St. Paul’s Evangelical-Lutheran Church
109 S. Elm, Kewanee, Illinois 61443
Volume 30 September 2018 No. 9
O Little Flock, Fear Not the Foe
I’ve been thinking about this beloved hymn by Johann Altenburg (TLH #263) in connection with our little parish. Every time we sing it, I can’t help but thinking of how appropriate it is for us. For without question over the years we have become a little flock by almost anyone’s calculation (I say almost, because if you measure our size against, say, the congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran, we would actually be counted as a large congregation).
Over the past 18 years we have seen a gradual diminishing of the size of St. Paul’s, due in large part to demographics. People have had to leave Kewanee to find work, and meanwhile a key factor that was once prevalent everywhere is gone, namely the abundant bearing and begetting of Lutheran children. With the cultural assault on marriage and the family came also the minority status of what used to be common: children of solid families filling our schools, pews, and Sunday School classes. Although we have welcomed a good number of new members, that number has not quite kept pace with our losses and deaths. Such are the circumstances.
And yet the comforting words of the hymn ring true: O little flock, fear not the Foe who madly seeks your overthrow; dread not his rage and pow’r. What tho’ your courage sometimes faints, his seeming triumph o’er God’s saints lasts but a little hour. We know this is true because of Christ’s death and resurrection. He has promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against His church, and that all things work out to the good for those who love him. Thus we agree with the hymnist who continues: Be of good cheer; your cause belongs to Him who can avenge your wrongs; leave it to Him, our Lord. Tho’ hidden yet from mortal eyes, His Gideon shall for you arise, uphold you and His Word. In this verse, “His Gideon” is Christ, of course, the greater Gideon, winning through to victory against the enemies of God’s people. As true as God’s own Word is true, not earth nor hell with all their crew against us shall prevail. A jest and byword are they grown, God is with us, we are His own; our vict’ry cannot fail. As Gideon’s three hundred men conquered thousands of Midianites without even fighting, but by breaking the pitchers in their hands and confusing the enemy to cause them to start attacking one another, to the point of defeat (see Judges 7), so Christ our Lord became Himself a broken pitcher—crucified, dead, and buried, that is—and so earth and hell with all their crew were defeated by their own wickedness. For Jesus’ enemies and the devil saw to His crucifixion, the very thing that redeemed the world. Amen, Lord Jesus, grant our prayer; Great Captain, now Thine arm make bare, fight for us once again! So shall Thy saints and martyrs raise a mighty chorus to Thy praise, world without end. Amen. Clearly, with Christ we have nothing to fear, and we step forth in faith, knowing that we have already gained eternal victory in Him.
+ Pastor Eckardt
Project Moves On: Phase III Begins
Our final stage of renovation is about to begin, starting with the exciting step of installing air conditioning. Since he duct-work is already in place—a foresight that was thankfully envisioned many years ago—the process of installing four central air units is not too complicated. We have entered a contract with Woltil’s Heating and Air Conditioning.
The chief workman, Larry Rowe, who is Linda’s husband, has indicated a likelihood of the installation’s completion by the middle of September. For the first time in the building’s 115-year history, St. Paul’s will then have air conditioning. This is all thanks to a special anonymous $10,000 donation given during the summer that was given with a wish that it be used for this purpose. The voters determined, after some reasonable discussion, to go forward with the installation in accordance with the donor’s wish.
What remains is for the chancel and the flooring to be completed. Since much of what we are hoping to do is through volunteer labor, and since some of our volunteers are in the fields as farmers, we are hoping they can get back to the project soon after Oktoberfest which is October 7-9.
Meanwhile twelve shields have been purchased, on which will be painted the symbols of the twelve apostles. These shields are to be mounted in the Great Arch, which is the archway that is suspended over the chancel steps. This will be an attempt to restore what once graced the walls of this church many years ago.
When the time comes to repair and repaint the walls of the chancel, it is likely that we will be needing to meet in the gym for worship for several weeks, as we did in the summer of 2016.
It is difficult to put more of a precise time frame to the planning, and indeed we may find unforeseen twists in the road as we continue, but it is exciting to know that the project continues to move forward. Thanks be to God!
+ Pastor Eckardt
Regular choir rehearsals have resumed Wednesdays after mass. Calling all singers, to prepare for Oktoberfest. We’ll have some new music, and, as always, have lots of fun.
Church Extension Fund
Ms. Chris Anderson is the new executive director of the Church Extension Fund for The Central Illinois District, and recently she reminded me that investments with the C.E.F. are a blessing to both the investor and the loan recipient, with the investor not only receiving a financial blessing but also a spiritual one in knowing that he is playing an important role in expanding God’s kingdom. Brochures are available in the narthex for more information.
+ Pastor Eckardt
October 7-9, 2018 (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday)
The Twenty-third Annual Oktoberfest! and Gottesdienst Central will be hosting the Rev. Dr. Thomas M. Winger, president of Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary (CLTS), St. Catharines, Ontario. Dr. Winger is the author of dozens of articles, many published in Lutheran Theological Review. He is the (co)editor of three books and a contributor to The Lutheran Study Bible. He has written studies for the theological commissions of Lutheran Church–Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England (ELCE). He also served as a member of the liturgy committee of Lutheran Service Book. He is a recognized authority especially in liturgy and in Ephesians.
