Bishop Michael Rinehart



Care Act COVID-19 Relief for Churches

Here are a few articles to get started as we absorb this 1,400-page legislation.

This act has multiple provisions for churches and church employees:

Unemployment insurance for laid off church employees. Under the CARES Act, those normally not eligible (including church employees) can collect unemployment benefits if they are laid off.

The Paycheck Protection provisions allow small businesses, which include churches and other non-profits to apply for loans which can convert to grants.

The SBA application form is here:

  1. Are churches eligible?  Yes.  There is some misinformation out there and some lenders are confused, but churches are eligible.
  2. What is the application period for the Paycheck Protection Plan loans/grants?  It opens April 3.  There is no close date yet, but because the pool of money is limited, applicants should start now.
  3. If you take the loan/grant, do you have to submit to an audit to get forgiveness?  Not likely.  You will have to document through payroll records, canceled checks, etc., that you spent the money as allowed (at least 75% on payroll), but that is a far cry from an audit.  The SBA’s ability to audit individual claims is going to be severely limited.
  4. Who is the “owner” of the congregation/synod?  NO ONE.  The space on the application for ownership of 20% or more of the entity does not apply and should be left blank.  Do NOT say that the synod or the ELCA owns a congregation. IT IS NOT TRUE. If congregations put down the ELCA, it will put the ELCA over 500 employees and no one will receive relief. 
  5. Do we share common management or ownership (question 3 on the application)? NO.
  6. Do we need a congregational meeting to approve borrowing money?  Maybe. One option is to hold a remote meeting; remote meeting instructions can be found HERE.  If timing is an issue, the congregation can start the application process and ratify later, when you can hold a remote meeting.  Another option is to treat it as a grant application (assuming the congregation is going to comply with the rules for forgiveness) so a meeting is not necessary.  If no meeting is held now, be sure to have a meeting when the congregation can, to ratify the action.

ELCA summary document

St. Paul Davenport, 1988-1994

I was privileged to serve my first call in this remarkable congregation, St. Paul Lutheran Church in Davenport, Iowa. It was there Susan and I bought our first house, on W, 29th Street, just north of Vanderveer Park, so I could walk through the park to work. It was there our son John was born. It was there I worked as youth pastor with grade school youth, junior high conformation, senior high ministry and Camp Shalom. A kind and gracious staff maximized my assets and minimized my deficits (as much as they could anyway). I couldn’t have asked for a better first call.

I honestly don’t know who took which photos, to it will be hard to give credit where credit is due.


ELCA Youth Gathering: Rejoice in the Lord Always in San Antonio

Having just graduated from seminary, I accepted a call to St. Paul Lutheran Church in Davenport, Iowa. In our small gathering group were Amy Aufdengarten, Betsy Batcher, David Fisk, David Hatfield, Beth Kusatz, Jeff Lindmark, Clint Schnekloth, Sara Welty and others??


Ice Cream Social 1989

St. Paul Halloween Party (I took a little heat for cross-dressing…)

Valerie and Hans Schnekloth:


1990 Flooding

Camp Shalom 1990

Ice Cream Social 1990

Matt and GJ at some rockin’ youth event



Administrator Clark Aron’s 2nd floor corner office in the church house:

Mary Hahn with her state-of-the-art Macintosh.

Our church housekeeper Lois, a child of the congregations, served St. Paul for many, many years.

My cluttered 3rd floor office suite, with the fabulous window and view. 🙂

Choir Tour 1991

In June 1991 I ran my first marathon, Grandma’s in Dubuque. (I didn’t win.)

Camp Shalom 1991

The Bix 7

ELCA Youth Gathering: Called to Freedom in Dallas

After some growth, a larger group of youth at this gathering. ELCA pastor Clint Schnekloth, in our youth group, wrote a devotion for the gathering.

Confirmation 1991

Confirmation always took place in the fall of the 9th grade year.


