Update from District President Dan Gilbert - What Lutherans are doing in mission and outreach in northern Illinois. This issue: Exciting way to celebrate Reformation Anniversary.
January 2017
That's the Way to Celebrate
2017 - it's finally here.

What? Something special this year? Well, if you're Lutheran (and pretty sure if you are reading this that you indeed might be) you've heard some segments of the church talking about 2017 for about five years now in preparation to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.

Goals have been set related to 2017. Back about 10 years even, the NID set a goal of 125 "new starts" by the 2017 anniversary of the Reformation. Well, we've blown past that for sure if you count "new starts" -- as we do -- as any new, sustained initiative to be the hands and feet and voice of Jesus with people in the community whom the Lord longs to welcome into his kingdom. If you saw our 2016 update last spring on a decade of New Starts...New Believers you'd have counted at least 233 new starts -- that's more than a goal and a half. Great to see.

Plus there have been some other goals across Synod, and celebrations are planned. The district itself is partnering with Concordia University Chicago to join in a big event on campus next October 28 -- save the date, OK?

500 for Christ

But here's one of the more exciting things I've heard. Since it's the 500th anniversary in 2017, San Pablo Lutheran Church in Aurora is doing a "500 for Christ" emphasis this year. Pastor Alex Merlo is in the process of recruiting 100 people from San Pablo and asking them to each disciple FIVE unchurched people throughout the year. He will train the volunteers and work with them to accomplish this "500 for Christ."

And, my Brother Alex is not just asking his members to do this. He's doing it himself. After deciding on this emphasis, he was led to three people in his own life whom he is currently working with, hoping to disciple them throughout this year. This is a huge effort at San Pablo, and I am told people are very excited about this -- that they see the potential among unchurched people right in their own neighborhoods and in the blocks around San Pablo.

Notice, the new start at San Pablo uses the word disciple. New starts are not just moments on a street corner telling someone Jesus loves them, and even that he died and rose to give them new life in him. Discipleship is a long-term relationship helping people hear and see Jesus knocking at the door to their life, learning from each other, and Scripture, and the Sacraments as administered in the local church.

Your Discipleship as Part of the NID

Many of you have become new-start disciples in your ongoing support for district missions and what we are called to do as God's people together here in the Northern Illinois District. Thank you for that. Prayer is part of your discipleship. Giving is part of your discipleship. Advocacy for involving your own congregation in local missions is part of your discipleship.

And if you're moved to start a new initiative like San Pablo is doing with its "500 for Christ," sharing what God is doing among you is part of your discipleship, too. So drop me an email and let me know.

We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. Psalm 78:4

Happy new year, happy 500th, and may joy in the Lord be with you all your days.


Rev. Dan P. Gilbert, President
LCMS Northern Illinois District

Your online gift today helps the Northern Illinois District work with congregations to see and become equipped for opportunities the Lord gives them to be active in his mission, right beyond their church doors. Your generosity is appreciated.



New Year's Day - New Life in Christ
On Christmas Day, a friend of Pastor Tom Engel in the LCMS Northern Illinois District came to worship at St. Philip Lutheran Church on Chicago's north side, where Pastor Engel was filling in. His friend, Ireen, is from Zambia and has been a U.S. citizen for 20 years. She brought with her to St. Philip a childhood friend's daughter, Nyambe, who is here in the U.S. on a visa. After worship, Nyambe asked to be baptized.

Pastor Engel, who has helped provide services at St. Philip during their pastoral vacancy, spent the week between Christmas and New Year's with Nyambe, meeting and talking about the teachings of Lutheran doctrine. "She was a very good student for she knows Scripture well," Pastor Engel said. "She had been thinking of baptism for a long time and felt it was time to be baptized."

On New Year's Day, Nyambe was baptized at the beginning of worship at St. Philip and began the new year of 2017 with a new life in Christ.

Pastor Engel is on the staff at nearby St. Paul Lutheran Church in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago. He came to St. Paul through the LUKE collaboration about a year and a half ago. LUKE (Lutheran Urban Kingdom Expansion) is a donor-funded project of Chicagoland Lutheran Educational Foundation, Trinity Lutheran Church in Roselle, four Chicago churches (Tabor, Concordia, St. Paul Austin and St. Paul Dorchester) and the Northern Illinois District. The focus is to revitalize members and ministry for the purpose of increasing and improving impactful outreach in their communities.

Through LUKE, pastors and their congregational members are discipled and inspired in seeing where the Holy Spirit is working in people's lives and serving as Christ's witnesses to reach people with the Gospel.
LUKE Churches on the Streets
Pastors and members of LUKE churches were literally on the streets in Chicago at the beginning of this school year. Three of them held exciting and successful block parties to meet neighbors. Congregations in LUKE (Lutheran Urban Kingdom Expansion), a collaborative outreach initiative in Chicago, learn from and assist each other in outreach as part of the revitalization efforts that are underway at each. 
St. Paul Austin invited student nurse volunteers to host a health fair as part of the block party they held.
 

Church volunteers packaged school supplies to give out to neighborhood children at the St. Paul Austin back to school block party.
 

Tabor Chicago's block party provided games and a giant bounce house to entertain kids while church staff mingled with and met the parents.
 

Great music is part of every party and Tabor's block party was no exception with a variety of musical guests

Working with civic leaders is important in Chicago. Area police officers met kids and made friends at St. Paul Dorchester's block party.
 

And what's a party without food? St. Paul Dorchester teams cooked and served for a crowd that topped 300 neighbors. 

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New Starts...New Believers, a Mission Movement of the LCMS Northern Illinois District | nidlcms.org  | NIDnews.org for Northern Light Online


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