fall 2019 Update
We're constituting; we're becoming a recognized church within The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.
It's been a four year road for the people of St. Andrew. The core group began as a meager eight people in April of 2015. The labors of Mr. Al Arnold, Reverend Ted Kuster, and Pastor Elisha Lietzau from Faith in Christ Lutheran Church in Albuquerque began as a shot in the dark, to an largely unchurched area of Southwest Albuquerque, and grew to a strong group of 16 people by April of 2018. Melissa, Knox, and I have been on the ground for 16 months (since April 2018) and I am happy to say that our time here has been very fruitful. Our current core is a healthy 23 souls and Lord willing more people will find their way in to St. Andrew to hear the sweet Gospel of the forgiveness of sins.
You have followed some of our labors; our forming of a constitution committee, our congregational meetings and our constitutional re-writes, the departure of Pastor Lietzau to another Call in Denver, Colorado. Since my last newsletter we have held formal elections for the offices of Congregational President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Financial Secretary, and I am thankful to our faithful and loving God that Mr. Al Arnold was installed as the first congregational president of St. Andrew on the 18th of August. Erick Robinson was elected to the positions of Vice President and Treasurer, Beverly Coleman was elected Secretary, and Sandra Westerfield was elected Financial Secretary.
We are currently in the process of submitting our paper work to the Rocky Mountain District of the LCMS for their approval and a definitive Constituting date has been set for the 29th of September in the year of our Lord 2019. I am so very pleased with the initiative, care, and attention to detail our congregation and our newly elected officers have given to this endeavor and I pray that the next steps will go as smoothly…
While St. Andrew will become a fully constituted congregation with representation, a properly called pastor and a VOTE at Circuit, District, and Synodical conventions, we still remain a mission in the sense that I will continue to need to fundraise. I am pleased to say that our attention to fiscal responsibility is strong and our hope is to become a fully self-supporting, contributing congregation in the Synod; however with so many young families (8 children under 15) the remaining core group does not currently have enough money to fully support the ongoing work at St. Andrew…which is where you come in.
The work is thriving and I am building upon my work at the Assisted Living facility (begun in December of 2018). I am awaiting approval of my application to be a visiting chaplain to the Metro Detention Center's solitary confinement pod; and I am in the process of putting together a collection of 15-20 short (90 second) videos that will be accessible on the St. Andrew website. The latter endeavor is an attempt to provide clear and concise information to the largely unchurched, lapsed Roman Catholic, and disenfranchised church population of Southwest Albuquerque. We have found door to door knocking to be tedious (especially in the desert summer sun) with little fruit being borne. As a result we have collectively decided that providing a road map to our website, content that addresses who we are and what we do, and commending all of this to the care of the Holy Spirit will be the most productive way forward. We will continue our door to door ministry but the main focus will be to disseminate simple and concise information that people can access at their leisure and discretion.
I am so very thankful for the continued faithfulness of God to us here, I am thankful to you, our kind and long-suffering supporters for your financial support and continued prayers and I am thankful for the gracious work of the people in St. Louis who have made this possible. I would like to especially thank Reverend Mark Larson for his continued support and prayer; Rev. Dr. Steve Schave for his vision, initiative, and guidance, and the entire missionary development staff in St. Louis for their care and support.
To God alone be the glory and the praise and here's to many decades of the gospel being spread to the least, to sinners in need of forgiveness and to the people of this ever growing part of the desert Southwest.
Peace in Christ,
Missionary Pastor Adam DeGroot
summer 2019 update
Greetings to you all in the Name of our risen Lord and Savior! I pray this message finds you all well and I do apologize for the delay in getting you an update.
As many of you may recall from the November newsletter St. Andrew had begun the process of becoming a fully constituted congregation in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. We submitted our constitution and bylaws to the Rocky Mountain district board of directors for approval in October of 2018 and received notification of small changes that needed to be made in February of 2019. We came together as a congregation and addressed the points brought up and re-submitted the documents in March '19. Last week, May 9th, we received notification from the District offices in Boulder, Colorado that we have been approved to go forward to become a fully recognized congregation in the Missouri Synod. We are thankful to Almighty God for the patient persistence He provided and we will be holding a congregational meeting this Sunday the 19th of May to address how we will move forward as a congregation, discussing matters such as what our role will be in Mission and outreach to our community. My work as a fundraiser will continue as the congregation is still too small to fully support my salary and benefits but I am happy to report that we are headed in the right direction to become a fully self-supporting congregation. As we fare forth we pray that you will continue to support the mission with your financial gifts and prayers.
