Council Highlights Oct 2019

Council Highlights

October 15, 2019

1) Pastor Sarah reported that she has begun meeting with a group of incoming new members, and she has been holding several 1-to-1 meetings with disciples. She led a discussion about how we are addressing the need for peace and contemplation as well as involvement and engagement. Disciples, new members and unchurched people all hunger to know God more and to understand the place of faith in their lives. Pastor discussed plans for this weekend’s forum on Hesed House and Lazarus House.  The council strategized about presenting how vulnerable this commitment has been, and how to generate involvement and bring new volunteers alongside.  She also reported that a pastor who lives nearby is soon becoming available to share pastoral responsibilities on an interim basis both weekends and weekdays.  Council supported Pastor Sarah’s further conversations with this pastor.

2) The preschool is still awaiting a final sign-off by the fire marshal, but this weekend the contemporary service will move back to Fellowship Hall.  The contractor Shales McNutt is working on a final punch list to complete construction and will pack out by October 31.  Another punch list is being addressed by our sexton Jesus. Our construction loan will be converted to a mortgage on December 1.

3) The original capital campaign is closing November 30, and money is still coming in.  Due to the matching gift challenge, we have exceeded the original goal of $__ million.  Total gifts to this campaign now total $1.54 million with a few weeks of receipts yet to come.  The new capital campaign is still receiving pledges.  The annual stewardship campaign for the regular operating budget begins with a mailing the week of October 21, with recommitment Sunday planned for November 17.

4) The Council reviewed memorial funds, designated and undesignated, and began a discussion of how to utilize those funds.  The council continued a discussion of how to most effectively communicate year-to-date financials to achieve clarity. Michelle Kovar, treasurer, is drafting some explanatory language to go with budget/actual figures.

5) In our discussion of council goals, we focused on how to implement a meaningful, intentional and well-governed ministry team structure using our lay leadership development model.

6) Regarding Troop 13 of the Boy Scouts, Council President Greg Andrews and Deacon Heather met with troop leaders and a representative of the Three Fires Council. They discussed usage of the building this fall and concerns around the chartering relationship given the increased concerns about financial liability and the situation of the national BSA organization. Greg proposed and the council agreed to appoint a temporary committee to examine our charter obligations and gather information from the Three Fires Council, ELCA, local ecumenical contacts and others and to report to the congregation in December.  We would then plan to ask the congregation to vote in December whether to renew the troop charter.


Council Minutes Oct 2019

Council Minutes

October 15, 2019

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

Absent: Chad Carlson

Staff: Pastor Sarah, Deacon Heather

Meeting called to order at: 06:37 PM

Meeting closed at: 8:55 PM

Council Reporter: Dee Johnson

Open Forum:

Discussion:  None.

Follow-up Items:


Agenda Item #1:  Associate Pastor Report

Discussion:  Sarah: Reflecting in to the Conservations that she has held in the past month. Completed the first newcomers class this past weekend. Feedback: “roots in the church”, “have their children”, “not sure where church’s place is their life”. What are we missing as a church, not just manage “what is already there” .

Judy: Agrees with the tension between activity and rest. Baker had Taize Friday Night service, that she found relaxing and introspective.

Michelle: What is the balance of a Biblical basis and how is that reflected in our day to day life  versus quiet and meditative.

Newcomers – Fall Session has started. 4 Couples with family. Two ladies. Very good group. Rob and Judy to attend Oct. 27th meeting to welcome Council members

Audit Ed & Forum – This weekend, Hesed and Lazarus. Chris Johnson has produced a video to be shown in Worship. Sarah to do a brief introduction (statistics on homeless), Hesed meaning (Hewbrew “Love for the long-term”). Lazarus average 56 homeless a night. Layout our current objective. Small group (why do ministry matter, what are the obstacles). Strategy. Sign-up for commitment. Francie and Abigail have volunteered to lead Hesed Ministry.

Pastoral Support – Pastor Wendy is finishing up her service as interim pastor at Geneva Lutheran. Not necessarily a full-time position, but part-time, similar to Bishop Gary & Pastor Jean. Live close by. One week of Preaching, One week of presiding. Home communion for long term absence. Bishop Gary will be preaching 3 times this fall.


Agenda Item #2: Deacon Report

Discussion:  Heather: ELCA Report: Sunday attendance will 16,000 per Sunday (in an ELCA Lutheran Church)


Go basic to basic

Shift from formative to participatory spirituality





Deep hunger for relationships with God.

Preschool – Still waiting on State Fire Marshal. Need to move Preschool out of Fellowship Hall to get worship back in. First service back in Fellowship Hall this Sunday.

