Pastor Tami preaching at St. John Lutheran

God is Always With Us

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing.

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100, verses 1-2 and 5

 

God is Always with Us!

This August during our weekend Vacation Bible School time August 11th through the 13th the Salem congregation and community will celebrate how God is always with us. This theme runs throughout our scriptures, both Old and New Testament verses. Throughout our time together worshipping and learning one of the scripture promises we will focus on is Jesus’ promise at the end of the gospel of Matthew: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20b).

 

This is a great time to reflect on what “always” means when reflecting on God’s presence. Always includes an invitation to the awareness in the sacred every day moments. Always also means those times we be less open to God’s presence, feeling no need for help, redemption, or forgiveness. Actively and intentionally increasing our awareness of God during these times and ordinary days and places can take much practice and discipline.

 

Our call to Praise God and worship together as a community as well as individually in our daily lives is also a call to recognize God’s steadfast love and presence that is, as promised, with us always. In commentary on Psalm 100, seminary professor Rolf Jacobson notes,

 

“We do not praise God for God’s personal sake, but for the sake of God’s mission. In praise, we do two things. First, by praising God we give ourselves to God fully — praise is a way of being in relationship with God. Second, by praising God to others, through praise we give God away to our neighbor. Praise is witness to who God is and what God has done.”

 

May our very breath remind us of God’s constant presence, and may we in each breath praise God together with all creation.

 

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Tami Groth

May Newsletter — Introduction

This is the text from the first Harvest Ministry newsletter article that Pastor Tami wrote for the May 2017 Harvest Ministry Newsletter. 

Greetings to everyone at St. John and Salem Lutheran churches. Those I have not yet met, I look forward to meeting soon. It is customary for a new pastor to introduce themselves in a newsletter article; however, I will try to be brief as I prefer sharing and hearing stories in person whenever possible.

I am a Minnesotan at heart, and when you hear me talk about “going home” or to the family farm it is in Southeastern MN in the Mississippi River bluff country areas, with the farm itself being up on the ridge above Winona, MN. My husband Shawn and I lived across the river in La Crosse, WI, prior to moving to seminary and subsequently to western IA, so that entire area feels like home. I have also lived in Decorah, IA, previously as well. Much of my family, including my eldest daughter Megan (19), lives in MN, so that is often the direction I am headed when out-of-town on a trip.

My undergraduate degree is in English, and prior to discerning a call to ministry I worked primarily as a technical writer for software companies as well as doing some website work, including working for Luther College in Decorah for a time. If you think technical writing has no connection to ministry, ask me about it sometime as there are more similarities than one may think! However, my various volunteer positions both in the community and church were also important in my journey towards ministry.

My call story (as they say in seminary) is also tied closely to my personal journey through grief. My second daughter Emily was born still in November 2001, and her death took me on an important grief and faith journey. This journey continued when my first husband divorced me shortly afterwards. Obviously, there is much more to the story of my life during this time, not all of which you will hear me talk about; however, I do openly talk about my daughter Emily and experiences related to her death. Also, these experiences deeply shaped me and prepared me for ministry.

Pastor Tami Groth and her family at Wartburg Theological Seminary

Pastor Tami Groth with her family, husband Shawn Brooks and their daughter Nessa, standing behind Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque, IA

Shawn Brooks and I were married in August 2004, and my faith and call story are also closely tied to his. We joined an ELCA congregation in La Crosse when we moved there together that summer, and throughout our years there our hearts and minds were more opened to the gospel than ever before. We were both, individually and together, called to various ministries and eventually felt called to make ministry our full time vocation rather than an addition to our jobs at the time.

My husband Shawn and I both attended seminary at the same time, graduating in May 2015. Late in the summer of 2015 we moved as a family to the rural Le Mars area as Shawn accepted a call to serve as pastor to both Christ Lutheran in rural Le Mars and St. Peter Lutheran in Brunsville. Our daughter Nessa (12) is now making us promise to not move again until she graduates from high school, and we have assured her that we will do our best as these two Minnesotans are adjusting nicely to living in western Iowa.

My focus throughout seminary was pastoral care, and at the time I discerned a call to chaplaincy and graduated with a Masters in Diaconal Ministry (Word and Service ministry) and was approved for ministry and rostered as a diaconal minister in the Western Iowa Synod of the ELCA after accepting a position as Hospice Chaplain with St. Croix Hospice serving out of their Spencer, IA office from September 2015 until I resigned to take the Harvest Ministry position and serve as your pastor.

The details in the above paragraph mean I have been well-trained in many aspects of ministry, including congregational ministry; however, my seminary degree did not include some of the requirements for ordained Word and Sacrament ministry in the ELCA. This means that initially I am serving as what is called a Synodically Authorized Minister through the Western Iowa Synod as I complete these final requirements while completing additional seminary classes. I will do this while serving full time and, with God’s help, meeting all of your pastoral needs.

This is an exciting and joyous transition for me as I have in recent months discerned in many ways God calling me to minister within a congregation. I do ask for your prayers as I minister among and with you all. God’s peace be with you today and always!

Pastor Tami Groth

Call or text: 608.385.9848

Email me at: tami.harvestministries at gmail.com

Featured Content

Our congregations have many activities each month, and the best way to keep up with them is through our newsletter and through worship bulletins. Nothing can replace experiencing the community in worship services and other activities, yet extending our community online allows us to connect with many. Let us know what content you would like to see here!

At the Western Iowa Synod Assembly we even helped make a Lutheran Rose from legos!!

VBS sign at St. John Lutheran

Rooted in Christ!

Rooted in Christ

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7

 

The theme for St. John’s VBS this July 9th-13th is “Rooted” and with the help of counselors from Ingham Okoboji Lutheran Bible Camps and our many congregational volunteers, kids will learn each day how we are ROOTED in Grace, Christ, Faith, and Truth. While there are different Bible verses that the kids memorize each day, the theme verses are Colossians 2:6-7.

 

It is also a good time for each of us to reflect on how our lives are rooted in Christ.

 

Our culture often refers to how it is healthy to live a balanced life between work, family and play or fun. Yet, anyone who has tried to live in such a way finds it impossible. Our faith in Christ can liberate us from the weight of balancing all that we are called to in our lives. Rather than balance, I advocate living our lives centered (or rooted) in Christ. As we keep our faith in Christ central to our lives, with intentional prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit or lives, with strong roots, can grow in a nurtured healthy way.

 

I invite you to nourish your roots in Christ in Bible study, prayer, meditation and time spent in fellowship with the community of Christ.

 

I also invite you to keep our VBS children as well as all of the counselors and volunteers in prayer. In the next newsletter I will share a brief reflection on the theme being used during Salem’s VBS this year as they hold their VBS weekend August 11th-13th.

 

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Tami