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March 2024 Update

Arvin Pirness | The Voice of Zion March 2024 - News & Notes Article --


We live a time of Lent, and spring is coming. At the end of the month, we celebrate Easter. Before that comes Mary’s Day, marking the time when the angel of the Lord announced to Mary that she would bear the Son of God. She questioned, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34). Hearing the angel’s answer, Mary left a beautiful example of living faith, replying, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (v. 38). 


On behalf of the LLC Board and staff, I wish to extend a heartfelt message of thanks for all the messages and prayers expressed on our behalf as we navigated the legal action brought against the LLC. This legal matter has been dismissed. May God protect and preserve us as children in His kingdom.


Plans are well underway for joint SRK-SFC-LLC meetings in early April. The brothers coming will also join North American ministers at LLC Ministers Camp.


We look forward to Winter Services as well as Easter festivities in our congregation with special services. These services remind us of the comfort we experience when we are able to gather around God’s Word in unity of faith and understanding.


Update on LLC Activities 


Facilities

  • Camp season is set to begin. All camp centers will be up and operational. The new season brings a lot of work both in preparation for the season and requests for volunteers to serve at the camps in directing, teaching, support as staff counselors and kitchen workers.

  • Speaking directly to kitchen workers, we strongly encourage men of all ages to sign up for shifts. Great joy is often experienced while serving at camp.


Education

  • Sunday School curriculum review continues to additional grades. Currently, 3rd grade is complete and 8th grade is nearing completion. Groups in congregations around North America continue to accept the request to update additional grades. The goal is to have three additional grades completed for the 2024–25 Sunday School year.

  • In prior years, March has been designated as camp work–youth work month. With the thought of the 2024 Operating Plan theme, “They that wait up the Lord shall renew their strength,” youth and camp committees are encouraged to make known the need for workers and volunteers for this camp season, for in so doing, more people can feel the joy of serving God in this way.


Pastoral and Education

  • A catechism review committee has been formed and is meeting weekly to modernize language in Luther’s Small Catechism. The goal is to have this update complete prior to the need for the next printing, 2025–2026 Sunday School year. 


Print Publications

  • Work continues on the book detailing LLC history during the years 1973–1999. The book will be published this year.

  • Note the advertisement elsewhere in this issue of The Voice of Zion that shows details on our LLC Publications Easter Sale. Place your order today!

  • As part of our Easter Sale and to otherwise observe Easter, we are hosting an Easter Open House at the office the week leading up to Easter. More details will be shared with congregations and on social media.

  • Our special Easter magazine, Easter Messenger, is on its way to subscribers’ mailboxes. It will also soon be posted on Hearken!

  • We will host an online Content Creators Workshop April 19–20. More details to follow.

  • Sometimes we receive feedback on our publications without asking for feedback, but other times we ask for specific input and feedback. Such was the case when we published our LLC Periodicals Survey in January. The survey was open for one month, and we received over 350 responses. We are very thankful to all who took time to respond. We will publish results from this survey after we’ve taken time to analyze the data.

  • In the feedback we receive, one question that is occasionally asked concerns the aims or goals of The Voice of Zion. Why do we publish this newspaper? One answer to this is found in our Voice of Zion Charter, which was approved by the LLC Board of Directors in October 2022: 

The Voice of Zion is the flagship periodical of the Laestadian Lutheran Church (LLC). It serves to inform, encourage and enlighten with the good news of personal salvation to people across the globe. The content in The Voice of Zion serves to advance the LLC Mission Statement. It supports and reports on all areas of work done in God’s Kingdom, under the auspices of LLC, its member congregations and sister organizations. The paper presents the believers’ life experience and point of view on our mutual endeavor, such as it is in the time and place in which we live. Throughout, The Voice of Zion espouses the belief that God’s Word is the ultimate authority in faith and life.


Digital Communications

  • Our publications app Hearken is turning two this month. We are very grateful that this service has answered a need. At this time we have 1800 unique subscriptions, and since some of those are family subscriptions, we have over 2500 individual users. We continue to work to improve usability of the app. If you are ever experiencing difficulties with it, please let us know. Also, it pays to make sure you have the latest version for either Android or Apple devices. Newer versions have fixes for bugs or glitches that older versions may continue to exhibit.

  • On Hearken, we have two new podcasts. Look for them monthly. One is titled Ye That Labor. In this podcast, believers discuss their career and their working life and how that career is for a believer. The other new podcast is titled Gospel of Peace, and in this podcast ministers visit about mission trips they have recently been on. We welcome your feedback on this and all Hearken content.


International Exchanges

  • Nearly 40 musicians from North America will travel to Finland this summer for the International Choir Camp, to be held at Reisjärvi Opisto at the beginning of August. Following a week-long camp, the group of singers from four countries will record a choral album in Espoo. The theme of the album and camp is Songs of the Journey.

  • Planning for 2024 Language Camp is underway. The group from Finland, to be led by Pekka and Heidi Tuomikoski and Jukka and Sirpa Kolmonen, will begin their journey at LLC Summer Services in Longview, Wash. From there they will travel to Hasscib Lake Camp in Michigan for the camp portion of their trip. Following the camp, the group will travel through Southern Minnesota congregations, on to Colorado and then Prescott Valley.

  • Over twenty young people plan to attend opistos in Finland this coming fall. Fourteen of them have received LLC Opisto Scholarships, and some have opted to pay their own way. Now is the time these applicants are navigating applying for residence visas. The requirements for this visa have recently changed, which has created challenges for some. We wish all the applicants God’s blessings now already during this time of preparation and on into their opisto year!

  • You can support the opisto program by donating to the Opisto Fund. Go to llchurch.org/donate to make your gift. Any donations made before the end of April will benefit this coming year’s scholarship recipients.

  • Now is also the time to apply for scholarships for the 2025–2026 opisto year! We are now accepting applications, for which the due date is May 15, 2024. You can find the application at llchurch.org/opisto-scholarship-program  

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