Pastor’s Corner

July 4

Fourth of July!

There is a lot going on at Cross right now, and I was very tempted to write about something “internal”. But, the Fourth of July weekend is an opportunity to pause from all these happenings and appreciate the opportunities that all Americans have because of our freedom.  I would strongly encourage you to read the rest of the church newsletter to stay informed on the congregation, but read the rest of this to reflect on what freedom truly means.

There are many accusations about meddling in elections, but many countries’ elections are rigged by the ruling party. There are protests about gender rights, but many countries won’t even allow the discussions to occur.  The cost of a college education is out of control, but many countries dictate what careers you will choose.  Our political structure is flawed and impossibly slow at times, but many countries’ citizens have zero influence on their leadership.

The United States is far from perfect; every country that exists this side of heaven will be. But, if I have to deal with a nation’s troubles, I prefer to deal with ours.  Every person, every people group has the opportunity to bring influence to our nation — good people with Godly intentions and evil people with selfish intentions.  There is no other type of freedom this world can offer.  The call is for the people of God to exercise our freedom to make the greatest impact possible.

The selfish person I am tempted to be would rather make laws other people have to follow. This way, everyone will behave, and I won’t be bothered or influenced negatively.  But this is selfish and would allow me to think all people love God just because they are following the laws.  No, freedom allows a person to live out their true heart and makes me aware of how many people desperately need the love that only Christ provides.  This is hard to see sometimes but can also be inspiring – inspiring me to continue to cling to Christ and pour out that true, unconditional love to all.

Rejoice in your freedom; honor those that have won it for you and passed it down to you. Have peace in the freedom Christ gives you:  freedom from guilt, sin and shame.  Embrace the identity He gives to you as His beloved child.  Then, look around, see the freedoms expressed by others and love them in Jesus’ name.

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13


Pastor’s Corner

Readiness Assessment

Introducing: Greg Holt

This weekend you will begin to see a new face around Cross. For at least the next month, Greg Holt will be joining us in day to day ministry. Greg is the onsite staff support for our readiness assessment.

What is a readiness assessment? Over the last several months (years really) the leadership at Cross has been looking at how we can best align our facilities with the mission and vision God has given us to help people mature as disciples that Walk with God, Grow in Faith Together and Love our Neighbor. This spring, the Ministry Feasibility Team concluded their portion of the assessment and recommended we move forward with a professional readiness assessment that could lead to a capital campaign. The Governance Board accepted their recommendation to engage with James D. Klote and Associates (JDK&A) to lead us through this effort

Greg Holt croppedGreg Holt is the representative from JDK&A that will be on site here working with us through the month of July. Beginning the weekend of July 8th/9th we will hold focus group meetings where we will present the opportunities God has placed in front of us and what we think He is leading us to do. We need your participation. Focus groups will take place every weekend in July and a few weekday evenings and mornings. Please make time to attend one of these 45 minute meetings. Come hear about what God is doing and prayerfully give input on how we should respond!

Greg had served in full-time church work for 35 years until 2009. In 2009 he joined a global mission organization to help bring clean water to underdeveloped countries and now serves with JDK&A to help local congregations accomplish their calling and purpose.

The goal of this effort is not to just raise money. In fact, if the congregation decides this is not the time, we will not enter in to a financial campaign. The goal of this effort is to build unity as a family of faith, hear feedback from each member of the family and determine how best to make a powerful impact in Christ’s name! The world is growing increasingly more desperate every day and the people of God are called to respond with hope, healing and forgiveness. God has uniquely positioned Cross over the last 135 years and is He is still leading us to share His good news into the next generation.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
—Romans 12:2—

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss



Pastor’s Corner


Romans: Answering the Questions of Salvation

The Christian faith is constantly scrutinized for all sorts of teachings but, interestingly enough, seldom gets attention for its primary and unique teaching: salvation.  The true Christian faith is the ONLY faith which teaches a salvation that is gifted from God and not earned by behaviors of mankind.  This teaching is called the “Gospel” or the “Good News” because it again is the only teaching of the sort.  The Christian faith is the most inclusive of ALL religions in that literally every person is eligible for salvation and is not required to achieve some status or standard in order to be saved.

How does this message get so turned around? Why are Christians accused of being closed minded when in fact we are by definition the most open minded of all people groups?  Why do so many Christians and Christian churches create rules that must be followed?  And, how do we help people around us to understand we don’t hate sinners, but rather count ourselves amongst them?

The next several weeks we will be walking through Romans to hear how Paul taught the faith and its most central teaching: salvation.  We will address these key questions:  What saves us?  Who needs salvation?  Why are some saved and not others?  How do I know I am saved?

