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From the Desk of the Chair
Council Updates
JANUARY 2021

Warmest salutations to our Unity family.

As Chairperson, I am privileged to be the primary communication conduit between you and Council!

This email represents the first instalment of a new monthly newsletter.  Through it I aim to keep all of you in the loop, whilst performing an additional administrative role which has too frequently fallen on the Pastor.

I hope you find it valuable, and I encourage all feedback.

The Annual General Meeting is fast approaching.

It is scheduled for Sunday, February 28.  It will take via place via Zoom shortly after the worship service – around 11:00.

 

Annual Reports are due by February 1, and may be submitted to Pastor Jeff, Jo-Ann or Dawson.

 

One important business item for the Annual Meeting is the appointment of new Council Members.  Our church constitution outlines the importance of having a full roster of 10 active council members at any time.  We currently have 5 members confirmed for the upcoming term; thank you to those who have chosen to serve in this way.  Without twisting anyone’s arm, I ask that each of you prayerfully consider if this role is for you.

On that topic, I wish to say THANK YOU to Don Zimmer for stepping up not only back into a position on Council in 2020, but into the role of Property Manager in 2021.  This transition will allow Dale time off to spend with his family, which I think we can all agree he has more than earned.


I won't even attempt to list all of the other volunteers and contributors to Unity's ministry - THANK YOU.

I recognize that some of you yearn to contribute more, but feel limited in some way.  Know that I am grateful for each of you, too.

I feel honoured to serve shoulder-to-shoulder with each of you in the noble pursuit of sharing God's love with our neighbours.

With the goal of fostering community and camaraderie, Council is proposing two events in the coming months:

a.) an Online Auction, possibly via Facebook, hopefully to take place in February

b.) an in-person Garage Sale + Bottle Drive on the church premises, hopefully in May (obviously pending COVID restrictions)

Based on the success of our past Talent Shows and Garage Sales, and the success of other local online auctions in the past year, we feel these are great opportunities to include many members of our congregation and the greater community.
 

If you are interested in contributing to these events in any way, or have ideas for other events, please contact Joan or Louise.

Thank you to each and every one of you.  Your dedication to the financial wellbeing of Unity Lutheran Church has our budget looking bright.  Despite the loss of most rental and fundraising income in 2020, our total budget contributions still came in at $115,000 last year.  I believe this is a testament to our shared passion for God’s mission in the lives of those in our community.

 

All of that said, our projected 2021 budget is shaping up as a deficit.  The good news is that we have yet to dip into our line of credit, and our mortgage is lower than ever.

Pastor Jeff’s Message for January 2020

 

Just before Christmas I was sitting on the couch reading one evening and I heard a popping sound near my face. It turns out the frame of my glasses gave way around one of the lenses, and spontaneously snapped apart. We quickly got out the crazy glue and fixed it as best we could. Thankfully, the frames were covered under warranty, and so I already have my replacement pair of glasses. I’m pretty careful with them, and haven’t been hit in the face recently (they asked me this before they sent my replacement pair!), the frames were just under so much tension that they suddenly gave way.

 

I shared on a recent Sunday that I considered calling the Bishop’s office in December to begin the procedure to initiate a medical leave due to stress. This was a warning sign to me that like my glasses, I was wound up under so much tension that I was close to snapping. After nine months of ministry of carrying the weight of the church on my shoulders, and with many more months to go, I realized that if we didn’t change course, I was not going to make it. I realize, as well, that no one on council or at Unity wanted or wants me to take a leave of absence due to stress, and so I decided the best course was to be candid with you.

 

So in the interest of my health and and our ministry together I have begun setting these boundaries moving forward:

  1. To work from home. Spending so much time in the church by myself has not been good for my mental health. I’m just as easily accessible from home as from the church. Pretty much all of my job can now be done from home. I have also accumulated many office administrative tasks over the years that aren’t directly related to my call as pastor. I am letting these things go: either they will be picked up by others, or they are things that can just be dropped.
  2. For Unity to invest in technology for worship. I have used much of my own computer hardware for ministry in these last months. We have also struggled with the connections between the sound in the church and the Zoom software. It’s time for us as a congregation to invest in the proper technology that we need for worship in our new digital age. It should be as simple as flicking a switch every week and not having troubleshoot or worry whether things will work or not. Thankfully the Alberta Government has a $5,000 grant to assist faith communities in the purchase of items necessary for online worship.
  3. To be clearer about who communicates what. I have been the primary spokesperson to you for the last nine months, but it’s not my job to communicate every congregational matter to you, nor to be the primary contact on every matter. I’m empowering our council to be clearer about communicating Unity’s financial status and other items of governance with you. We will also work as a council to better discern which jobs fall under the council or congregation’s mandate, and which ones are mine.
  4. To not burn out our many volunteers. Worship is still a communal task. It takes people in the church each week to make it happen, plus those at home as well. We need to make sure that our volunteers can share of their gifts without being overwhelmed and no one person taking on too much of the burden. We are going to attempt having a more informal service once a month that I will lead from home and we will use pre-recorded music, so that all of our volunteers have a chance to rest. The ELCIC bishops have prepared sermons for use during the season after Epiphany, and so you will hear from some of them, so that I also have time to catch up and not prepare a sermon every week.

 

I appreciate the many thanks I have received for my honesty and candour. I know that the work that I have done in these last months is very much appreciated. I also know that almost every Sunday after worship I am exhausted, and clearly I need to take care of myself.

 

The good news is that I believe that if we heed these warning signs and make some changes that we can avoid a worst case scenario. I also know that each of you, as individuals and families, are dealing with your own anxiety and stresses brought on by COVID. My hope is that each of us can bear a piece of our congregational stress, so that none of us bears too great a burden. As Paul writes to Galatians: “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (6:2). We do right by God and each other by sharing the burden together.

 

We still have many months to go before COVID is behind us, but I do trust that the Holy Spirit continues to descend into our midst during this chaotic time will lead us safely through.

 

I am grateful for your prayers for myself, and for Deanna and the boys, and for our continued ministry together.

 

Pastor Jeff

That about wraps it up for this month.

As always, if you have a suggestion or inquiry regarding Unity Council, it would be great to hear from you.

I can be reached at:
        mhtigers@gmail.com
        403.308.0243


Peace be with you,

       Dawson

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