CANADA – The Lutheran Hour will feature Rev. David Haberstock as speaker on July 28, 2019.
Rev. Haberstock’s message is entitled “You Have No Right to Be Angry,” and draws on Matthew 5:17-26 (the Gospel reading for the 6th Sunday after Trinity in the historic one-year lectionary). “Anger belongs to God, it is not yours,” explains a summary of the talk on the Lutheran Hour website. “When we feel angry we should be prompted to pray.”
In addition to being broadcast on radio stations throughout North America, the message will also be made available online at the Lutheran Hour’s website.
The message was initially intended to be broadcast in Canada on June 30 to coincide with Canada Day commemorations, but Lutheran Hour Ministries has decided to broadcast the message throughout all North America.
Rev. Haberstock is Regional Pastor for Lutheran Church–Canada’s (LCC) Central Region.
CTCR members present for the May 2019 meetings were Concordia Lutheran Seminary President James Gimbel; Rev. Michael Keith; Rev. Joel Kuhl; LCC President Timothy Teuscher; Rev. Paul Williams; Paul Walrath; and Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary President Thomas Winger. One other member, Cliff Pyle, was unable to attend.
WINNIPEG – Lutheran Church–Canada’s (LCC) Commission for Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) met for regular meetings in Winnipeg May 30-31, 2019 to continue the work of synod on church relations and theological inquiry.
Guided by the Holy Word of God and the Lutheran Confessions, the CTCR endeavours to help navigate the theological waters LCC encounters as it continues Christ’s mission of seeking and saving the lost with the Lord’s forgiveness. One increasing area of importance is in church relations. Lutheran Church–Canada holds regular theological discussions with representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church in North America, and the North American Lutheran Church.
In addition, the CTCR also helps to oversee the mission work of LCC, especially by providing oversight for the various theological education programs synod assists with in Nicaragua, Haiti, and elsewhere. The work of LCC internationally is quite impressive for a synod its size!
The CTCR also focuses on the internal work of synod, articulating responses to theological questions as well as providing assistance to various synodical entities. Questions of opinion are brought to the CTCR for advice, which responds sometimes by digging up older documents and opinions from previous CTCR work, sometimes by making reference to the work of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s CTCR, and sometimes by putting together a fresh response as needed.
Most recently, the CTCR assisted LCC’s Board of Directors in a number of policy issues, giving theological guidance as the new structure required a great amount of renewal and overhaul.
Please keep the work of the CTCR in prayer as it seeks to remain faithful to the Lord’s Word and true to our Lutheran confessional heritage.
Rev. Joel V. Kuhl is Chairman of Lutheran Church–Canada’s Commission for Theology and Church Relations.
Toy Story 4 continues the story of Woody and his fellow toys who, at the end of Toy Story 3, were given by the college-bound Andy to a shy little girl named Bonnie. Woody struggles to adapt to life with a new child who doesn’t see him as the favourite toy. However, he finds new purpose when Bonnie, with Woody’s help, makes a new friend: Forky. Woody takes Forky under his wing to show him the ropes and teach him what it means to be the favourite toy. While on a family trip Woody and the other toys meet up with an old friend Bo Peep, and together deal with concepts like conscience, being an abandoned or “lost toy,” and what it means to be a toy to a child in need. Ultimately the film builds on the theme of “moving on” found in Toy Story 3, only now it’s applied primarily to Woody.
The film is technically superb with computer animation that takes advantage of the advancements since 1995’s Toy Story. Bo Peep truly looks like a porcelain doll while the spork, pipe cleaner, and broken popsicle from which Bonnie makes Forky look perfect. So to do all the materials filling the small town antique story where Woody meets the duplicitous Gabby Gabby, her ventriloquist dummies, and daredevil, Evel-Knievel-style, motorbike-riding Duke Caboom—a Canadian stunt toy. Everything from the antique store’s cat to the mix of lighting conditions, rain effects, and other naturalist elements are near photo-realistic. (Bonnie, her parents, and the other human characters, while naturalistic, still have that cartoonish, Toy Story feel to them). What the animators at PIXAR have accomplished is clearly the result of decades of dedicated work and continual refinement of their craft as animators.
