Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Cortland, Ohio – now part of Faith Lutheran Parish – produced its first Lenten devotional in 2009. Many churches produce 40-day devotionals for Lent, even though it is a fairly challenging endeavor. The effort at Prince of Peace has been led by a layperson, Carole Wiley, who in 2009 was a new Christian.
“For the most part, the origin of the booklet lies in my relatively new belief in God,” says Wiley. “For about the first 60 years of my life, I struggled mightily with my faith. In all honesty, I just was not a believer, plain and simple. I was extremely anxious over this and devised a plan to follow that I hoped would lead me to a better place. Eventually I succeeded in reaching a state of genuine belief!
|Church’s Name||Prince of Peace Lutheran Church|
|City, State||Cortland, OH|
|Lead Pastor/Minister’s Name||Pastor Denise Gundersen|
|First Year at Church||2013|
“I wanted to share this wonder-filled event!” continues Wiley. “And I knew that God wants us to share our faith to benefit others. Because I have always enjoyed writing, putting together a Lenten devotional was an avenue in which to do this and was an exciting idea for me. I discussed it with a few trusted friends who also liked the idea. We all agreed that sharing our personal narratives would also likely raise the level of spirituality within our church.”
Wiley was blessed by sharing the story of her “own personal and glorious journey to the cross” in the first edition of the devotional. “There are no words to express the joy I experienced in sharing it with everyone!” she exclaims.
Initially, however, other members were not as confident as Wiley in sharing their stories in written form. Many felt they could not write well enough. If they were willing to share, then they were provided with coaches or “ghost writers”. Members of church committees were recruited to ensure that all 40 days were covered.
Now, seven years later, people who once needed coaching refuse any assistance and submit meaningful and well-written stories. “They have come full circle,” says Wiley. “There is little difficulty in filling the book now. There are purposely no strict guidelines or restrictions in what can be submitted. We do no editing unless asked to do so.”
Many of the stories in the devotional are touching and even moving. People share personal experiences that many would be unwilling to share in person. Everyone in the church benefits by reading these daily faith stories of their good friends and fellow members, gaining insight into how God has worked and is working in the lives of His people.
Producing the books is no small task. “On the Saturday before each Ash Wednesday, several of us gather at the church for the big challenge of the year – assembling 250 copies of our treasured booklet!” says Wiley. Why so many copies? “Everyone is encouraged to provide copies to friends and relatives,” she explains.
“As we are finishing the task, a wave of joy fills our hearts for we know that we have again honored our Lord through the written word of our small congregation.”