For the March newsletter, we are reminded of the folklore saying, “in like a lion, out like a lamb”. The tale has always seemed straightforward enough. When March starts, it’s still winter, and by the end of the month, spring normally begins. Lion and lamb have always been biblical also. The lamb was always associated with sacrifice, a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. The lion has always been a symbol of strength.

All through scriptures the lion and lamb are referenced. In Isaiah 11:6 “The wolf will live with the lamb…and a little child will lead them”. The child is a reference of Jesus. Isaiah 65:25 “The wolf and the lamb will feed together…they will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain”. John 1:29 “ The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”. These are some biblical references to who Jesus really is. Jesus lived a perfect and sinless life.  He arrived as the sacrificial lamb which took away the sins of the world.  We will begin to contemplate the journey Jesus took through the Lenten season.

Starting on Ash Wednesday where we take the celebration palm branches, symbol of his triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, and reduce them to ashes.  We then take 40 days to lead us to His death on Good Frida, to Easter when he rose from the dead.    Just like March, Jesus arrived like a lamb, but will return as a lion, the Lion of Judah.  May God richly bless you with understanding through this Lenten season.

God’s blessings to all. Dan

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.“             Isaiah 55:10-11

As I write this article, it is another snowy day in Wisconsin. I was recently reminded in a blog how these days of snow and cold, while inconvenient for daily life, force a time of respite and renewal. The meetings, classes, and events of daily life get cancelled for physical safety’s sake, and then in return we receive a time of rest for the safety of our mind, body and soul. In fact, the extremely cold day awhile back was exactly that for my children and I. School was off, I stayed home (and told Karen, from the office, to stay home too) and we ended up playing games together, watching a movie, cooking and spending time together that we wouldn’t otherwise have done. And it was ok – the world didn’t end, everything picked up again the next day (for some of us, my kids got another day off school), and life went on. Another thing these kinds of days create is community. I remember a year when we had a blizzard and the next day was indeed a slowdown day – but it also became a day of community for our neighborhood. Neighbors who mainly just wave to one another, were outside helping one another shovel snow, plow driveways, dig out cars and in the process get to know one another a bit better. These are all God moments – times when we pay closer attention to one another and are forced to just slow down a bit. A Sabbath if you will.

Another type of Sabbath is coming up – Lent. I say Sabbath because the effort of coming to Wednesday night Simple Supper and worship creates a space of community and slow down that renews us. I am excited for our Lenten theme “We Are Church Together”. I got the idea from the Greater Milwaukee Synod video by the same name that featured the ministries and staff of the synod. I thought it would be a great way for Trinity to get reacquainted with the ministries that are done right here in South-eastern Wisconsin. Ministries of which we are a part because we send benevolence funds for these very ministries.

Bishop Paul Erickson will be here to kick-off our series. I have greatly appreciated the leadership of Bishop Erickson and the staff at the synod office as they have committed themselves to walking with congregations and leaders who are in transition and who are trying to figure out what it means to be church in this changing world. So, I’m glad he can be with us and also the other pastors and leaders that are listed here in the Tidings. So please plan to join us for these Lenten evenings – not as another thing to do, but as a space to be together, to learn about the ministry we all do together and maybe to hear a call from God to get more involved in a particular ministry.

See you there.

Blessings, Pastor Denise

I can’t believe it’s February again. Last year, Ash Wednesday was the earliest I can remember and happened to fall on February 14th (this year it’s on March 6th). As many of you may know, Valentine’s Day is special to me as I married my high school sweetheart 37 years ago. I’ll never forget that 2018 Ash Wednesday service which was beautiful and meaningful, and I remember not feeling very well when leaving.  It was also just days past the one-year anniversary of my earthly father’s death of heart failure and my father-in-law’s death on February 15th. Ironically that night, I found myself lying in the ICU waking up from the cardiac alarm monitor that was concerning the team on the floor. I discovered that I suffered a heart attack after leaving church. The reality is ironic that I had a heart attack on Valentine’s Day, the one day that is symbolized by a heart.

