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125 Years and Counting – Ministry Update

Zion has come a long way since the first German Lutherans gathered in the home of Anna Seif in the late 1880’s to worship God. Her husband, Anton, owned and operated the Holland City Brewery. He was, however, a Catholic, while his wife was a Lutheran. As a gift to his wife, he purchased the first plot and built Zion’s first church building on the corner of 12th and Maple, which, oddly enough, is where St. Francis de Sales is today. The charter of “Zion Evangelical German Church of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession” was officially signed on May 29, 1893.

God has led Zion through all of its 125+ years. I am blessed to serve Zion as pastor during this season of its long life, and I am eager to look into the future of ministry together in God’s kingdom. Please join us for our 125th Celebration on May 20. Worship is at 10am with catered meal after from Hog Wild BBQ. Sign up in the fellowship hall so we can order enough food.

This article will get a bit long, but I want to give you an update on the ministry of Zion, particularly its staffing future. Since last July, Zion has been down two ministry staff, one in music and one in family life/discipleship. Since then we as a church, especially leadership, has been praying for God’s guidance. There have been many fruitful conversations and much good has happened. Many of you have asked about this, however, much of the work has been behind the scenes prayer and discussion by our Elders and Council. It is kind of like caring for your soil before you plant your garden. People walk by in the summer and want to see your beautiful tomatoes, but a lot had to happen while no one was watching. You had to till the soil, make compost, weed, plant, water, etc. Well, now some of the fruit is arriving at Zion and we can begin to talk publicly about it.

Zion has extended a contract to a person for Director of Worship and Technology. We hope this person will join the team here beginning this summer. He is skilled in all of our worship areas (organ, choir, bells, 11am band, worship planning) as well as web and technology abilities. Zion’s Elders have been in contact with him since January, and believe him to be a great fit here. At the time I write this, his name is withheld for now out of respect for his current church, but we hope to make it public soon.

Zion has also formed a Call Committee for a Director of Family Life and Discipleship. Council President, Tim Gort, has formed this per our constitution and the recommendation of Council, and the committee includes 8 people from Zion who represent all ages and areas of the church. The committee will have met twice before May, and will be in the process of narrowing down candidates to interview. The committee will eventually narrow the list to one, two, or three, which then will be presented to a Voters’ Meeting to be issued a “call.”

Now for the more complicated part. I hope you stay with me. If you noticed, the process for the two people mentioned above is different. This has to do with the difference between a “called” worker and a “contracted” worker. A “called” worker has been trained for ministry at one of our Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod universities or seminaries in one of their rostered, church work programs. They have fulfilled the requirements to be a certified, rostered, “called” worker. This applies to pastors, Family Life Ministers, Lutheran teachers, Directors of Christian Education, Deaconesses, and a few others. In order for Zion to issue a “call” (job) to a called worker, it must happen by the entire congregation at a Voters’ Meeting.

For non-called workers, the Board of Elders has the jurisdiction to hire and oversee. Elders oversee and care for all staff, but in our church constitution, non-called workers are hired by the Board of Elders. As we were spending time praying, conversing, and considering our options for future staffing regarding Director of Worship and Technology, we “stumbled” upon the name of someone who looked like they might be a great fit here. Though they have much training and experience in Lutheran worship and music, they are not a “called” worker. So, between the Elders and myself, we went through a thorough hiring process: received a resume and further information, conducted phone interviews, personal interviews, references, etc. Convinced that this person is the right person to add to the ministry team here, the Elders voted to offer him a contract, with the blessing of the Council.

I hope you did not get lost in the forest among the trees of the details I provided. Zion’s leaders want to be as transparent as possible, and to make wise, godly decisions in leading God’s church here. I am excited for the future of Zion. I am excited to serve Jesus here together, and I am excited to add the right people to the ministry team here, that we all might be better disciples and make more disciples of our Savior, Jesus.

Serving the Risen Savior,

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