Council Highlights Sept 2020

Council Highlights
September 2020

The Bethlehem Church Council met on Tuesday, September 15, 2020.  Here are the highlights of this meeting:

 

Associate Pastor Call Process Update

Council members were briefed on a number of activities related to calling Paisley Le Roy as the new Associate Pastor at Bethlehem:

  • The Church Council Executive Committee has consulted with the ELCA Chicago Metropolitan Synod. The Synod has informed Bethlehem that an online congregation meeting is an acceptable and appropriate alternative to an in-person meeting during the current COVID-19 pandemic.  As a result, the congregation meeting on September 27 will be conducted using Zoom.  Members will also be able to participate in this meeting by phone.
  • A letter was mailed to the congregation on Monday, September 14, with information about the congregation meeting. Included in the mailing was a ballot that can be used following the meeting (those who attend the meeting will also have an option to submit an electronic ballot) and a copy of the PowerPoint presentation that will be used during the meeting.  Members will be encouraged not use the ballot until after the meeting on September 27. 
  • In order to vote on the recommendation of the Call Team and the Church Council to call Minister Le Roy, a member must be present online or by phone at the congregation meeting on September 27. Voting by proxy or by absentee ballot is not permitted by our Church Constitution.
  • Members will be given three voting options following the congregation meeting:
  1. Those who have pre-registered for the meeting will receive an email with a link to an electronic ballot. Each person within the household must submit a separate ballot.  The deadline for submitting this e-ballot is 5:00 pm on Tuesday, September 29.
  2. Those who wish to vote by mail can use the paper ballot that was included in the mailing sent out on September 14. The ballot will allow for up to three eligible members to vote in each household.  Ballots must be postmarked no earlier than Sunday, September 27 (no early voting), but no later than Tuesday, September 29, in order to be counted.
  3. A member wishing to drop off a paper ballot at church may do so between 12:00 and 3:00 pm on Sunday, September 27, 9:00 and 11:00 am on Monday, September 28, and 3:00 and 5:00 pm on Tuesday, September 29. There will be someone at church to receive the ballot.  The deadline for dropping off a ballot is 5:00 pm on Tuesday, September 29. 
  • At 9:45 am on Sunday, September 20, a practice meeting will be held to help familiarize members with the Zoom platform and learn more about what will take place at the congregation meeting on Sunday, September 27. This meeting is optional (not required) for Bethlehem members and is designed for those who are unfamiliar with the Zoom platform and/or want additional information about the September 27 meeting.

 

Bethlehem Preschool Update

  • Deacon Heather reported that a student in one of the half-day preschool classes has tested positive for the coronavirus. Following protocols established by the Illinois Department of Public Health, this particular class will be closed for 14 days and the infected student along with others in this class are now being quarantined.  The teachers in the class have been tested for COVID-19, but the results have not come back.  Parents have been notified of this COVID-19 positive case.    

 

2021 Budget Orientation

  • Deacon Heather provided Council members with an orientation to the revenue (receipts) side of the church budget, as preparations for the 2021 budget are underway.
  • Deacon Heather also shared some expansive and inspiring thoughts about stewardship, living a life of generosity, and some tangible ways that Bethlehem might faithfully respond to the blessings that God has so richly bestowed on each of us.

 

Technology Expenses During the Pandemic

  • The Council authorized by consensus the purchase of several more laptop computers for staff to use during the pandemic. Several staff members have been using their own personal laptops when not in the office.
  • The Council also authorized by consensus that the Director of the Bethlehem preschool be reimbursed for cell phone usage in conformity with the procedures already in place to reimburse rostered staff. Cell phone use has increased significantly for the preschool Director during the pandemic.

Council Highlights Aug 2020

Council Highlights
Aug. 18, 2020

 
 
The Bethlehem Church Council met remotely on Tuesday, Aug.18. Here are the highlights of this meeting:
 
 
Rostered Leader Responsibilities
As we consider the possibility of calling a new Associate Pastor, Pastor Sarah shared her ideas on how she wants to distribute responsibilities and core leadership areas among the three rostered staff (Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, Deacon). This framework defines where our pastors and deacon will devote their primary time and energies over the next six months. Pastor Sarah stressed that while each rostered leader will be assigned specific areas of ministry, she wants there to be a great deal of collaboration among rostered leaders as they carry out their pastoral responsibilities.
 
