Council Minutes Nov 2019

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

Absent:  ,

Staff: Pastor Sarah

Meeting called to order at: 06:31 PM

Meeting closed at: 09:34 PM

Follow-up Items:

Agenda Item #1:  Associate Pastor Report

 

Discussion:

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

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

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

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

 

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #2: Deacon Report

Discussion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

 

 

Agenda Item #3: Financial Report/Budget Planning

Discussion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

 

Agenda Item #4: Troop 13 Update

Discussion:

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

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

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

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

Three Fire Council confirms that the Troop is insured

Troop 13 is three times larger than all other troops

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

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

Recommendation:

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

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

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

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

 

Agenda Item #7: Ministry Team Updates

Discussion:

John : Provided recommendation.

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

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

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

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote
  •  

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

            Made By:  Dee

            Second:  Rob

            Result: Passed

Follow-up Items:

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

Discussion:

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

 

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

            Made By: Rob  

            Second:  Joe

            Result: Passed

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #7: Adjourn Council Meeting

Discussion:

Conclusion:

Action Taken:

  • None
  • Tabled
  • Vote

Motion:  “Motion to adjourn”

            Made By:  Rob

            Second:  John

            Result: Passed

 

Council Highlights Nov 2019

Council Highlights

November 19, 2019

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

 

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

 

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

Recommendation and plan:

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Council Highlights Oct 2019

Council Highlights

October 15, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Council Minutes Oct 2019

Council Minutes

October 15, 2019

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

Absent: Chad Carlson

Staff: Pastor Sarah, Deacon Heather

Meeting called to order at: 06:37 PM

Meeting closed at: 8:55 PM

Council Reporter: Dee Johnson

Open Forum:

Discussion:  None.

Follow-up Items:

 

Agenda Item #1:  Associate Pastor Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Agenda Item #2: Deacon Report

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

Suggestions:

Go basic to basic

Shift from formative to participatory spirituality

LIsten

Translate

Experiment

Share

Deep hunger for relationships with God.

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

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

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

Annual Ministry Appeals will be going next week.

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

Memorial Report – Undesignated is ~ $13,000.

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

Heather – Can we also use funds around outreach?

 

Agenda Item #3: Financial Report

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

Craig: How is our the budget showing a YTD deficit

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

 

Agenda Item #4: Approve September Minutes and August Financial

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

Made By:  Dee

Second:  John

Result: Passed

 

Agenda Item #5: Council – Ministry Team Update

Discussion: 

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

 

Agenda Item #6: Council Goal Update

Discussion: 

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

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

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

John asked “are there committees to lead?”

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

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

 

Agenda Item #7: Boy Scout Update and Discussion

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

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

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

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

Imdentity: Only covered until March 2020.

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

 

Agenda Item #8: Adjourn Council Meeting

Motion:  “Motion to adjourn”

Made By:  Joe

Second:  Rob

Result: Passed