impact” statement had a far greater impact than could ever have been imagined. A woman convicted of killing a man in his own apartment by mistake heard the words of forgiveness in Christ from her victim’s brother and felt the embrace of grace.
And then there was grace upon grace. After sentencing, the trial judge stepped down from her chair, and in a breach of protocol that will certainly draw howls of protest from those who want to keep church and state as far apart as possible, embraced Ms. Guyger and handed her own personal Bible to her. She also embraced her and whispered, “You can have mine. I have three or four more at home. This is the one I use every day. This is your job for the next month. It says right here. John 3:16. And this is where you start. ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.'”
Ms. Guyger was sentenced to ten years in prison, but she does not go to prison alone. She has Christ and His Word. She knows the sound and embrace of Christ’s forgiveness. And she has the prayers of the young man who lost his brother in a shooting that should never have happened. Her time in prison began that day in a Dallas courtroom, as did her liberation and healing.
“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound!
Church Offering Income for the Month of September: $9,096.36
Registered Visitors at First Trinity for September/October 2019 - (Visitors who filled out cards.)
Sept 29 Norbert Meyer – Beatrice, NE; Tim/Lori Johnson – Grant, NE; Brady/Bonnie Yoder – Omaha, NE; Philip & Mallory Nelson – Prairie Village, KS
Oct 6 Norbert Meyer – Beatrice, NE; Lyle Osborn – Lenexa, KS
Oct 13 Joel Barnard – Kansas City, KS; Chris/Leah, Zia, Eli & Mya Humphries - Omaha; Norbert Meyer – Beatrice, NE; Josh/Jessie, Juniper & Josiah Hsu – Austin, TX
Oct 20 Darold/Gwen Rahe – Beatrice, NE; Norbert Meyer – Beatrice, NE
THOSE CELEBRATING BIRTHDAYS IN THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER
Ana Kettelhut 3 LaVern Niemeier 17
Alan Bock 5 Marie Zimmerman 19
Susan Brandt 7 Rebecca Behrends 20
Sara Nickel 8 David Niemeier 21
Madison Wagner 9 John Niemeier 26
Michael Kendall 17
THOSE CELEBRATING BAPTISMAL BIRTHDAYS IN THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER
Joann Niemeier 1 Leo Kettelhut 11
Sarah Genrich 3 Brent Niemeier 14
Shirly Brown 4 Alan Bock 18
Oliver Nickel 4 Trevor Johnson 23
Jane Bartlett 6 Sara Nickel 23
Toni Lisec 9 Brinn Remmenga 28
Joyce Belding 11 Tami Schmidt 28
*If your birthday, baptismal birthday, or anniversary date is missing from our lists, please contact the church office so we can include it next year.
LWML - Money collected in the LWML Mite Box at church on Sunday, November 24, 2019 will be donated to the National LWML Mission Goal on Tuesday, December 3, 2019. Your money that you donate will be matched. Please see the information below. Thank you for your support of LWML Mission Goals. Carolyn Nelson, President of LWML
First Trinity Lutheran Church Council Meeting Minutes - October 8, 2019
The meeting was called to order by President Senator Tom Brandt at 8:30 PM. Pastor Wagner gave an opening devotion with a reading from Luke chapter 17. The minutes of the council meeting were approved as presented. Russell Behrends presented the Financial Secretary's report. The Treasurer's report was presented by Ron Malchow. Income received from Financial Secretary for September was $9,096.36, expenses $10,796.03, with an ending balance of $34,383.39. The third quarter income received from Financial Secretary was $23,261.85, expenses $31,123.30, with an ending balance of $34,383.39. Motion was made to accept financial reports by Dean Damme. Seconded by Allen Pfingsten. Motion carried. (see reports)
Elders’ Report –
· Next month’s meeting will be November 12, with the Elders meeting at 6:30 PM and Council at 7:30 PM.
· Voters Meeting is Sunday, October 20 after church.
Pastor’s Report – Pastor Timothy Wagner
· Attendance figures for the 3rd quarter are as follows:
Members 54, Visitors 7, Communion 52, Bible Class 19 and Sunday School 7.
· October 27th will be the hayrack ride and cookout at Spilker’s.
Trustee’s Report – Jim Nelson - Trustee
· Sidewalk has been repaired by the northeast corner of Church.
· New Cross has been installed on the steeple and Nick America cross has been returned to us from Paul Davis Restoration.
· Dwight Holtmeier has reported water is leaking into the church building in the southwest corner wall.
Stewardship / Board of Education – Not present, no report.
Sunday School Superintendent – Not present, no report.
Cemetery Sexton – Walter Neumann
· CD interest of $31.96.
· Nominating committee has one candidate for every position.
· Dan Bennett moved to use memorial money to buy the largest TV that will fit over the serving window in the Fellowship Hall. Seconded by Allen Pfingsten. Motion passed.
· Synodical Constitutional amendment will be voted on at the Voters Meeting. Council recommends Voters approval.
· Motion by Ron Malchow to grant transfer of Kellie Niemeier and Chad Niemeier to Christ Lutheran Church LCMS in Lincoln. Seconded by Dean Damme. Motion approved.
