Learning Christianity in a Holy Atmosphere

by Pastor Eric Andræ
“Hoki” faithfully attended our English as a Second Language (ESL) class for the year that she and her family were here in Pittsburgh. She appreciated the open atmosphere and the willingness of the instructor to field her many perceptive, unique, and challenging questions. We studied many different Bible stories and how the Old Covenant points to and is fulfilled in the New Covenant, especially in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Before she recently returned to Japan, she attended Christian worship for the first time, here at First Trinity at the Easter Vigil. She e-mailed me later from Japan:

Easter service was very impressive for me!I saw that big candle for the first time. Many lily was beautiful!Thank you for good experience. … I felt holy atmosphere in Ester Vigil. It was very comfortable for me. I can’t say well, my skin become sensitive in such a place [read: goose-bumps!]. Though I couldn’t understand all what pastor said (because it was English), I enjoyed attending. I forgot the time passing in that Vigil. …My daughter is going to Christian’s kindergarten from June. The area where we will go to is country side. We don’t have another kind of kindergarten. So, I can continue to learn about Christianity from now on! … Also, thank you for teaching Bible for me! It was a special experience for me. I will not forget many your words in future.

During this half year, International Student Ministry-Lutheran Student Fellowship (ISM-LSF) of Pittsburgh is involved in two exciting and perhaps life-changing conferences. In June we attended the Corpus Christi youth conference outside of Gothenburg, Sweden, with other high school and college youth from Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Germany, USA, England, Latvia, Canada, and Lithuania (www.CorpusChristi.se).As Sweden is perhaps the most secularized nation in the world, we also viewed this very much as a mission trip.

In January 2013 we plan on attending the first national campus ministry conference in the LCMS in a decade (www.lcms.org/campusministry). The Rev. J. Bart Day, Executive Director of LCMS National Mission, states, “It is wonderful to see campus ministry engaging in ‘Witness, Mercy, and Life Together.’ The heart of the church is lived out daily on college campuses around the nation. I am so pleased that students are taking up the call to serve others in witness and mercy. Mission trips and service opportunities abound. It is a blessing that Pittsburgh campus ministry will have such opportunities. The national campus conference will give students a great time to connect and grow. I would encourage ISM-LSF of Pittsburgh to join us in St. Louis.” Please consider an additional/designated generous gift, to help defray the costs of these trips and so that we might take as many students as possible.

All Saints Became Family

by Augusta R. Mennell, Campus Ministry Director
What is it like for an international student to be confirmed in the United States? This is what happened to David Owusu from Ghana in Africa on April 29, 2012 at All Saints Lutheran Church and Student Center. He and Bryan Gilson, an eighth-grade member of All Saints, were confirmed by Rev. Michael D. Scheer.
David’s story began about four years ago when he came to Slippery Rock University. When he first came to the university he attended a different church, but came to All Saints for students’ movie-meal nights and later he would come in just to say hello and to talk. In the meantime he attended his other church for Sunday worship.
Everything changed when David decided to make All Saints his church home and family. He had been baptized as an infant, but had not been confirmed in Ghana because he had felt he was not ready. When he came to worship here, he knew he wanted to take communion. He also knew he had not been confirmed. That’s when he asked to take catechism classes twice a week so he could be confirmed.
David committed himself to regular study of the catechism using a combination of My First Catechism and Luther’s Small Catechism, annotated by Edward W.A. Koehler. As he studied, he asked questions. He really wanted to know how to apply what he was learning to his daily life: he wondered if it was okay to worship on Sunday and not Saturday; he asked how to know how much to give as an offering; and he asked what he could or should do if he moved to an area where there were not any other Christians.
David’s verse for his confirmation was Psalm 23:1. Bryan’s was Romans 8:28. David and Bryan listened as Pastor Scheer asked them to confess their faith aloud. They clearly stated their faith in Christ as their Savior. They were not hesitant. They were confident.
Pastor Scheer gave each confirmand a framed confirmation certificate to keep as a lifelong reminder of his special day. It is a reproduction of a confirmation certificate which had originally been used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Pastor Scheer always makes each confirmand this beautifully framed certificate.
As David left the confirmation service, he spoke of his deep appreciation for all the love shown to him at All Saints. He acknowledged that he really knew we care about him. He will never forget his confirmation day or the sincere love given to him. He is family; he knows it.
Bryan’s proud family were with him, but David’s mother and family could not be here, so All Saints acted as his family by giving him love, a silver cross, a Bible, our congratulations, and we took his first communion with him side-by-side. As soon as the service and meal were over, he hurried back to his apartment to tell his mother all about the day by telephone. She was eagerly awaiting his call.
David graduates this month. He will find a job and move away. No matter where he lives he will find a Lutheran Church and be able to receive the Lord’s Supper. He has become a Lutheran. David is an international student who feels blessed not only by being able to graduate, but most especially by being able to be confirmed. All Saints will miss him, but will always be glad to have been a part of his and Bryan’s confirmation day. What a blessing to be family to this international student on his confirmation day!

Summer Fun at First Trinity and the PLCB

by Sherri Crum
A few years ago, perhaps four–perhaps more, the Pittsburgh Lutheran Center for the Blind began hosting a Summer Ice Cream Social. Since we take a break from the normal Monthly Meal programming during the warmer months, this gives us an opportunity to spend time with our blind/visually impaired friends in a different way. It also gives some members of the congregation of First Trinity who are unable to be physically present at the meals an opportunity to meet and interact with them.
This summer will be no different. On Sunday, August 5, 2012, the Pittsburgh Lutheran Center for the Blind will once again host our Summer Ice Cream Social. We would love to have you there! It begins at approximately 12:30 p.m. immediately following Sunday Worship Service. Things wrap up at around 2:00 p.m., so why not come attend church at First Trinity and stick around for the fun?
In the past, some of the guests have entertained us with their various talents. Some of the folks who are visually impaired have told jokes and stories, played the piano, or sang a song. More recently it has been the youth from the church sharing their musical gifts. It has been wonderful and awesome watching their developing skills, poise and confidence over the years.
Don’t let the fun pass you by. We would love for you to join us. Come on over and enjoy a light lunch and some cool and refreshing ice cream. If you know for sure you plan to attend, please let me know. Pittsburgh Lutheran Center for the Blind, 535 N. Neville St., Pittsburgh, PA 15213; Phone: (412) 682-1800; E-mail: sssmiley77@gmail.com.