Congratulations to the deaconesses who received their placement announcements today after chapel!
Patricia Anderson has been placed at Redeemer Lutheran Church and School in Huntington Beach, CA, Pacific Southwest District.
Pamela Buhler has been placed at Messiah Lutheran Church in Keller, TX, Texas District.
Juliane Kirk has been placed at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fairhope, AL, Southern District.
Alla Shvetsova (of Berdsk, Siberia, Russia) has been placed at Immanuel Lutheran Church and School, Rocky Mountain District.
All four ladies received their placements in absentia. However, their sisters-in-training were all in attendance, including both residential and distance-learning students. The distance-learning deaconess students are here for two-week intensives, which come to an end tomorrow. These women get to know each through their discussions online, but it is still a particular joy when they get the chance to meet face-to-face. With everyone in the same room together, we took advantage of the opportunity and took photos of these 26 women.
Over the weekend, CTSFW hosted a two-day training seminar for respite care certification as a part of the deaconess intensive course “Ministry to the Sick and Dying.” Thirty-nine women attended, among them local deaconesses, three prospective students, and our deaconess students in the residential program and those in the distance learning programs. Our distance learning students come to campus for two-week intensive courses in January and July of each year.
The training and materials were sponsored by the Deaconess Elle Konetzki Memorial Fund, and led by Deaconess Kris Blackwell and Deaconess Sarah Gaffney of Voice of Care, an LCMS RSO. Voice of Care provides these REST (Respite Education & Support Tools) to congregations and groups.
REST is designed to equip our deaconesses with the ability to provide reliable volunteer temporary care to children and adults with special needs. This temporary care gives short-term relief to primary caregivers. Deaconess students learned how to access family needs, and provide quality care with enriching activities in a safe and healthy environment. The course prepares students to identify, understand, and respect the needs of both caregivers and care receivers, and to recognize coping strategies, practice good health and safety practices in respite situations, demonstrate proper assistance techniques, and learn effective verbal and nonverbal communication skills. Ultimately, a REST Companion creates a positive environment that allows them to handle both ordinary and challenging respite situations.
REST certification recognizes that participants have completed the REST Companion Training and makes a number of REST’s respite care resources and materials available to the certified individual. These resources include educational materials and important forms to use with families receiving respite care.
On Saturday, the CTSFW Life Team marched alongside many in our community into downtown Fort Wayne for the 45th annual March for Life. According to local news coverage, about 2,000 attended the Allen County March for Life, despite the bitterly cold temperature, marching from the University of Saint Francis Performing Arts Center (where a rally was held ahead of time) to the Federal Office.
Dr. Peter Scaer, who serves as the Board of Directors President of the Allen County Right to Life, opened the rally with a prayer, using the opportunity to speak of the hope we have in Christ. Our seminarians, deaconess students, and anyone else who knew the words by heart (or had planned ahead and brought their hymnal with them) sang hymns as we marched behind the processional cross, including “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” “Salvation unto Us Has Come,” and LSB 666: “O Little Flock, Fear Not the Foe.”
It was difficult to capture a shot of all the Lutherans in attendance at the march, as there were a heartening number from many of our Fort Wayne churches and schools, including CTSFW. Click on the large photo (the panorama of all the Lutherans in attendance) to get a closer look at both participants and their signs, letting you know where these Lutherans hail from.
Focus Text: “Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.” (Verse 4)
“I can do it myself!” These words from the mouth of a toddler bring joy to parents as their child acquires new skills and a sense of accomplishment. We marvel at how this same child, who required the safety and nourishment of a mother’s womb, has grown to the point of announcing their independence. After all, the goal of parenting is to raise a child to self-sufficiency.
Or is it?
Are we ever truly self-sufficient? When things are good it may seem that we are. But adversity, sickness, and aging change our perspective. Life forces us to say, “I can’t do it!” In desperation, we create our own solutions; medicine and technology. We end the life of the “inconvenient,” preborn child, or when suffering seems too great and death is certain, we say, “I will choose my time to die.”
Yet, we are not sufficient and must confess, “I cannot do it myself.” In our weakness, we turn to the strong one, “O God save me by your name, and vindicate me by your might” (Ps. 54:1). For “Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life” (vs. 4). I could not, cannot, and will never have to do it myself. “For he has delivered me from every trouble, and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies” (vs. 7). Instead, we say, “It is finished, for me by Christ.”
Let us pray: Lord of our life, we give You thanks that You continually help us and uphold our lives! We ask Your forgiveness for those times when we, like stubborn children, demand that we do it on our own, and we thank you that You do forgive us and that Your, “It is finished,” rings in our ears all of our lives. This we pray in Jesus’ name and for His sake. Amen.
