Conference Report: February 2017

Conference sessions were held at St. James Lutheran Church in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on a mild winter weekend. The opening devotion began with Luther’s creedal hymn, “We All Believe in One True God,” number 137 in A New Song(ANS). Chairman Robert W. Christman read the epistle of Jude; the response was Luther’s hymn based on the Ten Commandments, “That Man a Godly Life Might Live,” ANS135.

The minutes of Fall Conference 2016 were read and accepted.

Items for presentation and discussion were:

1. The Te Laudamusproject report, with 24 more hymns to sing through for proof-reading—Daniel Reuning

2. “An Introduction to Leviticus”—Michael Albrecht

3. “An Introduction to Leviticus” for the children—Floyd Brand

4. The Treasurer’s Report­—Virginia Hinz

5. “The Seeds of Policy & Purpose”—Daniel Hinz

6. Brand Luther by Andrew Pettegree; a book review—Robert J. Christman

7. “Our Master Mission,” by Karl Koehler; a reading of the next section­—Robert W. Christman

The opening announcements were as follows:

1. The remaining portion of Pastor Marcus Albrecht’s library is in the south transept of the Church for the taking. This will be the final Conference at which the books will be made available.

2. The Policy & Purpose Committee reports that they would like to keep the Policy & Purpose of Faith-Life as it is, and add an addendum, which they are currently working on.

3. Mel Koss & Hannah Hensel were appointed as the “Location Committee” for our upcoming Conferences.

Michael Albrecht presented “An Introduction to Leviticus,” this Old Testament book the next selection for Book-of-the-Bible study at Conference sessions. Leviticus is often disregarded as outdated because it applies to Old Testament worship, with its rules and regulations for the people of Israel. Pastor Albrecht demonstrated, however, that because it has to do with the worship of God, Leviticus does have much to teach New Testament worshipers. This introduction to Moses’ central book of the Pentateuch also included an outline for the future presentations.

Daniel Reuning then gave an update on the Te Laudamushymnal project and handed out a packet of 24 hymns, a number of which were then sung by the assembly.

The ladies of the Conference served dinner in the church basement; the meal and dessert especially served also as celebration of the 85th birthday of Kenneth Chang.

After the children’s review of Leviticus, Children’s Choir practice, and Adult Choir practice, afternoon sessions began with a brief discussion on the Leviticus presentation, the emphasis on communicating and enunciating the Gospel (Gospel = Good spell) in each succeeding generation. Robert J. Christman presented  his book review of Andrew Pettegree’s Brand Luther: Printing and the Making of the Reformation. Without the printing press, there would have been no Reformation. Print propelled Luther and his teachings into the public spotlight. At the same time, the publishing of Luther’s writings
transformed the printing industry in Germany especially. Pettegree’s work lays out the way in which the life of Martin Luther, the printshops of Wittenberg, and  the larger history of print were intertwined. Reaction centered on God’s working in history
and the beautiful timing of everything. “He has done all things well,” we boast. “God’s Time Is the Best Time,” we sing with Bach.

Daniel Reuning then guided the assembly through more of the Te Deum handout. The session closed for supper with the hymn, “Feed Thy Children, GodMost Holy,” The Lutheran Hymnal (TLH)659.

After supper, the Faith-Life editors met in a downstairs classroom, to the echo of hymns being sung upstairs by a small group led by Dr. Reuning around the grand piano, as they edited hymns from the latest Te Laudamus handout.

On Sunday morning, Laura Rosenberg taught the Sunday School class, the story of heroic Nehemiah in Nehemiah 1–2.

Pastor Robert W. Christman led us in divine worship for Sexagesima Sunday, with Kay Christman at the organ, Kevin Milner as cantor, and Daniel Reuning directing the choir. After the chanted Invocation, we opened with the Kyrie, ANS131. The cantor chanted the Introit and the congregation responded with the Kyrie and the Gloria in Excelsis hymn. After the Salutation and Collect, the Old Testament Lesson was read, II Samuel 12:1–7a. The Children’s Choir responded by singing “Help Us, Great David’s Son and Lord,” a three-verse hymn composed by Pastor Christman, sung to “Erhalt Uns, Herr.”The Epistle Lesson was II Corinthians 11:19–12:9. The cantor responded by chanting the Gradual. The Gospel Lesson was John 4:5–16. The congregation recited the Nicene Creed. The sermon hymn was “My Soul, Now Bless Thy Maker,” ANS143. Pastor Christman preached on the “Saxon” Epistle Lesson, I Corinthians 6:18–20. After the Offertory and Prayer, the Adult Choir sang, “Turn, Lord, Thine Anger, and in Mercy Spare Us.” After the Confession of Sins, we proceeded with the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Hymn 140 (ANS),“Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence,” was sung during the Distribution. The closing hymn was “May God Bestow on Us His Grace,” ANS67. The organist sent the congregation on its way on the wings of a stirring postlude.

After the Sunday chicken dinner, the Financial Report was handed out by the Treasurer,
Ginny Hinz. The Proposal was made that the Faith-Life Editor, Floyd Brand, should be getting a housing allowance. Currently, he is doing the work gratis. A motion was made and seconded that Pastor Brand should receive a housing allowance of $7,200.00 annually. The motion was unanimously approved.

Discussion was also carried on regarding the listing of individual annual contributions in the Financial Report, the pros and cons of this practice. After some discussion, members were encouraged to mull it over for further discussion in the future.

For the afternoon presentation, we listened to the evolving article entitled “The Seeds of Policy and Purpose,” by Daniel Hinz; a presentation that looked at the events that led Karl Koehler to compose the “Policy and Purpose” for Faith-Life. The composition had specific
historical antecedents. Discussion centered around Karl Koehler, “the consummate gentleman.” The “Policy and Purpose of Faith-Life” was his crown Jewel.  In a literary sense, he became “the master of the miniature.”

It is interesting to compare and contrast two great men of this era, Karl Koehler and Paul Hensel. Though dissimilar in their makeup and personalities, both were prolific and creative writers, unsurpassed in their writing prowess. With such thoughts, Conference
adjourned with the evening hymn, “The Sun is Set, the Light is Gone,” ANS324.

An Epilogue: Martin Luther reportedly was asked once what he would do if he knew that the Lord Jesus was returning tomorrow. He said, “I would plant an apple tree,” or “I would continue working in my garden.” What would we say or do, if we knew that the Lord Jesus in his wise counsel was planning to take someone very close to us home to heaven during Conference weekend? 

Anna Christman Horvath, our Faith-Life Art and Layout Editor, though ill for some time, planned to attend Winter Conference but was unable. She died in the Lord as our sessions were concluding, amid bedside prayers, praise, and giving of thanks.