MAY 2019 letter from Pastor LaDonna
It was a beautiful blustery blizzardy spring day. The snow was falling, the winds were blowing, yet forecast stated in a day or two would be back in the 50’s. It was a day that I had several choices. 1 – I could do marathon sermon prep after all, next week was “holy” week! 2 – I could grumble and complain. 3 – I could work on writing newsletter articles. As I looked at the choices before me of what I “should” do – I noticed most of them were set on the presumption that regardless – there wasn’t much to be positive about. I could grumble about the weather, I could complain about the work that needed to be done, I could wish the weather didn’t affect my sinuses. As I entered a time of prayer – I found myself in prayer for people who were ill, struggling, dying…and while asking for hope and healing – even my prayers seemed to have a negative flair. Oh brother... as Pooh would say.
Pooh – with Pooh there’s always an adventure – life is full of surprises and wonder – ok, instead of being negative I chose to go on an adventure. As I journey I found myself going backward, seriously, and I wasn’t sure this adventure thing was a good idea – but I journeyed on – and long story short – I’d like to share what I discov-ered. I discovered that in the darkest time – there was always light. When death and sadness invaded – joy and life emerged. When all seemed hopeless – hope was given time and time again. Even when we had enough snow that we had to cancel Sunday worship twice and Lenten worship once since the beginning of the year – life was happening.
In January, the Sunday school held their mission carnival – they raised $155 for mission while having fun and getting numerous prizes themselves. February we hosted the blood mobile on another snowy day yet despite the weather they still collected 42 units of blood. Also in February we had a member who had a house fire and was temporarily without a place to stay – not only did we provide a couple nights at a hotel, we also had another member make their place available, plus took special offering amounting to $179. In March we hosted family promise – which continues to be a highly valuable help for those trying to get out of homelessness. Since we opened our doors with our first guest arriving in August, 2015. With the help of many volunteers and many donated hours, as of January 2018 we have helped 67 Families: 37 Adults and 44 Children. Wait – there’s more, in one of the blizzards we had in March- several people became stranded in Lake Lillian. Members of our church welcomed, opened up the church, provided food, and gave them shelter from the storm – several cards of thanks for the amazing “sanctuary”, safe place in the midst of a storm were received.
March was MN food share month and since food is one of the things that seems to define us – we took in 55 lbs of food for Ridge-water Campus Ministry; $178 + for the area food shelves, and $1,849 in our Lenten offerings for the back the pack program prov-iding food on weekends to families in need.
Another dream involving food that has taken root since the start of 2019 is a community meal being offered on Sundays following worship. This meal has been well received and plans are in the works on ways to expand this ministry
I haven’t even mentioned the smelt feed – which I have to admit is my favorite fundraising meal we do –It is events like these that people seem to emerge from everywhere not only to help out – but also to enjoy food, fellowship and a bit of fun thrown in. The smelt supper had a profit of $4,194.
In addition to our various “responses to human need” that has emerged, this congregation is blessed with youth who are discov-ering their gifts and using them in ministry. In confirmation we did an assessment of spiritual gifts – the result being 3 of our young “guys” building new platform stages (we’ve used during lent and will use at Christmas, etc); 3 of our young people using their leadership skills and gifts of faith to plan and lead our mid-week lent worship – and 3 of our young people assisting in acts of mercy in and around the community. We also had 1 of our youth go to the Jr High retreat and 5 of our younger youth went to the Spring Fever Bible camp weekend.
And as if that wasn’t enough – we are blessed with dedicated council members, committee members, Sunday school leaders, musicians, worship assistants, circles, men’s group, families, women and men, young and old, office and janitor staff who all have been gifted and use their gifts enabling us to be a church together for the sake of the world.
It may have been a beautiful blustery blizzardy spring day – but the adventure of where God has led us and inspired us within just these past four months has put “spring” back in my heart as I hope it has yours. The world gives us plenty of reasons to get grumpy – God gives us even more reasons to rejoice and be glad. This is the day the Lord has made – let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Live every moment
Laugh every day
Enjoy every second
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We would like to take a moment to remind everyone about our online giving called Vanco. We sure thought about it here in the office when we had to cancel those Sunday Worships due to such bad weather. However, if you signed up through Vanco, your weekly contribution would not be disrupted. Even when worship gets disrupted, the bills don’t. There are applications on the table by the office. If you need help, please ask in the office and we would be more than happy to help you. It is very easy to sign up and you still get a statement for taxes just the same as you always do. Please call the office with any questions you might have. 664-7008.
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A BIG PROBLEM, A SMALL DEVICE - EVENING OF INFORMATION ON CURRENT EPIDEMIC:
On Wed May 15 at 6:30 pm at BOLD school, there will be an informa-tional presentation open to community members and families of Jr High – High School age young people on VAPING. Over 10.7 million youth age 12-17 is at risk for using e-cigarettes.
In the past year alone, vaping among high schoolers has increased 78%. Come and learn some of the dangerous misperceptions that lead them to believe vaping is harmless, how E-cigarettes, also known as “vapes”, are becoming increasingly popular among teens and how fast this epidemic is growing.
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Senior Companion Information Meeting
United Lutheran is becoming a Senior Companion Site -- On Monday, May 6 at 3:30 pm Janel Heinen of LSS Senior Companion Program will meet with all seniors at the Community Center in Lake Lillian
The Benefits seniors can receive by having a senior companion: Individual attention, assistance and support. A Senior Companion can run errands, go shopping, read and write correspondence and helping people get out into the community on a regular basis. Senior companions provide essential non-medical assistance, respite support, and transportation to appointments that allow individuals to avoid more costly long term care placements.
Come and learn more about this program and how you might benefit from this service.
We are also looking for a couple more people who might be inter-ested in being a Senior Companion. If you are 55 years of age or older, and have a passion for meeting and helping people live inde-pendently by visiting, helping, or driving a senior to appointments and/or shopping. You will receive training and small stipend. We hope you will also come on May 6. If you are interested in being a companion for a senior please let Pastor LaDonna know.
BACK THE PACK
The mission of pack the back is to close the missing meal gaps between available food assistance program and the unmet needs of school-age families. Renville county pack the back sends out backpacks of food each weekend for 210 kids with more schools asking to become part of the program as need continues to rise.
We are now serving three school districts in four different towns. 210 kids in Renville and the surrounding counties are getting nutritious meals because of this program! More schools are asking to become a part of the program but we need your help!
Once again our mid-week Lenten offerings will go to the pack the back program for Renville county and ACGC ministerial. For just $140 you can sponsor one child to receive meals for the ENTIRE school year! Please help us meet the needs of children in our own communities and end childhood hunger!
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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