From the September issue of The King’s Messenger….
I was about to begin writing a sermon on Romans 13:1-10 when I was reminded that it is my turn to write a newsletter article for our monthly publication. Since my “older-yet-better-like-fine-wine” mind does not transition well, I decided to meld this article into some side thoughts our Lord was planting in me to share from the pulpit. I will probably still preach it, but in case you sleep in on Sept. 10….
Just this morning I read in our local paper that most all national polls show that people around our country are very unhappy with the two frontrunners seeking to be our next president. Not only that, but many if not most folks who are for one guy are angry and aghast at the other side for being for their guy. “How could you possibly support such a person?!?”
I think we are all experiencing that. People I talk to are already exhausted from the fray. Many if not most people this election year will be voting against the other guy more than voting for theirs. That’s where the energy is. But in the meantime I have a bit of an admonishing to do among us as the election rhetoric heats up. We need to be very careful as disciples of Jesus filled with the Holy Spirit to flavor our speech and opinions with love, obeying the eighth commandment even though it’s not as much fun as bashing and lampooning those who disagree with us.
My dear family of forgiven: our diverse membership and pews with people in them to receive the means of grace have both republican and democrats in them. Every Sunday and during the week, you worship and serve right next to both prolife and prochoice advocates, people for and against gay marriage, those who want more immigration and those who want less, second amendment enthusiasts and others desperate for stronger gun control limits. When visitors and guests come, we can assume that at least some of them bring a broad range of opinions and world views that are completely foreign to us, maybe even hostile to the Gospel we love.
Jesus loves us and them, all. He died to atone for our sins and theirs. Put downs, crass jokes, hateful speech and professed indignation have no place in God’s house or among our fellowship. Please watch your social media posts, your side comments assuming everyone is on board with your point of view, and your judging other’s faith for their point of view.
What unites us is so much greater than anything that could divide us. But our dark often sarcastic comments can make it seem less so. James 3:1-12 is true, as is Galatians 5:16-26. Please read both int he context of the subject of this newsltter.
News organizations and political parties will increasingly seek to enrage and divide us for their own priorities and benefit as the election draws nearer. Let’s rise above that and seek first the KIngdom of God…with all that means for our families and CTK congregation. Let’s put the best construction on those we don’t get how they could possibly think as they do, reminding ourselves that we are first and forever brothers and sisters in Christ…and with the strength of Christ-like humility let us love one another on a level way above the manipulations of those seeking to make us mean.
May God have mercy and shower HIs grace upon our nation and upon each one of us as He always has, and always will…no matter how we vote!
We celebrate Christ the King’s high school, college, and professional school graduates. May God continue to richly bless them.
When Christ the King Lutheran Church was just beginning, fellowship was an important and necessary ingredient to the growth of the membership, just as it is today. Beyond the quick hellos on a Sunday morning, the potluck supper provided time to relax, share food, and really get to know one another, becoming a family of believers over a plate of mac and cheese. Sixty years ago, families gathered, ate, enjoyed entertainment, and watched each other’s children. The men of the congregation hung curtains across the front of the room to hide the altar, and tables and chairs were arranged where just hours before, the members had bowed their heads in worship.
Fast-forward 60+ years and the monthly potlucks are going strong, but are now held in our spacious new Fellowship Hall with plenty of room for everyone and a kitchen outfitted with the latest equipment. Macaroni and cheese is still a popular dish, alongside healthy doses of quinoa and kale. Free will offerings go toward helping those in need, such as Lutheran World Relief and Trinity/Hope. Fellowship is still a main menu item, and guests are heard to say, “I’m so glad you still have potlucks!” It’s a great opportunity to invite friends and introduce them to the family of Christ the King. Mark your calendar for the fourth Sunday of every month and join us after worship in the Fellowship Hall. You can’t miss it — just follow the enticing smell of fried chicken! RSVP at bit.ly/CTKPotluck
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.
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 email@example.com.
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!
“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.
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!”
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.
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!
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.
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.