Pastor Brooks Pastor John Brooks

People of God!

As we enter October here in Beautiful West Michigan our many educational ministries for all ages are up and running great! THANK YOU to our many outstanding volunteers in Sunday School, Midweek School, and Confirmation classes, and Adult Bible Studies!

Our Vicar, Paul Gashler, is now seeing and experiencing, after our slower summer months, what prime time ministry is like here at St. James and he is doing an excellent job participating and plugging in! I am very thankful for Paul and his willingness to step forth, learn, and share his gifts with us. Paul and I spend a lot of time talking about all aspects of ministry and he frequently accompanies me on shut-in and hospital visits. And I THANK ALL OF YOU for your graciousness in supporting our Vicar, your hospitality, and your love! I have told Paul that you are a very caring and loving congregation and he has been discovering that! Good job!

As we enter October the first big event is a Dinner Reception/Shower Celebration for Paul and his fiancé, Kati, after our second service on Sunday, October 1st. We want to celebrate their upcoming wedding on December 2nd in Fort Wayne, Indiana. A delicious dinner will be served and I thank the many of you who are working to set up, prepare and serve, take down and clean up for this dinner! If you would like to bring a gift for Paul and Kati I suggest gift cards or cash (which they could use on their upcoming honeymoon in January). Vicar Paul will be preaching that Sunday and his parents will also be visiting, so it will be a wonderful weekend! If you plan on attending, please sign-up on the "Sign-up" Board in the Narthex.

During the week of October 8-11, Vicar Paul and I will be attending the Michigan District Pastor's Conference at Boyne Mountain. I am very excited to hear one of the speakers, Ken Ham, from the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter.

Speaking of the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter, Vicar Paul is taking a group of over 20 people there during the weekend of October 27-29. This is an incredible, very educational, faith-affirming, and amazing experience! I encourage all of you to visit it sometime! Vicar Paul has some information about this trip in his article in this Newsletter. There is a meeting on 10/8, after 2nd service for those who have signed up!

A Hayride and Bon Fire family fellowship event, sponsored by our Board of Elders, will be on Saturday evening, October 14, beginning at 6 p.m. Hot dogs, cider and donuts will be provided. We had such fun with this last year! Please come, bring your friends and family, and sign up on the "Sign-up" Board so we know how many to prepare for.

God be with you and bless you as, together, we serve Him and His people!

God Bless You!

  ~ Pastor Brooks


Paul Gaschler Vicar Paul Gaschler

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I now have been serving as vicar here at St. James for over 3 months. The time has absolutely flown by and I’ve very much enjoyed it so far. This has been an eventful, somewhat stressful, but most importantly blessed time for me adjusting here while planning a wedding. I’m thrilled to be able to bring my fiance Kati here after we get married December 2nd. We’re both very thankful for all the support this congregation has showed us at this time.

Fall time has come and activities have kicked off. One new activity that I’m leading is our Book Club on Monday nights. Right now we’re reading through “Why Should I Trust the Bible?”, a book that in understandable language shows how to defend against typical critiques thrown at Christians. We’re looking at having this group meet continually, even after we complete this book, so If you’re not involved now but would like to be in the future, then feel free to contact me for more details.

Another new activity we’ve started is having the Sr. High youth meet on Wednesdays @ 5pm-6pm in the youth house for dinner, snacks, discussion. We are working jointly with Faith Lutheran in Whitehall, and I and Pastor Willenbrock from Faith take turns leading the group. Topics so far have included prayer, love, and Islam. We will in the future be asking for volunteers to provide dinner/snacks for this group, if you’re interested in helping please contact me and/or look for more information to be coming soon.

We’re still in the process of planning a trip to the Creation Museum/ Ark Encounter in Kentucky the weekend of October 27-29th. We are having a meeting after 2nd service on October 8th to discuss details, cost, and drivers. Anyone interested in going needs to come to this meeting or contact me if you are unable to attend. At this point we don’t have enough numbers to make a bus feasible, so we will need volunteers to drive.

As always, feel free to contact me at or at my cell # (308).882.6015 with any questions, concerns, or suggestions.

In Christ,
  Vicar Paul Gaschler

Good Shepherd Preschool

We are excited to have 15 ~ 3 year olds and 15 ~ 4 year olds in class. The learning, discovering, and laughing have begun! Please keep our preschool families in your prayers.

