Council Minutes August 15, 2023

Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Council Meeting Minutes
August 15, 2023 

Present:  Megan Baxter, Rob Blount, Paul Dayton, Brian Ferguson, Bonnie Hare, Kelly Jirschele, Cheryl Martines, John Volkening
Staff:  Pastor Krista Zimmerman; Pastor Paisley LeRoy; Deacon Heather Feltman
Absent:  Steve McIntire
Location:  Ekstrom Hall
Council Secretary:  Megan Baxter 

Cheryl welcomed everyone and called the meeting to order at 6:37 p.m.
Opening prayers were made by Bonnie.
Devotions in the style of “Dwelling in the Word” were led by Deacon Heather.  The below Bible verses were read twice, reflected upon in pairs, followed by each partner sharing each other’s reflections with the group. 

1 Peter 4:10-11 (ESV)
10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:  11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.  To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Agenda Item #1: Staff Update: Leslie Blount
Leslie Blount presented an update on her work, which included a very thoughtful letter and list of responsibilities (attached).  Leslie spoke on her work as financial assistant, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, other responsibilities including church envelopes, database system and online director management, flexible help to other rostered leaders and staff and special ministries, such as LSSI Easter Baskets, Halloween Trunk or Treat, Walk of Remembrance, and Christmas Giving.   Members praised her strong work ethic and commitment, and noted their gratefulness for her above-and-beyond service to BLC.

Agenda Item #2: Coffee with Council Recap
Cheryl presented a recap of the Coffee with Council session held on August 13th.  Cheryl noted that it was intentionally a casual, conversational approach that seemed to go over well.  The first topic discussed at the session was Reconciling in Christ, presented by Megan who introduced that a core team is forming and the first meeting will be scheduled soon.  Deacon Heather encouraged a thoughtful and deliberate process of engagement with the community by the core team as she received feedback from disciples asking about the process because they felt we were already doing this work and were wondering what the difference was specific to Reconciling in Christ.  Cheryl further noted the next topic at the session was an update on the movement of Expansive Church, grants being accepted and a presentation/explanation of the postcard which disciples could pass out to interested organizations in the community.  Senior Christian Care ministry options were outlined by Paul at the session with a lot of logistical feedback and questions from disciples at the session.  Finally, Cheryl noted that the chair of the finance committee, Dennis Finney, presented our current financial state with a lot of good questions presented by those in attendance.  Deacon Heather added that next month’s council meeting will include the Finance Team report and there will be updates made to the congregation on the 60-day timeline, with an emphasis on communicating the details and the nuances of our financial health and position.  Cheryl reported that at the end of the session there was an opportunity for Q&A, with the majority of questions being focused on the call process, and both John and call team co-chair Greg Andrews spoke very well to answer the questions, with responses that let the attendees know that there is one candidate being considered, and the interview process is still on-going. 

Agenda Item #3: Expansive Church, Q&A activity
Deacon Heather presented a brief activity designed by Laura Kerby for council members to review a list of questions about faith and community and answer one or two of the questions in writing at the meeting.  The answers were collected to be used in marketing for our Expansive Church initiative.

Agenda Item #4: Senior Care Ministry
Paul and Bonnie discussed their recent visits to other senior care ministries.  Paul and Bonnie visited churches with two different models.  The first type are medical models  run by Ecumenical Support Services for the Elderly, ESSE; Bonnie and Paul visited St. Paul Lutheran Church in Wheaton and St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Aurora, and the second type was a social model at Epiphany Lutheran Church in Elmhurst.  Paul and Bonnie presented their feedback on the different locations and models, and pros and cons of each and discussion was had by council members.  Cheryl thanked Paul and Bonnie for their work and presentation and indicated these visits are a part of a larger discernment process on what, if any, programming BLC will develop or adopt.  Cheryl further noted that she asked council members to consider the different options presented and this topic would be placed on next month’s agenda for further discussion. 

Agenda Item #5: Faith Formation
Pastor Paisley gave a presentation on what Faith Formation programming will look like this year, noting that overall this year will be the same program as last year for Sunday School and Connect for 4th and 5th graders.  Pastor Paisley discussed changes this year relate to Confirmation, where the programming is choice-driven, noting there will be 4 different units, with the 3rd Sunday of each month being required and then there will be an optional item from a ‘choice board’ from each category on the board to be completed by the students every month (see attached summary for more information). 

Agenda Item #6: Staff Evaluation Process Overview
Cheryl presented information on the yearly staff evaluation process, specific to the rostered leaders.  Cheryl indicated that in September the Exec. Team would put together a Performance Feedback Questionnaire for each of the rostered leaders, that will be distributed to council members for return and compilation into anonymous feedback in October.  Following the regular scheduled quarterly check-ins with the rostered leaders, the feedback will be shared with Pastor Paisley at the end of October, Pastor Krista in November and Deacon Heather in December. 

Agenda Item #7: Consent Agenda 
John moved and Kelly seconded to approve the minutes of the July 18, 2023 council meeting and financial reports as presented.
Motion carried 9-0. 

 Agenda Item #8: Rostered Leaders Report
Pastor Paisley presented the Rostered Leaders Report, no questions were had by the council. 

Kelly moved and Rob seconded to adjourn the meeting.  Motion carried 9-0.  The meeting was adjourned at 8:17 p.m. 

Executive Session:
The Executive Session was held from 8:21 to 8:34 p.m with the executive team in attendance.   

Council Minutes July 18, 2023

Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Council Meeting Minutes
July 18, 2023 

Present:  Megan Baxter, Rob Blount, Paul Dayton, Brian Ferguson, Bonnie Hare, Kelly Jirschele, John Volkening
Staff:  Pastor Krista Zimmerman; Pastor Paisley LeRoy; Deacon Heather Feltman
Absent:  Cheryl Martines
Location:  BLC Welcome Center Gathering Space
Council Secretary:  Megan Baxter

John welcomed everyone to the council retreat and potluck dinner at 6:00 p.m.
Opening prayers were made by Megan.
Members and staff enjoyed food and fellowship. 

Devotions in the style of “Dwelling in the Word” were led by Pastor Paisley.  The below Bible verses were read twice, reflected upon in pairs, followed by each partner sharing each other’s reflections with the group.
1 Peter 4:10-11 (The Message)
7-11 Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted.  Stay wide-awake in prayer.  Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it.  Love makes up for practically anything.  Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully.  Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help.  That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time.  Oh, yes! 

Agenda Item #1: Retreat Activity
Council participated in a retreat activity to kick-start the “Three Hopes for Bethlehem” community art piece.  Each council member had come prepared with three hopes for Bethlehem which they wrote on paper plates.  The bright and colorful plates, which signify the warmth of fellowship at a summer potluck or picnic, were then mounted to be displayed as a visual representation of our hope for the future.  The congregation will be given the chance to participate in this activity to add to the display, beginning July 23rd. 

