December 30, 2014
Dear Members of Grace,
A regular meeting of the congregation will be held on January 18, 2015, following the 11 o’clock service. Nursery care and a light lunch will be provided.
According to the church bylaws, the January meeting is for the purpose of elections and the annual report. In addition, we will have a report from the call committee. The agenda for the meeting is included at the end of this letter. Click here to see the ballot submitted by the Nominations Committee.
Fiscal Update: I reported in September the appointment of an ad hoc committee, chaired by Ed Mason (vice president of the congregation), to examine church expenses in light of our ministry goals in order to determine whether there were expenses that could be reduced without adversely affecting our ministry. The ad hoc committee met several times this fall and made recommendations that reduced the budget by approximately $190,000. Some of the expense savings are related to planned changes in staff coverage. The amount of savings is significantly greater than the deficit experienced in 2013-14. While this is good news, we still need congregational contributions to be larger than the 2013-14 level in order to balance the budget in 2014-15.
Separately, the Stewardship Committee and our Director of Stewardship have begun a review of stewardship in order to consider additional ways to help ensure that we can meet our ministry goals and fully live our congregational mission. Our congregational leadership meeting on Saturday, February 28, 2015, will focus on stewardship.
Director of Stewardship Resignation: Clyde Walter, our Director of Stewardship, has resigned and will be leaving Grace on January 15, 2015, to accept a position as Campaign Director and Senior Gift Officer at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. We will miss Clyde, and we are thankful for his three years of dedicated and faithful service to Grace in building our stewardship program effectively and creatively. We wish Clyde well as he goes out to serve the wider church and assists in building resources for the theological training of future leaders of the church.
Led by the Spirit: As a congregation, we have four specific priorities for 2015 within our mission statement, “Bring in, build up, and send out disciples for Jesus Christ.” First, we will support the Call Committee in the search for a new senior pastor, with earnest prayers, Spirit-led conversation, and congregational participation.
Additionally, we will focus on three important opportunities identified by members who participated in the congregational survey conducted by the Call Committee: (a) outreach, openness, and making people feel welcome; (b) spiritual and community growth within the congregation, building connections and community; and (c) effective fiscal management. These opportunities are inter-connected, together with conducting the search for a new senior pastor, and flow from our mission statement.
To help define and organize these opportunities, the Church Council has adopted a theme for 2015: Led by the Spirit. This theme will help us remember that we are led by the Holy Spirit as we engage in the call process, outreach, community building, and effective fiscal management in 2015, and will help give us unity of purpose behind these priorities. I look forward to working with Pastor Shaner, the Church Council, our staff, and each of you as we serve Christ together, led by the Spirit and inspired by Christ to live as disciples.
January 18, 2015