  Ellen Grimm

Sunday School

Sunday School ~ 9:30 am in the Fellowship Hall


Midweek Classes ~ 6:30 pm every Wednesday!

Jr. Youth

Sunday Bible Study ~ 9:30 am in the Blue Room!

Confirmation Classes ~ 6:30 pm every Wednesday.

Sr. Youth

Sunday Bible Study ~ 9:30 am in the Youth House!

Sr. Youth Group ~ 5:00 pm every Wednesday in the Youth House... dinner provided!

Hurricane Disaster Relief

We will be collecting a freewill offering on Sunday, 10/1, for the disaster relief efforts for Hurricane Harvey.

Currently, Thrivent is matching any Hurricane Harvey donations up to three million dollars. So, if the funds are still available we will have matching funds for all the money collected!

Trustees Update ~ Summer and Fall Work:

  • removed and trimmed trees & shrubs + over grown plantings at parsonage.
  • removed leaf build up from northwest property corner.
  • converted 2 handicap spaces into 3 standard spaces in North lot.
To Be Completed:
  • solution for a water leak identified in youth house restroom
  • add automatic flush sensors to urinals in men's restroom on first floor level.
  • update interior youth house lights with LED bulbs.

Love Family

Donations for the Love family this month are toiletries (toothpaste, shampoo, razors, soap,...) and lunch items (fruit and pudding cups, crackers, canned meat, soups) Remember, diapers size 3/4 and 5 are always welcome! Thank you!


Disasters ~ Lutheran World Relief ~ The Quilters

Wednesday, October 18th, is the date set for the shipment of the quilts, sewing kits, school kits, and soap!

No one can escape and we know that these items, especially, will be needed, not only overseas but right here in the United States. We have been hit by DISASTER! In the next newsletter we will be able to share all of the amounts that will be shipped.

Do we know where it all goes? The recent newsletter, Faith in Action, for quilters and kit makers had an answer for just one quilt. Pastor Del Akech survived the horrors of the Sudanese civil war. As a refugee, he received an LWR quilt. He is now a pastor in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area. An act of kindness was one way God called him toward service to others.

St. James Quilters have been so blessed with materials, and would encourage women (and men) that Tuesday mornings, beginning at 9:00 am, is one good way to show, “Faith in Action”. Any and all time given is appreciated – no skills needed.

October is Pastor Appreciation Month!

Your St. James Family would like to thank you, Pastor Brooks, for all you do!

Scrip News

Greetings! The Scrip program is a great way to shop- gas, groceries, gifts, dining out and on the run. Buying gift cards through the Scrip program doesn’t cost extra and a percentage of all purchases are donated to our church. Basically, Scrip earns money shopping where you normally shop- places like Wesco, Montague Foods and Meijer. These and over a hundred other stores have agreed to donate to our church with every Scrip purchase. It’s free money!

Exciting news- The Scrip program is growing! We will continue to sell gift cards in the narthex, but we are expanding to include online ordering from your computer or smart phone and electronic debiting from your checking account. Many stores and restaurants are offering card reloads and electronic scrip while donating the same percentage to the church. More opportunities to earn money while you shop! Didn’t know you were going to Subway? Reload your card while you’re waiting in line and pay with it when you get to the register. We’re excited to offer these new options and can’t wait to see the program grow!

You can set up your online account at by clicking the green “Get Started” button in the top right corner of your screen. The code for our church is F33BE4F34514. Details about online ordering and electronic payment are available at the scrip table. Stop by and ask for a packet! Scrip information and website links will be coming to our church website soon.

What’s new:
Walmart: now open in Whitehall- $25 or $100 gift cards available, 2.5% donation. Good at any store or gas station location, also online. May also be used at Sam’s Club.
Great Lakes Fresh Market: offering $10 or $25 certificates, donation remains at 5%. We have some in stock currently. Please let us know if you would like us to stock this in our inventory.
Shutterfly: now available in $25 gift cards, 9% donation, also available as eScrip, to be used for online sales
Walgreens: donation now at 5%, $25 cards available, good at any store, pharmacy or online
Lane Bryant: $25 cards available, also available as eScrip, donation at 8%, good at any location or online
Catherine’s: available as eScrip only, donation at 8%, good at any location or online
Payless Shoes: available again in $20 cards, donation is 13%, good at any location or online

In Christ’s Service
   ~ The Scrip Committee

Pew Sisters Bible Study

The Pew Sisters will begin a new study on the book of Romans. The new session begins on Thursday, 10/19, at 3:30 pm. Please sign up on the bulletin board if you are interested in participating. If you have any questions please call Angie Lindstrom at 231-674-5444.