(Deaconess Amy Rast, Associate Director of the Deaconess Program)
Tomorrow is the final day of our Devotions for Life (Fearfully and Wonderfully Made) series, in honor of the Allen County March for Life. The CTSFW Life Team will be in attendance at the march, alongside other churches, organizations, individuals, and anyone else in the community who would care to join us. Information can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2270899919808018/.
A week ago, members of the CTSFW Life Team were also at the March for Life in Washington, D.C. Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions, the Rev. Prof. John T. Pless, also spoke that weekend at the LCMS Life Conference in the capital, on the topic of “Mercy at Life’s End,” guiding participants with his booklet under the same title. The presentation focused on how Christians might best respond to the legalization of physician-assisted suicide in many states, and how “Ethics as Gifts” informs the way a Christian receives life and death from the hand of the Lord.
He drew the phrase from the Lutheran theologian, Oswald Bayer, who says that ethics begins not with the question, “What must I do?” but “What have I been given?” In Professor Pless’s words:
“When it comes to end of life and the way we care for those who are irretrievably dying, we begin with the realization that the dying person is a human being and has been given life by our Creator. That life, even though it may be now diminished by age, accident, or disease remains worthy of care even if there is no cure. We do not take life; we are given life.
“To use the words of another Lutheran ethicist, Gilbert Meilaender, our motto is ‘always care, never kill.’ Because life is a gift entrusted to us by our Heavenly Father, redeemed by the blood of His Son, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit, we may not selfishly hold on to life when it is evident that death is eminent and unavoidable. Then we may commend our dying loved one into the hands of a Faithful Creator trusting in His promises for the resurrection of the body to life eternal.”
His booklet, “Mercy at Life’s End,” provides practical guidance for navigating between two extremes: (1) Aiming for death-assisted suicide and euthanasia; or (2) Acting as though continued biological life is the only and highest good, thus seeking to preserve it at all costs. These are the basic items that he covered in his presentation.
But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened.
For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.
For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God because of me.
According to a study by the Guttenmacher Institute in 2016, about 75% of abortion patients in 2014 were living in poverty. Being poor in this country already makes you an outcast. Even in our own churches it is easy for anyone living in poverty to feel out of place. What if you add to this difficult situation the fact that you have had an abortion? There are women out there who are going through this right now. How could they feel like anything BUT an outcast? They are outcasts and whether they fully realize it yet or not, they are brokenhearted and deeply wounded.
The child that God blessed within them has been destroyed by a system that celebrates the taking of a life as an expression of true freedom. Those who support this destruction tell the woman that there’s nothing to feel guilty about and nothing has been lost. Those who rightly speak against the evil of abortion sometimes forget that the person they are speaking to is a person purchased by the blood of Jesus standing before them, even after the abortion has taken place. God numbers all stars and gives each one their name, even this woman who had a “doctor” end her child’s life. God knows her. That woman needs healing. That woman needs to be lifted up by the One who lifts up the humble and casts the wicked to the ground. God does not delight in us because we aren’t like this woman since we’ve never had an abortion. Rather, He takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His steadfast love. Jesus died for her. Jesus died for her child. Jesus died for you. His death blesses the children within her. His death has made peace for her and for you. She needs to hear that. We need to hear that. God grant it.
Let us pray: O God, builder of the heavenly Jerusalem, who numbers the stars and calls them all by their names; heal, we pray You, the brokenhearted, gather together the outcasts, and enrich us with Your infinite wisdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.
But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
Focus verse: “Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds.” (Verse 4)
We seek after advice from loved ones and friends. These words can encourage you to do what is right and just, especially when the true Word of God is their foundation. At times, the words of others reach your ears and persuade you to say and do things against God’s guidance. You must be cautious that your heart does not pull you to immoral and unethical actions, as this psalm says in verse 4: “Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds.”
These words are a prayer that God would guide your heart and mind to His righteousness and justice. The Lord knew we all would be tempted to turn from God and His good and gracious will. So when Jesus taught us how to pray, He gave to us these words: “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” In this portion of the Lord’s Prayer, God comes quickly to your aid so that you will find refuge in Him. In God’s love, even without our prayers, the Lord defends us from the words and temptation of evil people. Jesus, your Savior, has given you this knowledge, that by His passion on the cross He has conquered sin, death, and the devil. Have faith that if the Son can save you from death and the devil, He can save you from the temptation to sin. Abide in the words of God so that you might “pass by safely.”
Let us pray: Almighty God, You have victory through the Son and His death on the cross, over all the sins that plague me. With Your strong and mighty Word lead me away from the temptation to do the evil deeds of worldly men. Put in my heart Your words that I may be able to speak them and do what is right and just. And forgive me when I sin and do not do what God has instructed. I pray this in the Savior’s name, Jesus Christ. Amen.
