Connections

God’s Covenants Part II of V

by Rev. Dr. Jennifer Little
If there is a practice that is not consistent with the Constitution of St. Peter’s UCC, there is some correction in order. This is an expression of the “Sinai” type of covenant.
The Sinai type covenant was extremely important in the life of God’s people. It helped balance the needs of individual tribes/clans and the good of the whole. It sets limits on power. Perhaps most importantly, it calls the people to remembrance of God’s justice-justice that is consistent with God’s plan for blessing, rather than human reaction.
Next month, we will explore New Testament interpretations of these covenants in Part !!!
Last month, we talked about God’s “Zion” type covenant. This month we move the second type of covenant God makes with God’s people: the “Sinai” or “Suzerain” type covenant. Our March 8th  lectionary reading from the Hebrew Scriptures (Exodus 20:1-17) gives us a good picture of the second major type of covenant God makes with God’s people.

In speaking through Moses, God makes a covenant with the people that is a “two way” covenant. In this type of covenant God sets forth stipulations for keeping the covenant –the ten commandments—and promises that if the people choose God’s way, they shall receive blessing and life, but if the “break” the covenant, their way shall be curse and death.  This type of covenant, different from the covenant we see with Noah, Abraham, and David is “breakable.” It is more like the kind of “contract” we make in our daily lives: if the conditions of the agreement are not met, the covenant is null and void. In this type of covenant, if the stipulations are not met, the covenant can be “broken.”

This type of covenant is one we see in archeological findings.

We see covenants made like this between a “suzerain” or potentate and the people of a country that has been conquered. This type of covenant illustrates the difference in power between the two parties making the covenant. Thus, the covenant made between Yahweh and the people Israel through Moses is this kind –a “Sinai” type covenant.

Both Zion and Sinai type covenants appear in the Bible, God is very fond of finding ways to assure the people that a relationship exists! Sometimes God re-assures the people that no matter how far they stray, God has promised to stay in relationship with them and care for them. At other times, God finds it necessary to outline the expectations for “right-relationship” with God and between the people.

Congregations usually express both types of covenant. At St. Peter’s we strongly express our understanding of the “unbreakable” promise of God: “You are welcome here, no matter what!

We also have  Constitution that outlines the expectations of how this congregation will be in relationship.

If there is a practice that is not consistent with the Constitution of St. Peter’s UCC, there is some correction in order. This is an expression of the “Sinai” type of covenant.

The Sinai type covenant was extremely important in the life of God’s people. It helped balance the needs of individual tribes/clans and the good of the whole. It sets limits on power. Perhaps most importantly, it calls the people to remembrance of God’s justice-justice that is consistent with God’s plan for blessing, rather than human reaction.

Next month, we will explore New Testament interpretations of these covenants in Part !!!


A Grateful Remembrance

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial…”  James 1:12

Immigrating to America was a monumental event for our church ancestors.  Each had their own specific reasons for coming and their own unique voyage; yet many shared basic experiences on the trip across the ocean.  The first obstacle was the cost and then they had to plan carefully to decide what to bring with them – clothes, tools, a family Bible or other valuable family heirlooms and basic provisions for the trip.

Hanging on the south wall in the lounge you will find a family heirloom brought over by the Ludwig Wascher family, given to us by Cleo Pelg.  This 19th century German religious piece features the German Christian expression “Ohne Kreus keine Krone” (Without a cross, no crown) and serves as a reminder to us to have faith.

Ludwig Louis Wascher, born in Germany, December 22, 1844, was the sixth of ten children born to Carl Heinrich and Friederika Lueck Wascher.  Ludwig married Emilie Augusta Scharlauch in Teusin, Germany on July 25, 1869 and they had six children – Rudolph (12), Anna (10), August (7), Bertha (5), Eliza (3), and Frank (1) when they came to America in 1881.  Ludwig’s mother came with them as well.  Six more children were born here: Maria, Bernhard, Amalie, Clara (Cleo Pelg’s mother), Louise, and Paul.

Surely this family heirloom was a constant reminder of the importance of faith as Ludwig and Emilie left their homeland and their families behind in search of a more independent life for their family and as they settled in Champaign.  And surely this reminder of faith sustained them in the loss of four of their children from 1882 to 1890 as well.  On December 5, 1882, the year after they arrived, Eliza died of encephalitis at 4 ½ years old.