Agenda Item #2: Finance Team Update
Bonnie shared that the Finance Team hopes to continue communication and awareness of BLCs financial status in the congregation, following the recent 60-day report written by Deacon Heather.  Bonnie shared and several council members agreed that Deacon Heather’s message was very well-written.  Deacon Heather shared that June receipts are the lowest she has seen since she started, but at this point July looks better so far.  Deacon Heather shared she doesn’t see anything askew from her review so far; she plans to do a more in-depth analysis in the next month to see if any trends can be gleaned and at this point it is just a matter of cash management.  Deacon Heather shared that loose offerings have been up significantly since plate-passing was re-instituted.   

A short discussion followed on means for online financial giving, with a question asked about how Zelle implementation is going, and the pros/cons of having multiple options, specifically service fees.  Deacon Heather shared that Zelle is free until processing more than $50,000 per month and that the goal has been to keep things simple by not making changes, where members can give how they have been giving, but also diversify to provide other options members will be inclined to adopt.   

A plan was formulated to hold a Coffee with Council and the Finance Team, to be held indoors and include a power-point presentation by the Finance Team and Deacon Heather, on August 13th after worship to keep up transparency and communication with the congregation.   

Agenda Item #3: Faith Formation Update
Pastor Paisley provided an update on her Faith Formation year-end review and one-on-one meetings with teachers/leaders and parents (written summary attached).  Overall it was a very successful year, with most teachers/leaders wanting to continue next year.  The Faith Formation Task Force is working on a project, details forthcoming, with the goal of hearing hopes and dreams of parents and youth to help shape future programming. 

Agenda Item #4: Labyrinth Follow-up Discussion
Pastor Paisley and John lead a short follow-up discussion related specifically to getting feedback from the Council as to the location of the memorial labyrinth for Steve Heronemus so that the Labyrinth Team can begin more detailed planning.  At the last council meeting, it was shared that the team preparing for the labyrinth, in conjunction with the artist they consulted with, had 3 possible locations for the labyrinth:  2 in the front of the church, with one in the middle of the main lawn, and one on the northeast corner, and 1 location in back of the church on the northwest corner.  In order to see if it was feasible to narrow the focus for planning, discussion was had about the placement options, to see if there was a consensus.  Council members reflected that the 2 locations in the front weren’t as preferable due to aesthetics and road and people traffic hindering a contemplative experience for a labyrinth.  An informal poll was taken with all council members preferring that detailed planning begin for just one location in the back of the Church property. 

Agenda Item #5: Expansive Church
Deacon Heather shared that Laura Kerby was soliciting responses from council and congregation members regarding a list of questions that address the meaning of giving and community in our lives that would be used in marketing the launch for the Expansive Church campaign.  Deacon Heather requested that council review and answer one question. 

Agenda Item #6: Rostered Leader Reports
Steve moved and Rob seconded to approve the minutes of the June 20, 2023 council meeting and financial reports as presented. 

Discussion was held on a few items from the report.  The outdoor service planned for August 20th in the preschool parking lot was highlighted.  A tornado drill is planned for August 5-6th, notice will be placed in the bulletin for that weekend, but otherwise the drill will be conducted without advance notice.  Bonnie asked if any members had heard of any additional interested persons for a small group, which she will be scheduling.  Rostered leaders shared some feedback received from the fall worship decision, with some positive and some negative, as expected.
Motion carried 9-0. 

Kelly moved and Brian seconded to adjourn the meeting.  Motion carried 9-0.  The meeting was adjourned at 8:03 p.m. 



Council Minutes June 20, 2023

Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Council Meeting Minutes
June 20, 2023

Present:  Megan Baxter, Rob Blount, Paul Dayton, Brian Ferguson, Bonnie Hare, Kelly Jirschele, Cheryl Martines, John Volkening
Staff:  Pastor Krista Zimmerman; Deacon Heather Feltman
Absent:  Steve McIntire; Pastor Paisley LeRoy
Location:  Ekstrom Hall
Council Secretary:  Megan Baxter 

Cheryl called the meeting to order at 6:32 p.m.
Opening prayers were made by John. 

Devotions in the style of “Dwelling in the Word” were led by Pastor Krista.  The below Bible verses were read twice, reflected upon in pairs, followed by each partner sharing each other’s reflections with the group.
1 Peter 4:10-11 (New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition)
10 Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. 11 Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ.  To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. 

Agenda Item #1: Council Calendar, Review Docs, Sign-ups
A few housekeeping items were addressed by Cheryl, including going over the Council Calendar, introducing the dates for Council meetings and an outline of proposed topics for future meetings.  Cheryl indicated the proposed topics are fluid and will change as needed and may differ as the call process unfolds. 

Cheryl highlighted some other important documents, including a contact information sheet distributed via Council mailboxes, the Council roles and qualifications document and the ethics policy, with a reminder that the ethics policy signature page be turned in to Deacon Heather; with information provided by members at the meeting, Deacon Heather reported she has all necessary signature pages. 

Cheryl explained that she wants to prepare to equip Council members to contribute and to have expectations set out in advance.  With that as background, Megan distributed sign-up sheets to plan for responsibility for opening prayers, devotions, and “Council Corner”, which will be a brief article (max. 250 words) on behalf of Council which will cover topics such as council bios, current Church events, project and/or ministry updates, and which will run for two weeks in a row in the weekly Bethlehem Friday email. 

Agenda Item #2: Staff Update, Jesus Alanis and Nelly Trejo
Deacon Heather presented a staff update on behalf of Jesus Alanis, Facilities Manager, and Nelly Trejo, Evening Custodian.  Deacon Heather reported that Nelly is an incredibly hard worker with a wonderful spirit who is always willing to serve.  Deacon Heather indicated that Jesus has a great set of skills that make him uniquely qualified to serve in many areas, eliminating the need to hire out work to a wide variety of contractors, indoors and outdoors. Deacon Heather stated that Nelly and Jesus work well together and are a great partnership.  Paul raised a question of whether the workload for Jesus had expanded too greatly with the renovations, and wondered if there were any tasks that could be handled by members of the congregation?  Deacon Heather agreed that the size of the campus and work is huge, and indicated that she and Jesus keep a running project list and Jesus tackles items timely and efficiently, but that she would look to see and pass along anything appropriate. 

Agenda Item #3: Call Committee Update
John presented an update from the Call Committee and a short summary of how the process works.  John reported that the Synod representatives pass along three candidates to the Call Committee at one time for consideration and the Call Committee can interview and move forward, or release each candidate.  All three candidates must be released from consideration by the Call Committee before the Synod representatives will forward further candidates.  At this time, the Call Committee has received the first three candidates, has interviewed all three, has released two, and is preparing for a second interview with the third candidate.  The interview is expected to be set for the end of the month, virtually.  Deacon Heather shared that as a part of the Call Committee’s process and so planning can occur within the right context, the chairs of the Call Committee (Greg Andrews and Judy Hanson) met with Deacon Heather as to Lead Pastor compensation packages.  John shared that the Call Committee is proceeding thoughtfully and carefully, with no expectations of outcome at this time. 

Agenda Item #4: HVAC Repair Bill
Bonnie moved, seconded by John to approve the following recommendation from the Finance Team: “The Finance Team recommends paying a recent HVAC invoice from Hill Mechanical in the amount of $9,006.08 (fixed the HVAC for the sanctuary) from Building Reserve accounts #25083 (Designated for Air Conditioner w/ balance of $8515 and the balance of $491.18, expensed from #25100 (General Building Reserves) w/ balance of $86,392.” Discussion:  Bonnie explained the unanimous recommendation of the Finance Committee to utilize reserves to cover the recent necessary HVAC repairs.  Deacon Heather provided background information.
Motion carried 9-0. 

Agenda Item #5: Fall Worship Plan
Cheryl introduced the agenda item and asked for Pastor Krista to summarize the four options for Fall Worship Plans that were presented to Council in a recommendation by the rostered leaders via document, forwarded prior to the meeting (attached).  Pastor Krista outlined the options, labeled as A, A1, B, and B1, with the main differences between the “A” options and the “B” options being either one or two services.

Cheryl offered the opportunity for each Council member to present comments on their preferred option of those presented by the rostered leaders or any other option or plan of their own. Discussion proceeded in a round table-style with each member presenting either their preferred option or a new option and their reasoning. 

Common themes of the commentary centered around an appreciation for the unity felt with the congregation all worshiping together at one time, contrasted by a desire to celebrate both worship styles distinctly, with a concern for how to best utilize our worship spaces.  Some members were in favor of keeping the status quo with the “A” options and some members preferred “B” options for two services.  Overall decreased worship attendance, volunteer support issues, lack of capability to live stream in Fellowship Hall and logistical challenges were expressed as challenges in the comments.  Cheryl proposed holding a vote on the plan, noting that our timing is short in order to prepare programming for the fall.  Discussion was held on whether to hold the vote when all Council members were not present, concluding with the note that those absent had sent their comments in advance. 

John moved to adopt option A from the Rostered Leaders recommendation (attached), with the schedule to begin on 9/3/23, and Kelly seconded. Further discussion was held and Pastor Krista gave input as to the timing of the proposed schedule.  John moved to amend the motion, to adopt option A from the Rostered Leaders recommendation (attached) with the schedule to begin on 9/17/23, and Kelly seconded the amended motion.
Motion carried 7-2. 

Short discussion was had about the plan and timing for announcement to the congregation and Kelly offered to author a draft of an email announcement from the Council. 

Agenda Item #6:  Labyrinth Team Update
John presented an update from the team working on the Heronemus memorial labyrinth project. The team has consulted with artist Lisa Moriarty of Paths of Peace (Stillwater, MN) on an accessible, concrete, “Tree of Life” design and is in the initial planning stages. 

Agenda Item #7: Rostered Leader Reports
Rob moved and Kelly seconded to approve the minutes of the May 16, 2023 council meeting and financial reports as presented. 

Discussion was held on a few items from the report.  Bonnie asked for more information on the service of Healing and Release mentioned in the report and Pastor Krista provided information and background that the service will center on release from emotions surrounding transition, such as the transition our church is currently experiencing.  There was discussion on reflections from Pride Sunday, which Pastor Krista and Deacon Heather reported had led to good, rich conversations with disciples.  Deacon Heather noted a reminder that she had asked for Council members to prepare questions as Bonnie and Paul plan to make site visits to inform Council’s future decision-making for Senior Christian Care ministry.
Motion carried 9-0. 

Kelly moved and Rob seconded to adjourn the meeting.  Motion carried 9-0.  The meeting was adjourned at 8:47 p.m. 



Council Minutes May 16, 2023

Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Council Meeting Minutes
May 16, 2023

Present: Megan Baxter, Rob Blount, Craig Collins, Bonnie Hare, Kelly Jirschele, Cheryl Martines, Steve McIntire, John Volkening
Staff: Pastor Krista Zimmerman, Pastor Paisley Le Roy, Pong Sayasane
Absent: Deacon Heather Feltman (continuing education); Suzanne Warner
Visitors: Paul Dayton, Brian Ferguson
Location: Ekstrom Hall
Meeting called to order at 6:35pm.
Council Secretary: Craig Collins

Rob opened the Council meeting with a prayer.

In lieu of devotions, Council members shared their appreciation and thanks to departing Council members, Craig Collins and Suzanne Warner.

Agenda Item: Pre-School Update
BLC Preschool Director, Pong Sayasane, provided Council with a review of the past year:

● All in all, this has been a wonderful year for the preschool. The kids have been great, they are eager to be here, and we have been able to re-introduce some special events that have contributed to boosting morale within our school community.
● Staffing continues to be a challenge. We have spent the year with a shortage of substitutes. It has only been the past two months that we have been able to recruit/retain two substitutes.
● We are losing two teachers for next year. Fortunately, we have the next several months to replace these individuals and our current teachers have been very adaptable.
● Enrollment looks good for the fall. We have a waiting list for all of our full day classes. We have openings in our partial day classes. This past year we have combined the three and four-year old partial day classes. It is possible that eventually we will recommend moving to all full day classes.
● We purchased a new washer and dryer this year. In addition, we are in the midst of replacing a number of tables and chairs.
● We continue to experience water seepage in and around our storage area in Ekstrom Hall, especially when it rains.
● This has been a good year for me personally and professionally.

Following Pong’s remarks, Rob thanked Pong for her work this year as Preschool Director and expressed his appreciation, on behalf of Council, for her commitment over the years to leading the preschool program.

Agenda Item: Senior Christian Care Ministry
Cheryl led the conversation on this topic and started the discussion by identifying five different scenarios, including the pluses and minuses of each scenario, regarding the addition of a Senior Christian Care ministry at Bethlehem:

● Rent the space to a local agency (i.e., Elderday Center) as a part of Kane County Senior Resources
● Be a part of ESSE as a supporting church and/or apply to be a new location
● Partnering with an existing program (e.g., Epiphany Lutheran Church in Elmhurst)
● Begin our own unique program
● Decide to put a “hold” on this ministry at this time for a variety of reasons (e.g., financial, too much for our congregation to take on; more planning needed; unexpected roadblocks)

Cheryl then reported that at the Executive Team meeting the preceding week Heather suggested that a possible next step in the process is to determine if we can acquire an adequate amount of “seed money” from members of the congregation to take care of a number of expenses (e.g., hiring a part-time director and some other staff, marketing, some equipment purchases) in the event that we ultimately decide to move forward with this ministry.

