Confessions of a Church Newsletter Junkie

By Pastor John Hulden

Yep, I love reading church newsletters. I like the pictures, the announcements, and, … the “Pastor’s Page” or “Pastor’s Corner” or “From the Pastor” or “A Word from the Pastor” — whatever it might be called.

Did you know that church council minutes are fascinating? After decades of church newsletter reading, I’d like to think I’ve become a bit of an expert in reading between the lines of those council minutes!

In the most recent batch of October newsletters, the Reformation won out over “the leaves are changing color” as the pastor’s topic. Good stuff.

So, since you, I’m guessing, don’t usually read dozens of church newsletters, here are just a smattering of highlights from your peers.

“Thanks be to God for church newsletters.”

Oak Grove Lutheran’s “From the Pastor,” by Pr. Tom Zarth, introduced the Reformation this way:

 

They call the 500th anniversary of a significant event a “quincentenary.” I can’t think of a quincentennial event I’ve ever celebrated before, but there’s one coming now. On October 31 it will be 500 years since a young German Bible professor named Martin Luther invited discussion around some of the practices of the church that he found questionable and, by all accounts, changed the world.

 

The Rev. Dr. Bill Russell (not surprising this Luther scholar wrote about the Reformation) referred the folks at Augustana Lutheran to the Smalcald Articles and shared:

As a church, we join hands with Luther to remind each other, and to proclaim to everyone, the message of God’s grace. It’s the message that formed the church of the apostles. It’s the message to which Luther sought to reform the church of his day. And it’s the reforming message we still need. This message makes the church, the church. It’s what Luther called, “The First and Chief Article.”

 

PR. CHRISTINE CHILES AND Pr. Mary Halvorson pointed to Reformation resources in their columns. Pr. Chiles wants her Maple Grove Lutherans to hear the catechism through new voices. “Download the free smartphone app of a special edition of Luther’s Small Catechism. … Visit ELCA500.org and watch minute videos of Bishop Elizabeth Eaton teaching from the Small Catechism’s explanations of the Ten Commandments.”

Pr. Halvorson of Grace University likes the Lutheran World Federation’s website (www.lutheranworld.org), especially the writings about Liberated by God’s Grace: Salvation—Not for Sale; Human Beings—Not for Sale; Creation—Not for Sale. 

“In the most recent batch of October newsletters, the Reformation won out over ‘the leaves are changing color’ as the pastor’s topic.”

Pr. Pam Stalheim-Lane reminded newsletter readers at Faith-Lilac Way that

… the need for re-forming hasn’t ended. The church – and the world around us – continues to change. In the process, we may yearn for “the good old days.” But truth be told, there has never been a time in which the church – or any person or any group – had perfectly reflected God’s will and God’s way. … How can we best love God and love our neighbor as Jesus first loved us?

I liked the headline from Pr. Rhonda Hlavinka at Salem English Lutheran:

“Nevertheless, He Persisted”

  • If you have ever held a Bible in your hands, you can thank Martin Luther and people like him who resisted and persisted. 
  • If you do not believe you need to pay your religious leaders to get your relatives (or even yourself) out of purgatory and into heaven, you can thank Martin Luther and people who followed him who resisted and persisted. 
  • If you cherish democracy, you can thank Martin Luther and his doctrine of the “priesthood of all believers.” The equality of all before God and the law was one of the reasons he and others like him resisted and persisted. 
  • If you experience religious liberty, you can thank Martin Luther and the people like him who resisted and persisted against arbitrary control by either the church or the state. 
  • If you have ever stood up to injustice and said “Here I stand,” you can thank Martin Luther and all those who followed him because they resisted and persisted. 
  • If you have ever muttered “This is most certainly true,” you can thank Martin Luther who resisted and persisted.

Thanks be to God for church newsletters. Really.

And, please enable my church newsletter habit by putting your synod office on your newsletter e-mail or postal-mail list!