The Church of the Lutheran Brethren of Canada (CLBC) held its annual convention in Edmonton, Alberta on the weekend of March 18-20, 2011. Unlike the other four regions, which will have biennial conventions under our new CLB structure, the CLBC will continue to have annual meetings to fulfill government requirements. Under the theme, Bound Together by the Word, the wonderful weekend of inspiration, fellowship, food and business was held in two different locations—the Beaumont Community Centre in Beaumont near Edmonton, and the Burnewood Community Hall in south Edmonton—facilities where our congregations have been and are meeting.
Our opening worship service was led by Pastor Roger Olson and a Worship Team from Resurrection (Camrose). Our CLBC Regional Pastor, Art Hundeby, brought the message “Doing Church as a Team.” Saturday morning worship was led by Pastor Brian Smith from Rock of Ages (Saskatoon). The worship music portion, with Pastor Dean Rostad, Pastor Brian Tysdal and Daniel Stenberg on the instruments, ushered us into God’s presence. Delegates and friends were blessed this year to have special guests with us, including Eastern Regional Pastor Warren Geraghty, Director of Women’s Ministries for the CLB Ruth Vallevik, and CLB President Joel Egge.
At our business meeting, chaired by Pastor Roger Olson because our Chairman Pastor Jon Overland was ill, we were reminded of God’s faithfulness in providing in all ways for the specific areas of ministry he has called us to. We were thankful that Daniel and Karen Stenberg as well as Pastor Danny and Mandy Bronson and their families have joined our Canadian ministry team.
Art Hundeby is Regional Pastor for the CLB Canadian Region.
I can vaguely remember, from my childhood, large district meetings that felt more like family reunions than business sessions, as people ventured up to the colorful panorama of the New England autumns. I am not certain that these memories are true but am reminded of them after this year’s Eastern Region biennial convention. We met together June 24-26 at beautiful Tuscarora Inn & Conference Center.
Our first goal was to have people attend, and we ended up having representation from every single Eastern Region church, stretching from Florida to Ohio to Road Island. Our second goal was to have an event that spurred on in the minds of the people and congregations in the east the idea that we are one region. As such, we are in a sense one large church, serving together throughout a massive geographical area. And that is exactly what happened. There was such a strong sense of community and unity that we can now fully begin to bite into the vision that God has for us jointly as a Region.
It was such a blessing to also partner together with Women’s Ministries of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren, as they held their annual meeting at the same time. This partnership not only provided more opportunity for delegates but also, when combined, brought an even larger mass of God’s children together for worship.
On Saturday evening we all gathered together and joyfully affirmed the call of our Regional Pastor Warren Geraghty as he was installed to that position. We want to give a special thanks also to Rev. Matthew Rogness, Dr. David Veum, Rev. Stan Olsen, and Rev. Steve Brue for joining us and giving reports from our larger CLB ministries.
Rev. Roger Viksnes is Regional Chairman for the CLB Eastern Region
The first Central Region Biennial Convention took place on June 24-26 at Heartwood Conference Center, near Trego, Wisconsin. With about 190 people registered (including 45 children), we gathered around the theme, “Connected.”
Friday evening Kevin Olson spoke on John 15:1-8 (“Connected to Christ, by his Word, to Bear Fruit”). Dr. Gene Boe taught three sessions on evangelism. One of them was titled, “The Church’s Four ‘E’s: Evangelize, Establish, Edify, and Equip.” A panel of three followed up by sharing how they have seen this process worked out in their respective churches. We divided into groups, according to regional clusters, to discuss and plan ways to support each other, reach our neighbors for Christ, plant new churches, and accomplish new cluster ministries.
On Saturday, the CLB Women’s Ministries–Central Region met for reports and business. After some time to enjoy the conference center, we conducted the Central Region Business meeting. After a delicious dinner, we met again for worship, with Brad Pribbenow preaching on John 17:1-19, “Connected, Protected, and Perfected.” The convention ended with Sunday morning worship with President Joel Egge speaking from John 17:20-26 on the theme, “So the World Might Believe.”
The Bethany LBC worship team from Colfax, Wisconsin led us in worship for each session. Many volunteers provided child care and activities for the Kids’ Klub Program. The fellowship was wonderful – giving us all a chance to mingle and get to know people from other churches. There were many who had never attended a Lutheran Brethren convention before. All in all, the convention was deemed a great success! There seemed to be an overwhelming sentiment that the Heartwood venue was perfect for our first Central Region Biennial Convention. And we all left with great anticipation of our next convention two years from now.
Dr. Joel Nordtvedt is Regional Pastor for the CLB Central Region
With the majesty of the Rocky Mountains as the backdrop, pastors, leaders and delegates gathered August 3-6 for the first CLB Western Region Convention at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. Our theme: “The Cowboy, the Culture, the Cross.” The Convention coincided with YC11 (the CLB youth convention), and provided opportunities for some pastors to travel with the youth of their congregations.
Dr. Craig Jennings and Dr. Eugene Boe were the session speakers. Their messages unpacked the realities of western culture and culture in general – how a “cowboy” attitude of “do it yourself” often infiltrates the spiritual life, in contradiction to the message of the cross.
Other gatherings included the Western Region women’s gathering with Deb Witkop leading, and a CLB Panel Discussion with President Joel Egge, Rev. Matthew Rogness (International Missions), Dr. David Veum (Seminary), and Tim Mathiesen (Communications and Prayer). The Panel Discussion provided opportunity for department updates and delegates’ questions.
