Synod President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison expresses concern to drought-affected rural and small-town Synod congregations and their families and thanks them for their support for the church in a video message made available Aug. 15.
At four minutes, 19 seconds long, the video is on the Synod’s video blog at http://video.lcms.org/archives/1375.
As it begins, Harrison points out that drought conditions hit home for him on his recent vacation drive between St. Louis and Georgia — when he saw that “the corn crop was absolutely burned … especially in Southern Illinois.”
He notes that “about half of you in the Missouri Synod come from rural and small-town contexts” and that many pastors and members in LCMS suburban congregations “come from rural contexts originally — like me.”
A native of Sioux City, Iowa, who was baptized in a small, rural Lutheran church, Harrison recalls his family’s work on a farm “every week and weekend.” He served his first pastorate in the early 1990s at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in rural Westgate, Iowa.
“So we understand the heartbreak,” he says, and “the fact that it is really big business to be putting in a corn crop. We understand that in most rural families, you have to either get big or get out. And that means that farming is significant business.”
He also recalls “many friends over the years who farmed — especially in my first congregation.” He speaks of “a dear friend who was chairman of the congregation” who at age 40 “was farming 1,000 acres by himself, plus livestock, and worked like a dog.”
Making it clear that he is “talking to rural congregations now,” Harrison says, “Thank you for being who you are. Thank you for being the backbone of the Synod. Thanks for your generous contributions to your district and to missions.”
He acknowledges in the video that “all of our congregations — no matter where they are — have various gifts and blessings and strengths.” He later adds that “it’s unbelievable what comes out of the rural areas, for the benefit of the larger church and the blessing of the Gospel worldwide.”
Harrison also says that he “always love[s] preaching to rural people because you understand very clearly where life comes from. You understand very clearly that everything we have is a gift from God. And it is a gift at His choosing. … Sometimes He closes the heavens and … most of the time He opens them wide. And you also know it’s always for a purpose.”
Before closing his video message with a prayer and a blessing for those affected by this year’s devastating drought, Harrison says:
“So, may the Lord bless you in every way, keep you faithful, strengthen you [and] give you what you need to make it through these challenging times. Just know that your church loves you and appreciates you enormously.”
Posted Aug. 15, 2012