Debbie Townsend, Parish Assistant and Director of Education at Redeemer Lutheran Church quickly draws in those around her with warmth and kindness. She and her husband Joe began serving at Redeemer in West Lafayette, Indiana in August 1986. As a young family, they hoped to revitalize the congregation by reaching children and families. Over the years, this vision has become a reality. Babies, families, singles, and the elderly populate their thriving church community. They even have a member who is 100 years old.
Townsend, the proud parent of five adult children, uses her love of children to guide her ministry with and to others. Serving with her daughter is one of her greatest joys in ministry. Her daughter Trudy serves as the church secretary. Recently, Trudy took on a technological role as the church has increased their use of technology to connect with their members. These transitions led Townsend and her husband to apply for a grant through the Eli Lilly Foundation. The foundation aids churches who need to upgrade their sound, audio, and visual capabilities so they could respond better to the changing needs as a result of COVID. Redeemer Lutheran was awarded the grant and set to work with the necessary updates. Townsend is excited about the new live streaming capabilities they will have once they learn how to use their new equipment.
Currently, Redeemer has both outdoor and indoor services, as well as offering their pre-recorded services on their website. The church has two Sundays a month when the music is more traditional, and the other two are blended. However, this past summer and early fall, most of their services have been outside. A blended style of music is more conducive to an outdoor setting. The Psalters, led by Joe Townsend, use their musical talents to lead the congregation in their blended services. “When Joe was completing his time in seminary, he prayed God would teach him to branch out so he could reach people with different music,” says Townsend. Their services are a testament to his answered prayer.
Townsend comments, “Many Lutherans might be surprised to find out how many things we are involved in every week.” Townsend and her husband use their creativity and organizational skills to lead the members into various ministry opportunities. When COVID threatened to shut down Vacation Bible School, Townsend responded with VBS packets. Redeemer sent these packets to 42 families in and out of state. They led the recipients through four weeks of Bible study, complete with links to puppet shows and instructional videos by the church’s youth. They also contained supplies for crafts and games. Townsend is coordinating efforts to mail out similar packages for Advent. These packets will have links to Bible studies, puppet shows, crafts and the reading of the Christmas narrative. Thankful Thursday, coming soon to the church’s website, will present bedtime stories read by the grandmas in the congregation. Redeemer also provides intergenerational ministry opportunities through their in-person VBS and Christmas programs.
Shortly after receiving the Eli Lilly Foundation grant, Townsend heard the news that she’d won a Bose Church giveaway. “Amidst this most challenging time, God shows himself above and beyond,” she says with a contagious smile. Townsend chose the Bose S1 Pro system as her prize. She and her husband have used the loudspeaker several times with repeated excellent results. The S1 Pro shines in the outdoor service. “It helps the Word of God to be heard clearly and perfectly,” she adds. The lightweight and compact technology made it perfect for Joe Townsend to use at a recent graveside funeral. Townsend’s eyes begin to tear as she recounts how special it was to the family to be able to hear the memorial. Next, the two plan to use the S1 Pro for a gathering on the church patio. Pastor Townsend will gather with residents from a local assisted living home. This time, his message will ring with clarity through the S1 Pro system.