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This month I leave for a 9-week sabbatical, a time of research, renewal, and recreation. It’s not one big vacation, although a few weeks of it will be counted toward my annual vacation time. The research component of my time will be focusing on how Our Savior can be best suited to provide for worship and the faith formation and enrichment of all generations and especially families with school-age children in the 21st century and the context of a changing culture. To that extent I’ll be visiting a variety of congregations and talking with other church leaders who are providing
some innovative and effective programs. Here’s a snapshot of where I’ll be heading Jun 15-31.

  • June 16-18 Eagan & Minneapolis, MN: I’ll meet with Jennifer Rome of Mount Calvary LC to hear about her “Worship Young” emphasis in worship as well as speak with Prof. Terri Elton at Luther Seminary and what insights her Confirmation Project has been revealing.
  • June 18-20 West Fargo, ND: Amy Kippen of Faith and Journey In Faith LC will share how their GIFT (Generations In Faith Together) worship as well as FAITH 5 Home Huddles have changed the way families and members of all generations learn, share, and model the faith for all generations both in worship and at home.
  • June 20-22 Terry & Fallon, MT: I’ll stop by the yoked congregations I served for my first call back in 1992-93 and visit some parishioners and friends I’ve kept in touch with over the years.
  • June 23-26 Loveland, CO: After a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park (and maybe a few other sites nearby) I’ll stay, visit, and worship with Revs. Joel and Sonja Pancoast at Zion LC to hear how their FAITH 5 infused worship for all generations has gone and the difference Home Huddles has made for many families in their congregation.
  • June 26-28 Denver, CO: I’ll visit with some friends and see the sites of the Mile High City.
  • June 28-29 Lincoln, NE: Rev. Lance Fergusson of Spirit of Hope LC will share how his “Prime Time for Prime Purpose” emphasis has made a significant difference in their Sunday morning experience.
  • June 30 Story City, IA: Kristi Johnson of St. Petri LC will share with me how many of the concepts mentioned above are playing out well in their smaller congregation.
  • July 1-5 Cincinnati, OH: I’ll meet up with Kate’s family for a holiday reunion of sorts.
  • July 6 Grove City, OH: I hope to speak with Rev. Scott Ness of St. John LCMS and hear how “Faith Webs” have enabled his congregation to begin living faithfully between the gaps and created a more connected congregation.

The remainder of my sabbatical will be spent gleaning the information accumulated on this whirlwind tour of congregations as well as spending some long overdue time in reading the pile of books on my shelves I’ve been eager to devour, spending time in devotional reading and prayer, as well as some time at the Jersey shore, playing some golf, and finally finishing some home repair and improvement projects that have been on the back burner for a long time.

I’ve lined up an excellent roster of pastors and synodical leaders to lead Our Savior in worship over the nine Sundays I’ll be gone. Here are the dates and supply pastors who will be presiding and preaching on those dates.

  • June 19: Rev. Sara Lilja, Director of Lutheran/Episcopal Advocacy Ministry of NJ
  • June 26: Rev. Scott Schantzenbach; Asst. to Bishop focusing on Stewardship & Faith Formation
  • July 3 & 10: Rev. Heidi Rodrick-Schnaath; Dir of Student Services at Lutheran Seminary
  • July 17: Rev. Nathan Preisinger; Assoc. Dir. of Admissions at Lutheran Seminary
  • July 24: Rev. Kimberly Vaughn; Asst. to Bishop for Multi-Cultural Ministry
  • July 31: Rev. Aaron Richter; Asst. to Bishop for Communication and Mission Interpretation
  • Aug 7: Rev. Lou Dunkle; Retired pastor who served Our Savior from 1986-2005.
  • Aug 14: Nathan Preisinger; See above.

Rev. Ryan Paetzold, who serves as pastor at Holy Trinity LC in Audubon will serve as “Pastor On Call” during the weeks I’m away in case of pastoral emergencies as well as visit those who are in the midst of medical or personal crisis. He will also be the “pastor on duty” for VBS this summer as the families of Trinity also look forward to participating in the week’s activities. Please contact the Church Office if you have any questions that Sandy DeDonatis, Parish Administrator may be able to answer.

Finally, I ask for your prayers. I look forward to this time away not just to refresh and replenish my spirit and energy, but also my ability to serve you enthusiastically and effectively as your pastor. While I look forward to this time of rest, renewal, and research I will miss seeing you over the 9 weeks. Believe it or not, you are my family and I miss you when we are away from each other. Until I see you in August may you have a restful and refreshing summer as well.