Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Annual Report…

This week’s letter doubles as my annual Pastor’s Report to the Congregation, written for our June Congregational Meeting. Here goes.

First, some numbers. We passed our last budget, June 2012-May 2013, with an expected 4% deficit. John’s Treasurer’s Report will tell you, however, we ended the year with an 11% surplus. That’s due to lower costs, several unexpected receipts and increased giving. Here are two appropriate responses: Wahoo, and Thank you, Lord! This allows us to repay fully our Memorial Fund and enter next year in stronger financial position. You should also know that the Board will tithe from our surplus, because that’s what good Christians do.

During that time, we ran a Capital Campaign for much-needed deferred maintenance. You pledged roughly $84,000, payable over three years. Around 60% has come in already. Well done! Also, please keep paying your pledges… We signed contracts for repaving the parking lot and wait just for loan paperwork to finalize. Then, we’ll schedule the work and proceed to next steps. Slow going, but still going. Another number- 5%. That represents our increased worship attendance. It continues a trajectory we’ve witnessed over the past several years, revealing heath in hospitality and worship. Still, it would behoove us to work harder on reaching out to new people next year.

Behind those numbers, of course, is actual ministry performed. This Spring, we welcomed a wonderful college student as a pastoral intern. He helped open our community garden; it’s our third year in operation, second consecutive at full capacity. He brainstormed with me new additions to worship, and worked with Becky Bell on a more useful church directory. FYI, we also agreed to host another intern from United Seminary, starting in September.

Our Sunday morning Bus Ministry continued, ably adapting to fresh needs. It also helped seniors (whose bimonthly Lunch Bunch remains strong due to Nola’s capable leadership!) drive recently to the Jensen’s Wisconsin cabin for a lovely outing. It transported a group to the Hindu Temple of Maple Grove for an interfaith learning experience.

And speaking of learning and new ideas, last year included many. The Life of Pi Book Group was fun, as was the Lenten Study of a devotional I helped write. Kimberly created a Fitness Challenge for our March food drive, which further included turning donations into a sanctuary Food Sculpture. In April, we hosted a Unity Service with Churches of Christ and independent Christian Churches. The place was packed! You may also recall an Interfaith Thanksgiving Service we helped organize at St. Ed’s Episcopal. A couple after-church events of note- talking Prison Ministry after my March Immersion experience, and learning about Pam and Ben’s mission trip to the Philippines. Worship music remained strong as new things were tried (well done Jeremae and choir!). We had conversations about Islam with our Muslim neighbors and hosted three pastors from local churches during a year-long pulpit exchange. Christmas services welcomed more people than any previous year I’ve been here; Easter was lovely too. Thanks to Barb for stepping in after Jeremae’s injury and LeAnn for another year of quality handbells. A joint Youth Group with Plymouth Presbyterian was attempted, put on hold but remains a future possibility. We undertook several outreach campaigns (Sleep Out with a clergy fashion show, Week of Compassion, MN Foodshare, another joyful CROP Walk-thanks Weavers!), and pulled off a garage sale fundraiser at the gracious Brown’s under Donna Jarvi’s wonderful supervision. We welcomed into our pulpit denominational leader Robert Welsh of the Council on Christian Unity. A redesigned Sunday School became all ages with breakfast for youth, as adults chatted at Dunn Brothers Coffee. Another fellowship picnic occurred during July’s Music in Plymouth (thanks Steve!), and I could mention more.

The point is, several years ago we committed to a vision- To become a beacon of Christian openness and service to the Northwestern Service. Through creative efforts, committed stewardship, exciting outreach and love of God, we made progress toward that vision this year and laid foundation for further growth. Thank you, Plymouth Creek, for delighting in God’s presence and God’s work, and for continuing to welcome all to the table. Onto next year. Keep shining!

Grace and Peace,


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