Notes from the Council

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Behind the Scenes at Divine Shepherd


I have had the privilege to serve as the chairman of the congregation of Divine Shepherd Lutheran church for the past 2 years. I consider myself less a leader of and more a servant to the members of the congregation. During this time I have come to realize that most members are not familiar with the how the church works on a day to day basis. For many, the primary experience at Divine Shepherd is worship on Sunday, a bible study weekly, or other periodic gatherings, such as LWML or Rusty Restorations. These are where and what most of us consider to be the center of our lives at Divine Shepherd. But, like most organizations, much more is going on behind the scenes. I am going to share with you over the next several newsletters some aspects of how our church functions Monday through Friday.

All congregations of the LCMS are formed with a constitution, articles of incorporation, and by-laws. These documents make the congregation an official organization under the laws of the state in which it resides. They identify the type of corporation we are, which is a 501(c)(3), a non-profit corporation. Non-profit corporations are tax-exempt, but only in a limited scope. For example, we do not pay property taxes; we do not have taxable income; contributions (offerings, donations, and gifts) are generally considered charitable contributions, thus may offer the donor a tax deduction. On the other hand, we do pay sales tax on goods and services we purchase from vendors and service providers. We are subject to many IRS regulations regarding our employees and compensation we offer them. We are deemed to be an employer, and therefore must comply with the laws and regulations governing employers, such as worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance, group health insurance, Social Security, and more. In addition to Federal laws and regulations, we are subject to state, county, and local ordinances as well, such as obtaining building permits, complying with water and sewer regulations, meeting codes regarding handicap parking, and building safety, to name a few. And finally, we have to be sure we do all these things within the framework provided by the LCMS.

The Early Childhood Center (ECC) brings added regulatory oversight. The ECC is the responsibility of the congregation, however, it does operate under its own constitution and by-laws, has its own board of directors, its own director, and staff, and must comply with additional rules and regulations established by the state of South Dakota for Early Childhood Centers. The ECC board of directors does work closely with the church council to make certain that the many rules, regulations, ordinances, and laws that we are subject to, both jointly and independently, are complied with.

The By-Laws of Divine Shepherd creates numerous committees and boards to provide the necessary oversight and direction of the business, ministry, and missions of Divine Shepherd. The Church Council is comprised of the officers of the congregation, and certain board and committee chairpersons. The Executive Committee is comprised of the Chairman, the Treasurer, and the Council Secretary. The Council Secretary is not the church secretary. The council elects a vice-chairman from among other board members to serve as council chairman in the absence of the chairman. The other council positions are the Financial Secretary; Evangelism, Stewardship, Parish Education, Trustees, Youth, and Elders. The council Chairman, the Vice-chairman, and the Head Elder are required to be male. The Pastor is a non-voting member and advisor to the Church Council and Board of Elders. All of these committee positions and their functions are described in the by-laws of Divine Shepherd.

A copy of our Constitution and By-Laws is available to any member of Divine Shepherd. They are available from the church secretary and copies are also in a mail slot in the fellowship hall for the taking. I encourage every member to obtain a copy and review it. Next month I will expand on the by-Laws regarding membership and responsibilities of members of Divine Shepherd.

Rick Rathert

Congregation Chairman


Chairman's Corner

Greetings to you from your church council. 2018 has been a very busy and challenging year at Divine Shepherd. A great deal has been accomplished as the congregation of Divine Shepherd continues to grow.

  • We have improved our bookkeeping system and made progress in managing our money.
  • We have had so many people volunteer their time to start projects and see them to the finish.
  • We have changed how we disseminate information to most of the congregation via a new website. If you have access to a computer or tablet, you can go to and you can see everything that is happening at the church plus daily lectionary’s, bible studies, sermons, the monthly calendar, and general news.
  • A new picture directory was completed this year and is available at the secretary’s office.
  • New offices for Pastor and the Melissa, our secretary, have been completed, and a conference room and a dedicated work room have been added. We gained two additional Sunday School rooms because of the remodel.
  • A new sign for the church building is being designed, and new stained-glass windows will be installed before Christmas. These windows are a gift from a member family in memoriam of their daughter and sister.
  • A newly refurbished cross has been installed outside on the east end of the sanctuary. It is lit at night and can be seen from the interstate. A member took upon himself to take our old cross, clean it up, strengthen it, paint it, install an updated lighting system and mount it on the exterior wall with the help of other members.


  • A very successful Harvest Dinner took place last month with about 280 meals served.
  • A 15-passenger van has been donated to the Early Childhood Center and has been a blessing as it is used to expand that ministry.
  • Our custodial team has kept our facility looking bright, clean, and well maintained, a place that we can enjoy and share with visitors and new members.

This list of projects, events, and changes is not complete because so many wonderful things happened at Divine Shepherd in 2018 that they can’t all be listed here. With the help of many members donating time, expertise, labor, and frequently funds, have these improvements been possible. Most of all, however, God has blessed Divine Shepherd congregation. He has showered his good gifts on us, and we hope that we have been good stewards of his great and abundant blessings.

nullAs we move into 2019, we will change our focus to growing our missions and ministries; we will find and create opportunities for all Divine Shepherd families to grow in God’s Word; we will grow in our stewardship of God’s gifts; we will take more care of our people and those we are called to serve; we will become better prepared for the future; and we will continue to be a friendly, warm,, and welcoming congregation.

Merry Christmas to each of you.

Rick Rathert

Congregational Chairman




null  What time is it for you in the kingdom? What time is it for Divine Shepherd?

Jesus told the story of the vineyard owner who went to town one day 2-3 different times in the morning, and then again at 3 p.m. and even at 5 p.m. to hire workers to pick grapes for him.

They were all paid the same at the end of the day. That seemed to be a problem for some. Not for us! We each get His all no matter how long we have been called to the kingdom.

It’s out of gratitude and love that Divine Shepherd has started a more formal Stewardship program. Our sacrificial gifts represent part of our work to serve God. It is like buying new harvesting machinery. My father-in-law, now gone to be with Jesus, used to talk about using headers, reapers, and threshing by hand. My younger brother-in-law talks about the speed and convenience of harvesting due to today’s high tech combines. Has the new facility done that for us in worship? Education? Evangelism? Fellowship? Community service?

The problem for many today is how long do we have to “work” by continuing to give sacrificially? Such is the plea of weariness that loses sight of first love. Such is the thought that makes our gift into an “I gotta” attitude.

Jesus calls us to His arms, His word, and His grace for refreshment and recommitment. He shows us that while it may seem like noon, it may be 5 p.m. He asks us to be faithful. He dares us to lift up our eyes and see new visions. He invites us to seek the direction he lays out for Divine Shepherd’s ministry.

And we hear the word: “Let us not grow weary in well-doing. Bring to completion that which you began.”

And we can! Because God has been faithful in providing...because we can’t out-give God. It may take longer than we think it should, but we will finish in His vineyard.

And when we finish this part and it is still day, does God have another arbor for us? Do we need more tools? What’s next as we make disciples, love one another, and grow in faith? God will continue to challenge us, but he has also been gracious in his provision for us.  Our response reflects our love for Him, our trust in Him, and our dedication to Him.

Divine Shepherd Stewardship Committee

October 2018