Please Join us for a “LOT of WORSHIP”
First Lutheran Church
505 West Holdt St. Battle Lake MN 56515
First Lutheran’s Parking Lot Services will be held
SUNDAY July 12, 2020 at 10 AM
August 9, 2020 at 10 AM
August 23, 2020 at 10 AM
What you need to know from the Health Committee
~ Each household should be in separate cars. Carpooling does not
comply with distancing requirements
~ Volunteers will direct cars to enter the parking lot from St. Olaf Ave
and exit onto HWY 83 (West Holdt St)
~ Volunteers will direct you to your spot. The rows will be staggered,
we have room for 25-30 vehicles.
~ Please remain in your vehicle. If cars are 6 feet apart, car windows
can be open.
~ Please tune your radio to 87.9 FM for broadcast.
~ The worship service will last about 30 minutes.
~ The church building will be closed. No restrooms are available.
~ We encourage mailing of offerings or electronic giving. If you do have
an offering to give, there will be a container available as you drive
~ Holy Communion: We will celebrate Holy Communion and ask you to
bring bread and grape juice from home to have in your car for use
when the pastor consecrates the elements during service.
~ Please do not attend if you are not feeling well, or if you are at high risk
with underlying health issues.
~ In case of inclement weather, the outdoor service will be cancelled.
Notification will go out via email and Facebook.
~ Online worship and messages will continue every week.
We continue to use all information from the state of Minnesota, the CDC, Synod leaders as well as our Safety committee to make future decisions regarding worship services, education programming and other programming. We will keep you posted!
June 9, 2020
Dear First Lutheran Church Members,
A fund has been created within the Battle Lake Community Fund to assist our local businesses and residents during COVID-19. This is a joint effort with the Battle Lake Economic Development Authority. We feel there will be needs for both businesses and residents as the pandemic continues to cause economic issues for our community into the future.
A committee has been developed of both Community Fund and EDA members to set up criteria and work on fund raising efforts. This committee would like to request a donation for the fund from your church and to spread the word about this opportunity to donate. Once more donations have been received, we can start taking applications from businesses and individuals.
We appreciate your consideration on this project.
Battle Lake Area Covid-19 Emergency Fund Committee
(Bill Taylor, Barb Prody, Reba Gilliand, Randy Dorn, Steve Young, and Darren Kern)
NOTABLE CHANGES TO THE GOLF SCRAMBLE THIS YEAR (ALLOWING FOR COVID-19 SAFETY PRECAUTIONS): 1. INSTEAD OF HOSTING A 1-DAY EVENT WITH OVER 100 GOLFERS ALL PRESENT AT ONE TIME, WE ARE EXTENDING THE TIME FRAME FOR GOLFING FROM JULY 15 - AUGUST 15. YOU CAN SIGN UP TO GOLF ANY DAY THAT LAKE MILTONA GOLF CLUB HAS TEE TIMES AVAILABLE. 2. IF YOU HAVE MORE THAN 1 TEAM THAT WOULD LIKE TO SIGN UP TO GOLF ON THE SAME DAY, YOU ARE WELCOME TO ARRANGE THIS WITH LAKE MILTONA GOLF CLUB.
