St. John's Lutheran Church LCMS

From the mission field – VBS in Dominican Republic


Erin Mackenzie, LCMS missionary to the Dominican Republic, helps a student with a VBS activity. (Johanna Heidorn)

The first vacation Bible school (VBS) in recent memory at Concordia the Reformer Mercy Center and Seminary in Palmar Arriba, Dominican Republic, was held July 8–12. Missionaries, pastors, deaconesses, seminarians and others assisted with Bible stories, crafts and songs. The goal of 40 participants was far exceeded, with over 100 children in attendance.

The theme of the week was “Heroes of the Faith” and included stories about Anna, the prayer warrior; David and Goliath; Jesus’ blessing of the children; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace; and faithful Job. The children memorized Bible verses and learned songs in Spanish, including “Beautiful Savior” and “On My Heart Imprint Your Image.” During craft time on Thursday, the children traced their feet and cut out footprints. Before closing chapel, they came up one by one to lay their cutout footprints in a line, forming a path to the cross.  

In addition to LCMS missionaries, the VBS staff included two seminarians, three Dominican deaconesses, one deaconess student, one teacher and five local youth who had not previously attended church services at the center. One little boy, Carlos, who also had not been in church before, attended the VBS and is now bringing both of his parents to church.

VBS students are eager to answer a question posed by Deaconess Caitlin Ramirez, LCMS missionary to the Dominican Republic. (Johanna Heidorn)

Posted Sept. 18, 2019 from the Lutheran Reporter:

Pastor Rick’s October 2019 Message

In the month of October we celebrate the Reformation. As we do, celebrate the 3 solas- (sola gratia, sola fide, and sola scriptura) [only by grace, only by faith, and only by scripture].

All of God’s Word is special, because it comes from God. Through His Word, God reveals to us His thoughts, ways, and will. All of God’s Word is inspired. The Holy Spirit inspired the prophets to write the books of the Old Testament and the apostles to write the books of the New Testament. The Holy Spirit use these men and their personalities and way of writing to see to it that each word written is the exact word God wanted recorded.

The Word of God is also without errors. God’s Word is absolute truth. If God says it happened, it happened. If God says it will happen, then, it will happen. God’s Word is the standard for all Christian beliefs a practice. All of God’s Word is 1 piece from the first word of Genesis to the last word of Revelation.

All of God’s Word is about 1 thing, and that is Jesus is our Lord, Savior, and Redeemer. The Word of God was made to be spoken and heard. As it goes forth, it does what man’s word cannot do. Only God’s Word and voice can create what is out of what is not, put to death, recreate, create new life from that which is dead, forgive sins, and create faith and feed faith. These are done only by the power of God’s Word.

God’s Word includes 2 important parts. The First is the Law of 10 Commandments. They show us our sin, create sorrow for our sin, and get us to confess our sin. The Law always crushes and puts to death. The Law is always followed by the Gospel. The Gospel is: Jesus lived, died, and rose again for the forgiveness of our sins and salvation. The Gospel always forgives, creates new life, washes and purifies, reconciles so we are at peace with God, ourselves, and our neighbor, and restores us as full children of our heavenly Father. All this through God’s Word. Jesus is the living Word of God.

Worship is all about God’s Word. All of our liturgy, hymns, and prayers are the Word of God. In God’s Word, He teaches us how to correctly worship him, like Jesus teaching the disciples how to pray the Lord’s Prayer. As we worship, God first speaks His Word to us and then we speak His Word back to him. (Check out the LSB Orders of Service with Scriptural notations). As we do, we give to our God all praise, honor, and glory properly, the way He wants, and then, also, we lift up, encourage, and support our brothers and sisters in Christ. All of this by using God’s Word.

The Word of God also teaches us as His disciples, the way of life for a Christian. If anyone just tries to live their life according to God’s Word, they will be richly blessed, because it is God’s Word. God always promises to bless us when we follow His Word. We look to God’s Words and promises to get us through trials, tribulations, and troubles. He always keeps all of His Words and promises. What blessing we have in God’s Word!

