Life at CTK

Growing together in the Word at Christ the King, Memphis

VBS in Record Time

Did you know that Vacation Bible School can be successful with only a month’s planning time? It’s not recommended, but it’s totally possible, especially if the director has an excellent team of volunteers who step up to make VBS an exciting, fun-filled, faith-filled adventure.

With the theme “Food Truck Party: On a Roll with God,” the children and staff were awed by decorated food trucks, miles of flags and a bazillion balloons festooning the hallways, and craft, science, Bible storytime, and recreation sessions all built around the daily specials: God is great! God is good! Let us thank God for our food. By His hand we all are fed, Give us, Lord, our daily bread! Top Chefs Jacques and Marcus taught us that as God provides for us, we are to provide for others, and with that in mind, the VBS participants brought in canned goods to share with the Mid-South Food Bank.

VBS Week ended with enthusiasitc, energetic music from all the kids, and a visit from Mempops mobile food truck. We pray that it made a lasting impression on our children, knowing that God provides for us as He loves us dearly.

Comforting in the Town of Collierville

At Christ the King, Memphis, congregants are accustomed to seeing the wagging tail and friendly eyes of Job Comfort Dog every Saturday and Sunday before and after worship. Children line up to pet this beautiful, well-trained golden retriever, and adults come by to get their weekly dose of that silky fur and calm countenance.

Out in the community, however, Job’s appearance at places and events is anything but normal or routine. His extensive training as an LCC comfort dog makes him welcome wherever he goes Eyes light up in the common room of a nursing home as Job enters, children having a bad day at school immediately are soothed, frail hands in a hospital bed reach out to touch his soft fur. The comfort Job brings is unmistakable and brings to mind the peace that passes all understanding that Jesus imparts to all believers.

In September of 2021, a lone gunman terrorized people shopping and working at a Kroger located in Collierville, TN, a town outside of Memphis, killing one person and injuring many others, before committing suicide. The peaceful Town of Collierville was in shock and many in the community and surrounding areas gathered in support. Job Comfort Dog’s Top Dog (ministry coordinator) Genie Swan contacted the Shelby County Crime Victims and Rape Crisis Center to offer Job’s presence to those who were affected by the tragedy.

Subsequently, Job and his handlers were invited to several gatherings of the survivors of the shooting and were welcomed at the private tour given to survivors of the store as it was in the process of being remodeled. Job also was an invited guest at the press conference announcing the opening of the Kroger Associates Resource Center and was a regular fixture at the center in the weeks following.

At the press conference marking the opening of the remodeled store, Job was invited onstage to receive a special dog bed in thanks for his continuing commitment to bring comfort to the Collierville community. Before the shooting, Job was already making regular visits to organizations and facilities in Collierville, including Bailey Station Elementary, Baptist Reynolds Hospice House, the Burch Library, and The Langford Assisted Living. He continues to make friends in the Collierville community, as well as in other parts of the Mid-South area.

For more information on Job Comfort Dog, or to schedule a visit, please contact Genie Swan at gswan@ctkmemphis.com.

A (Ministry) Fair to Remember

On a recent weekend in October, the congregation of Christ the King, Memphis, was invited to the Fellowship Hall before and after services to CTK’s Ministry Fair 2021. Over thirty active ministries within the congregation were represented, with creative displays and enthusiastic participants eager to share their goals and accomplishments – as well as the many avenues to volunteer — with all those who passed through. Hosted by the CTK’s Office of Community Outreach, the Fair promoted fellowship and service both within the church and out in the community. Among those ministries represented were Faith in Action, Room in the Inn, Tanzania Mission, the Comfort Dog ministry, Children and Family ministry, LWML, and the many ways to serve in the areas of outreach and worship, including the varied facets of communication, such as live-streaming, sound, the website, and CTK’s App.


Many of the booths had giveaways – candy, pencils, magnets, homemade goodies – and breakfast was served to those attending between services. Christ the King’s new Fellowship Hall provided a beautiful space for the visitors and exhibitors, with plenty of room for browsing and chatting. An updated Ministry Handbook was available to all visitors with a handy explanation of each ministry and organization.


