I’m a little late getting this out. We are already a week into November but that allows me to share some information about all the activity around here. Last Sunday. November 5th was All Saints Sunday, and we were blessed by the presence of Pastor Matt Short, Assistant to the Bishop for Evangelical Mission. We began with our All Saints Remembrance, during which we read the names of our loved ones, those saints, who have gone before us. I had the opportunity to read those names aloud and I want to say that as emotional as it is to hear those names read it is even more so to be the one reading them. During Pastor Short’s message he spoke of this feeling when he said, “It feels like hallowed ground.” Indeed it did. He went on to remind us that all those we named as well as the countless ones we didn’t lived a life of discipleship and faith and the reading of the Beatitudes during the gospel lesson was a glimpse of what God’s kingdom looks like on earth. He challenged us to also live such a life. At the service we also installed your Mission Exploration Team (MET). Many thanks again to Cindy Duffin, Tracy Hahn, Karen VanDomelen, Karen Mannisto, Pat Marohl, Mary Sukopp, and Mattson Wick.
After the service, Pastor Short shared some really great information about ways to change our thinking to revitalize our ministry. Some of the information he shared comes directly from the book Leading Faithful Innovation that I wrote about last month. A book your Council is currently studying. The book proposes “simple” Spirit-led practices of listening to God, one another, and our neighbors and engaging in simple experiments of being present in the spaces of our wider communities where life takes place. One of the goals being to identify how God might be leading us into deeper relationships, connections and community where the gospel story speaks in conversation with ourselves and our neighbors. Pastor Short said one of his favorite quotes was, “We don’t think our way into new behavior, we behave our way into new thinking.” In that light we will be looking for your participation in some of these activities, meeting people where they are. The first one MAY be during the New Berlin Christmas Tree Lighting on December 2nd from 3:00-6:00 pm (try and keep that open on your calendar). We are hoping to pass out Holiday Greetings and an opportunity for people to share prayer requests during the event. We are still waiting for permission from the New Berlin Parks and Recreation Department, so I will forgo details at this point. I will just say watch future announcements and email for details.
Related to a ministry ideological shift from speaking to listening, Pastor Short shared another one of his favorite quotes: “For most people, feeling heard is so close to feeling loved, that the two are almost indistinguishable.” In the months ahead we will be looking for your participation in this as well. Our listening experiments will begin with listening to our own stories. This practice prepares us for listening to the stories of those in the community. Several congregation members have expressed an interest in presenting the message during a service. We will be encouraging them to share about their own spiritual journey. As they do think about what God might have been doing during these events in their lives. (Was God teaching, reassuring, encouraging, challenging, . . . them?). The hope is that the skills we develop while listening to one another will help us to better answer those same questions about the stories our neighbors share.
Looking ahead; next Sunday is Harvest Sunday (November 12th) when we will make our Harvest Offering for our outreach partners. Thanks to Sally Weiland for coordinating the stewardship and outreach presentations during the past weeks to make our commitments all the more meaningful. We will also be making our commitments of our time, talents, and financial contributions to our own ministry here at Resurrection. Don’t forget to stick around after service for the Bakery Auction, proceeds of which will also benefit our outreach partners. Finally, Sunday November 19th we’ll have pie!! This will be our annual Thanksgiving service followed by a Pie Social.
Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving,
Well it’s October and the trees are beginning to change to their fall beauty and us those of us that love summer can no longer kid ourselves that it is “late summer”. Fall means lots of activity for our Resurrection family. We have already had a great Fall Festival. Thanks to all that came out and contributed to make that possible. Ahead is Reformation and All Saints Sundays. We will also have presentations about some of our partners and our own stewardship in preparation for Harvest Sunday on November 12th when we will make our Harvest Offering for our outreach partners as well as make our commitment of our time, talents, and financial contributions to our own ministry here at Resurrection. Sunday November 19th will be our Thanksgiving service followed by a Pie Social after service. And before you know it we’ll be in Advent. Hard to believe I know.