Faith & Your Smartphone

Did you know that you could take daily devotions, the Bible and Luther’s Small Catechism with you everyday?

Here are some apps to support you in your daily faith journey:


Includes a daily Psalmody, Old and New Testament Readings, devotional, Hymnody, Prayer of the Day as well as a suggested Reading from the Book of Concord. Also included are selected Canticles, Prayers and Thanksgiving, Short Orders of Service as well as Orders of Daily Prayer.

Luther’s Small Catechism by Concordia Publishing House

Reference the official 1986 version of Luther’s Small Catechism wherever you are. This offers multiple translations. On top of exploring the Six Chief Parts of Christian Doctrine, it also includes daily prayers, a table of duties for Christians and a guide for Christians to use as they prepare to receive Holy Communion.

Daily Devotions by LHM

Download the official Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries.The devotions are written by staff and volunteers of Lutheran Hour Ministries across the globe. They are updated daily, and are available as text and audio.

Bible App for Kids

The Bible App for Kids is part of the YouVersion family of apps. It includes Bible Stories with easy, kid-friendly navigation, colorful illustrations, touch-activated animations, fun facts and activities, and special challenges that let kids earn rewards.

Pancake & Sausage Feed!

Church September time change!

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Service time will change starting on Sunday, September 1st to 9:00 am. Sunday School will follow at 10:15 am.

Cassidy July Update!

Pastor Rick’s August 2019 message

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The month of August is here. The summer has ended all to soon. Now it is
time for school, teachers, students, and learning.

Our America has changed. We have morphed from being agricultural to
industrial, to informational, and now to digital. Today, computers, smart phones, the internet, virtual reality, and the cloud rule. In many ways, our world is greatly different from the past. And yet, even with all the technology, everything is still the same. We still live in a fallen and broken world of sin, for all of us are still sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. We still have the Old Evil Foe shooting His firey darts at us 24-7. We still have frustration, suffering, pain, and death, in our world as consequences of sin. Because of man’s lust and greed, we now have air pollution, water pollution, and land pollution.

All of this comes to us because of man’s wisdom, and the wisdom of the fallen and broken world. It all goes back to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, who before the Fall, knew only of God’s wisdom and good, and had no knowledge of the wisdom of evil. But then, the Old Evil Foe came to Adam and Eve and tempted them to eat the forbidden fruit. “And, when she saw that (the forbidden fruit) was good for food a delight for the eyes, and gaining wisdom, she ate, and then gave it to her husband to eat. “
(Genesis 3:6 ).

So, the Holy Spirit tells us through King Solomon, “the beginning of wisdom is the fear of God.” (Proverbs 1:7a) As King Solomon, the wisest man to walk the earth, wrote these words, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he was talking about God’s wisdom, which is the exact opposite of the wisdom of the fallen and broken world and sinful man. I recently had the opportunity, to listen to an LCMS Director of Christian Education on the Issues Etc. radio program. She is married to a Pastor.She is also the mother of 5 and the 6 th is on the way. She said we as parents are doing our job in teaching our children to live in the Lord when we teach them that the most important thing is to know by faith Jesus as Lord, Savior, and Redeemer. Added to this is knowing the Word, way, and will of God, and the value of partaking of our Lord’s gifts, blessings, and benefits, through His Word and sacraments as we remain connected to Him and He to us. For He is, “the Vine and we are the branches.”(John 15)

All other things are passing by, but the divine and holy things, especially
the work of our Lord Jesus Christ, and His Word remain for all of eternity. This is not to say that we should not be learning reading, writing, and arithmetic. All of these are important. But I am wondering these days, if time wise, we are putting enough time into Christian Education, and leaning about the ways and will of our God?

Have a great August Pastor Rick

Cassidy’s January 2019 Message

Pastor’s February 2019 Message

jesus loves me

The month of February is here. February is the month of love, and the month of Valentines.

