Remember your Driver’s Training Instruction? Mine is largely forgotten save for one scary ride. Here’s a recap…filtered through 50 years. Picture four people in a car: one disinterested instructor (Coach Bennett) and three student drivers. Coach Bennett slumps in the front passenger seat; you weren’t sure he could see above the dashboard. We students sat up, focused on driving and praying!
Coach Bennett chewed tobacco. And to receive the expelled tobacco juices, he held a large cup just under his lower lip. This chewing/spitting process was unpleasant. At least, we surmised, the tobacco habit kept the otherwise barely conscious man….awake.
Even in the best of situations, confusion may strike
One of our fellow students confused the gas and brake pedals. This irritated the coach. Each time she pressed the wrong pedal, Coach Bennett, still semi-conscious, would utter, “It’s simple. Your gas pedal is on the right; your brake pedal is on the left.” That only made it worse.
This timid, pedal confused driver, while rounding a curve managed to drop the two right tires off the pavement. “Ease it back on the road. Foot on the brake,” muttered Coach Bennett between spits into the juice cup. She slammed on the gas. The ensuing jolt felt like a launching rocket ship. Coach Bennett applied his brake, grabbed the steering wheel and brought us to a halt. He was coughing, somewhat violently. Arrested from his slumber, Coach Bennett had swallowed his tobacco plug!!
Focus for the Ride Ahead
After that frightful ride, we noticed a new affect and posture in our instructor. He sat up. Attentive. Alert. Suddenly more focused. Our financial stewardship campaign is fast upon us. We can coast along, take this ride with little interest. Most of us, like that driving instructor, have done it before. Please don’t travel that way through our campaign. Rather, be alert, attentive, more focused. No brakes needed.
Some things about this campaign have caused me to sit up and take note.
- An emphasis on expanded ministry.
- A stated target for total congregational growth in giving.
- An invitation to be stretched by the presence of an anonymous Challenge Gift.
- An invitation by letter to consider growing your giving by a stated weekly increase.
I really don’t think this will be hard to swallow. Rather it will be inspirational, motivational, generosity provoking. Join me in sitting up. Focus on the wondrous view God is giving us through our upcoming Stewardship Campaign It can make for a very fruitful journey together in 2018.
Dear Sisters in Christ,
The first half of the summer has gone by so quickly! Some of our plans have come to pass and some not, but the season is not yet over. Watch what comes next!
WELCA Retreat – New Date – September 9th
What comes next is our annual WELCA retreat. I look forward to this event every year, and have never been disappointed. We will gather in the Fellowship Hall on Saturday September 9th at 10:00 AM for a bible study and a program. There have been a couple of really interesting topics suggested: you and I will have to wait to satisfy our curiosity that Saturday. We will have lunch and then assemble our schoolbags for the children of Families Together (PLM). The whole affair should be over by about 2:00 PM.
These schoolbags have been crafted from material donated by members of WELCA according to a pattern from the NC WELCA website. The supplies were bought with donations from our luncheon in May (more has come in since then, as well). It is amazing what peace and joy accompanies our service to others, isn’t it true?
More Upcoming Events
Two more news items and I am finished. October 13-15th the All Lutheran Women’s Retreat at the Hospitality House and Conference Center (click here for more information). We are are also very excited that Grace Lutheran will host the Spring 2018 Gathering of the NCWELCA.
Picture a haggard old visor. It used to be blue, like the sky. Now it’s virtually devoid of color, long clouded over, obscuring any real color. The elastic band is bereft of elasticity. The metal adjustment clasp could use a dab of rust remover. What once snugly sat on a young man’s head could now fit loosely on an Incredible Hulk.
I’ve been unwilling to part with this visor. By reasonable estimates it’s been in my custody for some 50 years now. I wear it only once a year. It doesn’t fit. That doesn’t matter. Some things deserve a proper burial; not this dome appendage. Frankly, it has no real value. And that, at least to me, is the visor’s real appeal.
The potency of Christianity is it’s nevertheless against the givens of life. Jesus renamed the discarded blessed. He snatched a fearful few and built his church on their faith. He called those settled and safe to being born anew beyond their control. Jesus hung out with followers, detractors, and those identified as used up visors. He still does.
Seeking the Fullness of Life in Christ
I’m deeply honored to be the temporary shepherd of Grace Church, Raleigh. Thanks to your congregational council for entrusting me with this privilege. I hope to be among you for a time between Pastor Frye, who served here for some 16 years, and the as yet unknown new pastor called by the Spirit to lead you. Admittedly, I’m hooked by your mission statement: seeking the fullness of life in Christ for all people. It teems with depth…and grace! No one is a cast off visor.
I’ve got a lot to learn about you, Grace’s ministry and history, it’s culture/norms, hopes/hurts, joys/fears, challenges/opportunities. I think it will be fun. And I hope you will say the same.