Several Council members expressed interest in moving forward with the implementation of this ministry as outlined in the proposal offered by Deacon Heather because there is a societal need and there appears to be support and excitement within the congregation to offer a daily care option for seniors within our congregation and surrounding community. Furthermore, it might at some point in the future provide BLC with an additional revenue stream. Several others expressed a preference for exploring a partnership with another agency with experience with this type of ministry or at least soliciting more information about each of the scenarios above before we move forward with seeking seed money within the congregation.

Following further discussion, there was consensus to seek more information from other Adult Day Care providers, possibly bringing in individuals from these programs to talk with Council, and not solicit seed money within the congregation until there is greater clarity and consensus around the best scenario to pursue.

Agenda Item: Fall Worship Times
Last summer, the Council voted to move from two Sunday services (8:30/10:45 am) to one service (9:30 am) followed by an education hour for children and adults. Worship services have also been held on the first, third, and fifth Saturdays of the month. In the next two months, Council will re-evaluate our weekend worship schedule. In order to prepare for this discussion, the Rostered leaders identified a number of questions that will need to be considered:

● Location: two services in the same space or in two different venues?
● Human Capital: How many volunteers will be needed each Sunday? Do we have sufficient volunteers?
● Tech Support: Will additional tech hours be needed to manage the tech demands of a second service?
● Livestreaming: Do we stream one or both services? Do we have the equipment to livestream in Fellowship Hall?
● Equipment: Do we need to upgrade the sound system in Fellowship Hall?
● David’s Responsibilities: Where does David put his focus? Preschool/Youth Music? Praise Team?
● Sunday School: What impact would two Sunday services have on Sunday School?
● Confirmation: What impact would two Sunday services have on Confirmation? Would we need to move Confirmation to later in the day on Sunday, to a week-day night, and/or reduce the number of sessions each month?
● Nursery: Do we offer nursery care during one or both services?

During the discussion, Council members highlighted additional questions/considerations to be reviewed prior to making a decision about our weekend worship schedule:

● What are we hoping to accomplish by adding a second Sunday service?
● What will the impact be on our Rostered staff and David?
● What new financial costs might we incur?
● How do we solicit feedback from the congregation before making this decision?
● What other information do we need to gather over and above what is outlined above? Where might the source of that information come from?

Rostered leaders will be asked to make a recommendation about the fall worship schedule once we have gathered the necessary information and sought feedback from the congregation. Pastor Krista intends to invite congregation feedback in the Mid-Week message. We need to make a decision about the fall worship schedule no later than the July Council meeting in order to allow adequate time to make preparations for the fall in the event we add an additional service on Sunday.

Agenda Item: Small Group Gatherings
Several small group gatherings have been held since the last Council meeting. Suzanne, Kelly, Craig, and Steve report that these meetings have been well received with some thoughtful sharing by BLC disciples. Kelly reported that the feedback she received centered on getting families more involved at Bethlehem. A summary of each of the other conversations is attached to the minutes along the format that Cheryl created and used at the first small group gathering held at Bonnie’s home the week after Easter. Suzanne used a similar format the next week.

Bonnie will be following up with those disciples who indicated an interest at the Congregation meeting in participating in a small group meeting this summer. Council members will continue to schedule these gatherings.

Agenda Item: RIC Process Update
At the last Council meeting there was consensus among Council members that the next logical step in exploring the RIC process was to put together a core team of BLC disciples who would carefully and thoughtfully develop a plan to determine Bethlehem’s readiness for this type of ministry initiative. Rob asked again for council volunteers willing to make recruiting calls for the exploratory RIC core team. Megan reported that she has reached out to one individual.

Pride Sunday will be celebrated on Sunday, June 11. Pastor Krista is organizing this worship service and recruiting volunteers to help with the planning.

Consent Agenda: April Minutes & March and April Financial Reports
Kelly moved, seconded by John, to approve the April minutes and financial reports as presented.
Motion carried 10-0.

Agenda Item: Call Team Update
John reported that the Call Team is ready to receive the names of candidates for the Lead Pastor position. To date, no names have been forwarded by the Synod to the Call Team for review.

Agenda Item: Narthex Painting
After consulting with Jim Kautz and Dori Collins, John requested permission from the Council to do some painting in the Narthex area to reduce the brightness contrast between that part of the Narthex that was involved in the 2019 renovation project and that part of the Narthex that was not touched. There was no objection and John will proceed with the painting project.

Kelly moved, seconded by John, to temporarily adjourn the meeting at 8:35pm. Without objection, Rob temporarily adjourned the meeting.

Rob reconvened the meeting at 8:37pm and welcomed new Council members, Paul Dayton and Brian Ferguson, who were elected at the Congregation meeting on May 7th to each serve a three-year term.

Cheryl moved, seconded by Kelly, to approve a new Executive Team:
Cheryl Martines – President
John Volkening – Vice President
Megan Baxter – Secretary
Bonnie Hare – Treasurer
Motion carried 10-0.
The entire 2023-2024 council will be installed during worship on June 18th.

Pastor Krista invited Council members to attend the next newcomer’s brunch on Sunday, July 9, following worship.

There being no further business, Cheryl called for a motion to adjourn. Kelly moved, seconded by Rob. Meeting adjourned at 8:50 pm.



Small Group Gathering 2023 Format (created by Cheryl Martines)

Opening Prayer
Please introduce yourself (name) and briefly state how you see God at work at Bethlehem.

Agenda Preview: 3 topics
Please give your thoughts and/or ideas. No right or wrong. Just gathering feedback at this point in time. No pressure to say anything – your presence here is participation. Thank you for coming.

Present State of BLC – We are Bethlehem.
1. Congregation goals **
2. Financial status.
3. In search of a new lead pastor.

Changing ELCA Church – We are in transition.
1. Launching Expansive Church!
2. Faith Formation

Hope for our future – Exploring new possibilities.
What are your hopes for Bethlehem?

Concluding remarks

Thank you again for your precious time. This valuable feedback will be shared with the entire council. There will be several other small gatherings occurring in the next few weeks and overall results will be the backdrop for future council discernment. If you think of anything else you would like to share, please do not wait for a gathering to do so! We appreciate your input at any time.

Closing Prayer:

Dear God,

As the work of the Spirit continues to grow and lead us, we thank you for your never-ending guidance in the work of the church, in our daily lives, and in our prayers to you. Thank you for allowing us to carve out a few moments in our busy lives to gather this day.

In your Son’s name,



**Congregation Goals
1. Redevelop our sense of community.
2. Increase discipleship engagement.
3. Invest in spiritual growth.
4. Grow our commitment to creation care.