· Motion by Ron Malchow to grant requested release to William Spilker. Seconded by Dean Damme. Motion approved.
· Agenda thus far for the October Voters meeting is as follows:
*Synodical Constitutional amendment
Motion to adjourn by Ron Malchow. Seconded by Russ Behrends. Motion carried. Meeting was closed with the Lord’s Prayer at 9:10 PM.
Members present include: Pastor Wagner, Senator Tom Brandt, Dean Damme, Ron Malchow, Walter Neumann, Russ Behrends, Allen Pfingsten, Kyle Spilker, Dan Bennett and Jim Nelson.
Submitted by Secretary Kyle Spilker.
First Trinity Lutheran Church Voters' Meeting Minutes - October 20, 2019
The meeting was called to order by President Senator Tom Brandt at 10:50 AM. Pastor Wagner gave an opening devotion with a reading from Mathew, chapter 22. The minutes of the July 2019 voters meeting was approved as read. Russell Behrends presented the Financial Secretary's report. The Treasurer's report was presented by Ron Malchow. Income for the 2019 third Quarter was $23,261.85, expenses $31,123.30, with an ending balance of $34,383.39. Motion was made to accept financial reports by Brent Niemeier. Seconded by Dean Damme. Motion carried. (see reports)
Elders’ Report – Allen Pfingsten
· Elders have been reviewing the Augsburg Confession during spare time in Elders meeting.
Pastor’s Report – Pastor Timothy Wagner – see handout
· The average attendance for Sunday services during the third quarter was 62 people, 54 being member and 7 being visitors. The average number of people who communed was 52. The average adult bible class attendance was 19. The average attendance for Sunday school was not reported.
· Amanda Malchow and children were released from membership as they requested.
· Lola Moeller passed away 8/1/2019.
· Marlene Malchow passed away 8/29/2019.
· Vacancies in our circuit include St. Paul - Beatrice, Immanuel – Daykin, First – Summerfield.
Trustee’s Report – Jim Nelson
· Patched sidewalk near NE steps into church.
· Cleaned up old sump pump for church basement, to be used as a spare.
· Fellowship hall will be repainted, Jane Niemeier in charge.
· Will look into having some tuck pointing done, hopefully will alleviate water leaking into church in SW corner.
Stewardship / Board of Education – Present, No Report.
Sunday School Superintendent – Not present, No Report.
Cemetery Sexton – Not present. No Report
· Pastor Wagner reported that there is an active badger in the cemetery.
· Cross on steeple has been installed by Paul Davis Restoration. They found a stripper to remove coating on original ball at the base of cross. Looks to be as straight as possible. Reported by Russ Behrend’s.
· Update on video streaming by Kyle Spilker: Upgrades were made by Diode Communications to stream services to three rooms in school building. Used on Tim Beethe’s funeral. Reports by member viewers were positive on video quality. Congregation has purchased a 65” TV to be mounted in Fellowship Hall above the serving window. Question was brought forth about the possibility of buying equipment to enable Closed Captioning of streamed services. Rosie Hill, our Interpreter for the Deaf, will seek information from the Nebraska Commission for the Deaf regarding how this may be accomplished.
· Joann Niemeier and Michael Sothan have had discussions on how to proceed with Pictorial Directory.
· Joann Niemeier presented two options to replace flowerbed edging around the church plaza. Option #1 is from Campbell’s in Lincoln to use 12” pieces of stone at a cost of $350. Option #2 is from Duane Craig of Beatrice to use poured, stamped concrete at a cost of $910. Consensus, by show of hands, is to use the stone option.
· Carolyn Bennett reported that our Wisconsin Style Fish Feed for the Orphan Grain Train raised $1,732.70 including the $250 card from Thrivent. Attendance was 95 people served.
· Pastor Wagner was presented a card and gift for Pastor’s Appreciation Month from the congregation.
· Elections: Motion by Russ Behrends, seconded by Betsy Spilker to accept ballot as presented. Motion passed.
· Election Results: James Hahn - Chairman, Brent Niemeier – Elder, Russell Behrends – Financial Secretary, Darin Pohlmann – Trustee, Stewardship/Board of Education – Samuel Hahn, Head Usher – Michael Sothan.
· Synodical Constitutional Amendment – Pastor Wagner presented proposed changes. Motion by Pastor Wagner, seconded by Ron Malchow to approve changes for First Trinity’s vote.
· Elders presented a proposal for Pastor Wagner’s salary. Insurance plan will increase 7% or $1,912.00 beginning January 1, 2020. Elders recommend a 1% increase in base salary. That would increase base salary from $42,969.00 to $43,140.00. Totals with insurance would be $75,360.00 increased to $77,700.00. This would be about a 3% increase in total wages and benefits. These are approximate figures.
Motion to adjourn by Jim Nelson. Seconded by Russ Behrends. Motion carried. Meeting was closed with the Lord’s Prayer at 11:45 AM.
There were 24 voting members and 1 visitor present.
Submitted by Secretary Kyle Spilker.