New Year, New Opportunity

Pastor’s Report–January 2018

thayer county

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I want to begin my report by thanking you for an amazing five years of ministry together!  It is hard to believe that five years have gone by so quickly, and I am grateful to God for the opportunity to serve among you.  As we enter this next year of ministry together, I wanted to let you know about a new opportunity that we will be embarking upon in this year.  The Rural Ministry Network of the Nebraska Synod has asked Tri-Saints to be the host site for their annual Rural Immersion Experience for pastors-in-training from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.  The event is for a week in May, and would include up to 10 students and 2 faculty members.  It is sponsored by the Nebraska Synod, and its purpose is to give students training to be pastors a taste of what serving in a rural area might be like.  All three councils have discussed it individually, and in November, we welcomed Pastor Gretchen Ritola, the chairperson of the Rural Ministry Network, to our Super-Council Meeting to answer questions and give us more information.  The councils all agreed that this would be a good opportunity for us and for the students, and we accepted the invitation.

Over the next few months, Rex Kirchhoff and I will be involved in several planning meetings with the Rural Ministry Network, and your councils will be helping to work on details of the experience.  We will need volunteers for housing (they prefer to be housed in pairs, so that they know someone where they are staying), providing meals (we will activate various groups for potlucks and other options), and showing the students around the area and talking to them about rural life (the Men in Mission have already agreed to help out with this, though we welcome more input).  We will let you know about other needs as they become apparent.

Our parish was chosen because we are a vibrant parish who works well together and is involved in many aspects of ministry, from local to global concerns, and I can’t wait to show you off!  One of the questions that all of the councils asked me as we were considering this opportunity was “Why would anyone want to come and see what is happening in Byron and Hardy, Nebraska?”  I have many answers to this question, and I am looking forward to discerning with you how you can answer this question for yourselves in the coming months.  The fact is that most first call pastors will be sent to a rural church for their first call, and it is essential that pastors in training get the opportunity to see what it is like for themselves before they make this move.  When I was in seminary, I went to inner-city Chicago for my cross-cultural immersion requirement and discovered that inner-city ministry was something that I was not called to do at that time.  All cross-cultural immersion experiences help these students to learn how God is calling them, using both “yes” and “no, thank you.”

If you have further questions about our plans for May, please talk to me or Rex Kirchhoff, or a member of your councils.  May God bless this new opportunity for ministry among us!

In Christ,  Pastor Breen Marie Sipes

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