Here is my last article for my newsletter for the ONE in Christ parish.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you, and to serve God in this corner of the kingdom. I hope that these churches are in a better position now than when I arrived.
I have two final requests for you all, weighing in with my final two cents. You can use them or disregard them.
One is on page 5, a request to continue the internet and social media work that we started.
The second is about the short and long-term steps that you will be doing. In his message, Kaj Petersen writes that the first step of the call committee is to create a profile of this parish that prospective pastors will receive.
Please, take your time and be honest when you work on this. Describe the church and parish that you truly are. Do not describe the church and parish you think that you are. Do not simply tweak the profile I received seven years ago this week. You are not those churches.
The priorities of Our Savior’s and Emmanuel from 2011 should not be the priorities of Our Savior’s, Nazareth and Emmanuel in 2018 and beyond.
Describe who you are now. Determine what you want to be in the future. How do you want to serve God here in Greenwood, Owen-Withee and Longwood? How do you want to serve your neighbors?
Then figure out what gifts you need your next pastor to have to help you to be the churches and people of God that you are called to be.
Filling out that profile is the first step in the relationship you will develop with your new pastor. Please do not lie to her or him.
God’s Blessings Be With You All,
The article referenced on page 5.
Social Media Person Needed
Pastor Brian set up and maintained the parish website, Twitter and Instagram accounts, and each church’s Facebook pages. With his leaving, someone needs to take over those responsibilities. Not counting special events when photos would be uploaded, this would take 30 minutes to an hour per week. Most could be done while you are using these accounts for yourself.
These accounts have a much larger reach than just inside our church. Last week, our website had almost 700 page views by over 400 unique visitors. Articles on each Facebook page were seen by more people than have liked the church pages. These are outreaches beyond our doors. These impact people, and I ask someone to come forward to maintain them.
This is my article from the December 2017 - January 2018 Newsletter.
A Few Things That Are Going On …
We have several things going on in December and January. Please take time to go through the articles and calendar to see what you may want to take advantage of participating in.
One of the things that I want to note is that I will be going to Houston at the end of January. I will be attending the ELCA Youth Extravaganza in Houston. This is a conference for youth and family ministries. It is a conference I attended three years ago in Detroit. It is held in the host city of the Youth Gathering in those years, and will give me an opportunity to scout the sites in Houston. It also has some sessions I am looking forward to attending.
The downside is that I will not be able to be at the annual meetings for Nazareth and Our Savior’s. I plan to have everything prepared for these meetings before I leave.
In preparation, Kay and I will be preparing annual reports and for the annual meetings as soon as we get back at the beginning of the New Year. We have 3 meetings to prepare, and 4 annual reports. If you have items to submit, please get them in by the date requested. It is also very helpful if you can submit them electronically, preferably as a Word or Excel document. If you have any questions, please let me know.
Also, as we get into December and all of the Christmas related services, I want to thank everyone who is going to help with the services that are coming up. I appreciate all of the work that our Sunday School teachers do on a weekly basis, but also for everything they do to make our Youth Christmas Program a success. I also want to thank my C+LIFFE students and Luther League members who are helping out with this program as well.
I also want to thank our musicians who provide so much to our regular Sunday services, but have even more work to do around these services. Thanks also go to those who will share of their musical talents for the Christmas services.
God’s Blessings Be With You All,
This is my Pastor’s Ponderings article for the ONE in Christ July newsletter.
I have a series of little notes as we enter into July:
First, I want to thank Vita Gosse and Joan Turnquist for their hard work for the two Vacation Bible Schools we sponsored this summer. Most of us don’t realize the amount of effort these two ladies put into creating this week of learning for young people. They are a blessing to our churches; please thank them for all that they do.
Second, thank you for getting behind the cause of our VBS this year, Heifer Internationals Irrigation Pumps. In her article, Vita touched on a hidden benefit of these pumps. In many communities, getting water for the household is the work of girls. This means they miss school to get water for their family. Providing better irrigation has the added benefit of improving women’s education, which benefits the world. We will have a total of the donations for next month.
Third, you may have noticed the newsletter submission deadline is early this month. We hope to get the newsletter out early because we will be collecting specific school supplies for our local schools. We will have shopping lists for next month, and want to give added time for you to pick up these items.
Fourth, I will be offering an adult education class on Faith Practices during July to present different ways to think about our faith and traditions. This class will be at 6:30 pm at Nazareth. You don’t have to register, just show up!
Fifth, from your surveys on Summer worship, there seems to be an interest, but there was no consensus on a day of the week to hold it. I will be taking the information on that, as well as the Christmas Service surveys to the Parish Council later this month.
Sixth, I will be attending two Continuing Education events at Luther Seminary in St. Paul during the last week of July. I will have a local pastor available in case of an emergency. If there is an emergency, call my cellphone or a church office.
Seventh, I am trying to post a version of my Sunday sermon or a recording of one of them each week on the Pastor’s Page at ONEinChristLutherans.com. I don’t have everything worked out yet, but I’m hoping that one or the other will be available by Tuesdays.
Let us be ONE in Christ,
Pastor Brian Robert Campbell
This is my Pastor’s Ponderings article from our May 2017 newsletter.
Don’t fear, because I am with you; don’t be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will surely help you; I will hold you with my righteous strong hand. + Isaiah 41:10
This is not an easy article to write, nor will it be an easy one to read. I hope it leads to challenging and uncomfortable discussions, because the cost of silence it too great.
I want to encourage you to think about, engage and discuss the topics of bullying and suicide.
In particular, I’m encouraging you to watch the Netflix TV series, 13 Reasons Why, and/or read the book it was based on Thirteen Reasons Why.
The series and the book tell the story of a young female high school student named Hannah who commits suicide, and leaves a series of tapes for the people who, in her mind, caused her to lose the sense of value for her life, and led her to commit suicide. The 13 hour-long episodes are tough to watch. Included in her story are under-age drinking, strong language, bullying-both personal and online, drug use, violence, sexual acts, rape and ultimately, the character’s suicide.
The issues that the teenagers in this series and book deal with may not be the ones our young people face. Or they may be. Or they may face comparable issues. Bullying is a concern everywhere. I don’t think we can be naïve to think today’s teenagers aren’t being confronted with choices and temptations that adults struggle with. I don’t think we can be naïve to think those things don’t happen here, in some form.
Why would I ask you to watch something like this? Because young people are.
The book was a best seller in the Young Adult and New York Times lists when it came out. Since the series debuted on Netflix at the end of March, it has been near the top of their most viewed lists.
The series has been criticized for not dealing with the mental health issues involved in suicide, not for having provided depictions of alternatives that were available to Hanna. I agree, those would have been useful.
But I think the show (I haven’t read the book, but plan to) does a wonderful job in showing how the actions of the other characters contributed to Hannah’s decent towards seeing ending her life as an option. It causes many of the recipients of the tapes to think and re-examine their actions and behavior.
And that is why I recommend that you watch the series. Then discuss it with other people, to talk about it with your family. I ask you to tackle this because none of us know the issues others are wrestling with inside of their own hearts and minds.
I do this because in watching this series, I was taken back to some of the darkest days of my life. I remembered when I was considering doing the exact same thing that Hannah did in the series. I was taken back to when taking my life was a real consideration.
I made a serious mistake at my work, and I thought it would cost me my job. I was embarrassed and ashamed. I felt totally alone. And the longer I was alone, the worse things got in my mind.
Thankfully, I had friends and loved ones who reached out to me, and shared that they loved me no matter what. I had people who prayed for me and reminded me that I am a beloved Child of God, and forgiven for my sins. I realized that I might have ended my pain, but I would have inflicted untold pain on those who I loved. I didn’t make the choice Hannah made because I knew I was loved.
But I wear a reminder of those dark days. On my left inner forearm, I have a tattoo that reflects a verse from Scripture, but it is also a semi-colon.
A semi-colon is used when the author could have ended the sentence; but chose to keep their story going. It is a mark that shows someone has decided to keep going. I chose to have mine in a more visible place, and it has led to some conversations I never would have otherwise had.
Whether you decide to watch 13 Reasons Why or not, I encourage you to be willing to have some uncomfortable discussions with others about what they are dealing with and what you are dealing with yourself. Be willing to share your concerns with others. Let them know you love them.
You should be willing to talk to your loved ones about tough topics because you may regret not having done so.
Know that you are a beloved Child of God,
Pastor Brian Robert Campbell
If you are concerned about a loved one, or about yourself, please feel free to contact me. Here are some other resources that are available.
This is Pastor Brian's article for the April newsletter.