On top of all this our pastoral transition work moves on. I would like to deeply thank the following individuals who have stepped up to be on the Mission Exploration Team (MET) aka Transition Team: Cindy Duffin, Tracy Hahn, Karen VanDomelen, Karen Manisto, Pat Marohl, Mary Sukopp, and Matson Wick. Over the next several months these individuals will work to complete our Mission Profile which will provide information about our ministry to potential candidates and direction to the call committee about the qualities we seek in a new pastor. The team will choose their own chairperson and will be guided in their work by Pastor Steve. I will serve only as the link between this committee and the council. I ask that you pray for these individuals and their work.
One of the key questions the MET will answer is “Who are our neighbors?”. This is a very important question because, if we are to define our ministry and the qualities we want in a new pastor, it is critical to know who God is putting in our path and which of their needs we can meet. Beyond that the long-term health and viability of our congregation depends on the answers to this question. It is no secret to any of us that our congregation is aging. Nor is it a secret that the culture and the world in which we live is changing as well. Your Council has begun a study of the book Leading Faithful Innovation: Following God into a Hopeful Future and in it the authors discuss some of those cultural changes. There is a movement away from an Age of Association in which people found belonging and purposeful accomplishments through the organizations to which they belonged to an Age of Authenticity in which people look inward to find their true identities apart from organizations. More and more people are pursuing their spiritual journeys outside the walls of churches (New Age, Mysticism, Yoga, etc.) in addition many people who identify themselves as Christians do so outside the institution of the Church. Among those that consider themselves “occasional church goers” 40% say they don’t go more often because they practice their faith in other ways.
We, like other churches, are facing challenges that aren’t easy to navigate. So what are we to do? The writers of Leading Faithful Innovation propose learning new ways to embody Christian identity and purpose in these changing contexts. They propose “simple” Spirit-led practices of listening to God, one another, and our neighbors and engaging in simple experiments of being present in the spaces of our wider communities where life takes place. It parallels nicely with the work of the MET because through these practices the goal is to identify how God might be leading us into deeper relationships, connections and community where the gospel story speaks in conversation with the stories of our neighbors.
So here is where you come in. In the months ahead we may be embarking on some of these experimental forays into our community to better “meet people where they are” and listen to God and one another so that we lovingly create space in our neighborhood for people’s yearnings, fears, anxieties, and hopes. And ultimately bringing them to a place where they can experience a hopeful future and continue to walk alongside us to that end. Some of our initial brainstorming ideas include; bible study or prayer meeting at a local coffee shop or even a pub, outdoor worship service at a park before a baseball or soccer game, and “staffing” a “Free Prayers” table at a local farmers market (I think you get the idea). This will be a very different way to “do church” and will require some, if not most, of us to step outside our comfort zone. But this is not a new model; it has been around since the early church. The community has always been the center of discipleship. It is your leadership's firm belief that it is a way that we remain relevant and continue to thrive as a congregation. If asked, I would hope you prayerfully consider participating in some of these “experiments”. I also want to make clear that this does not mean we are abandoning the things that we cherish about Resurrection – our worship, our internal community, and our love. It does mean as these experiments progress that it may result in some changes in our outreach programs. But that remains to be seen. I welcome your questions, ideas, or concerns.
Blessing for a hopeful future for us and our neighbors,
Perhaps because I worked in the schools for so many years, the coming of fall always
reminds me of the quote that I recently found out is by Meister Eckhart “And suddenly
you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” Nothing
could be more true for our Resurrection family this autumn. With the arrival of Pastor
Steve this fall marks the official start to our pastoral transition process.
We are actively forming our Transition Team. As I indicated last month The Transition
Team is not a Call Committee. The transition process seeks to answer the following
questions through data gathering, assessments, and reflection: Who are we? Who is our
neighbor? What is God up to internally and externally and how are we called to
participate? and given the answers to the first three questions, how do we articulate the
kind of pastoral leadership we need at this time? The Transition Team will complete a
Ministry Site Profile that documents data about our ministry and answers to those key
questions. The good news is that we have spent the last 3 and a half months gathering
much of the data needed for our Ministry Site Profile and the work on our Values,
Mission, and Vision is solid and recent.