The Ministry Fair wrapped up a month that saw an emphasis on inreach and outreach, and included an after-church catered lunch combined with an intergenerational service project, a congregation-wide initiative to submit updated Time and Talent Surveys, a two-session Connect Class which provided new members with information on finding their niche, the observance of Pastor Appreciation Sunday, and the celebration of Job Comfort Dog’s fifth anniversary at CTK. So much to celebrate! Soli Deo Gloria!

GS

The Mid-South District Convention Opening Service – Declaring His Marvelous Works!

“Declare His Marvelous Works!” With the words of the psalmist David as recorded in the book of 1 Chronicles, the 300 people in attendance at the Opening Service of the 21st Regular Convention of the Mid-South District, held at Christ the King Lutheran Church, boldly declared the Lord’s glory, praising God for His marvelous works, much like the apostles who, as LCMS President Matthew C. Harrison pointed out in his sermon, “couldn’t shut up” about their Savior’s miraculous deeds.

The Psalms were found throughout the service: in confession, in absolution, in prayer, in thanksgiving, and in the beautiful choral music directed by Chris Cardona and accompanied by Martha Israel on piano and organ, and enhanced by a brass quartet. As the congregational delegates brought forward their offering –designated to go toward the Scholarship Fund for Pastors and Commissioned Church Workers who are burdened with significant educational debt — the choir declared “let every tongue on every shore, proclaim the glory of the Lord!”

In addition to President Harrison as proclaimer, Senior Pastor Chuck Neugebauer of CTK served as celebrant and Associate Pastor Mark Goble served as liturgist. Assisting with Communion were the Rev. Dr. Roger Paavola, Rev. Michael Croom, Rev. Clayton Sellers, and Rev. Sawyer Meyers. The organist for the congregation was Michella Novy.

The service was preceded by a seated dinner, underwritten by the Mid-South District, in the new Fellowship Hall at Christ the King. Coordinated by CTK member Natalie Martin and staffed by amazing CTK volunteers, the dinner was delicious and the table décor, including fresh flowers from local florist Lynn Doyle Flowers, was delightful.  Caterers were Natalia and Chris Lee.

The worship service was live-streamed and may be watched on-demand at https://ctkmemphis.com/live-video-streaming.

Leadership and Teamwork

Proverbs 27:17  “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

In the story of the building expansion at Christ the King Lutheran Church, one running theme stands out when speaking of the process: Teamwork! In picturing how the foundation, beams, brickwork, and all the other elements and systems that make a building solid and functional came together, we can also picture the many people who worked together, building upon one other’s strengths, laying a foundation of faith and raising hope along with walls, making the whole much more than just the sum of its varied parts.

As the idea and process unfolded under the guidance of Senior Pastor Chuck Neugebauer and Associate Pastor Mark Goble, two people stood out in the four- year drive to bring the ideas laid out in emails and committee discussions to an actual plan to present to the congregation and then, with approval from the voters, to bring the plan into reality. Mike Jurgensen, then-president of the congregation, and Rusty Lulloff, CTK’s director of operations, formed a mighty duo as leaders of the project.  How blessed CTK has been to have these two men take the helm. As Pastor Neugebauer stated, “Our gracious and generous God, as He always does, provided CTK with exactly the kind of amazing men and women we needed…. Their incalculable time and sacrifices over these past years have greatly blessed our Savior, our congregation and our community. I couldn’t be more thankful!”  

Mike Jurgensen addressses the congregation at the Now Is Our Time campaign kickoff.

They divided the responsibilities thusly: Jurgensen, as president and long-time member of Christ the King, served as the “face” to the congregation, leading voters meetings, fielding questions about financing, handling differences of opinions with prayer and determination to do what was best for Christ the King; Lulloff, with a career-long knowledge of building and construction, was the “face” to the architect (Hord Architects) and the general contractor (Grinder Taber Grinder). Having one voice for each aspect served to keep decision-making and communication running smoothly.

Rusty Lulloff escorts each class of CTK School to the building site to add Bible verses to the beams.

