Dear Congregational Family,

1. Congregational Leaders: Last Sunday our newly elected council members were installed. Let me take this occasion to express how fortunate we are at Ruthfred to have so many qualified leaders who are willing to serve! Special thanks to those who have faithfully served, and whose terms have now ended (Rich Kleiser, Cheri Underwood, Mark Killinger, Marc Harrold, Steven Rothermel, and Dave Compel.) Welcome to Chuck Morrison, Barb Harrold, Don Roose, Wil Charlton, Ned Wellman, Jennifer Hewitt, Frank Fife, and others who were re-elected. Thank you also to those who were willing to be nominated but who were not elected at this time. I am also so thankful for those who are serving in so many ways behind the scenes and or in unrecognized roles. Our congregation is full of such servants; I hope to see the development of even more leadership from without our midst!

2. LIFE: New York: I know this has been much on our minds lately, and many articles, opinions etc. have been posted, printed, voiced, etc. However, I feel it must be noted that New York did vote last Tuesday (1/22) to legalize abortion for any (and no) reason, up to the moment of birth for a child. There was no attempt to disguise this or give any consideration to even the stage of viability of the child. It was passed amidst great cheering and applause, while the heart of God was breaking and weeping. The Freedom Tower was lit up pink that evening to celebrate this new darkness in our land. Even though much attention has been given to New York on this, the truth is that roughly 30 other states have very similar laws already.

3. (Clergy) Suicide: You may have read about Pastor Jim Howard taking his life last week. He was pastor of the Valencia campus of the Real Life (mega) Church in California. Pastor Howard suffered from battling mental illness. In these past months there have been a number of high profile pastors (including Andrew Stoecklein last fall) who have taken their lives do to mental illness and ministry strains and stress. Pastor Rick Warren lost a son to this as well a few years ago and helped open the door for churches to talk more openly about this serious struggle. You might recall that last spring, we had a Sunday School series on it as well. There is much that can be said about this, but let me simply note two things:

a. God’s inseparable love: The Apostle Paul wrote, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38,39

b. “Grieving a Suicide: A Loved One’s Search for Comfort” is a very insightful and helpful book written by Albert Hsu, a former colleague of mine from InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Al’s father took his own life and this is Al’s journey of understanding the grace of God for his father and for himself as he struggled through this time.

4. Sunday: I am looking forward to being back with you all this Sunday! Pastor Osier has done a remarkable job in balancing everything while I have been in class, and I am so grateful for his partnership in ministry and personal friendship! These past weeks have been wonderful times of study and research, but I’m excited to be back!

God bless you as we continue,

“Growing Together in our Faith as the Family of God”

Pastor Carlson