In other news, I am pleased to announce that we have been very busy and have begun to see some fruit in the form of new members. On May 5th, we celebrated the reception of four new members into the fold. Thanks be to God for His faithfulness to us and we pray that the Lord of the harvest will continue to provide an increase of people to hear the preached gospel and receive the forgiveness of sins.
On the fundraising trail... I began my fiscal year 2020 fundraising in earnest last week with a trip to Cheyenne, WY and Spearfish, SD. The stay in Cheyenne was a good one as I was able to make new connections with some new churches that are considering supporting the mission in Albuquerque. Our stay in Spearfish was a sort of homecoming and we were blessed to have a little time to catch up with some old friends. I presented to St. Paul Lutheran in Spearfish and was happy to teach at their bible study on Sunday morning. Along with that, I was blessed to have time to meet with another mission congregation in Belle Fourche, SD. I taught at their bible study on Saturday evening and was pleased to see a local mission plant doing so well.
In news moving forward I will begin taking Spanish language lessons in June and we will begin our neighborhood canvassing again. With regard to the Spanish, this step is being taken not so much because we need to have our services in Spanish; most of the folks here are Bi-lingual (Spanish/ English). I am beginning the classes in order to bridge some gaps that I have seen for opportunities to get to know the neighborhood better. Southwest Albuquerque has over 110,000 people, most of whom have Spanish, Mexican, and South American heritages, culture, and language. My endeavor to learn the language is one that I am excited about yet I am not without trepidation. I'm wondering if an 'old dog' can learn 'new tricks' - please keep me in your prayers as I begin this endeavor. Our canvassing will begin again in June with special attention paid to reconnecting with people that we've reached out to before. We are hopeful that these relationships will continue to grow and that those we talk to are willing to extend the invitation to their friends and neighbors to attend St. Andrew in the future.
Melissa and Knox continue to do well. Knox is playing baseball and is very excited for the neighborhood pool to open. He's enjoying the large number of children that attend St. Andrew with him and continues to learn and grow much faster than Melissa and I had hoped and expected. Our Gracious Lord continues to provide for us here and we are infinitely grateful to all of you for your continued support. Lord willing we will have more exciting news to share with you next time and until then, The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord lift up His countenance toward you and give you peace.
St. Andrew Lutheran Church Plant
Albuquerque, New Mexico USA
March 2019 update
It's been two months since my last newsletter so here are the highlights of what's happened since then.
First, we've had a snowy and cold winter. For those of you in northern climates, my statement is not meant as a lament, only a statement that the weather has been wacky down here. The early part of February was fairly slow with continued visits to the the Rio at Las Estancias (Long term care facility) that have produced many wonderful conversations and opportunities to share the Gospel of our Lord.
Recently we received notification from the Rocky Mountain District Constitution committee that we are within 3-4 months of becoming a constituted congregation in the Missouri Synod. This is wonderful news! We've had travelers from afar (Wisconsin and Rhode Island) stay at our home and the Lenten Season began just this last Wednesday. In addition to this, on February 26th I turned 41, which was anti-climactic coming off of my 40th last year but it was a wonderful day nevertheless.
Melissa continues to home school Knox andeven began doing a little acting for the big film productions that are everywhere here in Albuquerque. Her next gig is in Mid-March so make sure to look for her on the silver screen soon. Autographs however, are things that we'll have to wait on until she signs with a talent agent ;)
Knox continues to do well in school and is kept very busy with many wonderful things during the week. He just began water polo, a sport both Melissa and I know nothing about, and I am happy to report that he is doing very well. He begins baseball on the 9th of March with his first game on the 23rd.
Finally, it is with great joy that a announce that on the 20th of March we will be celebrating our official one year anniversary of arriving in Albuquerque! Please celebrate with us and continue to keep us in you prayers.