His topic will be “Hints of the Liturgy in the Epistle to the Ephesians and other New Testament Texts”
The event begins Sunday the 7th with Vespers at 5 p.m. Following the service is our annual bratwurst banquet. When everyone has had their fill of brats and beer, Dr. Winger will give a synopsis of his Monday seminar. Following the banquet is the after-the-party party, at Father Eckardt’s home, where a gaggle of the editors of Gottesdienst is milling about.
On Monday, October 8th, the day begins with Mass at 9 a.m. Following Mass and a continental breakfast, Dr. Winger will hold forth for the rest of the day, in two sessions running until about 2:45, followed by Vespers.
On Tuesday, October 9th, the conference will continue in the same format, with a special focus on the themes of our current and previous issue of Gottesdienst, namely: Weddings and Funerals, with Father Eckardt, pastor at St. Paul’s, holding forth. The Tuesday session will be shorter, framed by morning low Mass (spoken Divine Service) and Mid-day prayers.
REGISTRATION: MEMBERS OF ST. PAUL’S GO FREE. For others, $50 per person, $70 per couple, students $25 — includes Sunday banquet and Monday brunch; no charge for children with parents. To register, click here.
Pastor to Speak in Detroit
Every year Zion Church in Detroit holds its St. Michael conference on the last Monday of September, and Pastor Eckardt is always one of the speakers at the conference. This year, Dr. Naomichi Masaki is the Keynote Speaker. Dr. Masaki is a systematician with an outstanding knowledge of the Lutheran Confessions, and a noted Luther scholar, with a special interest in the Words of Institution and the Lord’s Supper. His Keynote paper will be titled “Luther and the Lord's Supper: The Verba Domini as the Mandating Words". His paper will set the theme for the 2018 Conference. Dr. Masaki serves as Professor of Systematic Theology and Director of the STM and PhD in Theology programs for Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne. For information consult Pastor.
9/1 John Ricknell
9/10 Jan Schoen
9/15 Chuck Russell
9/17 Mary Beth Jones
9/18 DeAnne Anderson
9/19 Jaclyn Kraklow
9/19 Jamie Kraklow
9/20 Derrick Baker
9/28 Allan Kraklow
9/18/1976 Tom and Sue Ann Wells
September Ushers: Allan Kraklow, Steve Kraklow, Tom Wells.
Mary Hamilton at home; Emmy Wear at Williamsfield Home in Williamsfield; Emilie Ricknell at home, Joyce Long at home, Dick Melchin at Hammond-Henry Extended Care in Geneseo.
Altar Guild News
Sundays during September, the color is green.
Wednesdays are also all green. Although Holy Cross Day (14th), St. Matthew’s Day (21st) and Michaelmas (29th) are in September, they fall on Fridays and a Saturday, and therefore we will not observe them.
In Our Prayers
Our current list of prayer intentions at mass includes the names on the lists here following. To update the list please inform the pastor.
in our parish:
Emilie Ricknell, John Ricknell, Linda Rowe, Mary Hamilton, Emmy Wear, Sue Murphy, Don Murphy, Joyce Long, Dick Melchin, DeAnne Anderson, Bea Harris, Allan Kraklow
Anna Rutowicz [granddaughter of Harrises]
Jodi Rutowicz [daughter of Harrises]
Julie Ross [Svetlana Meaker’s daughter]
Annie Eastman [at request of Svetlana Meaker]
Steve Draminski [friend of Jim Watson]
Kathy Nussear [Joyce Long’s daughter, cancer]
Bud Harfst [Sue Murphy’s brother]
Harold Woods [Sue Murphy’s brother-in-law]
Dick Heiden [Carol Eckardt’s father]
Pastor Kenneth Wegener
Elizabeth Godke, Sharon Field’s mother
Brandt and Oneda Hendrickson [Ricknells’ relatives]
Teresa Robertson [Carol Eckardt’s niece]
Everly Stoner [relative of Murphys]
Helen Woods [Sue Murphy’s sister]
Jamie Knapp, Emmy Wear’s cousin, who has cancer
Janice Hart [Judy Thompson’s sister]
Caleb Cleaver [Ricknells’ grandson]
in the military:
Donny Appleman [at request of the Ricknells]
Richard Heiden [at request of the Eckardts]
Luke Van Landigan [grandson of Dick Melchin]
Jaclyn Alvarez [daughter of Kris Harden]
Traven Wetzel [at request of Kris Harden]
Eric Verplaetse [Sandra’s grandson]
any unborn children in danger of abortion
those suffering from unrest, persecution, and imprisonment in Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Nigeria, China, North Korea, and elsewhere
Details on Persecution:
China demolishes hundreds of churches and confiscates Bibles during a crackdown on Christianity
Locals in Henan stated concerns of a move by the atheist ruling community party to control Christianity. Residents were asked to replace posters of the cross and Jesus Christ with portraits of President Xi Jinping. Experts say the government is waging the most severe systematic suppression of the religion since 1982. Chinese leaders have 'always been suspicious of the political threat' that Christianity poses to the regime - by Associated Press and Kelsey Cheng for Mailonline August 2018
Concerns have been raised over China's apparent crackdown on Christianity as the ruling community party continues to intensify its control over religious freedom in the country.
