September 2023 Giving Appeal

“He will command his angels to guard you in all your ways.  They will bear you up in their hands so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”  (Psalm 91: 11-12) 

Dear Friends:

I experienced the truth and power of that promise last month.  I do not have a good sense of balance so I take precautions.  For example, I do not ride escalators, especially in airports when I have luggage and my carry on.  But after I arrived at the Oklahoma City airport on my way to the NALC Convocation, as I left the gate area the escalator down to baggage claim was straight ahead and I did not know where the elevator was, so I foolishly did what normally I no longer do.  I took the escalator. 

As I remember, a little way down the step jerked.  I lost my balance, fell to the side, and badly cut my upper left arm – I believe on the metal edge of the step.  People were so concerned and so kind.  They brought paper towels to wrap up the blood and called the airport fire department triage team, who retrieved my luggage, called an ambulance, and I was taken to the emergency room of a hospital not too far from where the convocation was taking place.  My laceration was treated and I was released. 

Afterwards I was thinking about how fortunate I was that I did not fall forward or fall down the escalator and how much more serious the injury could have been (though the escalator did leave tread marks on my upper left arm).  I was also very glad when I heard the announcement that first aid was available during the convocation at the volunteer central room.  There I found kind people who would change the dressing.  It is hard to change the dressing on your own upper left arm. 

And then I got to thinking about what people can do – show concern, wipe up the blood, retrieve luggage, get me to emergency, treat the wound, and change the dressing – but what only God can do – command His angels to watch over us and give our bodies the amazing ability to heal. 

I am very sad whenever I hear preachers and Bible study leaders reduce the Christian message to what we do – whether it is doing works of compassion, advocating for justice, or what is now the dominating emphasis in some church circles – dismantling systemic racism, white supremacy, and male dominance.  I think of the account of the raising of Lazarus in John 11.  The people could move the stone and unwrap the grave clothes, but only Jesus could raise the dead.  We of Lutheran CORE are committed to preserving and proclaiming the full and pure Gospel message – not of the far-left political agenda but of the gifts that God gives as He forgives our sins, makes us new creations, calls us to service, and commands His angels to watch over us. 

We have promised to keep you posted regarding the work of the commission that will be developing the plan to remake and reconstitute the ELCA.  The thirty-five members of the commission have been appointed and have held their first meeting.  Biographical paragraphs of the members are now available.  We will be analyzing the makeup of the commission and will share our analysis in the September issue of our newsletter, CORE Voice.  The makeup of the commission should be cause for great concern.  As they say, When you know the makeup, you know the outcome.

Also in the September issue of our newsletter a couple members of our young adult group – both of whom are students at the North American Lutheran Seminary – will be writing about their experiences serving as mentors at NEXUS this past summer.  A ministry of Grand View University in Des Moines, NEXUS is a week of Bible study, theological reflection, and fellowship for high schoolers, where they are challenged to become involved in Christian ministry and consider attending seminary.  Thank you for your gifts, which make it possible for Lutheran CORE to be one of the sponsors of NEXUS.  Ethan Zimmerman, one of the seminarians who again served as a mentor this past summer, wrote about his experiences –

“This summer’s NEXUS Institute was the best NEXUS I’ve been to in my five years of being involved!  The Holy Spirit was moving in and amidst everyone, from the high school student participants, to the young adult mentors, all the way to the adult chaperones!  Everyone’s faith was deepened and broadened in such a fantastic way, and speaking for myself, I will forever be changed for the better because of my involvement as a mentor.  The NEXUS Institute is one of the premier places for high school students to grow and learn more about their faith, and to see what a calling and vocation from God truly looks like!”

I am writing this letter the week after the devastating fires on the island of Maui.  Having visited that beautiful island, I have a hard time imagining what it must be like now.  We are continually reminded of tragedies and natural disasters that are happening to people.  But the greatest tragedy of all is what sin, death, and the devil have done to God’s creation.  People need to know and be in right relationship with a God who loves, forgives, calls, empowers, and is with them, and who commands His angels to watch over them.

Thank you for your ongoing prayers and gifts to Lutheran CORE, which enable us to continue our work of being a Voice for Biblical Truth and a Network for Confessing Lutherans.  Thank you for your prayers for us.  Please click here to print a form that you can use to let us know how we can be praying for you.

