A financial stewardship update

When you give an offering at Zion, not every dollar stays at Zion.  We are a church with a missional mindset that is always looking to support ministries beyond our walls.  For every $100 given to the general fund, $10 goes to support organizations like Christian Assistance Ministry, the Southwestern Texas Synod of the ELCA, CASA Helotes, and SAMM.  Each of these ministries do some wonderful work in the world on our behalf.

One of the difficult decisions our congregation council had to make last year was to temporarily suspend our benevolence payments to our ministry partners. The council did not make this decision lightly because they knew that the contributions we send do some wonderfully important and life-giving ministries that extend the work of Zion beyond the church’s walls. The goal was to do this for as little time as possible and to increase our Blessed Change collections from every 5th Sunday to every last Sunday of the month.  That has helped offset some of the losses.

The council made the decision to examine the finances on a monthly basis to determine when we could begin benevolence payments. The council also committed to keeping the congregation informed on what’s been happening. In that spirit, we want to let you know some good news on this front.

We have been able to make our benevolence payments for the last three months!  This impacts so many in our community and around the world.

We think that this is trend will continue so now we are operating under the assumption that we WILL be sending our benevolence payments rather than not sending them.

The only way this could have happened is because of your faithful financial giving. Thanks be to God for your generosity!

Medical Mission Trip

One of our outreach ministries at Zion is with a girls home in Rural Southwestern Honduras called Project Talitha Cumi.  Zion has been working with them for some years and will be returning there November 5-12.

This trip will be a medical resupply of the Project Talitha Cumi clinic, which we have stocked the last two years through congregation support.  The mission team will also see 200-300 patients from surrounding villages, which have little access to medical treatments.  Dr. Kathy Grove and Todd Grove will lead the team, which includes Jim Meadows, Paul Goldenbaum, and Ryan Grove.

We are in need of your medical supply donations.  The team is asking for the following items:

-Ibuprofen – 200 mg
-Acetaminophen – 500 mg
-Hydro-cortisone cream
-Muscle rub cream
-Petroleum jelly – small bottles
-Adult multi-vitamins – drug store quality
-Children multi-vitamins – drug store quality
-Prenatal multi-vitamins – drug store quality
-Triple antibiotic ointment

A helpful hint from the team:  You can purchase most of these items at the Dollar Tree in Helotes $1 each.  For vitamins, please use a drug store.  You can also make a cash donation so that the team can go and purchase these supplies.

God’s Work at Zion

One of the joys of being a pastor is seeing signs of God’s goodness in lots of different places.  I thought I’d share some signs of God’s Spirit stirring here at Zion over the last few weeks.

-We’ve met our challenge grant!!  As was announced in worship last week, we had a family step forward with a generous gift to challenge the people of Zion to help meet some major unexpected expenses with our building.  We were able to collect over $156,000 (with more pledged on the way!) in a little over a month.  $150,000 of that will be matched through the challenge grant.  It looks like by the time the rest of the pledges come in, we will have collected around $325,000.  Thanks be to God!!!

-Last Sunday children in grades 2-5 assembled 210 school kits for children throughout the world in need.  Their kits, along with other congregations, will be sent to Lutheran World Relief.

-Our Sunday School is off to a great start.  Our education director, Karen Stein, is working with the teachers who help form faith in the lives of the littlest disciples.

-Our Blessed Change ministry sent $319 to our partners at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio in honor of our former vicar, Pastor Emily Ebert, who was recently ordained and called to serve a congregation in the Buffalo, NY area.

-This Saturday we have a group of 28 people heading downtown to help feed the homeless with Taking it to the Streets.  They will cook the food here at Zion and then feed anyone that is hungry.  Thanks to Tim Tiemann for heading up this important ministry!

-Next weekend we have a group of people going to help build a house for Habitat for Humanity.  We’re working with other Lutheran congregations in the area on this house.  We also have a group of volunteers that are feeding the crew on Saturday.

-We will have the bloodmobile here on Sunday.

-Third Graders are receiving Bibles this Sunday, September 11, as a way of Zion fulling baptismal promises to them. Three year olds have been given Story Bibles in their classroom as a way to introduce the Bible to them. They hear stories from these Bibles in their classroom.

-Our youth minister, Travis Baker, is having a confirmation ministry kick off this Sunday.  We give God thanks for the adults that spend their Sunday evenings with these youth as they go through this important part of their faith journey.

-Our musical groups have started back after a summer break.  We thank God for the people that use their musical gifts to praise the Risen Christ in worship!  It’s not too late to jump into one of our music groups.  For more info, contact Rob Mikulski.

-We recently commissioned a new Stephen Leader for our Stephen Ministry.  Several people in our congregation are considering becoming a Stephen Minister.  If you’d like to have more information about this ministry, contact Pastor Russell.

We are a blessed church!  God is doing some great things through this congregation.

In thankfulness for our partnership,

Pastor Russell

Stephen Ministry

Today’s blog is by Dave Newman, one our Stephen Leaders.