Fall Confirmation 1992

Row 1 (L-R)

  • Anna Goodwin
  • Pastor Mike Rinehart
  • Pastor Don Harding
  • Director of Music Larry Petersen
  • Director of Communications Mary (Hahn) Miller

Row 2 (L-R)

  • Lois Boeh
  • Administrator Clark Arons
  • Marge Irwin
  • Senior Pastor Bill Waxenberg
  • Senior Pastor’s Secretary Pat Megown
  • Carla Aufdengarten
  • Holly Arp

Row 3 (L-R, standing)

  • Evalie Grothusen
  • Pastor Ron
  • Brian
  • Matt Spencer
  • Pastor Bob Hurty


Camp Shalom 1993


Camp Shalom 1994

ELCA Youth Gathering: 2B Alive at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta

On the Bus with John on my lap:

Going away party the youth threw when I accepted the call to North Carolina.

See also

Prayer for this Coronavirus Pandemic

Prayer for a Pandemic

May we who are merely inconvenienced

Remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we who have no risk factors

Remember those most vulnerable.

May we who have the luxury of working from home

Remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.

May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close

Remember those who have no options.

May we who have to cancel our trips

Remember those that have no safe place to go.

May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market

Remember those who have no margin at all.

May we who settle in for a quarantine at home

Remember those who have no home.

As fear grips our country,

Let us choose love.

During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,

let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.


A Prayer by Kerry Weber, America (Jesuit Review)

Jesus Christ, you traveled through towns and villages “curing every disease and illness.” At your command, the sick were made well. Come to our aid now, in the midst of the global spread of the coronavirus, that we may experience your healing love.

Heal those who are sick with the virus. May they regain their strength and health through quality medical care.

Heal us from our fear, which prevents nations from working together and neighbors from helping one another.

Heal us from our pride, which can make us claim invulnerability to a disease that knows no borders.

Jesus Christ, healer of all, stay by our side in this time of uncertainty and sorrow.

Be with those who have died from the virus. May they be at rest with you in your eternal peace.

Be with the families of those who are sick or have died. As they worry and grieve, defend them from illness and despair. May they know your peace.

Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help those affected and who put themselves at risk in the process. May they know your protection and peace.

Be with the leaders of all nations. Give them the foresight to act with charity and true concern for the well-being of the people they are meant to serve. Give them the wisdom to invest in long-term solutions that will help prepare for or prevent future outbreaks. May they know your peace, as they work together to achieve it on earth.

Whether we are home or abroad, surrounded by many people suffering from this illness or only a few, Jesus Christ, stay with us as we endure and mourn, persist and prepare. In place of our anxiety, give us your peace.

Jesus Christ, heal us.

Louisiana Interchurch Conference 50th Annual Assembly, March 2-3, 2020

The Louisiana Interchurch Conference grew out of the post-Vatican II ecumenical imperative. 70 participants (like the Septuagint), from a dozen denominations (listed below). 23/70 participants are Roman Catholic in this strong Catholic area.

Above, Pastor Nancy Andrews (ELCA Dean of the Bayou Conference and Pastor at Lutheran Church of Our Saviour) finishing lunch with (L-R) The Rev. Dr. John W. Forbes, The Rev. Kenneth D. York and the Rev. Dr. Ernest Peters, of the AME Zion Church.

ELCA representatives:

  • Pastor Nancy Andrews, Baton Rouge
  • Mr. Joel Hicks, Shreveport
  • Pastor Robin McCullough-Bade, Baton Rouge
  • Bishop Mike Rinehart

This event usually falls during the Spring ELCA Conference of Bishops meeting, so I’m hit and miss. This year things worked out. There’s also a board meeting in the fall that I usually make.

The meeting was led by LIC President, The Rev. Dr. Timothy Jones:

Father Dan Krutz (ECUSA) has served as Executive Director since 1992, 28 years!

Jessica Vermilyea, Lutheran Social Services Disaster Response, gave us a disaster update, along with some reflections on Coronavirus developments:

Keynote Speaker Jim Winkler, President and General Secretary spike in the state of the ecumenical movement and the loss of civil discourse in the U.S:

Jessica Vermilyea (LSS Disaster Response, Roman Catholic Deacon Jeff Chapman from Shreveport, and Joel Hicks, candidate for ministry in the ELCA, serving a congregation in Shreveport, Louisiana:

Joel Hicks, candidate for ministry in the ELCA, serving a congregation in Shreveport, Louisiana hopes to be ordained in June.

