From The Pastor,
On March 1, 2000 I, a rather newly-ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament, arrived at 600 Court Street to begin a new call. I walked into familiar surroundings, but not as the organist from the 1970s, but now as your pastor. Much water had flowed under the bridge between my time as your organist and my being ordained and serving my first call at Grace Lutheran Church in Watertown, SD.
I thought back to the daring generosity of this highly liturgical congregation calling an organist who was raised in the Reformed Church in America with an order of worship quite different from the Lutheran liturgy. On this day in March I wasn’t dressed in “regular” clothes anymore; my black shirt had a white tab in the collar. My mentoring to ordination actually began with Father Fortune sitting on the organ bench with me and teaching me not only the words and tunes of the liturgy parts, but also the biblical references to the lyrics. He taught me to breathe with the words and helped me play the liturgy in a flowing manner unlike the more rigid beat of the hymns and other music. Who knew that those lessons would, a couple decades later, lead me into discerning a call to ordained ministry? God, of course!
What has God given us to do at Augustana Lutheran Church since March 2000? We have welcomed 127 new members through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, we have welcomed 81 youth into full membership through the Rite of Affirmation of Baptism, and we have consoled each other as 251 members and some friends enter Eternal Sainthood.
We celebrated 125 years of being Augustana Lutheran Church in May 2000. We have made many repairs and renovations to this beautiful building dedicated February 16, 1890. We had fun using parts of our communion liturgy from the old “Black Hymnal” of 1925 at our worship “Celebrating 125 Years at 6th and Court” on February 15, 2015.
We have gathered to remember our Swedish heritage each December at the Lucia Festival with a wonderful potluck meal, naming a Lucia and her court, and singing Christmas carols in Swedish. (Thank you to my late mother-in-law, Margaret Ericson for teaching me the Swedish table prayer!) There are so many other events in which I was privileged to partake as your pastor. You have welcomed Jane, Eric, and me as part of the family. You have loved me and prayed for me. You comforted me when my mother died at the age of 103 in October 2010. You blessed me with two sabbaticals; times of study and rest. Now you prepare to send me off and trust that God will provide a new pastor to lead you into the future.
I have been so blessed to work with such talented musicians! As a church musician I understand the balancing act one does be-tween a “real” job and a church job. Thank you, my dear musical colleagues for sharing your talents with us!
I am so pleased that Denene Nutt is our church administrator! She is doing a wonderful job learning “everything.” Her personality and skills are so fitting.
Frank Sinatra recorded “My Way” on December 30, 1968. It’s a self-centered, prideful song of a man who is lived his life by doing things my way. I have altered the last stanza to reflect my ministry.
For what am I, what have I got?
If not my service, then I have naught
To say the things I truly feel
In all the words of God which heal.
The record shows I answered the call:
I tried to do it God’s way.
God bless you and keep you, make his face shine upon, and give you peace. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen