The Calling of the Apostles Peter and Andrew – 1308-1311, by Duccio de Buoninsegna
Grace and peace to you my family in Christ,
This weekend is part of a yearly week on Christian calendars called “Prayers for Christian Unity.”
Tim and I thought it would be fun in celebration of the week to switch places and preach at one another’s churches. And in my heart, Ascension is still “my church.” Though we each grew up in different Christian backgrounds, we follow the same Jesus. Jesus invites all of us to “follow him.”
I’m excited to see you in worship this weekend as we dig into Mark’s gospel and ponder what Jesus’ invitation might mean for us in this new year.
We are guided by Jeremiah 29:11, leaning especially into “…to give you a future with hope…” knowing that God has a plan for One Ascension!
We thank the many folks who are stepping in during this interim period! Pastor Steve has graciously agreed to increase his hours from ½ time to ¾ time in this interim period. Pastor Paul is taking on special projects – including planning our Lenten mid-week worship services! Jenelle Smith is increasing her hours to meet ministry needs, and volunteers are helping to maintain important children and youth ministries including Sunday School and Confirmation. Thank you to Dianne Beck for leading our High School Group! Whew! God is good and providing for us!
We now have two important positions to fill – an Associate Pastor position and a Youth Director position.
To call a Pastor we are required to elect a Call Committee. We will be having a specially called congregational meeting at noon on Sunday, February 4th in the sanctuary.
A discernment team will be assembled to help in the selection of the Youth Director.
What can you do? At this point please pray that the Holy Spirit be on our congregation, our leaders, and this process.
Calling All Quilters!
Are you someone with the beautiful gift of sewing and quilting? If so, we would love to have you help with our High School Faith Quilt Milestone.
Each year we celebrate our high school seniors with the gift of a Faith Quilt. They are such a cherished and beautiful keepsake to carry with them as they move on to new schools, new jobs, and new places. They receive these quilts in June, but the process of creating them begins in the next month. If you’d like to help, please contact Dianne Beck at .
Adult Ed Class – January 21st
Faith + Fair Trade: Mt Meru Coffee Project – Supporting Families. Growing Futures. Changing Lives.
An amazing partnership between the people of Greater Milwaukee Synod of the ELCA, the Diocese of Meru (ELCT) and coffee farmers in the Mt Meru region of Tanzania launched more than 20 years ago with this conversation between a Lutheran pastor from Wisconsin and a Tanzanian coffee farmer: “We grow coffee. You drink coffee. Would you buy your coffee from us?” The pastor’s response was “Yes.”
Join us in Adult Education for a series of thoughtful study and lively discussions devoted to CIVIC LIFE AND FAITH. All Classes are held in the library, beginning at 10:30 a.m.
Jan. 28 Session 1: Dr. Carol Bartell, “How Is God’s Invitation to Discipleship Lived Out in a Democracy?”
Feb. 4 Session 2: Rev. Paul Evenson, “How Do Christians Address Controversial Civic Issues?”
Feb. 11 Session 3: Rev. Paul Gravrock, “What Are Lutheran Views on Civic Life?”
Feb. 18 Session 4: Rev. Ron Cox, “What Are the Objectives of Democracy in the United States?”
Feb.25 Session 5: Mr. Karsten Lundring, “What’s Faith-based Living Got to Do With Civic Life?”
March 3 Session 6: Rev. Steve Herder, “How Do We Go in Peace to Love and Serve the Lord in Civic Life?”
The curriculum for Jan. 28-March 3 can be downloaded HERE.
Printed copies will also be available for each session.
The Hands and Feet and Voices of Christ:
Let’s Celebrate Christian Life Hours
Bringing church to worshippers who can’t get around much is a joyful experience – if you ask our Christian Life Hour (CLH) team led by Norm Guetschoff, with Barbara Krum, Marilyn Reeve, Dennis Gray and Jeff Specks, and Pastor Steve as pastoral liaison. We go to help strengthen people’s faith and trust in Jesus, and to let these residents know that they are not forgotten, but loved by the Christian community, by our Triune God!
During 2023, Norm led 100, yes one hundred, services at assisted living and memory care facilities!
That’s a lot of connection and comfort for residents, who love to see our teams coming.
Singing of hymns, brief devotions, Bible readings, prayers, and fellowship are part of these services.
CLH teams visit six local senior living facilities each month, which you can find on this handy schedule.
Norm leads these services at Atria Grand Oaks, Royal Oaks Inn, Sage Mountain, and Sunrise Westlake. Pastor Steve leads the services at University Village Oak View and Hillcrest Royale.
Would you like to get involved, become a CLH team member or lead services? A heart for Christ and seniors is the only requirement and it helps if you love to sing the old hymns of faith!