I will instruct you and teach you about the direction you should go. I’ll advise you and keep my eye on you. – Psalm 32.8
My favorite TV series of all time is The West Wing. When a project or effort has finished, whether it went well or went horribly wrong, President Bartlett would ask his staff, “What’s next?” The work of the Presidency never stops; it moves from one thing onto the next.
We have finally completed our establishment of the ONE in Christ Lutheran Parish. It has been an effort that many of us have spent over a year on. My thanks go to everyone who helped to make it a reality. My hope and prayers are that it will serve the three churches, all of you, and the work of God well.
So, what’s next?
Personally, I want to get through to Easter. I’m going to take the weekend after Easter off and go to the Twin Cities to watch the Tigers play the Twins, and maybe catch a Minnesota United soccer match. I will have another pastor on call in case of an emergency.
But there are a few things on the horizon that I think we – the people of Our Savior’s, Nazareth and Emmanuel – need to think about and work on.
One, we need to take a serious look at the question For Christ’s sake, what are we doing? As the body of Christ, what are we doing for our neighbor? How are we serving our communities and addressing the needs they have? Our service to God is about more than an hour on Sunday morning; it needs to be about serving those in need.
Two, how can we reach out to the un-churched in our midst? What can we do to invite in those who have left the church (include ours) or who have never been in church?
Three, what can we do to meet the changing needs of our members, and others, to make worship more accessible? Let’s be honest. Sunday morning is no longer set aside for attending church. Or if it is, it isn’t every week. This isn’t to dump guilt on anyone. It is a reality. As the weather gets warmer, it becomes more obvious. I’ve had several conversations about an additional service during the summer on some evening. There will be a survey in the Easter bulletins about this. If you won’t be there and you’d like one, let me know.
I know many of you think that I’m trying to change too much too quickly. But I am afraid that we are approaching our Kodak moment.
Did you know Kodak invented the first digital camera? They did, back in 1975. In 1992, when they had 89% of the film sales market, they opted to not pursue digital photography because they thought it would take away from their film sales. They went bankrupt five years ago.
The ONE in Christ parish should provide stability for the three churches for several years. But there is still more work that needs to be done.
I invite you to think about my three top areas to address, and let me know your thoughts. What can we do? How can you help? Is there another concern out there that I’ve missed.
Please tell me, what’s next?
Let us be ONE in Christ,
Pastor Brian Robert Campbell
This is my Pastor’s Ponderings article for the July-early August OS/Em Newsletter.
I want to share some thoughts about conversations that have occurred around the tables of Council meetings and the Parish Agreement Committee (PAC) to invite you all to think about what an arrangement between Our Savior’s, Nazareth and Emmanuel could and should be.
During the first meeting of the Parish Agreement Committee, we discussed one of the topics from the sample Parish Agreement template provided by the Synod. These aren’t their recommendations or suggestions, but simply decisions that need to be discussed and decided upon. One of the topics was worship. The template’s language was EITHER for each church to plan and print its own worship order and bulletin, or for the same order and bulletin to be printed and used by all churches.
The Committee took time to discuss the merits of both. In all honesty, it would be less work for our secretaries and me if each church used the same bulletin and service order each week. However, Emmanuel is still using the green Lutheran Book of Worship. To use the identical service, they would need to buy around 50 copies of the Evangelical Lutheran Worship book. Emmanuel is also the only church of the 3 that does not celebrate Holy Communion every Sunday.
Even if all 3 churches used the same hymnal, each church has a preferred setting, and different ways of conducting worship; even though each church may sing a different hymn of praise or version of “Lamb of God,” the same service is held at each church.
Personally, I don’t think that the service should be identical at the three churches. Each church currently conducts the worship service in slightly different ways. It is like a recipe for any dish; each cook adds their own variation, a bit more of this, a little less of that, or a surprise addition.
A second topic is bouncing between the Councils. I have shared a concern regarding this newsletter as we move forward. We are currently publishing the minutes of Council meetings at Our Savior’s and Emmanuel after they have been approved. In trying to figure out how to add the minutes of Nazareth, I realized we would be dedicating at least 2 of our 10 pages each issue to Council minutes.
At one of the Council meetings we discussed this, and came up with the alternative of printing and providing copies of EACH Council’s minutes upon approval at each church, on the tables where other materials are made available. The other councils discussed this, with some preferring to keep things the way they are, and some wishing to change.
As we move forward in establishing this new parish and ministry in the name of God, we do not need to do all things alike, but I believe we must do some things in unison.
Please share your thoughts with me, with your Council members and with your PAC representatives.
