A new calling for worship

Pastor Don Reiffenberger encourages his congregation and youth to continue to shine, Bible verse Daniel 12:3. Photos/ Dawn Rye 

Dawn Rye | Writer

Whether families or individuals attend church on Wednesdays or Sundays, the call to worship is the same. A service calls God’s people into his presence with a scripture or anthem that focuses on God. 

Many pastors or worship leaders use this time to help the congregation refocus on why they are gathering to worship God, remember his kindness and worship with others in the body of Christ.

Pastor Don Reiffenberger will preach his last scripture sermon for Grace Lutheran Church of Parker on Sunday, Nov. 21, after almost 11 years serving the congregation. He will be inspiring the community at the Christ Lutheran Church in Salem as the new pastor in December. 

Reiffenberger said the most meaningful part of his job at Grace was the funerals. He has done 66 funerals in his career in Parker, and he believes that a funeral service is a time where families need help the most to grieve. He puts everything he has into a funeral as though he is preparing for his own parent’s funeral. It is vital to those families attending the funeral, so it must be essential for him. 

He recalled his first internship was at a Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls, where he assisted in only one funeral. After he received the pastor opportunity at Grace Lutheran and Bethany in Hurley, he knew he would be on his own for performing funerals. 

One challenge he has faced was when Grace and Bethany split, that was hard, and it turned out to be the best for both congregations. COVID was over the top hard. He was trying to make the best decisions possible to keep people safe and follow the guidelines from the bishop and the CDC. 

Reiffenberger stated that he has been thinking and feeling that God has something else in store for him within the last year. It was a feeling like being pulled away from teaching toward seminary. He has that same feeling that God has a different plan for him without knowing a direction. After talking with the bishop, she encouraged him to put his call paperwork together. Once his paperwork was complete, his resume would go viral. He could have offers from anywhere in the states with an opening. He commented that it was funny how this particular call came about. He was first told about the position in Salem; he was hoping for an additional pastor. 

“But that is not what God had in mind,” said Reiffenberger. 

He explained that the Christ Lutheran Church in Salem has been in the call process for 18 months. His good friend was the last pastor there, and after many conversations, he took the leap of faith and took the calling opportunity.

He wants to clarify; he is not leaving Grace because he is angry. Most first-call pastors only stay with a congregation for three years. His family is excited, and he is also happy at the new opportunity to “Call to worship” at Christ Lutheran in Salem. 

Each faith community has its own unwritten rules and he will have to learn them gracefully, he said, smiling. His goal for the new congregation is to watch the growth as they expand sanctuary.

He noted that change is hard for people; however, when change takes place, growth happens. 

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