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"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Volume III, Issue 30
August 16, 2018

Encourage Newsletter
Rev. Dr. R. Lee Hagan

Confession and Absolution: The Freedom of Forgiveness

“I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Psalm 32:5  

How often Christians feebly try to cover our sin, from our others and even from God.  Like Adam and Eve, we hide from God on account of our sin and shame.  But the Lord God called to His children in the Garden and bid them to come out from their hiding.  Then He forgives them of their sin, gives them the promise of one who would deliver them, and finally covers over their sin. 

Week after week, year after year, servants in the Church preach and teach about the forgiveness that is received through the merits of Christ’s death and resurrection.  Pastors extol the benefits of confession and absolution.  Teachers explain what the catechism teaches about the Office of the Keys.  But sadly, even servants in the Church, do not avail themselves of the blessed gift that is individual confession and absolution. 

The Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) just recently published a new report on confession and absolution.  (  This study is actually a helpful reminder of the blessing that Confession and Absolution are to all of God’s people, but particularly to those who serve in the Church.  It states, “Recognition of our need for the Lord’s constantly nourishing grace is for all. The pastor stands on the same level as those he serves; both need the forgiveness of sins, and both receive it in absolution. Both pastor and people are beggars; there is no difference.” (p. 18)

Even pastors and other professional church workers struggle with feelings of guilt and shame.  We continue to try to hide our iniquities under the coverings of our accomplishments rather than finding freedom in Christ’s forgiveness.  The report states regarding pastors, “He will find in confession and absolution the very allies that can bring support and encouragement as he continues to wage war on these satanic forces. Confessing his failures and acknowledging his helplessness may even bring the pastor to a better understanding of the sources of the anger and discouragement. It will work to restore and strengthen his conviction that all pastors serve their Lord as both recipients and stewards of the Gospel’s absolution, helping him once again to “major in” the things that really are important.”  (p. 21)  Rather than remaining trapped in the prison of shame, our prayer is that servants in the Church would rejoice in the freedom that comes from hearing that Christ’s forgiveness is for the sin that weighs so heavily on one’s heart.  One of the ways that we have provided support for workers in Missouri District is through our Church Worker Care team.  If you are looking for a pastor who could serve as father confessor, please consider reaching out to one of the pastors on the team (Rev. Ed Arle, Rev. Gary Griffin, Rev. Fred Hertwig, Rev. Fran Lieb, Rev. Ron Rall, Rev. Paul Winningham).  May all of our professional church workers know that Christ’s forgiveness is for you and that you may be blessed through the gift that is absolution!

Prayer – Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we confess to you our unworthiness to bear Your name or serve in Your Church.  But in Your great mercy, You sent Your Son Jesus Christ to suffer and die on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins so that we might be clothed with robes of righteousness and the garments of salvation.  By Your Holy Spirit, move us to never neglect your gifts of confession and absolution, but find in them the freedom of forgiveness, life and salvation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen. 

Fraternally in Christ,

President Lee Hagan

Events and Information

Volunteers Needed for International Student Ministry

Don’t get rid of that bed in the guest room, and don’t throw away your old dishes … donate them! The International Student Ministry (ISM) is hosting a furniture giveaway for international students in the St. Louis area and will pick up your furniture or household items on August 17, the day before the furniture giveaway event.

If you have items to donate, you can: 

  • Call Ann or leave a message at 636-273-6239 (St. Paul’s, Wildwood)
  • Email Ann at:

Show an international student the kindness and generosity of American Christians by donating furniture or other household items. As a volunteer driven ministry, the ISM has many ways for interested Christians to get involved with international students. To find out more about the ISM, visit their website at

Third Annual St. Louis Area Winkel
August 29

All pastors who attend St. Louis and St. Charles Winkels are invited to the St. Louis Area Winkel on Wednesday, August 29th at Concordia Seminary, 801 Seminary Place, Clayton, MO  63105.

Registration is online only:  Click here to registerWe will not be able to take registrations over the phone or by email.

There is no cost to attend the Winkel, but you must register online as space is limited. Lunch will be provided.  The deadline to register is August 20 (or when space is filled). Last year’s gathering had a waiting list, so if you register and then need to cancel, please send an email to

The Winkel provides a great opportunity for pastors from all over the city and across circuit boundaries to come together for the mutual consolation and conversation of the brethren.  

