FEBRUARY 2019 letter from Pastor LaDonna
It’s a unique time of year….There is the putting away of holiday decorations and finishing the last of the Christmas leftover, it is facing the new year and January’s bitter cold - yes writing this on the day schools started 2 hours late due to negative wind chills and strong winds…Brrr. There is also the dreaded cold/flu season and to add to negativity in regard to the season, we have the government shut-down. I even heard on the news this morning that there will be no little conversation hearts this valentine’s day. It seems all we have are negative comments and news that leads to gloom and despair. If we didn’t say it at Christmas – we hear it now - BAH Humbug!
It is also that time of year that most congregations have their annual meetings – while we had ours in Sept. The annual report we need to fill out for the ELCA is due … “O Brother” as Winnie the Pooh would say…. Yet….Wait!!! In doing these reports I found myself pleasantly surprised – and wanted to take this opportunity to share some good news.
While taking all the figures from the annual report, I do need to clarify that the figures that go into the congregation report includes all sources (not just general fund, but also ULCW, SS, etc). After going through figures several times for accuracy (because the results were better than I was anticipating).
Income: An increase in regular giving by members of $18,034; There was a decrease in designated giving (primarily memorials) by $6301; There was also a decrease in earned income (this include Farm Rent, interest and fundraisers) by $537. Yet overall, there was an increase from 2017 in received income of $11,196.
In combining all sources of income, as well as all disbursements, in 2018 Our receipts were $20,635 more than our disbursements; this is great in comparison to 2017 where our receipts were $19,816 more than disbursements.
WELL DONE – KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!!!! Your contributions and support enable us to do God’s work, especially in the areas of Worship, Education, and Response to Human Need.
Granted - The report did reveal an area that I believe we do need look into this year. We have a membership of 462 and of that 462 we have members who will be active behind the scenes or at fund-raiser meals, SS, VBS… the number of people actively involved in one or more activities here is at 249 that I am aware of while our average worship attendance this year is 62. While there are a number of factors ranging the entire spectrum from Pastor is too liberal, pastor too conservative; worship is too formal/ liturgical – to worship is too contemporary and laid back; church is too judgmental to church is too lenient, I don’t feel welcome or included, to there is too many other activities taking place on a Sunday. Granted – with that we are not going to please everyone. However---
As I mentioned in sermon on Sunday – I believe there are times when we look at attendance, we look at current bills etc. and think “The wine has run out” yet – as I look around and see throughout the year, 249 active in 1 or more activities, when I see an increased in regular giving of members, when I see the eagerness of young people and the commitment of the elderly, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt God is still alive and working in this place – God’s not finished with us yet cause when we weren’t looking God’s been pouring out new wine!
But here’s the challenge – Paul reminds us in Corinthians that we are all the body of Christ – All have been given at least 1 spiritual gift, 1 cannot say to another “I have no need of you”. You are important to God – you’re important to us.
As I started this article we can focus on the negative, we can point out everything that’s wrong, we can continue in survival mode that doesn’t aid in growth physically, emotionally, or spiritually or we can intentionally, prayerfully seek the Spirit’s guidance in opening our eyes to see all the wonderful things God is doing in this place; open our ears to hear the excitement of young people, open our hearts to all God’s people regardless; open our hands to reach out to others in love and to move our feet into new areas of mission possibilities. We can be open to the visions that people are having for this place that will soon be revealed, we can look and embrace outreach possibilities with the new ball-diamond this summer. We can be open to the plethora of spiritual gifts God has given this congregation. We can choose to share the good news.
I believe God is stating “I have created you, I love you, I have redeemed you, I have called you by name – you are mine – so please …won’t you be my valentine? Won’t you embrace my love and let it shine through you to all you meet?” Love is greater than hate and love wins every time – Happy Valentine’s Day!
Live every moment
Laugh every day
Enjoy every second
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STEWARDSHIP TIDBITS TO PONDER
A few Sundays ago I referred to the tithe – and the Malachi challenge (Based on Malachi 3) to put God to the test and give the tithe and see if God doesn’t pour out blessing upon blessing. In follow up conversation -a couple people asked what this would look like. The chart below show annual income, weekly income and then what various percentages would be for weekly offering. Realizing that sometimes it’s hard to go from little to a lot – some people choose to work toward the tithe. They locate the percent they are currently giving at and up it a percent or two.
Still another method is simply to take a step up. Look
$0 STEPPING UP!
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- Parsonage Update -
IT IS FINISHED: After 3 months of unexpected delays, mismeasurements, reorders, living with everything from the kitchen in totes – IT IS FINISHED and looks wonderful! The total project came in at $13,124. As of today, we have received $11,539, with an additional $500 pledged leaving a grand total of $1,035 left to raise! Well done!
At this time I’d like to offer a special thanks to the parsonage team who spent many hours looking at options, getting bids and working with contractors to make this happen. Marsha Sundin, Sandy Peters, Karlene Peterson, Peggy Ebnet, Wendy Lund, Nolan Jungclaus. And Rick Nordin. Also Special Thanks to all who have so generously and graciously given to this project. It is much appreciated!!!
