Koehne_august_2012.jpgMeet Grace School's new principal

by Gwen Gotsch

When Bill Koehne visited Grace School last winter as a candidate for the position of principal, he spoke about the need for strong leadership in Lutheran schools today. Many Lutheran schools are facing dwindling enrollment and significant financial challenges as aging congregations with declining membership rolls can no longer support them. These problems will not solve themselves. As Bill begins his first year as principal of Grace School, he recognizes that his job involves planning for the long-term success of the school as well as dealing with the day-by-day problems of teachers and more than two hundred students. 

Bill comes to Grace after 21 years of teaching math, coaching, and working as the Dean of Students at Walther Lutheran High School. He recently completed the Illinois State Administrative Certificate – Type 75 Program at Concordia University. He and his family are members of Grace and two of his three sons attend Grace School. When asked about Grace’s strengths, he praises “the congregation's commitment to making sure that this is a great school for our students. We see that through the financial commitment the church makes to our students and their families. But we also see it in the shared use of staff, in the way pastors are involved….As long as we have that common vision, we're going to continue to have a strong church and school community." He adds that many Grace School teachers are very involved in church programs.

Bill and Clyde Walter, Grace's stewardship director, attended a three-day conference in July on advancement for Christian elementary schools. They learned about third-source funding--finding financial support for schools beyond the resources of parents and church members. He and Clyde will be working on this in the months ahead. Generating more income for the school will enable the church to do more outreach ministry, which is important for strengthening the mission of both church and school.

Bill will be installed as principal of Grace School during worship services on Sunday, August 26. You can greet him at a reception in Fellowship Hall following the 11 o’clock service.

School starts the next morning, and Bill is looking forward to seeing both kids and teachers in action!

Oktoberfest comes to Grace on September 23

The 202th anniversary of Germany’s famous Oktoberfest—with traditional food, music, dancers, costumes and decorations, as well as a silent auction—will be celebrated at Grace on Sunday, September 23, at 4:00 p.m. Everyone is invited to this special event, which will echo, in part, the past two centuries of the world’s largest Oktoberfest party in Munich.  “The famous Munich Oktoberfest is an inspiration to our planning committee, so we’re trying to create as much Bavarian atmosphere and Gemütlichkeit as we can,” says Grace Oktoberfest Co-Chairman Dan Krout.

Performing at this year’s event is the Youth Group of the Chicago Society of Danube Swabians, a group comprised of teens and young adults who perform traditional German folk dances and songs. It performs at numerous functions such as Maifest and German Day festivities in Chicago, and at local Oktoberfest and Christmas celebrations. The Swabians are an ethnic and cultural charitable organization whose founding members were immigrants who came to the United States after World War II.

In addition, a colorful children’s lantern parade is hosted by Grace School’s German class and led by German instructor Nancy Tabb.  Children from kindergarten through sixth grade sing the Lanterne song as they march through the crowd with multi-colored illuminated lanterns.

Oktoberfest will feature an “oompah band” composed of members of an informal Grace Church group that has played for the event for many years. Typical German food served during the evening will include sausages, sauerkraut, red cabbage, green beans, German potato salad and apple cake. The fresh brats and tasty hot dogs are cooked by a volunteer team of “grillmeisters.”

A silent auction will also be held during the event, with German-related items, foods, beverages and services.  “This is an opportunity for those attending to take home something to remind them of the Oktoberfest or of Germany,” says Krout. “The proceeds go to a good cause, and everyone has a lot of fun with this event.”  An Erzgebirge booth, with genuine hand-carved Christmas decorations and toys, will also be featured during the Oktoberfest. “These finely detailed handcrafted items have been flown in direct from Germany,” says Krout, “and they make great gifts.” These decorations—including nutcrackers, pyramids and Schwibbogens—are very distinctive and have gained a worldwide reputation for their quality.

Kids will also be able to have their picture taken next to “The Little German,” a cut-out of a popular, but diminutive, German man dressed in traditional Lederhosen. Parents are encouraged to bring their cameras.  To help create atmosphere, those who attend the fest are encouraged to wear German Trachten such as dirndls, Lederhosen and alpine hats.

