Guest Blog Post
Mission Statement: Trinity Lutheran Church is a place to congregate, refresh the faithful, and reach out with Word and service to others through the Holy Gospel. —December 3, 1978
As my family would say, “Who would have thunk it?” 12 months ago we met as a congregation and voted for nearly $50,000 in property improvements including roof replacement, expansion of our sound system, and refinancing our mortgage. What grand plans we had for this year! Fast forward three months and it felt as if the world came to a stop. Shops were closed, we could no longer meet in person, we couldn’t gather with friends and family, we couldn’t share a meal all due to a pandemic caused by Coronavirus. Fear of the unknown and uncertainty were a guarantee. We feared for ourselves, our families and our church family, many who are in the most fragile of health groups. We had no idea how to do this (insert any “this”), nor how long it would last?
The first council meeting we had after the state “stay in place” order was so comforting and reassuring. Our first thoughts were of our congregational members – who needed what, who was connected with whom and how could we create networking to check on each other. We thought of individual gifts: Who had extra time, who would benefit from connecting, who was okay on their own with their own support system?
Our next thoughts were “How can we worship? What would this look like? How can we be safe?” Thanks to all of our congregational members and to Meggan who were willing to “try new things”, we were able to Facebook live and most soon learned to ZOOM which allowed us to fellowship! ! ! As Bishop Kuempel said, none of our pastoral leaders signed up to be televangelists but we learned and adapted. Small groups resumed through zoom, small family groups adopted one another, we even figured out how to celebrate communion in our homes. During the summer and fall months, we even figured out how to safely hold in person outdoor worship and small outdoor gatherings.
Last, but not least, we looked at options for financial stability during this tenuous time. We put projects on hold-temporarily. Thanks to the Cares Act and the lead of Treasurer, Lloyd Keller we made a commitment to keep our small staff employed and paid. We looked for other ways to reach out to congregational members to continue their donations and offering – we mailed envelopes to homes, we added on-line giving to our website as well as Pay Pal, we had drop off noisy offerings and your giving continued. We applied for and received several grants which have allowed us to continue in our missional endeavors. Finally, in December the refinancing happened, the speaker system was completed and the roof was scheduled for repair and replacement. Our Cares Act loan was forgiven and we ended December stronger financially than most years prior.
This is how our goals during the pandemic were formed and supported. To say things were uncertain, to say we were concerned, to say we were “in it together” was an understatement but our faith and commitment were strong.
As things settled in and we knew this would not be a short term issue, we looked forward to a new normal. Our Cluster developed it’s own COVID task force which I was honored to participate in. Again, the utmost concern for this group was safety for all members when and if we could reconvene in person. They helped adapt the synod guidelines for each of our unique buildings, staff and space. Trinity brought these back and formed their our own COVID Task force – I thank these folks for their ongoing commitment of implementing our current guidelines, Jeff Henderson, Sharon Jones, Randy Miller and Steve Ward.
Fast forward to now. We have just completed the season of Advent and Epiphany where we get to look forward. The vaccine is just starting to be administered in our community but we know it will be several more months before it will be available to everyone. Even then, many will choose to wait for herd immunity. We will continue to watch the numbers and exhibit caution, respect and consideration for those around us. As for Trinity, we remain committed to each other, to our mission and to our future. I am thankful for our Cluster and Synod who banded together in ways we could have never dreamed to help us through this time with online worship, ideas and expertise and community. I am thankful for this incredible and committed Council. We also owe Meggan a gratitude for her resilience, dedication, teaching, patience and ministry to our congregation. Without her, this could have been a very different year. Last, but not least, I am grateful for each of you, your gifts, your flexibility, and your community. We know that “church” does not mean a building or location. It has been a privilege to serve you.
Kim Mills, Congregational Council President