Council Minutes January 16, 2024  

Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Council Meeting Minutes 
Date: January 16, 2024

Present: Cheryl Martines, John Volkening, Brian Ferguson, Bonnie Hare, Kelly Jirschele, Rob Blount, Steve McIntire, Paul Dayton
Absent: None
Staff: Pastor Krista Zimmerman, Deacon Heather Feltman
Guests: Amy Blackmore, David Lincoln
Meeting called to order at: 6:30 PM
Meeting closed at: 8:35 PM 
Council Reporter: Paul Dayton 

Opening Prayer: John Volkening
Devotion: Pastor Krista Zimmerman: Efficiency from “A Rhythm of Prayer” book 

Agenda Item #1: Welcome Amy Blackmore
Discussion:  Amy was asked to fill the vacant Council at large portion and accepted.
Action Taken: Vote
Motion: Move to accept Amy Blackmore to fill the open Council at Large position through May, effective immediately.
Made By: John Volkening Second: Kelly Jirschele Result:  Motion passed 9/0 

Agenda Item #2: Revised Worship and Education Schedule: 12 Sundays
All members were asked to advise their top three priorities with respect to Worship and Education. Then continue the discussion on the Worship and Education Schedule.
Discussion: Distilled summary presented: 

  • It is time to re-instate two services; one with Contemporary music & format and one with traditional music and format 
  • The change to two services is a trial, essentially for 12 Sundays; we need to solicit feedback and records notes / observations along the way so adjustments can be made 
  • Key goals of a change are: 1) provide two distinct services, 2) obtain feedback for Fall planning, 3) honor youth time, 4) use Fellowship Hall 
  • The trial will grant us opportunity to develop both Contemporary  and Traditional formats independently 
  • There remains some concern re attendance, but the hope is that providing two formats and times will be attractive to both existing members and potential new members; it is hoped that having two services will help grow BLC. 
  • The early time is unpopular, the 9:30 remains the “sweet” spot, a 10:45 slot seems appropriate, perhaps we should move 9:30 to 9:15 to allow more prep and transition time between the services 
  • There is a strong desire for a return to Fellowship Hall; using Fellowship Hall as is will provide concrete experience to the Congregation as to physical and audio deficits; however the expense to make it a quality space to worship is too high given our current fiscal situation (~$160K). 
  •  Use of the Sanctuary for both services will forgo the need to upgrade Fellowship Hall until we are fiscally in a position to do it properly, enhance continued Fellowship of disciples from both services as each group enters and leaves worship. 
  • It is important to minimize changes to the youth education as they need to understand their importance to the congregation and are already unsettled from recent changes. Keep their schedule intact. 
  • Rostered Leaders are ready and willing to adjust schedule to whatever decision we reach; they are also prepared to bring the 9:30 Contemporary service to 50 minutes and create more time that way between services for music / other prep and transition. 

Conclusion: Proceed with change to two services.
Action Taken: Vote
Motion: Move to change, in February 2024, to two Worship Services; a Contemporary Style Service will be at 9:15AM in the Sanctuary and a Traditional Style Service will be at 10:45AM in the Sanctuary. Further there will be two Adult Education sessions concurrent with the two Worship Services. Finally, the Youth Education, including Confirmation, will be at 10:45AM.
Made By: Paul Dayton Second: Rob Blount Result:  Discussion 1st, then amendment to motion, then vote on amended motion.
Discussion: on start time of Praise Service 

  • allows more time for choir and for baptisms, communion, setup 
  • families ½ hr between may be a slight issue (prepare teachers and families) 

– teachers / mentors also coming from worship and need time 

 – can also use time to get them together and them break out into groups 

  • time for rostered leaders to drop in 
  • 30 minutes difference; families drop off right away and need to have people to handle them 
  • all are assuming that kids will actually be at the 9:15 service; but not seeing children in worship prior to sunday school 
  • rostered leaders keep tight schedule (tight on time); David also helps with this 
  • Contemporary may be less than an hour 
  • need to observe what happens in trial period 
  • enlist kids to help out in between 
  • overall change – less is more; reason to keep 9:30 time slot; people are tired of this discussion; almost all other churches in area start at 9:30 

Action Taken: Vote
Motion: Move to amend the existing motion on Worship Service and Education to change the 9:15AM Contemporary Service and the concurrent Adult Education to 9:30AM.
Made By: Amy Blackmore Second: Cheryl Martines Result: Motion passed 9/0/1
Next we agreed to vote on the Amended motion which now reads
Motion: Move to change, in February 2024, to two Worship Services; a Contemporary Style Service will be at 9:30AM in the Sanctuary and a Traditional Style Service will be at 10:45AM in the Sanctuary. Further there will be two Adult Education sessions concurrent with the two Worship Services. Finally, the Youth Education, including Confirmation, will be at 10:45AM.
Made By: Paul Dayton Second: Rob Blount Result:  Motion passed 9/1/0
Note: Timing and method of disclosure of this decision will be reviewed at the Council Exec meeting of January 18, 2024. 

