Thanksgiving, Advent & Christmas Service Worship Times

Please mark your calendars for times have changed.

Thanksgiving Worship Service
Wednesday, November 22nd, at 6:30 pm, with communion

1st Midweek Advent Service
Wednesday, December 6th, at 5:30 pm

2nd Midweek Advent Service
Wednesday, December 13th, at 5:30 pm

3rd Midweek Advent Service
Wednesday, December 20th, at 5:30 pm

Christmas Eve ~ Sunday, December 24th
One Sunday Morning service at 10:00 am with communion
Evening Services ~ 7:00 pm & 9:00 pm with communion

Christmas Day Service
Monday, December 25th, at 10:00 am, with communion

New Year’s Eve ~ Sunday, December 31st
Morning Services at 8:15 am & 10:45 am

No evening service on New Year’s Eve

A Vine and It’s Branches

John 15 begins with one of my favorite discourses of Jesus. He describes the critical element of discipleship. Verse 4 says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.”

Two main thoughts come to mind as I reflect on this invitation of Jesus. ‘Abiding’ seems rather important. How do we abide in Jesus? What does this abiding look like? Certainly consuming the Word of God daily is one key. Think of it as ‘just hanging’ out with Jesus. Focusing on the really important things this Christmas when everyone is in a rush and have an overfilled schedule. I’ve said it before and you’re probably tired of hearing it, but I too, need to remember priorities. Be in God’s Word, be in Bible study, come to the special services, and have evening Advent family devotions. Don’t get to January 2024 and wonder what have I been missing?

I don’t know who said it but they got it right, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be what you’ve always been.”

Secondly, God wants you and me to be bearing fruit! My grandparents had a grape farm, and I spent many years pruning the grapes. It would look bear when they are cut back, but come harvest time as you pushed the leaves back you could see just how much lush fruit was being produced. I can say it was always fun, but I did learn some important lessons. May we all as branches connected to the vine, no matter the season produce a harvest!

Merry Christmas and as always -

Peace and Joy in Christ,
  Pastor Mark Gilson

Baptisms 3 Levi Judah Baumann (11/05/23)
Kenneth Causie (11/08/23)
Clark Phillip Bender (11/12/23)
Confirmations 3 Kenneth Causie (11/12/23)
Brandon Stine (11/12/23)
Michael Kool (11/12/23)
Weddings 0
Funerals 1 Cathy Grover (11/18/23)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I feel like this statement is always said around this time of year, “where did the year go?”. “The days are long, but the years are short”.

When you take the time to reflect on the past year, what comes to mind? Family, vacations, kids, work, something else?

For me, I think about how my life has changed completely with the addition of Levi. Schedule, work, rest, everything. With Levi, evening routines are different, a divide and conquer mindset has taken place. It works for us.

Something else that has changed over the past year is seeing Millie grow. She sings, she dances, her personality has really come to. I asked her this past week if she wanted to sing with me and she said, “yes”. It was amazing. I love being able to sing with her about the love of Jesus.

The past year has shown me what is important. It’s Jesus. It’s talking about Jesus, singing about Jesus, praying to Jesus, loving Jesus, sharing Jesus. Kids watch, they imitate, and they care about what you care about. I want to share with my children and with our congregation, the love of Jesus Christ.

Where did the year go? I hope and I pray that the year was spent showing, sharing, and caring about the love of Jesus Christ.

With that said, here’s something huge!

National Youth Gathering

What is NYG ?
This is the largest youth and adult conference that the LCMS hosts. This conference is meant to help prepare high school students for leadership opportunities and give them the confidence to have faith-based conversations. This is done through seminars, shows, games, mass gatherings, AND so much more.

Pray about it!
I invite you to start praying about whether this conference is something that you would want to be a part of. Do you desire to be more bold in your faith, have a better understanding of how to talk to someone about Jesus, or meet other Christians from around the world?

Who can go?
Any youth who are currently in 7th grade through 11th grade are eligible to attend this gathering scheduled for Summer of 2025. This conference only happens every three years! So make the best of the time you have!

Why put the information out so early?
The process of NYG is quite intense. The travel, food, registrations, service projects, excursions, and collaboration for this event require many details. It is encouraged to plan 18 months in advance for this event.

When's the first meeting?
January 21st at 9:30 am. This is only a "maybe I want to go" meeting. No obligations are required for this meeting. We will be discussing the theme of the gathering ENDURE, tentative costs, schedules, and fundraising. We encourage youth & adults to be in attendance for this meeting.

How can I be a part of the Leadership Team for NYG?
Do you want to step more into a leadership role here at St. James for NYG? Connect with Russell or Marci Bentz. We are looking for Youth and adults who want to be more hands on for the planning portion of this event. Be in prayer if you are thinking about being a chaperone, youth coordinator, or a Young Adult Volunteer for NYG.

Other dates to mark for your calendar:
December 2nd – Christmas Parade
December 3rd – Youth Night 6:00 pm (I’m thinking we won’t have snow for Double J’s
December 17th – Last Bible Study for Junior/Senior High Youth Sunday Morning
December 17th – Sunday School/Preschool Christmas Program and dinner
December 17th – Youth Night Christmas Party
December 20th – Last Confirmation Class of the year
December 22nd – Youth Lock-in

Prayer and Praise will begin again in January..

A reminder that Advent services will be at 5:30 pm on...
December 6th
December 13th
December 20th

Finally, continue to be in prayer for our congregation as we continue to seek out a new pastor. Pray that the Holy Spirit leads us to bring the right pastor to our congregation.

In Christ,
  Russell Baumann ~ John 3:30

Good Shepherd Preschool

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. (Psalm 107:1)

We had a very thankful November in preschool with projects, prayers, and poems. The Tuesday-Thursday kids filled the room with giggles as they created turkeys from their footprints, because who knew you could make a turkey out of your feet? Throughout the month, the M-W-F students recited Psalm 107:1 and an "ABC Thanksgiving" poem as well as making a life size picture of themselves with labels of why they were thankful for the different parts of their body.

As we head into December, we are excited to share the Christmas season with all of the children. On December 17, at 4:00p.m., we will have our Christmas program. The preschool children will open with songs and then the Sunday School will present their program, "To Us a Child is Born." It is sure to be a joy-filled celebration!

Blessings and Joy ~ Marilee Bailey

Sunday School News

Christmas time is almost here! This is my favorite time of year. We are already preparing for our Christmas program and the kids are excited to show you their hard work. Our program is called To Us A Child Is Born, and this year we have a special added treat. The Good Shepherd preschoolers will be our "openers" with their own special program! We're excited to bring our preschool families together with our church families and celebrate Jesus! We will have a Christmas dinner following our program again and it will be a great opportunity for fellowship.

Our Christmas program will be Sunday, December 17th, at 4 pm.

Save the date and let the grandparents know!

If you have children in Sunday school, they will be going through the songs every Sunday up until program day. Please help them be here as often as possible. They will also have song books to bring home and practice. We may need a few volunteers after the second service on the 17th to help set up the manger in the sanctuary. Please let me know if you would like to help.

In other news, our families at St James are growing! This is an amazing blessing and we're so happy to welcome all these cute new babies! With that, a couple of our Sunday school teachers will need a well deserved break after the Christmas program. We will be looking for one or two people who can step in and lead the Preschool-1st Grade class in Sunday school. These positions would be for the remainder of our school year (January to May). The lessons are already planned out, and there are easy step by step instructions for leading the kids. If you may be interested in helping out, or have questions, please connect with me!

  Amber Lanning
  (231) 740-7426

Midweek News

Reminder that midweek will start at 6:45 and end at 7:30 due to the Advent services. The last day for Midweek for the year is December 20th. We will have our Midweek Christmas Party that day. Look for more information to come about a Midweek Christmas Party. We will resume on January 10th.

  Amber Mayville

Love Family News

We will have a family for Christmas. They have many medical bills and travel expenses to cover while getting the help their child needs. During this, one parent lost their job since so much time had to be taken off to be with their child. Since it is very last minute; there are basically gift cards on the board in the narthex behind the scrip table. Let’s help make their Christmas a little less stressful and more focused on what it’s all about. Cards can be left in the office or given to Kim DuBois. Thank you!

