When a pastor stands before his or her congregation at a Sunday worship service and looks out at the gathering of worshippers, the pastor knows that each person (including the pastor) is at a different point in their faith journey.
No one travels the faith journey alone. Each person’s faith is inspired by another. Each person learns from the other and each person is strengthened by others in their commitment to Christ and in accepting the challenge of making Christ known in the world.
“Making Christ known is the mission of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church,” said Pastor Jennifer Kuhnert. “As a Christian church that will never change. Evangelism or telling God’s story is a key part of our faith.”
Pastor Kuhnert said the underlying goal of the congregation is to witness and express our faith with others. It means not hesitating to share with others what God has given us.
In doing this we acknowledge that each of us is at a different point on our faith journey. Talking about our faith and inviting others to become part of the congregation is not easy for believers who bear many faith questions themselves. On this faith journey the congregation needs to continuously search for the truth and more deeply understand it, said Pastor Kuhnert.
Church Council President Dean Meyer said having a new pastor is exciting to the congregation. One can sense a wave of enthusiasm around here. There is always some anxiety when a pastor moves on. Who will we get is asked during the long transition process? But Meyer said everything is going smoothly. Change and new ideas can often cause apprehension but for the most part everything is going well. While embracing changes to the worship service, now is also a good time to focus on our mission, to reach out to spread the word of God as opposed to simply sustaining it within, he said.
Meyer had this to say about the mission statement: “It is a convenient mission statement, but many of us struggle with undersanding it. Our new pastor is moving us in the direction of what it means and how to accomplish it. It is a new experience but an exciting one in terms of the years ahead and what we need to do to actually make that a true statement.”
An important way by which the people’s faith and God’s grace works in and through them is the Sunday liturgy and other prayer services. The Gloria Dei people are actively involved in these services, said Pastor Kuhnert. In addition to the message, plenty of people take roles providing the music, reading the scriptures, serving communion, teaching Sunday school, and providing fellowship before and after the service. “It takes the entire congregation at Sunday morning worship to make it happen the way it does. We live in a world of sin. This is an opportunity for us to come together to be rejuvenated and refreshed and to lift up those with us, and as a community through prayer, worship and praise go back out into the world and serve Christ,” she said.
Meyer values the socializing that takes place before and after services. Walking into the narthex before services one is warmly welcomed and the same warm atmosphere is found afterwards. Just being together is a good experience and that alone carries you through lots of trials, he said.
Pastor Kuhnert added that in order to maintain a relationship with God one must rely on relationships with others as saints and sinners. In mixing with others that God-centered relationship becomes evident but not blatant, she said.
Meyer agreed that although most of the time folks don’t routinely discuss the message of the sermon, just learning other people’s faith journey is one of the most fascinating aspects. “Because we have a large mix of people from other faiths, listening to their history and their journey and how they ended up at Gloria Dei is extremely interesting and at times inspirational,” he said.
A Bible study session after each Sunday service and another on Thursday mornings year round at a nearby restaurant are grace-filled moments that foster
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