Agenda Item #3: Constitution update
Online forum was held on January 10th.Communication will go into the Weekly and the next Council Corner on January 19 and January 26. We will vote on revision of phase one at the Annual Meeting on Sunday January 28.
Action Taken: None required

Agenda Item #4: Annual Meeting
The 1st forum on Sunday 1/14 had good attendance. Questions centered around our mission of invite and nurture vs. budget numbers. One concern was the reduction in contribution to the Synod. There will be two additional forums, Wednesday 1/17 on zoom, and Sunday 1/21 at 10:45.
Action Taken: None required

Agenda Item #5: MSP Review
Discussion: Two parts (documents) that have been revised. Feedback given – 
The 7 reflections were will worded and the time the team has put into this is appreciated.
There was concern as to the accuracy of the numbers in the MSP, the references, the clarity of the MSP goals, observation that emphasis on youth and family should be expanded, need to clearly note that RIC process started prior to Pr. Paisley leaving, we should omit reference to “transition”, and the skill set with respect to “Administration” should be reviewed and clarified.
Conclusion: Deacon Heather will review and adjust the numbers as needed; John will make suggested revision and re-submit to Council Exec, then Full Council. 
Action Taken: Tabled 

Agenda Item #6: consent agenda & rostered leader report
Discussion:  None
Action Taken: Vote
Motion: Move to approve the 1/9 Council Minutes and the Rostered Leader report
Made By: Steve McIntire Second: John Volkening Result: passed 9/0/1 

Agenda Item #5: Adjourn meeting 
Action Taken:  Vote
Motion: Motion to adjourn” 
Made By:  Steve McIntire Second: Kelly Jirschele Result: Passed 10/0/0 


Addendum: Monday January 22 – MSP Review – all electronic via e-mail:
Referring to the documents submitted by John Volkening on January 22, 2024 at 5:43 AM:
Final MSP 2024
Seven Reflections

Motion: “I move that we approve the updated MSP documents as attached.”
Made by: Pastor Krista Zimmerman
Second: Paul Dayton
Motion passed 10/0 


Council Minutes December 12, 2023

Bethlehem Lutheran Church 
Council Meeting Minutes 
DEC. 12, 2023  

Present: Rob Blount, Bonnie Hare, Cheryl Martines, Kelly Jirschele, Paul Dayton
Absent: John Volkening, Steve McIntire, Brian Ferguson, Megan Baxter
Staff: Deacon Heather Feltman, Pastor Krista Zimmerman 
Guests:  Dennis Finney, Jim Chrisler, Amy Blackmore (Finance Team) 

Meeting called to order at: 6:35 pm 
Meeting closed at: 9:15  pm 
Council Reporter: Cheryl Martines 

Opening Prayer:  Paul Dayton
Devotion:  Cheryl Martines reviewed a Faith + Leadership article featuring an interview with Cody Sanders entitled “Attending to Emotions in Times of Change”.   
Follow-up discussion: Future devotions are at the discretion of the council member with the option of using  “Dwelling in the Word” format.   

Agenda Item #1: Debrief the 12/3 and 12/10 Coffee with the Council sessions.     

Discussion: Council members provided their perspectives on the feedback received from disciples.  A common thread agreed on having 2 worship services at some point in 2024.  More communication to the congregation will be needed prior to the annual meeting regarding the Faith Formation program impact on selecting worship service times.  With the focus on youth; need to look at the “sweet spot” time of 9:30am to attract new members, hire a youth director as soon as possible – maybe before a lead pastor.   RLs will look at options for adult education.  

Handout of the latest version of the Constitution.  Suggestions/discussions from the 12/10 forum were passed onto the Constitution team for review.  Council members asked to read and prepare for the January forums.     