May you always feel God’s loving embrace,
This is my Pastor’s Ponderings article for the June-Early July OS/Em Newsletter.
Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD; bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning. – Exodus 16:23
We are made to rest from time to time, by commandment, at least one day per week. Sometimes, you need to get away to rest.
That’s what I did a few weeks ago when I went back to Gettysburg. I went for their Spring Academy, a week-long set of workshops for pastors and others. But most of all, I wanted to go where I could find a place of peace.
One of the things I have loved about Gettysburg since my first visit is that it is a place where I can find peace and reflect upon what God is calling me to do. I was able to remember the spiritual disciplines I had while I was at the seminary.
There are times that I struggle with nurturing my own soul with prayer, meditation and reading God’s word. When things get busy with my church duties, especially preparing sermons, materials for classes, etc., sometimes sitting down to read the Bible for devotional content feels too much like work.
I was reminded on how I made time while still doing all of the reading and other work while taking classes. So I’m trying to do some of those things. I’m working through a reading plan, and am taking quiet time to listen for what the Word is saying.
We all have those times when it is hard to make time to hear from God. We need to work through those times, to stay in touch with God and hear what God is calling us to do.
Time Away and Getting In Touch
One of the things that I have learned, sometimes the hard way, in the six months of our partnership with Nazareth, is the need for having a Sabbath. I have found that on weeks when I haven’t taken time away for myself, I feel like a cellphone that hasn’t been put on the charger.
I’ve tried taking different days during the week, and haven’t found anything that has worked consistently for me. During this Summer, I will plan on taking Fridays for myself, and trying to have a weekend.
However, when things come up that need to be addressed, I will be available, and I will find other times to get away and have quality bulldogge time.
As always, if you need to get in touch with me, call me on my cell phone 715-773-2004. In addition to spending time at offices at both Our Savior’s and Nazareth, I am looking at changing some things at the parsonage, and may get rid of the land line there.
One of the ways that I will recharge this Summer is by going back home to Saginaw in mid-August to visit family and friends.
May God’s peace be with you always, Pastor Brian
This is my Pastor's Ponderings article from the May newsletter.
Jesus said, “If one of you wanted to build a tower, wouldn’t you first sit down and calculate the cost, to determine whether you have enough money to complete it? Otherwise, when you have laid the foundation but couldn’t finish the tower, all who see it will begin to belittle you. They will say, ‘Here’s the person who began construction and couldn’t complete it!’ - Luke 14:28-30 (CEB)
If you are going to do something new, or starting on a new venture, it makes sense to see how things are. So, I wanted to see if we were still on the same page. In August, I will have been the pastor at Our Savior’s and Emmanuel for five years. I know what were the priorities when I arrived, I wanted to see if they have changed, and if our friends at Nazareth were of a similar mindset. So I asked for your thoughts in the form of a survey. The results are here, and have been shared with the Joint Council. Here are my thoughts.
First, thank you for the nice things you said about me.
I view this as saying you have three priorities:
The first priority of being supportive and welcoming is something that I can help with, but is really up to you. I can be an example, but you, as individuals and as the collective Body of Christ, can provide more support and welcome more people than I can. We are called to love and care for one another, and we can always do more. I encourage and applaud the realization that we all have room for improvement in this area.
As for the areas you said I can do better in, I am trying to be more consistent with visiting our members who can’t get out as much as they would like. As we join with Nazareth, I am going to need help in several areas, but visitations is one that I have shared with the councils I will need help. More information will be coming, but I have heard you and will strive to do better.
Some people also think I should call people by name during services. I will be honest. I would like to, but I am afraid I will either get someone’s name wrong, or panic and have my mind go totally blank.
Thanks for your honest and constructive feedback. It will help as we go forward.
Be in harmony with each other, and live in peace,
This is my Pastor’s Ponderings from the April Messenger.
I want to comment and expand on something that Ananias wrote in his article this month.
He really is learning a lot from this book. I’m hoping that since he realizes all of his toys belong to me, maybe he won’t chew through them so quickly.
As Ananias, and the author of Ask, Thank, Tell, Chick Lane, has pointed out, the gifts and blessings we have come from God. While they are ours to use, they are still God’s. God has given them to us to use, but they are not ours.
Nor is anything. Everything comes from God and everything belongs to God. We are just given the responsibility to use them.
