Pastor’s Post for this Coming Sunday – May 1, 2016
Dear friends in Christ:
We had a great Quarterly Voters meeting Sunday, April 24 after worship. I want to thank Brian Santora (Head Elder) for stepping in to chair the meeting as President Bill Chambers was away on business in California. Unlike other churches and denominations, Shepherd of the Valley has congregational autonomy. In the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod the actions of the synod are advisory to the congregation, and the congregation’s governance is essentially in the hands of the members and their elected leaders and pastor(s).
This stems from our very origins of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod way back in the 1847. While all Christians confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of the church, the immigrant German Lutherans were confronted with a corrupt leader (Bishop Martin Stephan). You can read the details on Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lutheran_Church%E2%80%93Missouri_Synod).
Stephan was quite literally “thrown out” of the German Lutheran community in and around Perry County Missouri. But then immigrant community was confronted with the question: what do we do about church leadership and governance?
They handled it the Lutheran way. They argued and discussed the problem from the Holy Scriptures and The Lutheran Confessions. The views of C. F. W. Walther, a pastor and professor in the seminary in those days, and one whom many consider the “Father” of the Lutheran-Church Missouri Synod, determined that church hierarchical governance is not Biblical, and in fact, the only Biblical form of church governance is the local congregation. In the Bible there are no “denominations” (Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Baptist, Methodist, etc.), just local congregations. Walther was saying in a sense, “If we are going to be the church it’s up to us!”
And that is still the case. By participating in our governance and on-going life through voters’ meetings, members of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church are taking “ownership” (responsibility and authority) for the life and ministry of the congregation. This means our quarterly voters meetings are not an option, but are required by our constitution and bylaw.
Here is a brief summary of what happened at the meeting last Sunday (April24):
- Our Treasurer, Debi Anderson, reviewed the finances of the congregation for the first quarter of 2016. While offerings and other income were below anticipated budgeted amounts at $36345.88, expenses were also less than expected (budgeted) at $34,802.79, and so we had a net income over disbursements of $1543.09 for the quarter. Debi also reported that giving to the anniversary fund has been $3079 to date while expenses were $2813. Thank you for your generous and faithful offerings in support of our congregation’s life and mission! Debi added that we are in search of persons who might volunteer to count the offerings on Sundays and prepare the bank deposit. The church council will review the list of volunteers, see that they are trained, and create a schedule. It was emphasized that the preparation of the deposit can take place any time during the week that is convenient for the counting team. To volunteer please contact the church office by phone or email and you will be place on the list. And if you ever have questions please feel free to contact Debi through the church office.
- The voters also approved the church council’s recommended beneficiaries for our 2016 missional giving. Each year a designated portion of our offerings and other income is donated to mission work outside of the local congregation. This year that percentage is about 3.5. Receive missions giving from Shepherd of the Valley this year will be: Northwest District LC-MS, Zion Lutheran School, Love INC, Benton County Habitat for Humanity, and Options Pregnancy Resources.
- The congregation welcomed new voting members who had been received into the congregation over the past several months. Our new voting members are Jack Barrow (restoration of membership), Colleen Fisher (adult confirmation), Alex Popoff (affirmation of faith), Sue Probus (affirmation of faith) and Charles Rackley (adult confirmation).
- We concluded the meeting with my presentation and a discussion of the next steps of the interim ministry process we have been engaged in since last May when you called me to come and serve our Lord with you as an intentional interim pastor. Over the next few months we will be gathering folks to serve on a Transition Team with me to begin re-imagining the future to which God is calling us as a congregation. I look forward to sharing this process with you. If things go as planned we will be ready to request a set of candidates from our district president and present our own nominations as well. The Call Committee (not the same as the transition team though some may serve on both) will then move the process toward the congregation having a call meeting and calling a new settled pastor.
Finally, I want to emphasize the importance of prayer in the whole process and indeed the whole life of the congregation. Our desire should be for the whole life of our congregation to be done with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Our church needs your prayers as we seek to gain a vision for our future. The Transition Team and later the Call Committee will need your prayers. I need your prayers that God would guide my thoughts and actions as I continue to serve the Lord with you at Shepherd. Please also remember Ellie Hintzman and Gabe Havranek as they are to be confirmed on May 15. And please keep Patricia and me in your prayers as we travel to California Thursday, April 28 to my son’s wedding.
As the Apostle Paul says of the early believers in Ephesus, so I say of you, “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you…” (Ephesians 1:16-18)
Pastor Joe Hughes
217-898-9063 voice & text