Conclusion: We need more discussion regarding the implementation of the trial period of 2 Sunday services. More discussion with the Director of Music to come.  Continue feedback conversations.    

Action Taken:  Tabled  

Agenda Item #2: COVID Vaccination Policy review 

Discussion: The preschool is looking to hire new teachers as it expands this fall.  Asking for a policy change to eliminate COVID proof of vaccination.  Looking at the present state of hospital protocol, many previous requirements in our area have been adjusted.  COVID has evolved to a place of personal risk vs. community risk.  All other vaccinations as previously required will remain.   

Conclusion: Faith in the preschool staff to keep our children safe. 

Action Taken: Vote
Motion: Motion to remove the COVID vaccination requirement for all new BLC hires. 
Made By: Rob Blount
Second: Bonnie Hare
Result: passed 6-0   

Agenda Item #3: 2024 Draft Budget  

Discussion: The Finance team discussed each cost center of the draft budget document.  November financial numbers were included; the December numbers to come; thus adjustments will be seen at the January council meeting.  Council members verified that the BLC priorities were present in the draft.  Questions centered around the decrease in benevolence to the synod, reserve fund use to balance the budget this year, and future implications.  DH noted that expenses were under budget for 2023 and the preschool is financially solid.  Budget draft reflects competitive salaries for new hires.  A stewardship letter will be sent out to the congregation.   

Conclusion: The final draft will be available for approval at the next council meeting (January 9, 2024.) 

Action Taken:  None  

Agenda Item #4: SNAPS – Celebrate the good news. 

Discussion: Congregation attendance and discernment at the last 2 forums; DH writing and delivering an awesome sermon in one day; music festival; Expansive Church kids choice (food, bikes, coats); confirmation shopping for Toys for Tots; Megan Baxter special talents and time on council.   

Conclusion: BLC is blessed.  We will continue this recognition practice. 

Action Taken:  None  

Agenda Item #5: Consent Agenda 

Action Taken: Vote 
Motion: Motion to approve the financials as presented and the minutes of the November 14, 2023 council meeting.
Made By: Rob Blount
Second: Kelly Jirschele
Result: Passed 6-0 

Agenda Item #6: Rostered Leader Report 

Discussion: Good news update – Met our goal of supporting kids (for LSSI) – all the tags are taken.  To date, we have 52 gift cards for Hesed and Lazarus House.  Received more feedback from the RIC team.   

Agenda Item #7:  Executive Session 

Discussion:  Thank you notes to be written by council members to BLC disciples for their faithful work in 2023.  PK/DH provided a list – PK to form a sign-up document.  Council goal to send out all notes before the end of the year. 

Discussion:  Accept the resignation of Megan Baxter; elect a new secretary to complete the term; name possible replacements to serve until May 2024 with the option to continue one more year.   

Action Taken:  Vote
Motion:  To accept the resignation of Megan Baxter and elect Paul Dayton as secretary until May
Made By:  Rob Blount
Second:  Kelly Jirschele
Passed: 5-0-1 (abstain) 

Discussion:  Staff Year-End Bonuses:  Looking at the recommendations from DH for staff positions, having only 2 rostered leaders, and spending out account # 007-62120 in the amount of $4500, discernment called for a revised motion.   

Action Taken:  Vote
Motion:  To approve the following amounts per individual as named – to total $4500.  
Jesus – $500
Nelly –  $250
Melody – $500
Leslie – $250
Laura – $250
David – $500
Deacon Heather – $1250
Pastor Krista – $1000
Made By:  Cheryl Martines
Second:  Kelly Jirschele
Passed:  4-0-2 (abstain) 

Agenda Item #7: Adjourn meeting 

Action Taken:
Motion: “Motion to adjourn” 
Made By: Rob Blount
Second: Kelly Jirschele 


Council Minutes November 14, 2023

Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Council Meeting Minutes
November 14, 2023

Present: Megan Baxter, Rob Blount, Paul Dayton, Brian Ferguson, Bonnie Hare, Kelly Jirschele, Cheryl Martines, Steve McIntire, John Volkening
Staff: Pastor Krista Zimmerman, Deacon Heather Feltman, David Lincoln
Absent: None
Visitors: Craig Collins
Location: Ekstrom Hall
Council Secretary: Megan Baxter

Cheryl welcomed everyone and called the meeting to order at 6:34 p.m.

Opening prayers were made by Rob.