Church Library News

A Big Thank You to Heidi McLaughlin for volunteering to be our new Librarian! Check out our library…there are wonderful resources waiting for you!

2017 Cantata

“The Night Before Christmas”
Practice begins Tuesday, 10/3, at 7:30 pm. If you would like to be a part of the 2017 cantata, please sign up on the bulletin board!
  ….make a joyful noise….

Hayride & Bon Fire

The Elders are, once again, hosting a Hayride and Bon Fire on Saturday, 10/14, at 6:00 pm!

Hotdogs, cider, & doughnuts will be provided.

Please sign your family up on the bulletin board if you would like to be a part of the fun!

2017 Budget Meeting

Attention all board leaders and church council...
the 2017 budget meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, 10/18, at 7:30 pm.

Watch for your letter along with reports coming soon.

Do All Religions Lead to God?

by Simon Turpin on September 6, 2017

The belief that people of all religions worship the same God, just in a different way, seems to be the cultural norm today. Behind this is the idea that all beliefs should be tolerated and that any claim to ultimate truth is arrogant. (1)

Sadly, many Christians have inhaled the relativistic air of our pluralistic culture and fallen for this idea. However, it is not intolerant to acknowledge differences in belief. In fact, it is only when we take other views seriously on their own terms instead of trying to assimilate them to our own belief that we are truly being respectful to them. The fact of the matter is that all the world’s religions make particular truth claims and seek to live those out.

The idea that we all worship the same God just in different ways is a fairly easy thing to say if you don’t know what different religions believe. For example, Buddhists deny the existence of a personal god, while Hindus believe in many gods. Mormonism is also a polytheistic religion, though Mormons restrict their worship to only a few gods.

The doctrine of the Trinity especially distinguishes Christianity from the world’s religions.

Even in the three monotheistic world religions—Christianity, Islam, and Judaism—there are fundamental differences in God’s character, attributes, and especially his nature. Although all three are monotheistic, Judaism and Islam are Unitarian monotheists (the belief that the being of God exists as one person). Christianity on the other hand is Trinitarian monotheism. This is the belief that within the one Being that is God, there exists eternally three co-equal and co-eternal persons, namely the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each is a distinct person, yet each is identified as God: Father (1 Corinthians 8:6); Son (John 1:1–3; Romans 9:5); Spirit (Acts 5:3–4). The doctrine of the Trinity especially distinguishes Christianity from the world’s religions. In Islam, even though it is misunderstood,2 the doctrine of the Trinity is considered blasphemy! It is completely illogical to say all paths lead to God when even the notion of God that is held by each religion is contradictory.

Another major difference between Christianity and the world’s religions is that the world’s religions do not have a realistic view of human nature (i.e., our sinfulness)3 since all teach salvation by human effort or goodness.4 All religions, except Christianity, tone down both the bad news of our sinfulness and the good news of God’s free grace. None of the world’s religions present any good news (gospel) that someone has liberated us from the reign of sin and death. In Christianity, salvation comes through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection and not through human effort (1 Corinthians 15:1–4; Romans 4:4–8).

On all of these points, it is not that each religion is professing different aspects of one truth, but that they are contradicting each other in their truth claims. While the world’s religions may all point you in the direction of heaven and tell you that you can save yourself, Christianity teaches that Jesus has come, not just as a moral leader to show us the path to God, but to be our Way, our Truth, and our Life (John 14:6), the only One who can give us peace (John 14:27; Romans 5:1).

When it comes to our cultural situation today, we should also keep in mind that the book of Acts tells us that Christianity was born in a time of persecution and immorality in a world where the church was in the minority. Yet it was in that culture that the apostles proclaimed the exclusivity of Christ as the only way of salvation for all people (see Acts 8:5, 13:23–39, 16:30–31, 17:30–31, 20:21):

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

Even when the apostles were told by the authorities to be silent and no longer proclaim Christ, they responded by saying, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19–20). In a time when the emperor claimed to be Lord and the moral code was decidedly in opposition to Scripture, the Holy Spirit gave that early church the ability to be faithful and to preach the Word of God without fear or compromise. He did it then, and he can do so now.

