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Friday, December 11, 2009

 

My last senior pastor report to Trinity's Congregation Council

For my final report to the Congregation Council at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, I tried to summarize both some of the accomplishments during my nearly four years at Trinity as well as some of the "unfinished business" that I leave. Here is that report:

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Congregation Council Report, December, 2009, the Rev. Eric C. Shafer, Senior Pastor

In April of 2006, shortly after I arrived here at Trinity as your senior pastor, I shared “A Vision for Trinity Lutheran Church” with an “All Committee Night” in April of 2006. In that vision I spoke of this congregation’s many strengths and my hope that during my tenure as your senior pastor we would focus on leadership and discipleship. I am pleased to say that I believe we have focused on these areas over the last 3 ½ years and have much of which to be proud. We also have much more left to do, but that is the way it is and should be in ministry.

We have accomplished so much together. I am so proud of what we have done together for worship and education and service and outreach. Here are just some of those accomplishments:

•Saturday evening worship and Holy Communion at all weekend worship services. Plus the videotaping of Sunday sermons for our website and Advent Wednesday worship services.
•Wednesday evening FEAST activities, part of our overall increased commitment to serving both our own children and families and the poor in Lansdale.
•Opening our facilities to more community groups, including regular worship services for the Calling Mission Evangelical (Korean) Church. (And, I am very excited and pleased that we have just opened our facilities to be an area "Code Blue" shelter for homeless men on the coldest of nights!)
•Increases in adult education opportunities including Wednesday evening classes, almost daily Bible studies, “Second Saturday,” and our weekly e-mail Bible study.
•Many facilities improvements including new sound systems for the church and chapel, new landscaping in the front of the church, the completion and dedication of the columbarium and addition of the columbarium fountain. Plus renaming the Trinity Center as Hyson Hall.
•The addition of the Evangelical Lutheran Worship hymnal and the Bibles in the pews along with a more user-friendly bulletin and increased differentiation among our worship services. Plus new choirs for children and adults.
•A successful 125th anniversary celebration and the annual “Blessing of Animals.”
•Increased outreach activities from as close Manna on Main Street and Community Housing Services in Lansdale and the Patterson School in Philadelphia to as far as the Lutheran schools in Palestine plus new missionaries in Jerusalem and annual global mission guests. Plus the annual Outreach Fair and this year's Job Fair.
•Improved financial stewardship response, part of an overall stewardship strategy.
•Increases in lay ministry with the addition of lay worship assistants and a large increase in the number of lay eucharistic ministers. Plus many new lay ministries including the Green Team and Garden Club and Wednesday FEAST volunteers.
•New ministry with young adults and renewed student ministry and communication and women’s ministries.

Kris and I were delighted to welcome nearly 2,000 members and guests to our home, the parsonage, during these years.

However, for this, my final written council report as your senior pastor, I want to focus on some of the unfinished business of my ministry with you:

•Sunday morning worship and education schedule – we did much good work in trying to find a good three service/two SCS schedule for Sunday morning at Trinity. Our worship service surveys showed good support for such a change. This remains a piece of our “unfinished business.”
•Commitment to Gettysburg and Philadelphia Seminaries – for more than ten years, Trinity’s leaders have discussed making a major capital gift to Philadelphia and Gettysburg Seminaries. In June of 2006 this council accepted a goal of raising $300,000 for each seminary. Our efforts were postponed by the recent global economic downturn, but must not be forgotten. (As of this date, $3,500 has been given to LTSP and $1,000 to LTSG toward these goals).
•Pastoral staffing – I agreed with staff and council that, after Pastor Tiemeyer’s resignation as our visitation pastor, we should hold off on filling that position and move ahead to fill our Director for Student Ministries position instead. Mark Ristine’s fine work has shown the wisdom of that decision. That said, not having the visitation pastor position filled has left a hole in our ministries, one which the others of us on the pastoral staff have found difficult, if not impossible, to fill because of other ministry needs.
•Financial stewardship – With the help of the TradeWinds stewardship plan we have made great strides in all of our stewardship efforts and emphases here at Trinity and, even in the face of the global economic meltdown, have done well in our financial stewardship response. That said, we still have a long way to go. Many of our members have not been hurt by the current economy issues and can still improve their financial stewardship response. There are no easy answers here, just continued hard work.
•Capital needs – in addition to our gifts for our two seminaries, there are unmet capital needs that should be addressed over the next five – ten years. Among these are a new roof for the sanctuary and remodeling of the “old” education wing. As many of you know, we were close to beginning a capital campaign for these and the seminary needs when the economy began to suffer.

These are five major pieces of unfinished business from our time together in ministry. I list them not to suggest any specific action but to make sure they are not forgotten in the senior pastor transition.

I leave this call with much gratitude to staff and council and other colleagues in the leadership ministries of this congregation. Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in this time and place.

You will remain in my prayers. I will remember you always.

God bless and keep you – today and every day,

The Rev. Eric C. Shafer
Senior Pastor
December 1, 2009

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