All Good Things…

All good things must come to end.

At least that is how the saying goes. And in my case that is true. Today, May 1, is my last Sunday as pastor of Salem and Belmont Lutheran Churches. Today I say good bye to 12 amazing years as I grew from a young, inexperienced pastor to (dare I say) a seasoned pastor. Fresh out of seminary, I began serving at Salem one week after graduation. One month later I was married and off and running we went. Who knew (God did I guess) that we would spend the next 12 years of our lives living and serving in this small SW MN community.

And now, God is sending us to the west coast. Well, not exactly the coast but close. We are heading to the Tacoma, Washington area to serve a fairly new congregation as they strive to reach out to their community. We are excited, fearful, optimistic and a whole load of other emotions. It’s hard to leave an area that one has called home for a long time. It’s hard to leave family and friends. It is hard to leave one’s support system, but when God calls, God calls, and so off we go; trusting that God will provide and do some amazing things to show His glory.

Following today, I will have three Sundays off before I preach my first sermon in Puyallup, WA on May 29. Three Sundays off, wow, I just might start peeling my skin off as I have never gone that long without preaching. Maybe it will be a good break but I guess only time will tell. I love what I do and therefore leaving the people here is going to be hard. I am sure many tears will be shed today. So I appeal to God to send His Holy Spirit to give me strength to share the Gospel one more time in corporate worship here. May this be about God and not me. May this be about what God has done here the past 12 years. May this be about God’s faithfulness moving forward. And may this be about worshiping our awesome God and placing our faith in Him to lead us into an unknown future here and a known future with Him through faith in Jesus. God is faithful and God will provide for me and my family as well as the congregations of Salem and Belmont Lutheran Churches.

In the mean time, I will continue to write here and look forward to sharing more stories of God faithfulness as we move to a “foreign country”. As God watched over Abraham and Sarah as they moved to a foreign land, I am confident God will do the same for me and my family.

So with that, I sign off on this “Sunday edition” as the pastor of Salem and Belmont Lutheran Churches. May God continue to be glorified here, and through all of our lives, always and forever. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

P.S. CORRECTION ~ Not all good things come to an end for God is GOOD. All the time. All the time, God is GOOD 🙂


Showing the love of Christ

On August 22, 2011 I wrote a post about a “mission activity” that the council of Salem Lutheran Church did on the first day of school last year.  The post is called Doughnut holes. Click on the link to read about what we did.


The Lutheran magazine did a little story about this mission activity in their “Two Month out” section in the June issue.  Very exciting.  When we planned this mission activity we never thought it would get so much attention.


All we wanted to do was welcome kids and parents back to school by showing the love of Christ in a very practical way.

We weren’t trying to recruit.
We weren’t standing on boxes preaching “Repent!”.
We were doing nothing but welcoming people with a smile while serving doughnut holes, juice and coffee (and tissues for parents).

The idea was simple and practical…and a lot of fun.  It was something anyone could do.  We saw many smiles that morning and made our day.  Will we do this again?  Absolutely!  Will we continue to show the love of Christ in a practical way?  I sincerely hope so.

How is God calling you to show His love in a practical way?

edh -|—

That time of the year

Annual meeting day.

Some of you have done the annual meeting thing already this year.  For us (Salem Lutheran Church), this is kind of late but because of some scheduling conflicts we had to push this to today.

Oh well…

Today we are gathering to look back on what we did in 2011:
the financial report will be reviewed,
committee and ministry team reports will be reflected on,
and highlights from the past year will be recognized.

We will also do some looking ahead:
the proposed budget will be introduced and voted on,
we will hear updates on church projects,
and we will look at some goals for the year.

All of this is important…and needs to be done.  But there is another important work that must be done.
–It’s something that shouldn’t be on the agenda because it should be second nature.
–It shouldn’t be something we check off so we can move to the next agenda item.
–It should even be part of the agenda that get approved before we start the meeting.

This important task is something I should not even need to say…but I will.


Some of you may be saying “Well duh…we always open meetings in prayer.  What’s Eric talking about?”  Good…I am glad you do.
–But what if…what if…we opened our meetings in prayer, in communion with God, and just sat in silence (however uncomfortable) – enjoying communion with God – and waited.
–What if, instead of worrying about agenda items (what WE want to do) we instead allowed God to direct our time.
–What if we spent more time discussing mission opportunities than arguing over how much we should spend on certain budget items.
–What if we did the work of God.
–What if… [Me drifting off to ponder…]

Let us pray for direction.
Let us pray for wisdom.
Let us pray for patience.
Let us pray for faith to follow.
Let us pray for strength to do the work that God has given us to do.
Let us pray…

[Pause in silent prayer]


God bless your day and your annual meetings as you do the work of God.

edh -|—

Exciting news!

“Leadership in the small church”

When I heard about the above continuing education opportunity I was intrigued.  I serve two small congregations in SW MN.  So an educational event about leadership in a small congregation sounded good to me.  But then I heard it was at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, VA.  At that point I lost some enthusiasm.  I mean…that’s a long ways and would be a spendy continuing education trip…something my congregation might not be able to afford (let alone me).  But the title still intrigued me so decided I checked it out…to satisfy my curiosity.  I learned that this opportunity was fully funded by a Lilly Grant (travel, lodging, pulpit supply…everything).  Now my interest was peeked again.  Then I learned that only 25 pastors (and spouses) are selected from across the country.  There was a lengthy application process for me, my spouse and congregation to fill out.  There would be homework before, during and after, but it would be something that would enhance my ministry, offer support for my wife and encourage my congregation.  It seemed like a long shot but we decided to go for it.

And oh by the way…my bishop is the one who put me on to this and encouraged me to go for it.

So I gathered a team from Salem to fill out the church’s part of the application.  I gave Connie her information and I went to work on mine.  We were all very excited but still reserved.  After all…only 25 couples get selected, but what did we have to lose.

I got my stuff turned in by the deadline (Dec. 15, 2009) and we began waiting…and praying.  We would know by sometime in early February.

Well…today is February 1.  The phone rings and on the other end is a woman from Virginia Theological Seminary.  I knew right then and there they probably weren’t calling me to say I did not make it…and I was right.

My wife and I are going to Virginia for the Summer Collegium at Virginia Theological Seminary (check out the link for more information); June 23 – July 1 of this year.  Out of 175 applicants we were one of 25 elected.  PRAISE BE TO GOD!  My wife and I are humbled to be chosen and excited for the opportunity; excited for us and for our congregation.  Now the real work begins.  A packet of information will be coming my way shortly and I am sure you will be hearing much more about this throughout the year.

For right now…Connie and I are super excited and praising God for this opportunity.  I can hardly wait to see what God is going to do with us (and our congregation) through this event.

Praise be to God!

To be continued…


Christmas snow storm pictures

Ramp to Salem's education wing

Standing in front of garage looking at church parking lot

Entrance to church parking lot...snowed in

Looking out the door of the parsonage

These pictures don’t do this storm justice, but believe me…this is a dozie of a storm.  And now that Christmas services are done I can sit back and enjoy this.


Christmas Storm

Wow…it is Christmas afternoon and it is still snowing.  We did have Christmas Eve worship last night at Salem Lutheran Church.  Attendance was down a bit (not surprising) but I was still pleasantly surprised with the turnout.  Christmas Day worship at Belmont was postponed until Sunday.  Hopefully they can dig out in time to have worship then.

So now my wife and I are enjoying the storm.  This morning Connie was shoveling and I was going to go to the fitness center.  I walked outside and looked into the church parking lot (also my driveway) and noticed that the plows have completely blocked the two entrances…we are going nowhere.  Not even our Jeeps will make it through the snow.  Our snow removal guy should be here tomorrow to clear the lot…so in the time being we are snowed in.  Luckily we have plenty of goodies left over from our Christmas open house.

We did get to talk and see Connie’s family this morning via Skype (got to love technology).  Our 4-year-old nephew was having a great time talking with us and seeing us on their computer.  It was really cute.  Hopefully we will get to Sioux Falls on Saturday or whenever South Dakota reopens.

In any case, I hope you all had and are having a very merry and blessed Christmas.  Jesus was born to us and that is an awesome reason to celebrate.  Take care and God bless.


It WILL happen

This has been a very unusual week for me.

It has not been unusual because it is Christmas but because my thoughts have also included the “storm of the quarter century” (according to the NWS).  The weather experts are talking about 12 to 18 inches of snow for us with 20 inches plus not out of the question.  But to make matters worse we are getting freezing drizzle right now with a possible 1/4 inch of ice before the snow hits.  And then…as to rub salt in the wound…the wind picks up later in the week.  This will be a Christmas to remember in more ways than one.

Now I am left to contemplate how to do Christmas.  My family has already moved our Christmas celebration to New Year’s Eve and I am not sure yet about my wife’s side.  Christmas Eve worship at Salem will be on (since we are in town and I live next door) but Christmas Day out at Belmont might not happen (we might move it to Saturday or Sunday).  I normally get really excited about storms like this; waiting anxiously for it to arrive, but this one is going to be a little annoying.  I feel conflicted…worried…concerned a little…but…

It WILL happen!!!

What WILL happen?  The birth of Jesus will be celebrated…and no winter storm can stop that.

I am sure that Mary and Joseph didn’t plan to celebrate the birth of their son in a barn.
I am sure that the shepherds didn’t plan to leave their flocks to search for a baby that night.
I am sure the magi didn’t plan on making a long, long journey; following a star to find a baby.

But in the end…I bet all these people would say that they had the best day of their lives…celebrating the birth of Jesus in their own way.  Plans were made and plans were changed but worship still happened.

I am not sure what will happen here, but worship will happen, whether I am sitting in the sanctuary of Salem or Belmont Lutheran Church or whether I am sitting in the sanctuary of my own home…worship WILL happen; the birth of Jesus WILL be celebrated.

If you are in the path of this storm: (1) Be careful and be safe and (2) Don’t let the weather dampen your worship and celebration of Jesus birth…no matter if your plans have been changed or not.  Christmas is about God’s love for you and for me and as we hear from the Apostle Paul there is nothing in all of creation that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord…not even the “storm of the quarter century“.

Have a safe and Merry Christmas!

God bless!