Construction – Working on Contractor punch list. Heather is creating a punch list for Jesus. If any items are noted, email Heather and she will prioritize with Jesus.  Any payments must be submitted by 11/1 to be paid. Construction loan converts to Mortgage on 12/1.

Building Campaign – Provided an update on current Capital Campaign.  Still receiving Pledge cards to Debt reduction campaign. Wil be reviewing current pledge cards.

Annual Ministry Appeals will be going next week.

Planning Budget Calendar. – Michelle – How do we look at our Budget as a ministry tool and using our gifts in our outreach.

Memorial Report – Undesignated is ~ $13,000.

Craig – Suggest that undesignated money is used for any additional building issues or changes.

Heather – Can we also use funds around outreach?


Agenda Item #3: Financial Report

Discussion:  Michelle – No minutes from Finance Committee due to postponed meeting. Provided summary of numbers including August Finals and September.

Craig: How is our the budget showing a YTD deficit

Continued discussion on how to present the numbers to the Congregation. The difference between YTD Budget versus YTD actual and also the difference of receipts and disbursements.


Agenda Item #4: Approve September Minutes and August Financial

Motion:  “Approve September minutes and August Financial Report as presented”

Made By:  Dee

Second:  John

Result: Passed


Agenda Item #5: Council – Ministry Team Update


Greg – Attended Friday Morning Bible Study. Received feedback on Scouts and “money from pulpit”.


Agenda Item #6: Council Goal Update


Greg; Held a brainstorming session with John, Heather, and Sarah.

John: Talked about together-forward. Talked about leadership at BLC. If we have leaders, we need groups to lead. This will lead to more interactive.

Sarah: Talked about “togetherness” and “stepping out of our walls”

John asked “are there committees to lead?”

Sarah; Used to have teams (M&J, WMFA, Family & Children). Teams fell off due to loss of leadership, loss of sense of purpose. Council is taking on a lot. How much more can Council absorb? What would it look like to empower teams to take a role? Provide a ramp to these teams. Hopefully knowing they would serve the larger committee, teams will be empowered.

Greg: Looking for volunteers on Council to develop an outline for how to approach this Goal. Parameters and potential teams. John and Dee have volunteered.


Agenda Item #7: Boy Scout Update and Discussion

Discussion:  Greg: Greg and Heather met with Ron Westfall (Three Fires Council) and Mike, JD, and Fred from Troop 13. Discussed move-in date. Showed Eckstrom Hall as an open space. Explained that there would be no dedicated space, but could accommodate display case. Can accommodate Monday nights. Other nights may be accommodated as possible when can be added to the calendar.

Talked about future of chartering of Troop 13 by BLC.  BSA will announce decision of Bankruptcy after Oct. 24th. Next Steps: Proposal to create a charter committee to review BLC’s charter obligations with Boy Scouts. We have not followed through with our responsibilities.

Suggestions: Audit the adult safety programs. BLC would choose the charter organization representative. Agents would report to a Scout Committee.

Recommendation: Form a committee to serve 30-45 to review charter obligations. Also reach out to ELCA, Three Rivers Council, other church that are chartering.

Imdentity: Only covered until March 2020.

Suggestion to have a Congregation meeting in December. In November use Coffee with Council to open the discussion with the Congregation.


Agenda Item #8: Adjourn Council Meeting

Motion:  “Motion to adjourn”

Made By:  Joe

Second:  Rob

Result: Passed





Council Highlights Sept 2019

Council Highlights

September 17, 2019

1) Pastor Sarah summarized the Leadership huddle held earlier in September with about 35 leaders of ministries. At that meeting, Pastor reviewed the meaning of “Together. Forward.”  and the results of the council/staff review of priorities and goals. She highlighted examples of Togetherness from the past year: consistently 70 or so disciples in adult education; 30 new members; 200 backpacks; 330 people at Feed My Starving Children; staying together through times of disagreement; and leaders stepping up and taking things forward. And the building! Forward, she said, means not ever getting too comfortable. The leadership huddle offered teaching in the skill of conversation with people we don’t know and ended with tactical education on how to publicize events and get information into our various communications channels.

2) The council adopted a change of procedure regarding visitor guidelines for church council meetings. After devotions, we will have an open question period near the start of the meeting for anyone who wants to bring up a question or issue, followed by the business meeting. Visitors can stay for the business meeting or may leave after the question period.

3) Pastor Sarah plans for staff to bring a list to council of up-coming meetings of all groups at Bethlehem for council to engage and to offer to attend/drop in as a council presence. John Volkening, Greg Andrews, Pastor Sarah and Deacon Heather will draft more detailed, measurable goals as a follow-on to the work of the staff/council retreat and send that draft soon to the council.

