May the beautiful songs of Christmas and their messages bring joy to your hearts as you celebrate the birth of our Savior!
Updates on several LLC activities:
• The annual ministers teleconference was held on November 6 with over 80 ministers participating from LLC’s North American congregations. Jim Jurmu, LLC Pastoral Committee chairman, welcomed the ministers, and Keith Waaraniemi, pastoral director, opened the discussion. In speaking about joys and concerns in living Christianity today, Waaraniemi specifically mentioned the need to encourage and support our many young families and children. Through the various speeches, ministers spoke about the strength for the endeavor of faith that is received through believing the gospel of the forgiveness of sins. The ministers remembered that God’s children are united through the Holy Spirit and spoke how it is good to gather at worship services to hear the preaching of God’s Word. The unity of this gathering was comforting to all.
• Representatives of the boards of directors of Eastern Area congregations gathered for their annual meeting on November 2nd in Detroit. The Eastern Area meeting opened with a presentation titled, “Life’s Decisions and Relationships,” by Martin Pylvainen, drawing on one of the recent Pacific Northwest Ministers and Wives camp topics. Keith Waaraniemi gave an update on LLC activities, and the meeting addressed LLC Board member terms, camp board member terms, and mission area committee member terms expiring in 2015. A similar gathering of Midwestern Area board members will take place at the Rockford Laestadian Lutheran Church on December 6. The Midwestern Area meeting will open with a presentation by Steve Kallinen, titled, “Be ye all of one mind,” based on 1 Peter 3:8.
• New publications featured as we approach Christmas include the 2015 LLC Wall Calendar, He made all the world, made all mankind; the new organ-only Christmas recording, See amid the Winter Snow; and the 2014 Christmas in Zion. With the popularity of electronic devices increasing, especially tablets, remember that several LLC publications are now available as eBooks through the LLC’s online store, including: God is Love; the Stories of Jesus book series; Crossing the Current: The Christian in Society; Stories of the Apostles 1 & 2; I Found God’s Kingdom; Treasure Hidden in a Field; At Daybreak; and In the Footsteps of the Sheep.
• Most Voice of Zion and Shepherd’s Voice subscriptions renew on a calendar year basis, and renewal notices have recently been sent via email or U.S. Mail. There are no rate changes this year. We thank you for subscribing and/or continuing your personal and gift subscriptions. Remember to encourage others to subscribe and consider these as gifts as well!
• Once again we wish to mention that the Humanitarian Aid Committee is preparing to send annual Christmas care and gift packages to our brothers and sisters in Ecuador, Ghana, and Togo. Your year-end donations may be made via the Humanitarian Aid page accessed through Quick Links on the LLC website.
• The LLC Opisto Scholarship Committee has now completed the selection process for the 2015–16 school year scholarships, selecting from among 29 applicants. A total of 21 (14 scholarship and 7 non-scholarship) North American students will study in Finland next year with 6 attending Jämsä Opisto, 5 attending Ranua Opisto, and 10 attending Reisjärvi Opisto. We continue to see great blessings from this program and know that the students and their families make many sacrifices to prepare for a year of study abroad. Many congregations also take steps to help young from their area attend.
• LLC staff and spouses will gather on December 5 for their annual evening Christmas gathering. It is a time when staff can step back from their daily work to celebrate Christmas together and reflect on their calling to serve in the work of God’s kingdom. Spouses of LLC employees, too, are joined to this work. At the same time, all remember with thankfulness the generous support from throughout our congregations for the work of our central organization.
This December issue of the Voice of Zion contains several pages of Christmas greetings—names of relatives, friends, brothers and sisters in faith from locations throughout Canada, the United States, Ghana, Togo, Finland, Sweden, England, Ecuador, and other parts of the world. What do they mean? Is this merely a collection of names organized by location? Is it a fund-raiser to help publish this paper? Is it a convenient way to send Christmas greetings without going through the process of sending individual cards? Must you know someone to be warmed by their greeting? Whatever your thoughts may have been, as you now read through the names, think of the many people that you know, that you have met or hope to meet! Think of the joys and trials and phases of life that they represent. Consider that they have placed their name here because they have wanted to remember you this season, wishing you a blessed Christmas like the angels sang the first Christmas night, “Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy” (Luke 2:10). Merry Christmas!
December 2014 Voice of Zion