Admission to the Oktoberfest is $15 per person age 12 and up, $8 for children ages 5 to 11, in advance; and $18 for adults and $10 for children at the door. Children under 5 years of age are free. The admission includes all food, activities and limited beverages. Tickets will be sold between church services beginning September 2.  Proceeds of the Grace event will go to Grace School and Boy Scout Troop #66. Supplemental funding for the event is being provided by the West Cook County-Chicago Chapter of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call 708-366-6900 or email the church at gracechurch@graceriverforest.org. To donate items for the silent auction, contact Don Heimburger, 708-771-2468 (evenings), or don@heimburgerhouse.com.  Popular items include 1) old German beer mugs/steins/glasses,  2) tickets to basketball, football or hockey events, 3) cottages to offer for a weekend escape, 4) services to be rendered, 5) valuable products to put into the auction, or 6) other related items or restaurant certificates. Volunteers are also needed to set up and clean up, sell tickets in advance and at the door, and help with serving. Contact Dan Krout (dankrout@comcast.net) or Bryan Bernard (bbernard@rush.edu). 


News and Events

Supper Shuffles
It is time to sign up for new Supper Shuffle groups that will be organized in September.  Supper Shuffles are made up of 8 to 10 adults (singles or couples) who meet in one another’s homes for food and fellowship. The host provides the main dish and others bring an appetizer, salad, side dish, or dessert. If you would like to participate in a Supper Shuffle, there is a sign-up sheet at the reception desk or you may call 366-6900 or email gracechurch@graceriverforest.org.  If you are a new member or not so new member, this is a great opportunity to get to know your fellow parishioners.

Religion in Literature

Religion in Literature meets on Friday, September 21, 8:00 p.m., at the Hurrelbrinks, 21 Spinning Wheel Road, #17H, Hinsdale.  Amy Merrick will lead the discussion on Leo Tolstoy’s "War and Peace."  Please feel free to come, even if you haven’t quite finished the book. The reading list and meeting schedule for the year is online.

Congregation Meeting
There is a regular meeting of the congregation on September 16, following the 11:00 a.m. worship service.  Please plan to attend.

Cornerstones Bible study resumes on Wednesdays beginning September 5.  Come for food and fellowship at 10:00 a.m. and Bible study at 10:30. You are invited to join this lively group of senior citizens who meet weekly in the church library.  

Reel Talk
Grace's movie discussion group, Reel Talk, meets on Friday, September 14, 7:00 p.m., in the library. The movie is the classic comedy, “The Party,” starring Peter Sellers and Claudine Longet.  Directed by Blake Edwards, this 1968 film is about a bungling actor from India who is inadvertently invited to a Hollywood dinner party. The group meets monthly at Grace to watch a film and talk about it.

Serve as a greeter
Thanks to many volunteers, Grace members and guests are greeted personally as they arrive for worship on Sunday mornings. Would you be willing to serve as a greeter before the 8:30 or 11:00 a.m. worship services? The greeter schedule is flexible; families are welcome. Fill out a form at the reception desk to volunteer. Contact Marge Sanger (sangerml@att.net) for more details.

Amigas Bake Sale
The annual Amigas Ministry bake sale will be held September 16 between services. Proceeds benefit this ministry to impoverished women and children in Brazil which was started by Grace’s own Martha Heine. Donations of baked goods are particularly needed, as well as monetary gifts. Checks should be made out to Grace; please write Amigas on the memo line.   

Learn more about Grace Church at "Making Disciples"
A new "Making Disciples" class will begin September 16 during the Adult Education hour. Led by Pastor Modahl and the New Member Committee, the class is for people interested in becoming members of Grace and for any individuals interested in deepening their understanding of Christian beliefs, the Lutheran tradition, and the mission and ministry of Grace Church and School. The class runs through November 18. If you would like to attend these sessions, or if you know someone who might want to be invited to be a part of "Making Disciples," please contact Karen Christopher, administrative assistant to the pastors, at kchristopher@graceriverforest.org.