Tradition has it that we celebrate Valentines Day because of St. Valentine. He was a Christian high-ranking Roman Senator. He had household slaves that were Christians.  They decided to have a worship service for our God out in the middle of a forest, in the middle of nowhere. The Romans found out, and arrested all the household servants. At this time, the Roman Government wanted to stamp out Christianity. The Romans blamed the Christians for starting the Great Fire of Rome. Also, the worship of Christians disrupted the Roman culture in which many and various gods were worshiped.

After being arrested the household slaves were jailed. They were then given the opportunity to deny that they believed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and their personal Savior. If anyone of them denied, they would then be set free. If they did not, they would found guilty and sentenced to either torture, or put to death for sport in the Roman Coliseum by gladiators or starved animals such as lions. None of St. Valentine’s household slaves denied the faith. They were all facing death.

When St. Valentine heard of their imprisonment, he was heartbroken. He tried to support them in a unique way. He acquired some red paper and cut out hearts. On each heart he wrote a Bible verse and words of encouragement. This was the first Valentine.

St. Valentine then decided to offer a trade to the Romans. Himself for his household salves. As a high-ranking Roman Senator, St. Valentine would make better sport than his household slaves. The Romans agreed.

St. Valentine was then asked why he would do such an thing?  St. Valentine replied, “This is what my Jesus did for me. How could I not do this for my household servants that I love?” Jesus said, “No greater love does one have for another than they lie down their life for them so that they can live.” (John 5:16)

All of this reflects the great love of our God. Our God has a unique kind of love. It is the love that St. Paul the blessed Apostle wrote about in 1 Corinthians 13. Our god’s love is unconditional, sacrificial, supportive, and encouraging.

This is why we celebrate Valentine’s Day and give valentines to our loved ones.

Have a Great February   Pastor Brad Rick

Pastor Rick’s December 2018 Message


The month of December is here. For us as the holy people of God, the birth of Jesus as our Savior gets the focus of our attention. Behind Santa Claus, Rudolf the Red Nosed Raindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and the Grinch that stole Christmas, is our Jesus, born of Mary in Bethlehem. God incarnate, who took upon Himself human flesh, to be God’s and our Replacement and Substitute, to keep the 10 Commandments perfectly, because we can’t, and to go to the Cross and take the punishment for our sins, so that we are not punished for our sins, but, for His sake, forgiven, receiving life, and salvation.

The Christmas story is filled with miracles, wonders, and mystery. There is something for everyone. What is your favorite?

For those who like God keeping all of His promises, we have all of the Old Testament promises and prophesies about the Messiah fulfilled in Jesus. These include, “The Virgin will conceive, and give birth to a son.” (Isaiah 7:12)  Also, “But you Bethlehem Ephratha, from you shall come forth for Me One who is Ruler in Israel, Whose coming forth is from old, from ancient of days.”  (Micah 5:2)

For those who like power politics, there is Caesar who issued a decree that all Jewish people must counted, for a census for taxes. Each Jewish person and family must return to the town of their family origin and be counted.  This brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem.

If you enjoy a love story, what can beat the story of Joseph and Mary?  How the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would be the Mother of the Lord?  How Joseph was told and wanted to divorce Mary quietly?  How the Lord appeared in a dream and told Joseph to take Mary as his wife, because she was carrying the Christ child in her womb?  So, by faith, Joseph obeyed. For Joseph and Mary were chosen by God to be the parents of His Son.

If you like God working in mysterious ways, there were the Wise Men. The Kings from the East that brought to Jesus, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, gold, incense, and myrrh. The gold was used by Joseph and Mary to finance their trip down to Egypt.  For King Herod had found out that the Promised Messiah was born Bethlehem. So, He ordered that all Jewish boys 5 years old and younger be slaughtered. But Joseph warned in a dream, fled with Mary and Jesus down to Egypt, staying, until after King Herod died.

The most important part of the Christmas story is you. It was for you that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Jesus as your Savior is and will always be the best Christmas present ever.

May you grow closer to our Lord as you remember the Christmas story this Advent- Christmas Season.

The Lord’s Richest Blessings,  Pastor Brad Rick