Pointsettia Orders

We are taking poinsettia orders NOW! Sign up deadline is Sunday, December 3rd. The cost is $23/ea. Please pay when signing up! All poinsettias will be placed on the altar on December 17th and can be taken home after the 9:00 pm service on Christmas Eve!

Trail Life is where boys thrive!

Trail Life is a Christ-Centered, boy-focused, outdoor-adventure, family-building discipleship journey that strives to raise boys to become Godly men! Check out to learn how Trail Life impacts dads and their sons! The new troop at St. James will start meeting in January 2024. Come out for an informational meeting on Sunday, Dec 3, from 6-7:00 pm, in the Fellowship Hall!

Mission Sisters Market

Join us December 9th from 1pm-4pm in the Youth House for the Mission Sisters Market. There will be gifts for purchase, gift wrapping and festivities all to benefit the 2024 Alaska Mission Team. It will be a great way to find unique gifts for your loved ones and put your money towards a great cause. Feel free to bring your own gifts for wrapping as well. Some gifts will be available for purchase between services on December 10th.

Lutheran Witness Subscriptions

It’s subscription renewal time! 2024 Subscriptions through the church are $19/year.

If you are NOT receiving the Lutheran Witness and would like to, please sign up on the “New Subscriptions” list on the bulletin board. Please make your $19 payment at that time.

If you are currently receiving the Lutheran Witness and would like to continue, please put a “yes” by your name on the “Current Subscription” list posted on the bulletin board and make your $19 payment at that time.

If you would like to discontinue your subscription, please cross your name off the “Current Subscription” list.

Lutheran Witness Sign up deadline is Sunday, December 10th!

Love Inc. News

Love (In the Name of Christ) has an exciting event happening now! Join in the fight against hunger by purchasing a $10 donation card. The North Muskegon Meijer STORE will match your donation for the Love Inc. Food Banks! This campaign runs from Oct.1-Dec.30 (13 weeks). On Saturday, 12/16, North Muskegon Meijers will double their match! “Helping Churches Help People”

Sunday School Christmas Program

Sunday, December 17th, at 4:00 pm! Good Shepherd Preschool will be joining us! Save the date and let the grandparents know!

Please join us on Christmas Eve as we celebrate the birth of our Savior!

Morning Service 10:00 am ONLY
Christmas Eve Services 7:00 pm & 9:00 pm
Christmas Morning Service
Monday, December 25th, at 10:00 am

Holiday greetings from the Thrivent Whitehall office

May your Christmas be filled with hope, joy and peace. Merry Christmas!
  Tony DeNicolo and Marci Bentz,
  Your Thrivent Financial Advisors

Wishing Tony the best in his upcoming retirement!!!

Women of St. James

Living Fearless Retreat
On Saturday, November 11th, 21 women shared the journey of finding our true identity. I have a few books left if you'd like to pick one up and read along with us. Our plan is to finish the book on our own and then join together an evening in January and discuss our progress. You are welcome to join us. Contact me if you'd like a book for $15.

Coming Soon... The Voice of God

Retreat with the speaker Sarah Schultz, Saturday, March 2nd, from 9:00-2:00pm
Youth House ~ Lunch will be served ~ Cost to be determined.
Save the date and watch the bulletin for additional information.
We are indeed blessed to grow, worship, and share our faith together through God's Word.
Blessings for a Christmas filled with HIS love, joy, and peace,

  Ellen Grimm

Understanding Required Minimum Distributions and Qualified Charitable Distributions

In late December 2022, the President signed legislation that included the Secure 2.0 Act which extended the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) age from age 72 to 73 beginning in 2023 and to 75 beginning in 2033. If you have a qualified retirement plan (i.e., IRAs, 401(k)s and 403(b)s), you’re required to take a minimum amount of money out of your plan each year. (Roth IRAs do not require RMDs.) These RMDs are taxable and must continue for your lifetime or until the account is depleted. But what if you don’t need these funds for daily living expenses in retirement? Fortunately, there are several ways you can repurpose your RMDs to make the most of the money you must withdraw. These options can enable you to spread generosity to people and causes that matter most to you and help you better meet your priorities and generosity goals. Included in these options is Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCD). Individual Retirement Account (IRA) owners age 70 ½ or older are eligible to make qualified distributions directly to a charitable organization. The benefits of making a direct Qualified Charitable Distribution from an IRA include:

