We hear a lot in the news about “fake news”. These are stories that look like real reporting, but actually are made up or misreported. We all understand how harmful fake news can be for political discourse among citizens. If we don’t have the facts, how can we have intelligent discussion and make wise decisions? We can’t. In the church we sometimes deal with “fake news” too. We don’t call it that, but sometimes, for various reasons, rumors can start that aren’t based on the facts. In this article, I’m going to address a number of rumors that have come my way over the last few months.
1. The front door is always locked. What’s going on? The doors are open during normal office hours and during group activities (youth group, meetings, etc) when more than one person is in the building. After a couple of incidents where people looking for help attempted (unsuccessfully) to intimidate staff, I decided to implement a simple security procedure. Keep the door locked if you’re the only person here. We now have a doorbell. Simply ring the bell and someone will open the door. If we don’t know the person at the door, then the person here alone makes a decision of how to handle - let in, talk to outside, refuse entry, etc.
2. We’re buying metal folding chairs for the new sanctuary. There will be a middle section of chairs, but these will be high quality wooden or metal chairs (not folding) that are used in numerous sanctuaries. They are durable and attractive and will not easily break.
3. The current sanctuary will be torn down once the new building is up. This has not been decided yet. A group of interested lay people are preparing ideas for continued use. The building committee has set the parameters that any proposal must have a purpose compatible with our mission and be self-funding. Any proposal would be voted on by the appropriate decision making body.
4. Once the stained glass is removed, there will be nothing but holes in the wall and the old sanctuary will be condemned. Regular windows are available at reasonable cost. The Trustees will not allow a building without windows to stand on our property.
5. We aren’t paying our apportionments. In 2014 we paid 75% of our apportionments due to limited funds. Since then we have paid 100% in both 2015 and 2016. As of this writing, we are current on our 2017 apportionments.
6. We had to borrow from the building fund to pay our bills. In 2014 we did incur a debt to the Building Fund. This has been gradually reduced, with payments made from the General Fund. This summer, for cash flow reasons, some contributions were not transferred right away to the Building Fund. This transfer has been made, leaving only the old debt from 2014 remaining. Our goal is to completely eliminate this debt before bringing the new building before the congregation for a final vote.
7. We’d be far behind our fundraising goal if it hadn’t been for that large bequest. Our initial fundraising goal was met, after subtracting out the bequest from the Johnson Estate.
Thank you for caring about the well-being of our church. I’m hopeful that these responses will put to rest any “fake news” you may have encountered and allow you to base your opinions on the facts. If you have further questions or concerns, please see me. My door is always open for conversation.
Many blessings, Pastor Eric
As we start the fall season, I am happy to introduce two people who are joining our staff. Michael Lund Ziegler has accepted the position of Music Minister and Tina Johnson, one of our church members, has accepted the position of Administrative Assistant.
Michael previously served as Music Minister several years ago. He brings a wealth of experience to his position. He is an Orchestra Director at Ripon College and the President and Co-Founder of Music for the Sake of Music, a summer community music program in Green Bay. He was also recently hired as Instrumental Music Director at Saint John the Baptist School in Howard.
Michael believes that music is integral to Christian worship. “We need look no farther than the Psalms of David for our evidence,” he says. “Whether the music has words or not, or even if it’s within or outside to context of a worship service, I believe music to be one of God's unique ways of both showing us and helping us find His greater truth. It is an aural and experiential representation of His great mystery.”
Michael looks forward to developing our music program. “I am a firm believer that everyone is a musician. In rejoining many of you and coming to others for the first time, it is my goal to find a musical place for everyone. If you are someone that has even occasionally wondered what it would be like to sing in the choir, or play in the praise team or the bell choir, or you have some other musical idea, please don't hesitate to reach out. We are all musicians, we just might not believe it yet.”
Michael is married to Melissa and they have a baby daughter Abigail. They live in Green Bay. I welcome Michael to his new position and look forward to the many musical and leadership abilities he brings to our congregation.
Tina Johnson has started as our Administrative Assistant. Tina has done administrative work for La Force, Inc. and brings with her creativity, organizational abilities, and people skills. She looks forward to her new position. “I'm excited to be serving our congregation and working with Pastor Eric as we watch our church grow into a new future,” says Tina. I welcome Tina as she brings her gifts to the work of our church.
Cheri Knutson has faithfully served as Administrative Assistant for many years, and I thank her as she moves on to new ventures. “I have very much enjoyed the 12 years I spent serving as the administrative assistant at SUMC,” says Cheri. “Thank you all for your love and support. Please give Tina encouragement, support, and understanding as she learns all that is involved in being your secretary.”
We all owe Cheri a debt of gratitude for her many years of service. Please join me in thanking her for her contributions to the smooth functioning of our church.
Lastly, we are still looking for an accompanist. If you know of anyone interested, or have networking connections, please let us know.
See you in church, Pastor Eric