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- GLLM News and Events -
GOOD NEWS, GOOD BREWS MEN’S RETREAT (January 25-26)
Join us in sharing the Good News and exploring the craft brewing process! No matter your experience level, come for a great opportunity for crafting, conversation, and community. Experience the brewing process from start to finish – you’ll even go home with some of your own brew! Fee $145 – double occupancy room, snacks, meals…
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SW MN SYNOD ASSEMBLY REPORTS
Special Thanks to Nolan and Amalia Jungclaus for being our voting representatives to the synod assembly.
The Synod Assembly met with the theme of “Embrace God Mission; Equip God’s People” with the focus on how we are “walking together embracing God’s mission – walking together with Christ as our lead”
Embrace God’s Mission: Equip God’s People is a funding initiative that was launched at last years synod assembly. As we enter year two we were reminded of the goal of $2.5 million and beyond. Encouraging not only Pastors and individuals but congregations to contribute in order to grow and sustain God’s work within our congregations, our missions, and our leaders. Gifts to the funding initiative as of this past weekend was $1,012,000. The initiative has three main areas to provide resources for “congregation vitality”; Embrace Local and Global Mission, and Develop Servant leaders.
What does this money do?
*IT IS TO BE USED TO DEEPEN CONGREGATION VITALITY: This past year funding for the “money and ministry” event that was presented to a group of 39 pastors, pastor spouses and congregation leaders including United Lutheran. This portion also funded the three Energizing and Mobilizing your congregation workshop (strategic vision, fundraising and marketing) again which council members from our congregation attended as well as the Equipping Congregation Events.
*IT IS TO BE USED TO ENHANCE LOCAL/GLOBAL MISSION: This past year this fund gave scholarship to 5 young adults to visit our companion synod in South Africa and to help build on-going relationships. IT also supports our young adults in global mission in various places around the world
*IT IS TO BE USED DEVELOP SERVANT LEADERS, including the MINISTERIAL EXCELLENCE FUND: Grants from this fund have been given to pastors in our area to help reduce overwhelming seminary debt; provide workshop and resources on increasing financial literacy and the upcoming grant gifts will be directed towards pastors who are below guidelines and in need of building up housing equity. In the area of servant leaders our synod also has resources to help people discern God’s call to roster leadership or promote Lay school of theology or being a synod approved minister. It is also helping with TIM (Teens in Ministry training through GLLM).
As a Pastor in this synod, this is something I personally support and have contributed to. The work and resources provided as we walk together is amazing. I also made a recommendation to the council to contribute to this fund – (10% of each farm check for the next 3 years) While the council has tabled this until the fall – it is my hope that we can move forward as we are called to walking together embracing our mission.
BUSINESS ACTION OF SYNOD ASSEMBLY:
MMSC – to adjust synod constitution in regarding wording and practices of our rostered leaders to be Ministers of Word and Sacrament; and Ministers of Word and Service (deacon)
MMSC – 2018 budget
MMSC – 2018 Compensation Guidelines
Submitted by Pastor LaDonna
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Honestly, the thing I remember most about the assembly was what happened after the business was done for the day.
After dinner on the first day, we were treated to a Lutheran version of the game show Family Feud. The teams were made by splitting the room down the middle, and each round a new group would come up from each side to try to answer a survey question that had been posed to a hundred other Lutherans. The goal was to come up with the most common answers given by the surveyed group.
The questions got pretty silly. “What would you have Jesus turn water into if he were here right now?” The top answer was wine, very traditional, but beer was a close second. “What would you do if you realized you were the only one standing up in church?” Most would sit down right away, but some claimed they would start dancing. “What would be a bad time to start giggling during a church service?” That seemed especially relevant, since most people were giggling after every answer given.
There was a lot of energy in the room, despite the long day everyone had had. The whole game was put together by one woman, which I thought was pretty incredible. The passion she would put into the game brought out the energy in us. In between rounds she noted attending Pastors accomplishments and many years of work, bringing them up to be recognized. The years of service some had put in was incredible.
Maybe it's a little roundabout, but there are some things I took away from that evening. If you are going to do something, own it! Figure out what drives you, and devote yourself to it. Be open to the ideas of others, and be supportive of the people on your team. That will help you get farther in the game and, no matter if you win or lose, you'll feel better once the game ends.
Submitted by Amalia Jungclaus
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Our Synod Assembly was an extra ordinary affair this year. What I mean by that is simply that it was more ordinary than not. Many of the Assemblies I have attended in the past had some pretty heavy lifting to do like ratifying the 2009 human sexuality statement, or just a few years before that where we discussed and ratified Called to a Common Mission, the merger of the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America through the sharing of sacraments and pastoral ordination. This year however, was just business as usual. We passed a Synod budget and pastoral compensation guidelines, elected various individuals, both lay and pastoral to sit on the various committees that serve our synod council and thus accomplish the very important work this Synod endeavors to engage in. Overall, this year’s Synod Assembly went forward with very little fanfare or distraction.
Don’t get me wrong, there was all sorts of information presented through the materials we received through the speakers, and special invited guests from South Africa (whom our Lakeland Conference supports directly with funds for the HIV project), and informational booths from the many ministries supported by our synod, that all extolled the good works this ELCA organization does and it is all very amazing and refreshing to understand just how truly wonderful it is for the work that is getting accomplished in God’s name. We learn how people’s lives are being changed and how the church is growing in China and in India and in South Africa. We learn about the work and efforts of the Lutheran Disaster Relief who confront world emergencies for the long term and how Lutheran Social Service is working right here in our back yard to help individual families deal with financial and housing challenges that threaten their personal survival in today’s society. This is all very incredible work that is being accomplished day in and day out by Christians throughout the world. We are a part of that, and we contribute to that with every dollar in our offering plate and every prayer we share with God in heaven. These are the things that happen every day in God’s Kingdom thru the ELCA, and our Synod Assemblies have in the past, had to deal with some complex issues of how the church stands on various issues in spite of and amongst all the good work we set out to do.
This year we only had one resolution to deal with (and I remember years in the past with 18 to 20 resolutions). This resolution was pretty boring actually, as it was a change in the Synods constitution to correct the language and wording we associate with servants of Word and Sacraments (Pastors) and servants of Word and Service (Deacons). This change was being made to more unify the terminology we use as a church in understanding the roles of these people, a clarification of the terminology we use. So, not very controversial stuff this year, but I can say that given the distraction and drama that we are experiencing in our national politics this was a welcome rest bit from all that.
Perhaps that has given our Synod some time to reflect on issues of a more personal nature as Bishop Anderson asked us this question. “Do you want to grow your church?” This seems like a pretty simple question with a simple answer of “yes”. Of course we want our church to grow as that is what we are called to do, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Lord”. His next question was a little more difficult, “Is your church ready to Grow?” “Have we encouraged and engaged our congregations to serve the mission field we have today?” This is “Urgent” the Bishop exclaimed. Are we growing the disciples in our church to serve the mission field we have today. Do the colors in our church reflect the colors of our comm-unity? If they do not, are we the church serving our community? Or, are we simply serving ourselves?
Bishop Anderson explained to us that the word Synod actually means “Walking Together” and he suggested that it is time we use Jesus’ example to walk with those in our communities that are suffering and hurting. Jesus did not stand at a pulpit in front of the church and preach sermons. He walked amongst the people listening to them, caring for them, and lifting them up with hope and with healing. This is what we also are called to do. Our theme for this year’s assembly was “Together we are being called to Embrace God’s Mission, Equip God’s People”. How are we equipping our congregation to meet with and walk with those in our communities that do not know Christ as our Savior and Lord? Do they witness our actions and know we are Christians by our love? We are equipping Stephen Ministers to meet people within their personal tragedies of life and this is a good start at this, and our efforts with family promise work toward this goal as well, but we need everybody’s effort and commitment to reach out to those around us and walk with them in this life…
Are we ready to grow the church?
2017 Bethesda Annual Report
Betty King and Frances Kaiser attended the Bethesda Annual meeting on June 15, 2017 as delegates from United Lutheran. The meeting opened with prayer, welcome, and approval of the 2016 annual meeting minutes. This was followed by a ‘Year in Review’ with discussion held on the building project and phase II with $2.3 million raised and $700,000 remaining. A video was shown of the move from Heritage to Bethesda Grand. Ideas were taken from delegates on member/church connection. The meeting ended with a delicious luncheon.
Green Lake Lutheran Ministries Annual Report
God is on the Loose!
How good it is to know that God isn’t confined by human restrictions, boxes, and understandings. It is a little frightening when we forget God’s love for people. It’s comforting to know God is doing great things even when I can’t see it or understand it. God is moving in our midst and on the loose.
We have 180 congregations that own GLLM and you are one of them. When people ask how many sites does Green Lake Lutheran Ministries have I tell them 183. That includes Green Lake Bible Camp, Shores of St. Andrew, Camp House, your congregation, along with the other member congregations. It is our privilege to partner with each of you in ministry.
We had a great year ministry-wise. Day Camps grew by eight congregations receiving great feedback on the overall program. Camp House continues to grow in numbers with the addition of the North Shore Service Adventure Camp for Middle and High School students. Green Lake camper numbers grew with Stargazers and TIM Team being the biggest increase. Shores of St. Andrew numbers were down with the largest impact being in Half Blast. We moved the Half Blast program to primarily weekends which we believe affected the numbers. In 2017 we will be offering Half Blast most weeks alongside Andy’s Gang. On-site camper numbers were down; however, camper days increased as a result of the additional Day Camps. We are hoping our numbers will grow this year with help from your congregation and new congregations sending campers. We hope congregations will keep looking for youth outside the church to join them at camp. We are also hoping to see an increase in our Family & Congregational Camps. Brochures are available and know you are all invited.
Financially we are still trying to stabilize. This coming year is crucial for us to get our cash flow in the black. We will have to make some significant changes if we don’t improve our financial picture. A clearer picture of the finances will be available in our full annual report once our year-end finances are complete.
We are thankful for your support and partnership in ministry. We look forward to serving you in 2017.
In His service,
Green Lake Lutheran Ministries