From the Pastor - March 2019
“Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”
There is a bit of controversy over who first said this (in)famous quote, however I’ve often requoted it as “Ministry is what happens when you’re busy making other plans!” Well, as of February 1st when the unprecedented cold weather in the Midwest caused a pipe to burst in our narthex ceiling, we have been living this reality! Life happened and we needed to adjust and readjust some ministry plans at Saint Stephen! It has provided us with opportunities for growth, ones we may not have chosen but God’s Spirit is active in all circumstances.
I am extremely grateful to all the people of Saint Stephen for the way that you have taken this unexpected turn of events in stride. It has made what could have been a congregation “crisis” merely another adventure in our life together. We know that this situation isn’t ideal and it will take a lot longer than any of us anticipated to get things put back together right. I’m extremely grateful for the beautiful Fellowship Hall we have and how well it has worked to worship there these last weeks.
Sharon Gregory, Dave McAlonan, Vicky Hill, Howard Geier, and Dave Telleen deserve special thanks for their tireless work the Friday we encountered the leak and damage. Their knowledge of the building, inclination to keep cool heads, and willingness to start the clean up as well as communicate with the Council and Congregation started the process off on the right foot.
I am also very grateful for the leadership of the Council during this time. Their readiness to meet together and assess the damage and make a plan forward on the Saturday morning after we discovered the leak showed a great deal of cooperation and character. Vicky Hill and Dave McAlonan have put in tireless work and countless hours working with ServePro, Guide One insurance, contractors, and every manner of contact we’ve needed to keep the process rolling. Dave Telleen, Dennis Friedle, and Howard Geier have been an incredible source of help, knowledge, presence, and moral support as they have checked in on progress and helped with decision-making nearly daily.
2019 has brought some challenges to us, but the “church that can” is continuing to together and we look forward to a rededication of our sanctuary for the gathering of God’s people, the sharing of God’s grace, and the sending of God’s servants back into our community to be God’s body working for love and grace! Well done, Servants of God!
In my report to the congregation at our annual meeting on January 27th I discussed a little bit about where we have been in ministry together over the last few years and where I envision us going this year.
Since I began as your pastor at Saint Stephen we have been working to stabilize, root, and assess the ministry before us. In this year, 2019, I believe it is time for us to start to mobilize and continue to revitalize based on the feedback and conversation you have been a part of.
In my report and at the meeting I discussed the process of getting three focus groups started at Saint Stephen. My vision for these groups is to work together this year to learn about and start initiatives in three areas that the CAT survey identified as satisfaction markers for our congregation.
The groups will work together to create a mission statement and will establish a few specific goals to accomplish together, one of which will be studying and learning and creating opportunities within their “area.” The idea is a short-term commitment focused on raising up the proficiency of the entire congregation within these three areas:
2) Spiritual Formation,
3) Hospitality & Evangelism
Forgiveness and reconciliation will focus on learning about Christian forgiveness seated in God’s mercy. This will be a part of our Lenten focus in 2019.
Spiritual Formation will take a look at how we invite and grow disciples in our congregation at all ages and stages. An analysis of our education programs will be involved in this group with emphasis on searching out new models and creating opportunities for growth at all levels.
Hospitality and Evangelism will look at the ways in which we welcome people into our community and make space for them at Saint Stephen whether they be guests or visitors, people using the building, or potential members.
The polar vortex “flood” has delayed my getting these groups up and running in February. Our Forgiveness Focus group did meet at the end of February. I will be contacting others who indicated interest in these groups very soon.
PLEASE let me know in person, by phone (815-403-9143) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to participate in any one of these groups. The aim is to have fun while doing the work of God’s mission in Jesus’ name!