Tentative Schedule:

 8:30     Refreshments (Chapel Plaza)

 9:15      Welcome (Chapel Plaza)

 9:30     Chapel – (Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus)

10:15     Text Study (Koburg Hall)

11:15      Confessions Study (Koburg Hall)

12:00    Lunch (Koburg Hall)

12:45     Announcements

 1:00      Plenary Presentation (Koburg Hall)  “Engaging Millennials”  Rev. Mark  
               Kiessling, Director of LCMS Youth Ministry 

 1:45       Table Talk – (Koburg Hall)

 2:30      Closing

Missouri District Pastors' Conference
September 30-October 2

District Pastors will meet at Tan-Tar-A in Osage Beach on September 30 – October 2 for the Missouri District Pastors’ Conference. 

 The conference will focus on helping pastors continue to hone their homiletical skills through a preacher’s clinic format and prepare pastors for utilization of the “Preach the Word” modules from the Synod.

The Divine Service will be held at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Lake Ozark on Sunday, September 30th at 7:00 p.m. No evening program has been planned, allowing time for “mutual conversation and consolation of the brethren.”

The conference will begin on Monday morning, October 1st and conclude shortly after noon on Tuesday, October 2nd.

Click below for more information and to register.

LESA's 6th Annual "Brew in the Lou" Festival Returns to Francis Park
October 13

LESA's 6th Annual "Brew in the Lou" Festival Returns to Francis Park
October 13.

The St. Louis-based Lutheran Elementary School Association's (LESA) sixth annual “Brew in the Lou” festival will return to the Lily Pond at Francis Park, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018, from 1-5 pm.

"Brew in the Lou" offers one-stop tasting of St. Louis’ best beer, wine, spirits, coffee and good eats. Last year's festival raised a record $92,000 for Lutheran schools and showcased more than 40 local and regional craft breweries, along with unlimited tastings from The Stellar Hog, Gobble Stop Smokehouse, Volpi, Dogtown Pizza, Nothing Bundt Cakes and many more. Festivities include live entertainment, arts and craft vendors, a “People’s Choice” Home Brew Competition, a "Battle of the Bratwurst" and our annual Brew Chili Contest.

Wristbands are available now at special pre-sale price of just $30 through June 30, 2018 – a $20 savings over same-day admission. On July 1, tickets will increase to $40 advance/$50 day-of-event. To purchase at the special pre-sale rate, call (314) 200-0797 by 4 pm on Friday June 29, 2018, or purchase online by midnight June 30, 2018, on the event website by clicking here. Wristband purchases include a commemorative glass.

More than 8,800 children attend LESA member Lutheran schools in the St. Louis Metro Area, making Lutheran schools the second-largest private school system in the Bi-State area. A Recognized Service Organization of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, LESA represents 35 elementary and high schools and five related agencies. For more information, visit

Don’t miss this year’s “Brew in the Lou!” We hope to see you October 13 at Francis Park in the St. Louis Hills - 5399 Donovan Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63109.

Fall Junior High Retreat
October 19-21

The Missouri District Lutheran Jr High Retreat is returning this Fall on October 19-21 around the theme, “One”. Our focus this year is the Sacrament of the Altar. Our presenter & worship leader is Rev. Matthew Ryan Gonzalez, pastor at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church – The Bronx, New York. You may have seen him as a Bible Study Presenter at the 2016 National Youth Gathering.  We are excited to have him join us! Click here for complete bio and more info.

Save the Date - Sr. High District Youth Gathering
November 16-18

Save the date for the Missouri District Sr. High Youth Gathering. It will be at Cross Pointe Retreat Center in Rocky Mount, Mo., November 16-18, 2018.

Watch for more information, including a registration link, coming soon.

Volunteers Needed for LEA Convocation 

The Missouri District is looking for volunteers to help out at the Lutheran Educators' Association (LEA) Convocation October 10-12 at the Americas Center in St. Louis.

Volunteers will be needed to welcome and direct participants, run errands and assist with registration and hospitality. This is the perfect opportunity for retirees, especially retired educators, so that current educators can attend events rather than serve in volunteer roles.

There are many opportunities available, so everyone is sure to find a fit for their skills, talents and desire. Whether you can be there for a few hours, half a day, or multiple days, we'd love to have your help.

If interested, please send an email with your name, phone number, email address and availability to Alan Freeman at


Plus One Participation Forms
Many congregations are turning their attention to our community outreach effort, the Plus One Initiative. Congregations are encouraged to complete a Plus One participation form and either mail it to the district office or email it to If you want additional information about Plus One or a copy of the Plus One participation form, go to

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