The script is a finely crafted achievement weaving a story with relatable plot elements for a multi-generational audience. The youngest viewers see toys come to life; parents get a story about a little girl who still wants to play with toys even as she’s about to start school; millennials see Woody and Bo Peep presented as an encouragement to continuing their adult life by settling down into a romantic relationship; and for grandparents Woody provides a lesson about retirement.
With the character of Forky, audiences also get the story of a vocational shift. As a spork Forky views himself as a single-use plastic item who, after serving his purpose, becomes disposable as trash. While played for laughs, his movement from trash to toy—thanks to Bonnie— is meant to be self reflective. In fact, many of the central characters are going through a kind of soul searching which will appeal to anyone struggling to find their place in the world no matter their age. Many of these storylines on their own are compelling.
The film’s overarching plot, however, requires more contemplation. Vocation is a key element in the Toy Story films. In Toy Story 4 the vocation of “toy in service to a child” is described as a toy’s most noble aspiration and achievement. A twisted desire towards this noble estate undergirds the covetous plot of Gabby Gabby. She plots to steal Woody’s mint-condition pull-string voice-box in order to replace her own defective voice-box and make herself more attractive to children. If she only had a working voice-box surely the child of her dreams would pick her out from among the toys at the antique store and take her home!
Bo Peep, who ended up in the same antique store following Toy Story 2, grew tired of waiting for a child to pick her out and take her home and instead went rogue striking out on her own becoming a “lost toy” —a toy with neither kid nor home. And while Bo Peep is the image of the independent self-sufficient woman who can do things on her own with a little help from friends like the polly-pocket-style Giggle McDimples and the G.I. Joe-style Combat Carl Jr. she still has feelings for Woody and fond memories of her past life as cherished toy. Add to this the traveling carnival game prize toys Ducky and Bunny who both desperately want to be a loved toy to some child, and Duke Caboom’s desire to live up to his death-defying TV commercial and a picture begins to emerge of a world in which every toy desires to be loved or must come to terms with not quite fitting in.
Building on this theme, Woody’s own existential crisis prompts a conversation with Buzz Lightyear about their “inner voices” and how Woody’s conscience drives him to make selfless decisions, like rescuing Forky because he’s Bonnie’s new favourite. This, like Forky’s attempts to wrap his mind around not being trash, leads to humorous moments where the classically unreflective Buzz Lightyear in an effort to grow as a character begins pushing the buttons on his chest believing them to be his conscience. Buzz’s desire for personal growth is encouraged when the other toys turn to him for leadership after Woody goes AWOL searching for Forky.
When Woody is asked why he is willing to risk so much to rescue a spork he reveals that his motives are not completely altruistic; all his efforts may be an attempt to retain his self worth by making himself useful to Bonnie. This prompts a line of thinking: “Is it time for me to let go and move on? Am I happy?” Putting the best possible construction on Woody’s situation introduces the idea of toy ‘retirement.’ It’s never stated that clearly, but Woody ends up having to decide if he will stay with the toys and live as one of Bonnie’s less-loved toys or “follow his heart” and live life as a “lost toy” with Bo Peep—essentially abandoning the noble vocation of a toy in service of a child, living life for oneself and not for others. Retirement is not a bad thing and for many it’s a reward for hard work but the question of motives is worth considering.
This is where Christian viewers may want to think more deeply about the film’s themes. Toy Story 4 upholds “service to neighbour” as noble—a worthy theme for a family film. The way Woody seeks to help Bonnie retain her knew favourite toy fits well with the spirit of the commandment “You shall not steal.” It’s not just that Christians are to avoid theft but they are also to serve their neighbours by helping them improve and protect their possessions. Even Gabby Gabby learns that stealing Woody’s voice box isn’t the sure-fire solution to her heart’s desires, and that coveting what doesn’t belong to her is wrong. As for Woody, he sacrifices his pull-string voice-box. But in the end he walks away from vocation to follow his heart.
On the one hand this could be viewed as an investigation of when someone should retire from their work. On the other hand, the story of Woody and Bo Peep could become one where feelings and a personal desire for happiness supersede loyalty, duty, and responsibility. Woody and Bo Peep’s choice to run away from the life of a toy in their personal pursuit of ‘happiness’ up-ends the traditional established social order of the toy world within the Toy Story universe and is not consistent with Woody’s character over the previous three films. Woody has always been a stalwart of duty and honour who repeatedly sacrificed himself for Andy and then for Bonnie. What does this character shift suggest to viewers? Is there a time when it’s okay to walk away from your deepest most cherished beliefs if you think it will make you happy to do so?