The contribution must be made directly from the IRA trustee to the charitable organization (the funds cannot be received by the account owner). Contact your Whitehall Thrivent financial advisors, Marci Bentz and Tony De Nicolo at 231-894-8886, text 231-760-8246, or email for assistance to guide you in strategies to consider.

The Pro-Life Generation at the Michigan March for Life

By Elisa Schulz November 9, 2023

On a rainy Wednesday morning, approximately 5,000 people gathered in front of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing to demonstrate their unwavering support for life at all stages.The Michigan March for Life took place on November 8. Many Michigan District pastors (including two entire circuits), schools, and individuals were there, along with other non-Lutheran groups. There was a rally at 11 a.m. featuring several speakers, and the march began at noon. The rain held off for most of the rally and march, which was an answer to prayer.The high number of youth present (high school students and youngsters) was a highlight for many, including Rev. Paul Clark, Pastor at St. Paul, Fowler and President of Lutherans for Life of Michigan. After the march, Clark said, “We think that everything went wonderfully. I could not be more pleased. Despite the weather, the turnout was awesome, the number of young people was phenomenal. It was so encouraging to see the number of young people who were at this rally and march. The speakers were great, the march itself was peaceful and well done and well organized.”After the rally, all Lutherans were invited to a gathering at Hope, DeWitt, where they were served a delicious lunch and enjoyed fellowship. Rev. Tony Sikora, pastor at Hope, said, “I was glad to have a number of high schools and various churches and day schools and pastors participating in all of this, along with our own members and laity.” Over 200 people came to the gathering.After the meal, participants heard an inspiring address by Rev. Michael Salemink, Executive Director of Lutherans for Life. He said, “Sanctity of life is not just a hobby. It’s not just a thing that we do, not even just a cause or a movement. We believe this is the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that God creates and redeems and calls every human being to be his own—precious, special, priceless—from fertilization to forever … Advocating for the sanctity of life is our purpose. This is why we are here. It’s what life is about and it’s what makes life magnificent.” Salemink then encouraged participants to put their sanctity of life convictions into practice: “After today, I want you to be able to take the energy and enthusiasm that has been generated by gathering together with life-minded Lutherans from across the state, as well as other pro-life voices, and use that as a springboard.”

Here are Salemink’s suggestions:
  1. Learn. There is a lot of misinformation related to abortion in our culture.
  2. Publicize. Tell a family member or a friend about the difference that the gospel of Christ makes to you and to our culture. Lutherans for Life has lots of resources you can share and point people to, including a prolific YouTube channel.
  3. Assess your own opportunities, your interests, and abilities and how those could benefit people who are facing life issues.
  4. Enjoy the blessings God has given you by building relationships with the people whom He has put into your life. Open conversations and relate to the people around you.
  5. Recognize God’s gifts. Rejoice in the blessings of life and family. Encourage your pastor.
  6. Engage. Network and organize with other life-affirming voices such as you have done at the march and rally.
  7. Donate. Lots of ministries could benefit from your generosity.
  8. Advocate. Get familiar with your local school board or library board or city council proceedings.
  9. Contact your state and federal representatives.
  10. Volunteer. Sort donations or perform maintenance at the pregnancy resource center; sit and sing or play and pray with nursing home residents; prepare meals at a soup kitchen; stock shelves at a food pantry; provide childcare for a single mom or teenage parent.
Salemink concluded saying “There are so many different ways in which you can put the sanctity of life into practice, and I want you to think of them not just as responsibilities, but as opportunities. After all, this is what makes life magnificent and why we’re here to share in the joy that God himself has in receiving every neighbor as a gift and a privilege.”

Online Service Directions!