Blessings in Christ,   

Dennis D. Nelson

Executive Director of Lutheran CORE

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The NALC Pastors’ Conference: One of the Best

It is always a joy when you go to a Pastors’ conference and leave with a sense of energy and enthusiasm for ministry.  Over my twenty-eight years of ministry, I have been to my share of such events.   They have been a mixed bag.  To quote Forrest Gump, they “are like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’ll get.”  Some are definitely worth your time.  Others are mediocre, but since you have the chance to see old friends, you don’t mind.  Others leave you positively frustrated.  Of all the conferences I have attended, good, bad and indifferent, I must say that the NALC Pastors’ Conference held in Orlando, Florida, from February 15 to 18, was one of the best. 

Although I am not a pastor in the NALC, I was able to attend as a representative of Lutheran CORE.  The theme of the conference was: “Always Be Ready: Apologetics in Real Life,” based on 1 Peter 3:15.  The keynote address was given by the Rev. Dr. Mark Mattes, with plenary addresses by Rev. Dr. Maurice Lee, Rev. Dr. Dennis DiMauro, and Rev. Dr. Thomas Jacobson.  Each speaker addressed the topic of apologetics from a different perspective.  Rather than giving a full synopsis of every presentation, I will mention what were the highlights for me.

Mark Mattes identified one of the major mistakes that Christians made in the second half of the 20th Century.  This was to adopt the world view of unbelievers and skeptics, in an attempt to show that the Christian faith can be made to fit into those worldviews.  Instead of arguing against people from the point of view of modernity or post-modernity, we should argue with them from the point of view of the Christian faith.  Our goal should be to help people see what difference it would make if the Christian worldview were true.

Maurice Lee reminded us of the approach taken by Justin Martyr.  As his name indicates, Justin Martyr was not only an apologist, but died as a martyr.  Justin sought to refute false rumors about Christianity and engaged with pagan philosophers like Socrates and Plato.  However, he had a third strategy.  This was to describe what happens in the liturgy of the Eucharist.  In addition to saying what Christianity is not, we need a picture of what it is.  There is no better place to find this than weekly Sunday worship.  The same is true in 2022.

Dennis DiMauro recounted an experience he had while doing door to door evangelism.  A young man whom he met shocked him.  He wasn’t interested in general information about Christ, or the Church.  What he wanted to know was what had happened in Pastor DiMauro’s own life to make him believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  He reminded us that while there are intellectual arguments and rhetorical strategies that can be helpful, what is most important is being able “to give an account for the faith that is in us.”  Lutherans tend to shy away from the term testimony.  Nevertheless, we need to be able to testify to what God has done for us.

Thomas Jacobson reminded us of the class differences that need to be taken into account in reaching the unchurched.  Lutherans have tended to follow Schleiermacher by focusing on the “cultured despisers” of Christianity.  The problem is that the largest group of un-churched people in America today are not the cultured people of the upper middle-class.  They are the blue collar and the poor.  In recent decades, church attendance remained fairly stable among the successful and well to do.  Meanwhile, among the poorer classes, the bottom has fallen out.   We need to find a way to speak to them too. 

While at the NALC Pastors’ Conference, I was also able to attend two break-out sessions.  The first was led by Rev. Doctor Russell Lackey of Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa.   He spoke about the NEXUS Institute, a summer theological institute for high school youth, which is held each summer at Grand View.  (This summer it will be held on June 12-18.)  Pastor Lackey shared information about research that has been done on such summer theological institutes.  This research was cross-denominational, cross-cultural, and multi-faith.  It indicated that summer theological institutes are very effective.  As many as 25% of young people who attend these summer theological institutes end up entering the ministry in their respective religious communities.  With the growing shortage of ministers in the Lutheran Church today, institutes like NEXUS are extremely valuable.

In the summer of 2022, there are twenty-five spots for young people at NEXUS.  Bishop Dan Selbo challenged the pastors at the conference to make sure that there will be fifty attending NEXUS in 2023.  I was so impressed that I rushed home and nominated a young person from my congregation for this year’s institute.

The second break-out session that I attended featured Pastor Dave Keener.  It was an introduction to the newest phase of the Life-to-Life Discipleship.  I was excited to hear that the NALC is developing its own resources for Discipleship ministry.  These resources will be tailored specifically for Lutheran congregations. The first will be a 24 week-long introductory curriculum on discipleship.  Those resources are meant to be available on the NALC website in the near future.