Bethlehem Staffing Needs
Pastor Sarah shared her initial thinking, as we look to 2021, on how we might cover certain staff responsibilities in some new ways (e.g., Director of Worship, Youth Director, Technology Coordinator). No formal action was taken, but this discussion will continue in the next several months as the Council begins the budget preparation process for 2021.
 
Bethlehem Preschool Update
Deacon Heather provided an update on preschool enrollment and financial projections for the next several months. Our preschool is up and running and serving young children. Space is still available in the half-day program.
 
Based on available information, and assuming that enrollment does not drop significantly, we expect to finish the current budget year with a slight deficit of approximately $22,000. Preschool enrollment has been impacted by the pandemic with numbers trending down. Deacon Heather and BLC Preschool Director Pong Sayasane have been able to mitigate some of the lost revenue by applying for grants intended to support businesses during the pandemic. 
 
Building Use
While the Council has decided not to hold in-person worship in September and October and has restricted building use to groups of ten or less several groups have approached Deacon Heather and Pastor Sarah to inquire about the availability of the church to hold small gatherings. The Council reviewed a list of meeting guidelines that would need to be in place to accommodate these requests and to promote the safety of participants. The Council decided to postpone taking any action, but asked Deacon Heather to bring the guidelines back for further review and discussion at the September Council meeting.
 
Call Team Update
Representatives from the Call Team provided Council members with information about a candidate for the Associate Pastor position currently vacant.
 
The Council will interview this candidate the week of Aug. 24 and determine whether or not to recommend this candidate for call to the congregation at a special congregational meeting at the end of September.

Council Highlights July 2020

Council Highlights
July 21, 2020


– Congregation Council Meeting Summary –

Deacon Heather provided devotions featuring Jan Richardson’s writings on hope and shared a Blessing for Hope for Richardson’s book The Cure for Sorrows: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief.

Preschool Update

Pong Sayasane, Director of the BLC Preschool, updated the Council on the PS ministry. On June 1, the BLC Preschool was approved by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (“DCFS”) to provide daycare for children of Essential Workers. While the number of children was lower than expected, the Preschool was successful in providing daycare for nine families.

For the fall, the BLC Preschool has now reached the DCFS’ maximum allowable registration of 15 children per class (compared to 20 pre-pandemic) for a total of seventy-five children.  Returning families were given a priority in signing up for the fall session and a waiting list has also been created.

Ms. Sayasane and Director of Church Operations, Deacon Heather, have also worked together to revise the parent handbook to incorporate the new regulations from DCFS and the Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control on operation of a preschool with a focus on COVID-19 safety.  For example, in addition to masks, increased sanitation, limits on how children are dropped off and picked up, classes are each kept in separate groups or “bubbles” in order to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Testing of staff, when necessary under the CDC Guidelines, is also being expedited so that a one week delay can be avoided.

Ms. Sayasane is currently addressing the challenge of finding two more teachers for the fall; two teachers retired over the summer.  Please contact Pong Sayasane at [Pong@bethlehemluth.org, or 630-740-0231] with any applications for the open positions.

Deacon Heather noted that our insurer has not required any limitations more restrictive than what the DCFS is asking for and that by following the guidance of DCFS, OSHA and the CDC, the Preschool does not face any increased risk of liability for operating during the pandemic.

During the March to June shutdown ordered by Governor Pritzker, Ms. Sayasane and the Church Council made the decision to continue to pay the BLC Preschool Staff.  This has created a budget deficit which will be partially addressed by use of the Paycheck Protection Plan monies BLC received from the Small Business Administration.  In addition, for the Fall Session, tuition was increased 15 to 20% depending on the number of days of attendance. The fall tuition will be on average $55 day per day between the 2 day and five day program.

Ms. Sayasane is currently completing a grant application to receive additional funds from the Illinois Early Childhood Restoration Grant. The grant application is being made in the next two weeks and if successful funding would start in August.

Worship Resiliency Team Update

Council also received from Pastor Sarah and John Volkening, the Worship Resiliency Team Report. The team utilized resources from the Chicago Metro Synod and Candler Seminary to look at what would be needed to safely bring people into the building for worship. These details focused on care for all of our disciples and the vigilance needed to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

The members of the team (Pastor Sarah, Dee Johnson, John Volkening, Chris Johnson, Deacon Heather, Ernie Klapmeier, Joe Boyle MD, and Jill Cooper) reviewed these guidelines for in-person worship and then developed a questionnaire for feedback from the congregation. The congregation survey, very intentionally, tried to describe what it would be like to come back to indoor worship during the pandemic.  Responses were received from 240 disciples. Pastor Sarah reviewed every single response. She noted that the response was representative of all ages, backgrounds, and worship service times within our congregation.