1. GOLFERS - REGISTER ONLINE TO PARTICIPATE WITH LUTHER CREST.
2. PAY FOR EVENT REGISTRATION THROUGH THE REGISTRATION LINK OR ONLINE AT LUTHERCREST.ORG
3. CALL LAKE MILTONA GOLF CLUB TO SET UP YOUR GOLF DATE AND TIME. Phone: 320-852-7078, firstname.lastname@example.org
4. PAY FOR GOLFING AT LAKE MILTONA GOLF CLUB THE DAY YOU GOLF.
5. TURN IN YOUR SCORECARD TO LAKE MILTONA GOLF CLUB, LUTHER CREST WILL ANNOUNCE ALL WINNERS AFTER AUGUST 15.
Jody Johnson Luther Crest Bible Cam8231 County Road 11
. July 23, 2020 Dear Siblings in Christ, Here’s a puzzle. See if you can resolve the contradictions in these statements by two of the most admired thinkers of our Christian faith. St. Paul: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21) And Martin Luther: “The Christian is the perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. The Christian is the perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.” (The Treatise on Christian Liberty) It sounds like a debate happening in public right now over the wearing of masks, doesn’t it? Is it about personal freedom or about public health? St. Paul and Martin Luther answer, “Yes!” The contradiction is only resolved in the one place where all of our contradictions find resolution – in the Body of Jesus Christ. He freely laid his body down for love of sinners like you and me. Jesus “did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant.” (Philippians 2:7-8) On July 22nd, Governor Walz instituted an Executive Order requiring the wearing of masks in public indoor spaces, including churches beginning tomorrow, Saturday, July 25th. He also reiterated all the guidelines with which we are all familiar: physical distancing from people not from the same household, frequent hand washing, sanitizing frequently touched surfaces, refraining from the high-risk activity of public singing, etc. A variety of detailed instructions for following these guidelines are available on our website. A good place to start is this 21-question document. As a brother in Christ and as your Synod’s pastor, I call upon each of you not to view this as an occasion to fight for personal liberty but as an opportunity to use your liberty for love. We choose to follow these guidelines as a proven and effective way of loving our neighbors by slowing or preventing the spread of COVID-19! In doing so we will be following Jesus. This continues to be a long and difficult road, with some tough decisions coming, especially around school. There is barely a flicker at the end of the tunnel with a few potential vaccines in human trials. (We are grateful for the vocations of researchers and medical professionals.) But we don’t just sit and wait. We are creatively hearing and sharing the Gospel. We are daily dwelling in God’s Word and coming to God in daily prayer. We are connected via video technologies, the phone, mail, tv and radio as well as small, safe indoor gatherings and larger, safe outdoor ones. When we come to the end of this, we will be a stronger, more resilient, more connected, and more faithful church. The church was made for this! People need the message of God’s love for us in Christ Jesus now, more than ever! Thank you for your faithfulness in ministry and your generosity of time, talent and money that keeps ministry happening. We really are “church together.” In Christ our Brother, Pastor Bill Tesch, Bishop of the NWMN Synod of the ELCA
Dear Members and Friends of First Lutheran Church Battle Lake, On behalf of the entire staff and current leadership at First Lutheran, we want to thank you for all of the ways you have remained flexible and faithful in these difficult and uncertain times! Thank you! How are you doing? We know there are many questions out there about when we will be progressing back to normal or a new normal. There are many issues to address and questions to answer. We are doing our best with the information and statistics that we know at this time. Some of what you see below is from the various guidelines and some language is from neighboring congregations. We are listening very carefully, and looking for a consensus and a wise decision for everyone! The Smart Team is working on a plan for re-opening our building and indoor worship in stages. This weekend we started a parking lot service. One step in the process. Online services continue for those who feel ill or are in the high-risk and vulnerable population categories. The Smart team is charged with representing the entire church community as they make recommendations to the church council for re-opening our building and indoor worship. The team consists of: Bill Taylor, Gordon Fuchs, Dean Damrau, Margaret Dahl, Heidi Jorud, Pastor Brad Skogen, Ruthie Illies, Ann Rasmusson, Stacey Osland, Dick Oftedahl, and Gordon and Kate Rockswold. Each of the members of the smart team will listen to your input. Please share your feelings with anyone on the team. The basis for the recommendations will be the guidelines from our Northwestern Minnesota Synod as well as the current guidelines from state and federal public health resources. The Synod guidelines are based on scientific and medical guidelines and the biblical mandate to care for our neighbor. At this time we have chosen to be very cautious until the statistics reassure us to move forward. We stay alert to case numbers rising or falling in our area of Minnesota. When they fall over a period of 14 days, we will move to the next phase of re-opening. July has been identified as a possible critical peak season for cases. The numbers will guide us. We could write a lot more words but sometimes it is best to share the Word of God From a daily devotional to meditate on. Divine Delays Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.” Exodus 13:17 The Macedonian Call 6 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. 