Four Small Group Gathering Summaries
1. Small group gathering at Warner home: Sunday, April 23, 3:30-5:00 pm
o Suzanne / Craig facilitated from Council
o 9 invited, 7 attended (2 had last minute conflict)
o Followed format provided by Cheryl

How is God working in and through Bethlehem? (Note – this was a great first question!)
● Despite “dings and bruises” over the last several years, God is still present, His work continues through us.
● Bethlehem is home, can’t imagine being anywhere else. Love the worship and music.
● Seeing young dads caring for their children at church
● Recovering from pandemic slower than we’d like
● Lots of ups and downs, but BLC has been persistent.
● Kudos to David Lincoln – music, choir
● Excited about expansive church and being more outward focused. Reaching out helps us strengthen BLC internally.
● Livestream worship and virtual meetings make it possible for our homebound members to stay connected rather than drift away.

Conversation quickly went to increasing disciple engagement:
● Volunteering continues to be a struggle. How can we pull in younger people, young families?
● Signing up for events can be a challenge. Ex. Day Trippers. Event was on Friday Blast, but could not be found on the website.
● Is there a specific plan around engagement, and if so, what is it? Feels like there is pent-up energy for jumping back into ministry, but don’t know what the choices and possibilities are.
● Talked about how to extend invitation to engagement
o Personal asks are most effective
o Think ‘invite’ rather than ‘recruit’
o Allow people to grow at their own pace – be sensitive to where the person is on their journey – give them grace and space if they are not in a place to be able to engage in a ministry.
o Ask our new members how we can minister to THEM before we ask them where they want to volunteer
o Consider the possibility of a refreshed congregational survey / gifts inventory
o Identify people who are especially good at invitation and/or train leaders on invitation

Conversation around redeveloping sense of community
● Acknowledging/ announcing celebrations and life passages in worship can help build community. Ex: announcing births.
● Should we go back to name tags?
● Leverage FB posts (with permission!) to build community. Ex: Several in the group saw the BLC FB post of the students who were in school productions – now we can acknowledge those directly to the kids when we see them.
● Consistently post in the Daily Herald “Church Notes” for people who still read the paper.
● Don’t forget about the group of people who are not ready to come back for whatever reason. We should be reaching out to them proactively.

Other Feedback:
o Worship (one person):
o Request to return to two services. Feedback that current format (every 3 weeks contemporary) doesn’t fully engage either the disciples that prefer traditional or those that prefer contemporary. (We shared that Council is evaluating resources needed for adding back a 2nd service.)
o Preaching is strong!
o Can we take communion at the communion rail? It adds to the sacredness of the sacrament.
o Transparency and communication to the congregation:
o Positive feedback on more frequent financial reporting. Can we add a monthly summary for transparency and to keep everyone current?
o Quarterly report-out on congregation goals
o Would be a positive boost to the congregation to know the number of people who are joining worship via livestream.
o Monthly update on pastoral search
o Funeral communication out to congregation is too late – barrier to disciples making arrangements to attend and barrier to adequate luncheon preparations.
o Housekeeping – proofread communications

2. Small group gathering at McIntire home in Elburn: Sunday, April 30, 1-3 pm
● Steve facilitated
● 5 people attended (10 invited)
● The discussion was more freeform than following an agenda

1. Financial observations from the group:
● We have had a number of big givers that are no longer contributing due to death, moving, or a change of income. We have had a number of new members joining, but they are not contributing at the same rate. It is more indicative of the stage in their lives. Young families typically have less disposable income.
● There is a feeling of impending bigger financial shortages as the congregation ages. Feeling like the congregation still doesn’t understand the full scope of the situation.

2. Worship
● Streaming has taken away from the feeling of “church”. Lower investment in the church.
● A definite desire for more contemporary worship. Hybrid service is enjoyable, but it still feels like a traditional worship service with different instruments.
● Wondering about specific concerns for contemporary worship in the sanctuary. Is it the space that drives the service? With all the improvements made in the sanctuary should we really look at spending more in Fellowship? From a sound perspective, recent services in FH were held together with duct tape and prayer.

4. General observations
● We talked about why we think people come to worship in person.
o A desire for intentional spiritual growth
▪ The place where we want to raise our family to be kind, noble, and respectful.
o Sharing of communion – physically sharing the meal which cannot be done virtually
o Formation of connections – strong long-term connections that can only be formed in person.
● There was a question about a congregational care team that existed in the past, who to come to with concerns potentially about worship leaders, council, etc.

3. Small group gathering during Bethlehem Brothers meeting: Sunday, May 7, 2023 – 4:45pm
o Craig facilitated
o We met at the Tap House Grill in St. Charles for our monthly meeting
o As I best recollect, there were eleven men in attendance when it came to my part on the agenda.
o The format was different from the one that Cheryl used and the one that Suzanne and I used last month. Prior to the meeting Brian Warner shared that I was available to answer questions from those who had attended the Congregation meeting that morning or provide a brief overview of the meeting for those who were not able to attend. I did not ask the question, how is God working in and through Bethlehem? The focus was on the Congregation meeting.

Call Team Update
● I basically reiterated what Judy had shared at the Congregation meeting. No questions. One person shared some frustration that it has taken a long time to get to this stage in the call process.

Expansive Church Initiative
● I hit the headlines with our Expansive Church Initiative. Lots of questions; some admitted to being unaware of what Expansive Church was all about and one person admitted that what was shared today was different from what he had heard at the April forum. Fortunately, several members of the Expansive Church planning team were in attendance to help me answer questions and clear up misunderstandings. They also reiterated that this is “work in progress.”
● Why don’t we simply take the surplus amount over what we need to pay each month/year and make an additional principal payment to reduce our interest charges?
● Can we use the grant money for projects within our congregation?
● How much do we have to distribute and who might apply for the grants?
● What can the grants be used for?
● What is the process for applying for grants? How will we know that the grant money is used for the stated purpose?
● Is this something that we are going to do every year?
● How did we get the surplus funds for this year?
● I don’t think there were too many at the Tap House Grill today who attended the Adult Forum in April. Hence, many questions.

Reconciling in Christ Process
● I shared what Cheryl had shared at the Congregation meeting. No questions or what I perceived to be resistance; lots of mental processing. I encouraged those who were interested in joining the exploratory team to contact a Council member.

Senior Christian Care Ministry
● Again, I hit the highlights, thinking that most had not heard much about this potential ministry.
● We were running out of time so there was not much time for questions.

4. Small group gathering following Friday morning Bible Study: Friday, May 12 – 7:45am
o Craig facilitated
o We met in the Welcome Center
o Five men attended. Prior to the meeting I had shared that I was available to answer questions from those who had attended the Congregation meeting on May 7 or provide a brief overview of the meeting for those who were not able to attend. Same format as with the Bethlehem Brothers meeting.