Pastor Nancy Andrews and I with Father Winston Rice (Episcopal), Executive Director and Gulf Coast Chaplain of the Maritime Pastoral Institute:

AME Zion Pastor Kenneth York, Faith African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Baker, LA:

Pastor Robin McCullough-Bade, Director of the Interfaith Federation of Greater a Baton Rouge:

Denominations Represented

    African Methodist Episcopal (AME)
    AME Zion
    Baptist State Convention
    Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
    Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME)
    Church if God in Christ (COGIC)
    Episcopal Church USA
    Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
    Presbyterian Church USA
    Presbyterian (Evangelical)
    Roman Catholic
    United Church of Christ
    United Methodist Church

Louisiana Interchurch Conference Timeline

Take the Census!

Listen to the PODCAST for this post.

Every ten years the U.S. has a census. The last one was in 2010. This year the census will find out how many people are living in the U.S. (citizens and non-citizens) as of April 1. The primary question will be: How many people are living in your home April 1, 2020?

There will be other questions. Citizenship will not be one of the questions. Also, it is against federal law for personal information from the census to be shared. Only the bulk data is recorded.

The Rev. Gregory Han

Why is this important? PCUSA Pastor Gregory Han, Director of Interfaith Relations and Education at Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston explained this to me in a PODCAST this week.

Dollars: Dollars for a whole host of purposes is distributed based on the population. This impacts the neediest among us. WIC, SNAP, Meals on Wheels, and other services depend on accurate information.

Data: Decisions about infrastructure, such as the placement of hospitals, depends on accurate information about the population.

Democracy: The number of state and federal representatives for an area depends on the population. More people means more representation.

What you can do:

  1. VISIT to learn more and take the census pledge now. There you will learn about the census, who should take it, why to take it, how to take the census, and more. (The pledge is not the census. It is a pledge to fill out the census.)
  2. ENCOURAGE people in your congregation to take the census. Consider having a census Sunday at your congregation around April 1.
  3. HELP your neighborhood know about the census. It’s a great way to get to know the folks that live near your home or church. Consider becoming a census education volunteer, by taking THIS TRAINING.
  4. WATCH this videoThe Census Made Simple: 
  5. TAKE the census, of course! You will be able to take the census three ways: 1. online (English and Spanish), 2. by phone (12 languages) or, if you don’t do either of those, 3. someone will come to your home in person. Learn more at


Earlier census information looked like this:










Finding your family in previous censuses, is relatively easy. Just create a free account at Family Search and then search for family members by name or location here:

You can link to census information and photographs of the original census docs. The site will also give you access to birth, marriage and death records that are available.

Census records are confidential for 72 years, so you will not find photographs after the 1930 census. The first U.S. census was in 1790. It recorded the population as of August 1, 1790, as mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution.

Be careful of many other sites, which will to charge you money for free information.

Lutheran Church of Our Saviour, Baton Rouge, 40th Anniversary

Lutheran Church of Our Saviour is just west of Sherwood forest, on the west side of Baton Rouge. Founded in 1980, the congregation is celebrating their 40th anniversary.

My friend and classmate at Trinity, Pastor Nancy Andrews serves this congregation has served this congregation first as Interim Pastor in 2018, then under contract starting in 2019.

Bill Smith is the president at LCOS.

We took this opportunity to welcome LCOS member, Thomas Rhoades to the ELCA roster of pastors. Tom comes to us from the United Methodist Church. He is serving the International Seaman’s Church Institute as Chaplain of the lower Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.

This is Bill Bonds, and his vicious (actually yawning church-going dog Chewbacca. Bill and Joan Bonds have provided me with housing on some of my trips to Baton Rouge, though now they live in Virginia.

Also serving in worship today was Pastor Robin McCullough Bade, who was interim pastor from 2005 to 2007, immediately following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Pastor Nancy, Pastor Robin, and I were all classmates at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus Ohio.

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