As I announced this past Sunday, I have decided to accept the Divine Call that was extended to me to serve as the pastor of St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Conway, Arkansas. Contemplating and either returning or accepting a pastoral call like this is always a weighty thing to go through, both for the pastor and his family and for the pastor’s current congregation as well as the calling congregation.

After five weeks of prayerfully reflecting on this call, the Lord gave me and Heidi both peace and confidence about accepting this opportunity. At the same time, that means the difficult task of bidding farewell to the wonderful folks of our congregation here in Warrens. It has been a privilege and a joy to get to know the members of St. Matthew over the past several years, both long-term members and those who have joined our church family in recent years or months. I am grateful that God gave me the opportunity to serve as your pastor and to be a part of both many joys and sorrows in our life together over the past three years. I look forward to continuing to serve as your pastor through the remainder of the Lenten season and into the Easter season. 

My final Sunday here at St. Matthew will be May 8. I will continue to lead our Bible studies and catechism class until the beginning of May. I am glad that I can still be the officiant for Confirmation Sunday on May 1 when seven young ladies of the congregation will be confirmed in Christ. It has also been a privilege to be their teacher over the past two years!

This will be a big transition for the congregation, but I am confident that the Lord will provide all that is needful and guide St. Matthew forward in the months and years to come! I ask that you commit this pastoral transition to your personal prayers, even as we will be including it in our public prayers in worship. Please pray for our Circuit Visitor, Rev. Don Stein, and our District President, Rev. John Wille, along with our congregational leaders. In the coming weeks, they will be working together to address the upcoming vacancy.

While times of change bring their own challenges, there are some opportunities in transitional seasons as well. Here are a few that come to mind: as already mentioned, please begin praying for our congregation, our future pastor, for me and my family, and for our sister congregation in Arkansas. During this upcoming vacancy I also urge you to continue supporting our congregation through your financial stewardship of God’s gifts. Each member can help St. Matthew to be in a solid financial standing as you prepare to call and welcome a future pastor. Also, there will be additional opportunities to volunteer at church during this vacancy. I have some ideas for several potential volunteer roles. Please visit with me if you would like to discuss this or be involved in some way. 

Finally, I encourage you to bear in mind that this time is also an opportunity to entrust the future, and particularly the future of this congregation, to our good and gracious Lord. With that in mind, I’ll close with the comforting message that God has for us in Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Peace in Christ,

                        Pastor Kory Janneke