A Note from Vicar Cyril Loum

Specific Ministry Pastor (SMP) Year One Update

Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! The community at Hodiamont has received me openly, as one sent by our Lord Jesus Christ with the blessing of Timothy Lutheran Church. Last year, Pastor Rall installed me as a vicar and it has been a blessing to be a laborer for the Kingdom of God. Upon my installation, I started my course work with Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. At this juncture, I have completed four courses and I am currently on my fifth course. The following courses I have completed are: (1) Introduction to Pastoral Ministry, (2) Introduction to Worship, (3) Master Narrative, and (4) Creedal Themes. 

Introduction to Pastoral Ministry dealt with the theology and practice of the pastoral ministry, while exploring issues related to the foundation of the pastoral office, the nature of the pastoral ministry, and the pastor’s relationship to the priesthood of the baptized.  With the Introduction to Worship course, we discussed where the Biblical narrative became “incarnated” through its reenactment in the church year and liturgy. Additionally, the course explored the theology and practice of worship in the context of the local congregation. The Master Narrative course dealt with how the pastor confesses the work of Christ as central to God’s involvement with the world (from creation to consummation). This course explored how in worship and in the world, the master narrative of the Gospel re-stories our individual and corporate lives and shapes how we live. Lastly, the course on Creedal Themes was a class set to explore how the Scriptures teach and how the church confesses the doctrinal truths that form the creedal story. In addition to the regular courses, I have a pastoral mentor (Pastor Bill Wilson) that meets with me weekly, or more if needed, for a set amount of hours. In all, I have gained lots of knowledge that is preparing me for full-time ministry.

In the field, I have been able to apply this knowledge to practical situations in the Hodiamont community and with the College age Bible Study at Timothy. Hodiamont is a community roughly two miles away from the Seminary. In this community, you will find mostly low-income families. The ethnic demography of this community entails Africans, Latinos, African-Americans, Caucasians, and Syrians. Thus, this provides the opportunity to have an additional culturally diverse church in St. Louis. This congregation that is being built on the foundation of Jesus Christ within this community is embracing unified diversity and welcoming those that have no home congregation.

As an individual that has observed great team ministry at Timothy, I have built a team ministry that includes a worship leader (Sunita Manu) and children ministry leaders (Noks Shabalala and Rosetta Coker). Currently, our worship service has 15 adults and has about 40 children in the ministry. This community that God is using me to share the Gospel with is one that has lots of poverty; therefore, the ministry is done holistically. Our approach is to build strong relationships with the families, share with them the Gospel message (invite them to church service), and being a blessing in the area of life that is a struggle for the families.

Regarding College age Bible Study at Timothy, we were able to have one consistently on Sunday. In this group, we have tried several methods to increase the number of college age students that attend our Bible study, however, our set timing makes it difficult to do more outreach. Nevertheless, we have been bless to have amazing college age students that have desired a deeper understanding of God’s Word, while having the opportunity to ask questions that they have been wrestling with. The format I have used in this class is an open forum format that engages this age group in conversations. However, during summer time the study coincides with the lectionary readings and during the rest of the year our intent is to go through the Bible starting at the Book of Acts. Throughout this last year, I have seen clarity in the individuals attending on Sundays and the confidence to stand firm in their faith.

In both these ministries as a vicar, I find myself empowering servant leaders. At Hodiamont, I have found a young man that I disciple and I pray one day, he would serve his community as a pastor. At the college age Bible study, I have spoken with a young man that I pray if his schedule permits will take lead of this Bible study. This study will be college age driven with me as a support that guides them and can identify with them. In all, I have truly enjoyed this first year and I look forward to growing spiritually and in knowledge in the coming year. Lastly, I will like to thank this congregation for encouraging individual outreach, because it has made it possible to enhance the Gospel message in St. Louis and allow me to avail myself to Christ, so that He may use me as He wishes.                                                                          

Grace and Peace to you, Cyril Loum