Council Highlights May 2020

Council Highlights
May 19, 2020

All council members, Pastor Sarah and Deacon Heather were in attendance for an on-line video meeting of the congregational council on Tuesday, May 19. Judy Hanson opened with prayer. We spent some time recognizing and thanking council members Joe Boyle and Dee Johnson, whose terms are expiring and who are leaving the council. We also thanked those who were completing officer terms–Greg Andrews for two years’ service as council president and Michelle Kovar for her year as treasurer and previous year as vice-president.

Pastor Sarah shared insights from thought leaders in the broader church about the effect of Covid-19 on the life and future of the Church. For example, Covid-19 is not merely an interruption, after which everything will go back to normal; it’s a disruption, something that changes or at least accelerates the future.

Remote, video worship will be with us for the foreseeable future. Even after we can gather in a large group, there will be a need for some to connect with worship remotely, for health reasons and other reasons. We are attracting new members through our online worship – when we distributed yard signs, we had people who have never worshipped in our building picking up signs and participating. All 125 signs were picked up, but for unknown reasons the printer supplied another 125 beyond what we ordered, so there will be another chance to pick up a sign.

Some disciples have donated money to provide a few easy-to-use electronic tablets which are set up to easily access our Sunday worship. These have been distributed to homebound senior members. A routine is being established to pick them up, clean them, update the link, and hand them out again.

We reviewed with Pastor Sarah her communication plans for the coming weeks.

St. Andrew Lutheran in West Chicago is having a food drive, and Deacon Heather is promoting and coordinating Bethlehem’s response. Nonperishable food can be dropped off at St. Andrew on Friday  5/22 between 9 and 2 and perishables between 9 and 11 a.m. on Saturday 5/23.  Unemployment in West Chicago is said to be about 50%, compared with 15% in surrounding communities. Last weekend many families were turned away and did not receive what they needed.

Giving through April is nearly on track with the budget (we had some early giving the first couple of months of the year that put us ahead of budget going into the Covid-19 crisis).  The building fund also reflects faithful giving. A refinance of our two mortgages for a lower rate is in process. The church received a PPP (Payroll Protection Program) loan, which may be forgiven in part or whole, which is helping cover the preschool teachers through the end of the term.

The council heard reports from three resiliency task forces: Worship and Connection, Staffing and Budget, and Preschool. There will be reports at the Annual Meeting on 5/24 on each of these topics.

Council discussed options for the preschool for summer and approved a proposal to open June 1 through mid-August as a daycare facility for children of essential workers, with probably two classes each limited to 10 students, with appropriate precautions (facemasks, distancing, cleaning, curbside drop-off and pick-up). We also reviewed draft guidelines for staff safety based on CDC guidelines. 

The remainder of the meeting was spent preparing for the congregational meeting to be conducted on May 24 at 10 a.m., via Zoom. The difficulties we experienced with our Wave-In on May 17, we learned, were due to system-wide problems with Zoom and probably will not recur. The presenters are rehearsing to make the meeting run as smoothly as possible. 

 

 

Council Minutes Mar 31 2020

Council Minutes
Apr. 31, 2020

Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Council Meeting Minutes

Present: Greg Andrews, Judy Hanson, Michelle Kovar, Rob Blount, Chad Carlson, Craig Collins, Dee Johnson, Joe Boyle, Emily Palmer, John Volkening

Absent:

Staff: Pastor Sarah, Deacon Heather, Pastor

Meeting called to order at: 06:35 PM

Meeting closed at: 7:50 PM

Council Reporter:

Open Forum:

Discussion: 

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #1:  Lead Pastor Report

Discussion: 

Sarah: Will be sending a letter tomorrow with an update. Pastor Jean has been checking in our Senior community and they have been concerned about mixed messages that are coming out from the Government. Letter will confirm that Holy Week services will be online.

AA meetings are finding alternative meeting options as BLC is no longer hosting meet

Chris Johnson has been very important in helping to produce the videos. Will be helping to produce 4 services during holy week.  Will be simple liturgy.

Separate email to confirmation students with pastoral care and a commitment to finding a way to celebrate their confirmation. 

John: Could we have communion at home?

Sarah: Lots of discussion around that in the community. Churchwide direction is to “fast” from communion. Ask for guidance and advice from Council

Heather: Metro Synod is affirming Presiding Bishop Eaton’s guidance to  follow Churchwide guidance of “fasting” from communion.

Michelle: Has there been any discussion of a “Drive-Thru” communion.

Sarah: There was probably more discussion a few weeks ago. She would be concerned about hygiene and whether this would match the spirit of communion. This is a time that we having to give up some of our worship

Sarah: Have been in touch for Andrea Guzel and Ollie and have suspended their plan to join us in April. Both are available in the summer.

