In the early years of the United States, small groups of Christian believers were widely scattered in rural areas. This led to the need for itinerant pastors, known as “circuit riders,” who rode horseback from one small community to another to preach the gospel, minister to settlers and organize congregations.
With continued growth, larger church congregations could afford a full-time pastor. However, the circuit-riding concept is still with us. In Windsor, Rev. Steven M. Lockman, pastor of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church at 125 Shiloh Road, is also the pastor of another family of faith, Living Word Lutheran Church in Petaluma. Each of these congregations has about 30-40 members. Collectively their numbers provide enough support to share one pastor.
“Our first meeting in the county came in February 1984 in a Santa Rosa motel, and in November of 1991 we came to our present Windsor location,” said Lockman. “Our Windsor church is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) and the Petaluma congregation is part of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS). Both groups teach and profess the same beliefs and fellowship together, although they do have slightly different worship styles. We welcome everyone to join us.”
Weekly Sunday services are liturgical, with confession, absolution, praise, articles of faith and a sermon, all of which are tied directly to the Bible. Lockman said core beliefs are based on the authority of scripture, not the opinions of man, with a focus on Christ, his atonement for sin on the cross and what he has done for the world.
“What we believe is part of our name. Evangelical refers to being gospel preaching and gospel centered, defining who Jesus is, what he has done and the fact that there is nothing we have to do to earn salvation. When I read my Bible, I hear God saying ‘trust me.’ He also said have ‘faith in me and call on me in the day of trouble,’” he said. “This is part of our relationship with Jesus—it all depends on him. Repentance, or turning away from wrongdoing (or sin), is a part of faith. You can’t have faith without repentance. Since we have been forgiven, we must forgive others from our hearts. My job is not to interpret the Bible, but to proclaim what God says in his word.”
Lockman says the concepts of justification and sanctification are also not widely understood. Justification is what Jesus did for us at the cross, declaring us not guilty—or justified—by his sacrifice. Sanctification is the process of being transformed into Christ’s likeness over our lifetime with his help and that of the Holy Spirit – the third member of the trinity. In a very real sense, sanctification is saying thank you to God for what he has done by learning how to be like Jesus by loving him and our neighbors.
Lockman says for some, belief in God and the Bible is like going to a buffet where you get to pick what you like and avoid what you don’t like, a perspective he disagrees with. “The Bible is the word of God,” he said. “While there are portions of scripture that don’t make sense to some people, such as the six literal days of creation, the virgin birth, the purpose of the death of Christ and his physical resurrection, scripture interprets itself. It’s all about context. You have to read each verse in context with the rest of the passage and chapter as well as discover what the Bible says elsewhere on the same topic to get a broader perspective.”
Lockman became a pastor 33 years ago and his career has involved assignments from Miami to Seattle. He came with his wife and two children from Flint, Michigan to the North Bay three years ago. Today these two local churches have a diverse membership including those in the local area as well as people from Germany, Mexico and other nations as far away as Uganda.
“For many people, the promise of God is too good to be true. Even though we are all sinners, through faith in Jesus Christ alone we receive forgiveness, salvation and eternal life,” he concluded.
Sunday School at the Windsor location starts at 10 a.m. for ages 10 to 15, and the weekly worship service starts at 11:15 a.m. Adult bible studies are held on Wednesdays at 11 a.m. A special Christmas Eve service will be held at 4 p.m. Dec. 24 in Windsor and a candlelight service will be held at 7 p.m. in Petaluma.
For more information, contact Pastor Rev. Steven M. Lockman by calling the church phone 707-849-7812; by his cell at 810-516-1789, or by going to the website https://christlutheranwindsor.com.
Gary Quackenbush is a Windsor resident and writer with his own public relations consultancy. He is the founder of the Windsor Care Network and a former CEO of the Windsor Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.