“The more that we worship, the more that God is glorified!” – Pastor Steve.
Melissa Berg Wants to Help People Connect With God Through Music
For Melissa Berg, music has been a part of life as long as she can remember. “I have been singing since I was two years old,” says Melissa, who now leads worship at Ascension’s 10:30 Sunday morning contemporary services.
“My mom always sang songs to me as a kid — ‘Tea for Two,’ ‘My Favorite Things’ from ‘The Sound of Music’… All the things she heard, she taught me to sing, although funnily enough, she was tone deaf.”
Melissa comes across as lively, charming, and quick to laugh during an afternoon’s chat. She offers thoughtful insights, too.
For example, “Everybody’s different. For me personally, the easiest way to connect with God is… read more and hear Melissia sing, click here.
High School Seniors – Call for Faith Quilts!
The Faith Quilt Milestone comes in June, and we need to prepare soon!
Each year we celebrate high school seniors the first Sunday in June with the gift of a faith quilt. Because these take time to prepare and create, we need to know soon if you’re interested. Please email Dianne Beck ASAP if you’re interested in receiving a quilt so we can make sure to have this beautiful and meaningful milestone ready for you.
Celebrate Game Day & Valentine’s Day the Fair Trade Way!
While February may be small in terms of calendar days, it is big in terms of opportunities to celebrate the Fair Trade Way! Delectable treats made with Fair Trade chocolate and nuts are wonderful to share and enjoy on February 11 – Super Bowl Sunday.
And let’s not forget Valentine’s Day – a great time to share some Fair Trade chocolate with loved ones and friends. We’ve got three opportunities for you to stock up on your Fair Trade favorites for February.
Fair Trade Lane will be open Thursday, February 8 (2:30-4 PM) and Sunday, February 11 (8-9 AM & 10-10:30 AM). (We’re planning a fun little Fair Trade Lane surprise in February – we look forward to seeing you!) And, if ordering works better for you, you can order your Fair Trade favorites until Wednesday, February 7 – the order form is available in the Narthex, the Church Office, on our Fair Trade webpage and HERE.
We’ve added some new things on Fair Trade Lane and in the order form, including the Mt Meru Coffee Project coffee from Tanzania. We look forward to meeting & greeting you in February on Fair Trade Lane – Everyone is always invited & always welcome.
Let’s Be The Change We Wish to See!
(LIRS is now Global Refuge. Why was this name change made? Find out in the letter below and powerful accompanying video, HERE .
New Name. Same Mission.
As Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service enters its 85th year, I am excited to share the beginning of an impactful new chapter in the history of our organization. On January 17, 2024, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) is becoming Global Refuge.
Our decision to rebrand is rooted in the massive worldwide need for compassionate support of those seeking safety. With more than 100 million people displaced by war, famine, climate change, and persecution, our mission of providing the “long welcome” is more crucial than ever. Our Board knew we needed to build a bigger table of supporters.
The Global Refuge brand fittingly conveys our mission of providing safety and support to refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants from across the world. As our new identity makes us more accessible to clients, partners, and supporters, it leaves unchanged our core vision: to foster a world of just and welcoming communities, informed by our Lutheran heritage and decades of experience. Our faith-based identity remains integral to our organization, reflecting the spirit of love that shapes our work of welcome and strengthens our relationships with Lutheran communities and congregations, as well as with ecumenical, nondenominational, and interfaith partners.
We cannot overstate our gratitude for your continued support, partnership, and commitment to welcoming immigrants and refugees. As we redouble our commitment to advocating alongside, caring for, and empowering newcomers, we hope you will join us in celebrating this new chapter of transformational service.
To learn more about Global Refuge, visit our website.
Krish O’Mara Vignarajah
President & CEO, Global Refuge
If you or someone you know could benefit from the caring, understanding and fellowship of our GriefShare support group, please consider joining, Thursdays at 1 PM. Here you will find complete information.
Don’t have a New Year’s Resolution but Want to Follow God’s Will this Year?
You’re invited to:
Praying through the Psalms 2024
Weekly Study and Prayer Meetups (led by Dianne Beck)
What this is: A way to surrender our year to God and his will by reading, meditating on, and lifting our prayers to Him as we read and pray the Psalms, also known as Jesus’s prayer book. We essentially will be following what Paul tells us to do in Philippians 4:6-7: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
How we will do this: Each week will have a suggested list of Psalms to read, based on a schedule found in Praying the Bible by Don Whitney. While it may be helpful to have a copy of this book, it isn’t necessary, as I will guide us through how to follow the schedule and pray through the Psalms on the first week we meet. I will have a written summary of how to do this available as well for those who can’t make it in person.
