The new year has come and gone and most of us, for better or for worse, have discovered which resolutions we’ll keep and which ones were just wishful thinking (almost all of mine fall in the latter category every year). I’d like to invite you to add a resolution to your list that should be a lot easier to keep than a gym schedule. I invite you to reshape the way you think about the ministry of St. Petri Lutheran Church. Give me a minute to explain what I’m proposing.
As a congregation, we are really, really good at special offerings, and that’s something to celebrate. When our youth are raising funds to pay for their mission trips, they don’t have to beg and plead. When the Council decided it was time to finally replace that worn out carpet in the Fellowship Hall, the committee in charge of overseeing the project had what we needed in just a few weeks. Even when you determined it was time for a major renovation of the parsonage, a project which required a significant investment of time and resources by a lot of St. Petri members, it was done in plenty of time for us to move in and feel cherished by this congregation (which we do - we’ve told churches around the synod that St. Petri is a model congregation when it comes to maintaining and managing a parsonage).
At the same time, our general operating budget at St. Petri has consistently been a source of concern for the Council over these past five years. In 2017, we’ve been in a deficit at the end of every month, even though our actual spending as a congregation has been below budget, finishing the year just over 96% of what we projected at the annual meeting last January. Financially, St. Petri runs a very tight ship which is well-managed and properly overseen by our Council and through an annual Audit Committee. For 2018, the Property and Trustees Committee is proposing a general budget which is actually lower than 2017, but includes salary raises for staff which are in line with the minimum guidelines established by the Northeastern Iowa Synod every year.
My proposal in relation to all this is quite simple: everything is special. It’s wonderful to be able to see our special gifts installing new carpet in the Fellowship Hall, but the Bible Study which meets in that Fellowship Hall is also special, right? How about the electricity which allows us to run the lights for social hour after worship every Sunday morning? The heat which keeps the building warm in the winter? The piano tuner who keeps our instruments sounding good all year round? The cleaning supplies our custodians use to keep the building looking nice every week? The copier which prints the weekly bulletin? The internet connection that helps us stay connected in a digital age? All these things are indeed a special part of the ministry of St. Petri Evangelical Lutheran Church, and without your support of the general operating fund, those special parts of who we are and what we do will be limited. Sure, fixing a toilet or making sure all the light fixtures have bulbs that work might not feel as special as sending a kid to Puerto Rico for a mission trip or building a new sign out front of the building, but if it’s part of what we do as a church, you know it’s special and it’s critical that we support it with our prayers and our offerings.
So that’s my proposal for a new resolution for you, members of St. Petri Lutheran Church: everything is special. I’m asking you to support the special work our church is doing in the Story City area with the sort of generosity you’ve given the other special offerings in the past. I’m asking you to help us move forward as a congregation in 2018 and unleash a bit more of the special potential this congregation has to be a force for God’s kingdom this year. I hope to do more of it myself, and I invite you to join me on that journey. God bless you all in this new year.
Yours in Christ,