Call Team Update
● I basically reiterated what Judy had shared at the Congregation meeting. A couple of the men were not aware of how the process works so I took the opportunity to hit the highlights.

Expansive Church Initiative
● Lots of question surrounding this topic; many similar to those asked at Bethlehem Brothers meeting. I don’t think any of these gentlemen attended the forum in April.
● Is the Expansive Church Initiative essentially the Building Fund that we have referenced in years past?
● Why did we change from a three-year capital campaign to a one-year effort?
● How are we going to let non-profits know that we have money to distribute?
● Would groups from Aurora and Elgin be considered or are we looking at funding groups from the Tri-Cities?
● Have we put a minimum and maximum on the amount of the grants?
● Where did this idea come from and how will we evaluate success?
● Does our current unified budget provide for any distribution of funds directly to other organizations?

Reconciling in Christ Process
● I shared what Cheryl had shared at the Congregation meeting. Not a lot of questions.
● We talked about how we might be more welcoming to a variety of different groups. One person asked if immigrants and/or recent migrant arrivals to the Chicago area might be a focus too.
● I encouraged those who were interested in joining the exploratory team to contact a Council member.

Senior Christian Care Ministry
● We ran out of time and I don’t get to this topic.

Council Minutes April 18, 2023

Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Council Meeting Minutes
April 18, 2023 

Present: Megan Baxter, Rob Blount, Craig Collins, Bonnie Hare, Kelly Jirschele, Cheryl Martines, Steve McIntire, Suzanne Warner, John Volkening   
Staff:  Pastor Krista Zimmerman, Deacon Heather Feltman
Absent:  Pastor Paisley LeRoy
Visitors:  None
Location:  Education Hall 

Meeting called to order at 6:36 pm.
Council Secretary:  Craig Collins
Craig opened the Council meeting with a prayer. 

Heather read a poem by Julian of Norwich, a 14th-century English mystic, anchoress, and writer who lived in Norwich, one of the largest and most important towns of medieval England.  Her name comes from the church where she was enclosed, St. Julian’s.  Following the reading of this poem, The Hazel Nut, Deacon Heather asked Council members to respond to the following questions:  What is God up to in your life? What does this poem provoke in you?  Council members paired up to share their responses to these questions and then came back together to report out to the entire group. 

Agenda Item: Music Ministry Update
David Lincoln, BLC Director of Worship and Music, was hired fifteen months ago and was invited to provide Council with an update on a variety of worship and music topics:

  • Building relationships with BLC disciples continues to be a priority 
  • Livestreaming continues to expand our worship outreach; the audio-visual team is working well together and producing a quality product for those viewing our Sunday worship service online. 
  • The Christmas and Easter season worship services were well received. 
  • The viability of Wednesday night music programming continues to be evaluated. 
  • With the resignation of Children’s Music Director, Monica Corbett, several months ago, a number of options are being reviewed, in consultation with Pastor Paisley, to involve children more fully in Sunday worship.  Before hiring a new director, it is important that we are clear what we want a new person to do when it comes to children and music. 
  • The option of hiring a part-time person to assist with a possible contemporary service is being explored. 
  • BLC Preschool students are participating in our Sunday worship service.  A possible BLC Music Festival is being considered. 
  • The cost of securing musicians for our worship services continues to be a challenge. 
  • Exploring what it will take to offer two Sunday services in the fall is underway.  Staffing issues, equipment upgrades, and physical space needs in Fellowship Hall in addition to the financial costs of two Sunday services will be reviewed.  The results of this work will be shared with Council later this spring. 

Agenda Item:  Finance Team Update
Jim Chrisler and Dennis Finney from the Finance Team attended the meeting to provide an update on BLC’s current financial situation.  They reported that BLC has received about 25% of projected weekly envelope giving by the end of the first three months of the calendar year.  They also reported that Expansive Church giving is on track at this point in the calendar year, and that we have achieved substantial utility savings this past year due to Deacon Heather’s decisions to take advantage of several cost containment strategies. 

The Finance Team’s email blast pertaining to the BLC budget prior to Easter received positive reviews from Council members.  These updates will continue throughout the year.   A quarterly budget report will be presented at the annual May meeting.

Agenda Item: Move Cash from Money Market to CD
It was the recommendation of the Finance Team to move $60,000 from building reserves to a bank CD not to exceed two years in maturity to capture a rising interest rate.  Kelly moved, seconded by Suzanne, to accept this recommendation.
Motion carried 10-0.  

Agenda Item:  RIC Follow-up Discussion
On April 16, the Sunday adult education forum was devoted to a presentation by Ashlei Buhrow, Director of Programming and Engagement at Reconciling Works in St. Paul, Minnesota, to discuss the Reconciling in Christ (RIC) process used by ELCA congregations to provide a welcoming, inclusive, and equitable environment for LGBTQIA+ individuals in the life of the church.  The work of Reconciling Works also involves efforts to bring about racial justice in our communities.  Currently 12% of the ELCA are RIC churches with a 125 % increase in interest over the past year.   

When we were preparing our Ministry Site Profile in December and January, a survey indicated over 55% of respondents thought Bethlehem is a welcoming place but that we could do better. The RIC journey is an option for pursuing this.  

Council members who were able to attend the forum reported that they were impressed with the speaker and her message, the full engagement of those who attended the forum, the sense of authentic curiosity in the room throughout the forum, and the positive feeling tones in the room as Ms. Buhrow was asked a series of questions about her work and that of her organization. 

There was consensus among Council members that the next logical step in exploring the RIC process was to put together a core team of BLC disciples who would carefully and thoughtfully develop a plan to determine Bethlehem’s readiness for this type of ministry initiative.  Our rostered leaders have indicated that they have been approached by several BLC disciples who have indicated an interest in pursuing this type of work.  These individuals would be candidates for this core team.  Following continued discussion, Rob indicated that he is seeking Council members who are willing to make recruiting calls to put together the exploratory RIC core team.    

Agenda Item:  Revised Goals
At the Council meeting in March, Cheryl presented congregation goals adopted last July for the remainder of 2022 through the first part of 2023.  She raised the question whether these goals should continue for the 2023/24 program year, be modified, or be replaced by new goals.  Suzanne Warner and Deacon Heather volunteered to review the goals and bring back a recommendation to the April Council meeting. 