Help us keep our records up-to-date

Have you changed your address? Your email? Your phone number? Do your adult children now have their own addresses and phone numbers, at school or elsewhere? We are updating the data base at Grace and we need you to tell us about changes in how we can best contact you and your family. Email or phone Grace with updated information (708-366-6900; gracechurch@graceriverforest.org). Thank you!
Health Cabinet news
Blood drives and the flu shot clinic are not being held this year because of low participation in the past few years. Flu shots can be obtained from your doctor or any pharmacy.  Blood donations can be given by calling Life Source at 1-877-LIFESOURCE or www.LIFESOURCE.org.
Scrip orders support Grace School
Scrip cards may be ordered from the school office. The next deadline for orders is September 18.  Scrip gift cards return a percentage of the purchase price to Grace School. Go to the Grace web site for the list of retailers and the order form. Also, please keep saving those Box Tops.

Changes coming to Grace Notes and Grace Notes deadlines
Grace Notes is changing to a new format and new mailing schedule. Beginning in October the newsletter will be published once a month and sent by postal mail to every member of Grace. Each issue will also be posted online at graceriverforest.org. There will be one more issue of the current format, mailed on September 11; the deadline for that issue is September 3. The monthly Grace Notes for October will be mailed on September 25; the deadline for that issue, which covers the entire month of October, is September 17. Send news items to gracechurch@graceriverforest.org. If you have questions, story ideas, or need to know more about changes in Grace Notes, call Grace (708-366-6900) or email Commmunications Coordinator Gwen Gotsch (ggotsch@graceriverforest.org) or Grace Notes editor Jennie Hurrelbrink (jhurrelbrink@graceriverforest.org).

Health and Wellness Ministry

Got hope?

Got hope?  We do...and we have plenty of extra to share!

Finding Hope is a community of support at Grace for people who are struggling with a chronic health condition.  We have members with all sorts of conditions, ranging from asthma, arthritis, and shingles to MS, Parkinson's, and Crohn's disease. Some members come for a short time while they struggle with the most challenging aspects of their condition; others come every month for years. No matter what their preference, all are welcome. We assure you that we will not only provide acceptance, loyalty, and love through our support, but also our confidentiality. And though we cannot provide a cure, we promise to offer hope and healing.

If your life (or that of someone you know) is impacted by a chronic health condition, we invite you to join us. We meet at 7:15 p.m. in the Grace library on the first Tuesday evening of each month. For more information, please contact Grace, or Jenny Kemp (Jennifer.L. Kemp@sbcglobal.net; 708-771-9021). Attendees need not be members of the Grace community to be welcomed.

“May the Light shine on all your days.
It is there, despite illness, defeat, and tears.
It is eternal.” --Harvey Stower

Helping others

School supply drive continues through September 2
Grace's Social Ministry Committee is conducting a school supply drive in August for needy children at Lutheran Unity East School, Holy Family School and Grace Christian Academy, all located in Chicago. Suggested items include notebooks, crayons, folders, pens, pencils, magic markers and back packs. Items can be dropped off in the atrium through September 2.

Donations for the refugee families sponsored by Grace may be brought to the bin in the atrium coatroom. Needed are baby clothes, size 6-12 months, stage 1-2 diapers, and gently used clothing in women’s size large and for girls age 4 and 14. Leads on employment opportunities in the hospitality business are also needed. If you have ideas, suggestions or questions, call Sue Foran, 488-0296.

Opportunities to serve
If you are looking for ways to serve at Grace and beyond, here are some ongoing projects:

ConKerr Cancer Pillowcase Project 
will meet on Thursday, September 13, 7:00-9:00 p.m. in Fellowship Hall to make pillowcases for pediatric patients at three area hospitals. No sewing experience is required. Cindy Kerr, a Pennsylvania mom whose son was terminally ill with cancer, started the program. She made pillowcases to cheer up her son’s hospital room. Other children in his cancer ward began requesting them too, and the project was born. The organization now has 125 chapters that serve children in 225 hospitals and pediatric hospices in the United States, Canada and South Africa.

• Volunteer at Oak Leyden Developmental Services in Oak Park. Work with staff to provide enrichment experiences for adults with varying degrees of developmental difficulties. Contact Don Becker (beckers606@yahoo.com).

• On the third Monday of every month, a group of Grace members gathers at Fraternité Notre Dame to make sandwiches for distribution to the needy in the Austin area. To volunteer, please email Kristin Schnabel at kristin.schnabel@gmail.com.

