Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Help for Pastor Rippy

(From Pastor Sean Rippy)


I have been called to serve St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church in Sunderland, England while I attend nearby Newcastle University on Tyne. St. Timothy’s is a member of the ELCE- The Evangelical Lutheran Church of England, sister church to the LCMS. She is a solid Lutheran church- a beacon of hope in the midst of the spiritual chaos that is England.

The problem is this light is dimming. There are currently only 15 congregations in the ELCE. 15! And most are struggling. We all know the cycle. As congregations struggle financially, it is difficult to support pastors and their families. Without pastors and more specifically the means of grace which pastors are called to provide, it is difficult for congregations to remain stable. Without stability it is difficult to maintain finances to provide for pastors. And the cycle goes on and on.

A few years back St. Timothy’s was struck with a hardship that left her weak and vulnerable. Recently, when her last pastor left, they believed they would have to close the doors because they could not afford another pastor. In the LCMS closing one of our 6,000 congregations is a deep sadness, no one wants to see it, but in the ELCE when 1 of 15 congregations closes- that is a tragedy. That very often means an entire part of the country will have no Lutheran presence at all. The result is those poor Lutheran saints must suffer, not to mention those who would benefit from good solid Lutheran teaching and preaching.

St. Timothy’s is in the far Northeast corner of England. There isn’t another ELCE church for hundreds of miles in any direction. If St. Timothy’s were to close that would mean the Lutheran light would go out in that part of the country.

In every sense St. Timothy’s is a mission. She can provide a parsonage and possibly a car (the ELCE provides for congregations a very economical car option at 60 pounds a month) but no salary at all. She requires financial aid and subsistence from outside sources and right now the ELCE as a Synod is not able to provide much help. She too is financially hurting.

I call on you as fellow pastors who know the power and importance of Word and Sacrament ministry. As we follow God in this call and literally step out in faith, my family and I need your help, but perhaps more importantly St. Timothy’s and northeast England needs your help.

I write this not to create guilt, but to make you aware of a problem that you may not have been aware of. If we do not know the trials of our brothers and sisters, we can not help. If you or your congregation find yourself able to help in any way, you may contact me up to the end of December at:

Pastor Sean L. Rippy
673 Clayton NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49534
(616) 735-0890

Alternately, you may make a check out to: St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church
And mail to:
Queen Alexandra RoadAshbrooke, SunderlandSR2 9AATelephone: 0191 528 4424

Or go to www.northernlutheran.co.uk and click on: “Support Us” and then click on: “St. Timothy’s” to donate via credit card.