The Lord has continued to be faithful to us, as He always is and we are overjoyed at the many wonderful things that He has shown to us in the year that we've been here. We thank you all for your generous support and if you're ever in the area we'd love to see you. And if you know anyone in our neck of the woods that would like to have us visit, please let me know and we'll see if we can't get out to see them.
Adam, Melissa and Knox
January 2019 update
Happy New Year and a blessed Epiphany to you and yours! I bring you greetings from the snow covered desert Southwest, the congregation of St. Andrew Lutheran and the DeGroot Family!
Since my last newsletter we have traversed our first Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas here in Albuquerque. I am happy to report that the DeGroots continue to acclimate well to our first year here and I am pleased to say that friendships and relationships continue to flourish.
Thanksgiving brought nearly the whole congregation of St. Andrew through the doors of the DeGroot household and our feast was partaken of with great thankfulness for the gift of family, friends, traveling mercies for family from far away, and the gift of fellowship that is afforded to us as the family of God…
Advent brought wonderful reflections of our coming Lord during regular Sunday services and we were able to hold three semi-quiet Mid-week services. I say semi-quiet because our neighbors in the strip mall are a Zumba studio who holds regular classes at 6:30 every evening. This coincided with our time of service and the many that were gathered for service patiently and attentively listened to the preaching in the midst of BOOMING BASS that began every week at the precise moment that the sermon began. We chalked those evenings up as an experience that we will look back on and smile about as a young congregation but we've learned our lesson and as we continue through Christmas and Epiphany we continue to hold Wednesday evening services... at 5:30.
Christmas was wonderful with 100% turnout of our 25 members for our 7:00 Christmas Eve Service and Christmas day was well attended with 20. We rejoice together at the Birth of our Lord and are so thankful that we had this Christmas to gather together to receive our Lord's gifts.
On the 3rd of January, we celebrated Knox's 8th birthday with great fanfare! We had a quiet family dinner and opened presents while Melissa and I looked back over 8 years that have simply flown by. We pray daily that the moments we are afforded as Knox's Mother and Father will be cherished for we are quickly realizing that time really does fly.
December also brought new evangelism opportunities. I had been visiting hospitals in Central Albuquerque from March of 2018 but was given an opportunity to visit a long-term care facility in our neighborhood. Early in the month I began visiting the 120 residents of the Rio at Las Entancias. What a joy this has been in the opportunities it has presented to me to provide conversation and the Gospel of our Lord with people that are essentially shut-in. Along with this, the congregation at St. Andrew has had the opportunity to make visits with me and on the 19th of December we visited as a group to Carol for the residents.
Finally, we continue to await word from the Rocky Mountain District about our constitution and by-law review. We are eagerly awaiting the day that we will be a fully constituted congregation and in the mean time we are beginning discussions about the possibility of either expanding our space to accommodate our meager growth or purchasing land for the future St. Andrew Lutheran Church building. Excitement is palpable and the congregation continues to rise up to exceed expectations; we are truly blessed with such a faithful, pioneering and adventurous group. With that, I thank all of you for your continued support for my salary. Many of the things that we are discussing for the future would not be possible without your generous gifts. We pray that as the year progresses that you will continue to prayerfully consider ongoing giving and for our part we will continue to fare forth with the certain hope that the Lord goes before us to make our paths straight.
Continued blessings to you,
october 2018 update
September was a wonderful month as we began communion instruction for our five young people. The month was largely spent on the ground in the South Valley and we were able to make good contacts with people on the ground and extend invitations to Divine Services. Continuity has been a key for us and we continue to pray that the funding necessary for fiscal year 2019 and 2020 will come in so that we can spend 100% of our time on the ground working with the neighborhood and getting the word out that we continue to meet.
Two and a half weeks of October were spent on the road fundraising and this unfortunately halted much of the momentum that we had gained in September. Nevertheless, we set our shoes to the pavement again in Mid-October and have begun planning for mass canvassing events, an evening Community night and meetings with local business leaders to increase our 'footprint' in the neighborhood. Regular visits continue and I see all of the 22 regular parishioners on a weekly basis in their homes or out for special meetings.