Christian viewers will want to think about the nature and expectations of loyalty, duty, and responsibility that come with certain vocations.
Christian viewers will also want to think about the nature and expectations of loyalty, duty, and responsibility that come with certain vocations. For instance, there are vocations from which a person can retire like being a welder or a soldier. But for some vocations, like motherhood and fatherhood, or being a daughter or son, or a brother or sister, seeking “retirement” in pursuit of happiness elsewhere would cause great harm to their family. It’s worth remembering that the vocation of wife and husband includes vows like “till death do us part.” In many ways the vocational relationship between the toys and the children in the Toy Story films go beyond honest labour, or what might be called a career, into something more like the vocational relationships found in family. As a result some viewers might find Woody’s “retirement” unsettling.
Toy Story 4 is a well-crafted film and technical achievement. It’s fun and engaging to watch. It does, however, reflect the spirit of the times. While it has a couple of blink-and-you-missed-it moments (including a lesbian couple at Bonnie’s kindergarten orientation), overall it avoids the divisive culture war content increasingly found in Hollywood films. But it doesn’t need to put such obvious content front and centre because the film’s major themes draw on the cult of happiness that pervades the decision-making of North Americans. In that way Toy Story 4, while enjoyable and clever, captures the zeitgeist underpinning our culture. And even though it has many positive stand-alone moments, when the film’s philosophy embodied in Woody is drawn to its logical conclusion, it may give licence to abandon loyalty, duty, and responsibility in favour of personal happiness. This alone is worthy of critique and deeper contemplation.
Toy Story 4 | Official Trailer - YouTube
The good news is that these Toy Story films actually invite the audience to think about what they are watching and audiences will be well served if they accept that invitation. Everyone watching the film will be left with something to think about.
Rev. Ted Giese is lead pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; a contributor to The Canadian Lutheran, Reporter; and movie reviewer for the “Issues, Etc.” radio program. Follow Pastor Giese on Twitter @RevTedGiese.
Rev. Warren Hamp leads a course in Haiti on “Teaching the Catechism.”
by Wally Bogusat and Harold Ristau
The Haiti Lutheran Mission Society (HLMS) has recently struggled with the following question: “How much time, energy and money should be devoted to physical needs of Haitians versus the spiritual needs?”
In the past, HLMS has tended to focus on the humanitarian needs of Haitians. While this continues to be an important priority, in the last couple of years there has been a growing desire from Haitian lay leaders and Lutheran Church–Canada for increased theological education for Haiti. In a country lacking ordained pastors and opportunities for education, churches are often led by lay leaders who, although meaning well, have little or no training in the study of Scripture.
This is a tragedy given the importance that our Lord Jesus places upon the faithful teaching of His holy Word, which is necessary for salvation and eternal life. It is food for our souls. False teaching, by contrast, is like poison hidden inside that food. Like a loving father who wants to ensure that His child receives the best of nourishment, Jesus cares about our spiritual nourishment. But when teachers and spiritual leaders do not have the opportunity to receive teaching on the Bible themselves, it’s common for them to end up teaching error, though often without intent.
The results? God’s precious hearers suffer. The Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ crucified for the forgiveness of our sins through which He restores our broken relationship with God, is not consistently preached. Poor desperate Haitians are deprived of the unique hope offered to them by our gracious Heavenly Father.
To make matters worse, much of the spiritual darkness in Haiti can be attributed to their voodoo and occult culture, which is often blended with Christian practice and teaching (this is what we call “religious syncretism”). Due to this religious climate in which the Devil is hard at work, Christians suffer when they do not receive clear Christian doctrine. Haitians are some of the physically and spiritually poorest brethren on earth.
The Haiti Lutheran Mission Society remains devoted to helping. Last year we sent Rev. Warren Hamp to teach a course on “Teaching the Catechism.” We are hoping to provide such theological courses bi-annually. Unfortunately, due to the political and economic corruption in Haiti, delivering such a course costs about fifty percent more than doing the same thing in other countries of the developing world. Still, this obstacle does not hinder our desire to bring the Gospel to these Christians, in spite of the cost.