4) Coffee with Council will be Sunday 9/22 in Fellowship Hall Topics will include an Introduction to “Together. Forward.” and the debt reduction campaign, status of building and its budget, call committee update, and the work in process on congregational goals including lay leadership training.

5) Sept 29 is kickoff Sunday – we are hoping for strong attendance during the education hour.

6) Oct 6 is the blessing of building and celebration of our commitment to debt reduction.

7) Heather shared an article about where people find meaning today – we can invite people who are searching for meaning in their lives to join us here.

8) Update on the building: the elevator is operational and waiting for fire marshal approval. Overall project still under budget.

9) Heather shared a summary of the actions of the ELCA church-wide assembly that occurred in August in Milwaukee (here is the document). How can we foster discussion at BLC regarding the ELCA statement on Faith, Sexism and Justice? It takes more than a single class.

10) There is a walk for Hesed House on Sept. 21! Check the Hesed House website for details if you want to walk. Our BLC coordinators for Hesed will be speaking at our adult education forum on October 20, helping to frame the call to walk alongside our brothers and sisters. We struggle to schedule volunteers for our activity at Hesed which is only 6 Friday nights a year. We need a new ministry leader for our Hesed outreach if we are going to continue.  







Council Minutes Sept 2019

Council Minutes

September 17, 2019

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


Staff: Pastor Sarah, Deacon Heather, Pastor

Meeting called to order at: 06:31PM
Meeting closed at: 09:30 PM
Council Reporter: Dee Johnson


Agenda Item #1: Guidelines for attending Council Meetings


Discussion:  Greg provided an overview of the proposed guidelines


Motion:  “Adopt Council Visitor Guidelines as written”
Made By:  John V
Second:  Chad C.
Result: Passed
Follow-up Items:


Agenda Item #2: Open Discussion

 Discussion:  Q: “How is the construction going”? Heather indicated that we are still on track. Various touchup and punch list items will need to be done. .


Agenda Item #2: Associate Pastor Report

Discussion:  Sarah: Would like to make sure Council is keeping in touch with the BLC Ministries. Sarah and Heather will bring a list of ministries meetings to Council meetings and ask Council to choose a date/group. CM will “assign” themself to reach out to the leaders of the group. Use the “Highlights” as a starting point for discussion.

Sarah: Not feeling that SMART goals have been set for Council/Congregation. Need to make sure we take the feedback from meeting. Staff is waiting for more concrete Congregational Goals so staff can establish their own goals. Discussion on the best way to establish these goals. Greg suggested study groups. Craig recommended that 2 council members work with PS and DH to establish draft goals. Greg and John volunteered.

Sarah: Requested that Council Members be present at Debt Reduction meetings. Greg volunteered to buy wine and cheese for the Oct. 27th @ 6:00PM. Judy and Joe will bring Wine & Cheese as well.

Heather: Folks are excited to be in the Campaign and how families are part of the journey and the elder generation is excited that this legacy exists for the next generation.  Share stories with others.

Follow-up Items: Rob to work with Pr. Sarah and Heather to setup Google Sheet with Calendar.


Agenda Item #3:  Coffee with Council

Discussion:  Sarah: Need to see if Council has specifics to cover and balance with the Together/Forward Debt Reduction campaign.

Sept. 22nd 9:30. Communion Assistant training will also be held at the same time. Coffee with Council will be held in Fellowship Hall.


  • Together/Forward – What does it mean? Why did we choose that theme? – Sarah
  • Debt Reduction Campaign – Dee
  • Status of the Building Project/Budget – Heather
  • Call Committee Update – Craig/Joe
  • Work in progress Congregational Goals and Review of Staff/Council Retreat. – Greg
    • Lay Leadership Training update and review – Judy
  • Q&A


Signage to be posted to direct people to the right location for the Meeting.

Blessing of the Building Oct. 6, Leaders, and Pot Luck Lunch.

Sept. 29th will be a soft start. Mingling and general overview.


Agenda Item #4: Deacon Report

Discussion:  Heather: Reading texts on “being lost”. Statistic 2041, on average 16,000 people will be worshiping on Sunday churchwide (down from 80K currently). People make the church. How does the church differ from other communities. How do “we” express that when we leave Church. Gives an example of being invited to do something on a Sunday morning, drove conversation about being at church on Sundays.


  • Family
  • Career
  • Money
  • Spiritually

Sarah shared how growing up in a church family and church was “expected”.  Previous generations did not have to articulate why Church is important. Now we need to be more deliberate about why “Church”.

Heather: We have to remember that this is God’s Church and He will work with us.


John: Need to be more invitational, Christianity has a “bad” name recently.