Have received words of appreciation and gratitude. People find it flexible. After Holy Week and Easter, we may need to ask what is sustainable. THere is a lot of preparation each week. Sarah feels the need to swap from planning to worship to care. Chris Johnson has been able to work on the videos. If that were to change, it would be a problem to produce the videos.

Joe: Provided his experience working in the field.  Expect to see an increase in cases due to expansion and rapid testing over the next few weeks.

Sarah: Received about $7000 toward the Pastor Discretionary fund, for a total of $12K. But also receiving calls about lost jobs. Will send a message out to the community encouraging disciples that are going through difficult times to reach out.

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

            Motion:

            Made By:  

            Second:

            Result:

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #2: Deacon Report

 

Discussion: 

Heather: Counters are coming in every other week. Two counters working with appropriate social distancing. Thanks to Leslie Blount and Sarah Belenski.

Will have month end prelims by next week. Doing end of month and Leslie will input numbers on Thursday.

Just a reminder that Jan & Feb were well above projections. Offerings have gone down in March due to lower giving. $20K was deposited from the  last 2 weeks offerings received via mail.

Chad: Have we received increases in online giving?

Heather: Will run a report at the end of the month to see if that has increased.

Expenses have gone down as we have not needed many of the musician costs, plus the roll off of several staff members from the benefits.

Preschool Staffing – Pong is saving on expenses due to no need to purchase food. Have agreed to pay teachers through the end of April. Preschool falls under a different handbook than church staff. Will follow Preschool handbook that pays for 6 hours on “emergency” days. Only two preschool teachers typically work more than 6 hours.

Teachers are really motivated and finding ways to connect with their students, including hosting Zoom meetings. Teachers are also working in their classrooms, in isolation, to clean up their classroom.

Staff continue to work remotely, including Leslie and Connie. Leslie is coming in once per work to work on contribution and counting. Connie is setting up to work remotely for Confirmation. Jesus is working in church to accept deliveries and working on some projects that benefit from church being unoccupied at the time.

Per our handbook we grant sick leave for paid staff. Grandfathered sick time was based on sick days given when the new policy was implemented in 2018. Staff handbook allows up to 120 days accrued. Allie and Amy currently have less than 2 weeks, but based on laws would be eligible for 2 weeks.

DH has looked into unemployment, BLC does not and can not pay into unemployment. So staff would not be eligible for unemployment including any stimulus unemployment.

Craig: Does the Preschool have a different sick leave policy.

Heather: Yes, can provide if necessary.

Craig: Are there any other Preschool staff, non-teachers, that are continued to be paid

Heather: Mindy, the Kitchen Staff.

Heather: Pong has sent an email to Preschool parents asking, if they are able, could they continue to pay their tuition. Several parents have offered to continue to pay tuition to help teachers during this time.

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

            Motion:

            Made By:  

            Second:

            Result:

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #3:  Call Committee

 

Discussion: 

Craig: Vacancy has been posted on the Website. Committee is formulating questions. Have not received any additional information from the Synod. Committee is ready to go.

Sarah: Some disciples have asked if BLC can commit to 3 years in the light of our current situation.

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

            Motion:

            Made By:  

            Second:

            Result:

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #10: Adjourn Council Meeting

 

Discussion: 

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

            Motion:  “Motion to adjourn”

            Made By:  

            Second:

            Result: Passed

Messenger Spring 2020

Click here to read the newest Messenger! Read about what is happening in the life of our church through the stories of Bethlehem disciples. Stories of people changed through their experiences in service, attending events, and through God’s work in their lives.

Council Highlights Mar 2020

Council Highlights
Mar. 17, 2020

The Congregational Council met by phone on March 17, with all 10 members, Pastor Sarah and Deacon Heather in attendance. Pastor Sarah gave the opening prayer.

Pastor Sarah reported that the office is closed due to the pandemic, and staff members are working remotely at least until April 1. She had emailed that news that to all disciples earlier in the day. This is in the spirit of protecting disciples and the community, and helping to flatten the pandemic curve. All staff members are reachable by voice mail and email. You can phone the church; the phone greeting will tell you how to reach all staff.

Custodian Jesus Alana is working in the building . He has ordered some new cleaning materials and is sanitizing door handles and other common surfaces. He is also taking the opportunity to work on some projects such as cleaning and varnishing the hand rails.

Our new administrative assistant, Allie, is set up to work remotely, and Deacon Heather is spending time with her daily while she is digging in and figuring things out. Feedback from disciples who have interacted with her is excellent.

Pastor Sarah noted the remarkable ways that people are imagining to be creative and supportive of the community during this crisis. Our video worship service which was posted Sunday was very well received, and worship is still a foothold in the midst of chaos. She noted that other pastors she follows are making videos from home and then piecing together a worship offering, rather than gathering even a handful of people to record a service.