What About People Who Never Hear About Jesus?

If all religions do not lead to God, then a common question that usually comes up is this: “What happens to those who have never heard about Jesus?” Obviously, this is a very emotional question because it deals with the final destiny of people. This is an important question because how we answer it will determine how we engage other religions with the gospel. We need to keep in mind two things: first, that the theological reality that God is our Creator and man is in rebellion against him and, second, that the Bible tells us that all people know of God’s existence and are therefore accountable to him. The apostle Paul tells us:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse (Romans 1:18–20).

Because of our fallen state, we disobey God and, consequently, make counterfeit gods/idols (Psalm 96:5). Jesus is sent into a lost world that is already guilty of rejecting the God whom they know exists and therefore are already under his judgment and on their way to hell (Romans 2:5, 16). In other words, God does not punish people for not knowing about Jesus, but for their individual sins against him (Romans 1:20–32) and their rejecting the clear revelation of God that has been evident ever since God’s creation was completed.

People may say, “Isn’t it unfair of God not to provide more than one way of salvation?” But in reality, we should be thankful that God has provided even one way. God is under no obligation to save any of his fallen creatures. We do not deserve salvation; it is solely based upon his grace (Ephesians 2:8–9).

What about those who argue for inclusivity, the belief that there is access to salvation outside of Jesus? The Roman centurion Cornelius is often used as an example of a gentile whose faith in God was accepted without him knowing about Jesus. It is true that Cornelius is described as a “devout man who feared God” (Acts 10:2), and as Peter himself said, “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34–35). But does this mean that Cornelius did not need to hear about Jesus to be saved? We need to keep in mind the context, which is that the gentiles, as well as the Jews, need to hear the gospel. Peter explains this as “preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:36). He also ends his message by stating that “everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43). Cornelius’s salvation occurred during Peter’s presentation of the gospel, since Peter himself says, “He will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household” (Acts 11:14).

The Bible makes it clear that the world is in desperate need of Jesus, which is why we take the gospel to every tribe, tongue, and nation.

God has chosen the gospel of Jesus Christ as the means by which people are to be saved (Romans 10:17). Although he is free to work outside of ordinary providence, as is recognized by the Westminster and London Baptist confessions of faith (5.3), he is under no obligation to do so. The Bible makes it clear that the world is in desperate need of Jesus, which is why we take the gospel to every tribe, tongue, and nation.

It is important to remember as we share the gospel with those from other religions that they are made in the image of God and, therefore, have dignity and value. As Christians, we should also remember that at one time we “were without Christ” and “having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12, NKJV).5 Therefore, we should not reach out to people in fear or hate, but with love and grace, as this is what we have been shown by our Savior (Ephesians 2:5; Titus 3:5). The nineteenth century Bishop of Liverpool, England, J.C. Ryle exhorted Christians to remember those who are without Christ:

We are often reminded of the many who are without food or clothing or school or church. Let us pity them, and help them, as far as we can. But let us never forget that there are people whose state is far more pitiable. Who are they? The people without Christ! Have we relatives without Christ? Let us feel for them, pray for them, speak to the King about them, strive to recommend the gospel to them. Let us leave no stone unturned in our efforts to bring them to Christ. Have we neighbors without Christ? Let us labor in every way for their soul’s salvation. The night cometh when none can work. Happy is he who lives under the abiding conviction that to be in Christ is peace, safety and happiness; and that to be without Christ is to be on the brink of destruction. (6)


  1. This can be seen in Senator Bernie Sanders recent comments to potential deputy White House budget director, Russell Vought, who is an evangelical Christian. For a transcript of Sanders comments see Justin Taylor, “Bernie Sanders to Traditional Christians: Your Beliefs Are Indefensibly Hateful and Insulting, and Not What This Country Is Supposed to Be About,” The Gospel Coalition (blog), June 8, 2017, all footnotes
  2. The author of the Qur’an believed that the Trinity was made up of the Father, Jesus, and Mary (Jesus’ mother): see Surah 4:171; 5:116.See all footnotes
  3. The Bible clearly teaches the utter sinfulness of mankind (Genesis 8:21; Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 12:34–35; Ephesians 2:1–3).See all footnotes
  4. The Bible makes it clear that human effort or works do not benefit us before God (Romans 3:20, 4:5; Galatians 3:16).See all footnotes
  5. For the Apostle Paul to be without Christ is also to be without God.See all footnotes
  6. J. C. Ryle, Holiness (Evangelical Press: Durham, England, 1879), 253.


