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On October 4, the Thursday Bible class will begin looking at the new edition of Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation—what many people call the “Synodical Catechism.” It was published late last fall, and it looks like it will be a great tool to educate youth and adults alike in the Christian faith.

Some background information on that book may help. Luther wrote a brief catechism called the Small Catechism in 1529. It is about the size of a pamphlet. But already shortly after his death it was popular for the material to be supplemented by an Explanation, complete with Scripture passages and additional questions and answers.

The Small Catechism itself has stayed the same, but the Explanation has changed over time, mainly because the challenges to the Christian faith have changed over time. The newest version of the Explanation addresses many issues that were not widely talked about in earlier times but have to be addressed today (such as pornography). It is also divided into very teachable units, each starting with a central thought, followed by questions and answers, and concluding with a prayer.


The first two Sundays in November are always important days for us:

  • On November 4 we will have our annual Friendship Dinner after church. A sign-up sheet and invitation cards will be available. The sign-up sheet is to make sure that we have a variety of different foods available, while the invitation cards will be for you to share with friends, neighbors, and acquaintances, inviting them to join you for this occasion.
  • On November 11 we will have our annual voters meeting, where officers will be elected for 2019. We will also approve next year’s budget and goals. If there is one voters meeting you attend in 2018, this should be the one.


Each newsletter has an article explaining the work of the church beyond our local congregation and community. We began by looking at the local district (the 210 or so congregations of the Northern Illinois District) of our denomination, and then our denomination itself (the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod).

There are several organizations affiliated with our denomination. We will begin by looking at one relatively close to home: Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) of Northbrook, Illinois. It began as a sort of Lutheran version of the United Way. Rather than have several Lutheran charities raising funds independently and stepping on each other’s toes, a number of them banded together in 1947 to make one united appeal each year. People gave to LCC, which then gave to various Lutheran charities according to an agreed-upon formula.

That worked well for a while, but eventually many of the organizations decided to go their own way. When Tim Hetzner took over the operation 16 years ago, he helped it chart a new course: it would now serve people directly when they were facing some kind of disaster, big or small—everything from a house fire to a hurricane. They began training lay people to assist in disasters. Whenever there is a hurricane or flood, people trained by LCC will go and help with the relief efforts. LCC also trains comfort dogs and their human handlers, who are sent around the country to help children and adults deal with their grief. Their work has gotten the attention of the national media, which appreciates their eagerness to comfort grieving people.

LCC works with a unique philosophy: every dollar you give it for a particular project is spent entirely on that project; not a dime goes to overhead. Well, then, how do they pay their staff and keep the doors open? They have a fundraiser at the end of the year called “Remember Us Last.” They ask for you to consider giving them a gift for their overhead costs, but only after you have supported all your other charities. They figure they can live on the leftover crumbs.


The Theology Today group is almost finished with the book The Church from Age to Age! We have just two more sessions left:

  • On September 30 we will explore pages 817-865 (chapters 45 and 46), which deal with 20th century movements (such as ecumenism and the Modernist-Fundamentalist controversies) and recent influential theologians, respectively.
  • On October 28 we will conclude our survey of church history by reading pages 866-905 (chapter 47 and the epilogue), which will look at developments since World War II.