Wednesday, January 24 – 5:15-6:15 – Intro on how to pray through the Psalms and reading schedule we will follow.
Wednesday, January 31– 5:15-6:15 Meet and Pray
Wednesday, February 7 (NO MEETING) Read suggested Psalms from schedule, record thoughts to pray on own and next time we meet.
Wednesday, February 14 -5:15-6:15 Meet and Pray
Wednesday, February 21- 5:15-6:15 Meet and Pray
Wednesday, February 28 – 5:15-6:15 Meet and Pray
If there’s enough interest, we can continue through future weeks as well.
Materials Needed: A Bible and a journal/notebook to record your thoughts and prayers each week.
Learn about LWR Activities in Current Global Crisis Spots
You are Invited to Lunch and a Presentation by Pastor Lisa Kipp of Lutheran World Relief in the Bethlehem Room, Friday, January 26, noon-1:30.
If you are a quilter or kit maker, or a compassionate person about humanitarian challenges around the world, this is for you!
Pastor Kipp will share updates about what LWR is doing in Gaza, Ukraine and other areas around the world.
About Rev. Lisa Kipp
Rev. Lisa Kipp serves as the Director of Congregational Engagement at Lutheran World Relief. In her role, she leads a team that connects congregations across the United States with LWR’s work of bringing lifesaving aid and long-term hope to our most vulnerable neighbors around the world. As part of this work, she also oversees Lutheran World Relief’s Quilt and Kit Ministry, a program that has been a part of the fabric of thousands of Lutheran congregations for over 75 years. Prior to this role, Rev. Kipp served an ELCA congregation in Rochester, MN, for nearly twenty years. She continues to live in Rochester with her husband and three sons.
About Lutheran World Relief
Affirming God’s love for all people, Lutheran World Relief works with Lutherans and partners around the world to end poverty, injustice and human suffering. Founded by Lutherans in the United States at the end of World War II, LWR tackles global poverty by helping people adapt to the challenges that threaten their livelihoods and well-being. They provide aid in emergencies and help families restore their lives. They partner with local leaders to grow rural economies and build healthy communities, breaking the cycle of poverty so our neighbors all around the world can thrive.
Choir of the West Heading to Ascension on February 2
Pacific Lutheran University’s Choir of the West is including Ascension in its current tour. The acclaimed group will be here February 2 at 7 PM.
The Choir of the West was established in 1926 and has a long history of excellence. The choir was one of the first Lutheran college choirs to tour regionally, nationally and internationally, and has appeared at numerous prestigious choir conferences. The 2024 tour marks the first major tour in four years, and is the first under the leadership of Brian Galante, Director of Choral Studies and Associate Dean for the newly established School of Music, Theatre & Dance.
The program is titled “The Gift to Sing”, taken from Damien Geter’s evocative setting of the James Weldon Johnson poem. Centered on themes of resilience, comfort, hope, renewal, and reimagining, the choir also features works by Felix Mendelssohn, William Byrd, Roderick Williams, Saunder Choi, Marques L.A. Garrett, Kestutis Daugirdas, Brian Galante, Caroline Shaw, Craig Hella Johnson, Nilo Alcala, and Juris Karlsons.
To learn more about the Choir of the West or the PLU School of Music, Theatre & Dance, CLICK HERE.
In Case You Missed It…
Jonah 3:1-5, 10
1 Corinthians 7:29-31
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Did you know the number one reason people go to a particular church is because of friendships? Wearing your name tag is one of the easiest ways to make a guest feel welcomed and help new and existing members become better acquainted with one another.
Wearing a name tag is an effortless way to reach out to people to just start a conversation. You never know if God puts you in a place to make a positive impact on someone. It’s a good thing to remember.
Name tags are on the magnetic white boards at one of the two church entrances. If you cannot find your name tag, please tell the church office and they will order you a new one.
Book Club Notes
The Ascension Book Club meets the 3rd Thursday of the month at 1:30 in the Bethlehem Room, in the office building. The group chooses books based on members’ interest and discussion is led by one of the members. Books vary from popular novels to nonfiction. Please feel free to join us–we are a friendly group.
Jan 18 Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult
Feb 15 Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
Books should be available by Libby, local library, Amazon or thriftbooks.
Mini Retreat to Start the Year
We pray that you may once again meet the Risen Christ through the Word and Sacrament ministry, and through the fellowship of this family of faith.
If you do not have a church home, we would like to invite you to worship with our Ascension family again.
All people who are baptized and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are welcome to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
May God bless you in your worship!
Pastors Tim Delkeskamp and Steve Herder