Greetings Salty Disciples,

Rev. Lenny Duncan’s book, Dear Church has captured our attention. Some of the first responses to reading this book included:
Easy to read, hard to put down
Expanded definition of reparations
Hooded Acolyte Ropes and KKK?
I want to walk as a Child of the Light?
Rethinking our own history
White Supremacy & Privilege
Whitest denomination

Duncan was angry when he wrote the book and it is difficult to sit in another’s anger without getting pulled into its vortex to defend or push back. If I wrote a letter back in response, what would it be? Would I mirror the anger? Would I try to defend the actions of the church? He was angry and pushing back when he put together the table of contents for Dear Church when his first bid for a book was rejected which was more a memoir, a trajectory of grace. Now he is working on that book.

On of the questions that we discussed in adult forum was, “What would reparations look like in our congregation?” The dictionary definition of reparations is the act of repairing something; the making of amends for a wrong one has done, by paying money or to otherwise help those who have been wronged.

Duncan thinks Lutherans are obsessed with reconciliation (the restoration of friendly relations or the action of making on view or belief compatible with another) and really need to be in conversation about reparations. Duncan thinks that Lutherans have been trained to search for reconciliation and “we don’t like the waiting between repentance and reconciliation - that silent pause is a moment for us to see ourselves for who we truly are and it’s scary (p. 39). He says that our attempts at diversity are mostly from an assimilation modality - in other words become like us. Duncan is calling us to repent of the systemic sin of white supremacy and not move immediately to calls for reconciliation because we get uncomfortable.

Duncan calls for financial reparations but pushes Lutherans to begin by repenting and turning away from the root of the problem - to repair the breach that we caused. We’re all complicit in the communal sin of white supremacy. Duncan thinks the first step toward reparations is to dismantle white supremacy. He points us to “The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa” as a model; and I would also recommend The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu. As well as the model that is outlined in Matthew 18:15-20 where the person who has been sinned against is to go to the one who has committed the sin against them and name it, name the brokenness, the fault and if they listen to you, they are regained into the community, if not bring witnesses so that good listening takes place.

So we have listened and we have acted. Our acolyte robes have had the hoods removed. The council is opening the discussion for marriage equity to have a place in the by-laws of our constitution (see page 4). And we will listen to our neighbors and not assume we have the answers or offer a program but will work together, accompanying one another, walking together with our neighbors. I will encourage our council and committees to meet outside our walls and in our neighborhood. Meeting outside our walls might change us and how we think about our mission and ministry at Christ the King. I think this is what reparations might look like at CTK. What do you think?

Believing it Boldly Loving Expansively,

Pastor Connie Spitzack

September 2019

Greetings to the Holy People of God,

With the beginning of school, it’s time to revisit our Epiphany word. In January, Eric Klein reached into a bag and pulled out the word “Discipline” for us as a communal word to hold before us this year. I hope you have your individual word and are enjoying how the Holy Spirit is dangling that in front of you. My word is “Life” which seems so ironic in the wake of my mother’s passing in November. I think the Holy Spirit is calling me back to life as I grief, especially in this year of firsts without her. Carolyn Laxson has the word “Illuminate” and each week on Face Book she posts a reflection on what has been illuminated. If you have miss placed your word, just take our collective word of “Discipline” and try it on for size.

Together we began with the bulletin board asking for your responses to the word discipline. During the season of Lent, in worship we practiced being silent together for a few minutes after the sermon and with Intern Nicole’s help, we learned how to fold origami butterflies in anticipation of Easter. It was frustrating and fun. During the season of Easter, we folded cranes to remind us of the gift of the Holy Spirit blowing through our community.

During the season of Pentecost, the LEAD Team along with Evangelism and Fellowship Committees worked together to host for the first time National Night Out. I hope that this is a discipline we will continue. I enjoyed seeing our committees work together and was pleased at the turn out of both CTK members and our neighbors. You did a fabulous job with hospitality and we had great fun. We also tried Service of the Word instead of our regular Eucharist worship.