We have a couple of volunteers to serve on our official Transition Team, but we could
use several more. Please, please, please reach out to me if you have any interest at all
or any questions about the process or the commitment.
On a related note I want to extend a warm official welcome to Pastor Steve. I regret
being out of town on his first Sunday with us. But I know you will welcome him with
some Resurrection warmth and love in my absence. I spent much of his “first day on the
job” with him and know he is a kind, caring, and compassionate person who will be a
good fit for us going forward through this transition process.
Finally let’s have some more fun! I want to encourage all members and families to join
us for our Fall Festival on September 17th. If the August Community Picnic is any
indication, the Fall Festival will be a good time for all.
Blessing for you and your whole family this fall,
First off, I want to thank everyone who helped make our Community Picnic a great success! It was a blessing to be in fellowship together and have some fun. The school supplies collected for Journeys School were heartwarming (remember that drive continues through August 20th). I would like to thank all of you that came out that evening, provided food, and were good sports when it came to our silly games. I want to thank the members of council that put in the extra effort to plan games, gather up materials, and coordinate tasks like organizing the food, putting up the tent, set-up, and clean-up. It was a fun event thanks to you all!
We have one more event planned for under the tent this month. Sunday August 20th we will have an outdoor service. Please note this is a change of date from what was previously announced.
Well, what a difference a month makes. The turn of the calendar page to August means we can also say that our interim pastor will join us this month! For those that have not heard, Pastor Steve Rutter will begin work on August 21st as our interim pastor. Pastor Steve will help us walk through the transition process towards calling a new pastor during the months ahead. Pastor Steve has an interesting, one could even say courageous, faith story that he undoubtedly will share with you all. He seems as though he will be an “excellent fit” for us. On August 27th, he will lead us in worship for the first time and we are planning a little reception for after the service - please join us.
Regarding that transition process, some of the informal groups that have been doing information and data gathering are completing, or have completed, their tasks. For others work is continuing. This preliminary data gathering stage will provide information for the next stage of our transition. Once Pastor Steve joins us we will be forming a formal Transition or Mission Exploration Team (often abbreviated MET). To clarify, this is not a Call Committee. The MET process seeks to answer the following questions through additional data gathering, assessments, and reflection: Who are we? Who is our neighbor? What is God up to internally and externally and how are we called to participate? (What is our specific mission moving forward?) and given the answers to the first three questions, how do we articulate the kind of pastoral leadership we need at this time? If you would like to be a part of this team, please contact me. I know this could be one of those instances of me saying, you all come, and you all don’t. But, I am hopeful that some of you will prayerfully consider if this is a time when you could step up and take on a little extra responsibility to help out your Resurrection family. You won’t be alone in this. You will have other team members as well as Pastor Steve to guide you.
Finally, as we move into the next phase of our transition, I have something important to ask of all of you. I ask for your prayers. There have been numerous events in the life of this congregation that have stood as a testament to the power of prayer. This is a time when your Resurrection family needs your prayers as well.
Or pray this prayer that I found: Loving God, be with us and guide us in this time of discernment. Fill our leaders with your wisdom. Keep us mindful of the work that you would have us do. Lead us and guide us, oh Lord, to be about the work of your kingdom especially as the search for a new pastor continues. Bless all who have or will take on extra responsibility and fill them with a sense of your love and presence. We pray in your Son’s name, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Well I just got home from our Fourth of July Weekend “Name That Tune Sunday” worship service. For those of you that missed it, you missed a very fun hymn sing. The surprise to me was how many of the “oldies” were requested. (You folks should mark your calendars for our “Rockin the Oldies Sunday” on August 27th.) Thank you to Andy Toth for leading us in worship. Also, thank you to all members that have stepped in to lead worship or preach while we are in this time of transition. The good news on that front is that you won’t need to do that for the rest of the summer. Thanks to the dogged efforts of our Church Administrator, Larry Gnatzig, we have secured Supply Pastors for the remaining weeks of July and all the weeks of August. Better still there will be some consistency with a few Supply Pastors covering multiple Sundays.
With regard to the call of an Interim Pastor, I can say that we are finally in conversation with Synod about that and things are at least beginning to move. There really are no details to report beyond that right now. But, as I said last month, “When I know, you’ll know.”