By the way, I have a name for that old visor: Always being made new! And by the grace of our Lord Jesus the same can be said of you, Grace Lutheran Church.
Freed and Renewed in Christ,
Pastor David Sloop, Grace Interim Pastor
Lutheran Services Carolinas (LSC) is excited to announce the anticipated opening of Building Independence Lake Wheeler – three homes that will serve nine low-income adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities . To celebrate the completion of this project, LSC is hosting a dedication service and open house on Sunday, August 21 at 4:00 p.m. The service will be held on the grounds of the homes located at 2610 Lake Wheeler Road in Raleigh. A barbecue, sponsored by Thrivent Financial, will take place following the service.
Building Independence Lake Wheeler was initiated as a collaboration between The Serving Cup, Habitat of Humanity of Wake County, and LSC. With more than 5,430 adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities living in Wake County, there is a crucial need for supervised, independent, and affordable housing. LSC will operate the homes and offer services that empower residents on their journey to independence. Michelle McWilliams, program director for Building Independence Lake Wheeler, is excited to welcome residents into their new home.
“I am honored to see these residents start off on a brand new adventure in life”, she said. “The residents will show their community that having a disability will not stop them from following their wishes and dreams. The residents will soon find themselves with new friends working towards the same goal:independence!”
Each energy efficient home includes three private bedrooms and bathrooms, and common kitchen, living, and dining space. Additionally, one home will have a larger common space for resident activities. LSC will operate the homes, which will include offering services that empower residents on their journey to independence. Residents will benefit from affordable monthly rents, access to public transportation and shopping, life skills coaching, opportunities for paid jobs and vocational training, and continuous encouragement from LSC staff.
Other Building Independence partners include the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency, Wake County Lutheran congregations, Thrivent Financial, Wheat Ridge Ministries, and many other generous individuals and organizations.
For more information about the August 21 service, please contact Ellen Watts,, LSC donor relations specialist.
Tuesday, July 12th, special delivery day! Grace WELCA (Women of the ELCA) members gathered to finish our school supply project for PLM Families Together (PLM-FT). To complete the task we needed to sort, box, and pack the donated supplies in preparation for their trip to PLM-FT.
I have to share a story of the events that unfolded during our lunch stop at Big Ed’s restaurant. Our group sat down at a table and we were greeted by the waiter, a young man very near his teens. He took the orders, delivered the food and was preparing to leave to take care of other customers.
One of us remarked, “We need to bless our meal’” and the young man said “Okay!” and held out his hands. Everyone joined hands, and the young man proceeded to recite a blessing he probably heard and used at home. Then he said, “Enjoy your meal!” and left. What a wonderful way to enjoy a meal, a restaurant, and the community of our sisters in Christ! Bravo, young man! A very special incident on a very special day!
The ELCA congregations of the North Carolina Synod will be meeting in assembly June 3-4 in Charlotte, NC.
The theme of the assembly is We Are Church.
Pastors and lay voting members from each congregation will worship together, hear reports from boards and institutions of the Synod and a representative from the ELCA Churchwide offices in Chicago. There will also be Bible studies and seminars, election of officers and representatives to the Synod Council and agencies and boards of the Synod. The assembled group will take action on resolutions and proposals that impact the ministries of the synod.
Grace will be well represented by four voting members elected at a recent Congregation Council meeting: Tommy Oates, President of the congregation; Barbara Rodberg, Elliott Smith, and Caity Stratemeyer. Judy and I will also be in attendance. I will be overseeing election procedures again this year, and Barbara Rodberg will serve on the elections committee.
Our voting members will report back to the congregation once they have returned. The assembly can be followed via live-stream on the synod website: www.nclutheran.org.
Yours in Christ,
On Sunday, June 5, we will go to one summer worship service at 10:00 AM. We do realize that some may feel that attending at either a later or earlier time is inconvenient, but we do encourage everyone to bear with us for these summer months in order for all of our church family to reconnect with one another.
One feature of our summer worship schedule will be the addition of an hour of fellowship beginning at 9:00 AM. We have given this hour of fellowship the name, Grace Fest.
There will be food and beverages, special gathering tables in the narthex and on the front patio (with tents for inclement weather), special music by some of our talented members and guests, and a coloring and activity table for the children. The Celebrate and Connect Mission Teams are working together on this project. We hope that you will take advantage of this time of fellowship to get to know one another better.
Summer is normally a time when people will be away on vacation and attendance at worship is sometimes not possible. We hope that when you do travel that you travel well and come back to us safely. We are also mindful of the need to continue supporting the mission plan through the summer with our contributions, and we thank you for either mailing in your offerings or using the on-line contribution button on the Grace website when you are unable to be in worship.
My prayers are with those of you who will be traveling this summer. God’s peace be with you.
Yours in Christ,