Our next exploration of discipline comes on the heels of the movie, Emmanuel, which some of us saw in June (and hopefully a DVD will be in the library by Oct), the youth’s mission trip to Birmingham, AL, the ELCA’s churchwide assembly’s declaration of apology to our siblings of African descent, which was received by the African Descent Lutheran Association with thanks and a call for accountability and living into the words shared.

In Luke 12, Jesus challenges the disciples and the crowd to interpret the patterns of God’s behavior as well as they know how to read weather patterns. We won’t always get it correct but we can try to interpret the signs of what God is doing in our midst. So I invite you to read the book, Dear Church by Lenny Duncan, hear him speak at Gloria Dei on Sept 9 and participate in our adult forum or gather a group yourself for conversation. There is a discussion guide in the back of the book. In the discipline of doing this together as a faith community we also join with the larger church. I am wondering if we can use any electronic or internet tools to have a safe place to post thoughts and wonderings from our reading and discussion. If you have gifts in this area and ideas, I would love to explore this further with you.

Believing It Boldly Loving Expansively,

Pastor Connie Spitzack

August 2019

On the last Sunday of June, while Eric, Dir. of Youth and Family Ministry and Intern Nicole and our youth shared about their mission trip to Birmingham, Alabama; I attended the closing worship service at one of my first call perishes, Trinity Lutheran, Ottosen, Iowa. It was a bittersweet day to come together for the closing of a church. Ottosen is located about 35 miles north of Fort Dodge in the heart land of beautiful farm land where farms are growing larger and communities smaller and small enough to no longer sustain a church community. The people of this worshiping community will be able to find other churches to worship with. They are a faithful group of people and it was good to see familiar faces that I haven’t seen for 20 years. I am thankful for how these people shaped and formed me into the pastor I am today and I grieve the closing of this church.

Bittersweet seems to be the theme of my month and is bringing me back to my Epiphany word, LIFE. Last year it was joy, a gritty kind of joy and this year a bittersweet kind of life with the mixing and stirring of all that life brings with it, its joys and sorrows all stirred into one.

This month, after a year that has gone so fast, we will say fare-well to our intern Nicole Hanson Lynn and her husband Anthony on Sunday, August 11. It too is a bittersweet time. I have so enjoyed Nicole and Anthony and the gifts of ministry that they shared with us. I am sad to see them leave and grateful that they will serve the church well. Thank you for your willingness to support and encourage this internship year. I will miss Nicole and I will pray for her and Anthony and the Christian community that gets to help shape and form her pastoral ministry. We will keep you posted as to which synod she is assigned to and where she is called to. Please keep Nicole and Anthony in your prayers. It is an exciting time of expectation but also a time of waiting with many unknowns.

Bittersweet – sadness combined with happiness, such an odd combination swirling together. But we are Lutherans and we are accustomed to experiencing two odd combinations together. We are saint and sinner simultaneously; duty and delight; law and gospel; life and death.

In our Vacation Bible School in July, we met in Athens where our path crossed Paul. We learned a bit about Paul’s journey of not believing in Jesus and then having an encounter with Jesus that changed him forever, so that anywhere he went he could not help but talk about Jesus even if it landed him in jail or had him run out of town. There is a wild mix of emotions for Paul and the communities he lived in and the experiences that propelled him.

Life often brings an element of bitter sweetness. In this mix, the Holy Spirit calls and gathers us with a relentless pursuit to show us God and God’s will for us and the world God loves. Keep stirring us up, Holy Spirit and shape us to be your faithful people who share what we know with our neighbors about this bitter and sweet life that we have been called into.

Believing It Boldly Loving Expansively,

Pastor Connie Spitzack

June/July 2019

Greetings to the Holy People of God,

Last year, the Lead Team invited you to attend a story telling retreat in June. This year, the Lead Team invites you to help in the planning and participating in the hosting of National Night Out for our neighborhood. This is a gentle way to meet our neighbors and explore with them possible partnerships for the future.

National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes strong police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live and work. It provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances. Millions of neighbors take part in National Night Out across communities from all fifty states on the first Tuesday in August – AUGUST 6.

We are looking for people to help us plan this event. Because it is the first time, we can create the kind of event we want.