8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them. Acts 16:6-10 Not a day goes by when our plans aren’t changed by circumstances beyond our control. Natural disasters, Pandemics, house or car repair problems, unexpected illness, traffic jams on the freeway, a friend or neighbor with an emergency need, unforeseen time demands at work—the list goes on. The question is, “Can we trust that God is in those unforeseen delays, diversions, and distractions?” A rarely-read, single verse in Exodus (13:17) tells how God led the newly-freed Hebrew nation into the Sinai Desert instead of around the southeast “corner” of the Mediterranean Sea into the Promised Land. Why? So the Hebrews wouldn’t encounter the Philistines who inhabited that region, be attacked, and flee back to Egypt for safety. The Hebrews grumbled loud and long about the Sinai sand and sun, but at least they were alive. If they had met the Philistines, they might have been slaughtered. Next time your path is changed unexpectedly, trust by faith that God is in it and that the change was for a good reason (Romans 8:28). Quote of the Day: Let me remind you that this is God’s universe, and God is doing things God’s way. You may think you have a better way, but you don’t have a universe to rule. J. Vernon McGee In all situations, we want to err on the side of love for our neighbors and know that change is inevitable. Patience, grace, and flexibility will be necessary as we strive to make the most appropriate decisions for the people of God at First Lutheran. In addition to planning for re-opening the building for worship, it will be helpful to spend time reflecting on what you have done online or in-person as this time will likely lead to new insights and discoveries for us. Thank you for all the caring ministry you do in Jesus’ name! May God bless us as we walk through these days together. Rev. Bradley Skogen, Pastor Mike Youngblood, Council President Bill Taylor, Health Committee
22 May 2020 Greetings faithful leaders of the Northwestern Minnesota Synod, If you have watched or read local and regional news the past couple of days, you have heard that the Minnesota’s Catholic Conference and the Minnesota North and South Districts of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod have chosen to reopen, in defiance of our states “Stay Safe Order”. And just today, President Trump gave an address telling churches to gather in-person this weekend. Our vision as a Synod is “a people being set free by the gospel to be wholly devoted to Jesus and our neighbor in love”. You have continued to demonstrate love for Jesus and your neighbor even in this difficult time, thank you for your faithful ministry. In a letter sent out just nine days ago, with the other five ELCA Bishops from Minnesota, we articulated the values that we believe should guide your decisions to returning to in-person worship. Which could be summarized as faith, facts, and love: We the six bishops of the ELCA in Minnesota share particular values as we live and lead together - with you in this pandemic reality. We continue to engage with and listen to state and local officials. We look to scientists and epidemiologists to guide our decision making. We keep ever before us a commitment to the wellbeing of our neighbors, those in our congregations, communities and beyond. We remain focused on our shared vocation of proclaiming the gospel. It is the good news of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, that anchors our hope. I know that you are longing to be with your congregations in person. I am too. You may be feeling pressure from people to return to in-person gatherings and ignore the clear advice of public health officials here in Minnesota. As your bishop, and in alignment with both Presiding Bishop Eaton and Governor Tim Walz, I urge you to refrain from in-person worship except for groups of 10 or fewer until such time as Minnesota officials have informed us that it is safe to do otherwise (drive-in worship is also a way that you have been finding to gather that is considered safe). Here are some resources. My prayer is that you continue to look to those most vulnerable in your community and that their safety be paramount in your decisions around in-person gathering, people who the CDC calls “People Who Need to Take Extra Precautions”. Thank you for your faithful leadership, and do not hesitate to contact your synod office with questions or concerns. Pastor Bill Tesch Bishop of the Northwestern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA *Here at First Lutheran we have a team of people working on how we might be able to hold “Parking Lot” worship and Outdoor worship in the weeks ahead.
“Bringing the hope we share in Christ to others.” From Pastor Bradley Skogen May 2020
Dear Ones in Christ, Christ is Risen! Alleluia! Christ is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The last two months have brought so many unexpected and unprecedented changes as we have experienced the COVID-19 pandemic and related orders and guidelines to “Stay at Home”, close schools, worship from home, eliminate gatherings, wear masks in public, and so on. There are many losses you and those around you are experiencing: loss of employment, cancelled or postponed graduation celebrations, missed opportunities to gather with loved ones when there is a death, among many others. Please join me in holding one another in prayer as each person and family has their unique experiences during this time. One thing that has not changed – and will not change – is the promise of new and everlasting life in our risen Lord. We can hold on to that promise in faith as we hold our community and world in prayer as people near and far encounter the financial, social, vocational, and health related effects of this unprecedented time. We will continue to “Bring the Hope We Share in Christ to Others” as we live forward as a community of faith. First Lutheran Church has been bringing this hope in many ways. One example is a donation we made a few days ago to the Good Samaritan Center and Lakeview Apartments of some wireless speakers to use with iPads and computers they have for residents and tenants to connect with family or access the internet to see worship services. We are also supporting the Food Shelf and making facemasks and making calls throughout