3301 The Alameda
Baltimore, MD 21218
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Because of the permission given by the Mayor of Baltimore, we have for several Sundays now been able to have Sunday Divine Service open to anyone who wishes to attend — in conformity with the Mayor’s guidelines. Churches may be filled up to half capacity. Since our church seats about 400 people, that presents no problem for us! Our usual Sunday attendance hovers around 30 people and on these past few Sundays we have had a bit less than half that number. We continue to livestream the Divine Service at Our Saviour Church Facebook. The sermon can be heard by calling 410.587.0979. It is understood that some of our members, especially those in “high-risk” groups, may not yet be ready to return to public worship; there is nothing wrong with that, and I want to say clearly that I support you in that choice. As I said in last month’s letter, I am willing to bring the Holy Sacrament to people in their homes. If you wish to receive Holy Communion at home, please email me at email@example.com or call me at 410.554.9994. If I am not able to answer when you call, do leave a message with your phone number and I will return your call. I check the messages several times a day.
We finally were able to hold the postponed May Voters Meeting on July 12. The budget for fiscal year 2020/21 was approved and the members of the Church Council elected: Bernie Knox, treasurer; Merton Masterson, director of property; Gabe Purviance, director of worship; Mary Techau, secretary; Paul Techau, president; and Gary Watson, member at large. The treasurer’s report showed that our finances remain stable: for that we must all be thankful. We must also be thankful for a generous check sent to us by our sister congregation, Immanuel Lutheran Church, in Alexandria, Virginia. This kind of generosity reminds us that we are not alone!
Some representatives of the Maryland Historical Trust visited our church on Monday, July 20th. Their main purpose was to see the bells in the tower. They were much impressed with all that they saw here. The involvement of the Maryland Historical Trust may lead to greater publicity for this valuable part of our heritage and might lead to donations to repair the mechanism by which the bells are rung. We must thank Jake Mokris for going up into the tower with the Historical Trust people and manually ringing a few of the bells. If you have ever gone up into the tower — I have done that only once! — you will know that it is a somewhat daunting endeavor!
And speaking of our heritage, we are still hoping to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the dedication of our church building on Sunday, October 4, and we continue to hope that the Rev. Dr. David Stechholz, Bishop Emeritus of Synod’s English District, will be with us and preach. Until the formation of the Southeastern District of Synod in 1939 Our Saviour was a congregation of the English District. The Council and the Voters meeting have decided to combine the happy celebration of the 90th anniversary of our church building with Family Day, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic plans are still tentative. Among other things we will not know what sort of meal we may be able to have. Members will be called to discuss this in early September.
The 90th anniversary of the dedication of this church building comes as a very welcome reminder of the privilege that is ours in worshiping in this splendid church building. We owe a great debt of gratitude to Pastor Adolph John Stiemke who took the lead and to all those faithful members of Our Saviour who in giving made this possible. This is surely a church which wordlessly invites those who enter it to prayer and praise. “This is none other but the House of God and this is the Gate of Heaven” (Genesis 28:17).
Our former summer vicar, Brett Witmer, was ordained to the Holy Ministry and installed as Pastor of Bethel Church in Sutherland, Iowa, on the Sixth Sunday after Trinity, July 19th. Upon graduation from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, this spring he received the Shepherd’s Staff Award. This award is presented to the fourth-year student who in the judgment of his peers best exemplifies pastoral faith and life. Having gotten to know the now newly ordained Pastor Witmer as we have, this is not surprising. Congratulations, Pastor Witmer! If you wish to write to him, his postal address is 510 Ash Street, Sutherland, Iowa 51058; his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember him and his congregation in your prayers.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to hover over all our days with its disruption of so much that is familiar and cheering in life. Nothing like this has afflicted the world since the Spanish Flu pandemic at the end of World War I. Through such calamities God is calling the world to repentance. Is that call being heard? Through such calamities God is surely showing us that this is a dying world. In all this darkness the one single source of light is the joyful news: Christ is risen! And so God’s final word is not one of death and destruction but a joyful word of life and light everlasting. We await the appearing in glory of our risen Lord and Savior who says, “Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5). That is our sure and certain hope grounded in the Lord’s resurrection! In the meantime let us continue to pray for all who are sick and suffering, for the dying, and for the doctors and nurses and all who faithfully care for them. Let us pray also that those who are seeking an effective cure and vaccine will succeed in their work. And let us pray for one another as we pass through these difficult days.
WORKS OF MERCY
Free Flea Market. We plan to hold the first Free Flea Market on September 12 from 9–12 am. We have lots of items to distribute, thanks to some generous donations. We do need volunteers to assist, and because of COVID-19, we will need to follow the guidelines for gatherings (e.g., maintaining the proper number of people in the building and helping them check out). Let Judy Volkman know at (410) 377–8833 if you can volunteer or donate items. In this difficult time, we can share the bounty the Lord has given us.