The Lead Team has drummed up some ideas to begin with but would like your participation as we use the gift of King Park to welcome and get to know our neighbor. We have thought that this could be a trial run for hosting music in the park similar to Iowa City’s Party in the Park. Some of our ideas include live music, art & games for kids, invite fire & police departments, bookmobile, Iowa City Transportation as well as local business like Hartig Drugstore, University of Iowa Credit Union, Fareway and Java House and maybe a food truck or serve popcorn.

There is lots of planning and preparations to be made and we need your help and your prayers as we reach out to our community and trust God to guide us through the venture as our LEAD Team frequently prays:

O God you have called your servants to ventures on which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Believing it boldly loving expansively,

Pastor Connie Spitzack

And our LEAD Team –
Chris Rothfuss
Mary Knudson Dion
Susan Surom
Matt Orvick
Yvonne Page
Eric Klein
Intern Nicole Hanson Lynn

May 2019

Greetings to the Holy People of God,

Thank you for all those who attended the adult forum on Sunday, April 28. We enter into that stage of finding the sweet spot, where listening to God, listening to each other and listening to the neighborhood come together. It is a stage that we enter into with curiosity and experimentation. As the disciples were first called with, “come and see”, we too will move forward with a kind of expectancy of what God will do next with us.

The neighbors we met were Johnson County Neighborhood Center, Walden Place and Melrose Meadows, West High School, Borlaug, Horn and Weber Elementary Schools, All Nations Baptist Church and UI Credit Union and Hartig Drug Store. In our conversations, the idea of “partnership” moved us forward in conversation. The Neighborhood Center of Johnson Co. serves a large territory, like we do. They have a working relationship with the schools. We all care about children and youth and involve ourselves with food insecurities. CTK partners with elementary school parents in providing take home food for the weekend in families where food is scarce. The West High School has a food pantry. Schools face language and transportation challenges for both students and parents.

All Nations Baptist Church truly lives into their name as they host Korean, Sudanese, and Hispanic worshiping communities. They have preschool and daycare. And draw people from a large geographic area. Their facility is large with several worshiping areas.

A common theme that emerged from our visits with UI Credit Union, Hartig Drug, Walden Place and Melrose Meadows was building trust within the neighborhood and the transient nature of our communities.

As we have put all this together, we want to encourage our easy entry relationships through our preschool and community garden. These are the best ways that we get to know our neighbors. Consider coming to preschool graduation at 9:00 am on May 23 & 24 or being a mystery reader or volunteering with community garden. Be curious and visit these places. Drive the back driveway and if someone is gardening, stop and say hi and ask them how their garden is doing. Be a good neighbor.

None of our neighbors know us very well, nor do we know them. One idea that rose to the surface in our Lead Team meetings through this listening process is the possibility of hosting “National Night Out” on Tuesday, August 6 for our neighborhood as an opportunity to get to know each other better. “National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes strong police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live and work.” (natw.org)

This would give us the opportunity to get to know our neighbors in a safe and trusting environment. We need your help. If this is something that you could invest time and energy in and commit to, please let the LEAD Team know how you can help. This is something we need to do together. The Lead Team is not going to do it for you or on your behalf. We need your commitment and your presence. The people of our community need to get to know us – all of us, the “us” that makes us CTK so that God’s love and light can shine in tangible ways.

We are experimenting. This is something that uses the gift of King Park to reach out in a concrete way to our neighbors with hospitality. We all want this to be a safe neighborhood. Ideas that we have discussed would be inviting the Police, the Fire Department, Public Transportation, Book Mobile, Hartig Drug and UI Credit Union. It would be nice to have live music and maybe invite a food truck and/or provide some sort of simple snack. Let us know your thoughts and your willingness to help with this event.

Some of the other ideas that came to the surface as a result of our meetings with our neighbors and the talents of our community include hosting the Free Health Clinic, hosting Parent Teacher Organization and adopting a class room at the Johnson County Neighborhood Center.

Your Lead Team invites to you to pray, to talk with one another about this and to share your thoughts with the Lead Team.

Believing It Boldly Loving Expansively,

Pastor Connie Spitzack

Chris Rothfuss
Mary Knudson Dion
Susan Surom
Matt Orvick
Yvonne Page
Eric Klein
Intern Nicole Hanson-Lynn