News & Notes

February 2020 Update

February 01, 2020

One of the many joys in working at the LLC office is reflecting on how God has blessed the work from year to year and given willing hearts to serve. In making plans for yet another year we rejoice how God continues to guide and direct the work. This year there will be significant changes in LLC staff, since both Helen Hillukka and Lori Loukusa plan to retire. A small committee will prepare for hiring people to replace them.

One change worth noting is that 2020 Winter Services will be held at a school rather than the Phoenix church. The change in date and venue will have a ripple effect in planning, yet we are thankful that year after year believers in the Southwest have graciously hosted the services allowing guests traveling from afar to hear God’s Word and enjoy fellowship of believers.

As plans are being made for the upcoming camp season my thoughts turn to our children and youth. They are in the forefront of the battle and need our continued teaching and support. May God’s kingdom always remain a safe haven for them, where His Word can be preached and taught and prayerfully instilled into their hearts. May God continue to bless each of us and carry us safely to the shore of heaven.

Updates on LLC Activities

  • We extend a heartfelt welcome to all to the 2020 LLC Phoenix Winter Services to be held March 19–22. The theme for the services is: “Watch ye, stand fast in faith” (1 Cor. 16:13). Services will also be held Wednesday, March 18, in Prescott. Additional information can be found on the LLC website.
  • SRK guest minister Tapani Tölli, of Tyrnävä, Finland, accompanied by his wife Kaija, will serve at Phoenix Winter Services and visit various LLC congregations during the winter preaching tour. Tapani is a retired congressman and mayor. The Tölli’s have six children and four grandchildren. Kaija, an engineer, enjoys nature, and Tapani is interested in American history. We welcome Tapani and Kaija and wish them God’s blessings on their mission trip.
  • Stephen Warwaruk, Jeremy Simonson and Troy Simonson were blessed into the office of the ministry by the Outlook Laestadian Lutheran Church, on January 5. We wish Stephen and his wife Diana, Jeremy and his wife Leah, Troy and his wife Paula and their families God’s abundant blessings in this new calling.
  • LLC music coordinator Liisa Keranen is working alongside musicians around North American Zion with plans to develop a consistent source of music for our enjoyment. She is currently working with a choir group on a recording project to be released at 2020 Summer Services in Marquette, Mich. The album will contain songs that are comforting to the believer who often yearns for the shores of heaven.
  • Recently, I was able to preview the third children’s board book, “Jesus Loves Me.” It is a delightful book. As a grandfather, these books have been a joy to read and sing with my grandchildren. The book is scheduled to be released at Winter Services and delivered to congregations around the same time.
  • Translation and edits of the SRK book on Hebrews, written by Keijo Nissilä, is in its final stages. Currently a reading group is making one final pass through the book with plans to release the book at 2020 Summer Services.
  • In 2023 the LLC will mark 50 years as an organization. To commemorate the event a 50-year history book is planned, and a preliminary table of contents has been reviewed by the LLC Board. One reason for writing the book now is that there are yet many believers who lived those years and can be a resource. Another reason to write this book is that it is valuable that the younger generation have access to AALC/LLC history.
  • In the history book project, Keith Waaraniemi will do the bulk of research and writing, and Matt Keranen will serve as project manager. The initial plan is that the book will be divided by decade, for example:

– The 1970s gave birth to the new organization, and with it came much joy.

– The 1980s was a decade of building, new congregations were established, camp work and youth work started in earnest. The opisto exchange program was developed.

– During the 1970s and 1980s, the need for soul-caring discussions arose. The intent was to preserve faith and unity. We see how God helped during these difficult years, bringing peace and unity. Testimony of this is the many wonderful blessings and forward-looking approach in the work of the kingdom at the time.

– In the 1990s, the building work was fortified; after much progress in various areas of work, procedures and further organization of the work was needed to maintain it. Calling and training pastors was needed. Opisto alumni were called on in support of the work. Curriculum for Sunday school and confirmation school was developed, and the LLC office was further organized.

– In the 2000s, God opened the foreign mission fields and with it the need for humanitarian aid. Full-time pastors were called as the work increased.

– The 2010s were a decade when the use of technology increased significantly, and the use of social media progressed. Home and Family committee work was established, and mutual work between sister organizations LLC-SRK-SFC grew significantly.

– In the 2020s, God gives a future and a hope.

  • Jesus’ conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matt. 6:13) has been chosen as the theme for this year’s camp work and will be central in planning. Periodic video updates outlining camp work will be sent to LLC congregations as has been done in recent years.
  • The annual Camp Staff Workshop and teleconference will be held March 5, at the LLC office. The focus of this workshop will be to support camp directors and how they can approach the topics of kindness and bullying and supporting peers at camp.
  • Online enrollment continues for 2020 camps. On January 2 when camp enrollment opened, over 500 applicants enrolled in the first hour. The high number of applicants emphasizes the significance of our camp program. It’s important to sign up early to ensure the best possibility to attend.
  • Again this year, “Camps at a Glance” has been published. Look for in it your local bookstore or download it from the LLC website.

We are thankful for God’s continued blessings and protection. He has given us a time to work, and He has also blessed us with needed gifts, both temporal and spiritual. We pray for His continued care and direction.

Eric Jurmu


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