The recommendation of Suzanne and Heather was to retain current congregation goals and provide more explanation surrounding each goal including specific examples of how we might make progress with these goals.  The recommended goal language is below: 

  • Redevelop our sense of community, both internal and external.  The relational fabric of our community has weakened over the course of the pandemic.  With this in mind, we are curious to learn what it means to be a welcoming church, invest in relationships, care for each other, and encourage discipleship engagement to fully live out our mission at Bethlehem. 
    • Examples:  small group gatherings, celebration events, intentional connection with disciples who continue to be absent, refreshing our relationships with area ministry partners, 60- day ministry updates communicated out to disciples
  • Increase discipleship engagement.  Extend the vitality of community and welcome by encouraging an increase in the gift of disciples’ time in ministry planning, leadership, and service. Staff/leadership will prioritize inviting our disciples into the many opportunities offered and seek to have disciples say ‘yes’ to one opportunity in the coming year that supports the mission of our congregation.  Giving priority to: 
    • Internal: Children and youth, worship support  
    • External: Expansive Church, FRVI, Homeless ministry, LSSI, World Relief (Refugee + Immigration) 
    • Research/Exploration: Reconciling in Christ journey (RIC) + Senior Christian Care  
  • Invest in spiritual growth.  We want to be a community whose faith is living and active, and one that challenges and transforms us.  We encourage Bethlehem disciples to partake in an experience that will help them actively grow in faith over the coming year. 
    • Examples:  worship participation, bible study, adult education classes, mentoring youth/children, service and outreach mission
  • Grow our commitment to creation care.  We will expand our stewardship of God’s creation as part of our discipleship.
    • Examples: composting; expanding our recycling practices; blessing outdoor worship, pets, plants; holding classes on climate catastrophe; building and utilizing garden beds; cleaning up the shores of the Fox River.

Suzanne and Heather also recommended that congregation goals no longer follow the calendar/budget year but follow the program ministry year (September-August). Goals would therefore be developed in the spring for adoption at the May congregation meeting.  This would provide that goals are in place before ministry planning begins for the subsequent program year.
Moved by Cheryl, second by Kelly, to adopt the goals as presented above.
Motion carried 10-0. 

Agenda Item:  Constitution Update
Last month, the Constitution Update Team presented an updated constitution that reflects all required and recommended language changes from the national ELCA.  There was one recommended change pertaining to Council membership that the team wanted further discussion among Council members. 

 The ELCA is recommending (not a required language change) that the voting membership of the Council consists of all pastors, deacons, the officers of the congregation, at least one youth, and at least one young adult (Congregation Council – C12.01).  The current BLC Constitution provides that “the voting membership of the Council members shall consist of the senior pastor, and no fewer than six, but not more than 21 members of the congregation.” The Constitution Update Team recommended that no changes to Council membership be made at this time for the following reasons: 

  • By both function and definition, there is an appropriate separation between rostered leaders and members of the Council.  The Council owns the mission and vision and is responsible for developing and evaluating the strategies supporting them. The staff, under the leadership of the Lead Pastor, are responsible for management of the ministries in place and for empowering and equipping lay leaders and disciples.  Having 25% of the Council made up of rostered leaders blurs this separation.   
  • The addition of rostered leaders as voting members can get problematic quickly: conflicts of interest can arise regarding budget decisions, salary adjustments, and new program initiatives. 
  • Current constitutional language does not preclude the Council from seeking young adults to serve on Council.  Current constitutional language provides great flexibility. 
  • The addition of a high school youth on Council might pose a recruiting challenge due to interest and availability and may give rise to some boundary issues for certain agenda topics. 
  • Potential changes in Council membership can be considered down the road after we make the required constitutional changes and a new Lead Pastor is on board. 

Several Council members indicated that they favored including pastors and Deacons as voting Council members due to the expertise and insight that current rostered staff can bring to Council deliberations. 

After reviewing and discussing the pluses and minuses of accepting the recommended language changes by the ELCA, it was moved by Cheryl, seconded by Bonnie, to maintain the current language pertaining to Council membership. 
Motion carried 8-2. 

Agenda Item:  Senior Christian Care Update
Since last fall, the Council has been discussing the possibility of starting a Senior Christian Care Ministry to be housed in Education Hall.  To move this conversation forward, Deacon Heather shared a detailed business plan for this ministry including a proposed budget.  Council members are now expected to examine the business plan and accompanying budget and send their questions to Deacon Heather prior to the May Council meeting and/or bring questions to the May Council meeting. 

There was discussion about the timeline of sharing some of the details of this ministry program with the congregation.  There was consensus among Council members that one slide at the congregation meeting on May 7 would be devoted to this topic and that future adult forums could be scheduled in the summer following a thorough review of the business plan and accompanying budget at the May Council meeting  

Agenda Item:  Small Group Meetings
Council members are engaging in small group meetings with Bethlehem disciples in April and May to share information about a variety of topics Council is considering (e.g., Senior Christian Care Ministry, Reconciliation in Christ process, BLC Church budget data, faith formation programming for youth) and to solicit feedback from meeting attendees about these topics and other topics of interest.  Cheryl and Bonnie held the first of these meetings the week of April 9 and reported a positive response from those who attended.  Suzanne and Craig will hold the next small group gathering on April 23.  Kelly is inviting BLC disciples to engage in “walk and talk” conversations over the next several weeks.  Steve is scheduling a gathering at the end of the month.  

Consent Agenda:  March Minutes & February and March Financial Reports
Megan moved, seconded by John, to approve the March minutes and financial reports as presented.
Motion carried 10-0. 

 Agenda Item: Rostered Leader Report
Pastor Krista updated information on the Metro Chicago Synod Assembly to be held at the Q Center in St. Charles. BLC is providing volunteers and worship space for the afternoon worship service.  She also shared that the youth mission trip has been canceled, but Pastor Paisley is looking at other summer options.   

Kelly moved, seconded by Steve, to adjourn the meeting at 9:30pm.  Without objection, Rob adjourned the meeting. 


Council Minutes March 21, 2023

Bethlehem Lutheran Church 
Council Meeting Minutes 
March 21, 2023

Present: Megan Baxter, Rob Blount, Craig Collins, Bonnie Hare, Kelly Jirschele, Cheryl Martines, Steve McIntire, Suzanne Warner, John Volkening   
Staff:  Pastor Krista Zimmerman, Pastor Paisley LeRoy, Deacon Heather Feltman
Absent:  None
Visitors:  None
Location:  Ekstrom Hall 

Meeting called to order at 6:38pm.
Council Secretary:  Craig Collins
Bonnie opened the Council meeting with a prayer. 

Agenda Item: New Council Members & Council Skill Mapping
The terms of two Council members – Suzanne Warner and Craig Collins – expire in May.  All other Council members will continue service for the next year.  In order to replace the two departing Council members, Pastor Krista put together a Council skill map designed to identify the gifts and talents of continuing and departing Council members.  Council members offered additional insights about the strengths of each Council member and Pastor Krista incorporated these attributes into the skill map.  The skill map will now be used by the Council to identify asset gaps that exist among individuals continuing on Council.
Rob encouraged Council members to forward him names of current congregation members who should be considered for Council membership.    