our membership to check in with you to see how you are doing and if you have any needs. You may also have seen our devotional Facebook posts and emails or been using our YouTube Channel to watch worship recordings. (If you have missed out on any of these things, please contact us to ensure we have your current phone number or email address! You can send email to email@example.com or even send an “old fashioned” note or card to our mailing address and we will update your information!) I am so grateful for our staff and volunteers who have helped in so many ways. Looking forward, we will continue using Zoom video/tele-conferencing for committee and council meetings, as well as to confirmation, Bible Study, and make youth connections. We do not know how soon we will be able to gather again for worship or other activities in person. We do know the process will likely be extended over several phases over time. (Please see the message from Bishop Bill Tesch included in this newsletter.) Between now and then, we continue to be a faith community in the best ways we can. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:3-4 Love in Christ, Pr. Brad
“Bringing the hope we share in Christ to others.” From Pastor Bradley Skogen April 2020 Pr. Bradley J. Skogen Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” John 14:23 The world has changed dramatically in the last few weeks. You and I are experiencing changes unlike most of us have ever seen. Amid uncertainty and physical distancing from each other as we shelter at home, we continue to live and believe the promise of Jesus coming to us wherever we are. The public health emergency and order to stay at home has led to the decision that our congregation has suspended public worship and all activities until further notice. We, your church staff, will continue to work at home as the church office is now closed. We are sending materials out to confirmation students, WAFL families, First Communion students, and others. There are several important items I would like to share with you: FOOD SHELF SUPPORT – We would have collected a noisy offering during worship to support our local Food Shelf, which is needed now more than ever. Please send the financial support for the Food Shelf you would have given during worship directly to the Food Shelf by March 31st, so your financial gift can be matched as part of Food Shelf Month. WORSHIP – We continue to worship through recordings posted to our Facebook page and distributed via email. (If you have not been receiving emails from us, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure we have your email address.) Holy Week – We will not be able to worship together during Holy Week this year. We will send out resources for worship on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. Holy Communion – During this extraordinary time, Bishop Bill Tesch has authorized in home celebration of Holy Communion, with the “head of the household” presiding and saying the “Words of Institution” (please see the “Frequently Asked Questions” and enclosed liturgy for use at home). Funerals/Memorial Services – Public gatherings like memorial services will be postponed until further notice. CARE AND COMMUNICATION – We will continue to be in touch by email, text, and phone to the best of our ability. We ask for your assistance to ensure pastoral care needs come to our attention – please let us know if you or someone else has needs we can respond to during this time. We will continue to support you and our community materially through the Food Shelf and our Good Samaritan Fund to help meet unexpected, critical needs during this time. Your church staff and family continue to hold you in prayer as we join our entire congregation in “Bringing the Hope We Share in Christ to Others.” Love in Christ, Pr. Brad
“Bringing the hope we share in Christ to others.”
From Pastor Bradley Skogen March 2020
“There is a boy here who had five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sad down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. John 6:9-13
Feeding hungry people is a crucial part of Jesus’ ministry and the mission that is passed along to the church throughout all ages. The passage above records how the meager resources available were shared – with gratitude on Jesus’ part – to feed many thousand people. (The Gospel records there were 5,000 men present, not counting the women and children. There were many more than 5,000 mouths to feed that day!) We continue to live out the mission of feeding hungry people today in the life of our congregation and community. Each year our congregation commits to financially supporting our local Food Shelf, especially during the month of March, because at this time of year gifts are multiplied to feed more people far more than during other months. We have also had the opportunity to feed hungry people in additional ways in the last year. Last November, we hosted a “Kids Against Hunger” food packing event that provided meals to the Battle Lake Food Shelf, as well as other local food shelves. (We put together 13,008 food packs that each serve 6 meals for a total of over 78,000 servings of food!) Our Men’s Fellowship group assembles and delivers holiday food boxes in our area every year. We were able to send financial gifts with Gordon and Kate Rockswold to the St. Stephen School in Kibera, Kenya, to support the meal program in that school, In addition, some folks in our congregation support the Friends of Friends Against Hunger program each year to provide resources for the backpack food program and are food shelves AND our congregation and Men’s Fellowship committed to paying for the school lunch debt in the Battle Lake School District as a sign of support for food security for our school age children. THANK YOU! Just as the boy’s loaves and fishes were shared and multiplied with thanks to feed many more than thought possible, we receive your gifts say thanks as Jesus did, and share them to feed MANY thousands of people. God Bless you,
Pr. Bradley J. Skogen
“Bringing the hope we share in Christ to others.”
