Greetings Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As I suspect you are all aware, it has been quite an exciting summer for my family with the arrival of out new baby Cedar Holden Lukis on July 23rd at 8:57AM. The twins are so excited to have a new baby brother, and Ezra is amazingly gentle with him as well! Fun facts about his name: Aside from Holden Evening Prayer (named after Holden Village where Marty Haugen wrote this service), the word “holden” means a hollow valley, and the word “cedar” appears a whopping 72 times in the Bible! Danae is still very much recovering from birth as the rest of my family is still getting used to having a new baby in our lives. I am planning to return back to a fairly typical schedule after 6 weeks of parental leave on Sunday September 1st. I am deeply grateful for the ability to take that time to support Danae, and actively help my family adjust to this new addition in our lives, not to mention also have that time myself as a father to revel in the wonder and beauty of this new precious life.

It’s also been an exciting summer for Cross of Hope Lutheran Church as well! On Sunday July 28th we welcomed our highschool youth mission team back home from Montana, and head some amazing stories. We also welcomed not one, but two part time Children Youth and Family (CYF) Ministry staff members into the congregation in that same Sunday! Jim VerBout is our new Director of CYF Ministries, and Sarah Hanson is our new CYF Ministries Associate! We were originally looking for one staff member at ~30 hours/week, but we ended up dividing up the position to really maximize the strengths of our two final candidates. Sarah’s primary focus will be on Children’s Ministry including Sunday School & VBS, but also helping out in other areas, while Jim, serving as overarching CYF Director, will be most hands on with High School and Middle School ministries and facilitating the Faith Formation Table. We feel truly blessed to have such an awesome CYF Ministries team of both staff and volunteers and are really excited for the road ahead together!

Looking ahead into the fall, CoH has been busily preparing for our 2nd Annual God’s Work Our Hands Sunday in collaboration with our neighbors at Lord of Life Lutheran Church on September 8th. We are excited to be holding a joint outdoor worship service with Lord of Life that morning to will be held at “The Draw” amphitheater near The Core followed by a collaborative day of service in our community that Sunday. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for more information/sign-ups for service opportunities as we get closer to September 8th. You may not be aware, but God’s Work Our Hands Sunday is actually a national ELCA church-wide movement to integrate a day of service into our expression of worship to God. You can find more information about God’s Work our Hands at: elca.org/dayofservice. While I believe this is a great way to kick-off the program year each fall, it is important to note that this day of service is indeed just a kick-off to a year and even life of service as we journey on as disciples of Christ called to serve rather than be served. It is our call as baptized believers in Christ to let Christ’s light shine through us every day of our lives, so that all whom we encounter might see our good works and glorify our father in heaven. Yes, this is indeed a hefty call, but is certainly is a worthy one.

Grace and peace to you all this day, this summer, and always!