I look forward to the day when we will have a few thousand in attendance at our annual rally but in the meantime, feet planted securely at the foot of the cross, I am relishing in the afterglow of a very quaint and personal retreat with 100 of my closest friends – the Brothers of John the Steadfast and the Sisters of Katie Luther who attended our second annual conference. “Afterglow” is an apt term since our divine service yesterday was a celebration of the Feast of the Transfiguration. Most of the one hundred had trekked back to their home parishes as of this morning although there were still a few stragglers who stuck around for worship here at Bethany, Naperville.
It was a small and quaint gathering but we do thank the Lord for 20% growth in registration over last year (82 vs. 100). With a full time staff person in place we look for further blessings of growth from the Lord but of course, will be satisfied with faithfulness over numbers.
Speaking of our new Associate Director, we thank Suzanne for her leadership this past weekend. She led a brain-storming session with the twenty or so ladies who were in attendance on projects and ideas for the new Sisters of Katie Luther society.
The speakers were great. Pastor Preus basically reviewed all of the current shortcomings of the LCMS and offered wisdom on how to address them. Pastor Wilken cautioned us about “LCMS Exceptionalism,” a disease that he proves has stricken our denomination. It is the false belief that if it is approved by the LCMS it must be good, which mindset of course, ignores the only basis for approval – Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. Mollie was not only the cutest speaker but she also received the loudest applause for her ninety minute review of the life a confessional writer in a secular world.
The worship was beautiful and edifying. We were wonderfully served by Bethany Cantor Phillip Magness and the musicians of the parish. We were also honored to have in attendance hymn-writer Stephen Starke and composer Stephen Johnson (from Liturgy Solutions).
The offering from Friday night Vespers will go to Issues, Etc. and the offering from Saturday’s Divine Service will go to a new BJS fund to help us raise money to send Associate Director Suzanne Zobel to Africa to begin work on setting up chapters of BJS and SKL across the ocean.
Thanks to the staff at Bethany Lutheran for all their help including the committee: Principal Pam Mueller, Teachers Aimee Walsh and Erin Thompson and Program Administrator Donna Linnemeyer.
We hope to see you next year. Make plans to join us the second week in February. Let’s pray that if not next year, at least in the years soon to come we will outgrow Bethany, Naperville and find ourselves in the midst of thousands of confessional Lutheran laity and pastors, growing in our knowledge of the Lutheran Confessions, supporting new Lutheran media, promoting the traditional liturgy and learning our vocations.