I know, I seem a little off. On Sunday, December 2nd, we begin a new liturgical year. Every year, in the life of the church, we celebrate the life of Christ as told by one of the synoptic gospels — that is Matthew, Mark and Luke. The Gospel according to John is in a category of its own. This year, we enter into the story from Luke's perspective. Luke's Gospel is widely considered to be the most accessible, probably because it is written for a wider audience. Just as Matthew is focused on grounding the story within the Jewish narrative for Jewish-Christians of the day, Luke opens the story to gentiles — people who didn't know all about the Jewish traditions.We start this new year in the joyful anticipation of the birth of Christ. That's what the season of Advent is all about. Four weeks of waiting brings us right to the first of the three biggest celebrations of the Christian year: Christmas!
Your sister in Christ, Pr Jean
Over the two weeks we've been filling out Time & Talent slips, we've recorded about 110 hrs of volunteer work here at Bethlehem and in our community. Our support of outside organizations includes Family Promise, Washington School, MSUB Campus Ministry, connecting with local youth and ministry with travelers. Within the congregation, we've been working together to prepare the worship space, maintain the property, teach Christian education, clean our space, and rolling up our sleeves to figure out the budget. Well done, Bethlehem, we are indeed a small church with a big heart!
We recently received thank you(s) from the Kuwaa Mission, the Montana Synod and Freedom in Christ.
The Kuwaa Mission
"Thank you for your generous contribution of $20 for the work of the Kuwaa Mission...With you gracious assistance, men, women, and children throughout the Kuwaa Chiefdom are experiencing the love of God in a new way."
"I would like to express my appreciation to all of you for your consistent and generous Mission Support" - Sue Ost Synod Treasurer
Freedom in Christ
"Thank you for your support of Freedom in Christ Prision Minisry. Your faithful connection and commitment helps bring healing and hope to men at the Montana State Prison."
"We would like to thank all of you for the prayers and cards while Linda was in Rehab. She is home and doing good. Thanks again for the prayers and cards."
Al & Linda
"I would like to say thank you for everyone that sent cards came to see me and keeping me in your prayers while I had my surgery l am home and doing physical and speech therapy."
Thanks again, Gayle
Following the congregational meeting on Sunday, December 2nd will be the next meeting of the Budget Committee.
UPDATE (Dec 10, 2018): Click to download the PDF version of the Proposed 2019 Budget from the Dec 8, 2018 Budget Committee Meeting
Memo from Council President, Lynn Bulger
RE: Budget Committee Meeting on December 8, 2018
To: Bethlehem Lutheran Church members
In Attendance: Pr. Jean, Lynn Bulger (Council President), Darlene Fernelius (Treasurer), Margie Shea (Financial Secretary), Pat Gum (Council Member), Pr. Paul Hanson, Jan Harper, Connie Sider
A. Thank you to everyone who turned in a “pledge” card! There were 22 responses from the appeal letter that was sent out to 75 households prior to the December 2, 2018 Congregation Meeting. The cards were also available at the meeting. The majority of the responses were to maintain giving. There did seem to be some confusion about what exactly was being asked for. We were looking for amounts we could add or subtract to the 2018 donation amount to estimate what 2019 giving would be.
An example for clarification would be: Your current offering is $20 a week. If you felt like you could increase your giving to $35 a week, you would have filled out section A on the top line to increase weekly giving by $15 (x 52 weeks for $780 Annually). Another example is: Your current offering is $100 a month. If you felt like you could only give $75 a month in 2019, you would have filled out Section C using the bottom line to decrease monthly giving by $25 (x12 months for $300 Annually).
If you feel you need to change your amount or would like to complete a “pledge” card, please contact Margie Shea.
B. Attached is the proposed budget for 2019.
Explanation of Changes Made (changes made are denoted by an “*” in the far-right column):
- Pastor’s Salary, Pension, Retirement & Health Insurance amounts were supplied from Portico Benefit Services to reflect 2019 rates.
- Supply Pastor was bumped up from $1,050.00 to not only include vacation & sick days and Synod Assembly, but also 1 Sunday for Continuing Education and 2 Sundays for Christikon (Youth & Congregation).
- Insurance Expense/Liability Property was decreased by $200.00
- Vanco Charges were increased from $200.00 in 2018 to reflect more people using the electronic giving option.
- Benevolence to the Montana Synod was increased by $1,000.00 to account for the 2019 rate of 6% of Current Receipts and Loose Offerings.
Considerations regarding the Proposed Budget of $103,444.48:
- This Proposed Budget, as of December 8th, has not been voted on by the Council.
- Pr. Jean is current with the Salary Guidelines from Synod. Her status would be full-time to reflect her letter of call
- There is not a consensus that the proposed budget is reachable.
- The budget remains barebones as in the past few years. There will still be a need for in-kind giving. Major expenditures (such as new carpet in the Sanctuary, etc) will need to be brought forward to the congregation for approval/funding.