As a result of the professionalism and commitment shown by these two men, the leadership of Dr. LaVerne and Peggy Lovell as co-chairs of the “Now Is Our Time” capital campaign, and the unflagging support elicited from the congregation — even when faced with delays caused by the wettest season in recent memory, not to mention the COVID19 pandemic — Christ the King is nearing completion on a 20,000+ square foot, $6.3million building project featuring an impressive rotunda, a state-of-the-art Fellowship Hall, multiple offices and classrooms, facilities to host Room in the Inn, a large youth area, a library, an expanded nursery, and many other top-of-the-line features, all ADA-approved and energy-conscious.

Jurgensen, in looking back at the time that has passed since his initial emails to Pastor Neugebauer broaching the subject of aging facilities and needed space for ministry, said, “The support of our congregation has been absolutely amazing. Our members have continued to support this building campaign prayerfully and monetarily. All glory be to our God in Heaven!”  And praise be to God for providing the pivotal leadership to carry forward the vision needed for Christ the King to grow and bear fruit in ministry to its community and beyond.

Soli Deo Gloria!

GS

Lenten Devotions

Snowmagedden of 2021 has not been a very auspicious beginning to what everyone hoped would be a less traumatic and chaotic year. The Mid-South saw more inches of snow than we’re used to seeing — and frankly, care to see — and it has stopped many businesses, schools, churches, and scheduled daily occurrences, such as mail delivery, in their tracks.

The canceling of our Ash Wednesday services on Feb. 17 was an unusual step and one that was made with great reluctance, but one of necessity for everyone’s well-being. We will observe Ash Wednesday on Feb. 24 instead. In the meantime, you are invited to use your “Return to the Lord” Lenten devotional booklet to put you in mind of our Return! theme.

Since, as mentioned above, the mail delivery has been either sporadic or non-existent during our frigid weather, we are attaching a pdf of the first week of Lenten devotions below so that you can follow along. We look forward to the Big Thaw and catching up together. Saturday and Sunday services will continue as usual.

Honoring our Veterans

Christ the King is fortunate enough to have a number of veterans and active military among our membership. We love and honor our veterans and appreciate the opportunity to say a special word of thanks on or around Veterans Day every year.

On November 8, 2020, we celebrated with a Veterans Breakfast, catered by Chick-Fil-A, during which we had the privilege of hearing from two WWII pilots, Ken Lewis and Irwin Rumler, who gave us fascinating glimpses of their wartime experiences. Gary Osing provided a brief history of events leading up to the Second World War, and Hubert Dellinger spoke of life on the home front. The crowd of approximately eighty-five members and friends, young and old, were enthralled by the stories of their honored guests.

Additionally, CTK’s Quilt of Valor ministry, headed by Sharron Bearly, presented veteran Stephen Andrews with a beautiful quilt sewn by Lorraine Parker, wrapping him in the loving, grateful arms of his CTK community. Job Comfort Dog, in his Kare-9 camo vest, was on hand with his veteran handler Pete Wasmund.

God bless our heroes! We thank you for your service and your sacrifice. We salute you and your families and wish you and your fellow members of the Armed Forces God’s continued care and blessing.

Lorraine Parker and Sharron Bearly display the magnificent quilt.
Veteran Stephen Andrews is wrapped in his Quilt of Valor. Thank you for your service, Stephen!
Speakers Gary Osing, Ken Lewis, Irwin Rumler, Hubert Dellinger

GS

God’s Blessings Continue

At Christ the King Lutheran Church and School, in spite of the craziness of the year 2020, we have been fortunate enough, through the grace of God, to witness baptisms, weddings, new member introductions, school children and teachers returning in person, and even progress on new building construction, as the work of the Church and the blessings of the Holy Spirit bear fruit. Along with Pastor Chuck and Pastor Mark, we pray that God will continue to bless us as we look to the future and increased opportunities to share the Good News of the Gospel.

The wedding of Grace Zagel and Peter Ruleman served as a reminder of God’s love for His people in the midst of an unusual time.
We have celebrated several baptisms in 2020, including this adult baptism of new member Danielle Haggerty.
Progress continues on the construction of a state-of-the-art fellowship hall, Bible study classrooms, and administrative offices.
The Dugan family, transfers from the St. Louis area, were among the nine new member families CTK has welcomed this year thus far.
We rejoiced to see our school children back on campus for classroom teaching. Our faculty served our students both in-person and virtually.

GS

Musicians in Tune

In the middle of March this year, we were plummeted into a new world of alternating twists and turns, challenges and inventions, beginning with the online-only services in which the pastors preached to an empty church with an unseen congregation gathered around their laptops and TVs, to tentative then slightly bolder in-person services in which congregants are sporting masks, keeping their distance, navigating twine-festooned alternating pews, and suffering without their pre-service coffee. We’re still finding our way with that “center line only” Communion and the two-handed pew-sanitizing procedures performed by the ushers.

ChrisCardonaatPianoOne thing that has remained constant throughout the unnerving accommodations is the presence of our musicians.  Along with the faithful behind-the-scenes crews of sound technicians and live-stream operators, our musicians have stepped up to the plate and provided a steadying background of beloved music that has seen us through some trying times.

So we pause for a moment to express our sincere gratitude to organist Michella Novy, pianist Chris Cardona, and our Hymn Leaders and Soloists who have enriched our music during the online-only period in which they filled our sanctuary with beautiful music in the absence of worshipers, and more recently, have continued to do so to bolster and encourage the slightly muffled singing of in-person masked congregants.

ChuckHodgesSingingIn addition to Chuck Hodges, who faithfully served throughout the online-only period, hymn leaders have included Trevor Goble, Emily Hale, Daniel Klinge, Nicholas Tieman, and Angie Shappley.

With its rich tradition of liturgical hymnody, the Lutheran church relies on its music to reinforce the message of Scripture and to remind us of  God’s mercy and forgiveness. As we ease back into in-person worship, we look forward to hearing from more of our musicians with whom we have been so richly blessed. Soli Deo Gloria!

The Rite of Confirmation during COVID-19

ConfirmationClass2020The Confirmation Class of 2020 at Christ the King Lutheran Church, Memphis, looked a little different from the classes of years past; the CTK masks that the confirmands wore marked the time as unusual, but the robes they wore assured us of the continuing loving grace of God which covers all.

The last few months of in-class study were truncated, but Pastor Goble used various methods — including his youtube videos made just for the class, outlines and quizzes through email, and class Zooming — to reach the group. Final essays from the class describing what Confirmation meant to them were in turn pithy and humorous, and the faith they shared and the hope for the future of our church that they inspired were contagious.

Here are a few excerpts from their essays:

Coleman Byrum – “In Confirmation class, I have learned what the Lutheran faith is all about…why we do what we do…what the Sacraments are and how important and meaningful they are…I’ve learned the proper way to say a prayer; now they feel more meaningful.”

Rodkaevious Ellis — “In class, I learned it is not just about following God. You also have a job given to you by Jesus our Lord. You are not your own, for you were bought with a price…I learned this in class with Pastor Mark.”

Kaitlyn Kerchoff — “To me, the importance of Confirmation is the understanding of Christ. Before taking this class, I didn’t know much about being a Christian; now I understand the importance of Holy Communion and how it originated.”

Graham Gilchrist — “The most interesting thing I learned in Confirmation Class was about the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion…and how they came to be…Pastor Mark has influenced me in this journey because he has made it so much fun to learn about my faith and brings so much knowledge to the table.”

Donovan Smith — “Confirmation Class has gotten me to see some things I have heard over and over in a new perspective….I know that soon I will have to make the choice to shine my light in the world or put it out and stay where I am…I believe that I am able to say that I will shine my light throughout the world. With my light in hand, I will follow Jesus.”

Ethan Thompson — “The Ten Commandments taught me the Christian laws that I should be following in every decision. The Apostles’ Creed laid out  my beliefs in a prayer. These things helped me in my Christian and Confirmation journey.”

Rylee Tittle — “My parents have always seemed to care about making sure I understand that there is only one God and that He sent His Son to save us from our sins….I know the Lord will be true, always and forever, and I know I’ve been given eternal life.”

Andrew White — “Life as a Christian isn’t always easy…I’ve learned it is important to go to God in prayer and tell Him about all the struggles and doubts…He is still here, He hasn’t left me and He never will….In Confirmation I learned that w hen we go up to take Communion, Jesus needs to be our number one focus.”

Well done, Confirmation Class of 2020!  May God continue to bless and keep you.

GS