Letting Go – Moving Forward

by Rev. Michael Mueller

The experience of Holy Week has led us finally to the joy of resurrection. But Jesus’ journey to that point included betrayal, denial, abandonment, torture and death. In the course of our own lives the path to renewal and transformation also leads through some kind of loss or death before arriving at new life.

This year we have walked the journey through Holy Week with the people of St. Paul’s and Zion. Together we are on a path toward consolidation. On March 15, at the third joint meeting of our councils, we formed a Mission Team to guide the process forward. Jan Kasbeer and Sandy Roberts have committed themselves to represent St. Andrew on this team.

The first event that the Mission Team is planning will be a structured dialogue, titled “Letting Go – Moving Forward,” on Sunday, May 1. We will join Emmanuel and Gethsemane for this event, because they also are involved in a consolidation process. The conversation will be led by staff of the Zeidler Center for Public Discussion and will provide opportunity to deal with our grief over the losses we have already experienced, as well as those we see coming.

The goal of dialogue is mutual understanding and attentive listening in a safe space that promotes open hearts. The Zeidler Center provides the structure for a reflective dialog that builds relationships and trust. Facilitators lead the process in a way that protects discussion from devolving into conflict and debate rather than respectful dialogue. All the responses are confidential. A facilitator will be assigned to small groups of 5-6 people.

Emmanuel will serve as our hosts on Sunday, May 1, beginning with combined worship for all congregations at 9:00 a.m., followed by brunch in their fellowship hall immediately afterward. We will then break into circles of 5-6 for discussion, ending by 1:00 pm.

Pastor Steve Clingman, who serves Emmanuel and Gethsemane, shared the following reflection:

It was C.S. Lewis in the very personal and raw description of his grief at the loss of wife Joy Davidman Gresham (an American Writer who had come to England and at first developed an intellectual friendship with Clive but this grew into true companionship and loving marriage) who wrote in his book A Grief Observed, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” Grief and fear often walk together.

It may be for this reason and many others that the angel said to the grieving women at the tomb “do not fear” and then told them the good news soon to be standing next to them in the Risen Jesus.

Moving from grief and fear to good news usually does not come without going to the cross first, lots of tears, and letting go of the past. Yet, good news and joy do come in the morning.


I encourage members of St. Andrew to make the commitment to participate in this day together. It will give us opportunity to build relationships and trust. And identifying what we must let go at this point will give us freedom to move forward in the journey toward a new beginning with a fresh sense of purpose.

With Easter Hope,
Pr. Michael Mueller

Atonement, Our Savior’s Merge

The congregations of Atonement and Our Savior’s Lutheran Church voted on January 31 to merge into a single congregation. The new name of the congregation is Living Faith Lutheran Church.

Founded in 1896, Our Savior’s was a daughter of Emmaus Lutheran Church as a member of the United Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Atonement was founded in 1901, a daughter of Holy Communion Lutheran Church.

Becoming New

from the January Chimes Call

It is exciting to become something new, and God is indeed taking two congregations and making us new. But change is sometimes difficult and even painful. That is particularly true if the change is outside of your control.

150123-2689atonAs Our Savior’s and Atonement have shared space and worship these past two years, Our Savior’s has been in an extended time of grieving. First they lost worship in their own space and with it some autonomy. They gave up a more fluid worship style for Atonement’s more formal style. (Though in 2016 worship leaders are looking at one service per month that will be more informal in style.) While most of the worshiping body from Our Savior’s came over to Atonement, not everyone did, and so there were losses there as well. Now, with the sale of the Our Savior’s building, there is another loss…a permanence to the direction that the congregation has been heading.

For the Atonement part of the congregation there has been little by way of loss. In fact, all Atonement has had to do was accept the wonderful Our Savior’s congregation to be a part of the community.

But now, with the choosing of a new name, there is a loss. And the Atonement congregation has responded with understandable grief. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross defined five stages of grief upon learning of a loss. Although the stages of grief do not always proceed in an orderly manner, they often follow a consistent pattern. First denial. The choosing of a new name has been talked about for a year. Little was said about it to the Consolidation Team. One has to assume that much of the Atonement congregation just ignored such talk as unlikely, many were in denial.