This is a challenge for us as people, and especially as Americans. We like to think that we are self-made, that we have what we have because of hard work. To a degree that is true. We see that our hard work and extra effort allow us to do better and provide more things for our loved ones.
But the abilities we have, even that motivation and drive, come from God, and belong to God and not to us. Everything comes from God, and everything belongs to God. We are just stewards and managers of our time and talents. We are accountable for how we have used them, just as a manager is responsible to the owner for how they used the resources they were entrusted with.
That is a difficult idea to process. But when you come to that realization, your perspective on EVERYTHING changes.
As an only child, I’ve struggled with this understanding because I grew up thinking everything was mine, mine, MINE!
If everything, 100% of all we have, belongs to God, then what we do with what we have has to change.
If you’ve ever had a tough, demanding boss, you know that you have to be able to account for everything you did, and every resource you had access to. That can be very stressful.
We are accountable to God for how we have used the gifts, talents and abilities given to us by God. Have we used them to do what God would have wanted us to do? Have we used them to take care of the least, the last, the lost, the little ones and those who are alone? Have we used them to give thanks and praise to God? Or have we used them for our own self-interest? Have we misused and abused them?
Fortunately, the One to whom we are is loving and filled with grace, so our performance review will not be painful, beyond our regrets for missed opportunities and not meeting our potential.
The other challenging point raised in this chapter is why have I been so blessed? There are so many others who have less than we have, are we using what God has given us in a way that honors the gift, and the gift giver?
May you always feel surrounded by God’s love,
This is my article for the February 2016 newsletters.
One of the biggest news stories of the new year in Lutheran circles is that two ELCA seminaries, the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg have announced that over the next 18 months, they will work to close both schools and open a “new school of theology” for the beginning of the 2017 academic year.
Discussions between Gettysburg and Philadelphia about cooperating have been ongoing for years. The structure of theological training for pastors isn’t working as it once did. Of the eight ELCA seminaries, three have merged with Lutheran universities to make their operations more efficient.
Enrollment is down across seminaries of all traditions because people struggle with balancing their call to serve God and the Church with the reality that they will spend four years pursuing their Master’s degree, and accumulating a conservative estimate of $40,000 of student debt.
As I have been following what is going on at my old school, I wonder how this idea of one school with two campuses will work. Will professors commute? Will classes be held online, with a professor at one campus teaching in two classrooms? Will the professors even be on campus? How do you collaborate with other students? How can you study with someone? Will a student community and camaraderie develop?
The last is the biggest question I have, because that is one of the most valuable things I took from my time on the Ridge of Gettysburg, the love and support of classmates and friends. When I got back to Gettysburg for the Winter semester after my dad died, I came back to a ready-made support group of classmates who had also recently lost a parent. When I had to leave just before graduation because my mom was ill, I got constant texts, calls and messages to check in on me. On my office chair at Our Savior’s is a prayer quilt with notes of love and support that was waiting for me when I got back for graduation. The care of the community got me through those times when I wondered if I was truly called by God, or was having the worst mid-life crisis ever.
So I worry about this New School. But I know most of the people involved in planning and creating it. I trust them, and pray for them – I ask you to pray for them as well.
If I hadn’t been attentive to your concerns and worries about our new arrangement, and what that will mean, I am more attuned to your anxieties.
But we are not creating a New Church. We are restructuring a support for each church. We are beginning by taking one resource, me, and sharing me through three churches, and spreading my expenses three ways as well.
These are changing and anxious times across the Church. I pray for calm, wisdom, courage, compassion and peace for all involved.
Articles about the LTSG-LTSP combination.
Information about the New School + The New School Proposal
Questions about the New School + An article from one of staff at Gettysburg
An article about the union
Pastor Brian's Page
Pastor Brian Robert Campbell has served at Our Savior's and Emmanuel since August 1, 2011, and began serving Nazareth on December 1, 2015.
Pastor Brian is originally from Saginaw, Michigan. He graduated from Alma College with a B.A. in Business Administration, and worked for the Saginaw Public Schools' Community Education Department for 17 years before answering the call to ministry. He graduated with a M. Div. from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 2011. ONE in Christ Lutheran Parish is his first call.
He is the only child of Robert and Charlotte Campbell, both who have entered the Church Eternal.
He is accompanied in ministry by his faithful bulldogge Ananias, who regularly writes for our newsletter. His articles are archived here.
He is a fan of sports teams from his native Michigan, especially the Tigers and the Lions. But we tolerate him despite that.
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