There are various summer events on the horizon. Our next outdoor worship is scheduled for July 16th. Pastor Paul Ihlendfeld has indicated that “Variety is the spice of life” and that he would love to lead us in worship under our tent. In addition, your Council is committed to putting in extra effort to increase the attendance of both members and visitors at our next Community Picnic on August 2nd. Attendance at the June picnic was very disappointing. If you have ideas on how to reach out to community members or groups, please let us know. Also if you have ideas for games or activities that would make this event more fun for everyone, or better yet if you would like to volunteer to help, please reach out to me or any council member. Our plan is to use the Community Picnic as the kickoff for a drive to collect school supplies for the students and teachers at Journeys School. Specific items most requested by teachers at our Teacher Appreciation Luncheon in May include; Expo markers (all colors), glue sticks, Post-it Notes, headphones, individually packaged snacks, and Amazon gift cards. So, keep that list in mind as you are out and about shopping in the next month or so.
You know the role of Council President has its ups and downs like any volunteer position, or job for that matter. It would be easy to get disheartened when attendance at an event or on a particular Sunday is down. But the spirit and love of this Congregation does not let that take hold. I’m continually being uplifted by the kind words and offers to help at this time. I want to thank all the small groups that are hard at work gathering data and information that we will need to complete our Ministry Site Profile. I will be asking them, and perhaps some of you, if they would like to be a part of our Mission Exploration Team that will formally complete that form and other work once an Interim Pastor is called. I am confident that people will step up. I also know that with some extra effort we can have a very successful August Community Picnic and that we, as always, will continue to be the church!
I was touched by the lyrics of one of the hymns requested during the hymn sing. The hymn was We All Are One in Mission. Let these lyrics be our prayer going forward. “We all are one in mission; we all are one in call, our varied gifts united by Christ, the Lord of all. A single great commission compels us from above to plan and work together that all may know Christ’s love.”
First, I’ll answer the question that is on everyone’s mind. We don’t yet know when we will get an interim pastor. When I know, you will be the next to know. We have been working to secure more consistent supply pastors for the weeks ahead. Also, I would like to thank members who have stepped up to lead worship and/or provide messages for those Sundays when we have not been able to get a supply pastor.
Next, roll up your sleeves, the work is about to begin. There have been several announcements seeking volunteers to begin to do the work of readying ourselves for transitioning to a new pastor. There is a lot of work we can do even before an interim pastor is called. We are working toward updating our Reconciling In Christ Welcome Statement to include language against systemic racism. There is also a small group of volunteers that have offered to review our Constitution and Bylaws (may the good Lord bless them). If you would like to help those people out, please let me know.
The third thing we can be working on falls under that heading of data gathering. I wanted to take this opportunity to provide a little more specifics as to what this entails. There are some tasks that will be more a reporting of data/information that is readily available including: Budgetary and financial information; Names and contacts of council members; Values, mission, and vision statements; Goals from Council’s 2021-2022 long-range planning; and Current staffing. There will also be some tasks that require a little more leg work like: Listing ministry programs (both internal and outreach); Calculating average worship and education program attendance; Assessment of physical plant and identification of any looming high expense needs; and Demographics (including; languages spoken and race/ethnicity both congregation and community, gender comparison and age distribution of members, and distance members live from church facilities). I highly recommend a divide and conquer approach to these tasks. A few people have come forward expressing an interest in helping, however we certainly could use more. Please let me know if you are willing to help.
Finally, and most importantly, we continue to be the church. We are in the midst of our Cereal and Soup Drive for the New Berlin Food Pantry. Our summer activities are proceeding as they did last year. June 14th at 5:30 pm is our first Community Picnic. Hot dogs will be provided, and members are asked to bring a side dish to pass. There will be games and fun for all. Invite your family, friends, and neighbors. Sunday June 24th will be our first outdoor service of the summer. It will be our annual Reconciling In Christ Sunday. A special service has been planned to round out pride month and celebrate our commitment to creating a welcoming faith community. I hope you all can join us for these as well as the rest of the events of the summer! (Outdoor Worship July 16, August 13, & September 17 - Community Picnic August 2nd - Fall Festival September 17)
First off I want to thank everyone for a fabulous worship service and party send off for Pastor Mary. I couldn’t possibly name all the people who contributed to the day and If I tried, I would be afraid of leaving somebody out. It was a great day! One member called it an act of love and it truly was. Pastor Mary was the right leader for us as a congregation at the right time. That is our goal again as we begin the process of finding our next pastor.