Agenda Item:  Reconciling in Christ (RIC) Process
During consideration of the Ministry Site Profile in January, there was discussion about the extent to which Bethlehem is a friendly and welcoming place to those seeking a church home.  There were comments that while we perceive ourselves to be friendly and welcoming, we “could do better.”

There are ELCA church-wide resources that can help congregations “do better” at inviting those marginalized groups (e.g., those who live in poverty, those who do not identify as white, those who identify as LGBTQIA+, those who are homeless, those who are dealing with mental illness, and those with developmental challenges) into our midst. 

One example of this is the Reconciling in Christ (RIC) Program. The purpose of the RIC Program is to ensure the welcome, inclusion, celebration, and advocacy for people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions; work for racial equity and commit to anti-racist work and support the national program.  Pastor Krista shared her experiences with the RIC process in her former congregation and highlighted several factors that contribute to successfully launching this process (e.g., Council becoming knowledgeable about the RIC process and supporting its exploration within the congregation, lay leadership, one-to-one visits early in the process).

There was considerable conversation regarding plans to focus on the RIC process during adult learning time on Sunday, April 16.  Pastor Krista has proposed that we invite a RIC staff member who could speak about the RIC Program.   Some Council members cautioned about moving the process forward too quickly without a well thought out plan.  The majority of Council members were of the opinion that it would be appropriate and overdue to start talking about the RIC process within the congregation if we are committed to becoming a more welcoming environment for those who have historically not been welcome within Lutheran congregations generally.  As a result of this discussion, Pastor Krista will continue plans to devote the adult forum on April 16 to what it means to be a welcoming congregation and how the RIC process might help us on this journey.  

Agenda Item: Vaccination Policy
BLC Preschool Director, Pong Sayasane, has requested clarification regarding the current COVID vaccination requirement for staff working in the BLC Preschool and whether or not it should apply to new staff hired this spring and fall.  Following discussion, there was consensus among Council members to continue to require that, as a condition of employment, newly hired preschool staff receive the COVID vaccine. 

Agenda Item:  Senior Christian Care Ministry
Deacon Heather continues to have conversations with disciples regarding the establishment of a BLC Senior Christian Care ministry. For the April Council meeting, Deacon Heather will share a business plan for this ministry, a projected start-up budget, and an implementation timeline. Six BLC disciples are willing to serve on a lay-lead team that will support the work of this program if launched. These individuals will be invited to the April Council meeting to share their support for this ministry.  

Agenda Item:  Constitution Review and Updating
A team of Bethlehem disciples – Megan Baxter, Craig Blomquist, Craig Collins, and Suzanne Warner – began work in January reviewing and updating the BLC Constitution.  The team is recommending that due to the complexity of the work, the constitution updating process continue over a two-year period.

Every three years the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America updates its Model Constitution for congregations.  It has been over 20 years since our Church Council has undertaken a constitution review to ensure that all required and recommended (i.e., suggested but not required) language changes have been incorporated into BLC Constitution.  Over the past two months the Constitution Update Team has made modifications to our existing constitution, incorporating all required and suggested language changes.  These changes were shared with the Council.

The ELCA is recommending (not a required language change) that voting membership of the Council consists of pastors, deacons, at least one youth, and at least one young adult (Congregation Council – C12.01).  Currently, the BLC Constitution provides that the “Congregation Council shall consist of the senior pastor, and no fewer than six, but not more than 21 members of the congregation.” After reviewing and discussing the recommended language change, the Constitution Update Team believes that the Council should decide on whether to change the language in the BLC Constitution pertaining to Council member composition.  This discussion will take place at the April meeting. 

Language changes to our constitution as required and/or recommended by the ELCA must be approved by the Metro Chicago Synod, the BLC Church Council, and at a meeting of the congregation.  The timeline for gaining Synod and Council approval would be this spring or summer and congregation approval no later than the January Congregation meeting. 

Agenda Item:  Call Team Update
John provided a brief update on the work of the Lead Pastor Call Team.  The Ministry Site Profile has been reviewed and submitted to the Metro Chicago Synod for review and comment.  Call Team members have completed anti-bias training as it relates to candidate selection and engagement (i.e., interviewing and interacting) and are in the midst of assessing the strengths and gifts of Call Team members.  The Call Team will meet now on a regular basis as candidates are identified by the Metro Chicago Synod.  

Agenda Item:  Congregation Goals
Cheryl presented a list of congregation goals that were adopted at the July Council meeting for the remainder of 2022 and for the first four months of 2023: 

  • Redeveloping our sense of community at BLC 
  • Increase volunteer participation at BLC 
  • Invest in spiritual growth 
  • Grow our commitment to creation care 

Cheryl shared that as we approach our May congregation meeting we can continue these goals for the 2023/2024 program year, modify these existing goals, and/or develop new goals and present these at the May meeting.  There was discussion about the need to add a goal related to mission and one specifically related to faith formation.  No action was taken, and Council members were encouraged to send their thoughts to Suzanne, Heather, and Cheryl prior to the April Council meeting so that a decision can be made that will determine how we approach this topic at the May congregation meeting. 

Agenda Item:  May Congregation Meeting
Rob shared that the May congregation meeting will be held on Sunday, May 7, following the 9:45am service.  He asked Council members to consider what agenda items should be considered on May 7.  Suzanne indicated that at the January congregation meeting we informed the congregation that Council would be holding small group meetings over the next several months to inform and engage the congregation in a number of important topics (e.g., Expansive Church initiative, Faith Formation Team update, Senior Care Ministry, financial update) and that it would be appropriate to report on those small group meetings at the upcoming congregation meeting.  Rob asked that Council members send potential topics to Suzanne who would then work with other Council members to put together an agenda for these small group meetings.

There was also a brief discussion about the possibility of highlighting a number of current ministries at the May congregation meeting as we did at the January congregation meeting.  Rob invited Council members to send him ideas on which ministries to highlight.    

Consent Agenda:  February Minutes & December, January, February Financial Reports 
Craig noted that our “envelope giving” at the end of February was running behind projections.  Heather shared that we also are spending less than anticipated at this point in the fiscal year and that when one factors in the preschool budget, we are running a slight overall budget surplus.  There was discussion on how to best communicate our current financial situation with the congregation.  Heather indicated that she would be consulting with the BLC Finance Team to consider putting out a brief financial update in the next week with a more detailed report going out to the congregation after we finalize first quarter (January, February, and March) results.      

Motion by Steve and seconded by John to accept the February minutes and December, January, and February financial reports.
Motion carried 10-0.

Kelly moved, seconded by John, to adjourn the meeting at 9:35pm.  Without objection, Rob adjourned the meeting.