Reflections: Many of my family members and friends know, that during the summer and fall of 2018 I left St. Luke's Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Lima, Ohio and I switched to Immanuel Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Lima, Ohio. However, not everyone knows, why I switched congregations. This is a long and somewhat painful story, but I am willing to tell my story here in this blog post.
I was happy at St. Luke's Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Lima, Ohio from the time, which I joined in October 2015, before I graduated from The Ohio State University at Lima and Columbus in December 2015, to when I left in July 2018. I was and I still am friends with several of the members of St. Luke's and Reverend Mike Hughes was a great pastor for St. Luke's. Reverend Hughes and I were very close and he is like a big brother to me. Reverend Hughes and I agree with the majority of St. Luke's on the issues of abortion and marriage. I sang in the church choir and I was a substitute Sunday School teacher for the Crusader Sunday School Class, which is a group of conservative St. Luke's members. I attended Sunday School every week and I went to every single Sunday Morning Mass, every special Mass (i.e. Christmas Eve, Epiphany, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil, Ascension Day, and of course Funeral Masses), and every Wednesday Night Bible Study, unless I was singing a solo at another church or I was out of town. I also enjoyed attending the Wednesday Night Lenten Services. Needless-to-say I was an active member at St. Luke's Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Lima, Ohio.
So why the switch from St. Luke's to Immanuel? Obviously things we're going well at St. Luke's for me, so why leave? I have felt the call into ordained pastoral ministry since high school. I had previously had been a member of St. Matthew Lutheran Church (ELCA) in the Cridersville, Ohio/ Shawnee Township area from my freshman year of high school until my second senior year of college, but I had issues with one of the former pastors. I have no ill will toward him, but Reverend Hughes was a better fit for me. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA has had several different issues over the years starting in 2007 with the disagreements on marriage and clergy's sexual orientations. I could devout this blog post just to the problems and heresies in The ELCA, but for this blog post I shall just focus on why I left St. Luke's. Maybe I should do a series of "heresy of the month" blog posts or even a series of "heretic of the month" blog posts. Eventually I will do a series of "pastor of the month" blog posts.
St. Luke's Lutheran Church (ELCA) is a great and unique congregation within The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), because they voted to change their constitution and by-laws to say, that marriage is exclusively between one man and one woman and pastors serving the parish at St. Luke's must be a man or a woman, who has a heterosexual spouse. So in other words a male pastor must have a wife and a female pastor must have a husband. The constitution and by-law of St. Luke's also says, that the people of St. Luke's will love each other, like Jesus loves us. Granted loving each other, like Jesus loves us, is hard and Divine Help from Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is needed.
On Thursday July 5, 2018, I had an appointment with a lady pastor, who was in charge of approving and rejecting potential ELCA pastors, at the office of his Grace Bishop Daniel Beaudion (pronounced Bow-den) in Findlay. Bishop Beaudion is the Bishop of the Northwest Ohio Synod of The ELCA. Bishop Beaudion agrees with St. Luke's on the issues of marriage and abortion. Sadly I did not have my appointment with him. This lady pastor did not like my conservative views, especially my Biblical view on abortion. She was deeply offended, that I am 100% Pro-Life. There are absolutely NO exceptions to abortion. Yahweh told Moses and the Israelite tribes, who fled Egypt, "You shall not murder." Abortion is murder; get over it. Abortion clinics are human slaughter houses and the Federal Government and States should outlaw abortion clinics and bulldoze them to the ground. The lady pastor rejected me, so I did not start attending Luther Seminary in St. Paul Minnesota in 2018 and I will not able to become a pastor in The Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA).
I told my current Reverend Mike Phillips, what happened. Reverend Phillips had written a nice recommendation letter to Luther Seminary on my behalf, but that lady pastor's decision undid Reverend Phillip's letter and the recommendation letters of two of my other friends. Reverend Phillips suggested, that I join Immanuel Lutheran Church (LCMS) and try to become a pastor in The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). The Elders at Immanuel voted me in as a member of the congregation in September 2018 and my probation period ends in September 2019. This probation period is not a punishment, but it is merely for The LCMS to make sure, that I want to be a part of them and that The LCMS is a good fit for me. Reverend Hughes told me many times, that either The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) or The North American Lutheran Church (NALC) would be a great spiritual home for me and I think, he is right.
Moving forward my plan is to meet with Reverend Phillips sometime this year to discuss applying for candidacy in The LCMS and for one of our two seminaries in January 2020. If I get accepted into candidacy for pastoral office in The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) and into Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, then I will start classes at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne in either summer or fall 2020.
Let's look at John 13, since Jesus our Messiah instituted the Sacrament of Holy Communion and He challenged His Disciples to love each other the night in which this chapter of St. John's Gospel discusses. The Words of Institution are not included in The Gospel of St. John, but St. John did tell us about the events surrounding the First Holy Communion ever celebrated. Satan possessed Judas Iscariot in this chapter of St. John's Gospel.
St. John wrote in John 13, "1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew, that His hour was come, that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end. 2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him; 3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His Hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God; 4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded Himself. 5 After that He poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded.
