September 9, 2014
Dear Members of Grace,
A regular meeting of the congregation will be held on September 21 following the 11:00 a.m. service. Nursery care and a light lunch will be provided.
According to the church bylaws, the September meeting is for the purpose of program review and a financial report. Program review will include reports from the school principal and the youth director. The agenda for the meeting is included at the end of this letter.
Call Committee: The call committee for the purpose of recommending a new senior pastor has been selected and will begin its work this month. Chairing the committee will be Dick Martens, a long-time member of Grace, a graduate of Grace School, and recently Chair of the Board of Elders. Serving along with Dick on the committee are Amy Claud, Andy Massmann, Ellie Anderson, Jill Baumgaertner, Marcus Johnson, Paulette Reddel, Reggie Moore, and Jeff Wood (ex officio). I look forward to working with the committee in the months ahead. Dick and I intend to involve the congregation as much as possible in this important process, and we will be providing frequent reports to the congregation.
Fiscal Report: During the financial report, the church treasurer will report on the disappointing results of our 2013-2014 fiscal year. While expenses were well under budget and also under the level of expenses for the prior fiscal year, contributions were also lower than budget and lower than the prior year, and we ended the fiscal year with a large deficit of $120,000. This is deeply concerning and something that we as a congregation need to address jointly with wisdom, prayer, and action.
I have appointed an ad hoc committee, chaired by Ed Mason (vice president), to examine church expenses in light of our ministry goals in order to determine whether there are expenses that can be reduced without adversely affecting our ministry. The ad hoc committee will be meeting this fall and will make recommendations to the church council.
In addition, I have asked the stewardship committee and the director of stewardship to examine our patterns of stewardship to determine whether the congregational contributions represented by our budget are too high, just right, or too low, and whether we could engage the congregation in additional ways to help meet our ministry goals, in order to ensure that we can fully live our congregational mission to bring in, build up, and send out disciples for Jesus Christ.
Also, I ask each of you to prayerfully consider increasing the amount that you give to Grace. The deficit could be erased with an average additional gift of $300 per family, which is about $6 per week for one year. Please consider increasing the amount you give by $6 per week or more, if you are able, so that together, we can erase the deficit. Giving a larger additional gift each week will further provide a stable financial foundation for Grace and will help us satisfy our ministry goals in the 2014-2015 fiscal year without a deficit.
As a result of the lower level of contributions in the 2013-2014 fiscal year and the traditionally lower level of giving in July and August, our cash resources became very low and we were forced to borrow the amount of $168,000 from our existing line of credit in order to meet July and August expenses. We plan to repay the loan as cash resources permit during this fiscal year.
Last year at this time we sought to raise $1.2 million in order to complete necessary repairs to the church tower and its foundation, and we exceeded our goal by over $200,000. As a congregation, we have much to be thankful for, including many resources within our congregation, a talented ministry and educational staff, and important ministry needs to fulfill. This year, we need to focus on regular giving in support of ministry. I ask you to prayerfully consider ways that we can together make Grace’s ministry as strong as our refurbished tower.
Farewell Celebration: As most of you are aware, there was a huge turnout for Pastor Modahl and Jackie’s last Sunday with us on August 31. I want to thank everyone for making the day a wonderful and meaningful celebration of Pastor Modahl’s ministry with us for 16 years. The planning committee, chaired by Julie and Dan Lehmann, joined by Beth McClanahan, Gick Schmidt, Chris Koetke, Christa Krout, Steve Kaufman, and Esther Armstrong, did a phenomenal job orchestrating all of the details.
The new hymn, “O Praise the Shepherds Who Embrace God’s Call,” written by Jill Baumgaertner and composed by Carl Schalk, was a wonderful and beautiful tribute to Pastor Modahl’s service. I also want to thank Lynn Zurowski for designing a framed copy of the hymn as a gift for Bruce and Jackie. Michael Costello composed a beautiful new anthem, Crossings, to a text by Jill Baumgaertner, in honor of Pastor Modahl. The lunch was prepared by many Grace volunteers, led by chef Chris Koetke. The program speakers, including Phyllis Kersten, James Brooks, limericist Martin Baumgaertner, and Gick Schmidt, all uniquely summarized Bruce’s wonderful contributions and service to Grace. We are all thankful for their stirring tributes.
1. Opening prayer and devotion
2. Review and approval of minutes for June meeting
3. Announcement – Call Committee
4. Report – Grace School
5. Report – Youth and Children’s Religious Education
6. Report – Grace Church Tower
7. Financial Report
8. Approval of 2015 Congregational Meeting Dates