Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ,
With coffee mugs in our hands, we began this week as a church, gathered around the altar table. As fresh bread was broken and wine was poured, we shared in communion with each other and with God. That the wine was poured in common cups (how more common can you get then the mug that you drink coffee in?) was a clear reminder that in Jesus: God has removed all the barriers between holy and secular; God desires to claim all of our lives with his mercy and love; God invites us to respond with all that we have not only around the table in the sanctuary but around each table that we find ourselves at each day of our lives.
Making such connections is important for our spiritual lives to grow - to strengthen our faith - to empassion our response.
Following our Eucharistic experience in worship, we gathered as a church for our Annual Meeting. After a soup-lunch (prepared/served by our youth) and fellowship, we prayerfully considered where God is calling St. James to be in mission over the coming year. Questions were asked and answers were given regarding St. James' Mission Budget. Following prayer, a Mission Budget in deficit was adopted UNANIMOUSLY. It was a bold moment of faith - that what we do together is too important to cut. Our pledge/repledge time has been extended to February 15th. In the next eleven days, we will need together to gather remaining pledges otherwise the kind of ministry that we have dreamt together (one which places importance on education and worship and pastoral care and outreach and youth and fellowship) is in danger. Should the congregation not support the mission financially, the mission will need to be scaled back with drastic results.
Much has been written over the past three months about all the good things that are happening at St. James. Indeed there is new life as healing of old wounds is ocurring. For the first time in over a decade, our worship attendance is increasing. A positive energy can be experienced on Sundays and during the week. People are inviting neighbors and comfort meals are sharing Jesus' love beyond our doors. There is a sense of new focus and purpose. This weekend, the Council and Mission Stewards will be meeting together in order to dream dreams and shape the way that we organize and lead transformation. There is much work to do and God is giving the strength and the excitement to carry it out.
But time is running out. If the congregation does not respond by the 15th, then instead of dreaming and leading us into new exciting areas that will increase faith in our children, youth, and selves - the Council will be forced with hard and unpleasant decisions.
The potential remains for us to work together to address this challenge - BUT IT WILL TAKE EVERYONE --- IT WILL TAKE YOU.
We are asking everyone to consider just three things during this time of pledge/repledge:
- Use Simply Giving or your bank's auto pay as your method of giving. (More infomation?)
- Everything is now in the mission budget (mortgage, education fees (we are no longer charging children and confirmation students to learn about God's love for them), etc.)
- It costs around $120 per household per month to do our mission. (During this time of recession many are out of work and so there is need of the extra support from those who are able to sustain mission.)
If you would like to repledge/pledge right now - click here.
One more thing - in an already long email - please pray. During this critical time, pray that together we might be generous enough to meet this challenge. Pray that Council and Mission Stewards might be inspired this weekend as they meet on retreat. Pray that our mission might grow - not shrink - during this time when it is more critical than ever for the love of God in Jesus to be made known --- to literally be pouring into everyone's cup.
The Rev. Walt Lichtenberger, S.T.M.
St. James Lutheran - Burnsville, MN
cell phone: (952) 836-8588
emergency pastoral care hotline: (651) 354-1883