The survey was clear, with two-thirds of the respondents clearly stating that in person worship is not what we are comfortable with at this time.

Based on our values of caring for each other as reflected in the survey responses from the congregation, the Worship Resiliency Team recommends that we continue to use the on-line resources for worship and to explore some outdoor options while we can.

Pastor Sarah will be sending a mid-week email communication to the congregation on this.

The Worship Resiliency Team is also working on recommendations for funerals and baptisms limiting numbers and following masks and social distancing. There will be more to come on these proposals.

The team will reconvene to study options for November and December.

We will also convene teams for potential safe reopening in the future and for logistics of the potential parking lot service to be held on September 13, 2020.

The church building is currently not open for individual visitors or small groups.  We are reviewing for possible small groups on a one group per day basis.  We will have to allow for additional cleaning after each visit. We would need to use pre-registration and set-up contact tracing.

We will need a team to prep us for possible funerals.

Pastor Sarah noted that the synod provides guidance with regard to in person worship and leaves the decision to each congregation. 

The Worship Resiliency Team will also meet with Youth Leadership in the coming weeks.

Council passed a motion to support the recommendation not to resume weekend indoor worship for September and October as well as a second motion adopting the guidance for limitations on weddings, funerals and baptisms for September and October.

Associate Pastor Call Team Update

Craig Collins provided an update on process for calling an Associate Pastor.

The Synod provided candidates by the end of March and the Call Team interviewed candidates from April through June. The Call Team has decided to proceed with the preliminary process of calling an Associate Pastor.

Background and reference checks are now being conducted and the Council Executive Committee will develop a salary and benefit package.   If the background and reference checks clear, then the Call Team will make a formal recommendation in August. The Congregation Council would interview the candidate in August as well. Craig noted that the candidate is very excited about the possibility of serving at BLC.

Financial Update

Regarding our giving, we continue to give God thanks for the ongoing generosity of our BLC community! Six months into the year, we continue to trend ahead of budget in weekly giving –budget $377,034 vs. actual $425,701, the difference is $48,667! Total giving YTD is a positive $32,062 – budget $439,389 vs. actual $457,425. Total expenses are trending under budget by $64,888.

On the expense side, this under-spending is partially due to the three open staff positions.  The issue of open positions will continue to be addressed by Council as we hear more from the Call Team on the Associate Pastor search.

This means that at this moment, we are $96,000 ahead for the Church budget; however, the Preschool is running a $93,000 deficit at this time. The Paycheck Protection Plan Grant will be applied to the offset a portion of the deficit – along with any funds received from the Restoration Grant the Preschool applied for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Council Minutes June 16 2020

Present: Judy Hanson, Craig Collins, Greg Andrews, Rob Blount, Chad Carlson, Pete Elza, Michelle Kovar, Cheryl Martines, Emily Palmer, John Volkening

Absent:

Staff: Pastor Sarah, Deacon Heather, Pastor

Meeting called to order at: 06:31 PM

Meeting closed at: 08:35 PM

Council Reporter:

Open Forum:

Discussion:

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #1:  Council Check-in

Discussion:   Judy asked each Council member to bring an item of significance that item has helped them the past few months.  Each Council member shared their item and how it was helping them cope with the current pandemic.

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

Motion:

            Made By:  

            Second:

            Result:

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #2:  Council Goverance

Discussion:

Craig: It was discussed at the Exec Committee meeting that we need to review some of the governance documents that cover the Council conduct.

Craig shared the Ethics Policy. The Ethics Policy ensures that no Council member realizes undue financial gain from or influence on Council business. We understand that there may be occasional instances that Council members may have a conflict of interest.

Each Council member is being asked to fill out and sign the Conflict of Interest policy prior to the Council meeting. These will be reviewed each year.

Presented council and staff interaction guidance document. Provides the policy on how Council members should interact with staff members. This includes if a staff member approaches a Council member about an issue with a coworker, another member of staff, or other issues. Encourages the council member to bring the issue to the Exec Team. Council members should not take the conversation “offline”. Council members are expected to report any staff issues to the Exec Team.

Pete asked how Pre-school is incorporated in relation to BLC. Heather, they are part of the same EIN number of BLC. The staff reports to Pong who, in turn, reports to Heather.

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

Motion:

            Made By:  

            Second:

            Result:

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #3: Church Priorities / Fall Planning

Discussion:

PS: We are coming to a time that we need to restate our priorities and how that will drive our programming moving forward as we consider returning to our church.

