Successful Convention Hosted By Grace Lutheran Church
Over one hundred twenty delegates and guests from 12 states and 2 Canadian provinces gathered at Grace Lutheran Church in Lakewood April 26th-29th for the triennial District Convention of the SELC District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The Convention met under the following themes: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" (Deuteronomy 6:5) and "Therefore honor God with your body" (1 Corinthians 6:20b). Among the guests was the Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison, President of the 2.1 million member Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS). The SELC District is one of 35 districts of the LCMS and is one of two that are "non-geographical." The SELC, once its own church body known as the Slovak Evangelical Lutheran Chuch and later as the Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, merged with the LCMS in 1970. This year's convention marked the second time in the history of the SELC as a district of the LCMS that the convention was held in Lakewood.
Worship was a significant feature of the four-day convention, with services and devotions revolving around the five senses: sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch. Special music was provided by Grace Lutheran Church's bell choir, "The Bells of Grace," during the opening Convention Communion Service and during the Sunday morning service as well as by the congregation's vocal choir. The church's recently refurbished pipe organ provided inspiring music at the hands of organist Tim Rasper. One of the highlights of the convention was an evening concert provided by the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus on Saturday evening. The chorus is internationally known and has recorded a CD at Grace because of its excellent acoustics. Under the direction of Mr. Oleh Mahlay, convention attendees were enthralled by the music and history of the group.
Of course, every convention involves business. Elections were held for District President and the three District Vice-Presidents as well as for members of the Board of Directors, Circuit Visitors, and representatives to the Board of Trustees of Lutheran Haven. The Rev. George R. Hansell, Jr., Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, was elected to a fifth 3-year term as a Trustee to the Lutheran Haven, a Lutheran retirement community in Oviedo, Florida that provides not only independent living but also assisted living, nursing home, and memory care services. Of the 12 years that he has served on the board, 5 have been served as board secretary. Resolutions passed included asking leadership of the LCMS to establish a closer relationship with The Lutheran Church-Canada for more efficient mission outreach in provinces where both church bodies have congregations represented.
Volunteers from the congregation did an excellent job in providing for the delegates during the convention. Meals were especially wonderful, with each day revolving around a theme: Spring, Luau, Picnic. The final day of the convention featured a brunch after the Sunday morning worship service.
During the convention, LCMS President Matthew Harrison gave his report of the state of the LCMS. Using as his theme "Joy-fully Lutheran," he encouraged the delegates with these words: The Law always says do this and don't do that, but the Law always kills. The Law cannot coerce you to have joy, but the Christian who has justification by grace has joy. When you read the living and active word of God it affects a change in your heart. The powerful word of God that bids you be joyful brings that joy in your heart in repentance, living, marriage, death, forgiveness, childbirth, worship, and the promises of God in the future of the resurrection. If you want to find joy search the Scriptures and those passages will do what they say; They will bring you joy in Christ. Get into the Scriptures because there is no situation that you face that will not be aided by the counsel of Scripture. Reading four (4) chapters a day will bring you through the Bible in one (1) year.
Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church since October 31, 2004. Married 40 years to Krista on June 24th. Son Christopher is a Lutheran elementary school teacher in Waltz, Michigan. Daughter Jennifer received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Ohio State University in June 2010 and currently practices in the Washington, D.C. area. Pastor and Krista Hansell are the proud grandparents of two grandsons and one granddaughter