The message was simple, ‘You are invited’. Sunday, October 9th 2011at 9:30am marked the date and time of the first worship service for New Prague Lutheran Church (NPLC). Over 400 people filled the New Prague Middle School. Guest speaker Reverend Leon Stier, an LCMC pastor from Belle Plaine, gave a message from the book of Matthew letting everyone know ‘you are invited’ into God’s kingdom. It’s up to you to accept the invitation. There was a pull-out session for 2 to 5 year old children during the sermon and Wednesday Family Ministry programs are underway. Senior High Youth Programs will begin as early as Wednesday October 12th in the Middle School from 6 to 7:30pm, Confirmation information and registration for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade youth will be held Wednesday October 26th from 6 to 7:30pm. NPLC will also be offering a Wednesday evening program for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade youth: Jesus and Me (JAM) as well as Wednesday evening Adult programs. More information will become available through their website at nplutheran.org
Just seven weeks ago a few families gathered to pray over options for their families after a failed congregational vote took place at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, an ELCA Church in New Prague, to dual affiliate with LCMC (Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ). As this group began to grow and Holy Trinity Head pastor, Steve Trewartha, along with over 90% of staff resigned from Holy Trinity, the mission was clear, a new church. A core group of about 20 families continued to gather, pray and organize, seeking guidance from Hosanna Lutheran Church in Lakeville and Northgate Church in Ramsey. A launch team was formed consisting of Ann Sletten, Brad Carlson, Rod Tietz, Mark Besser, Dwayne Anderson, Gretchen Havlicek, and Katy Fjelstad to work towards organizing the core group’s mission, the congregation, and guest pastors and a permanent pastor. When asked why the group wanted to leave the ELCA, the launch team in a prepared statement said “In matters of faith and certainly when starting a new church, the primary focus can never be about leaving something, but rather the desire to be part of a new vision. As like minded Christians, we have come together based on a common mission bound by the Word of God, Lutheran teachings and the Holy Spirit”
Worship opened Sunday morning in song followed by announcements and a heartfelt gratitude delivered by launch team member, Ann Sletten. The congregation applauded when Ann concluded by announcing Pastor Steve Trewartha and his family were among the congregation in worship today, his last day of employment with HTLC was October 8th 2011, he is available for a pastoral call, and the launch team will be looking into that call. Following the sermon, Pastor Steve was invited to say a few words of which he lead with in reference to the bible verse Zechariah 4:10, ‘Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin’, Pastor Steve continued “Sometimes we never start anything because we are waiting for a BIG BEGINNING! We want to start with a big splash and fail to realize that sometimes, more often than not, great big things often begin SMALL! Because of that verse there is a phrase that weighs on my heart…Just Begin…we may start small” and as he looked around the auditorium to see over 400 people gathered, he continued “well, maybe not small…but we have a great big God.” Pastor Steve’s words were received with a standing ovation.
Following the service many stayed to gather in fellowship with one another. Joy and gratefulness seemed to be overflowing with one worship attender saying as she looked around the commons area of the middle school, ‘we don’t need the bricks and mortar…this is my church. This is my family… everyone is here…Amazing’
New Prague Lutheran Church will continue to hold Sunday worship every Sunday in the New Prague Middle School at 9:30 am as well as Wednesday evening Youth and Family Ministry Programs.