Megan led devotions with a “Living Lutheran” blog article on atonement, being at one with God and with one another, with a chance for review and silent reflection.

Agenda Item #1: Budget and Ministry Priorities Planning
The purpose of this agenda item was to discuss options for staffing models moving forward, and options for worship plans for 2024. Members discussed that we are in a time of transition and we need to have a plan for how we are going to pivot. The goal was outlined that we will need to end up with a summary with priorities for both what staffing and worship schedule will look like to give to the Finance Team for budget planning for December meetings. Members began with a discussion conceptually of the priorities suggested to the call team from the candidate that were brought forward to the congregation on Sunday at the forum. The biggest outlier is a contemporary praise service, the cost of musicians may mean it is prohibitive to hire for a full praise band each week. Discussion was had about bringing in other disciples to offer musical gifts/talents or just moving forward with the understanding that it may be a partial complement of musicians each week, while noting that BLC is used to a certain level of professionalism in their music. Discussion began on some budgetary concerns such as impact of the severance payment and a draft budget that would include a single lead pastor/head of staff and director of children, youth, and family. Cheryl suggested and with consensus the Council moved to agenda item #2 to discuss the synod recommendations and the direction BLC might move as a church before coming back to item 1 to discuss budget concerns.

Agenda Item #2: Synod Recommendations
Council members discussed and discerned regarding Synod recommendations for moving forward with a new MSP, for what the timeline and options for reconstituting the call team would be, and for possible engagement with Kaleidoscope Institute. It was shared that most if not all of the call team is willing to continue to serve, so it was the consensus of Council members for the team to continue, with the first step of revising the MSP as quickly as possible. Cheryl shared information learned from the Synod about Kaleidoscope Institute, consultants who would come to assist as a consultant with transition management, vision/goal setting, structures and processes. The consultants are pastors who are also experienced in anti-racism/lgbtqia+ inclusivity work, which could be useful as we move forward with RIC. The consultation would move forward in two stages, 1) an interview with rostered leaders and executive team members, and 2) next steps determined after the outcome of the interviews. The cost for utilizing the services of the consultants is $2,000.00, of which $1,000.00 would be paid by the Synod. Council members discussed that this outside perspective would be helpful for our next steps, and very beneficial that half of the fee would be paid for by the Synod, while noting that usually consultant engagement is not a flat fee for open-ended services and that we may need more information before signing-on. Cheryl will follow-up with Pr. Sunitha at the Synod for next steps in exploring engagement with Kaleidoscope Institute.

Kelly moved and Rob seconded to accept the Synod’s recommendation to explore engagement with Kaleidoscope Institute.

Motion carried 10-0.

Agenda Item #1, Revisited:
Discussion shifted back to agenda item #1 for vision of staff structure moving forward. Council members had lengthy discussion of the pros and cons of moving forward with a single “lead” or head of staff pastor, and not moving forward with attempting to fill the opening for an associate pastor, but instead hiring a director for children, youth, and family ministries. Each council member weighed in, with points relating to consistency and turnover of one or the other position, the need to revitalize youth and family ministry, congregational input on this priority, and that our size and budget may not support the need for an associate at this time. It was shared that “pastor” responsibilities are always at the forefront and may take precedence vs. a dedicated children, youth, and family director would have that ministry always as their priority. Other disciples share they wanted to make sure that we were making the right investment and that it would be a statement of commitment where we utilize our budgetary funds to not move to fill the associate pastor role, comments in response related to this not necessarily having to be a long-term decision, but one that is the right decision for now.

Rob moved and John seconded to proceed with generating a job description and budgeting to employ a Director of Children, Youth, and Family Ministries for 2024.

Motion carried 9-1.