I discovered that I got away with a new lease on life. Our hearts are the center of our bodies, but our soul is the center of our lives. As Christians, we know that even after our hearts have died, our soul will live on to eternity. This is the wonderful message we have as Christians. A wonderful message of hope and everlasting life. I know that death has touched the lives of many of us recently. I know it is with great agony that we have said good bye.

As Christians we know that death isn’t our end, it’s our new beginning. We are comforted with the reality of eternal life.  In closing, let’s remind each other the words St. Paul recorded. Words of comfort. Words of hope.

1 Thessalonians chapter 4 verses 13-18.
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and
rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words”

God’s blessings to all. Dan

I want to take this opportunity this month to let you know about some exciting things we are going to be doing here at Trinity in the coming months.

First off, the church council will be meeting in retreat on March 16 at Carthage College to explore and work on discerning what God is calling us to do at Trinity and in our wider community of South Milwaukee. We will be exploring our “why” – Why has God placed us here? This will be the first of a few council retreats in the next couple years to help us discern God’s call for us and focus our ministry on that call.

Second, the Outreach team is reorganizing – previously this team focused on PR and marketing – which is really advertising and not outreach. Outreach is what Jesus did as he travelled from town to town, eating with people, meeting them in the marketplace, teaching at the synagogue sharing the news that God’s Kingdom is near. We want to build relationships in our community as well. One ministry I’d like to get started is MOE or Ministry of Encouragement. This is a onetime event where we go to an organization in the community that is making a difference and we encourage them in their work. We bring treats for them, bring a certificate of thanks and encouragement for the work they do. MOE’s help us get to know groups in our community and help them get to know us. Then maybe down the road we can collaborate together to make a difference in the community.

Third, the Cross-Gen Team is refocusing. When I came to Trinity the Cross-Gen team wasn’t real clear on their identity or purpose. With some learning from Carolyn Karl, who is the cross-gen staff person at Bayshore Lutheran and Kingo Lutheran and is the Greater Milwaukee Synod’s crossgen guru we have refocused ourselves to look at all the ministry Trinity does and see how we can enhance it in a cross-generational way. We will look for opportunities to gather cross-generationally so that we can learn from one another and support one another in our journey of faith.

Fourth, “We Are Church Together” – this was the theme of a video the Greater Milwaukee Synod recently created during the holidays. We will work off this them for our Lenten series. So along with Holden Evening Prayer we will hear from different ministries within our synod and look for ways to participate in these ministries. After Ash Wednesday we will kick-off the series with Bishop Paul Erickson here to preach. So far we also have Outreach for Hope, Breaking the Chains Prison Congregation and Lutheran Campus Ministry scheduled to come and share their ministries with us.

These are just some of the things we – myself and Trinity’s leadership – have been working on to strengthen our sense of mission and accomplish some of the goals outlined in the MSP and in my letter of call. Please consider becoming involved in these or any of the other active teams and ministries happening here at Trinity. We are truly blessed with a strong sense of who we are as God’s people and together we will seek to follow God’s lead in all we do.

Blessings, Pastor Denise

I had some bible fun recently with a group from the church. We met one evening to help encourage our CrossGeneration team, reinforcing commitment, direction, and support. The meeting started with an exercise for each of us there to find a colored necklace that represented the era of when our confirmation occurred. We then broke into mixed groups with every color “era” being represented. As you can guess we were all thrown into diverse groups for a discussion. We were given several translations of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 for discussion. Now that I think about it, it does seem a little strange to have the word “fun” and “bible” together in the same sentence, but there you have it! It was engaging and entertaining to hear everyone at our table give insight to the passage. It was interesting to hear from each generation perspective. From the NIV translation, the scripture reads this:

Deuteronomy 6 “4Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when `you get up. 8Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

Some of the insights that came out was new to me. We know that this scripture is important because Jesus referred to it. In Mark 12:28 Jesus was asked what the most important
commandment was. It gave us each the opportunity to carefully contemplate what this means to us individually, and as “generations”. Our collective summary was this: God is commanding us, to the very heart of who we are. In the other translations we saw the word “command” change to “thou shall”, and in another translation it read “you must”. Thinking about it, God is demanding this for our own good. If our heart is right, the rest of our lives will be right. God needs to be in everything we think, everything we do, and everything we say. God should be in the first thing we do when we get up in the morning, and the last thing we do at night. Our spirituality needs to be passed to our children and advertised to our neighbors.  As we look ahead to 2019 and new year’s resolutions, wouldn’t Deuteronomy 6 be the best one to keep?

