The Iowa East District has got a great new mission plant going just outside of Iowa City. Iowa District East has become one of the most solid and confessional districts in the LCMS and so we are not surprised by this news. For the last twenty years or so, the Wyoming district was the unofficial refuge for confessional pastors. Maybe now it is Iowa East, or even many of the other increasingly confessional districts.
One of the things that sets Iowa East apart is its District President. Brian Saunders, a cousin of Matt Harrison once or twice removed. He truly is a bishop. The Greek word for “bishop” is episkopos which means “overseer” and according to our Synod Handbook, he is to oversee/supervise the doctrine of the pastors of his district and to visit them at least once a year for that purpose. (As I have mentioned on this blog before, in my twenty five years of pastoral service I have yet to have a DP visit me or my parish to check out how things are being done.) Brian Saunders does visit his parishes regularly for the sake of oversight!
If his district’s newest mission start continues in the path on which it has been started, it won’t need much supervision. It is St. Silas Lutheran Church in North Liberty, Iowa. There are so many good things about this church I hardly no where to start. Here is a bullet list of some of the things I see that are so refreshingly confessional at St. Silas, especially so in today’s world of relevant and trendy pop culture mission starts.
- The name of the church – is has a mission ring to it since St. Silas was an evangelist and yet it is historic and in the tradition of the church. Instead of naming it some bland and trendy thing like Community Church or Agape/Joy/Love/Anything but Something Challenging Church they named it after an historic figure of substance. (BTW – The BJS Annual Conference often uses the propers for St. Silas at our Divine Service since it often falls on or near his day in the church year.)
- The name of the church part 2 – It has the name “Lutheran” in it. Are these people in eastern Iowa nuts? Everyone knows we need to hide our Lutheranism, not put it in the name of the church. No, they are not nuts. They know that Lutheranism is something to cherish and if practiced purely, is enduring and meaningful.
- The pastor is wearing a clerical collar on the website – This means that Pastor Richard is communicating to the community that something unique and divine is going on at his church, i.e. the forgiveness of sins. I am sure if he looked hard enough though, maybe at the Younkers in Coralville, he could find a nice flower print shirt. (Actually, they seem to be out of style now for the pastors of the Church of What’s Happenin’ Now. Oh well, it’s hard to keep up with all the trends. I guess the new style is the Rob Bell eyeglasses. If I am not mistaken, Richard’s glasses lean in that direction. Good job pator – substance in the clerical; style in the eyeglasses!)
- The mission statement – The mission of St. Silas is to receive the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. Once again, we gotta think these people are smokin’ something – maybe pages from the Readers Edition of the Book of Concord. The only thing better than this mission statement is Pastor Richard’s description of it. You can see it here.
- The web page on the Divine Service – It reads like a summary of the means of grace. Wonderful!
- Great Links – There is a great little golf links nearby – Brown Deer Park (the ninth hole is a killer 225 yd. par three) but that’s not the links we are talking about. St. Silas’ web links include Issues Etc. and the Book of Concord. (Speaking of Iowa City, did I mention that the Hawkeyes rolled over Northwestern yesterday and your author/editor was there live hooting and hollering like a crazy man.)
I also hear from Bishop Saunders that there is a new LCMS start in Charles City, Iowa formed by a group that has left the ELCA. Confessional theology is alive and well in Iowa District East. We here at BJS think it might be a good idea for each of you readers to make a donation to St. Silas Lutheran Church. You can do so by contributing to the Iowa District East mission start capital campaign. I do have one complaint in all of this. They need to add a paypal donate button to the church’s site and the district site.
Great job Bishop Saunders and Pastor Richard. You are an inspiration to all the LCMS and the kind of leaders we need to bring the truth and purity of the Gospel to the world today.