Greetings in Christ Jesus!
We had the opportunity to worship today at St. John Lutheran Church in Ellisville, Missouri, about 20 miles west/southwest of Concordia Seminary, where we live. With about 4,000 members (according to an elder we met today) and approximately 2,500 souls in worship on a given weekend, it is one of the largest churches (if not *the* largest church) in the national Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS).
We enjoyed it so much (as did Hannah) that we signed Hannah up for their Vacation Bible School (VBS), which starts tomorrow!
The worship was terrific and the people we met were quite friendly. Rev. Dr. Stephen Hower preached on "Fear and Courage" as found in Joshua 3, where Joshua leads the new generation of Israelites across the river Jordan into the Promised Land. The message was particularly enjoyable for Don, who had just finished studying the Old Testament and had the Book of Joshua fresh on his heart and mind.
The music team lead the congregation in song that filled the sanctuary and your soul! Hannah had a huge smile on her face and was dancing in the aisle--literally--as the praise team sang away! (We were sitting in the very last row up in the balcony, so she didn't create too much of a distraction!) :-) (Interesting side note: their "stand-in" music leader was a young lady who is on summer break from Concordia Irvine, where she is studying in--you guessed it--their music program).
St. John Ellisville has an elementary school onsite; a "Next Generation" emphasis, with dedicated spaces for youth and young adults; a small bookstore; and a cafeteria downstairs that the school uses during the week, which the church uses during weekends for wedding receptions and breakfast/brunch service before and after church. The buildings are multi-level and built immediately adjacent to one another--connected by internal hallways--so the footprint of the entire campus is remarkably small for as much punch as it packs. Take a look at the satellite image (from Google Maps) here and you'll see what we mean.
This is the third church we've visited in three weeks--each of the ones we've visited have been as different as you can imagine, and each a blessing to the community in their own special way. We may continue to "church hop" until Don gets assigned to his field work church in the Fall; from then on we will worship there, whatever church that may be (there are about 150 LCMS churches in the greater St. Louis area).
Tomorrow, Don starts his New Testament class, which will run for two weeks. About 5 weeks from now, Fall classes start...and that's when Greek begins and the intensity of seminary academic life will really begin to kick in.
Thank you for your continued love and support. Do let us know how you are doing, so we can be praying for you--you can click the email link at the top right of our website and send us your prayer requests there; we'd love to specifically be in prayer for you, your family and loved ones.
God's love and richest blessings,
DER, SJR, HGR, EJR :-) :-) :-) :-)