Churches were raided and demolished, Bibles and holy books were confiscated and new laws were established to monitor religious activities in the country's province of Henan, which has one of the largest Christian populations in China.
Under President Xi Jinping, China's most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, believers are seeing their freedoms shrink dramatically even as the country undergoes a religious revival.
Experts and activists say that as Xi consolidates his power, he is waging the most severe systematic suppression of Christianity in the country since religious freedom was written into the Chinese constitution in 1982.
A DOZEN CHRISTIAN VILLAGES IN NIGERIA WIPED OUT IN FOUR-DAY KILLING SPREE
June 29, 2018 by Lindy Lowry in Africa, Stories of Persecution
Most of the victims were in their homes sleeping when the attacks began … when Muslim Fulani militant herdsmen began their killing spree in Nigeria that lasted four days, Thursday through Sunday evening and into Monday.
The Fulani are a large ethnic group in West Africa. A third of all Fulani people are pastoralists, making them the largest nomadic community in the world.
In only days, a dozen villages in Nigeria’s plateau state were wiped out. The affected communities surround the city of Ios—known as the epicenter of Christianity in northern Nigeria’s middle belt.
As many as 200 Christians had been killed, however, some residents fear the death toll may be even higher, as more bodies are yet to be recovered, while others were burned beyond recognition. On Sunday, 75 of the victims were buried in a mass grave.
We are still gathering information about the violence, but the details we have so far reveal the scale and brutality of the attacks: 120 people who were attending the funerals of an elderly member were hacked to death as they returned home.
In another attack, in Gana Ropp Village, a pastor, Rev. Musa Choji, was killed, as were his wife and son.
In Gidin Akwati, the whole community was burned down. Local sources say that some of those displaced are still hiding in the bush, as they haven’t yet been able to find their way to a safe haven.
A pastor with the evangelical church Winning All (ECWA) denomination, who wanted to remain anonymous for security reasons, said that following an attack on Saturday, his entire village was reduced to ashes, and more than 100 people lost their lives.The ECWA pastor said more than 50 heavily armed Fulani herdsmen surrounded the village of Nghar, at around 3:30 a.m. They burned down all the houses, as well as two churches. Only a few people were able to escape. His wife’s family was decimated. The assailants killed 14 members of her family, including her mother and sister. Others who had come to visit them were also killed. In total, 27 people lost their lives in the same house. They were all burned to death. Only one person—his wife’s younger brother—survived, as he managed to escape through the roof.
World watch monitor reports that on the day of the attack in Nghar, only two soldiers and one policeman were in the village, but they reportedly ran for their lives when the herdsmen launched their attack.
Reportedly, the violence in the attacked areas has been happening for the last two weeks. Over the weekend, the violence reached a peak. Pastor Steve Kwol, chairman of the Pentecostal federation of Nigeria for plateau north, which includes the attacked areas, said that herdsmen were ambushing people going to their farms or traveling on their motorbikes.
Since Thursday, the herdsmen had launched “very serious attacks” on the whole communities, he said. Despite the current dusk-to-dawn curfew and the presence of military, the attacks are still ongoing, he says. Two villages—Kwi and Dorowa—were badly damaged on Monday.
In Dorowa, most of the properties were burned down, including four church buildings. The adjoining buildings, such as pastors’ houses, were also destroyed by fire. In Kwi, a number of buildings, including churches, were also set on fire. The exact number of people killed there is not yet known, but many were displaced and are now living in camps in neighboring villages.
“We’ve been living peacefully with [Fulani herdsmen]” pastor Kwol said. “since this crisis started in Plateau in recent months, our people have not killed one Fulani man. Instead, they have been killing our people one by one. We just buried them and carried on.” He said. As a result of the ongoing insecurity, there are places where people can no longer go to farm,” he said, “because when they go, the Fulani will come and take their cows, or attack them.”
The attacks have some local sources saying that the ongoing violence is part of a “grand plan to Islamize Nigeria. . . . The killings are becoming no longer herder and farmer clashes” but a “deliberate attempt to conquer and occupy the land of the people’s ancestral heritage,” said Dr. Soja Bewarang, who also denounced the attack on a Bible school that trained African missionaries in Gana-Ropp village.
Reverend Gideon Para-Mallam, of the international fellowship of evangelical students in Jos and founder of the citizens monitoring group working with Christians and Muslims in Nigeria, notes that the violence is part of a pattern, an emerging agenda, saying that it is “another Boko Haram, in disguise.” The same Fulani people who have been living in peace with farmers suddenly have changed from using sticks to tend their cows, all of a sudden going to the farmlands, killing Christian farmers. Their wives and children, surrounding whole villages. It’s a pointer … because Plateau state is the epicenter of Christianity."