In the business meeting, Living Faith Church of Watford City, North Dakota was recommended for CLB membership at the 2012 Biennial Convention. Delegates also agreed that funds currently held for a new church plant in Aurora, Colorado be released to a committee that would oversee the funds, making them available to Church at the Ranch in Highlands Ranch, Colorado as they look into a church plant in Aurora. Rev. Gary Witkop was affirmed by delegates as Western Regional Pastor.
Highlights included an evening of comedy with Ken Davis, a speaker at YC11, and the Friday evening opportunity for updates and prayer requests from each church. It was very valuable for delegates to get to know each other better, and take specific prayer requests back to their congregations.
Rev. Jason Rogness serves as pastor at Community in Christ LBC in Arvada, CO.
PACIFIC NORTH report
It had already been a great week of learning and fellowship at the Pacific North Bible Camp at Warm Beach, but when Saturday rolled around it was time for the first Pacific North Biennial meeting.
The business session was held in the morning led by Regional Chairman Larry Fransson, from 10:15 a.m. to noon following the regularly scheduled morning Bible study. Then after lunch there were five seminars presented: “A Testimony of God’s Grace” by CLB President Joel Egge; “Reaching the World on our Doorstep: International Students and Immigrants” by Joel Nordtvedt; “Reaching Out: Motorcycles, Wild Game Dinners and Backyard BBQs” by Gary Witkop; “Elder and Pastor Training” by Steve Paulson; and “Recharge – Renew – Refresh: A Women’s Ministries Roundtable” by Ruth Vallevik.
The business session included reports, elections and adoption of a budget. Of particular interest in the business session were updates from the two churches receiving subsidy from the Region. Both reported that the Lord was clearly at work in their ministries, while at the same time there were definite financial challenges for them as a result of the economic downturn. Also of interest was the report of how God is working among the young adults of the Region, and subsequently a budget line item was added to support this work. The seminars in the afternoon were both well received and well attended, and there was a great sense of anticipation for what God will be doing throughout the Region in the ensuing two years. All in all, it was a great start for the first Pacific North Regional Biennial meeting.
Rev. Stan Olsen is Regional Pastor for the CLB Pacific Region
PACIFIC SOUTH report
One of the bigger challenges of the first biennial meeting of the Pacific Region South of the CLB (Yuma, Arizona, February 25-26) was mastering the vocabulary—banishing district and annual and president and Southwest to the dustbin of history and embracing their current counterparts. Much more enjoyable was embracing a new member to our circle (new to us), Good Shepherd Ministries of Buda, Texas.
We theoretically also embraced our sister congregations to the north, joining with them in one great Pacific Region. But that’s a long stretch. At this point we share with them a Regional Pastor, a newly adopted constitution, and an ocean. The family spirit will have to grow with time and opportunity. Our major business was to adopt a constitution, the preparation of which was a joint effort with our friends to the north.
More obvious was our fellowship with the CLB as a whole. North American Mission was represented in the persons of all five Regional Pastors, and our opening session was a great panel discussion on their calling, gifts, cooperation among themselves and so on.
Warren Geraghty, Regional Pastor for the East, led a session on burnout in ministry and another on coping with personal loss. International Mission had a voice with a segment of the Glimpse Project Taiwan video, and Dr. David Veum represented Training Mission with an update on Lutheran Brethren Seminary.
The Yuma congregation hosted us royally and gave a tour of their new worship facility.
What cooperation with the northern churches will look like in the future remains to be seen—the constitution is intentionally flexible in this regard—but we do feel that the Lord has blessed us with a good start. If we could only get that down: Pacific Region South. Someday it will roll off the tongue.
Rev. Steve Lazicki is Co-chairman of the Pacific Region (South), Church of the Lutheran Brethren and resides in Pasadena, CA.
The Women’s Ministries National Conference was held this year in conjunction with the Eastern Region Convention, Saturday, June 25, 2011. “Unfolding Grace,” the Conference theme, continued to unfold throughout the weekend.
Our keynote address this year was given by a mother-daughter team of Cindy Geraghty, wife of Regional Pastor Warren Geraghty, and daughters Ellen Geraghty and Anne Weed. In a powerful presentation, all three unfolded God’s grace to us, challenging us to be vessels of God’s grace to those around us.
Breakout sessions gave opportunities to learn in smaller venues twice during the day from the following speakers: Lecia Grandstaff – Grace for Unity in Ministry, Kristina Grandstaff – Reaching Out with Grace, Annie Kitchin – Transforming Grace, Ellen Geraghty – Growing into Grace, and Lil Foss – Grace Under Pressure.
In the session Unfolded Grace we learned that because of generous April giving, we were within $300 of making our budget. We watched a slide presentation of completed projects and a glimpse of projects for next year: 1) Focus on Pastors’ Wives and 2) Continuing Projects. (Details at www.wmclb.com)
In addition to the Conference on June 25, WMCLB also sponsored additional opportunities during the Eastern Regional Convention weekend:
- Friday, June 24, during the Hands of Grace day, a group of women painted two youth rooms at Brooklyn’s 59th Street Church.
- Saturday, June 25, a “teen track” was provided for several girls who attended the Conference with their mothers.
- Sunday, June 26, after the Regional worship service at Tuscarora, women toured New York City, including a Broadway play – some extending their stay to include sightseeing from Monday through Tuesday morning.
2012 Annual Conference will be in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, during the August 2-5 National Biennial Convention of the CLB.
Cheryl Olsen is the Information Coordinator for Women’s Ministries of the CLB.