By the end of October we had completed the instruction of our five young communicants and are making the final adjustments on our Constitution and By-laws in order to submit them to the Rocky Mountain District for approval. Many of you have perhaps been waiting with baited breath for this to be completed and it is with much joy that I assure you that, although things sometimes move slowly, we are on the brink of submitting our paperwork to be a fully recognized congregation in the LCMS by January of 2019.
Melissa continues to tutor at the Homeschool co-op, drives Knox to and from football, sees to many of the updates on the “DeGroot's in ABQ” Facebook page and Church website and is somehow finding time to still be a wonderful wife and mother. What a great blessing it is to have such a faithful wife.
Knox continues to grow and grow. He's still 7 years old but I think that he may shoot past both me and Melissa in height by the time he's 10. Flag football has come to an end and although his team, the Predators, only notched one win this season, I am happy to report that that win came in the last game of the season in a game all of his teammates came to call THE SUPERBOWL. Knox is an exceptional student and continues to excel in school, he is making friends in the neighborhood and takes trips to the park to play football and baseball with the neighborhood boys.
Overall, your missionary and his family are doing well. We continue to work toward our annual financial goals and in the meantime find the time to see to the business of the Lord's Church, take some rest and find joy and reprieve in our new home in the Southwest. Continue to keep us in prayer and look forward to the news that's to come in the November/ December Newsletter.
September 2018 Update
The dog days of summer have arrived and life at St. Andrew has begun to spring to a new life.
Beginning on the 9th of September we added regular Catechism classes for our youth (2:00 pm) and adult Bible study (4:00 pm). Regular Divine Services continue to meet at 3:00 pm every Sunday with regular attendees consistently coming for service.
We will review our constitution and by-laws this Sunday the 15th and will hope to have that paperwork submitted to the Rocky Mountain District by the end of September 2018.
It's been a whirlwind five months and the congregation of St. Andrew and I are exceedingly grateful to all of you who have contributed to this mission endeavor. We have made a strong start and your continued prayers and financial support are greatly appreciated.
Melissa and Knox are doing well. Knox is doing well in school and begins football on Saturday the 14th. Melissa continues to tutor and make a fantastic life for us here.
I will begin traveling again on the 4th of October and will be away for a large portion of the month until the 19th; your prayers for safe travel and ongoing financial support are greatly appreciated.
Christ's peace to you all and thank you again for your continued support.
August 2018 update - "We're constituting!"
We've been here for four months and after prayerful deliberation St. Andrew Church Plant has started and completed the process of writing her Constitution and By-Laws. Long story short, we're well on our way to becoming an officially sanctioned and recognized Church in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
What does constituting mean?
We're on our way to having a governing document for an officially recognized church in the LCMS.
We're close to beginning the process of delegating leadership responsibilities for the church.
We are making strides to become self-supporting, self-governing and an autonomous congregation with representation at District and Synodical conventions.
We are seeing to due diligence and the responsibility that we have to you as our donors to ensure you that we are moving forward along the path to self-sufficiency.
Your prayers and financial support have gotten us to the point where we can begin discussing what the short and long-term futures will look like for St. Andrew. We are not yet self-supporting and pray that you will continue to consider supporting us financially but I am over-joyed to let you know that we are moving forward to becoming a responsible, self-supporting, self-governed Church. Keep up with our progress, listen to sermons and provide words of encouragement by clicking on the link below.
Your missionary and his family continue to be in good spirits and enjoying our new placement and home in the desert Southwest. The summer has been filled with many fun and exciting things including travel, sun and many hours at the neighborhood pool (especially for Melissa and Knox).
We are adjusting well to the Summer heat and have found a reprieve here in the month of August with the annual monsoons. I have never seen such beautiful lightning and stunning sunsets as we have here in the rainy season. We recently returned from a fund-raising trip to New England and made many good connections with churches and individuals out there as we continue to work toward our annual funding mark of $135,000. Along the way we were able to spend some time with family and get caught up with them about the things that have happened since we left Rhode Island in March.