And indeed it is a process. Some have already asked if we are forming a Call Committee yet? There is a lot to happen before we get to that point. At our Informational Meeting on May 7th we presented details of the process and answered questions. If you could not attend, a recording of the meeting is available online. But in short here is a summary of the steps ahead of us:
Yes, it sounds like a lot, and it is. However, we are fortunate that the previous Council’s 2021-2022 long range planning efforts and listening sessions have also put us in a good position for parts of the transition work as well as MET work including: Revising our Vision, Mission, and Values statements; determining what we lost (people and our certainty and confidence in our future) and what we learned during the pandemic (Adaptability, resiliency, and focus on the moment); Identification of our strengths - welcoming, involve our youth, helpful, friendship/mutual support, giving, compassionate, music, joyfulness/liveliness, outward looking, unpretentious, inclusive, and safe; and Identification of our biggest opportunities to improve - stronger presence in the community, not always recognized for our strong outreach ministries, need to rebuild relationships within our congregation post-pandemic, and a need to attract younger people and rebuild youth programs.
In addition to our gratitude for the work already done there is a list of things we can do to move forward even before an interim/transition pastor is called these include: Updating our Reconciled in Christ status, identifying current active internal and external ministries, summarize current lay leadership and staffing, gather congregation statistics (member demographics, worship attendance, financial information), assess physical plant, review Constitution and Bylaws, and have conversations about who we are and who are neighbors are.
If you are interested in helping with any of the work ahead, please contact me! It is my extreme hope and prayer that our Resurrection family will embrace the tasks ahead with the same love and zeal they did the send off for Pastor Mary. If that happens, we cannot fail. WE are the Church!
Well as I write this there is still a layer of snow on the ground and it is hard to imagine that April will be here in a few days. April to me typically means spring and spring is a time of rebirth. However, for our Resurrection Family this year, April is going to be just plain busy.
April 2nd is Palm Sunday and we will gather to recount the story of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem and His passion and crucifixion using the Cry of the Whole Congregation. The story flows into our Holy Week services, which are really one service over three days (the Triduum). On Maundy Thursday (4/6 @ 7pm), remembering the last supper, we will celebrate the eucharist and hear again Christ give us a new commandment and we will remember His love for His disciples through the washing of feet. Good Friday (4/7@ 7pm) will bring us back again to Calvary in a solemn service commemorating Christ’s crucifixion. But then, Easter Morning (10am) brings a festival worship service celebrating Jesus’ resurrection from the dead! We will also enjoy Easter Breakfast together (sign up for attendance and to help out is on the kiosk). This year families are invited to share Easter Blessings with other families through the sharing of bread and wine. If you wish to participate, package a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine along with a short blessing for another family. Place it in front of the altar and after the service choose another’s package to share with your family at Easter dinner (thanks to Kacz and Cindy for this new idea).
Following Easter the council’s attention will turn to something that is bitter sweet at best – The transition of Resurrection from the ministry of Pastor Mary to something reborn. I’m reminded of what she often says, “Living things change.” Some time in mid-April the council will meet with Kristin Nielsen, the bishop's assistant (or her representative) who will enlighten us about the process we are about to undertake. In an effort to be as open and communicative as possible we will have a brief informational session after worship on Sunday May 7th. The purpose of that meeting will be to provide an overview of what we can expect in the transition process and to answer as many questions as we can (though there will, of course, be much we don’t know).
Besides Easter, April will also bring other celebrations! Sunday April 23rd will be Confirmation Sunday. We will celebrate with Layla and her family as she affirms her baptismal promises.
