Martin Luther was the founder of all Lutheran churches, including the First Lutheran of Portsmouth. Originally, he was a Catholic priest. Last October marked the 500th anniversary of the reformation of the Lutheran Church. In translating the Bible from Latin (only priests could read and decide what it said) into the German language. His doing so was a bold move which cost him his life. This was the beginning of the protestant belief in churches. In other words, the Lutheran faith brought the protestant church into the religious circle.
Upon sitting down in a pew of the Portsmouth Lutheran Church, located on Grandview Avenue, my eyes caught site of an old hymnal beside the new ones. It was an original from the Portsmouth church dated 1935. Rebecca Clark, who works diligently to forward the spirit of this church to its people and our community, explained to me that the first Lutheran Church locally was established in 1920. Their website says, “the people of the church are a friendly and lively, warm and welcoming church family of saints and sinners who share God’s love and service to our community.” As a Christian, our faith is built around God made known to us in Jesus Christ. Through worship, education and witness, we practice our faith, grow in our relationship with God and experience God’s grace in our lives.”
I was told the Lutheran Church believes in the 3 in 1. That is that there is only one God, but in this one divine essence are three distinct, separate persons: God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit. All three God and all three one.
On a Sunday morning, Beverly and I scheduled our visit to the Portsmouth Lutheran Church on a day that Steve Free and his band of three played in concert at the church. Beverly and I always enjoy following the Free talent around, and they offer a very special service when invited into local churches. A long-acknowledged descendent of the well-known Shawnee Chief Tecumseh during the historic period, his song assortment shares a lot of flavor associated with his Native American background. His first song on this day was a long-time favorite of ours, “Count your blessings.” The song shares a special message in that each new day we should give thanks. It goes on to say, “build your treasures in the sky, that’s all you’ll ever need. Celebrate each new rising sun and thank the Lord for what he’s done. Count your blessings one by one.”
Steve said some of his songs are from old gospel songs written during the civil rights era of the 1960s where the Christian words were taken out for their purpose. He said, “Well, I just changed the songs back to containing their religious words.” Our visit was around Mother’s Day, and Steve mentioned his beloved mother. He said he lost his mother and brother in close proximity, and this was very hard for him. He pointed out the Native American belief that our ancestors walk with us as God walks with us. This led into his song, “Part of Me.” It goes something like this: There is a love that lasts forever, the kind you cannot see, and wherever I go, you will be a part of me.
Steve said everything in life is connected and that is the circle of life. We are all God’s children. He then talked about Moneto, Grandfather Tree ,and he followed playing a Native American flute song honoring Grandfather Tree. He showed how, at the end of the song, a flute message goes up to God. It is a very moving presentation. For mothers and grandmothers alike, how could we not hear Steve’s song, “Grandma’s Cherry Pie.” Lastly, his final song was his signature song, played worldwide during the Christmas season. His publisher said you need a Christmas song, and, thusly, Steve wrote, “Just a Baby Boy.” He received a letter from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, saying copies of this song had been purchased as a gift for all the members of their community. He then learned this is a community of 24 families. Still a very good average, don’t you think? Steve’s closing words were, “God be with you, until we meet again.” Sounds like the kind of thing a boy from Duck Run might say.
Rebecca also explained to me that the church is blessed in worship with Sister Margret Grimes of Chillicothe on the first Sunday of each month. During the second, third and fourth Sunday, the church is blessed in worship with Pastor Evan Fisher, and those occasional fifth Sundays, they plan special events. On a Saturday in September, the church sponsors a church community picnic, inviting the neighborhood for free food, fun for children and entertainment. They are working on a new ministry which will reach out to those who have suffered the loss of a loved one.
So, once again, in our travels to visit the church faithful of Scioto County Ohio we made new friends, but will keep the old. For in the days of my 4-H camping we would say, some are silver and some are gold.
For a complete pictorial preview of this visit, check into medium.com and search for Randy Rucker. Stop in and pay the First Lutheran Church of Portsmouth a visit.
As believers, let us share the good news of Jesus Christ as Savior of the world. Each one, reach one. See ya in church.
Reach Randy Rucker at Ohiorancher5@gmail.com.