Your missionary has been busy traveling, pounding the pavement and seeing to regular Pastoral duties here. I am happy to report that I do get to the pool at least once a week and continue to work for more days as the Lord wills. I continue to network with local churches both for financial help and physical resources and I spend at least two Sundays a month attending/ preaching at area churches in order to raise awareness of St. Andrew and the work we are doing in the South Valley. I continue to network with churches, pastors and individuals around the United States in order that we might be able to have adequate resources to continue our work here.
Melissa has been a busy lady too! She recently began work with Bethesda Lutheran Communities as a regional representative and will be in contact with many of the regional churches about working with and supporting the work that Bethesda does. She is also making preparations for Homeschooling to begin on the 20th of August. She will be a tutor in Knox's Classical Conversations co-op and will be teaching 8 youngsters who are between the ages of 6 and 8. She continues to see to the care of her boys and does so with much style and exceeding grace. Along with all this she makes sure that Knox gets to the pool 3-4 times a week, she attends to the Mom's group here and has been an integral support for the direction St. Andrew has taken over the last month.
Knox continues to have fun, learn and grow. He will begin his home-school co-op next Monday, He will be involved with the Walther Group on Thursdays, Will begin Trail Life in early September and will also begin playing flag football. He has been waiting for years to finally run around like his hero (Zach Ertz TE Philadelphia Eagles) and catch touchdowns. He has been a trooper in the constituting process as well making a point to 'schedule' time with his ole dad to play catch and wrestle before I have to run off to see to the business of the Lord's church.
Overall, we are doing quite well. We continue to thank God for His generosity toward us; we thank Him for donors and supporters like you who make this Church Plant a possibility and we are so very thankful that in all things He has seen to our Physical and Spiritual needs through all things. I pray that as the weeks and months ahead come and go that we will rejoice together in what we hope and pray will one day be a thriving, strong and caring congregation, until then the Lord Bless all of you.
march 2018 update - "deployed!"
Thanks be to God! After nearly a year Melissa, Knox and I have arrived in Albuquerque New Mexico...the trip across country and our wait to be here; thanks be to God that the wait is over. We are so thankful that we are here and to arrive at the beginning of Holy Week has been quite a blessing.
To summarize the last 14 days we had to movers arrive in Rhode Island on the 12th of March to pack most of the things we accumulated over the 12 months we were there. The 13th of March, New England was hit hard by a Nor Easter that dumped 23 inches of snow, that was also the day we drove 20 miles in that Nor Easter to close on our house in Albuquerque. On Wednesday the 14th we headed out from Rhode Island, said our goodbyes to family and friends and made our way to Mt. Holly New Jersey. The morning of the 15th the movers loaded the rest of our earthly belongings from two separate PODS containers, Knox and Melissa got to see some long lost friends in Philadelphia and we were off again that afternoon to Strasburg Virginia for the night of the 15th. The 16th we drove toward Chatanooga Tennessee, Knox lost his first tooth!!!, we stopped off in Knoxville TN (For Obvious Reasons) and spent the night in Chatanooga. The 17th we made our way through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, through Memphis Tennessee and on to Bryant AR. On the 18th we went to Church in Bryant, continued with a jog into Louisiana and went on to Plano/ Dallas Texas. On the 19th we got to catch up with an old seminary classmate, see Dealy Plaza in Dallas and drove later that day to Amarillo Texas; my goodness Texas is HUGE!!!! Then finally.... on March 20th, ironically, one year to the day that we began our wait for re-deployment we drove into Albuquerque. The movers arrived later that afternoon and we have been unpacking boxes ever since.
I was blessed to have the opportunity to serve at Faith in Christ Lutheran on Wednesday the 21st and Sunday the 25th and it was later that day that I preached for the first official time at St. Andrew. I will be preaching on Maundy Thursday, Easter Vigil and twice on Easter, so we're off and running!!!! It's been quite a year, to say the least and we are so thankful for the Lord's faithfulness to us in all things. I do look forward to reporting to you how the transition goes and how the mission progresses. I thank you all for your continued financial support. Please continue to keep us and the saints of St. Andrew in your prayers. We look forward to giving you updated reports going forward.
Peace to you in Christ,
Pastor Adam DeGroot