Happy New Year!  I wish you all many Blessings as you begin this new year. I have been so blessed to become part of the Trinity community of faith and family. I have been impressed with your commitment to the mission and ministry of Trinity. You have a desire to broaden that ministry as well. I see a recognition that God calls you to be a part of the work of his kingdom in South Milwaukee and beyond. For our purpose as a community of faith is to strengthen and encourage one another is the sharing of the gospel and participation in God’s kingdom work in the world.

One of the things we’ve been exploring since I have come to Trinity is Cross-Generational ministry. A number of Trinity’s leaders came to a presentation by Carolyn Karl about CrossGenerational ministry. Dan Soddy will probably be writing more about this, but I just wanted to emphasize that cross-generational ministry is a way for us to be church together where all the generations encourage and strengthen one another in faith. We can all learn from one another. So we will be exploring ways to provide opportunity for us to be together inter-generationally.

During January, my husband and I will be going to Tanzania. We will be there from Jan. 16-25 – don’t worry, we will be back in time to experience the meatball supper! While in Tanzania, we will be assessing the work of the Ndoombo Community Dispensary. Back in 1999, my father-in-law, Rev. Moses Mbise, had a dream to provide basic healthcare for the people of the villages he served as a pastor. To that end, he sent his daughter, Romini, to nursing school and recruited Exaudh and I to raise funds to build a clinic. So we started the non-profit Mt. Meru Tumaini Health Clinic that supports the dispensary. In the 19 years we’ve been in existence we have created a campus with 2 buildings. We have drilled 2 wells and helped build a water distribution system. We have had generous donors who have sent Polite Mbise to dental school and he now serves the dispensary 2 days a week. We have added solar panels to the buildings. We have also collaborated with the local schools to support their education with text books, desks, and shelving. Over the years we have had food distributions, solar light distributions and other special campaigns as the needs arise. So Exaudh and I are going this January to assess where we are in our maternity, immunization, education and lab services to see what we need to accomplish in the next couple years. We will meet with staff and the board of directors and identify needs and
goals. I usually try to post everyday on Facebook when I’m away so that our donors and volunteers can see what is happening.

The Mt. Meru Tumaini Health Clinic also has a Facebook page that I will post to as well. So if we aren’t friends on Facebook, let’s make that happen before I leave – then we can keep in touch. On February 9, Exaudh and I will be doing a presentation on the dispensary and Tanzania during the education hour in-between services – a cross-generational event. So join us and hear more about our work in Tanzania. I’m also thankful and excited that the youth group has agreed to lead worship on Jan. 19/20 when I am in Tanzania. I’m sorry I’ll miss it – someone please video tape it for me.

Blessings, Pastor Denise

Advent is my favorite season of the church year. ‘Advent’ means coming. It’s a season of anticipation and hope. A season when we eagerly wait for Jesus’ coming again. But also a season when we pay particular attention to Jesus’ incarnation in the world – both as a babe at Bethlehem and each day in our daily lives. We anticipate and hope for Jesus’ coming in the world. Do you see Jesus working in the world? Do you notice God’s work in your daily life – through people, through events, through the unexpected. That’s another thing I love about Advent – the unexpected. Jesus came in a most unexpected and vulnerable way when he was born to Mary and Joseph. And he says that his coming again will be just as unexpected – like a thief in the night. Our daily experiences of Jesus are also often unexpected and surprising. The Holy Spirit reveals God to us in ways we don’t usually expect. For me that’s the fun part of following Jesus. But it’s also the hard part. It’s fun because we never know what will happen – we can make all the plans in the world, but the Spirit leads us where ever God needs us to be. Like right here in South Milwaukee.