This week’s convocation hour was on “Deaf Ministry in the Local Congregation,” presented by Rev. Thomas Dunseth. Pastor Dunseth is Director of Lutheran Friends of the Deaf with the Mill Neck Family of Organizations, who are close partners and friends with CTSFW. They fund Adjunct Professor of Deaf Ministry Peggy Krueger, who teaches Deaf Ministry classes here on campus. Mill Neck also runs the Church Interpreter Training Institute (CITI), hosted here on campus every summer.
Pastor Dunseth began by explaining that his intention with the talk was to help our students better understand the needs of Deaf people. “It’s not imperative as a professional church worker that you learn sign language,” he said. “My intention is to make you comfortable with it.” The point is to bring Christ to this community by giving them access to the Divine Service.
The basic facts are these: 684 million people worldwide have hearing loss, 80% of whom live in underdeveloped nations. Nearly 50 million are Americans; in the US, three out of 1,000 children are born deaf or hard of hearing. Depression and isolation are common problems, especially among those who lose their hearing later in life. Most people with hearing loss do not have access to the Word of God in a Christian congregation.
There are many different kinds of Deaf people as well. There are those who lose their hearing later in life, such as senior citizens, veterans (60% of whom come back with hearing loss), and one out of five teenagers (because of things like earbuds). Some Deaf people learn only American Sign Language (ASL), others are oral learning only (lip reading), while there is also a language style known as total communication, which is a combination of both ASL and oral English.
Cochlear implants are themselves controversial in the Deaf community. While they are not guaranteed to work for everyone, there are also many Deaf people who feel that the cochlear implants are in danger of taking away their heritage and language. For example, Peggy Krueger spoke of a Deaf couple overjoyed when their third child was born deaf–because they are proud of their culture and happy to share it with their child.
There are also cultural differences between the Deaf community and those who can hear. Some differences:
1. Deaf people cannot overhear anything, cutting them off from the information that many hearing people don’t realize they pick up while busy doing something else.
2. Deaf people communicate very bluntly. If they notice that you have gained weight, they’ll say so. The observation isn’t remotely rude; just a part of the culture.
3. Looking away while communicating is discourteous and difficult. Grammar in ASL comes from facial expressions and eye contact. If a Deaf person doesn’t want to hear you, they will shut their eyes (much like putting your fingers in your ears and shouting “lalala!”).
4. Shouting and/or emphasizing your lip movements is incredibly unhelpful to a Deaf person. Deaf people who are taught orally learn to read natural lip movements. Even then it’s difficult: only 20-25% of what you say is visible. The rest is hidden behind your teeth.
5. Deaf people don’t know what can and cannot be heard. They often eat noisily and have audible bodily noises. Peggy, who also works at a video relay center translating live phone calls by signing a conversation visually on the phone screen and speaking to the hearing person on the other line, noted that she’ll also indicate secondary sounds to her clients (like a baby crying, or a dog barking in the background) to help give context. She once signed that whoever was on the phone was walking away, to indicate their distraction. “Walk make sound?” her client signed back, shocked.
6. And one last note: Do not use the phrases “The Deaf” or “hearing impaired.” The proper alternatives are “Deaf people” and “hard of hearing.”
Both Pastor Dunseth and Peggy also discussed some practicalities when serving Deaf people. Lighting, for example, is important. If you bring the lights all the way down during Good Friday service, anyone depending on a visual interpreter will be lost. It’s also best if the interpreter stands right next to the pastor so that they can simultaneously see the interpreter sign and read the pastor’s lips if needed. Wandering pastors (who talk and walk to make their point) make this very difficult to do.
She also explained the importance of working with the interpreter: giving him or her the sermon ahead of time, making yourself available so that the interpreter can ask questions about the meaning of words as they figure out how to sign certain words, etc.
Ultimately, interpreters are theologians. The interpreter hears with their ears, and the Deaf person hears with their eyes—through the words being expressed with the interpreter’s body and hands.
“The way we sign reflects our theology,” Pastor Dunseth explained. You convey theology through the things you point to and the way you explain theological concepts. Baptists, for example, use a sign indicating full immersion for Baptism. It looks different for Lutherans: often a sprinkling motion.
Here at CTSFW, classes are broken down into Deaf Ministry 1, 2, and 3. The course prioritizes language acquisition, beginning with Deaf Ministry 1 as an ASL teaching course. Students in Deaf Ministry 2 then start to introduce specifically theological language. Deaf Ministry 3 is tied deeply into chapel. You have likely seen these students on our daily chapel livestreams, signing during the service in the Spring Quarter.
If you would like to learn more about Deaf Ministry, the following are excellent resources:
Mill Neck & Lutheran Friends of the Deaf
The Church Interpreter Training Institute
Ephphatha Lutheran Mission Society for the Deaf