Discussion continued on worship structure for 2024 and whether BLC should change from an every-other week traditional/contemporary mix to every week having traditional and contemporary services in their own spaces, at their own times. Members reflected on different aspects of the change, including whether this change would be embraced by the Congregation if it does not look the same each week due to budget. Questions were raised to David regarding set up of the praise team, including could the praise team handle every other week, with the alternate weeks being filled by other means, such as pre-recorded music with live singers. David indicated there are concerns about how worshipful a pre-recorded service would be, in addition to more pressing concerns that our current licensing would not allow for us to utilize rehearsal or performance tracks, so there would be additional licensing fees and the need for an in-ear monitoring system for the singers. Discussion was had about the impact on the rostered leaders, and the possibility of removing the Saturday service. Discussion came to a consensus about the attendance at Saturday service not supporting continuation. Rostered leaders indicated they would be able to support two Sunday services. Brief discussion was had about the style of liturgy, with consensus that the rostered leaders and David would determine style components/proper liturgical elements, with any input as necessary from Council, if we made the change. The rostered leaders made a proposal of a traditional service in the Sanctuary at 8:00 a.m. followed by a 9:30 contemporary service in Fellowship Hall, while keeping Sunday School at 10:45-11:45, with the option of 2 adult education hours, one after the first service, and the second during Sunday School, with either both being lay-lead or the preacher at the second service could also lead service, allowing the other rostered leader to lead both adult education hours. The rostered leaders proposed starting this schedule the first Sunday in Lent with Saturday eliminated as of December 16th.

Kelly moved and Steve seconded to eliminate Saturday service after December 16th service, and starting February 18th, the Sunday after Ash Wednesday, to develop a weekly contemporary service at 9:30 a.m. in fellowship hall, to move traditional service to 8:00 a.m. in the Sanctuary, to keep faith formation consistent through the end of the programming year and for the adult education schedule to be determined.

Motion carried 10-0.

Follow-up discussion was had regarding communication to the congregation. The rostered leaders will craft a mid-week message and a Saturday communication, along with Saturday attendees on Council reaching out directly to regular attendees to notify them of the change. In addition, this would be addressed at Coffee with Council on December 3rd.

Agenda Item #3: Constitution Update Team
Craig Collins, of the Constitution Update Team, presented information regarding the recommended changes which are required by ELCA model constitution that will bring our constitution into agreement/conformity with model constitution, with no changes to the bylaws and a proposal for a phase 2 for bylaw updating. Craig indicated that a clean copy of the amended constitution, of which a draft was presented at last month’s meeting, had been attached for review to this month’s minutes, along with a proposed schedule for roll-out to the congregation, for vote at the January meeting. The team recommends two adult forums, one in person and one via Zoom.

Rob moved and Paul seconded to approve the amended Constitution to be presented to the congregation for a vote of acceptance at the January 28, 2024 annual meeting.

Motion carried 10-0.

Communication will go out to the congregation with adult forum information with the proposed documents attached.

Agenda Item #4: Debrief Sunday Forum and Future Outreach Planning
Council members debriefed and reflected on the Sunday forum. Members noted there were a variety of responses, it was a very emotional time, some noting it went as smoothly as could have, while other responses have been more mixed. Members noted some disciples need time and space to express their feelings and others wanted support and resources. For follow-up, Cheryl suggested that each council member attend those meetings of groups of disciples that they already regularly attend, and invite feedback, with the council member listening and bringing comments and suggestions back to council. A spreadsheet was attached to the minutes for members to note the dates of attendance and feedback for future review and follow-up, as needed.

Agenda Item #5: Consent Agenda
Brian moved and Bonnie seconded to approve the minutes of the October 17, 2023 council meeting and financial reports as presented.

Motion carried 10-0.

Agenda Item #6: Rostered Leaders’ Report
The Rostered Leaders’ Report was reviewed and one item was highlighted which was the proposed plan for another Service of Healing and Release for Thursday, December 14th at 7 p.m.

Cheryl moved and Kelly seconded to adjourn the meeting. Motion carried 10-0. The meeting was adjourned at 9:10 p.m.

Council Minutes October 17, 2023

Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Council Meeting Minutes
October 17, 2023

Present: Megan Baxter, Rob Blount, Kelly Jirschele, Cheryl Martines, Steve McIntire, John Volkening

Staff: Pastor Krista Zimmerman, Pastor Paisley LeRoy
Absent: Brian Ferguson, Paul Dayton, Bonnie Hare, Deacon Heather Feltman

Visitors: Dennis Finney, Amy Blackmore, Jim Chrisler, Craig Blomquist, Suzanne Warner

Location: Ekstrom Hall
Council Secretary: Megan Baxter
Cheryl welcomed everyone and called the meeting to order at 6:36 p.m. Opening prayers were made by Pastor Krista.
John brought cake and Minister Appreciation Month was celebrated.

Devotions in the style of “Dwelling in the Word” were led by John. Devotions continued to focus on a version of 1 Peter 4:10-11. The verses were read twice, reflected upon in pairs, followed by each partner sharing each other’s reflections with the group.

