Bishop Michael Rinehart


July 2010

Palestinian bishop elected president of the Lutheran World Federation


Lanny Westphal reports more than seven hundred people gathered at Stuttgart, Germany, for The Lutheran World Federation Eleventh Assembly to discuss the future direction of this global communion which now includes 145 member churches in 79 countries. See highlights and click Read the latest news from the Assembly in the middle of the page; also check the ELCA news releases that follow.


+ ELCA Members Elected to Lutheran World Federation’s Council

+ Munib Younan Elected President of Lutheran World Federation

+ Lutherans Take Historic Step in Asking for Forgiveness from Mennonites

+ Lutheran World Federation President Pleads for Unity Despite Differences

+ Lutheran World Federation President Says Ecumenical Commitment to Continue

+ Lutheran World Federation Meets In ‘Confident Hope,’ Says President

+ Lutheran World Federation Assembly Focused on Alleviating Hunger

+ Lutherans to Meet in GermanyJuly 20-27 for LWF Eleventh Assembly

+ ELCA Presiding Bishop Calls for Immigration Reform in Letter to Obama

+ LCMS Convention Votes to Continue Cooperative Work with ELCA

Global Mission Festival October 24!


Living Word in Katy,Texas, Oct. 24, 2010

Featuring a Global Marketplace, children’s activities, and speaker Brian McLaren on the challenges facing global mission today. See and click the link under SYNOD EVENTS.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the p rayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who beli eved were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Acts 2:42 ff

Beautiful morning for a drive across Texas.

This morning I left the house around six for the 2 1/2 hour trek across East Texas to Trinity Lutheran Church in Orange, Texas. In some ways being a bishop is like being on a Lutheran Youth Encounter team. Itinerant. Going from church to church, wanting only to serve in a way that supports the mission of Christ.

Founded 1907, Trinity is in the Golden Triangle, a group of towns forming a triangle in an oil-rich industrial area. Dupont used to bring Northerners down in droves. No more. Beaumont is the largest with a population of 132,000. Port Arthur, Bridge City and Orange form the rest. We have ELCA congregations in all these towns, once, many had 150 in worship. Now all are struggling with less than 50.

Trinity was served by LCMS pastors till 1929, but never became a member of LCMS. This was Ray Flachmeier’s first call: ’60-66. Carroll Shaddock grew up here. Deaconess Pat Gordon served here in the mid-nineties. Mother Petrulah (an Episcopalian priest) served here, and Pastor Cindy Beck. They historically sent kids to Lutherhill and Chrysallis.

Until recently, Trinity, Orange shared a pastor (guitar-playing Tim Norris) with a congregation across the state line, St. Paul in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Due to financial reasons they backed out of this relationship, and have contracted with Synodically Authorized Lay Minister Paul Zoch, who serves St. Mark’s, Bridge City, TX, also in the Golden Triangle. These three congregations each have about 30 in worship on an average Sunday.

I was invited for their leadership’s visioning day. We began with breakfast at 8:30. I could have come yesterday and stayed the night. I have a budget for such things, but I don’t use it much. I like sleeping in my own bed, and I’m an early riser. So, a cup of coffee and I’m off. I think of early Methodist circuit riders getting on their horses week after week to visit congregations. I have it easy in my air-conditioned car.

Trinity’s “Visionquest” as they called it, began after a big breakfast of stories and ice breaking. A dozen people—a few life-long members, four from one family. We read together Acts 2:42 ff three times. The mission of the church was the topic: marks of an outwardly-focused church. They talked about awe, devotion to the apostles’ teaching, daily prayer and communion, sharing possessions, radical generosity. What would that look like here?

We shared stories and strategies for small congregation outreach. I asked questions about their past. They shared frustration with former pastors and the synod. Then we talked about the future.

Getting beyond institutional survival to the space where all the energy is outwardly focused on serving and evangelism is a struggle for congregations of any size. Naming the struggle is a vital first step. It will be interesting to watch Trinity over the next five years to see what happens.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

Caring in Caldwell

Elizabeth Lutheran Church in Caldwell is served by Pastor Skip Stutts. Their Community Kitchen has been operating for two bs a half years. It started as a summertimeMonday – Friday breakfast for low-income children during summer break from school. They had meals provided during the school year, but summers left them high and dry!

The folks at Elizabeth soon discovered there was an even greater need for entire families, so they began serving lunch on the 3rd and 4th Saturdays of each month. The reason they chose the last two Saturdays is because that’s when the money/paychecks run out.

It’s grown unbelievably. They are now serving between 400 to 500 meals per month, and providing 100 to 150 food boxes. Each food box contains a week’s worth of food. They get their food items from the Brazos Valley Food Bank and private donations.

The key to a successful ministry is prayer, finding people who feel called to this type of service, and no publicity. As the ministry has grown, God has supplied the workers and the finances. Pastor Skip adds: “This ministry was quickly birthed AFTER we moved to weekly communion.” Jesus is the bread of life.

I want $5,000 for my birthday!

For my birthday, I want $5,000 for the Gallo Clinic in the Central African Republic. CAR has the second highest infant mortality rate in the world. This new clinic is making a huge difference. Watch this exciting video:

Average income in the CAR is now only $300/person/year, making it the 2nd or 3rd poorest country in the world. Average life span is 45.

Friends and colleagues, would you consider a $25, $50 or $100 gift CAR’s Gallo Clinic for my birthday? We’re already up to $700! Let me know, send a check or donate easily on Facebook:



He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8

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