- A serious commitment is needed from the congregation in money, time and other resources; especially, if moving forward with Evangelism and/or alternative sources for income.
- The council and Pastor have healing work to do. Recommendations from the Montana Synod Consultation Team, include:
- working on healthy communications
- establishing “Best Practices” where needed
- re-examining Pr. Jean’s Letter of Call and making adjustments as needed to make it up-to-date
- What happens if we continue to have cash flow issues?
In nice round numbers (figuring 52 Sundays per year):
The budget of $103,444.48 breaks down to:
$2,000 per Sunday
On average, giving in 2018 was:
$1,700 per Sunday
To function in 2019 within budget*, we would need increased donations of:
$300 per Sunday
*Note: this assumes closing 2018 with a balanced budget.
C. Another generous $10,000 donation has been pledged to Bethlehem Lutheran Church for early 2019. This will absolutely help our bottom line, but cash flow will still need to be closely monitored.
Save the date for this important meeting! More details to follow.
Do you have something you would like highlighted in a 2018 year in review? Please contact Lynn B. with the information.
Click to download the PDF version of the Reports from Dec 2, 2018 Meeting
We are a liturgical church. This means we follow familiar patterns of prayer, readings and song. The word 'liturgy' means the work of the people. Worship is something we do together. We need you.
Please consider helping to set the table. The Altar Guild has a number of responsibilities. Essential they prepare the sanctuary for worship, setting the table, posting the hymns, adjusting banners and paraments for the season, and other duties as needed. For more information, please visit their page or talk to the person clearing the table after the service.
Circle times may change. We may want to combine the two study groups or move the Mary & Martha circle to the afternoon. Stay tuned.
More notes from the November meeting:
- December meetings feature a cookie exchange. The text study is based on "Fear Not - God is at work beyond our ability to imagine."
- We earned $1,659.60 through the Chili/Bake Sale and we sent out $1,100 to local charities. Also, we received donations of $350 after hosting funeral luncheons recently.
- Our Annual Women's Christmas Party will be held January 5th beginning 10:00a at Golden Corral.
- The next WELCA business meeting is January 27th @7:00p.
There will be a spaghetti feed and game night Dec. 8th at 6pm. Everyone is welcome to attend. Also, the group is planning to serve the Sunday meal in January 2019 for Family Promise.
Notes on the financials: In the newsletter, the “big 4” numbers are reported. A full copy of financials is available in the Congregation Notebook (located above the mail boxes). 1. Total Income is the reporting of all donations (including in-kind) & miscellaneous income for a particular month. Total Income includes any gifts that are given for a specific purpose (such as missions, memorials, flowers, etc.) 2. Total Expenses is expressed as a negative number as it shows all the bills that were paid that month. For some of these expenses, a special gift was given and these do not come out of our “Current Expenses.” 3. Net Income is the difference between the Total In- come and the Total Expenses. When the amount is a negative, there has not been enough money in to cover the items that need to be paid. 4. Cash Balance is the running total of Net Income. A negative amount does not mean the checking account is overdrawn; however, it does show a potential problem for the future. Currently, we are able to delay designated All Are Welcome funds to pay for general expenses. AAW funds are deposited to their own account as Income is available.
Because no one wants to go without at Christmas...we are providing gifts for two families this year. Tags with a desired gift item are available in the narthex on the "Ways to Get Involved Board"
Tags with a desired gift item are available in the narthex on the "Ways to Get Involved Board".
After taking a tag from the list, the item(s) will need to be wrapped with the tag attached and returned to church (old IHN/Family Promise area of basement) by Saturday, December 15th.
The latest to return will probably be noon on Sunday, December 16th as WELCA will need to prepare the packages for delivery to Family Services Inc.
Bethlehem's Core Identity
Welcome everyone to the love of God.
- Recognize and embrace our strengths as a Christ-centered community while seeking to meet our financial obligations, understanding that we are in the world but not of it.
- Seek to maintain our positive culture while also growing in cultural diversity, and broadening our reach to members of all ages.
- Increase transparency regarding the business side of being a church, increase communication, community ties and benevolence within and outside the congregation.
All Are Welcome
Christ has welcomed us, whoever we are. Because of this, we at Bethlehem Lutheran Church are glad to welcome you. None of the distinctions that divide our world apply here!
- young, old or in between;
- white, black, native, Hispanic, whatever your ancestry;
- married, single, divorced, a single parent, whatever your family of choice;
- rich, poor, middle class, employed or unemployed;
- a lifelong Christian, just now seeking faith, or not really sure;
- straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, questioning, however you identify;
- healthy of mind and body, living with mental illness, disabled or sick;
- struggling with addiction, in recovery, or if you love those who are;
- liberal, conservative, or ambivalent;
- homeless, a former convict, or in any way longing for acceptance.
At Bethlehem, we offer safety, love and the ministry of Word and Sacrament to everyone who seeks it. Come and be part of this welcome, as equal, as free, as a beloved child of God! All ARE welcome!