Council Highlights Sept 2019

Council Highlights

September 17, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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







Council Minutes Sept 2019

Council Minutes

September 17, 2019

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


Staff: Pastor Sarah, Deacon Heather, Pastor

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


Agenda Item #1: Guidelines for attending Council Meetings


Discussion:  Greg provided an overview of the proposed guidelines


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


Agenda Item #2: Open Discussion

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


Agenda Item #2: Associate Pastor Report

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

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

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

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

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


Agenda Item #3:  Coffee with Council

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

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


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


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

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

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


Agenda Item #4: Deacon Report

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


  • Family
  • Career
  • Money
  • Spiritually

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Agenda Item #5:  Financial Report

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

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


Follow-up Items:

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


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

            Made By:  Dee

            Second:  John

            Result: Passed


Follow-up Items:

Agenda Item #7:  Outreach/Hesed House update

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

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

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

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

Michelle: There is an opportunity to expand our role. 

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

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


Agenda Item #8:  Executive Session

Motion:  “Enter Executive Session”

Made By:  Rob

Second: Chad

Result: Passed.


Follow-up Items:

Agenda Item # 10: Adjourn Meeting

Motion:  “Exit Executive Session”

Made By:  Rob

Second: Chad

Result: Passed

Council Highlights August 2019

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


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


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


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


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


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


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



Council Minutes Aug 2019

Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Executive Team Meeting Minutes
Aug. 20th, 2019

Present: Greg Andrews, Judy Hanson, Michelle Kovar, Rob Blount, Chad Carlson, Craig Collins, Dee Johnson, Joe Boyle, Emily Palmer, John Volkening
Staff: Pastor Sarah, Deacon Heather
Meeting called to order at: 06:30 PM
Meeting closed at: 09:27 PM
Council Reporter: Craig Collins Dee Johnson

Agenda Item #1: FRVI Update (Paul Hough/Ingrid Nelson/Maggie Haroldson)
Discussion: According to the presentation by Paul, Ingrid, and Maggie FRVI has been around since 2009. BLC was one of the
founding organizations.and that effort was led by Pr. Mark Larson & Cindy Holler.
FRVI – 18 Institutions, including religious, civic, and organizations as NAMI, in Kane County. Funded by member organizations.
Non-political. Build relational, organize power, organize money.
Listen campaign at BLC. Two biggest issues at BLC: Mental Health & Affordable House.
FRVI – Working with Kane Co DA to affect changes in incarceration (change Mental Health prisoners.) Wrote curriculum for Crisis
Intervention for Mental Health for Law Enforcement in Kane Co.
Working with Crisis Stabilization Center with Mercy Hospital to provide an alternative to Kane County Jail as a location for Law
Enforcement Officers to bring persons with potential mental health issues.
Kane County State’s Attorney called out FRVI in his letter, announcing he would not run for re-election , as a group that has had a
lasting effect. Currently working on the opioid crisis and using a medical assisted treatment.
Another area of focus for FRVI is affordable housing. Despite a failed effort to obtain approval for Section VIII housing at the Campana in Batavia, more success came with Larkin project which is an Open Circles Community in Elgin with 48 units of housing being built in Elgin. Crisis Stabilization project is on hold due to a drop in Govt. reimbursement from $800 to $28. Meetings with Gov. Pritzker to up reimbursement to $900/day are in progress. Meeting with Mayor Lightfoot to work to support “Do not stand idly by”, a different way to look to guns and gun control. Working to change way Gun manufacturer produce guns, such as implementing fingerprint id. $1000 Grant was received from ELCA to support FRVI to support people in Mental Health crisis. Adrienne McCauley is coming to speak at an Adult Forum (Last Sunday in October.)
Action Items:

Agenda Item #2: Together Forward/Debt Reduction Campaign Update
Discussion: Pr. Sarah’s sermon was a lead in.
Core team is gathering with a kick off planned for this weekend and run through the end of October. Used James & Company in the past. Cost is $53K to run the campaign. Met in June for first meeting with James Co (John Clark). Bob Gehm, Michael Palmer, Heather, to set expectations. James Co did not reach out in advance to prepare. BLC ran with the proposal. Had more meetings. As the meetings progress, the feeling was that program that they were working from a manual (same as 3 years