I don’t think I’d been in South Milwaukee more than 5 or 6 times before I received your call. A couple times to Grant Park for cross country meets. One time at Aurora South Shore. And for a funeral of someone from my previous congregation who grew up here. But now I know Jesus was preparing a place for me here with you. Jesus has come to both of us in unexpected ways – we’ve experienced our own ‘Advent of our Lord’. I’m also anticipating that God has great things in store for us that are yet to come. When we commit ourselves as a community of faith, as the Body of Christ, to the work of God’s Kingdom right here in South Milwaukee, we can indeed anticipate unexpected and hopeful incarnations of God’s presence. And we will be God’s presence for those who also eagerly await God’s coming in their lives. So let’s open our eyes, ears, minds, hearts and lives to the anticipation and hope of God’s incarnation in our lives and in the lives of others through us.

“But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.”  2 Peter 3:13

Blessings, Pastor Denise

Stewardship

Our church is at the time of Stewardship, which is a once a-year time to think about where you are in your life and where your faith fits in.

I love jokes and am reminded to share a few of my favorites.   One day, a one-dollar bill met a twenty-dollar bill and said, “Hey, where’ve you been? I haven’t seen you around here much.” The twenty answered (as the dollar bill listened enviously), “I’ve been hanging out at the casinos, went out on a cruise and did the rounds of the ship, back to the United States for a while, went to a couple of baseball games, to the mall, that kind of stuff. How about you?” The one-dollar bill said, “You know, same old stuff, church, church, church.”

A man died and went to heaven. He was met at the Pearly Gates by St. Peter who led him down the golden streets. They past mansion after beautiful mansion until they came to the end of the street where they stopped in front of a shack. The man asked St. Peter why he got a hut when there were so many mansions he could live in. St. Peter replied, “We did the best we could with the money you sent us.”

Lastly, this joke. Three men were talking about how they decided what to give to the church. The first man said, “I cash my paycheck and take the whole stack of cash to church. Standing at the altar, I throw the money in the air. Whatever lands on the altar is for the Lord; whatever falls to the ground, I get to keep”. The second man said, “I do something similar. I get my check in cash. Standing at the altar, I throw the money in the air. Whatever lands on the altar I get to keep; whatever lands on the floor, is for the Lord.” The third man then spoke up, “I do something similar to both of you. Standing at the altar with my cash, I throw it in the air. Whatever the Lord wants, He takes; whatever falls, I get to keep.”

Well, I think that’s enough with the jokes. The serious message that I want to leave with you is this… You have a need and obligation to give. By giving of yourselves, you are opening up to the rich blessings and comfort only the Lord our God can
give. In the Old Testament it was called tithing, which means a tenth or 10%. It was also called first fruits, which is from the top, not just from what you have leftover. So, in this time of stewardship, the message is simple… Please give.

Asante Sana Jesu!  This is KiSwahili for Thank you very much Jesus!  And I am so thankful and happy to be here at Trinity Lutheran in South Milwaukee. First, I need to get to know you.  These first weeks and months will be times of learning names and hearing your stories of faith and life.  I’ve asked that you all wear name tags for the first few weeks of worship so that I can get to know you. You have one name to learn and I have many. Someone asked me how to pronounce my last name.  “mmmbeesay” would be a basic pronunciation.

Second, this first year will be a time of prayer, discernment, and working together as a community of faith as we figure out how to collaborate as the Body of Christ and as a community of faith in South Milwaukee to fulfill the mission God has for us here.

Someone asked me at the meet and greet back in August what it was on Trinity’s MSP that attracted me to you. I’d like to give you a better sense of what I saw – I am excited about the committed lay leadership you have – those working with youth and families and a desire to work toward or identify cross-generational ministry. We are a church together and not isolated by age, gender, race or any other division we humans like to create. I am also excited about your desire to reach further into the community. This is hard work – it means building relationships, having conversations and inviting people around the table – but I sense energy for this and am excited to move ahead. Finally, I sensed a desire to go deeper in your faith journey through education, prayer, worship and service. The top item on my letter of call was education – I love to teach – I hope you love to learn and will teach me as well. We take this journey of faith together and I look forward to accompanying you on the journey.