• Help with Grace’s PADS Lunches Program. Volunteers sign up to make sandwiches in their homes and then deliver the sandwiches to a local PADS shelter on a specific date. Grace will reimburse the cost of the supplies or you can  donate the costs. We provide the lunches twice a month during the school year.  This is a great project to do with kids or as a service project for scouts or confirmation. If you are interested in this ministry, please contact Rebecca Dahlstrom, centurywanderer1@hotmail.com, or 660-0252.

Hymn Story

“O God, My Faithful God”
by Carlos Messerli

In Lutheran worship tradition, the text of the Hymn of the Day focuses on the major theme of that day in the church year, set to a classic Lutheran tune or to a strong modern melody. For the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, September 2, the theme of the chief hymn, “O God, My Faithful God” (LBW 504), is drawn from the assigned Epistle reading of James 1:17-27.  This classic hymn forms a prayer for guidance in our daily life as we look forward to our heavenly reward.  In each stanza we pray for a specific blessing:

Stanza 1: a healthy body and a good conscience
Stanza 2: strength to fulfill our calling in life
Stanza 3: control of our speech to do good and to avoid causing harm                
Stanza 4: protection from danger and for life at peace with all

The original eight-stanza hymn by Johann Heermann (1630) concludes with a stanza (not found in LBW) that describes a gratifying climax to the well-lived Christian life:

And when the end is come
And all the dead are waking,
O reach me down Thy hand
Thyself my slumbers breaking;
Then let me hear Thy voice,
And change this earthly frame,
And bid me aye rejoice,
With those who love Thy name.

Heermann’s achievement in writing this hymn in the face of hardship and misfortune can hardly be understood today. He was the son of a poor furrier couple who had five children, but only Nicolas survived childhood. After some university training which was cut short by eye problems, he became a deacon, then pastor at Kben, Prussia. The village was soon struck by an all-consuming fire, Heerman‘s wife died, and the people of Kben endured four raids and unimaginable pillaging by undisciplined soldiers in the Thirty Years War (1618-1648).

In the midst of these tragic circumstances, Heermann created a masterful guide to Christian living in “O God, My Faithful God,” a tribute to the strength of his faith and God’s guidance. He was also the author of many other hymns, including “Ah, Holy Jesus” (LBW 123) and “O Christ, Our Light, O Radiance True” (LBW 380).

The translation was made by Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878), the most able translator of German chorales into English in the nineteenth century.

The melody of the hymn, WAS FRAG ICH NACH DER WELT, is first found in Ahasuerus Fritsch’s hymnal collection of 1679; this tune itself may be his work also. The tune is often found in Lutheran hymnals with the text, “What Is the World to Me.”  Worshipers at Grace may remember that Bach’s cantata "Was frag ich nach der Welt" (BWV 94) based on the chorale melody and text, was performed at the Bach Cantata Camp Vespers on July 27, 2012.


Singers and ringers begin rehearsals 

Handbells 101 on August 21 and 23
Ever wondered how those ringers do it? Come to Handbells 101, a hands-on introduction to handbell ringing for high school students and adults. Sessions are Tuesday, August 21, and Thursday, August 23, at 7:00 p.m. in Fellowship Hall. Come to one or both sessions – no commitment required, no experience necessary. Contact Lisa Wolfanger (lwolfanger@graceriverforest.org) with questions. Regular bell choir rehearsals begin September 6. The adult bell choir rehearses at 6:30 p.m., followed by the high school youth bell choir at 7:30.

Children's choirs
Joyful Voices, Grace Church's choir program for elementary-age students, invites children from Grace and the community to come and give choir a try! Joyful Voices Junior, a new program for beginning singers, kindergarten through second grade, begins with music workshops on two Wednesdays, Sept. 26 and Oct. 3, 5:15 – 5:50, followed by singing for worship at the 8:30 a.m. service on Sunday, October 7. 

Joyful Voices singers in grades three through six rehearse every Wednesday evening from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. and sing in worship services approximately once a month. Rehearsals begin on September 5. New singers are welcome throughout the year, but fall is a great time to join. For more information about JV or JV Jr. contact the director, Gwen Gotsch (708-366-6900 ext.122; ggotsch@graceriverforest.org).  