Sometimes in families, there are members that require more time and attention than others. St. Paul talks about the Church as a body in the same way. In the family of God, Lutherans in Haiti are crippled in their spiritual growth and even physical survival in ways that can seem unfathomable to us in Canada. But every member counts in the Body of Christ, so we are asking members of Lutheran Church–Canada to not only remember this vital mission in their prayers, but consider serving with us as volunteers. You can also make a financial donation. In these ways we can continue to share the love of Jesus with our Haitian brothers and sisters in both Word and deed. Your help is needed and greatly appreciated.
The Haiti Lutheran Mission Society is a Listed Service Organization of Lutheran Church–Canada. Donations may be sent by mail to:
Haiti Lutheran Mission Society
213 Linwell Rd.
St. Catharines, ON L2N 1S1
Wally Bogusat is Chairman of the Haiti Lutheran Mission Society and Rev. Dr. Harold Ristau is Associate Professor of Theology at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary in St. Catharines, Ontario.
The Predication of Saint Paul: Joseph-Benoît Suvée, c. 1779.
by Adam Chandler
The word “apologetics” is becoming more common, so some Christians may ask: “What is apologetics anyway?” The simple answer is that it’s a way of defending the faith.
St. Peter explains in greater detail: “In your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). Christ has come into our hearts to deliver us from sin, death, and the power of the devil. In him we have the hope of life eternal.
In this world, we often come into contact with people who do not have faith in Christ. They might be members of other religions, or they might have no religion at all. They have no hope, or rather false hope coming from a false idol. So, as our Lord commanded (Matthew 28:19-20), we wish for them to become fellow disciples of Christ—to receive the same hope of life eternal that we have. Through the gospel message, the Holy Spirit works faith so that an unbeliever may be given the hope of Christ. Apologetics is a way to share the love of Christ as we help people re-examine their beliefs.
Some people have spent their whole lives without Christ. Others have found reasons to reject the Christian hope they once believed. Both kinds of unbelievers have constructed a worldview without Christ, and they may not understand why they need Christ in their world. Assertive Christians might be tempted to “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5), but this can cause more harm than good if they proceed without gentleness and respect. Some Christians may have so much fun storming the stronghold to take it captive for Christ, they do not see the damage they are causing in the process. If we merely argue, rather than show the love of Christ, it can cause offense and raise new barriers.
St. Paul, in his apologetic approach, made himself a servant of all. He became all things to all people so that he might save some (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). Paul never forsook his freedom in Christ, nor did he adopt pagan practices. He simply went to those who did not know Christ, engaged in their lives, and showed them how Christ could bless their lives—how His death and resurrection brings them forgiveness from sin unto eternal life.
The Areopagus Approach
St. Paul preaching at the Areopagus: Raphael, 1515.
Paul demonstrated his apologetic approach when he came to the city of Athens (Acts 17:16-34). He did not go straight to the idol-worshippers of the city to convince them of Christ. Instead, he sought to talk with the Jews first, perhaps asking them about Athenian beliefs. The apostle likely talked with his countrymen in the synagogue who knew the area and its homegrown inhabitants. In the marketplace, Paul spoke with many people, including Epicurean and Stoic philosophers who were well-educated members of the Athenian community. He spoke with philosophers as well as the layman on the street.
Paul took the time to gather information from the locals about their common beliefs before interacting with them apologetically. He learned from the people themselves what they believed in a careful, thought-out process. That’s a valuable approach. It’s certainly helpful for you to visit with your pastor and other Christians to learn more about what non-Christians believe, but it is also good to speak directly to non-Christians about their faith, or to read books and articles to be informed about what others believe.
The key is listening first. Because there are so many kinds of non-Christian beliefs, it is hardly a thoughtful or respectful practice to lump all unbelievers together into one group. A Muslim will not believe the same things an atheist will, nor will either of them agree with a Buddhist—each one must be treated differently to respect their beliefs, but always trusting that the Holy Spirit will work the hope of Christ through our apologetic witness.
Paul went to two major groups of thinkers in Athens: Epicureans and Stoics. The Epicureans were essentially atheists who held that nature operated on its own without any help from the gods (whether gods did or did not exist, they did not care). Epicureans taught that people should be devoted to the pleasures of life (though not in an overindulgent manner) as well as to rational thought. This idea has parallels to the atheistic devotion to science in modern society, as well as to those who spend life in the pursuit of pleasure.
