Weeks before any trip you can find me googling the destination for Lutheran Churches, particularly churches that are part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). But since I was going home to Wisconsin for this trip, it was obvious that I would visit my parents' church - Southwest Prairie Lutheran Church in rural Viroqua, Wisconsin.
|a warm place in winter - from their Facebook page
|a cloudy spring day
Pastor Timothy Dunham, a graduate of Duke University Seminary, leads in a manner that is worshipful and welcoming.
On the Sunday I visited, the gospel reading was about Jesus' encounter with two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Regarding the passage Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures (NRSV), Pastor Dunham observed that we do the same thing every Sunday. He's right! During the "Word" portion of worship, we do hear readings from the Hebrew Scriptures to which we've added readings from the epistles and gospels. (I may have missed part of the sermon, because at this point I was thinking about how we do something similar for the Easter vigil.)
The Prayer of the Day and the Confession of Sin both seemed tailored specifically to the day. This made me suspect that Pastor Dunham may have written them himself - and I was right! It turns out this is his usual practice, but he's not sure how common it is for Pastors in his denomination (Lutheran Churches in Mission for Christ, or "LCMC") to do the same thing. Not only is this approach refreshing, but it requires attention to detail while preparing.
The congregation sings well! (Of course they do. Midwestern Lutherans are the best singers of all!) Patty F. leads them well from the organ - an older Allen model that fills the space nicely. Assembly song, a hallmark of the Reformation, is a tradition proudly carried on by this assembly.
Holy God, We Praise Your Name LBW 535
Precious Lord, Take My Hand WOV 731
I Know That My Redeemer Lives LBW 352
Rise Up, O Saints of God LBW 383
At one time, Southwest Prairie was part of a three-point parish that included Northwest Prairie Lutheran Church and Bad Axe Lutheran Church. The latter is my home parish. You can read how that church aided my formation in an older article on this blog:
If you are in the area, I recommend a visit to Southwest Prairie Lutheran Church, or to its sister parish, Northwest Prairie Lutheran Church. They are one parish that worships in each location on alternate Sundays - so plan ahead!
|This window, best viewed from the balcony, was donated by the Ladies Aid, year not given.