How to watch our services online step by step: on Facebook Live on Sundays at 8:00 am
  1. In the top search bar... Go to
    (You do not need to have a Facebook account page to access this)
  2. Close the popup box asking to login to your Facebook account.
  3. Scroll down through the Facebook page until you come across the most recent videos
  4. Click on the Live video of the church service.
  5. Explore the rest of the Facebook page and watch other videos. 😊

December Birthdays
12/04 David Ramthun 12/19 Katie Bender
12/04 Jake Wackernagel 12/20 Al Fremer
12/05 Brent Ramthun 12/21 Dianne Gardner
12/05 Matt Schultz 12/21 Ellarie Moore
12/07 Karen Chamberlain 12/22 Nolan DuBois
12/10 Deb Morningstar 12/24 Kellie Rachow
12/10 Terry Lanning 12/24 Merle Bernhardt
12/11 Loren Kroll 12/26 Brycen Auble
12/11 Pam Sikkenga 12/26 Jennifer Moore
12/12 Chris Buchberger 12/26 Scott Lipka
12/12 Dylan Lohman 12/28 Emily Hedges
12/12 Sam Wackernagel 12/28 Liam Lindstrom
12/12 Susan Kroll 12/28 Marek Bernhardt
12/12 Valerie Vihtelic 12/28 Megan Rachow
12/13 Ava Rajewski 12/29 Sue McNeil
12/14 Ken Dahl 12/29 Sue Sikkenga
12/14 Kris Dahl 12/30 Jerry Gardner
12/14 Tom Blink 12/30 June Russell
12/16 Eric Lindstrom 12/30 Marty Tyler
12/16 Peggy Rabe 12/31 Amy Goodrich
12/18 Bill Treptow 12/31 Lanson Fichter
12/18 Chris Rogers

8:15 10:45
ELDERS Keith Ramthun Henry Friday
TRUSTEES Allen Ramthun Ruschel Friday
ACOLYTES Matthew Hedges
USHERS Keith Ramthun
Jay Mulder
Ron Bailey
Henry Bailey
Riley Mulder
ALTAR CARE Eileen Schroeder & Julie Grow
PRAYER PARTNER 3rd Royce Kroll
10th Cantata Sunday
17th Dan Hardy
24th 10:00 am ~ No one scheduled
25th 10:00 am ~ No one scheduled
31st Sam Bender
READERS 3rd Greg Neubauer Diane Babcock
10th Cantata Sunday Ruth Ann Francis
17th Karen Neubauer Ruschel Friday
24th 10:00 am ~ No one scheduled
25th 10:00 am ~ No one scheduled
31st Lisa Siedenstrang Courtney Friday
GREETERS 3rd Leah Stevens Jeff & Melinda O'Connell
10th James & Deb Morningstar Tom & Karen Mott
17th Paul & Eileen Schroeder Jared & Sarah Justian
24th 10:00 am ~ No one scheduled
25th 10:00 am ~ No one scheduled
31st Faith Mayville Friday Family
MULTI-MEDIA 3rd Jeri Wonders Lizbeth Bentz
6th Eric Lindstrom (5:30 pm Midweek Service)
10th Eric Lindstrom (8:15, 10:45, & 7:00pm ~ Cantata)
13th April Likpa (5:30 pm Midweek Service)
17th April Lipka Jill Squire
20th Eric Lindstrom (5:30 pm Midweek Service)
24th Eric Lindstrom (10:00 am)
24th April Lipka (7:00 pm) Friday Family (9:00 pm)
25th Jeri Wonders (10:00 am)
31st Alicia Koski Lizbeth Bentz
COFFEE HOUR 3rd Ruth Ann Francis & Gloria Alvarez
10th Pat Ramthun & Jennifer Mulder
17th Ron & Marilee Bailey
24th No coffee hour
25th No coffee hour
31st Merle & Nancy Bernhardt
NURSERY (2nd Service Only) 3rd Amy Wackernagel
10th Julia Hassenbank
17th Katie & Lilly Rice
24th 10:00 am ~ No one scheduled
25th 10:00 am ~ No one scheduled
31st Jen Moore
17th Virginia Roesler


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

Funeral Families

If we have a funeral, Faith Mayville, 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. Faith will let you know what is needed.