The second stage is anger…we’ve had that too. “How dare you talk about taking away a name that has been with us for 106 years?” Then the person grieving moves to bargaining. “Well, maybe if we can’t have Atonement we could have Atonement Our Savior’s. That’s fair for everyone.”

We don’t know what the results of the final vote will be but should a new name be chosen the next step is depression. It is normal when suffering a loss to feel the pain of that loss, that is both appropriate and healthy.

Finally, in emotionally healthy people, there is acceptance. The Consolidation Team asks that the Our Savior’s portion of our congregation be patient with the Atonement portion. They are experiencing a bit of the grief that you have felt in the past two years. Give them a little time until they come to acceptance.

The Consolidation Team is determined to use a democratic process in the choosing of a name for the new congregation. After several rounds of voting the choices have been narrowed down to two: Atonement Our Savior’s Lutheran Church and Living Faith Lutheran Church. Interestingly the congregation was evenly split between the two names with the last round of voting, each receiving 82 votes (with New Life Lutheran Church receiving 21 votes.) A simple majority will choose the name.

The Consolidation Team has decided to delay the vote until after the Consolidation vote, as the name has become a distraction to the much more important issue of consolidation.

Emmaus, Emaús Formally Unite

160124-juntos39peOn January 24, 2016, Emmaus Evangelical Lutheran Church and Parroquia Emaús voted to consolidate into one new congregation. The new congregation will be called Emaus ELCA, a name which reflects the spelling of the Spanish-speaking portion of the congregation and of the Danish-speaking founders of the original church.

The process was shepherded by Stephen Knowles, attorney for the Greater Milwaukee Synod. Each entity named three commissioners who will serve on the Transition Team: Antelmo Hernando, Cathy Meyer, Pablo Enriquez, Carol Yust, Maribel Ortiz, Pastor Mary Janz and the two council secretaries, Missy Porcaro and Luz Cetina. Greater Milwaukee Synod Director of Evangelical Mission Rev. Sandy Chrostowski and Rev. Hector Carrasquillo from the national office of the ELCA participated in the morning events.

Following the separate meetings, there were cheers of approval as the groups came together in the sanctuary.  The Emmaus vote for approval of the consolidation was 39-5, with the vote of the Emaús congregation being unanimous at 57-0.

Chris Lamberton, Pastor Gabriel Marcano and Pastor Mary Janz led the first official congregational meeting of Emaus ELCA.  Pastor Sandy and Pastor Hector offered an opening prayer.  Following the introduction of the Transition Team, a new bilingual constitution was approved.  The proposed unified budget of $371,000 was also approved, and the group agreed to extend the terms of the current council members for an additional four months.

The meeting ended with a sharing of the peace and then sharing a catered meal in the church basement.

Emaus ELCA will now operate with a single church council and will soon begin the call process for a new, bilingual pastor. The church will continue to offer separate services in English and Spanish, with occasional bilingual worship services to mark special occasions. English worship services are at 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and 9:00 a.m. Sundays; Spanish worship services are at 11:00 a.m. Sundays.

Farewell and Godspeed

The Emmaus and Emaús congregations bid Godspeed to Pastor Jhon Freddy at the 9:00 and 11:00 services next Sunday, January 17. He will preach at both Sunday services, and the community is invited to wish him, Liliana and Mateo bendición y despedida. He has accepted a call to a congregation in Fort Myers, Florida; his last day in Racine will be January 19.

2015ELCAcalendar_febPastor Jhon Freddy wrote in his farewell letter, “It is with humble gratitude that I thank you for the wonderful ministry we have shared together. Thank you for your love and support, not only to me but also to my family. It has been my joy and honor to serve with you these last seven years, and even more than that, it has been a blessing to be served by all of you.”

Las congregaciones Emaús y Emmaus oferta Godspeed al Pastor Jhon Freddy durante las misas a las 9:00 y las 11:00 el próximo domingo, 17 de enero. Él predicar tanto a los servicios dominicales, y lo desearán, Liliana y Mateo bendición y despedida. Él ha aceptado una llamada a una congregación en Fort Myers, Florida; su último día en Racine será el 19 de enero.

