Congregational Positioning for Ministry with Seniors – Powerpoint Presentation May 20th, 2018 Zion Lutheran Church

As part of my congregation’s visioning process, I created a powerpoint presentation about some of the implications of an aging population in the U.S. and the implications on congregational life.

On Sunday, May 20th, I  shared a vibrant conversation about ways older adults contribute to the life of the congregation. The focus of the discussion was about what spiritual needs exist in the lives of older adults and discovering the value of ministry with the older adults in the congregation.

I included slides from my powerpoint presentation in this post. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to link the embedded videos into the slideshow.

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Welcoming Vicar Liz Koerner



I am excited to work with my third pastoral intern who starts with our congregation in July 2018.

Vicar Liz Koerner, from New Britain, Connecticut, is a seminary student at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.  Liz is a graduate of Thiel College ( a Lutheran College) in Greenville, Pennsylvania. She shares she is excited about her journey toward ordained ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and looking forward to her year-long internship in Muscatine.

She loves to craft, read, hanging out with her friends, and LOVES tie-dyed and rainbow and the combination of the two!


Photos from 2018 Garden of Eatin’ Blessing

As an act of worship on Sunday, May 6th, we blessed our “Garden of Eatin’ and prayed for all who are hungry and go without substance. This ministry has turned out to be a rather remarkable outreach opportunity for the congregation with many neighbors who pass by offering a sincere sense of gratitude and appreciation for our efforts.


“It actually looks like someone cares,” quoting a neighbor who walked by.

The entire harvest is taken to the local food pantry for distribution. The pantry manager informs us that nothing is ever left from our vegetable donation at the end of the day. Most people take the variety of vegetables that contribute.

Crops selected are based on the market at the food pantry. We have three types of lettuce, beans, several varieties of peppers,  many varieties of tomatoes, kale, carrots, onions, radishes.

Saying Good-bye to Pastor Kyle Seibert​

Rev. Kyle Seibert, my second pastoral intern, was ordained to the ministry of Word and Sacrament on Tuesday, March 20th at Zion Lutheran Church in Muscatine. Kyle spent fifteen months with the congregation has he completed his required pastoral internship.

Pastor Seibert received a call to serve Our Savior Lutheran Church and Campus Ministry in Hanover, New Hampshire. 

We relished accompanying him in his ministry formation and know he will be a transformational, missional leader!

Pastor of the Day at the Iowa State Senate​

On Tuesday, March 20th, I lead the Iowa State Senate in prayer at the start of the forty-second session day of 2018. I received an invitation and was the guest of Senator Mark Lofgren.


Iowa State Senate Chamber with Senator Mark Lofgren. I am joined by wife, Karen Landahl, and daughters – Analise, Linnea, and Norah. 


My wife, Karen Landahl, along with our three girls were able to join me for the day at the capitol. We enjoyed the visit and are thankful for the opportunity to pray with the senators.



A quick visit to the office of Governor Kim Reynolds at the state capitol in Des Moines. Unfortunately, we were unable to meet with Gov. Reynolds.


My prayer:

Almighty God, bless your servants gathered here today at the Iowa State Senate as they serve Iowans this day and every day.  We pray your Holy Spirit will guide and grant understanding as bill are discussed and votes cast. We pray for and trust in your Holy compassion as our state leaders’ considered issues affecting Iowans.

We ask for you to bless us with the love of your servant Son, as we seek to find meaning ways to make life better for all especially the most vulnerable.  Holy One, assist our Senators in using their authority to serve faithfully and promote justice.

We pray that in times of opportunity, make us a diligent people; and in times of peril, let not our courage fail as we step out in faith, trusting in your guidance. Bless our state with honesty, truth, and integrity. And Mighty Lord, let us always remember the generations who will come after us as we discern your preferred future for our state.

Ageless One, as we look toward Easter, gather us closer to you.  Remind us that we are a loved and forgiven people—and that no one is ever beyond your grace.

We give you thanks for Jesus Christ and ask that this assembly may always know a Holy presence.  We offer our prayers through Christ our Lord, Amen.