A temporary organist/musician, Ollie, is starting on March 29 to work with us through end of May and will participate in a planning meeting March 26. He will play the organ and will play keyboards for the contemporary service. A search for a permanent music director has not yet started. The executive team of the council will proceed to appoint leaders for the search team, and that team will work on the job description for music director—essential skills and roles versus nice-to-have. 

Temporary youth director (and daughter of the congregation) Andrea Guzel is starting April 1 with a plan that she will be in the role through August 1. She will be laying the groundwork for the fall.

We do not yet have a position description ready for youth director; there was brief discussion of looking at that role in combination with children’s and family ministry, but no conclusions have been reached. The exact requirements for open positions may  also depend in part on the skills and interests of the associate pastor we call.

Weekly giving YTD through February is $42,000 ahead of budget.  Celebrate and give God thanks!

There was some discussion of Lent, Holy Week and Easter services, noting that we may need a time to grieve as well as a time to celebrate. Without knowing the duration of the crisis, we did not reach any conclusions.

The associate pastor call committee met with the synod representative. Our Ministry Site Profile is approved. The team expects to begin receiving batches of 3 candidates within the next week. It was recommended by the Synod, and the council has agreed, to commit to fund the associate pastor position for a minimum of three years, subject to individual performance reviews. Even though the logistics of interviewing candidates may be difficult in the near future, the call team will need to be resourceful and nimble to respond to each wave of three candidates quickly so they can move on if necessary during the best season for receiving candidates.

The meeting closed in prayer.

 

 

Council Minutes Mar 17 2020

Council Minutes
Mar. 17, 2020

Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Council Meeting Minutes

Present: Greg Andrews, Judy Hanson, Michelle Kovar, Rob Blount, Chad Carlson, Craig Collins, Dee Johnson, Joe Boyle, Emily Palmer, John Volkening

Absent:

Staff: Pastor Sarah, Deacon Heather

Meeting called to order at: 6:32 PM

Council Reporter:

Open Forum:

Discussion:

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #1:  Lead Pastor Report

Discussion: PS: Sent an update earlier today (3/17) informing the congregation that the office was being closed. Closing is part of the continued spirit of being proactive in “flatten the curve.” Most of the staff will be in and out of office. Allie will be working remotely. Phone greeting will  inform callers that the church office is closed. Recommend to leave v-mail as staff is checking v-mail.

Still holding to continue communication that programs are suspended until further notice.

Michelle: What sort of disinfection methods are being handled while the church is closed to visitors?

Heather: Jesus has been doing deep cleaning and ordering new cleaning material along with Nellie. Jesus will continue to come to the office every day to work on other projects within the building. Will use the lack of traffic to catch up on various projects.

John: Are there any plans for any funerals?

PS: If there is a need, there will be a need for a discussion with the family. Will be a case by case basis depending on situation and family preferences.

There is a lot of openness in the community in relationships on Facebook and other ways. Continue to be supportive. Sunday’s service was well received. Is watching what other pastors are doing and looking for new ways to worship and wants to be open to new ideas.

Heard from people in 7 states and two continents that worshiped with us.

John: Has signage gone up on the doors.

PS: Yes. Along with the website and front electronic sign.

PS: Worship & Music – The musician (Ollie) is still joining  on the 26th for a planning meeting. Will look to get creative with him until we can get back to regular worship.

Youth Group – Have lined up Andrea Guzel to serve in interim. Reached out just as Bobbi was leaving. Start date originally was April 1st. But, may be put on hold based on travel restriction. But will still be joining us to help with Mission Trips, VBS, and fall planning.

Joe: Does Ollie have an end date?

PS: Last service in May (31st?)

Michelle: What about a Job description for Worship & Music?

PS: First priority was making arrangements which were finally set. And the last week or so has been consumed by recent events. Does not want to just post an existing job description. Would like some intentional conversation about how this position will fit. Current uncertainty about how we could form search teams and how that could affect the process.

Will be sending out an update to the congregation that will introduce the various disciples that are filling the gaps.

Joe: Should we form a team to review the job description?

PS: Yes, that is an option or should we form a team that is also the interview team.

Dee: We would have a better process if we have the same team do the review and the job description.

  1. Recommend that the first step to be to put together a team. Recommend that Exec select Chair/Co-Chairs and then Chair(s) fill the rest of the positions?

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

 

Motion:

            Made By:  

            Second:

            Result:

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #2: Deacon Report

Discussion:

Heather: YTD giving is $42K ahead of budget via weekly giving. The community is feeling good about Pastor Sarah becoming Lead Pastor. Other people that are re-engaging. In addition some RMD came through at the beginning of the year. Expenses are in line with budget.  Still working to format the budget in a way that is readable. With the transition to Shelby, some changes have taken place The FC is adjusting. Focus is on how we can present the data to the congregation in a way that tells a story.

