St. Paul’s Evangelical-Lutheran Church
109 S. Elm, Kewanee, Illinois 61443
Volume 35 December 2023 No. 12
Pastor’s Retirement Set for June 9th
As I indicated when I addressed the people at our special meeting a few weeks ago, I have settled on a date for my retirement.
The date for my last Sunday and a retirement reception is set for June 9th, 2024. This is the Sunday after Trinity. The Board of Elders has been appointed by the Church Council to serve as the search committee. Anyone wishing to provide input as we look toward securing our next pastor is encouraged to speak to one of them (Tom Wells, Larry Campbell, Steve Harris, Steve Kraklow, Jeff Wagenknecht) or Pastor.
Although retirement isn’t something I had planned on when I was younger, the encroachment of age and its limitations have become clear to me, and I determined it is best for me to retire before it would be forced upon me by circumstances beyond my control.
One advantage of this is that the congregation has time to prepare for a new pastor, and I am going to be able to help that transition happen. But I am determined that when a new pastor comes, I will want to step out of his way. When a pastor has a long tenure—mine set a record for St. Paul’s, and will be just shy of 29 years—it’s all the more difficult for the next man to step in. Every pastor has different strengths and weaknesses, and members must expect that and be ready to welcome the new man with open arms, whoever he is.
The District is willing to help us determine the best path forward, and a meeting with the district president and the elders has already been set. We have begun to prepare a list of items we will be seeking in a pastor; the list is nearby and is not a final draft.
District advice will be helfpful especially in view of the fact that we are small, and would have difficulty supporting a full-time pastoral replacement. My own situation was enabled, you may recall, but the fact that I was also moonlighting as an online professor; something like that might be possible again.
It might be possible to call a graduating seminarian, which would be less expensive than someone from the field.
Another option would be to become a dual parish. We are told that the congregation in Brimfield, just a half hour away, is vacant now, and does not have sufficient resources to have a pastor on their own either. We have in the past looked toward the church in Walnut, which is also small, and remarkably similar to ours in many ways, although they have a pastor.
Regarding my own plans, I have no immediate plans to move away, though that day will likely appear on the horizon, probably within a few years at most. I may be available during the vacancy in some capacity, and I’ll do what I can during that transitional period.
The days of my tenure here are drawing so a close, and this is indeed a sad reality in many ways. I know it will be difficult for all of us, though time marches on and changes like this always come. This congregation has been a wonderful piece of heaven to me, and in many ways is a immensely honored to be the spiritual father by the grace of God. And I am certain that he who has been gracious to us thus far will continue to be for us the Giver of all good things. As we all continue our pilgrimage through life in this vale of tears, I will offer the same confidence toward you that St. Paul expressed to the Philippians, that he who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
+ Pastor Eckardt
Our Commitment to Doctrine and Practice at St. Paul’s (may still be revised)
As we seek to call a pastor to serve us with Word and Sacrament, we want any candidates for this holy Office to be aware of our commitment to the following doctrine and practice:
1. We are committed without any reservation to the Divine inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility of Holy Scripture and to the doctrine and practice of the Lutheran Church as confessed in the confessional writings of the Lutheran Church as contained in the Book of Concord.
2. We are also committed without reservation to the practice of closed communion as expressed in our public statement: “Holy Communion is a confession of the faith which is confessed at this altar. Therefore, any who are not yet instructed, in doubt, or who hold a confession differing from that of this congregation and The Lutheran Church ‑ Missouri Synod, and yet desire to receive the sacrament, are asked first to speak with the pastor . . . This is in accord with Article XXIV of the Apology of the Augsburg Confession: ‘We do not abolish the Mass, but religiously maintain and defend it. For among us masses are celebrated every Lord’s Day and on the other festivals, in which the Sacrament is offered to those who wish to use it, after they have been examined and absolved.’”
3. We are committed to using only orthodox Lutheran worship and hymnody in the Divine Service. We use the Lutheran Hymnal, though we are not opposed to the use of LSB, but we would be committed exclusively to Setting Three (the common service) for the Divine Service.
4. We believe that the proper elements to use in the Lord’s Supper are unleavened bread and wine (grape juice or non-alcoholic wine should not be used) since these are the elements our Lord used when He instituted this blessed Sacrament on the night He was betrayed.
5. We use the Chalice to distribute our Lord’s blood in the Sacrament and do not offer individual cups.
6. We reserve elements (reliquae) from Mass for the pastor’s use in carrying to the sick. For this reason we routinely employ a tabernacle to reserve the elements. We also use the eternal light (the sanctuary lamp) according to its traditional purpose, namely to designate when reserved elements are present. In rare instances where there is not reservation, such as when the pastor is away, the sanctuary lamp is unlit.
7. We follow the liturgical tradition of routinely using a subdeacon at Mass. His duties are limited. A subdeacon is a man who is consecrated, vested, and carefully trained by the pastor for the reading of the Old Testament and Epistle. He does not read the Gospel, which is appropriate only for an ordained deacon or the pastor. The subdeacon also assists with the distribution, though his assistance is limited to carrying items to the pastor, assisting at the altar, and filling the chalice as needed. The pastor distributes both kinds himself. We follow these practices in accordance with the words of St. Paul to Timothy regarding the Office of the Ministry, “Give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (I Tim. 4:13), and following the Augsburg Confession’s words, “no one should publicly teach in the Church, or administer the Sacraments, without a rightly ordered call” (AC XIV).
8. We celebrate the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s Day, also normally on Wednesdays, and on special Feast Days.
9. We appreciate the fact that faithful pastors will differ in details of how they conduct the Divine Service, and we understand that a new pastor must be expected to differ from his predecessor in legitimate ways, as declared in AC VII: “And to the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. Nor is it necessary that human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike.” We offer here the details of the liturgical practice to which we have grown accustomed primarily as a way of being helpful to a new pastor. These details may be viewed at the Gottesdienst website, employed there in a training video: The Form of the Divine Service: Small Congregational Settings, see https://www.gottesdienst.org/videos
10. We believe that Bible classes should ordinarily be taught by those serving in the Public Ministry (AC XIV).
11. A pastor with some musical aptitude would be beneficial to us, since we are accustomed to a sung liturgy (including the pastor chanting) on Sundays and Feast Days, and we have a small liturgical choir that has been led by the pastor for some time that leads singing the Propers.
12. We desire a pastor who will aggressively reach out into our community, though without compromising our Lutheran doctrine and practice, willing to bring the Gospel to people in our community so that they might seek instruction in Lutheran doctrine towards membership in our congregation.
13. We believe that the Church’s mission, or purpose, is the preaching of repentance and the forgiveness of sins in the name of Jesus to all nations (St. Luke 24:27).
14. Our congregation’s purpose is first of all to receive the mercy of God through the Gospel, and, in receiving this mercy to live by it as we conduct ourselves toward one another and our neighbors (1 John 4:9-10). We wish to offer to a dying world the truth of Christ as the Scriptures reveal Him.
15. We believe that the Office of the Public Ministry is a gift from Christ, and we thank Him for having sent us faithful ministers to preach the law and the Gospel and administer His Sacraments. We pray for Him to send us another, and look forward to receiving his ministry among us with gladness of heart.
Additional information about our congregation and community:
16. Our community is a relatively small town. Though there are many churches, there are also many unchurched people. Many are aimless. There is also evidence of poverty in some parts of town.
17. Our congregation’s history can be learned from consulting the booklet A Sesquicentennial Commemorative History 1862-2012: St. Paul’s Evangelical-Lutheran Church, Kewanee, Illinois.
18. We do not offer weddings or funerals to non-members, although exceptions to this rule are the prerogative of the pastor as he may find them open to membership.
19. We offer first communion before confirmation to any children who satisfy the pastor that they know at least the principle texts of the chief parts of the catechism and demonstrate a desire to receive the Sacrament. We have no minimal age requirements for first communion, though we maintain the customary confirmation age as coinciding with the end of junior high school.
20. We have women’s suffrage and women members of our church council, but not as Chairman or Vice-chairman. Only men may serve as elders or subdeacons.
21. Our congregation’s weaknesses:
We will need a pastor! (our current pastor is to retire)
We are small, and have gradually lost members as the community itself has shrunk in population and decreased in commerce.
We have been frustrated meanwhile by a relative lack of success in gaining many new members.
We do not currently have a Sunday School for children; we are open to fresh ideas toward pursuing this goal.
22. Our congregation’s strengths:
We believe that our church is especially gifted in its offering of the full counsel of God with no gimmicks. We like to think of St. Paul’s as a place “where you know you’ve been to church!”
This congregation has a long history of members willing to attend Sunday Bible Class and thereby continue to be catechized. Over the past three decades we have seen well over half of those in attendance at Divine Service on Sundays remaining for the class which follows.
This congregation sees itself as a family, and has a fervent love for one another and is thankful that for many years we have not had to suffer the kinds of painful divisions as sometimes afflict congregations.
Our leaders earnestly desire that all people learn of Jesus, and as we interact with the community we are pleased when we can invite them to visit us.
23. We believe in the power of the Word of God to create and sustain faith, and while we seek to do His will, we do not believe that any successes of the Church are ever creditable to our works. Rather, we pray that He would shower His mercy on us to grant us His grace in all our needs, so that we may continue to be a light and beacon of His Gospel in this place in the time to come, granting us wisdom and confidence to meet the challenges ahead.
First draft November 15, 2023
Revised November 22, 2023
Choir Rehearsals Again
Choir rehearsals are scheduled in preparation for Christmas, and as we did last year, we will be scheduling these rehearsals at 5:30 pm on Wednesdays, except on December 13th, when we intend to go caroling (see below). Choir members, please put these Wednesdays in December on your calendar: November 29th, December 6th, and we will possibly schedule a third rehearsal.
Caroling and Party Dec. 13th
We plan to go caroling on Wednesday, December 13th. Meet at the church at 5 p.m. We will visit some shut-ins, and end up at the church for Mass at 7. Afterwards all are invited to the Eckardts’ annual Christmas Party at their home.