A Survey of World Christianity

Mark Noll begins in his book, The New Shape of World Christianity, with the following observations:

  • This past Sunday more Christian believers attended worship in China than in all of Europe.
  • This past Sunday more Anglicans attended church in Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda than did Anglicans in Britain and Canada and Episcopalians in the United States combined.
  • This past Sunday there were more members of Brazil’s Pentecostal Assemblies of God at worship than the combined number in the two largest U.S. Pentecostal denominations.
  • This past Sunday the churches with the largest attendance in England and France had mostly back congregations, and half of the churchgoers in London were African or African-Caribbean.
  • This past Sunday the largest congregation in Europe was in Kiev pastored by a Nigerian Pentecostal.
  • This past Sunday there were more Roman Catholics at worship in the Philippines than in any single country in Europe.

From: Mark A. Noll, The Shape of World Christianity, pp. 20-21

Images from2017 Vacation Bible School

Garden of Eatin’ Blessing on Rogation Sunday

Rogation Sunday is an ancient Christian observance dating back to around 470A.D. in which farmers blessed the fields and crops for feeding.

Rogation Sunday has an interesting history in the life of the Church.  It started as a Roman pagan ritual in which a dog was sacrificed as an offering for the blessing of the crops.

Instead of offering up a dog as a sacrifice,  Zion Lutheran Church dedicated our Community Vegetable Garden, “The Garden of Eatin’” on Rogation Sunday (April 23, 2017).


Members and friends of Zion Lutheran Church in Muscatine make their way to the garden dedication.  The garden is located at the corner of Sycamore St. and 6th St. It is adjacent to Zion Lutheran Church at 513 Sycamore St. near downtown Muscatine. 

The harvested produce is given to the Muscatine Community Food Pantry and is distributed to those who come to the pantry as a way to encourage healthy eating and an easy way to gain access to fresh produce.

The garden ministry was launched in 2016 when we received a grant from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America World Hunger program.   The grant was used to purchase seeds, wood and supplies to build garden boxes, as well as to offset the cost of water and other needed accessories.

Varieties of vegetables in this year’s garden include carrots, lettuce, kail, onions, green beans, peas, tomatoes, peppers, and tomatoes.

We are planning to build a fence on the property and will include small boxes on the wall for herb gardens.

This has been a blessing to our congregation as our neighbors enjoy visiting with us about the garden and engage us in conversation about our ministry in Muscatine.

The garden is one of many ministries through our Social Ministry Committee and is cared for by different families rotating throughout the summer who volunteer to pull weeds, harvest the produce, and water the crops.



“What is War?” An Article for the ‘Voice of Muscatine’ Newspaper

The other day, my preschool-aged child asked me, “What is war?”  I fumbled through an answer that was accurate yet sterilized to match her young age.  It is indeed sad that a preschooler may be asking such a question.  Yet anthropologists tell us that humans have been dealing with violence since the beginning of civilization.  Though just because we may have, deep down, urges to be aggressive and even violent, it need not be the only impulse that shapes our behavior.



Just as innate as aggression, is our drive to be kind to one another, to lift others up, and to express love.  This same preschooler, who fights with her sibling and has already been exposed to the concept of war, also knows how to share her toys, show comfort and affection.  Just the other day, she, unprompted brought me a tray of canned fruit and granola bars after I told her I wasn’t feeling well.  The instinct both to lash out and to love is a part of the fiber of every human being.

So, it is our responsibility, as leaders, as parents, as mentors, as fellow humankind, to be aware of our inner drives.

During our interactions with others, through words and action, we can choose who it is we are going to be – the one who spreads love or the one who shows contempt.

We have the ability to respond (response-ability) to others with kindness, with goodness of heart, and with actions of love.  And maybe, just maybe, the preschoolers of future generations will not even have the words “war” or “violence” in their vocabularies.

Searching for Hope….

“The local church is the hope of the world.”- Bill Hybels

But why? Because when the local church stewards the message of Christ, it truly is the hope of the world.


If you don’t already have a community of faith.  Find one.

Be patient.  There is no perfect faith community.  We’re all dealing with serious issues.  But don’t loose your hope, having issues just validates the fact that we are all searching for hope.


Stay alert and watch.

And above all else, trust in the slow work of God.