Agenda Item #1: Staff Update – Report by David Lincoln, presented by Pastor Paisley This agenda item was held later in the meeting, see below.

Agenda Item #2: Finance Team – Confirm Priorities and ERC

Dennis Finney, Amy Blackmore, and Jim Chrisler were present on behalf of the Finance Team to discuss confirming Council priorities or any changes for the upcoming year to prepare for budget scenario planning. Discussion was held on ministry priorities, and general consensus was reached to remain with the ministry priorities as set last year. The Finance Team presented information on the Employee Retention Credit, this is a government program where funds may be available as a credit due to retaining employees during the pandemic. Finance Team members discussed the different philosophies regarding applying for the credit, citing that there was a real impact of the pandemic on our operations, we maintained staff, and this does compensate for a real loss, while noting they went through a discernment process over the propriety of applying and receiving the funds. It was noted that other ELCA churches have been applying. Information was presented on the engagement letter and that because applications to this program are expected to be scrutinized, the firm proposed would prepare all documentation necessary should there be an audit. While not unanimous, the Finance Team recommended signing the engagement letter.

Kelly moved, and John seconded to adopt the recommendation of the Finance Team to move forward with ERC engagement letter

Motion carried 6-1.

Agenda Item #3: Constitution Update Team

Megan presented information about the status of the constitutional update process and Craig Blomquist noting that the proposed updated constitution was received back from the Synod. All required changes to include model constitutional language were approved and two recommended changes were suggested by the Synod. The first would be a change from “Senior Pastor” pastor to “Lead Pastor. As our MSP and call committee documents reference “Lead Pastor”, the Constitution Update Team recommended adopting the suggested change. The Constitution Update Team recommended holding on the other suggested change, to delineate which of the January or May congregational meetings is our “annual meeting”, as it was recommended and not required, and the references in the document to those meetings are contained in the Bylaws only, which are set for review and update in Phase 2 of the constitutional update process. Council gave consensus for the Constitutional Update Team recommendations. At the November Council meeting of a clean copy of the constitution will be presented by the Team for approval to forward for a vote at the January 28, 2024 congregational meeting. The Constitution Update Team recommended and Council consented to holding a December 10th in-person forum and a January 10th Zoom forum to apprise the congregation about the update process and proposed amended document, which will be sent out/available to the congregation in advance.

Agenda Item #4: Senior Care Ministry

Council members and rostered leaders proposed names for persons who would be contacted to potentially serve on a Senior Christian Care Task Force, as discussed at the September meeting.

Agenda Item #5: *Snaps*

Council members shared some good things that have been going on to celebrate our joys, such as the Sunday worship lead by youth, the upcoming confirmation trip with 14 confirmands attending, 3 new member families joining, and the Synod indicating they will hold their Synod assembly church service again at BLC next year due to their positive experience this year.

Agenda Item #6: Consent Agenda
Kelly moved and John seconded to approve the minutes of the September 19, 2023 council meeting and financial reports as presented. Motion carried 7-0.

Agenda Item #1, revisited: Staff Update – Report by David Lincoln, presented by Pastor Paisley

To accommodate visitors, this agenda item was held from earlier in the meeting. Pastor Paisley presented a report from David Lincoln on his work with worship and music ministries. Click here for the report.

Agenda Item #7: Rostered Leaders’ Report

The Rostered Leaders’ Report was reviewed and one item was highlighted which was the proposed plan for Christmas Eve services. The rostered leaders and David are proposing to add back in a 10:30 service to the plan presented at last month’s meetings with no objections by Council.

Executive Session:

At 8:30 p.m., Rob moved and Kelly seconded to enter into executive session. Motion carried 7-0. Executive session concluded at 8:52 p.m.


Steve moved and Rob seconded to adjourn the meeting. Motion carried 7-0. The meeting was adjourned at 8:53 p.m.

Council Minutes September 19, 2023

Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Council Meeting Minutes
September 19, 2023

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

Cheryl welcomed everyone and called the meeting to order at 6:32 p.m.

Opening prayers were made by Kelly. Devotions in the style of “Dwelling in the Word” were led by Kelly. Devotions continued to focus on a version of 1 Peter 4:10-11. The verses were read twice, reflected upon in pairs, followed by each partner sharing each other’s reflections with the group.

Agenda Item #1: Staff Update: Chris Johnson Chris Johnson was unable to be present for the meeting so the Council looks forward to an update at a later date.

