Christ Lutheran Church

Pastor’s 2015 Report

Pastor’s Report to the Congregation for 2015

Usually when I write a congregational report I try to stress the highlights of the past year and the blessings we have received. I plan to do some of that in this report. However, I’m also interested as I write this in asking the question:
Where are we going in 2016? Are we interested in growing as individuals and a faith community? How can we better love one another with the love of Christ? Amid a world and a nation that seems to note and EssayswebBased celebrate division, is our faith something we can share with our community and the world as a source of healing, tolerance, and the building of understanding instead of walls that only divide. Finally, and most importantly, where does God want us to go in 2016 and how do we figure that out?
Blessings (and they are many!)
At a time when many congregations are challenged by declining attendance, we declined by 2 worshippers on average per week in make-essay 2015. In 2014 we were at 174 and in 2015 at 172. That is not the direction I hope we will go in in 2016, but I did believe this statistic would be worse and am thankful it is not. Recently I’ve heard a couple of folks on TV describe the NFL as owning Sunday, which the commentator would then say, “that’s the day the Church used to own”. It’s not just the NFL but many activities (sports and others) that are now staking a claim on Sunday or Wednesday or whatever day you choose.
Last year, our giving to our budget by just under 3%!
Our REACH meals are continuing and growing in attendance!
We welcome visitors and I love to watch the congregation welcoming people to worship and other church activities. Not every congregation is interested in doing this. I think in 2015, by God’s grace, we did a good job in welcoming visitors.
Music continues to be a joy! The Chancel Choir added so much this year under the Direction of Debbie Fornwalt. The Bell Choir began again this year with Gail Dawson back as Director. Kery Hummel and Rae Ann Smith continued to enrich our services throughout the year with their musical ability and enthusiasm!
Pastor Jack Timm continued to lead our Thursday morning Bible Study each week at 10:00 AM.
Our quilters continued to make quilts for Lutheran World Relief, aiding people in need around the world.
We gave through our Budget $36,500.00 to support the mission of our Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and our Delaware/Maryland Synod. I believe we are among the top 25 congregations in the Synod in terms of Benevolence giving.
We continued to train future pastors of the ELCA and to have the blessing of the giftedness of future pastors in our congregation as we continued to be an Intern congregation with our Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. Vicar Jonathan served into August when he returned to the Seminary and Vicar Bruce began his year with us in the same month. What a blessing it has been to be part of the Intern program at the Seminary!
We had a joyful Church picnic at the Frostburg pool this summer!
St. John’s joined us for worship the Sunday after Christmas for a joyful service together! We also participated in the combined Reformation service at St. Paul’s, Cumberland this past Reformation Sunday!
We have begun to use more media in our worship! Vicar Jonathan was our technician, but when he went back to Seminary, college students Kristin Ratliff and Ashley Winter took over as our media team and have done a wonderful job for us.
“I Love My Church” was our Stewardship theme this year with a Stewardship team consisting of experienced and new members, all of whom did a great job!
51 Thanksgiving Baskets went to folks in our area, as well as 30 Easter Baskets!
Visitors were very much a part of our Christmas Eve Services this year! Ads on WCBC, including 3 live ads may have been helpful to our inviting this year.
We began a noon time mid-week Lenten service this year in addition to the evening one and did the same for Advent. Both proved popular.
High School youth went to a work camp this past summer at Virginia Beach. It was our first work camp experience and it went well with 8 teens and two chaperones participating.
Ben Erzkus has been a part of our congregation since childhood. This year he graduated from Seminary, was married, and on September 6, he and his wife Courtney were both ordained at Christ Lutheran, by Bishop Wolfgang. They now serve in our ELCA Nebraska Synod.
You surprised your pastor (actually stunned your pastor!) by celebrating our 25 years together in partnership for the sake of the Gospel! Thank you! The day was unforgettable and the “Fashion Show” one cannot forget no matter how hard you try!
Our Sunday School struggles, but dedicated teachers and leaders still try to provide a good Christian Education program on Sunday mornings. Vacation Bible School was another success this year.
Our Shepherding program and our co-shepherds do much good in our care for one another. The ability to offer as meal to the congregation following a Service of Christian Burial is something visitors often remark about as a caring action by our congregation.
There is so much more that can be celebrated. The other reports in our Annual Report folder highlight many more blessings! Not the least of these blessings is good leadership by our Church Council and our President Sonya Cooper Lathrop! Also, special thanks to Shirley Smith who does so much more than being our secretary at Church.
I hope 2016 will be a year of growth and that by God’s grace, and God’s leading all of us, we may witness to the love of Christ in and outside of our congregation.
We live in a mission field where on any given Sunday (or Wednesday evening) the majority of the population are not making worship a priority. I think either we will work to reverse this trend or I fear more of our members will actually join the community trend.
We need to grow in our knowledge of Scripture and how God wants us to live. Across the country Sunday Schools are dying. We seem headed in that direction as well. If not on Sunday, when and where do we want to do Christian Education for all ages? It need not be on a Sunday, but when?
Who do we know who could benefit from worship, Christian education, and being with a Christian community? We used to laugh at the statistic that Lutherans on average invite someone to church every 16 years. I would suggest there are folks who cannot wait 16 years for you and I to invite them. They need God’s love, grace, forgiveness and strength in their life today. We are called to be witnesses. We are not responsible if someone comes to church or to faith. We are in a position to share our faith and invite.
As I looked at the list of those who have gone to eternal life during the past year, we have lost faithful members who loved their Savior and His church. They gave of their time, talent and financial blessings. Some even came to worship when they were very ill. They were witnesses. I don’t know how we replace them. I do believe we honor their witness by our faithfulness today.
Financially, we said during the recent EMR campaign that we would be fine if everyone did what they were able to do. That will continue to be our challenge to encourage everyone to do something. The $.10 a week gift from a young person can be a fantastic gift, because that is what they are able to do. That we believe we are all in this thing called church together needs to continue to be our goal.

I think Christ Lutheran is a wonderful congregation that has been blessed by God to be a blessing. We are a gifted congregation with diverse gifts for mission and ministry. I believe we care deeply about our world and about one another. We have been blessed with good leaders and will need to continue to raise up more. I do not believe we can afford to be complacent nor to assume someone else will do what God is nudging us to do. I believe the influence of the society we live in to allow other things, (some of them very good things) to take us away from worship, prayer, and spiritual growth is significant. I hope we will remain faithful to our calling, faithful to our Lord.

May God bless us in this new year of grace. We have had so many blessings in 2015. May we continue to be a blessing in the weeks and months to come.

In Christ Jesus,
Pastor Chuck

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