Zion IS a Stephen Ministry Church

In 1993, Zion became a Stephen Ministry Church. The original prayer was for an ongoing ministry that could prepare lay members to better care for their hurting peers. Through the years, Stephen Ministry has done that…and much more! Stephen Ministry has helped grow disciples.

God calls us all to be disciples…in some cases Stephen Ministers. Since 1993, 48 of us have responded to that call here at Zion. Through training and supervision, we grow together into a Stephen Minster community. Just as Jesus modeled when nurturing his original disciples, discipleship happens through relationships…seldom alone.

As we grow, we realize that our inner spirituality is to be balanced with a concern for others. Jesus taught his disciples time and again to “love thy neighbor”. We estimate that through the years, over 150 hurting people have been gifted with over 5000 hours of distinctively Christian, entirely confidential care from Zion Stephen Ministers.

Commitment to Christ builds discipleship. Though regular Sunday worship, twice-a-month supervision and continuing education, and weekly visits with care-receivers, Stephen Minsters are kept grounded in the Word, the power of the Holy Spirit and our mission to bring Christ’s love to those hurting. Discipleship is our response to God’s love.

We pray you take a moment to listen…God is calling you to be a disciple. If you would like to respond by becoming a Stephen Minister, find us at our table in FLC, Room 101 September 4 and September 11.

Thank You for your prayers of support for Zion’s Stephen Ministers and their current care-receivers.

Peace,
Dave Newman
a Zion Stephen Leader

Teaching the Faith

Today’s blog is written by our Director of Christian Education, Karen Stein.

Teach Faith Formation Classes (aka Sunday School) – Who Me?

What, you want me to teach Sunday school? I am not cool enough or young enough for kids to relate to me. I am too young and am not wise enough to teach kids effectively. I can’t keep kids entertained and I know our church surely doesn’t have enough money in the budget to produce an awesome multimedia presentation each week. So see I can’t teach!

But WAIT, maybe it is okay if you don’t have to have all those “things” to be a good teacher. Children are looking for someone who cares, knows their name, encourages them and makes them feel like they are important. They also need someone who is reliable. Above all, children need someone who loves God, is willing to tell them about him and share his love with them.
Yes, it does take commitment on your part to teach but with prayer, practice and some planning you can do it. You will plant seeds of faith and make a difference in children’s lives.

Teachers are still needed for Kindergarten, Second Grade and Fourth Grade. Questions or you want more information? Call (688-3090), e-mail (kstein@zionsa.org) or text (210-367-4449).

South Dakota

Today’s guest author is Ryan Wilburn, one of our youth participants on the South Dakota mission trip.

When people asked me where I was going for my youth mission trip this summer, I told them what I knew, that we would be helping out on an Indian reservation in South Dakota. I had it in my head that I would be stuck in the middle of nowhere for a week in the middle of summer. I had no idea that I would leave after an amazing seven days with my eyes opened and my heart full of the love of Christ.

Rosebud, South Dakota was quite unlike any place that any of us had ever seen, let alone experienced. We spent a week immersed in the culture and lives of the Lakota people, playing alongside their children, and working to create a future for the culture.

I was blessed to be able to work with the children in Parmalee, a town outside of Mission where we stayed during the week. I never thought that it was possible to love strangers as much as my friends and I loved those kids and I didn’t think that a lunch of fish sticks and frozen peas could be so fulfilling. I don’t think any of us expected to be leaving Parmalee in tears on Thursday night, but we were surprised by a lot on this trip.

The kids we met in our four short days taught us so much about life and loving unconditionally. They didn’t let their happiness be dulled by the fact that their community is trapped in a cycle of poverty or that they live in a place where the unemployment rate is higher than any of us could even imagine. The smiles on the faces of those children and the light in their eyes opened my eyes to what joy truly is. While some of us were able to see our work pay off before our eyes as we laughed and read and gave piggy back rides, another group was moving furniture and painting walls in a community center in Mission.

Throughout the week I wondered what their work meant and how it was impacting the people we came here to serve, and these questions were answered when we met Shane Redhawk who, with his wife Noella, created this safe haven for youth in the community, a place where they can reconnect with their Lakota culture while avoiding the trouble that is all too common among the young people. So while the work projects crew wasn’t able to see the impact they made immediately, their work was crucial in the improvement of the community center that will be help so many people for years to come.

Every one of us made an impact on the people in those communities, just as the communities made a huge impact on us. I watched as God worked through every one of us, breaking down our barriers so that we could love and serve as the hands and feet of Christ. Now when people ask me about my mission trip, I jump at the opportunity to tell them about the Lakota people of the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota and their rich culture and the buffalo and most of all the relationships I formed with the kids, the community, and my fellow youth. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend a week of my summer.

The Move Begins!

Moving time is coming soon!  In fact, we’ve already started moving some small items into their temporary locations, but the first big items we moved happened this Tuesday night.  Our handbell choir moved all their items from the balcony to their temporary home in the Family Life Center.  Thanks to Dave Thamm and the handbell players for doing that!

The first week of January is going to be a very busy week here at Zion.  At we finish celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas (which the church has always said START on December 25), we will be moving everything from the balcony, narthex, sanctuary floor, sacristy, attic spaces, and music apse so the renovations in that part of the building can begin in early 2016.  Please mark your calendars for Sunday, January 3 at 2:00.

This is a massive project and it will involve us packing up everything that isn’t bolted down in the sanctuary and we really need your help to make this happen.

See you in worship!*

-Pastor Russell

*Don’t forget about our new worship schedule that starts on December 27.
9:00 – Worship
10:15 – Education
11:15 – Worship

Stories of Faith in Action #3

Over the last several days we’ve been hearing about how people at Zion have been using their gifts to put their faith in action.  Today’s story is from Dave Newman, one of our leaders of Zion’s Lutheran Men in Mission about a unique way a group of men used their gifts.  He writes:

“November 25 was a bittersweet day at Zion.

The bitter? After months of careful planning, designing, and praying, several of our oak trees had to be pushed over to make way for the new Education Building. Sad…those trees probably watched as Zion came and grew to be the church it is today. There is a common grieving throughout the congregation about losing some of God’s beautiful creations.

The sweet? God is continually the creator. Obviously, we soon will be blessed with a great new educational facility and enhanced areas for work and fellowship. We also will be blessed with many more new trees, albeit younger/smaller, for future generations.

And also…God creates opportunities. The trees were scheduled to be hauled to the landfill. What a waste! For years, Zion’s men have traveled many miles gathering firewood for Zion BBQ’s. The opportunity to gather firewood from our own church grounds was heaven sent. Also, the trees could be honored with a noble end…providing the next “Holy Smoke” for another Zion BBQ.

In keeping with the traditions passed down throughout our history, our men felt a responsibility to support Zion. Several volunteered hastily arranged hours to cut up and stack most of the fallen trunks and limbs before they were to be hauled away. We gathered enough firewood to last for several BBQ’s. While we still mourn the loss of our trees, we will be able to continue serving Zion again and again with the heat from burning their remains. A wonderful fringe benefit of the project was the camaraderie the Spirit provided among those who helped.

Any who would like to be included in Zion’s next Lutheran Men in Mission event, contact Dave Newman. (210-859-7860 or ddnewman@mac.com)”

 

Stories of Faith in Action #2

We’re continuing our series of stories of faith in action.  As people of faith, we are entrusted with caring for all of God’s creation.  It takes all of us using our gifts and these posts are stories of how people have answered the call to serve God in the world.  Today’s story is from Sammy Mikulski, our director of theatre ministries.  She writes:

“For the past 4 years I have had the honor of heading up the Thanksgiving Basket food drive. This is a ministry that is very dear to my heart. When I was a child I was one of those who received those baskets, and the joy that came along with it is unexplainable.

This year we were able to feed 25 families wonderful meals from olives to turkey with all the trimmings,  through to the pumpkin pie desert, because of the generous folks here at Zion. The smiles we received this year were wonderful, and two of the families had us hold hands and say a prayer with them.   They were all so gracious, we were invited in like we were one of the family. To me this is what Thanksgiving is all about.

A huge thank you to Zion for the amazing donations of food, money, and gift cards. And another huge thank you to our food deliverers Celeste, Julie, the entire Christmas family, Bonnie , Brinkley, Lindsay, Gavin, Amy and Manny.  God is Great… God is Good…you know the rest!”

Stories of Faith in Action

We’re going to have a series of posts from people in the congregation about how they live out their faith.  Today’s first story is from Mary Mora, one of our Meals on Wheels Volunteers.

COUNTING OUR BLESSINGS

When I get back into the car after delivering a meal to one of our clients, I often get to tell my partner, Ken, “that’s number three for today”! Through the “Meals on Wheels” program we have encountered many wonderful, grateful people who are happy to give us a blessing for taking care of them in this way. It makes us feel good, too. After all, isn’t that usually the product of volunteerism? The “MOW” is a perfect vehicle for directly having an impact that helps senior citizens, handicapped persons, and low income individuals that otherwise might go hungry receive a hot, balanced meal. Our part, the delivery of the meals, is not complicated. The overall program is very organized and we receive sufficient training and back-up supervision that makes volunteering easy. We pick up the meals in a special warming oven in Zion’s kitchen in the Family Life Center and, along with a cold bag with milk, juices, fruit and snack, we begin delivering to some 8 to 12 clients. We are generally finished in under two hours. We have chosen to deliver on Thursdays, twice a month. Others may want to go every Friday, for example, or three times a month, or simply be a back-up for a friend who cannot make it a certain day.

It’s also a good way to keep an eye on these particular individuals and insure a measure of good health, not to mention their thanks, and “God Bless You(s):”

If you are interested in more information, please call Coordinator David Wille, 210-647-0404.
Mary Mora