Pastor Jhon Freddy escribió en su carta de despedida, “Con todo mi corazón les quiero decir gracias por compartir este gran ministerio de fe en Emaús.”

St. Andrew to Hold Congregational Meeting

St. Andrew has negotiated with Harbor Rock Tabernacle, a local congregation in the Baptist tradition, to share space with Shekinah Glory and St. Andrew. They will move in on December 1 and held their first worship service at St. Andrew on Sunday, December 6. So at the beginning of December St. Andrew’s Sunday worship time has changed to 8:00 a.m. Harbor Rock worships at 10:00. Shekinah Glory will continue to meet at noon on Sundays.

Harbor Rock will also use six of the rooms for children’s education during their worship time. So St. Andrew will gather after worship for fellowship and other activities in Fellowship Hall.

St. Andrew is in process of finalizing a six-month space sharing agreement with Harbor Rock. Next spring when St. Andrew considers the renewal of that agreement, one of the options for Harbor Rock will be to make an offer to purchase the property.

Congregation Meeting – December 13

On Sunday, Dec. 13, St. Andrew will meet following worship to clarify the congregation’s direction beyond the anticipated sale of its property. After The available options include closing the congregation, consolidating with one or more other congregations, and renting space to continue as a distinct congregation. This will be an important moment of discernment for us as the congregation determines how to move forward. The goal is to reach clarity about which direction to pursue. Please hold this gathering in your prayers, that all may listen together deeply and speak wisely to one another.

Christmas Eve – December 24

This year St. Andrew will celebrate Christmas Eve at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 3011 Erie Street. The combined Christmas Eve worship will begin at 6:00 p.m. This will give both congregations an opportunity to share musical resources and to gather in a full house to celebrate this holy night. If you are a singer, you are welcome to join the choir for that evening. The rehearsal schedule will be minimal, and St. Andrew staff will communicate that as soon as details become available.

Pastor John Bischoff currently serves both St. Paul’s and Zion. The two congregations are in process of exploring the possibility of consolidation. One of St. Andrew’s options for the future could be to join this consolidation. So sharing worship on this Christmas Eve is also a way to take a step toward building a relationship with them.

If your Christmas Eve schedule with family prevents you from coming to a 6:00 p.m. service, Harbor Rock Tabernacle will hold a 4:00 p.m. service at St. Andrew, and Emmaus would also welcome anyone to join them in worship at 4:30 p.m.

Much is happening, and many things are changing during this time. It is important that we stay in conversation. If you have questions, concerns, hopes or thanksgivings that you wish to share, please contact us.

— Rev. Michael Mueller, Pastor; and Terri Nelson, President of St. Andrew council

St. Andrew Christmas Craft Event

9002b_schwarzSt. Andrew Lutheran Church Free Community Christmas Craft Kids Day (The children will create 2 Christmas crafts they can keep or wrap and give as gifts. They will also hear the Christmas story and have pizza).

When: Sunday, December 20, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Where: St. Andrew Lutheran Church, 1015 4 Mile Rd.
Who is welcome: Children ages 3 and Up

FaithWorks Structure Dissolves; Mission Continues

Final Report

by Pastor Mary Janz, FaithWorks Champion

Four years ago, as an outgrowth of lengthy Racine Area Mission Strategy (RAMS) discussions among leaders of eleven ELCA congregations, the profound mission partnership of FaithWorks was formed. These congregations (Emmaus, Emaús, St. Andrew, Our Savior’s and Atonement), bound by an annual covenant, financial commitment and a strong focus on outreach mission in the community, anti-racism work and care for creation, have, as a result, built strong relationships with one another.

Consultation and financial support has come from the Synod and from ELCA churchwide throughout the history of RAMS and FaithWorks. The Mission Council, comprised of two lay leaders and the clergy from each congregation, met monthly and was responsible for the many outcomes of the collaborative work.


