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News from the Regional Synod of Mid-America
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Prayer Request from Pastor Chad Strabbing (St. Paul's Reformed, Ohio City, Ohio): Chad's wife Jennifer was diagnosed with breast cancer in early April and had surgery (two weeks ago) and is recovering from a double mastectomy.  Thankfully she is making good progress.  We received good news that, out of 23 lymph nodes taken during surgery, cancer cells were only found in one of them.  That eliminates the need for radiation treatments.  As soon as Jennifer heals enough a port will be put in and 6 months of chemo will begin.  We ask for prayers for continued healing and strength for the upcoming rounds with chemo.

This Issue's Synod Blogger is Matt Waterstone.  Matt is the pastor of First Reformed Church South Holland, Illinois.  He blogs regularly at http://mwaterstone.wordpress.com  with his thoughts on faith, revitalizing the church, and life.  Check out Matt's blog!

Join the Illiana-Florida Church Multiplication Movement - The Illiana / Florida Classis Church Multiplication team is looking for church planters for upcoming projects!  We provide assessment, training, coaching, support and funding for new church plants.  If you are interested, go to http://www.iplantchurchplanting.com/ and click “start process.”

Camp Manitoqua Work DaySpring Into Summer at Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center with swimming, food, and activities for kids and adults alike, Saturday, May 31, 2014, as we kick off our 2014 camping season. Our annual 12,000’ Run, a family friendly obstacle course run, will be in the morning.  A complete list of the activities are available on our website: manitoqua.org/spring-into-summer.  Run does require registration prior or morning of.

Camp Manitoqua Program Coordinator Position Available - At this time, Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center is actively seeking out a Godly & qualified individual to fill the role of Program Coordinator.  Resumes are being accepted until May 1, 2014 and should be sent to Nathan Phillips.  Job description available upon request.  Or call Camp Manitoqua at 815-469-2319.

This issue's story comes from Chad Schuitema's experience with Ebenezer Reformed Church in Oregon Illinois...

Pastor Brion Brooks recently transitioned away from the church and took a leadership position at a local non-profit organization.  In my experience, when pastors leave, churches rarely stay involved in "non-essential" programs or processes they were involved in with the pastor.  This is not the case with Ebenezer.  

The church began the Ridder Church Renewal Process about a year ago and has been so impacted by what they have learned, practiced, and been transformed by, that they wanted to stay involved in the process even though they no longer had a pastor to lead their leadership team.

Praise God for the leaders of Ebenezer wanting to not only see their commitment through, but also taking on a greater leadership level in their church.  They believe continuing in the Ridder Church Renewal Process will not only keep transforming the people of Ebenezer but also prepare them in a greater way for their next pastor.  

A new module of the Ridder Church Renewal Process will be starting in 2015.  If your church is interested in hearing more about RCR, please contact Chad Schuitema


*Telling our stories is a way for us to encourage each other and to share what the Spirit is doing through the churches and people of our synod.  As you share yours, others may be empowered to do similar things or the Spirit may use it as a starting point for another idea to reach people for Christ.  We encourage you to share!

If you would like to share a story for a future issue, please email chad@msyn.org

Home on the Range...
The people gathered around a campfire to have a "launch party" to launch a new project of landscaping and planting some new trees in the county park.  As the marshmallows were roasting people began to sing some old, old songs just for fun.  Then I heard a song I hadn't heard in a long time - "Home on the Range".  "Home, home on the range where the deer and the antelope play, where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day."  I wondered where that song came from so I did some research.  I discovered that "Home on the Range" was originally a poem written by Dr. Brewster M. Higley in the early 1870s.  Higley was an otolaryngologist who came to Kansas in 1871 under the Homestead Act.  He was so impressed and overwhelmed with his new home that he wrote his poem entitled, "My Western Home."  In 1873 the poem was published and music was added by Daniel E. Kelley, a friend of Higley.  The song quickly became a favorite among pioneers and cowboys.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt claimed it to be his favorite song and the Kansas State Legislature chose it as the state song on June 30, 1947.  More recently the song has been used in countless movies, TV shows, and even sung by everyone from Willie Nelson to Porky Pig.  Why would so many people be drawn to such a song?  I believe because people are looking for a safe place in their lives where they don't have to hear a discouraging word.  The world in which we live is full of discouraging words and everyone gets discouraged.  It's not the same as fear or doubt.  When you're discouraged, you're literally "dis-couraged."  It's when a courage that you had previously has been taken away.
 