Understanding how God answers these questions will help you answer the questions of neighbors, co-workers, family members, and your own heart. Our hope is not that you will become an expert evangelist who will convert people to Christianity.  Rather, it is that you will better grasp the power of the Gospel and the hope it has for us all.  The devil is constantly at work attempting to confuse and blur this life saving truth so that people will run from it.  But, through His Word, God continues to speak to all who will listen about the freedom, love, healing, hope and strength provided through a powerful relationship with our divine Creator.  Join us this summer and make it a summer that will change the rest of eternity.

“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”  Romans 1:16-17

Pastor’s Corner


Trinity and Me

Theology and the nuanced teaching of God can oftentimes feel unimportant or worse, make God seem distant from us. This weekend is a weekend that historically has been dedicated to the celebration and teaching of God’s nature.  Trinity Sunday invites us to ponder and pray about how God reveals Himself as one God in three Persons.  But why does this matter to me?  This weekend we will try to help bring home the importance and unique teaching that the God of the Bible offers and why it matters for each of us!

God is three distinct Persons, no One of Them like the Other, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each of us in creation is a unique individual, no one of us like the other.  Each of us bring a different and needed value to this world and our relationships.  Each Person of the Trinity is able to act of Their own accord, yet none of Them operates outside of the will of “God.”  Each of us is able to act on our own but often act within agreed upon parameters for the sake of a greater good.

God is one. God also tells us we are one with Him and each other.  We are the whole Christian Church working together as one.  Marriages and friendship in Christ are strengthened as we work together as one.  The only way to resolve conflict is to recognize those that seem to be against us are truly part of us.  The strength to do this can only come when we recognize we are part of God Himself.

What amazing results come from the individuality we each have? What powerful impact can we make when we work together in Christ for the glory of God?  What could this unstoppable love and purpose accomplish when we live smack in the middle of our individuality and our unity together in Christ?

God’s teachings about Himself are a gift to us so we can better live out our identity as His creation and His beloved children. Let’s take some time this week to ponder and embrace the Triune nature of God and the blessing He is to us as we live our lives as a reflection of that unity and uniqueness.

“The glory that You have given Me (Jesus) I have given to them (those who believe), that they may be one even as We are one, I in them and You in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them even as You loved Me.”  John 17:22-23



Pastor’s Corner


With all the recent graduations and life transitions that happen at the beginning of summers, I thought it would be a good time to update where some of our recent graduates from Cross ministries have found themselves in their journey of faith and desire to ensure the next generation knows all about what Jesus has done – and continues to do!

Rose (Gilbert) Adle and Rebekah (Gilbert) Curtis are both deaconesses and have authored LadyLike: Living Biblically.

Eric Baker recently completed his college studies and is now a worship director in Austin, Texas.

Sean Baker served as a missionary in Slovakia and the Czech Republic and is entering Seminary in St. Louis, studying to become a pastor in the Lutheran Church.

Alissa (Johnson) Bocek serves as a teacher here at Cross!

Andy Busch is Assistant Pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Minot, North Dakota.

Anita (Shields) Clausing is an LCMS missionary in Kenya.

Raymond Dubert serves at Our Savior Way in Broadlands, Virginia.

David Fiala is in charge of missionary recruitment at the Office of International Missions for the Lutheran Church in St. Louis.

Jack Gilbert is Pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Racine, Wisconsin.

Joel Gilbert is a teacher at Lutheran High School South in St. Louis.

Elizabeth Grzan will continue her studies at Concordia, St. Paul, Minnesota toward becoming a Lutheran school teacher.

Bekah Hahn will continue her studies at Concordia, Wisconsin toward becoming a Lutheran school teacher.

Josiah Hahn has completed his college studies and will start this fall as a teacher at St. Peter Lutheran School in Schaumburg.

Brett Hardecopf is Principal of St. John Lutheran School in Elk River, Minnesota.

Nathan Jensen has completed his studies and now serves as a worship/youth director in Peoria.

Heather (Batt) Klemp is a teacher at Trinity Lutheran School in Wahiawa, Hawaii.

Karla (Thanepohn) Leidecker is a teacher at St. Peter’s Lutheran School in Eastpointe, Michigan.

Victoria Mueller is a teacher at Immanuel Lutheran School, Freeport.

Jason Steffenson will continue his studies at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis.

David Thanepohn serves as Youth Leader and production coordinator here at Cross!

Lisa (Thanepohn) Troxel serves as a Lutheran school teacher in Michigan.

Dwight Wyeth (Roseann Dubert) will be serving as Vicar at Cross Lutheran Church in New Braunfels, Texas.

This list doesn’t begin to address the almost countless number of people impacted by the message of Jesus Christ and living it out in their daily lives as mom, dad, business person or neighbor. Maybe you know someone I’ve left off this list.  If so, please let us know so we can include them in our prayers.  And, I pray this list will encourage you in the work we continue to do together that impacts the kingdom of God generation after generation!

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21