Of course, like most conferences, there was good fellowship.  I was able to reconnect with old friends and make new friends.  I also enjoyed visiting my hometown of Orlando, where I was born in 1964.  As I returned home, I was grateful for the six insights that I shared above.  They either confirmed what I am already doing or gave me new areas of ministry to explore.  If you have never been to the NALC Pastors’ Conference before, I encourage you to attend next year.  I also encourage you to get in touch with the speakers above if you want to learn more about what they shared.

Rev. David Charlton

Vice-President, Lutheran CORE

NEXUS: One Theology Institute, Two Mentors’ Perspectives, and a Triune God

by Ethan Zimmerman and Luke Ratke

Executive Director’s Note: Many thanks to Ethan Zimmerman and Luke Ratke for telling us about their experiences at NEXUS this past summer.  Ethan and Luke are both NALC college students and are planning on attending the NALC seminary after graduation.  They have also made a video about NEXUS, which is posted on our website.  A link to that video can be found here.


NEXUS is a vocational discernment institute rooted in Lutheran theology hosted by Grandview University in Des Moines, Iowa, and it is a week full of blessings! High school students who are contemplating their vocation, what God’s call for their life is, come to NEXUS and experience fellowship with other young Christians who are going through similar journeys. Morning and evening worship, classes on the Old and New Testament taught by solid Lutheran professors, small group discussions led by college-age mentors, and lots of prayer are all part and parcel of what NEXUS is, learning where God’s call meets your life!

Hi, my name is Luke and here are some of my thoughts on NEXUS: NEXUS is a great organization, because God makes it one! I loved being able to be a college-age mentor and a leader for the high school participants at NEXUS. Furthermore, I also liked being able to learn about God at NEXUS with and through the high school students.

My favorite thing about NEXUS this year was getting to meet and talk to Christians I had never met before or only briefly. I was able to talk to pastors, professors, and other Christians about Christianity. For myself, who someday wants to do full-time ministry as my career, working at NEXUS let me have conversations with other college-age students and high school students who think their vocation is full-time ministry. I also was able to practice and learn skills that will someday help me when I am doing full time ministry because I was a college-age mentor at NEXUS. Such skills were helping lead a small group, writing/giving a devotion, talking about the Bible with other people, etc.

Hello all, my name is Ethan Zimmerman, and this is my perspective on NEXUS!

NEXUS is something truly special, something that I don’t think happens anywhere else. NEXUS is not just another church or bible camp; discipleship and vocational discernment happen, and bonds of Christian fellowship that will stand the test of time are forged. My time as a NEXUS mentor was truly a blessing, and as my fellow mentor Chris put it, good for my soul!


The topic of discipleship is something that has been on my mind for quite some time. I have wondered how I can disciple the people around me while I am at college, and being at NEXUS showed me how! Even though we were only with the participants for a week, we lived life with each other, we worshiped together, learned together, ate, laughed, and cried with each other. God showed me that this was how discipleship happened, in the nitty gritty little things of life, right in the trenches with people as they go through things and think about what God has in store for their life. Are they to be pastors? Missionaries? Youth leaders? Being there with these young participants while they pondered these questions and sought to answer what the Lord has called them to was truly a blessing and an eye opener as to what discipleship could look like.

I left NEXUS feeling encouraged, not just because I saw what discipleship and vocational discernment looked like in the lives of young folk, high school students, but because of the friendships that I left with. From the late nights discussing theology with the other mentors, to the goofy laughs shared with the participants, I left encouraged that there are other young Christians out there yearning to pursue God and answer the call He has given them in their lives, and that not every young person is all about decadent hedonism, but faith is still alive amongst my generation. I praise God for NEXUS, for the lives changed by it, for the doors opened because of it, and for the continued ministry it will have in the future!

We both think that every high school student that is a strong Christian should pray and think about coming to NEXUS next summer. Every high school student should think about going to NEXUS, not just high school students who think or know their vocation is full time ministry. We want to thank Lutheran CORE for financially helping The NEXUS Institute. And last but greatest of all, we want to thank God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for NEXUS! 

Where Will Our Future Pastors Come From?

