The Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, President of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, will speak at the 10:00 a.m. service at St. John’s Lutheran Church, New Minden, this Sunday, August 9. However, due to added responsibilities caused by a recent house fire at his own residence, President Harrison will head back to St. Louis immediately after the morning service. Pastor Jacob T. Mueller, who grew up as a member of St. John’s, has agreed to speak at the 3:00 p.m. service.
“We are thankful that President Harrison and his family got out of the house safely,” said St. John’s Pastor Timothy Mueller about the July 29 fire in suburban St. Louis. “When we heard about this crisis in his own household, our committee sent word that, while we still wanted him to come, we wanted to give him the option of taking that extra day off in order to do the hard work necessary for dealing with such a loss. We at New Minden, of all people, recognize how stressful and demanding it can be when your home is wrecked.”
President Harrison replied that he still would like to come, but would need to return home at noon. “That’s when we turned to Pastor Jacob for the afternoon service. He immediately consented and said it would be a privilege,” said Mueller.
Pastor Jacob Mueller has been pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, MO, for three years. Jacob attended Trinity-St. John Lutheran School in Nashville and graduated from Nashville High School in 2004. He graduated from Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 2007, and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, in 2012. Between his time at college and seminary he spent six months studying at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Pretoria (Schwane), South Africa. Jacob is the only living “son” of the St. John’s congregation serving in the ministry. He and his wife Julia have been blessed with a daughter Hannah, age 1.
When the tornado hit his home town and home church November 17, 2013, Jacob came back to New Minden for the week and was instrumental in coordinating volunteer efforts and planning the special worship service held at Trinity, Hoyleton, on Wednesday of that week. He had previously served as a volunteer in Joplin, Mo., following the tornado there, and this summer attended more training in emergency response.
The 3:00 p.m. service will feature special music from the St. John’s Sunday School on the bells, and a joint choir from San Salvator Lutheran Church, Venedy, and Immanuel Lutheran Church, Okawville. As a gift to St. John’s Congregation, these two Congregations commissioned a concertato by noted composer Philipp Magness, based on the hymn “He’s Risen, He’s Risen.” The piece will be performed in the 3:00 pm. service under the direction of Rev. Dr. Arthur Eichhorn, pastor of San Salvator. Instrumentalists from San Salvator and Immanuel will also enrich the service with their musical offerings. Rev. Eric Wood, pastor of Immanuel, will accompany the choir on the piano.
Special music in the 10:00 a.m. service includes the Trinklein string quartet, coupled with brass and other instrumentalists from St. John’s. At both services Charla Hausler Engelbretsen is scheduled to sing “I Thank My God for You,” a song she wrote before the tornado. She first sang it at St. John’s the Sunday after the tornado as a way of thanking the Congregation for the support received by her parents, Ray and Eunice Hausler, when their house was destroyed.
“We have been richly blessed throughout this whole experience,” comments Pastor Mueller. “So many people helped us from near and far. To say thank-you to them we sent out about 1100 invitations – and still couldn’t include everybody — and have received back about 550 positive responses. About 325 signed up for the morning service, which is nearing the regular seating capacity in the sanctuary, and 225 for the afternoon service. With extra chairs set up and overflow seating in the Fellowship Hall, we will do our best to accommodate all who come, whether they signed up ahead of time or not. Please come! God has been so good to us to create this kind of interest in the hearts of so many people.”