6 Then cometh He to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto Him, 'Lord, dost Thou wash my feet?' 7 Jesus answered and said unto him, 'What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.' 8 Peter saith unto Him, 'Thou shalt never wash my feet.' Jesus answered him, 'If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me.' 9 Simon Peter saith unto Him, 'Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.' 10 Jesus saith to Him, 'He, that is washed, needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.' 11 For He knew, who should betray Him; therefore said He, 'Ye are not all clean.,' 12 So after He had washed their feet, and had taken His garments, and was set down again, He said unto them, 'Know ye, what I have done to you? 13 Ye call Me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I Am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do, as I have done to you. 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, 'The servant is not greater than his lord; neither He that is sent greater, than He that sent Him.' 17 If ye know these things, happy are ye, if ye do them. 18 I speak not of you all: I know, whom I have chosen: but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, he, that eateth bread with me, hath lifted up his heel against Me. 19 Now I tell you, before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe, that I Am He. 20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that receiveth, whomsoever I send, receiveth Me; and he, that receiveth Me, receiveth Him, That sent me.'
21 When Jesus had thus said, He was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray Me. 22 Then the Disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom He spake. 23 Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of His Disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24 Simon Peter therefore beckoned to Him, that he should ask, who it should be of whom He spake. 25 He then lying on Jesus' Breast saith unto Him, 'Lord, who is it?' 26 Jesus answered, 'He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it.' And when He had dipped the sop, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. 27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, 'That thou doest, do quickly.' 28 Now no man at the table knew for what intent He spake this unto him. 29 For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, 'Buy those things, that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. 30 He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.
31 Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, 'Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him. 32 If God be glorified in Him, God shall also glorify Him in Himself, and shall straightway glorify Him. 33 Little children, yet a little while I Am with you. Ye shall seek Me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. 34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know, that ye are My Disciples, if ye have love one to another.' 36 Simon Peter said unto Him, 'Lord, whither goest thou?' Jesus answered him, 'Whither I go, thou canst not follow Me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards. 37 Peter said unto Him, 'Lord, why cannot I follow Thee now? I will lay down my life for Thy Sake. 38 Jesus answered him, 'Wilt thou lay down thy life for My Sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied Me thrice'" (KJV 1611).
Remaining 2019 Book Signings as of Sunday August 11, 2019: Signed copies of my books can be purchased at the book signings listed below. I'm still looking for places to have book signings on the last two Saturdays in September, on every Saturday in October, on the second and third Saturdays in November, and on Saturdays in December. If you're a shop keeper or you're in charge of an event (i.e. festival), then please feel free to reach out to me. My cell phone number is (567) 712-8026 or you can email me email@example.com.
September 2019 Book Signings:
1. I'll be having a book signing from 10 AM to 10 PM at the Waynesfield Lions Club Festival in Waynesfield, Ohio. Yes, I'll be having a 12 hour book signing, unless I run out of books, before the festival ends. This will be my first Oktoberfest Book Singing. In Munich, Germany, Oktoberfest starts in September and ends in early October due to weather concerns. My book signing at the Waynesfield Lions Club Festival will also kick-out the 2019 Christmas Shopping Season for me and Ohio Irish Lutheran Press.
2. I'll be having a book signing at The Menagerie at 1178 Indiana Avenue in St. Marys Business Complex in St. Marys, Ohio from 11 AM to 4 PM. The Menagerie is my newest store!
November 2019 Book Signings: My 2019 Christmas Book Signings will take place in November 2019 and December 2019.
1. I'll be having a book signing at Crafts-N-Things on Saturday November 2, 2019 at Forest Park United Methodist Church (UMC) at 315 Collins Avenue in Lima, Ohio. The time of this book signing is to-be-announced.
2. I'll be having a book signing at the Holiday Art Bizarre in the St. Marys Union Hall in St. Marys, Ohio on Thursday November 7, 2019 from 5 PM to 6 PM.
3. I'll be having a book signing at Jen's Furniture and Collectibles (JFC) on High Street in between Circle K Gas Station and Zion Lutheran Church (NALC) on Black Friday 2019 (November 29, 2019) from noon to 6 PM. I might also be at JFC on Small Business Saturday 2019 (November 30, 2019), but I'm not sure yet.
General Rule About Book Signings: I’ll be signing copies of my Christian romance novels The Rising of The Moon Book 1: Changing Tides Part 1 and The Rising of The Moon Book 1: Changing Tides Part 2 and my Greek and Roman Mythology book A Survey of Classical Mythology at all of my book signings. More books are coming soon! :)
Other Stores: My new books, which I’ve written and published, are also available at the following stores: Brunner News Agency on Flanders Avenue in Lima, Ohio, Jen’s Furniture and Collectibles (JFC) on High Street in St. Marys, Ohio, The Menagerie at 1178 Indiana Avenue in St. Marys Business Complex in St. Marys, Ohio, Readmore Hallmark Stores out at Eastgate Plaza and on Elm Street in Lima, Ohio, Wagner’s IGA Grocery Store in Minster, Ohio, and in the Shop section of my website ohioirishlutheranpress.com .
James W. O'Flannery, President and Founder of Ohio Irish Lutheran Press