Last May I had the privilege of attending the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of my graduation from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. It was a splendid event. I was deeply moved by how much my class had become a real spiritual leadership powerhouse in the Christian community. I felt honored and privileged to have been a part of it. From college I went to Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California. After graduating from Fuller, I served my internship under Luther Seminary in the congregation where I had been working as youth director during my final year at Fuller. After serving my internship, I was a graduate student at Luther for one year in order to fulfill ordination requirements of the former ALC (American Lutheran Church).

Raised in a Christian Home

While attending the celebration event at Wheaton I thought of how privileged I was to have grown up in the church and been raised in a Christian home (my father was a pastor), to have been a leader in our high school church youth group, to have gone to summer Bible camp, to have attended a Christian college and sung in a Christian college choir, and to have attended seminary. The program at Wheaton on Saturday evening included singing a number of favorite Christian hymns. One of them was “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” The person who was leading the singing introduced that selection by saying, “I’ll bet that song means far, far more to us now than it did fifty years ago.”

Of Great Concern to Lutheran CORE

All during my growing up years I experienced God’s faithfulness and His guiding me to become a pastor. And yet I realize that many of the Lutheran ministries that used to engage young people with a high view of the authority of the Bible and the challenge to consider a career in Christian ministry no longer exist or no longer function in that way. Because of that reality the following are among Lutheran CORE’s greatest concerns –

How can we help raise up a whole new generation of Lutheran pastors who will be Biblical and confessional in their theology and who will be committed to fulfill the Great Commission to make disciples for Jesus Christ?

What can we do to reach young people for Jesus? How can we present the Gospel of Jesus to them in a clear, compelling, and engaging way? How can we help them feel and be connected to the church?

Opportunity to Act

Lutheran CORE is very grateful for the opportunity to do something about these concerns through sponsoring a week of NEXUS for high schoolers at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa.

Originally funded by a substantial Lilly Endowment Grant, NEXUS is designed to give high school students a chance to engage in the study of the Bible and Lutheran theology, be involved in service, and discern whether God has gifted them and is calling them to full-time Christian ministry and/or leadership in the church. In the past three years, over one hundred high schoolers have gone through NEXUS. Grand View has found that after a week of NEXUS, students grow significantly in their understanding of Scripture, Lutheran theology, faith practices, and the doctrine of vocation. In addition, many college-aged mentors who have participated in the program have gone on to seminary and/or full-time church work.

There is no charge for high schoolers to attend NEXUS, and Grand View wants to keep it that way. The original grant from Lilly Endowment will have been spent by the end of this coming summer, so Grand View has approached Lutheran CORE and other ministries about sponsoring a week of NEXUS.

The cost to host one week of NEXUS for twenty-four high school students, which includes college-aged mentors, teachers, activities, room and board, and materials, is $30,000. Lutheran CORE has committed half of the amount for one week – $15,000. The funds from Lutheran CORE will be matched by Lilly Endowment to cover a full week’s cost of $30,000.

Because the original grant from Lilly Endowment will cover the costs for the two weeks of NEXUS during the summer of 2020, the funds from Lutheran CORE will be used for a week during the summer of 2021. However, we do not want to wait until next year to be involved. I plan to attend at least a significant part of the week of NEXUS this year that will be sponsored by the NALC (North American Lutheran Church) – July 12-17 – to further observe the program and to get to know, listen to, learn from, and share with the young people who are there about such things as these –

What are they thinking about, running into, and dealing with in their lives?
What are the questions that they are asking and facing?
What hopes do they have for the church and for their own lives?
What is stirring them?

Sharing in that interaction and experiencing a week of NEXUS will help us know how best to put a “Lutheran CORE imprint” upon a week of NEXUS in 2021.

Funding Our NEXUS Commitment

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Created using the Donation Thermometer plugin$15,000Raised $925 towards the $15,000 target.$925Raised $925 towards the $15,000 target.6%

We are very grateful to all those who have already given – over and above their current giving to Lutheran CORE – to help fund the commitment that we have made to provide $15,000 for one week of high school NEXUS. To see how much has been contributed  for NEXUS 2021 so far, click here. We will continue to update you on our progress via social media and via CORE’s regular communications.

If you have not already given, we urge you to join with those who have. You may donate online, or you may use the response form that you will find here. Please remember to designate NEXUS on the memo line on your check. We are very grateful for the faithful generosity of our friends, which will enable us to help support this fine ministry, in addition to all of the other ways in which we seek to be a Voice for Biblical Truth and a Network for Confessing Lutherans.