That's what happened to Elijah in I Kings 18.  God calls him to confront the prophets of Baal.  Without so much as a flinch of the eye, Elijah does exactly that.  But Jezebel, the wife of the king Ahab, who was prone toward Baal worship, put out a contract on his life.  So he ran.  Elijah had mustered plenty of courage to face 450 prophets and have them killed, but he was scared to death of one woman.  So afraid, he went to hide in the mountains. 
 
The work of being on mission and ministry can be discouraging at times.  It happens because God call us to be engaged in a lost and broken world so loved by God.  And there is often opposition from without and doubt and obstacles from within.  I have a quote on my desk which says:  "If you do anything significant, somebody is not going to like it."  When you have a message to give, a job to do, a person to love, or a task to perform and God is calling you to it, just be certain that you are likely to run into some discouragement.  But here's the good news.  Just as God appeared in sheer silence to the discouraged Elijah hiding in the mountains, God will not leave you alone in the midst of it.
 
God's answer to discouragement is HOPE.  An acronym for hope is:  "Heavenly Oriented Practical Experience."  It is when we can get through the muck of life's disappointments because our live are oriented toward the Lord.  Hope is God's message for the muck.  Psalm 42 reads:  "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?  Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God."  It is no surprise that the opposite of discouraging is "en-couraging," or having courage put into our lives rather than taken away.  That's the business of the church, the body of Christ, the harbingers of hope for one another and for a world full of discouraging words.


- Wayne Van Regenmorter

Wayne's Schedule:
May
5: Meeting/First Reformed Church/ Waupun, WI; Conference Call
6:  Strategic Planning Meeting/Beecher, IL; Coaching
7:  Office
8:  Meeting/Faith Church/Dyer, IN; Meeting/Naperville, IL
9:  Meeting/Calvary Reformed Church/Orland Park, IL
10:  Off
11:  Sunday Worship
12:  Office
13:  Meeting/Homewood, IL 
14:  Conference Call
15:  Meeting/South Holland, IL
16:  Consistory Meeting/Reformed Community Church/Venice, FL
17:  Off
18:  Travel to Seattle, Washington/Transformed and Transforming Meeting


Wayne's contact information:
10088 Prairie Knoll Ct.
St. John, IN 46373
Mobile: (941) 302-1281
Email:  wregen@msyn.org
The following are some links you may find helpful...
What Should A Congregation Be Good At? This excellent article looks at the truth that we are often clear about the kind of faith leader we want but not nearly as clear about the kind of congregation we are or want to be.  What is our deepest identity?  What would we have to be, for example, if our expectations for ourselves as a congregation were as high as our expectations for our leader?  What are the core congregational competencies that a stranger, looking at us for the first time, would instinctively recognize as the marks of a mature group of believers?

5 Questions to Evaluate Church Events: Does your church regularly evaluate new events?  What about those events that happen year after year?  These questions can spur your leadership in examining the ministries of your church.   
Bible Survey: Many Americans Scramble Their Scripture: A recent Barna survey and evaluation done by the American Bible Society shows that even though most people own a Bible, they often don't know what the Bible says.  

Chad's Schedule:
May
5: Office; Conference Call - Faithwalking Wisconsin
6: Office
7: Vacation Day (moving)
8: Vacation Day (moving)
9: Vacation Day (moving)
12: Office
13: Office
14: Office; STM Conference Call
15: Coaching; Transformed and Transforming Conference Call; BOBS Conference Call
16: Consistory Meeting/Reformed Community Church/Venice, FL

Chad's Contact Information:
*2104 Campbell Street
Valparaiso, IN 46383
Office: (815) 464-9181
Mobile: (765) 237-7678
Email: chad@msyn.org
* as of May 9. 
 
Copyright © 2014 Regional Synod of Mid-America, RCA, All rights reserved.


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