This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Going to church the Lutheran way

(I thought it would be interesting to use Sundays to focus on Rensselaer's churches and to see how many Sundays I can go before I run out of material. Indiana is richly endowed with religious denominations, with influences from North and South, East and West. This is part of that series of posts.)

The St Luke Evangelical Lutheran Church is located at 704 E Grace Street. Its pastor is Gary Wickert. Its worship service is at 8:00 am on Sunday, with Bible study and Sunday school at 9:15. It is affiliated with the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod.
The local church does not have a web site. It is part of the Indiana District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, which does have a website as does the Missouri Synod. The Missouri Synod is one of the largest of the Lutheran groups. St. John's Lutheran Church about ten miles north of Rensselaer is also a member of the Lutheran Synod.

The Lutheran Church takes its name from Martin Luther. The Missouri Synod website summarizes its beliefs as"
Being "Lutheran," our congregations accept and teach Bible-based teachings of Martin Luther that inspired the reformation of the Christian Church in the 16th century. The teaching of Luther and the reformers can be summarized in three short phrases: Grace alone, Faith alone, Scripture alone.
Grace alone
God loves the people of the world, even though they are sinful, rebel against Him and do not deserve His love. He sent Jesus, His Son, to love the unlovable and save the ungodly.
Faith alone
By His suffering and death as the substitute for all people of all time, Jesus purchased and won forgiveness and eternal life for them. Those who hear this Good News and believe it have the eternal life that it offers. God creates faith in Christ and gives people forgiveness through Him.
Scripture alone
The Bible is God's inerrant and infallible Word, in which He reveals His Law and His Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. It is the sole rule and norm for Christian doctrine.
The current church was built in 1954 and the hall attached to it was built in 1990. The hall often hosts the Red Cross blood drive.
Before the current church was built, the local congregation met for a number of years in a building on McKinley on the same city block as the Church of the Nazarene. This building now contains apartments and shows no external signs of ever having been used as a church.
The maps showing denominations from Valparaiso University (which is a Lutheran school) show that Lutheranism is strongest in the upper Midwest, from Wisconsin to Montana. In that area, the Missouri Synod is rarely the dominant Lutheran group, though it often is in the rest of the U.S. The Missouri Synod is important enough to have its own map. The Wikipedia entry on Lutheranism is here and its entry on the Missouri Synod is here.

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