St. James Lutheran Church
Saturday, November 4th, 2017

Open Seating from 4:30 – 6:30 pm

Bake Sale 4:30-6:30 pm

Silent Quilt Auction 4:30-6:30 pm

Tickets: $12.00 (Adults), $5.00 (6-12), 5 and under are free

The Menu: Roasted Pork Loin, Oven Fried Chicken, German Style Sauerkraut, Real Mashed Potatoes, Pork Gravy, Stuffing, Squash, Green Beans, Applesauce, Rolls, Pies, and beverages
All Dinner proceeds will go to: The Muskegon Rescue Mission

Reservations recommended! To reserve tickets call 894-2290 or the church office at 894-8471

October Birthdays
10/01Hoan Cox10/14Jennifer Mulder
10/01Jacob Buchberger10/14Keith Ramthun
10/01Jarrod Moore10/15Julie Trevino
10/02Noah Ramthun10/15Maya Justian
10/03Judy Best10/16Claire Meacham
10/04Eileen Schroeder10/16Joe Goodrich
10/04Jacob Schumm10/16Madelyne Meacham
10/04Jim Morningstar10/17Betty Ross
10/04Randy Wackernagel10/17Diane Babcock
10/05Phil Albrecht10/18Josha Tryska
10/06Karen Neubauer10/19Julie Shafer
10/06Laura Anderson10/21Frank Morningstar
10/07Allison Lohman10/22Jane Rikkers
10/07Dave Richards10/22Jason Cooper
10/08Helen Schmiedeknecht10/22Kit Wackernagel
10/09Donald Deremiah10/23Lexi Bronson
10/09Michael Ramthun10/23Marcey Canniff
10/10Kim Luce10/23Pam Johnston
10/11Marilyn Pierson10/23Tom Mott
10/11Michael Fekken10/24Nate Johnson
10/12Larry Halgren10/26Al Trevino
10/12Marcia Chen10/29Ryan Kroll
10/12Mary Albrecht10/31Chuck Vanderlaan
10/13Kennedy Seymour10/31Liz Hedges
10/13Michelle Smith10/31Lynn Nichols
10/14Addison Bluhm

ELDERSGreg NeubauerJeff O'Connell
TRUSTEESJosh HulsJoe Goodrich
ACOLYTESAddison Bluhm
USHERSKeith RamthunBrad VanBergen
Jay MulderKen VanBergen
Ron BaileyJeff Stevens
Rich Kessler, Jr.Bruce Baxter
Jackson VanBergen
ALTAR CAREBetty Ross & Becky Winters
PRAYER PARTNERS1stRon BaileyJeff O'Connell
8thBob WackernagelArt Jones
15thLee CarpenterEric Lindstrom
22ndJim EastmanHenry Friday
29thAlan MayvilleMerle Bernhardt, Jr.
GREETERS1stM/M Tom BlinkM/M Jeff O'Connell
8thM/M Rex AllenM/M Kevin Buchberger
15thDoris GroverM/M Tom Mott
22ndM/M Rich Kessler, Jr.M/M Steve Urban
29thM/M Frank MorningstarM/M Jared Justian
MULTI-MEDIA1stZach BuchbergerEric Lindstrom
8thJeri WondersJackson VanBergen
15thApril LipkaEric Lindstrom
22ndEric LindstromFriday Family
29thAlicia KoskiJackson VanBergen

Funeral Families
If we have a funeral, Eileen Schroeder, our Luncheon Coordinator will contact you for help. Each funeral luncheon requires table/chair set up, food donations, food servers (kitchen staff), and table/chair take down. Eileen will let you know what is needed.

If you are unable to fulfill your assigned duty, please make arrangements with someone before or after you on the list. Thanks!