Heather felt she was doing a lot of re-writes. Heather felt she could not articulate a ROI for Jame Co. In July brought core team
together and discussed whether the feel that James and Co was bringing value. Companies can have value to bring forth a strategy,
but Heather and Dee feel that they have already built a valuable strategy and invest in Michelle and Amy in lieu of continuing James
and Co. Spent about $26K to date. Will have a pot luck picnic ($300), Could save $12K-$13K based if the contract was not renewed.
Heather has had conversations around the church and has received positive response.

Craig asked for clarification about what they have not accomplished. Heather feels they do not have an overall plan that encompasses BLC, instead they are forming groups and meetings. Never could articulate the “Why” of this campaign.

Dee shared they provide structure and philosophy of incorporating many people. Very weak written communication and materials that Staff did not felt personalized for BLC.

Pr. Sarah questions whether the structure was positive. Each group was sent out to develop their own plans without a central purpose.

Dee felt that energy and mission at last meeting was much higher with the possibility of moving forward.

Michelle assisting with pledge cards, postcards, tracking, credit cards ~ 10 hrs/week over the next 2 ½ months.

Amy is supporting via graphics, web, publications, Social Media – 10 hrs/week over the next 2 ½ months.

A recommendation by Heather was made for $5K for each person to compensate for additional duties over the next 2 ½ months..

Encourage Council to attend events to be together. Wine and Cheese on Terrace, Picnic at Pottawatomie Park. Men’s Group.

Action Taken: Motion “Terminate contract with James Company”
1st: Dee
2nd: Joe
Result: Passed
Motion: “Compensate Michelle and Amy for additional work”
1st: John
Result: Tabled to be addressed by Exec Team.

Agenda Item #3: Pastor Support Update
Discussion: See information in Pr. Sarah report. 9 people contacted over the past two weeks. Most are available on weekends for
pulpit supply.
Pastor Bob Shaner may be available for pastoral care mid-week. Invite Bishop Gary to preach 2-3 weeks. With Sarah and Heather that
will get us to Advent.
Saturday will be Pastor Jean and Heather with Sarah 2x
Stipends to be determined.
Action Items:

Agenda Item #4: Leadership Huddle (9/5/19)
Discussion: Will be 9/5/19. Recommend by Intentional Impact (Nick). Have a recommend regular staff meeting agenda to discuss 1:1
meetings. Use the gathering to rearticulate the vision.
Huddle in small groups. Teach a skill (related to Welcome & Hospitality).
Action Items:

Agenda Item #5: Children’s Ministry Update
Discussion: Lay leaders are stepping up. “Back office” support will be provided through stipend-funded part-time work to assist the lay leaders.
Action Items:

Agenda Item #6: Hesed House
Discussion: Steve Grimm has been serving for the past 3 year. Feels that BLC cannot uphold the commitment. John Maisch takes a
day off to help buy groceries.
Dee: “What is the impact on Hesed House?” About 80 group and organization that are on a list and they should be filled. Do we have
anyone to take over coordinator?
Broader discussion will need to be held around how we move our outreach BLC in our Mercy and Justice outreach. Additional
discussions will be held.
Action Items:

Agenda Item #7: Adult Education Hour
Discussion: Craig: Goals of Staff/Council should be reflected in our Adult Forum. How can brand the conversation to the goals?
Action Items:

Agenda Item #8: Financial Update/Treasurer Report
Discussion: Robust end of July.
Preschool is open and operational.
Preliminary Receipt are ($6300) as of end of July.
Discussion on changing the way we are providing numbers to Congregation in weekly bulletin. Recommend to have Actual vs. Budget
Action Items:

Agenda Item #9: Building Update/Capital Campaign
63% of Gifts received ($450K is left outstanding.) $150K is coming from one person. Another letter has been sent. Budgeted for 10%
shrinkage. Expect to $124K shrinkage at end of the campaign. A final letter will be going out just before the end of the campaign.
Mortgage payments will begin in November. Currently paying only interest. $244K/yr in mortgage payments.
Anticipate construction will be completed on Sept. 30th. Punch list will still need to be completed in October.
Staff will back in to offices Sept. 9th.
After Labor Day, the main entrance will be closed (not until parking lot entrance is complete.) Still expected to be completed by End of
Sept. Elevator Aug. 26th, 3 days installed. Operational by Aug. 29th.
Hearing Loop will be installed in both the Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall thanks to generous donations from Lee Family foundation and Barb Vlack.
Action Items:

Agenda Item # 10: Planning Retreat
Discussion: Will be Thursday Aug. 23th. Start at 6:00PM. All staff will be there.
Review Goals –
Lay Leadership
Training 65 Lay Leaders
Develop an Council On-boarding
● Develop Sunday Morning classes to engage our Congregation
● Engage congregation to invite friends and family to BLC
Action Items:

Agenda Item #11: Call Committee Update
Craig : Interview is scheduled for one candidate. No other candidates at this time.
Action Items:

Agenda Item #12: July Minutes and June Financial
Action Taken:
Motion: “Approve July Minutes and June Finance Report”
1st: Rob
2nd: Chad
Result: Approved.

Agenda Item #14: Council Role
Discussion: Greg: Approaching our role in a difference to engage better with ministry teams.
How to engage the Congregation and have conversations with members of the congregation.
How do we formalize and engage.
Council should engage with Ministry teams whenever possible.
Action Items:

Agenda Item #14: Rostered Leader Compensation
Conclusion: Tabled
Action Items:

Agenda Item #14: Motion to adjourn
Action Taken:
Motion “Adjourn meeting”
1st: Emily
2nd: John
Result: Passed

Council Minutes July 2019

Bethlehem Lutheran Church Council Meeting Minutes
July 16, 2019

Present: Greg Andrews, Judy Hanson, Michelle Kovar, Rob Blount, Chad Carlson, Craig Collins, Dee Johnson, Joe Boyle, Emily Palmer,
John Volkening
Absent: Deacon Heather (Continuing Education)
Staff: Pastor Sarah

Meeting called to order at: 06:32 PM
Meeting closed at: 09:23 PM

Agenda Item #1: Discussion around Pastor Call
Action Items: Motion to Enter Executive Session:
Moved by: Greg
Second by: Rob
Decision: Approved
Motion to Exit Executive Session:
Moved by: Michelle
Second by: Dee
Decision: Approved

Agenda Item #:2 Pastor Sarah Report
Action Items:

Agenda Item #3: Sanctuary Seating and Improvements.
Discussion: Joshua provided a proposal of suggestions of improvements
Three areas:
● Sound – Installed 2004 – 2008 – Quote $60,000
○ Hearing loop – Current system used RF. Updated system would use coils in the floor/wall and utilize a person’s
hearing aid and hearing assistance devices. Proposed for both Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall.
○ Sanctuary is not conducive for Contemporary Service
● Lighting – Original to the Sanctuary. Bulbs burn out regularly and expensive to replace.
● Seating – Pews are original to the room. Pews are in good condition, but vinear is worn.
○ Many congregations are looking at flexible seating options.
● Mixed feelings and multiple comments about the chairs.
Sound Loop:
● Can installation be done in the Sanctuary during the construction?
● Can we get grants to help cover this?
● Where else could funding come from?
Action Items:

Agenda Item #6: Children’s Ministry
Discussion: Two options to continue Children’s Ministry:
● Option 1 – Hire a replacement
● Option 2 – Absorb the leadership in to lay leader with Rostered Leadership.
All grades, except one, have at least one teacher.
Pastor Sarah had a discussion with members of the Sunday School, some concerns were that lay leaders were not always clear in their role.
Feel that Sunday School is moving in the right direction
Concern about Wednesday night programming “KidQuest”. Eva spent a significant time preparing for Wednesday.
● Options for this year (a) No KidQuest, (b) two six weeks programs.
VBS – Will be reviewed later in the year
Family Fellowship – Will need to follow-up with Family Fellowship team.
Action Items:

Agenda Item #7: Council Goals/Priorities
Discussion: Last summer we set priorities and goals. They became guides for both Rostered Leadership and Council
How do we want to form goals for this year? Do we have a retreat? How long? How are we doing in Goals? Share our status and
message on how we are continuing to work towards our goals.
Joe will take the lead to plan a dinner/meeting with full council and staff.
Action Items:

Agenda Item #7: Care Ministry
Discussion: Report provided
● Launch of new Acute Care team.
● Will work with Pr. Sarah to continue visit homebound and hospital bound.
● Will find a Sunday to inform Congregation the service of the Ministry.
Action Items:

Agenda Item #9: Fall Programming/Coffee on the Lawn
● Fall Programming delayed.
● Coffee on the Lawn extended until mid-Sept.
● Sign-ups are extended through the Coffee on the Lawn
Action Items:

Agenda Item #10: Confirmation Program
● Continue on Sunday and Wednesday
Action Items:

Agenda Item #11: Staff Recognitions
Discussion: How can we thank the staff for their working?
Give the staff a weekend off? Postponed until further clarity on other potential options for staff recognition.
Jubilee weekend to honor people weekend?
Action Items:

Agenda Item #12: Staff Performance Reviews
Discussion: Staff performance reviews will be starting
● Memo will be sent out
● Template was provided and timeline.
● Pay raises will be dependent upon Reviews and are timed to Calendar year.
Action Items:

Agenda Item #13: Focus and Supplemental Compensation for Pastor Sarah
Action Items:

Agenda Item #14: Deacon’s Report
Discussion: Michelle will include Finance Committee minutes with Financial Report
● Finance Committee is working on reports to share with Congregations
Current Status
● Giving is down and expenses
● $94K Variance current versus actual.
● Some additional expenses
Can Heather provide a report of the current budget status and highlight items that larger areas of concern.
What is the purpose of the Finance Committee? Do we need to review their charter?
How can we better communicate decisions that were made in Council?
Create a “top points” of key council meeting discussions and send to Amy. Members of Council will volunteer.
Stewardship letter will be sent to Congregation based on Greg’s discussion.
Action Items:

Agenda Item #15: Building Update
Discussion: Request Heather to provide a current status of Building budget (both income and expenses).
● Construction is running on schedule (only Minor delays)
● Preschool is still on track to open Aug. 12th
● Building team is reporting the building budget is running under budget
● Praise for General Contractor and whole construction team for the professionalism.
● Front entrance will be the last area to be rebuilt.
Action Items:

Agenda Item #16: Debt Reduction Campaign
Discussion: Is continuing forward
● Focus toward a special event in October.
● Using James & Company again
● Involve as many people as possible to encourage involvement.
● Recruited team leaders
● Team leaders will meet in July and also begin to recruit their team.
● Debt reduction pledging in September/October. Event on Oct. 6th
● Core team: Dee, Michael Palmer, Sue Gehm, Brent Baxter, Sarah, Heather.
Action Items:

Agenda Item #17: LIne of Credit
Discussion: Heather has requested that a line of credit to ensure that any potential cash flow shortfall is covered..
Action Items:
Motion: “Approve application of Line of Credit of $100K. Access to Line of Credit will require Council approval prior to each use.”
Made by: Judy
Second: John
Result: Approved

Agenda Item #18: Thank yous
Discussion: Council and Staff recommend
Conclusion: None necessary at this time.
Action Items:

Agenda Item #19: Council Minutes – May 2019 & Financial April 2019/May 2019
Action Items: Motion to approve the May Council Minutes and April/May Financial Report
Move: Dee
Second: Rob
Result: Approved.

Agenda Item #20: Adjournment
Action Items: Motion to Adjourn
Move: Joe
Second: Judy
Result: Approved.