The year 2007 was the 151st year that our Lord Jesus gathered to Himself a community of Lutheran Christians in New Gehlenbeck, who journey in company together toward the light of home, toward the Kingdom of God, where the reunion is eternal, and the goodbyes are forever bidden good-bye.
January found us celebrating Epiphany with great restraint. Our organ was damaged and silenced and was almost a mirror image of our organist's condition - Marianne lay sick at Anderson hospital, and our prayers rose on her behalf. We asked for God's good and gracious will to be done, and we accepted that will with tears in our eyes when He called her from the struggles of this life to the glorious and unending music of the Kingdom. Her funeral was celebrated here with much music amid tears of joy and heart-ache. It was only a few days later that we were privileged to watch Giana Hanvey begin her life-long journey toward the kingdom by receiving the washing of Holy Baptism.
February was a relatively quiet month. The Church continued to prepare pilgrims for the kingdom by instruction in the faith (both youth and adults) and together solemnly began walking toward Easter on Ash Wednesday, and continued our Lenten pilgrimage throughout March.
When April arrived so did Palm Sunday - April 1st - this past year. That day we saw nine young people examined in the faith, and welcomed to the Lord's altar: Veronica Bartony, Abbey Boeker, Caleb Braasch, Taryn Coolbaugh, Andrew Hellmann, Jacob Reising, Katy Reising, Samantha Steinmann, and Erin Wagner. We rejoiced with the disciples in the Upper Room on Thursday as we celebrated our Lord's institution of His Holy Supper. We stood in silence before the Cross on Good Friday and beheld the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. When the Vigil of Easter arrived, our joys overflowed as we were honored to welcome into our parish the adults instructed during that Lent: Kelly Krausz, Megan Miller, and Stephanie Renken. And then our full Easter joy sounded on April 8th - well, not quite full. Easter without an organ. A bit of a downer. And yet, the overflowing joy of the Resurrection could not be quenched. Toward the end of April, as the Church was still rejoicing in Easter, the Lord brought his servant Marvin Behrhorst home to himself. What a funeral that was - with fire fighters from hither, thither, and yon gathering to honor a man they loved and respected.
May brought a change to Hamel! I was blessed to offer the prayer at the opening of our very own DK's - we had a grocery store again. It had been many a year, and was a welcome addition to our community. May also brought at change to St. Paul's! Our organ was back. In the middle of May we celebrated our Lord's Ascension and in the week following graduations from both our TSP and Metro East. And we learned to sing again with gusto as the organ trumpeted forth with Diane Schrader at the organ bench.
June was another quiet month except for the last week, when the place was swamped with little people celebrating Vacation Bible School together. Earlier that month Cindi and I had hosted at the parsonage a gathering for all the pastors and vicars in our circuit. They were almost, but not quite, as noisy as the little ones.
With July, the Weedons had their attention drawn more and more to a certain upcoming event that suddenly was less than a month away. And how could we forget it when other marriages were staring in the face? Heather Braasch and Jon Baumberger pledged their vows on July 6th and then again at the end of the month, Jennay Welling and Matthew Haarmann were united in holy marriage before St. Paul's altar. Early in the month, we also laid to rest our sister in Christ, Doris Meyer. She'd been living down in Florida since Lester's death, but she came home to St. Paul for one last time in Church as we celebrated together God's promises over her life and laid to her rest beside her beloved husband. Later in the month we got to see yet another little pilgrim begin to walk the path of the Kingdom: Joshua Krausz, Kelly's son, was baptized in the Triune name on July 21st. And at the very tail end of the month, word came that the Army had activated Pastor GeRue and that he'd be shipping out within weeks. And within weeks, school was due to start. Time to pray - for him and for his family and for our school. God is good and answers the prayers of His people.
August was a crazy month for us - that wedding thing! A great and joyous day for the Weedon family as Lauren Weedon and Dean Herberts were married here. Our only regret was that St. Paul's and the Hamel Community Center were too small to hold ALL the Saint Paul family and the Holy Cross family. The day after the wedding, it was my distinct joy and privilege to confirm David and Joanne DeVries, my mother and father-in-law. Back to that answered prayer matter - the Lord sent us Mrs. Myra Farrell, and Pastor GeRue had his heart set a bit at rest before he left us, knowing that he was leaving the school in good hands. School began and we had a full faculty.
In September, wedding bells rang again for Maggie Meyer and Craig McCalla. And someone forgot to turn off the baptismal water that month! Goodness, a spate of Baptisms was beginning: Welcomed to the family of God and the life of pilgrimage were: Logan Arnold Miersch (September 8), Emma Nichole and Cooper Michael Wagner (September 23), and Nathan Edward Meier (September 30).
October was a quieter month, though our anxiety grew for Paul Steinmann during those days. We did have also a Baptism. On October 14th, we celebrated the new birth of Tyler Lee Perry. Pilgrimages beginning, pilgrimages ending, and always the Church continues on her way, helping new pilgrims and old to walk toward the light of the Kingdom. Also that month Tom Martin and Darlene DeCruz pledged their vows before the altar.
Two Baptisms fell in November: on the 10th Matthew Jacob Overby had his sins washed away and a couple weeks later on the 25th, so did Winifred Faith Shashack. And on November 26, the Lord called his servant Paul Steinmann out of this age to the joy and light of the Kingdom. His visitation and funeral will not soon be forgotten - the long lines, the joyful singing, the bringing to rest of a child of God, a Rock Man.
Come December, we were celebrating Advent and looking for our Lord's return and still the waters of Baptism flowed: On the 2nd, Ayla Tyler Long; on the 8th, Damon Theodore Roosevelt; and on the 22nd, Evan Leon Notter. And so we came to Christmas, celebrating the joyful birth in the flesh of Him who has made all of our life a pilgrimage and journey to His Father's home. With all the ups and all the downs, with all the struggles and all the joys, with Him we go home to the Father.
At the end of 2007, the membership of St. Paul's stood at 748 Baptized; 585 Confirmed; an average attendance of 304 per weekend, which is just over 40% of the membership in Church on average. All in all, St. Paul's baptized 12, confirmed 14, married 6 couples, and buried four of our dear members.
Respectfully submitted by Pastor William Weedon in the 16th year of his pastorate at St. Paul's