Agenda Item #2: Finance Team – Budget Process 2023-2024 Deacon Heather presented an outline of the finance budget planning process that will carry-on through the fall and culminate in a vote on the budget at the January 28, 2024 congregational meeting. In October the Finance Team will come back to Council; this is a complementary relationship where Council is responsible for ministry priorities and strategy so in October/November, Council will look to affirm ministry priorities through an evaluation to determine would we keep the same goals as last year? Should we adapt our goals? And what is the fiscal impact of our choices? Council will also look to affirm the staffing plan and review and assess budget assumptions which will be based off of the giving trends historically for December. Deacon Heather related this is the 9th budget she has prepared so she has a lot of context to work from; she also shared that people who estimate their giving are approximately 2% ahead of schedule, and Deacon Heather has a method for analysis for those who do not estimate. The Finance Team will present a draft budget for Council to review and with a motion to adopt for vote at the January 28, 2024 meeting, with budget forums two Sundays with a Wednesday in between prior to the meeting. Deacon Heather will roll-out another 60-day check-in status report via email to the congregation around the end of September, beginning of October. Then there will be a process for new estimates of giving and a stewardship campaign at the beginning of October, with possibilities for a kick-off sermon, theme and calendar.

Agenda Item #3: Reconciling in Christ Core Team Update Megan presented the update that a Reconciling in Christ Core Team has formed from lay members of the congregation. The following disciples have agreed to serve:

Chad Jordahl—Team Lead
Lauren Cieslinski
Ellen Chrisler
Jon Cooper
Sue Gehm
Maggie Haroldson
Suzanne Heronemus

Megan shared that the first meeting of the RIC Core Team is scheduled for September 20, 2023.

Agenda Item #4: Senior Care Ministry Options for the Senior Christian Care Ministry were reviewed and the Council is in agreement that if we are going to move forward, this will be a BLC initiative, with possibly a consultant, but not a partnership with any existing entity, like ESSE. Therefore, the Council discussed, at Deacon Heather’s suggestion, the creation of a task force to expand upon the business plan already in place and solidify operational details; this would be a sub-team of the Finance Team. Council members discussed that there is a lot of interest in the congregation, but we need to “prepare the soil”, do simulations, have concrete details worked out, not just a vision/perception of how it will work. There also needs to be care taken to align the timeline with the possibility of a new lead pastor, with an acknowledgment that this is not in the Ministry Site Profile, so we need to create a support system so it can be launched without friction with any potential new lead pastor. Council discussed this will be a deliberate process, with consideration for budget impact. Deacon Heather has some names of people she would consider asking for the task force, and Cheryl also asked all Council members to cast the net wide and come back to the next meeting with names of prospective task force members. Council concluded discussion by indicating a mutual agreement for moving forward with a social model on our own plan, with the task force to develop detailed benchmarks, process flow, etc., to best prepare.

Agenda Item #5: *Snaps* – Rally Day Ministry Fair and Expansive Church Megan shared a few words on some good things that have been going on to celebrate our joys. The Rally Day Ministry Fair that Pastor Paisley conceptualized was a huge success, great turnout and some new faces participated which was great. Additionally, Expansive Church has been getting some great press coverage and the launch has been very successful and we are anticipating more great things to come from the program.

Agenda Item #6: Consent Agenda Rob moved and Steve seconded to approve the minutes of the August 15, 2023 council meeting and financial reports as presented.

Motion carried 9-0.

Agenda Item #7: Rostered Leaders’ Report The Rostered Leaders’ Report was reviewed and one item was highlighted which was the proposed plan for Christmas Eve services. The rostered leaders and David are proposing a plan to reduce to three services, because Christmas Eve is on a Sunday, so there will be a 4th Advent service that morning at 9:30 a.m. The new times would be 4:00, 6:00, and 8:00 p.m.; with the 4:00 p.m. covering the type of service (more family oriented) that the 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. covered previously and with the 8:00 p.m. covering the same type of service as the 10:30 p.m. (candlelight). Further planning will go into the format of each service and having the times set helps the rostered leaders and David plan best. Council members discussed the reasoning with the rostered leaders and have no objections as long as the purpose and format for each service is clearly communicated to the congregation.

Adjournment: Kelly moved and John seconded to adjourn the meeting. Motion carried 9-0. The meeting was adjourned at 8:16 p.m.

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.