First Lutheran Church Plainville, Kansas Peace Lutheran Church Natoma, Kansas
Well, it is official. We are a dual parish. Do you feel any different?
Probably not; the Elders, chairmen and I have gone to great lengths to make sure that both congregations maintain their own identity, and remain as independent as possible. Many meetings were conducted, as well as both formal and informal discussions with members in an effort to cover all of the bases, and make sure that 2014 and beyond go as smoothly as possible.
Unfortunately, while we tried to make sure we covered everything; there will still be issues and conflicts that come up along the way. Scheduling events may not always be so easy, particularly scheduling services outside of Sunday morning. It may not always be possible for me to be in both places and do all the things that I would like with both congregations. Ultimately, it is important to remember that there are only so many hours in a day and only so many days in a week. There will be times when things outside of Sunday morning do not get done, because quite frankly, they cannot be done. The Elders and I will try to keep those instances to a minimum, but know that when they do come up, patience and understanding are going to be key.
Nevertheless, I do dream of a day when both congregations can operate independently, each with a full time pastor; and I still believe that to be the best possible scenario for both congregations. Unfortunately however, today is not that day. A variety of issues, including cost of health care, population decline in rural areas, a loss of Lutheran identity, as well as a general despising of the Christian faith, are currently working against us.
But while these issues work against us, we know that they cannot over power us. It may be necessary to work together, but to fall into a mindset that both congregations will be dead and gone in a generation is totally irresponsible of our calling as baptized Christians.
The theme of the 2013 LCMS convention was ‘Baptized for this moment’; and Esther 4:14 states, who knows if we have not been brought to this moment for such a time as this?
Our forefathers in the faith did not, through their blood, sweat and tears, build up churches in Plainville and Natoma and beyond in the midst of a harsh wilderness and financial hardships so that we could close up shop when we thought life was going to be hard, or worse, inconvenient to our daily lives. It is not our duty, as baptized Christians, to allow a few bills to cause us to lose faith.
It is not our duty as baptized Christians to throw in the towel, because we assume that there is no one out there who wants to come to church. It is not our duty as baptized Christians to give into the demands of a godless culture at the first sign of conflict.
Instead, it is our duty, as baptized Christians, as those charged with telling the next generation the great things that God has done for us; especially sending His one and only Son into the world to redeem us from our sins; to be shining lights in the midst of the darkness of this world.
This year, and for the foreseeable future, we will operate as a dual parish; we will work together in whatever ways we can; and to the best of our ability, we will make sure that there is a Lutheran presence in both Plainville and Natoma. It will not always be easy; it will not always be fun; there may be times when our sinful nature will want to make things difficult for one another; but through it all, we proceed by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose name we proclaim to those in our communities.
God Bless! Pastor Schmidt