Remember, Rejoice, Renew

Written by Pastor Richard N. Nelson, Prince of Peace, 1980-1993

Remember

In September 1980, Prince of Peace, under the leadership of Pastor Merv Thompson, called me to be Pastor of Evangelism & Pastoral Care with special responsibility for new member classes. During the period of 1982-1992, 5,000 persons attended these 5-week, 1-hour sessions. The topics included: What it Means to be a Christian, What it Means to be a Lutheran, and What it Means to be a Steward of Many Gifts.

In addition, presentations were given by Prince of Peace leaders, CDLC preschool, education, youth, Bible study, music, Habitat for Humanity, men’s and women’s ministries, community and mission groups.

Rejoice

The concluding session was a Sunday evening event, which included a potluck dinner (provided by sponsors of the new members), a wonderful worship and communion service, and pictures. Those from the New Member class read Scripture, provided music, and gave testimonies. They shared “What Jesus Means to Me,” and ways they could be a partner in spiritual growth and service. In this 10-year growth period, with membership augmenting from 3,200 to 8,200, the “Rejoice” was the many ways those from non-church, Catholic and previous church inactive backgrounds found new life and spirit-filled energy.

Many were soon involved in leadership, outreach, Habitat for Humanity, prayer groups, Caring & Sharing Hands, and programs to help hurting areas in the U.S. and overseas.

Renew

Meeting these new members 10-15 years later, they were thankful for the 5-week sessions, the bonding and challenges, and the transformation of their lives to be Christ’s servants in a needy world. Gratitude was also expressed for the home visits I made to almost every person or family in that 5-week period. In those home visits, people were able, on a one-to-one basis, to share questions, hurts, or grief. They found that even in a “mega-church” there was a feeling of belonging.

In my visits listening was a priority, and children and youth got involved. There was always Scripture and prayer. “So then you are no longer strangers, sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and member of the household of God.”  – Ephesians 2:19

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