Bernhard died of pneumonia at 2 ½ years on February 5, 1887 and Amalie died at 1 year 2 months in April of 1887.  Maria died on July 1, 1890 at 8 ½ years old.  Ludwig died at 63 years in 1907.  He worked for the Illinois Central Railroad and his obituary described him as “one of the most faithful and trusted employees” of the railroad.  Emilie Wascher enjoyed 20 more years in Champaign and at St. Peter’s.  She died at 74 years in 1926 and her obituary stated that she was instrumental in getting the first Ladies Aid Society (Der Frauen Verein) started and remained active in the church even after being confined to a wheel chair.  We thank Cleo Pelg for sharing this family heirloom with us and Ludwig and Emilie Wascher for reminding us “without a cross, no crown!

“One of the handsomest churches in the Twin Cities”

The April 17, 1896 issue of the Champaign Daily Gazette informs the community that the building committee for St. Peter’s German Evangelical Church had been hard at work soliciting subscriptions for the new edifice to be erected by the congregation and had, so far, met with encouraging and excellent success.  The May 6th article states that architect N. S. Spencer had been employed to prepare drawings and specifications for a fine church.  Work began on June 22, 1896 and the Daily Gazette wrote that “contractor Charles Guinn was all smiles when he went to the ground with his force of men and teams.” Guinn told the building committee that he would make every effort to get the building completed and ready for use at the earliest possible time.

The laying of the cornerstone was an elaborate event with visitors expected from Danville, Bloomington, and Decatur.  Church leaders worked with the Illinois Central, Wabash and Big Four railroads to secure a special rate for those traveling from these cities.  The morning of August 9, 1896, began with the regular church service followed by a dinner prepared by the women of the church in the school room and ended with the laying of the cornerstone.

Services on Sunday, December 20, 1896 (six months after breaking ground), began at the 108 E. Church Street.  There was a short service with music by Huyke & Schaede’s orchestra and the choir of St. Paul’s Church of Sidney.  The congregation then assembled and marched to the new church.  They were met at the door by Contractor Guinn who turned the keys over to Pastor Werhahn and the congregation entered their new church for the first time.

Grateful Remembrance: 

“The sanctuary was beautiful, with warm woods and gorgeous tall stained glass windows with familiar biblical scenes….When you entered the front doors located on the north side of the building, you would be looking toward the altar.  During the church services the choir would file in from the east side of the area and be seated facing out towards the congregation.  On the wall to the left of the pulpit was the listing of the hymns that would be sung during the service and on the right side was the Sunday school attendance. 

The organist sat behind the choir.  We had a pipe organ which served as a backdrop to the pulpit.”  (Ann Swearingen)

“The organist had to have a rear view mirror to watch the minister and choir director.”  (Phyllis Jones)

“The balcony was a favorite spot for families because the kids could see what was happening during the service.”  (Cleo Pelg)

“There was a big fellowship hall at the south end of the sanctuary and all the rooms were connected.  On Sundays, my confirmation class had to sit together in the second row on the left side of the church.”  (Carolyn Hamrick)

“The area under the sanctuary was not completed.  It had a dirt floor and that’s where the boiler was located.  Sunday school classes met in the finished area downstairs, in the fellowship hall, and in the balcony.  Our confirmation class met in the basement.”  (Ed Kobel)


Mid-Year Annual Meeting

April 19, 2015

Proposed Agenda

  • Long Range Planning (Strategic Plan)
  • Budget Update
  • Policy Updates
  • Building Usage

The meeting will be after church in the fellowship hall. Please attend so your voice can be heard and hear important communications. If you would like to propose an agenda item please submit it in writing to LiAnne Kitchen no later than Sunday, April 12th at Noon.


Spring Clean-up Day

Spring Clean-up day has been set for Saturday, April 4th from 7am-noon. If you are able to help during that time please sign up on the bulletin board.  You don’t have to commit to all five hours. Any amount of time is greatly appreciated. Please bring yard tools, gloves and dress appropriately for working in the yard. All are welcome, no help will be refused! Any questions please see Ed Kobel or Jim Acheson.


Consistory Highlights – March 18th

  • A Congregational meeting was scheduled for Sunday, April 19th. Items on the agenda will include the request for approval of the long range plan, updates on the budget, and a presentation of newly revised policies.
  • A clean-up day has been scheduled for Saturday, April 4th from 7am-noon. Volunteer help always needed and much appreciated.
  • Minor revisions were recommended to the wedding policy draft. Both the wedding policy and the building use policy will be presented to the Consistory for approval at the April meeting.
  • Criteria for a records retention program was outlined and the importance of this type of program to effective risk management.
  • Plans to reclaim the land currently used by the neighborhood for a community garden planted and managed by the church were discussed.
  • The Consistory approved the organization of a technology workgroup to regulate and maintain St. Peter’s technology assets and web properties and approved a budget of $1,500 to cover project costs.

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