Heather: Treasurer’s report, positive variance for the month. All preschool rooms are open. DCFS has approved new room. But, waiting on Fire Marshall. Will not approve until all construction is complete and the elevator is licensed. Elevators should be inspected in the next 7-10 days. Pay application 4 was uploaded. First payment we have drawn from Mission Fund. Have paid $6300 in interest. Positive Funds $107,810. Soft Costs $236,708 positive. Total underspend $344,518.  With outstanding change orders, expect project to come in $200,000 below original estimate..


Dee: Should we look at other projects that we could cover with the underag. .


Heather: Will need to look at Roof in 4 years. When looking at worship space, need to look at all elements (pews, lighting, sound).  Can also look at Memorial money that could be used instead.


Heather: Summary of Synod Assembly. Pr. Bishop Eaton was re-elected on 1st ballot. Deacon Sue Rothmeyer was elected to ELCA secretary. Approved social statement “Fath, Sexism, and Justice” . Deacon will have rights of entrance for ministers of “Word and Service”. Deacons are no longer counted as laypersons.


Sarah: How do we be the church that engages in the discussion and resolutions that were discussed at the ELCA general assembly. Want to make sure that there is space for these discussions.


Greg; Want to tie BLC to be part of the larger Church and understand what is happening at the Churchwide level. Can start introducing these topics and then move deeper.


Agenda Item #5:  Financial Report

Discussion:   Michelle: Will share the Financial Meetings. Requested that committee members look towards the future and challenged them to bring new members alongside.

Receipts and Expenses and coming more in line. But, need to be aware of differences between Receipts and Expenses overall.


Follow-up Items:

Agenda Item #6:  Approve Aug. 2019 Council Minutes & July 2019 Financial Report


            Motion:  Motion to approve Aug. Minutes and July Final Financial Reports as presented

            Made By:  Dee

            Second:  John

            Result: Passed


Follow-up Items:

Agenda Item #7:  Outreach/Hesed House update

Discussion:  Greg: Reminder that there is a walk for Hesed House. Saturday Sept. 21st. Venue: Hesed House.

Greg: Follow-up on discussion last month, still struggling to fulfil fulfill our commitment to Hesed House. Visit on Oct. 20th

Joe: Being in contact with Steve Grimm Need a new coordinator for the Hesed House ministry. Ask Council to think about possible candidates for leadership.

Sarah: Can we have groups take individual shifts. Could Council take Oct. or Dec. dates.

Michelle: There is an opportunity to expand our role. 

Sarah: Working with Steve and Emily (Lazarus House Coordinator) to discuss our outreach to the BLC and how we can continue the commitment.

Heather: How are we living our faith and taking our faith outwards?


Agenda Item #8:  Executive Session

Motion:  “Enter Executive Session”

Made By:  Rob

Second: Chad

Result: Passed.


Follow-up Items:

Agenda Item # 10: Adjourn Meeting

Motion:  “Exit Executive Session”

Made By:  Rob

Second: Chad

Result: Passed

Council Highlights August 2019

  • Fox River Valley Initiative The council heard an update on the Fox River Valley Initiative from Paul Hough, Ingrid Nelson and Maggie Haroldson.  FRVI has experienced significant progress on their mental health initiative, for example, in providing crisis intervention training for local law enforcement officers. Other areas of emphasis include affordable housing and opioid addiction treatment.


  • Debt Reduction Campaign The Council discussed the home stretch of the original three-year capital campaign and the need to ensure its successful completion, and heard about the plans for the follow-on three-year debt reduction campaign being launched this weekend. There will be several special events including an all-church celebration on Sunday, October 6. The Council decided to discontinue the services of the James Company in the debt reduction campaign.


  • Leadership Huddle This week the council and staff will meet for a planning session to review our top priorities and goals. Then on September 5, a broader “Leadership Huddle” will involve a broader group of leaders from across many ministry areas for communication and training.


  • Hesed House The Council discussed our ministry with Hesed House. We provide a meal and volunteers 6 Friday nights a year, but it has been difficult for us to keep up with this commitment. Staff and Council will be seeking a broader discussion with the congregation over the next few weeks as to whether we are going to continue this ministry.


  • Council discussed the way we communicate financial information to the congregation.


  • Construction update: Staff will be moving back into their offices the week of September 9. Also after Labor Day, the entrance near the sanctuary will be closed for a time to work on grading that will eliminate the need for steps and a ramp. The contractor expects to pack up and leave by September 30, with only a few punch items remaining. The project is well within budget.


  • Hearing Loop Thanks to generous gifts from the foundation of Ann and Vic Lee’s family and from Barbara Vlack, a Hearing Loop is being installed in both the sanctuary and the Fellowship Hall to help people with hearing difficulties. An audiologist will work with us on-site on Sunday morning to help with our implementation.