Plans are also underway for Sunday April 30th, Pastor Mary’s last Sunday with us. If you have ideas or would like to help plan a worship service of Farewell and God’s Speed, reach out to Anita Marlin. Kacz and Cindy are looking for help planning and executing the “Party of a Lifetime”. I would appreciate help preparing the recognition and thank you. I strongly encourage everyone to watch their emails and weekly announcements closely as specifics about the day and opportunities to help out unfold.
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything but is thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. People do not light a lamp and put it under the bushel basket; rather, they put it on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:13-16
Well, news of Pastor’s retirement has, not surprisingly, been met with a host of emotions. I myself am very sad for us but certainly very happy and excited for her as she enters this next phase of her life. As I told her, I highly recommend retirement.
I am also very proud of our church family here at Resurrection. The Sunday of her announcement, numerous people came up to me and expressed their support for me and the Council as we move through the months ahead. I was overwhelmed by the sentiment that WE are the church. Certainly, Pastor has been our guiding force for the past 20 years. We are forever grateful for that and will miss her deeply. However, my heart is uplifted by the numerous folks that have expressed in one way or another that this is something we will work through together and come out on the other side strong. I am reminded of the very popular Confirmation verse, Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through the power of the one who strengthens me”. But I am also reminded of the Gospel lesson from the Sunday of our annual meeting where, during the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus encouraged his followers by calling them salt and light.
Each of us will continue to need time to process our feelings. But we too are salt – the best that we can be, people of great kindness, and reliability. I have no doubt we will be here for one another. Lifting one another up when needed and stepping in to help when needed to continue to do ministry together. I am confident these things will occur because we too are light. We are a community committed to; celebrating God’s love, growing in our love for Jesus, and sharing that love with each other and the world. It is who we are. It is who we have been for decades. We are the church that celebrates grace, worships together, nurtures each other and reaches out. Our light gives light for all to see, so that others may see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven. I have no doubt WE will continue to be that church.
It was with significant prayerful soul searching that I decided to accept when asked to consider being the president of the council. I have always been the kind of person who wants to give his all and do his best when undertaking a task. I came to the realization that at this point in my life that I have the time to devote to the job. Ultimately, I also came to the conclusion I had some skills to offer and this is something I was being called to do.
We are in a unique situation as a congregation this year where there has been a large turn-over of council positions. This largely grew out of Covid and the fact that several council members were asked to extend their current terms for a year. One of the things I bring to the table in that regard is background. Basically that means I’m old and we’ve been members for a long time. I hope to be a resource for my fellow council members (and members of the congregation as well) – to answer questions, guide, and encourage. Much of who we are comes from the things we do together as a community. Where those things are a part of our history I aim to continue to help us make them happen or to help refresh them to reflect our values, mission, and vision.
We are also in a unique time and place as a human race. We live at a time when information is coming at us at lightning speed. Often it seems as if we’re drowning in emails, text messages, advertising, social media posts . . ., well you know what I mean. One of the things I often taught my older students with communication deficits, is to prioritize what information is the most important. I would really like us all as a congregation and council to prioritize the communication that is important to us as a community. I am just as guilty as the next person. I realize it’s the beginning of the month. I should go to the church website or my email to read the president’s message only to realize I hadn’t read it last month either. It kind of upsets me a little bit when this happens, because the monthly President’s Message is something I started the last time I was council president many years ago out of a concern over communication. Communication is a two-way street. We can put the information out there, but if nobody reads it the message is not getting through. We will certainly continue to put the electronic message out there through email, website, and social media. However, the last couple of months we have been putting out a few paper copies of Ron’s messages. For those of us who still prefer paper over a screen I would like to continue to do that. I also want to go back to posting Council Minutes both on the website and the bulletin board next to the office (yes another paper copy). We will work diligently to put the information out there. My hope is, you will be just as diligent in seeking it out.
Finally, I would like to thank the out-going council members for all their hard work and service to this congregation. Their work in identifying our Values, Mission, and Vision and beginning us down the path to future viability as a congregation by reaching out to the community and younger generations have given the new council a starting point rooted in energy, vision, and hope. They have set the bar high but it is work that we will take up and continue to move forward.