“Peace be to the whole community, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Ephesians 6:23

Blessings, Pastor Denise M. H. Mbise

Trinity Lutheran Church in South Milwaukee Welcomes New Pastor
Denise Mbise Brings Strong Missionary Background to Role

SOUTH MILWAUKEE – Rev. Denise Mbise has accepted the call as pastor of South Milwaukee Trinity Lutheran Church, effective Oct. 16.

“We are so excited to welcome Pastor Denise to Trinity Lutheran Church,” said Church Council President Dan Soddy. “We had a terrific group of candidates, but Pastor Denise clearly set herself apart with her strong experience in leading varied congregations, her commitment to helping others and her passion for community service, both locally and across the globe.”

Said Pastor Mbise: “I’m very excited to be coming to Trinity. I sense from them a strong community with strong leadership who desires to grow in their faith and build relationships with the community of South Milwaukee that will make a difference in people’s lives.”

Pastor Mbise replaces Rev. William Mains, who retired in 2017. Rev. Michael Mueller served as interim pastor for the last year at Trinity Lutheran (TLC), an Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) congregation at 2507 5th Ave. in South Milwaukee.

Pastor Mbise, who comes from Living Faith Lutheran in Racine, brings a rich and unique life experience to the role.

The daughter of missionary parents (her mother a nurse and her father a pastor), Pastor Mbise was born in 1964 in Ethiopia. Her family returned to the U.S. in 1971.

She graduated from William Horlick High School in Racine and received her bachelor’s degree in church music from Carthage College in Kenosha. Pastor Mbise attended Luther Northwestern Seminary in St. Paul, MN for her Master of Divinity. She has also received a Certificate in Non-profit Management from UW Milwaukee’s Continuing Education program.

She has served in the ELCA for 25 years, first as a global mission volunteer in Tanzania before serving as interim pastor at Florist Avenue Lutheran, Good Shepherd Lutheran and Bayshore Lutheran in the Milwaukee area. She also served as redevelopment pastor for St. Peter Lutheran Church in Milwaukee and interim pastor at St. Matthew in Palmyra.

More than 17 years ago, she became the associate pastor at Atonement Lutheran in Racine, developing family and children’s ministries, and reaching out into the community through the schools and food ministries. She also participated in development of a second mission site in Sturtevant.

Three years ago, the church began a consolidation process with Our Savior’s Lutheran, forming Living Faith Lutheran. When the senior pastor retired in April, Pastor Mbise became the solo pastor during Living Faith’s call process.

“I love to teach, all ages,” Pastor Mbise said. “Pastoral care is one of the greatest ways we can walk with people in their faith. I prefer to work collaboratively with leaders and people in my congregations, equipping leaders and disciples for the work of the Body of Christ. I do not believe that the idea of the Body of Christ is some philosophical thought, but is a reality that makes all the difference in people’s lives.”

Pastor Mbise has been married to Exaudh, who she met during her year as a global mission volunteer in Tanzania, for 24 years. They have three children, ages 21, 17 and16.

The Mbise family also formed and helps run the non-profit Mt. Meru Tumaini Health Clinic, which supports Ndoombo Community Dispensary in Exaudh Mbise’s home village in Tanzania. The clinic — the dream of his father, Rev. Moses Mbise — is a two-building campus offering preventative and basic medical care, maternity care, dental care, immunizations and health education for the community.

Pastor Denise’s opening week at TLC will include a cookie reception at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20 (before TLC’s 5 p.m. service), and there will be refreshments after the 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. services on Sunday, Oct. 21. ELCA Greater Milwaukee Synod Assistant to the Bishop Rev. Jennifer Arnold will install Pastor Denise Nov. 17-18.