Priorities:

  • Worship of God
  • Love and Care for one another
  • Love and Care for our Neighbor
  • Fall Planning
  •  

Worship of Gold.

Church is not closed. We are planning and doing worship, just in a different way than we are used to.

We are preparing to do live streaming worship. Proposals will be brought to the Council in July or August. This is part of our commitment to continue to offer online worship, even if we are able to offer limited in-person worship.

Loving and Care
Staff has been very intentional in sending notes to disciples. The congregation is invited to read “Waking up White” and to join a discussion group if desired. A 4-part course on “Coming to Terms with Race” will be offered via Zoom at the end of June.  Plans for online VBS are being developed thanks to a core of volunteers.

Love and Care for Neighbor
BLC continues to provide financial, physical, and spiritual support to our church family as well as the organizations/agencies we have support in the past.  Daniel Maisch has reached out to Pastor Sarah and will become a key contributor in our response to the needs at St. Andrews. We will be looking at various ways to increase our support to St. Andrews.

Fall Planning
The Worship Resiliency team will be asked to meet again to discuss how we can approach worship and small gatherings in the small. How can we do that safely? Will make a recommendation to Exec team by the July meeting.  Then we will reach out to the various Worship teams about how their areas will be shaped by any decisions

 

Craig asked how the Worship team will interact with the Children programming teams.

PS: Will be asking for a couple of the Worship team members to reach out to the children’s team. The worship team will be making  a number of the decisions on how protocols and procedures will be implemented. They can then share this with the other teams and help them understand the requirements.

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

Motion:

            Made By:  

            Second:

            Result:

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #4:  BLC Preschool Update

Discussion:

DH: Preschool opened for Essential Workers on June 1st. Pong sent a first week update to the Preschool Resiliency team.  Pong thinks that by July 1st, we could require 2 classrooms. Pong sent a follow-up report to the full council.

Staff is following the policy about safety when in the facility.

DH would recommend the Preschool Resiliency team continue to meet and plan for the Fall.

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

Motion:

            Made By:  

            Second:

            Result:

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #5: Minutes and Finances

Discussion:

Greg: Met with the Financial team last week. Working with them to understand their role in the church. Financial team provided minutes of the April meeting.

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

Motion:  “Move to approve the minutes from May 19th and May 24th and the April Finanical”

            Made By:  Rob

            Second:  John

            Result: Passed.

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #6: Summary and Discussion Points

Discussion:

SInce we are not regularly meeting in person, it is important to encourage people to reach out to Pastor Sarah and Deacon Heather with feedback on the current activities and events going on at BLC.

When working with staff interactions, if you feel the interaction is more than venting, make sure to bring this to the Exec Team.

It is very important that we show we are living our Love for Neighbor through our involvement with FRVI, Lazarus House, and St. Andrews in West Chicago.

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

Motion: 

            Made By:  

            Second:

            Result:

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #7: Adjourn Council Meeting

Discussion:   None

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

Motion:  “Motion to adjourn”

            Made By:  Michelle

            Second: Chad

            Result: Passed

Council Minutes May 24 2020

Council Minutes
May 24, 2020

Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Council Meeting Minutes

Present: Judy Hanson, Craig Collins, Greg Andrews, Rob Blount, Chad Carlson, Pete Elza, Michelle Kovar, Cheryl Martines, Emily Palmer, John Volkening

Absent:

Staff: Pastor Sarah, Deacon Heather, Pastor

Meeting called to order at: 11:25 AM

Meeting closed at: 11:45 AM

Council Reporter:

Open Forum:

Discussion: 

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #1:  Election of Exec Team          

Discussion:  Presented slate for Exec Team 2020-2021: Judy Hanson – President, Craig Collins – Vice President, Greg Andrews – Treasurer, Rob Blount – Secretary

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

            Motion:  “Elect the slate for Exec Team as presented”

            Made By:  Michelle

            Second:  Chad

            Result: Approved

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #2: Annual Meeting Feedback

Discussion: Overall consensus that the Zoom meeting went very well with only a few technical issues during the meeting. Meeting recording will be posted on the BLC website. Heather will be re-recording her financial presentation to be included with the recording.

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

            Motion:

            Made By:  

            Second:

            Result:

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #3: Adjourn Council Meeting

Discussion: 

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

            Motion:  “Motion to adjourn”

            Made By:  Greg

            Second: Rob

            Result: Approved

Follow-up Items: