Messenger Fall 2020

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Council Minutes Nov 2019

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

Absent:  ,

Staff: Pastor Sarah

Meeting called to order at: 06:31 PM

Meeting closed at: 09:34 PM

Follow-up Items:

Agenda Item #1:  Associate Pastor Report

 

Discussion:

Sarah: Offered thanks for the long discernment. Meet individually with each staff member about her decision.

Coffee with Council is scheduled for Sunday. Need to discuss the role of Lead pastor and what the planning will be for an Associate Pastor. This will be driven by Budget constraints

Working with Staff to discuss long term plans. Have scheduled out to Oct. 2020. Will have a six week Bible Study during Lent.

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

 

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #2: Deacon Report

Discussion:

Greg: Reviewed Heather’s report in Heather’s absence.

Michelle: Heather’s musings helps underscore that our challenges are not unique.

Chad: There are options to fund foundations that would affect how taxes are affected.

Greg: Suggest to put together a one page overview of options for giving. At a later date, hold a financial educational session

Sarah: Suggested to form an educational series around financial health and planning.

Sarah: Fire Marshall found 15 code violations. Will need to remediate. Preschool class will remain in Fellowship Hall until violations are fixed. Likely through December.

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

 

 

Agenda Item #3: Financial Report/Budget Planning

Discussion:

Michelle: Provided an overall of the budget FY2019. Based on Oct. preliminaries,

We need to discern who we are as a church and how we allocate our funds.

Will need to review budget. Have a staff/council budget review and Council/Finance

Greg; Recommend that this be a conversation point at Coffee with Council. Portico increase is expected to be 4% ($8000).

Joe: Do we need to review how we address Stewardship.

Michelle: We need to frame the conversation as informational, not as doom and gloom.

Michelle will present a mission moment and discuss at Coffee with Council.

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

 

Agenda Item #4: Troop 13 Update

Discussion:

Greg: Results from Troop 13 review by members of Congregation:

Focus was on what is BLC’s role as a chartering organization of Troop 13

Other Chartering organizations do not have any plans to do anything different regarding charting

Three Fire Council assures that Troop 13 is current with training and safe security

Three Fire Council confirms that the Troop is insured

Troop 13 is three times larger than all other troops

IL abolished the SOL for child sex abuse.  As a result, IL has not seen a flood of lawsuits. (NJ has seen an increase in lawsuit due to changes and establishment of Statute of Limitations).

Staff is receiving requests for additional rooms beyond the Ekstrom Hall.

Recommendation:

  • Offer to continue to use Ekstrom Hall
  • Get the Congregation Involved in the ministry
  • Form a ministry team and appoint an appropriate Liaison
  •  

Fred: Spoke in support of Troop 13 and the continued support by Bethlehem

We have the same relationship with the Cub Scout troop. Cub Scout chartering should follow the same recommendations as the Boy Scout troop.

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

 

Agenda Item #7: Ministry Team Updates

Discussion:

John : Provided recommendation.

Form 3 new teams, plus continuing the Property & Finance and Nominating team, to implement the vision set by Council

  • Worship Team – Includes art and environment taskforce.
  • Congregation Life
  • Outreach
  • Proper and Finance
  • Nominating

John proposed an Art Task force to choose art for the building.

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote
  •  

Motion:  Proposal to create an Art Task Force based on John V. proposal

            Made By:  Dee

            Second:  Rob

            Result: Passed

Follow-up Items:

Agenda Item #6: Approve October and Nov. 12th  Minutes and September Financials

Discussion:

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

 

Motion:  “Approve October 15th and November 12th  minutes and September Financial Report as presented”

            Made By: Rob  

            Second:  Joe

            Result: Passed

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #7: Adjourn Council Meeting

Discussion:

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

Motion:  “Motion to adjourn”

            Made By:  Rob

            Second:  John

            Result: Passed

 

Council Highlights Nov 2019

Council Highlights

November 19, 2019

There will be a Coffee with Council session during 9:30 forum time this Sunday, November 24, and several council agenda items will be reviewed with disciples at that time.

 

Finances. In this season, we focus on the annual operating budget. Treasurer Michelle Kovar pointed out that 68% of our spending year-to-date is the cost of our beloved staff. This percentage is not quite as high as in previous years, but salaries and benefits are still at the heart of our operating budget. Four budget categories—people, property, benevolence, and communication/administration—make up 95% of the budget.  Spending year-to-date is in line with the budget; total receipts are behind budget by $31,491, including $21,157 less than budgeted in weekly envelope giving. Looked at another way, spending through October exceeds income by $70,353, but we budgeted above-average giving in the last two months of the year because some of us either catch up on our pledges at year-end or make one-time gifts. It’s important that we let people know these remaining 2019 gifts are needed and that we would very much like to make up the $31,491 variance to budget. The annual pledges for 2020 will have a great influence on decisions we make regarding what we can afford to pay for an associate pastor. Pledging seems to have fallen off in recent years. Nevertheless, commitment is central to a stewardship way of life; and pledges would communicate to the leadership that we have the resources to do the work in front of us. 

 

Boy Scouts. Greg Andrews, our president, reported the findings of a Fact Finding Task Force who researched Bethlehem’s role as a chartering organization and how other organizations are responding to the insurance and liability crisis with the BSA and the BSA’s possible bankruptcy. That team consisted of Nan Bruce, Cheryl Martinez, Rick Van der Forest, and Al Thiel, and three of them attended the council meeting, as did Fred Shurr, troop liaison. Findings were that the ELCA and other congregations we talked with were not doing anything different this year with respect to chartering scout troops. The Three Fires council assured us that Troop 13 has complied with training and background checks for adult leaders and volunteers. They also told us that Troop 13 is more than 3 times the size of any other troop in the region and has been asked not to actively recruit. There is tension concerning scouts’ use of the building. Ekstrom Hall is the space assigned for regular Monday night meetings. Staff reports that the facility is left in a messy state after the scout meeting and that this is unacceptable because the preschool needs to use that space beginning at 6:30 a.m. the next morning. We have asked the scout leaders to take before and after photos of the space so we can establish accountability for messy conditions. The Scouts have made requests to use Fellowship Hall for Courts of Honor. At this time, we have not approved these requests as it would be extremely disruptive to the preschool classroom currently housed there. There have also been requests for use of the sanctuary for Eagle Courts of Honor and we have denied these as well.  Fred characterized Scouting as a faith-centric program and a community outreach ministry.

Recommendation and plan:

  • Renew the charter for Troop 13 for 2020 on a probationary basis.
  • Establish a ministry team of perhaps 3 people, appointed by the council rather than nominated by the troop, to oversee the chartering relationship with Troop 13.
  • That team would also oversee our charter of Cub Scout pack 260, which meets at Davis Elementary.
  • Look into the cost of adding more liability insurance.
  • Make clear that Ekstrom Hall is the designated space for Troop 13 use, subject to our Facility Usage policy including a usage fee to offset cleaning, set-up and maintenance.

We will not need to hold a special congregational meeting or vote on this subject since we are not making a substantial change at this time.

 

Teams.  In furtherance of the goals articulated by the council and staff, a committee of two consisting of John Volkening and Dee Johnson drafted a proposal for how teams or committees would look under the leadership development model. The team recommended that we begin experimentally with two or three teams rather than try to solve everything at once, and begin with teams such as Worship, Congregational Life, or Outreach (Mercy/Justice). That teams would have a budget, a chair and a chair-elect (leadership development model) elected by the congregation, leader term limits, a recorder, a monthly meeting, a brief monthly report to council in bullet form, and an annual report submitted to the congregational meeting. We are considering having all the teams meet on the same evening each month, with combined opening devotion, at least for a few months. Another point of view: monthly committee meetings do not inspire engagement; direct service does. We are in early stages on this.

 

Ad hoc committee for arts. We approved an ad-hoc team to make decisions about putting art back up on the walls in the building and to get it done. This team is also authorized to set up spaces for children’s and teens’ art work and arrange for those to be curated by someone.

 

Building. The fire marshal has not yet signed off on the building. After a very detailed inspection, there are 15 or so items to be corrected, some of them as significant as installing additional doors at the stairs between the narthex and the preschool. Thus, preschool will continue to use Fellowship Hall for some weeks yet.