Without God to ground all things, modern atheists tend to focus on material science and logic as the be all and end all. Others eat, drink, and enjoy the pleasures of life “for tomorrow they die”; they do not have the hope of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:32).
On the other hand, the Stoics did believe in a god, but this god was the sum total of all things. The universe was god. This means that all things were aspects of god and made from god. A similar idea is present in some Eastern religions today. Paul going to speak to the Epicureans and the Stoics is somewhat like you speaking with an atheist physics professor and a Buddhist monk in order to learn more about what they believe.
Apologetics is sharing the hope of Christ within you and connecting this hope to the listeners’ lives. If they have constructed a worldview upon which they have placed all their personal hopes, dreams, and experiences, then their worldview must be addressed with gentleness and respect. If their beliefs are rejected outright, they may feel like we are rejecting them as people. But the love of Christ does not reject anyone. Instead, it comes to all people, inviting them to be reborn as children of God.
Once Paul had learned all he could about local beliefs in Athens, he stepped out into the Areopagus to speak to the Athenians. The Areopagus was a flat place midway up to the Parthenon, so people would regularly have to pass by on their way to and from the temple.
Paul’s move to engage people there would be something similar to walking onto public access television to deliver a speech. He had spent quite some time with idol worshippers, yet his first words praised the people for being very religious. He did not immediately condemn them for having a false religion; he commended the Athenians for honestly searching for a deity. They had set up an altar to the unknown god. The Athenians were honestly trying to search for the truth, but they did not know that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Whoever sees Jesus sees God the Father (John 14:6-11). The message which Paul delivered demonstrated the love Christ had for the Athenians, because the message was given in gentleness and respect.
Many people today try to find truth through popular science, logic, or meditation. They get bogged down in idols—their own ideas, or self-absorption, or life’s pleasures. How can they believe in Jesus Christ if they have not heard him preached? Jesus cannot be found scientifically or by personal action alone. Jesus is revealed to us by the Word of God. The Athenians of Paul’s day fell into idol-worship because they had not heard God’s Word preached to them. They needed Christ, but did not know they needed Him. Paul praised the people for keeping an ear open for the unknown God and preached the divinity of Christ to them so they might believe.
Paul recognized their search for God had borne fruit in the culture of the Athenians, citing their poets approvingly. He quotes: “in [God] we live and move and have our being” and “for we are indeed [God’s] offspring.” These are the words of two Athenian poets: Epimenides of Crete, and Aratus. Although these poets were not Christian, Paul recognizes the truth of some things they wrote and showed how the Christian God fulfills this truth.
In a similar way, there is common ground between Christians and atheists when the atheist observes that the universe had a beginning. Christians of course claim the universe was created by God while the atheist claims a materialistic cause. While we do not accept a non-Christian explanation of the universe, we do well to acknowledge that we agree with a portion of their viewpoint. It is because the Greeks agreed that we are the children of God and we depend on Him, that Paul could argue against idols and for the resurrection of Christ.
Apologetics bases itself on things that both Christians and non-Christians know. This gives a foundation for presenting the message of Jesus Christ.
Apologetics bases itself on things that both Christians and non-Christians know. This gives a foundation for presenting the message of Jesus Christ. For example, we can say we agree that the universe had a beginning, and the Bible teaches that this beginning was caused by God through the Word. This Word, we may continue, was made flesh and dwelt among us to die on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.
From Theory to Practice
Paul’s encounters at the Areopagus model for us a healthy way of doing apologetics. First, we must know what we are talking about. This does not only mean that we need to know the hope of Christ within us in order to share this hope; we should know what people outside the faith believe. If you find you lack knowledge or understanding about something, ask about it.
Secondly, we should ask people about their beliefs and listen deeply. People will feel respected if you value their personal opinion and try to accurately understand what they believe while you listen with respect. Third, we should acknowledge and build upon agreements. God’s power and nature has been evident since the creation of the world (Romans 1:20) so there will likely be some beliefs a non-Christian possesses that agree with Scripture.
Finally, from that common ground, we should respectfully bear witness to Christ through His Word. Paul spoke at the Areopagus in this way. He acknowledged that the Athenians had some knowledge of God, but that the God of the Bible is different from what they taught. Then Paul declared that a day is coming when all people will be judged. Jesus rose from the dead, conquering the sin of the world, so we too may have newness of life.
It is this hope to which Paul witnessed at the Areopagus, a hope which is itself a gift of God’s grace, given to us by the Holy Spirit. All apologetics should emerge from, and end with, the hope of Christ.
Adam Chandler is finishing a year of vicarage in Trinity (Winkler) and Zion (Morden) Lutheran Churches in Manitoba, and preparing to return for his final year of studies at Concordia Lutheran Seminary (Edmonton).
EAST REGION – Lutheran Church–Canada Financial Ministries, operating as Lutheran Foundation Canada, has announced the departure of David Faerber as Gift Coordinator serving the East Region of Lutheran Church–Canada, as of June 28, 2019. “We wish David God’s blessings as he pursues other opportunities,” stated Allen Schellenberg, the Foundation’s Executive Director.
Lutheran Foundation Canada will immediately undertake a search for a new Gift Coordinator. In the meantime, Allen Schellenberg will ensure gift planning services within the East Region continues and existing commitments are met, until a new Gift Coordinator is in place.
Back row (l-r): Rev. Cliff Haberstock (Edmonton), Tasha Eddy (seminary), Michelle Gamble (Grace, Drumheller, Alt.), Joyce Lobitz (Shepherd of the Valley, Canmore, Alt.), Ruth Strand (Edmonton), Pat Howard (King of Kings, Dickson, Alt.), and Deanna Hautz (Hope, Port Coquitlam, B.C). Front row (l-r): Erin Mayer (seminary), Sharon Marshall (Immanuel, Tomahawk, Alt.), Jazmin Kurtenbach (vicarage, Redeemer, Didsbury, Alt.), Vawn McLean (seminary), Debra Ritz (seminary), Karen Kubke (St. John’s, Beach Corner, Alt.)
by Deanna Hautz
CAMROSE, Alt. – The Alberta Ministry Wives Retreat was held May 3-5, 2019, at the Canadian Lutheran Bible Institute (CLBI) in Camrose, Alberta. Twelve women attended, five of whom were wives of seminary students, and it was a wonderful opportunity for them to fellowship with wives experienced in parish ministry.
Rev. Cliff Haberstock of Edmonton served as chaplain for the event, which met under the theme “The Shelter of God’s Promises.” The women who attended were encouraged by studying God’s Word together and enjoyed each other’s company. The chair of the Ministry Wives Committee of the West Region, Deanna Hautz, reported “there was laughter, tears, and hugs as we got to know each other better.”
The B.C. retreat for ministry wives will take place October 4-6, 2019, at Camp Hope in Hope, B.C.
Rev. Oboya Ochalla is ordained and installed in Winnipeg. (Back l-r): Rev. Cam Schnarr, Rev. Brad Schollenberg, LCC President Rev. Timothy Teuscher, Central District President Emeritus Thomas Prachar, and Rev. Assefa Aredo. (Front l-r): Rev. Dr. Richard Beinert, Rev. Oboya Ochalla, and LCC Central Regional Pastor David Haberstock. Missing: Rev. Mark Just, Rev. Ward Yunker.
WINNIPEG – On June 22, 2019, Rev. Oboya Ochalla was ordained and installed as Assistant Pastor of St. James Lutheran Church in Winnipeg where he will focus on outreach to the Anyuak and Amharic communities.
“It’s a joy to be ordained into the pastoral ministry,” said Rev. Ochalla. “I look forward to continuing to serve God’s people—both Anywaa (Anyuak) and others—as the Lord opens doors and provides opportunities.”
Scenes from Rev. Ochalla’s ordination and installation.
Rev. Ochalla was ordained and installed by Rev. David Haberstock, Lutheran Church–Canada’s (LCC) Central Regional Pastor, with a number of local Lutheran pastors participating in the installation. The service welcomed several Anyuak guests from Western Canada and the United States to celebrate the occasion.
Rev. Ochalla was born in Sudan but raised in Gambella, Ethiopia. He belongs to the Anyuak (Anywaa) cultural group, a group which speaks Dha-anywaa and whose traditional lands extend across southern Sudan and western Ethiopia. Rev. Ochalla trained as a teacher in Gambella, and taught there for three years before fleeing as a political refugee in 2000. While living in a refugee camp in Kenya, he found work again as a teacher, this time for children of the refugee camp. He continued this work until 2003 when he came to Canada. Over the next number of years, he worked to upgrade his education and to bring his wife and son to Canada as well. Since the family was reunited in Canada, he and his wife have been blessed with five more children.
About ten years ago, the Anyuak community in Winnipeg came into contact with Lutheran Church–Canada when a member of the community was badly beaten. The Anyuak community connected with a LCC pastor during that time, who went to visit the man in hospital during his long recovery. This led in time to a relationship between LCC and the wider Anyuak community in Winnipeg.
Oboya Ochalla was eventually selected to participate in Lutheran Church–Canada’s Pastors with Alternate Training (PAT) program. The PAT program prepares candidates for culture-specific or site-specific pastoral ministry. PAT students participate in intensive short-term courses at LCC seminaries, take distance courses, and receive one-on-one training and education with a pastoral mentor. Rev. Ochalla was mentored by Rev. Dr. Richard Beinert, with whom he will continue to serve at St. James Lutheran Church in Winnipeg.
After five years of study, while continuing to work full-time, Rev. Ochalla has finished his pastoral studies. He received his theological diploma during Concordia Lutheran Seminary’s 2019 Convocation service in Edmonton on May 24, 2019.
In addition to pastoral ministry, Rev. Ochalla continues to work full-time with Equal Opportunity West, an organization that provides job training and social support for adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. He also continues to study, as time allows, at the University of Manitoba.
Grand Forks, B.C. – The planning committee for the former ABC District Youth Gathering has announced that it will now be called the IMPACT Youth Gathering (www.impactyg.ca). The name represents three aspects of a youth gathering: the impact God has on attendees’ lives, the impact a gathering has in growing their faith, and the impact they can have on their neighbours. The planning committee’s goal for IMPACT is to be a youth retreat that provides community, growth, and equipping centered on Christ.
The format of the weekend will also be new. Instead of one guest speaker, there will be five sessions on different topics, with multiple presenters and different styles, followed by small group Bible studies. There will also be more time dedicated to community building and to take advantage of the activities available at a summer camp. The first IMPACT Youth Gathering will be July 2-5, 2020, at Pines Bible Camp in Grand Forks, B.C.
The planning committee has chosen 1 Peter 1:3-5 as the theme verse for 2020: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
The committee members are Michelle Heumann (Co-chair), Rev. Eric Moffett (Co-chair), Kathy Cornish, Kayla Moffett, Tara Sadoroszney, Monica Schultz (Registrar), and Rev. Glenn Worcester.
As we observe Canada Day this coming Monday, all congregations of Lutheran Church–Canada are encouraged to mark this special day celebrating the confederation of our nation by doing first and foremost what the apostle Paul says to Timothy in his instructions concerning worship services. That is, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
What specific supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should rise before the Lord like incense from the altars in our congregations this coming Canada Day? The list is legion, but here are a couple of possible prayers:
Bless, we implore you, O Lord, our nation and people. Defend our liberties and make us faithful citizens of our land. Give wisdom and courage to those who govern us: Elizabeth our Queen, Julie our Governor General, Justin our Prime Minister, and ________ our Premier, that they would do so with honesty, humility, justice, and diligence, so that we may lead quiet and peaceful lives in all godliness. Lord, in your mercy; hear our prayer.
O almighty God, you have ordained civil government that it should serve You and Your people in righteousness and honour. We pray for our leaders: Elizabeth our Queen, Julie our Governor General, Justin our Prime Minister, ________ our Premier, ________ our Mayor, and all legislators and judges. Grant that they may put accountability to You ahead of self-interest and personal gain, and thus fulfill the role You have permitted them to assume. Bless our land with honest industry, truthful education, and an honourable way of life. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil course of action. When times are prosperous, let our hearts be thankful, and in troubled times do not let our trust in You fail. Bring about among us repentant hearts for straying from Your commands, and may the gift of salvation in the cross of Christ be proclaimed truthfully and without constraints throughout this nation; through the same Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Rev. Timothy Teuscher is President of Lutheran Church–Canada.