Junior high and high school students
Youth Choir, for students in grades 7-12, begins rehearsals on Sunday, September 9. The group gathers for lunch and a choir rehearsal at 12:15 on Sundays, after the 11:00 a.m. worship service. Contact Gwen Gotsch (708-366-6900 ext.122; ggotsch@graceriverforest.org) with questions.

Senior Choir
The Senior Choir rehearses every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., beginning on September 5. New singers are welcome; call or email Cantor Michael Costello for more information (708-366-6900, ext. 210; mcostello@graceriverforest.org). The Senior Choir sings for Bach Cantatas Vespers worship as well as on Sunday mornings. If you are a seasoned choir member but have new contact information, please update Pastor Costello.

Women's Choir
Women’s Choir is open to all women, high school age and beyond. The choir rehearses Thursday evenings at 7:30, and sings at approximately one service per month. You are welcome to join; solo voice or polished musicianship is not required.  Contact Claudia Beguin, director, claudia.beguin@sbcglobal.net if you have questions. 


Beyond Grace

"A Universe Awash"
Siena Center’s Albertus Magnus Society offers its first lecture of the 2012-2013 season, “A Universe Awash,” September 6, 7:00 p.m., in the Priory Campus Auditorium of Dominican University. The speaker is Br. Guy Consolmagno, SJ, PhD, an astronomer and coordinator for public relations at the Vatican Observatory. Admission is free. Visit the Siena Center web site for more information.
One-woman show on Dorothy Day at Good Shepherd Church
Still Point Theatre Collective presents "Haunted By God: The Life of Dorothy Day," on Friday, September 14, 7:30 p.m., at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 611 Randolph St, Oak Park. Hailed as “a moving, magnificent one-woman show,” this dramatic portrait features Still Point founder Lisa Wagner-Carollo as Dorothy Day (1897-1980), who has been called “the most significant, interesting and influential person in the history of the American Catholic Church.” The play follows Dorothy from her days as a 17-year old Greenwich Village bohemian, through her middle years as a social activist and journalist to her later years as an elderly, wise leader. The suggested ticket donation is $10. Call Good Shepherd Lutheran Church at 708-848-4741 for more information. Still Point Theatre Collective is a Chicago-based community of artists dedicated to creating performances, workshops, retreats, and community events that celebrate our common spirituality and raise consciousness on issues of peace and justice. Still Point activists use the tools of theater-making to amplify hard-to-hear voices at society's margins, including prison inmates and former inmates, and adults with developmental disabilities.

LCFS Harvest Gala
Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois will hold its 23rd Annual Harvest Gala on October 20 at the Mid-America Club in downtown Chicago. The theme for this year comes from John 13:34, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  Last year’s event raised more than $176,000 for LCFS programs such as adoption and foster care, counseling, youth residential care facilities and a variety of community services. Register online or call 708-488-5558.

Adult Education

Sunday morning Adult Education classes at Grace offer ideas to think about all week long, as well as opportunities to grow in faith in fellowship with other Grace members. Sessions begin at approximately 9:45. Here's what's coming up in the next few weeks:

August 26: "Saints and Sinners: Religious Themes in Opera," with Carl Grapentine, WFMT program host.

September 2: "The Art of Grant Wood," with Rhea Sprecher, art historian and teacher.

September 9: "Living Out the Mission of Grace Church: What is the Mission of the Church?" with Pastor Modahl. The series continues on September 16 with guest speaker Pastor Stephen Bouman.

The Bible study group is currently discussing Esther, led by Bob Jandeska in the Conference Room.

Ministry Partners

Each Sunday, we pray for one of Grace’s partners in ministry as selected by the Benevolence Committee. Here are a few more details about the groups featured on August 26, September 2 and 9:

Lutheran Social Services of Illinois serves people of all faiths and all walks of life, including children, families and adults. Services include foster care, adoption, prison ministry, counseling, and crisis intervention.

Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC) unites full-time stipended volunteers with financial supporters, non-profit organizations and ministries to work for peace with justice across the nation. LVC Volunteers live together in intentional household communities of 4-7 people to encourage simple, sustainable living. Partnering with their placement agencies, LVC Volunteers provide direct service, community organizing, indirect service, advocacy and public policy.

South Loop Campus Ministry is a mission-start aimed at building Christ-centered community with the students, faculty and staff in Chicago’s vibrant South Loop neighborhood.