PentecostService - 43

Photograph by Brian Fuerstenberg.

Many involved in the original visioning process for FaithWorks had dreamed that the FW congregations would eventually come under one umbrella, combining assets and restructuring for the sake of mission in Racine. Several leaders had hoped that there would be the willingness to establish ministry and worship sites in Racine with a shared staff and shared resources. However, there was resistance to letting go of individual assets, including buildings, for the sake of the whole, and the financial situations, the histories and the cultures influencing each of the congregations also impacted directly.

What resulted has been work on the Our Savior Atonement merger, including the anticipated sale of the Our Savior building in early December 2015. Although Emmaus and St. Andrew alternated worship for eleven months, the decision in September 2014 was to continue as separate worshiping communities. Since that time, Emmaus and Emaús, with the help of Synod and churchwide staff, have been working on becoming a new unified bilingual congregation with worship services in both English and Spanish, but with combined governance, finances and leadership. The members of St. Andrew will be reassessing their future direction at a December congregational meeting.


Photo by Art Smith

Leading the November meeting of the FaithWorks Mission Council, Pastor Mary informed the group that there would be no future funding from the ELCA and that decisions had to be made regarding the future of FaithWorks. In the past year resources have been used for the following: stipends for the positions of FaithWorks Champion and Communications Director, honoraria for guest preachers for the Season of Creation, honoraria for the FW Bible study leader, expenses for God’s Work Our Hands Sunday and expenses for the October Anti-Racism training. Those expenses, totaling nearly $6,000, included registration fees, interpreters and food for the three-day training for the 32 FaithWorks participants attending.


Photo courtesy Outreach for Hope

Facing the reality that FaithWorks funds would be depleted by December, members of the Mission Council voted to suspend the current structure of FaithWorks, including the annual covenant, financial support by member congregations, monthly meetings and the stipends paid to a Champion and Communications Director. At the same time, strong sentiment was expressed about the desire to continue to be in relationship with one another and to not abandon the richness of joint worship services, fellowship and shared opportunities for service in mission together in Racine.

The group identified the following areas of future commitment: ministry with neighborhood kids (especially after school and Neighborhood Camp programs), homelessness, ongoing anti-racism work, food ministries (especially FW Food Pantry, the Sunday night meal program and Pan de Cielo food pantry for Latino families), joint worship opportunities, and God’s Work Our Hands. There is a hope that there be quarterly lay led gatherings where representatives of all interested ELCA congregations be invited to join together in mission. Margaret Robinson, head of the FaithWorks Food Pantry, has consented to convene the first of these meetings after the first of the year. It is also the intent that current pastors of FaithWorks congregations, together with other interested active Racine ELCA clergy, will begin to meet on a regular basis.


Photo courtesy The Lutheran magazine

The members of the FaithWorks Mission Council celebrate the seeds planted by the hard work and dedication of so many during the past four years, and it is our prayer that all that we celebrate will truly take root and continue to grow and flourish:

  • Relationships built – clergy, individuals, congregations, cultures, and community
  • Anti-racism work, communication between English and non-English speakers
  • Radical hospitality model for the food ministries
  • God’s Work Our Hands – service, worship and fellowship together
  • Strong ministry with neighborhood children and families
  • Joint worship, especially Holy Week and God’s Work, Our Hands Sunday
  • Emphasis on the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalized
  • Bible studies that feed, push and challenge

We pray that God’s Spirit grace us with passion and renewed energy and lead us into the next chapter of this venture filled with so much opportunity!

November 12, 2015


Photo by Art Smith

Food Pantry Makes Thanksgiving Plans

foodpantryB84The FaithWorks Food Pantry continues to be a fabulous success. Thanks to all who contribute in one way or another.

We plan to have a big Thanksgiving pantry on November 24 which will run from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. We anticipate serving somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 families. Beyond items mentioned in the Brown Bag Sunday article the pantry has a particularly strong need right now for canned vegetables, canned dinners (spaghetti, chili, stew, etc.), canned fruit and boxes of cereal. The contributions of the congregation make a difference in the lives of so many people.

Thank you for your continued support and kindness.