Emmy Wear is at Williamsfield Retirement Center, 112 IL-180, Williamsfield, IL 61489; and Jewneel Walker is at Kewanee Care, 144 South Junior Ave, Kewanee, IL 61443. Pat Lagerhausen is at Royal Oaks, 605 E Church St, Kewanee IL 61443. Jim Watson is at home, 911 Zang Ave., Kewanee, IL 61443.
Cookie Walk Sunday Dec. 10th
Bring a batch of cookies to Bible Class on the 12th of December, and prepare to exchange for others. Cookie walk after church! Bible class follows.
The Bell Tolls
On the last Sunday of the year, we customarily toll the bell at prayers for each member of our parish who has died during the year. This year there was one death at St. Paul’s. At the prayer of the church, the bell tolls once for each of our dear members who fell asleep in Jesus, so it will toll once this year.
December Anniversaries none
December Birthday 12/11 Kris Harden
Special Masses Wednesdays
Our 7 p.m. Wednesday masses during Advent will each observe a special day in the church’s year.
Wednesday masses during Advent:
On December 13th we will also have caroling and a party, as explained in a nearby article.
Another special mass will occur on Wednesday December 27th, which is St. John’s Day. Our midweek mass will observe that feast.
Also, just prior to Advent, on November 29th we will observe St. Andrew’s Day (the actual day is November 30th).
Decorating During Advent
As is our custom, we decorate little by little during Advent, until finally all is complete for Christmas. This year we plan to put up the Advent wreath and the Christmas tree on Saturday, December 2nd (extra volunteers are sought for this). On Saturday, December 9th we will put up any remaining decorations needed, except that the array of poinsettias will not be set out until Christmas Eve. Advent III (Sunday, December 10th) is also called “Gaudete” or Joy Sunday, set in the midst of Advent. Roses are customarily set in place if available, and the rose (pink) candle on the wreath is lit. If you can, please put Saturday December 2nd on your calendar to help with the tree. It’s an opportunity for gathering with your fellow members for a little project.
In Our Prayers
Our current list of prayer intentions at mass includes the names on the lists here following. Anyone wishing to update the list by addition or subtraction, please inform the pastor.
in our parish:
Sharon Hartz, Bea Harris, Don and Sue Murphy, John Sovanski, Sandra VerPlaetse, John Ricknell, Linda Rowe, Jewneel Walker, Emmy Wear, Jim Watson, Bill Thompson, and Father Eckardt
and beyond our parish:
Jude Clapper, Anna, Katie, and Jodi Rutowicz, Julie Ross, Elizabeth Godke, Oneida Hendrickson, Janice Hart, Tim Newman, Theresa Moore, Kathy Boeger, Allison Leezer, Shannon Watson, Karen Parker, Richard Heiden, Jeanna Moore, Deloris Bitting, Jane Mueller, Denise VerPlaetse [Sandra’s daughter-in-law], Becca Adler, Glenda Miller, Wayne Becker, Sue Berg [wife of Pastor Peter Berg], Ray Moreland, Sandy Epperly [niece of the Murphys, having surgery],Pastor Justin Kane
in the military:
John Eckardt, Richard Heiden, Eli Wetzel, Traven Wetzel, Eric Verplaetse, Jake Mahaffey, James and Ann Lee Armstrong, Marcus Prentice
any unborn children in danger of abortion; Debra Reeves’s children Rae Beth and Drew Wayne, that they may be reunited; those suffering from unrest, persecution, and imprisonment in Israel, Nigeria, Ukraine, Pakistan, Belarus, China, North Kor ea, an d elsewhere.
As usual, the Church Council will meet the third Wednesday in the month, which is December 20th, 5:30.
New Year’s Mass
New Year’s Eve 7 pm on December 31st. We observe the Circumcision and Name of Jesus (January 1st).
Altar Guild Notes
Advent begins the first Sunday in December. The four Advent Sundays’ color is violet. If roses are obtained, they may be placed for the Third Sunday in Advent, December 17th.
For midweek masses, the color changes each week: November 29th is red for St. Andrew (who was martyred); December 6th is white for St. Nicholas (who was not martyred); December 13th is red for St. Lucia (who was martyred); and December 20st is also red, for St. Thomas (who was martyred).
Christmas Eve is on a Sunday. The morning mass is Advent IV, still violet, and then the first Christ Mass is at 7 p.m., and the color is changed to white. There is no Midnight Mass. On Christmas Day there is a 10 am mass also with white.
St. John’s Day will be celebrated on the Wednesday after Christmas, December 27th. Color remains white. For New Year’s Eve (at 7:00 p.m.) the color is white. The color remains white in January.
There will be a signup sheet in the narthex for poinsettias for Christmas. Help adorn our chancel with poinsettias by purchasing one for $18.00. You may then bring it home after Christmas Day (or anytime until Epiphany.
St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church
109 S. Elm Street
Kewanee, IL 61443
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