From Pastor Bradley Skogen February 2020
2020 Vision: See Jesus Near and Far… “A mosaic consists of thousands of little stones. Some are blue, some are green, some are yellow, some are gold. When we bring our faces close to the mosaic, we can admire the beauty of each stone. But as we step back from it, we can see that all these little stones reveal to us a beautiful picture, telling a story none of these stones can tell by itself. That is what our life in community is about. Each of us is like a little stone, but together we reveal the face of God to the world. Nobody can say: “I make God visible.” But others who se us together can say: “They make God visible.” Community is where humility and glory touch.” - Henri Nouwen
There is one line in the reading above that captures my attention this time through: “… together we reveal the face of God to the world.” How clearly can people see the face of God in our togetherness as First Lutheran Church? What are some ways we are “Bringing the hope we share in Christ to others”, so those others see God’s face clearly? I have been reflecting on the many ways we have lived out our mission over the last year. One powerful and longstanding mission relationship we have sustained for 14 years is with our siblings in Bemidji at Peoples Church. You may remember just a few months ago when we gathered food and supplies to bring up to Peoples Church so they could prepare a holiday meal for the community there. There are so many individuals who contribute to an effort like that – and even our local business owners who help with discounted prices or outright gifts of food and supplies. We are thankful for the face of God showing up in all of those people and places, too. Do you know, also, that our congregation provides regular financial support so Peoples Church can minister in other ways on a day to day basis with people who are homeless or hungry or in need of clothing or need a warm and safe place to gather with others in worship and fellowship? We plan to continue to sustain and build our relationship with Peoples Church and a question I would like you to consider is: How do you/we see the face of God in the community there? A healthy relationship is not one sided. Jesus comes to us through the community of Peoples Church, just as we provide support in Jesus’ name to the people there. Join me in seeing Jesus near and far in Peoples Church. God Bless you,
Pr. Bradley J. Skogen
“Bringing the hope we share in Christ to others.”
From Pastor Bradley Skogen January 2020
2020 Vision: See Jesus Near and Far… “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19
Happy New Year! I am seeing things in a new way this year – quite literally! I had an eye exam at the end of December and needed to get new lenses for my glasses. I am one of those folks who need bifocal lenses to help me read up close and some correction that helps me see clearly farther away. I didn’t know for sure before my appointment if my prescription would change, but the eye doctor said it was clear I needed new lenses to help me see better. It never ceases to amaze me how accustomed I can become to what I see as my ordinary, everyday reality and how much more clearly I can see when I get new glasses or lenses.
This year I am going to encourage you to see – with “2020 Vision” – how we can live out our mission together as a congregation. I hope you will see some of our mission activity in new ways, even though it is through long-term support and relationship. I hope, too, you will join our committees and council in seeing new opportunities through mission partners and projects locally and globally. We have been greatly blessed – and we are in a place to share the hope we have in Christ with those around us near and far. Happy New Year, indeed! God Bless you,
Pr. Bradley J. Skogen
Joy is Coming!
Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!”
Isaiah 40: 9
Mountains and valleys – our lives are full of mountains and valleys. We are approaching a “mountain top” of the church year, the season of Christmas. It is a high point for many people, emotionally, as favorite music is played and sung, as families prepare to gather, and as children anticipate the holiday celebration and gifts. It is a high point, spiritually, as we commemorate the birth of Jesus, the Christ Child; the moment when God became flesh to dwell among us – a God willing to be vulnerable and humble, born in a stable, and laid in manger. A God willing to enter the greatest darkness of our human experience and emerge as a light of hope, peace, and everlasting life.
I have gained a strong appreciation for taking my time preparing for this mountain top experience. Getting to the top of the mountain doesn’t happen all at once, it is a process of starting low, preparing carefully, and climbing higher and higher during the weeks of Advent. We prepare for the journey, anticipate the celebration and joy of the summit, wait and walk carefully up the mountain. One way I would invite you to prepare and participate in the journey this year is to attend our Wednesday Evening Worship Services. We will be using “Holden Evening Prayer” and with an Advent theme highlighted each week. There are other ways to prepare: renewing a daily devotional practice, reconnecting with a family member or friend where there is a broken relationship, helping as a volunteer in our community, or some other activity to help you pause and consider your faith journey and relationships in the light of Jesus’ promised birth.
When we reach the top, not before, we are in the best position to see and tell the Good News: “Joy to the World! The Lord is come!” I look forward to seeing you at the top and to your partnership in ministry along the way.
Pr. Bradley J. Skogen