Working with the outsourced accountant  to continue the transition. Should be much better by the time the Feb Finals and March Preliminaries. Excited that documents are being scanned and organized versus maintain all paper copies.

Michelle: This is an opportunity for conservation on how the DO, Treasurer, and Finance Committee work together and review. Make sure that our gifts and resources are being used in the right way.

Heather: Will attempt to make a better use of time that is currently being dedicated to the Finance team. Would be better to utilize the  CPA that is now available to us.

Preschool – PS & Heather are working with Pong to ensure how to be the messaging of the closures. Worked with Pong to cover salaries for the next two weeks (similar to snow days.) Teachers are currently working one on one in their classrooms to finish organizing  the classrooms that may not have been completed after construction was completed in August.

Staff – Allie is doing a really good job. DH is spending ½ to 1 hour per day with Allie. She is very creative and self initiating. Does not give up and very often is successful. Michelle worked with Leslie for about 3 hours for the end of month going over online giving. People are responding very positively to Allie on the phone.

RE Covid-19 and Money Counting – Since many of the counters are elderly. All counters are wearing gloves. Moving to counting every other week since the in person gifts are down. Many people are mailing their checks.

Emily: With the closing of the church, what is happening with Nelly?

DH: Will finish the week, but with Preschool closed, will need to suspend her position, but will invite her back once we are open again.

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

Motion:

Second:

Result:

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #3: Call Committee

Discussion:

Craig: Joe, Sarah, I met with Sunitha Mortha  last Tuesday. We got to know the process the Synod wants us to use. Reviewed the MSP and said it was “robust”. Made a few suggestions that may require small changes to the MSP. Also ask about the financial commitment and ask for a three year committment to the new pastor. Would like to bring that to the Council. Bishop’s team is still getting together, Sunitha covers the western region. Hope we will see candidate files within the next week or so. Will give us candidates in groups of threes. We will need to make a determination on those candidates before receiving any more candidates. (May be an option for one additional candidate). May slow the number of candidates the CC can review. CC will look at a faster review process to get new candidates. Will consider looking  at online interviewing.

Dee: There is an option to do online face-to-face.

Rob: Would the 3 year commitment be a mutual agreement?

Craig: That would be something that would come up during the interview process.

Joe: Should this be a motion that the Council makes?

Greg: This was discussed during PS inteview.

John: In establishing the 3y commitment, would there be a period of evaluation?

Craig: Yes, there could be subject to any performance issues.

PS: need to be careful of language.

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

 

Motion: “Council commits that BLC will fund the Associate Pastor position for a minimum of three years subject to individual performance reviews”

            Made By:  Joe

            Second:  Craig

            Result: Passed

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #4: Coffee with Council

Discussion:

PS: Will probably convene an extra Council meeting during the 1st week of April to discuss what are we will be doing for Holy Week.

John: If we are unable to have Easter, consider postponing it.

PS: That is one of the suggestions in the various Pastoral Groups she is in. There are also some creative ideas around Good Friday to honor the seriousness of the time we are living though.

Michelle: Do we have an opportunity to do a virtual solution.

PS: We can certainly consider as we get closer to the time.

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

Motion:

            Made By:  

            Second:

            Result:

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #5: Update on Ministry Teams

 

Discussion:

Greg: Every one received a copy of the Senior Advisory Team (SAT) minutes.

Heather: Encouraged the SAT to put their ideas in to bring to Council. Areas that are being discussed: Memorial Garden, Lay Leadership, and Memorials and Charitable trusts. .

Conclusions

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

Motion:

            Made By:  

            Second:

            Result:

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #6: Approve Feb Minutes and Jan Financial

Discussion:

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

Motion:  “Approve Feb minutes and Jan Financial Report as presented”

            Made By:  Rob

            Second: Judy

            Result: Passed

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #7: Move to Executive Session

Discussion:

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

Motion:

            Made By:  Rob

            Second:

            Result: Passed

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #8: Next Council Meeting

 

Discussion:

Craig: Should we set a date for another virtual Council Meeting. Suggestion is for a couple of weeks.

Greg: Agreed. Could be focused on church status and how we can “be church” March 31st.

Dee: Request that we move to a virtual meeting. Will be willing to provide training.

Meeting scheduled for 3/31 6:30

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

Motion: 

            Made By:  

            Second:

            Result:

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #8: Adjourn Council Meeting

Discussion:

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

Motion:  “Motion to adjourn”

            Made By:  Michelle      

            Second: Emily

            Result:

Follow-up Items: