Notes from the President — July 6, 2011

OPEN COUNCIL MEETING 7/14

 

The July 14, 2011 7:00 PM Council meeting is open to church members and will be held in the sanctuary.  This will be a regular council meeting that has been streamlined of all but the most essential issues.  At this council meeting, Pastor Paul Lutze, Assistant to the Bishop, will introduce the appointed Interim Pastor to Shepherd of the Hills.

 

In the agenda under congregational feedback, you will be able to ask questions and express opinions to the appointed Interim Pastor, Pastor Lutze and the council.  This is not a congregational meeting.

 

After member questions, Council will discuss the proposed Interim Contract.  Council will vote on accepting the contract and extending the contract to the appointed Interim Pastor.

 

Notes from the President — June 28, 2011

MORTGAGE  REFINANCING SIGNED     At the 2011 Annual Congregational Meeting, the congregation voted to approve refinancing for Shepherd of the Hills with the provision that the members be notified when the details were settled.  The refinancing papers were signed on June 21, 2011 by the President and Secretary of the church [Laura Dilley & Karen Russell].  The existing mortgage at Wachovia [now Wells Fargo]  will be paid off on June 23, or 24, 2011.

THE DETAILS The new financing of the remaining unpaid principle   on our church is a 30 year amortized variable rate loan with interest rate renegotiated ‘in good faith’ every 5 years.  The first five year locked  interest rate is  4.0%.  The monthly mortgage payment has dropped over $2,000.  The new monthly mortgage payment is $2,721.33.  This will be paid with a monthly automatic debit to a lender  numbered account.  The plan is to continue to make extra payments toward the principle.  The total amount refinanced is $570,013.84.   There is no prepayment penalty.

The previous mortgage payment varied monthly with the current interest rate but was usually around $4,500.  As interest rate rises with the inflation predicted within the next year, the mortgage payment would have continued to increase as well.  Given current member contributions, meeting a rising mortgage payment would have been very difficult.  Financially, we struggle some with cash flow and paying our bills every summer as it currently stands.

The lender is a private individual known to our church and the Clermont community.  The investor wishes to remain anonymous.  In the unlikely event of the investor’s death, the mortgage refinancing would continue with the heirs to the lender’s estate as currently written through the end of the 30 year period.

 

 

Notes from the President – June 24, 2011

 

OVERVIEW OF THE TRANSITION PROCESS IN PASTORS

Florida-Bahamas Synod ELCA:  Walking together through the Transition Process Handbook

 

 OUR PASTOR RESIGNS OR RETIRES

  • The congregation council receives the written resignation of the pastor and notifies the Office of the Bishop of the resignation.
  • The bishop or a representation of the Office of the Bishop [Pastor Paul Lutze] meets with the congregation or council to provide an overview of the transition process.  People from the congregation are welcome to attend. [This will be the July 14 Council Meeting.  Pastor Lutze and appointed Interim Pastor will be present.]
  • A farewell celebration for the pastor is planned. [Worship service of affirmation for Pastor Jon pastor call at Shepherd of the Hills is July 17 at the 10:15 am service followed by a celebration after church.  Please bring lots of cards with personal stories & remembrances of your favorite time with Pastor Jon and what his time here at Shepherd of the Hills has meant to you]
  • Closure conversations with the pastor are completed.
  • The Office of the bishop appoints an interim, who meets with the council.
  • The pastor concludes ministry at this congregation.

 

THE TRANSITION PERIOD BEGINS

  • The interim pastor arrives to serve the congregation.
  • The council and the Office of the Bishop determine immediate needs of the congregation, usually including a ministry assessment/discernment.
  • Coaching as needed.
  • The congregation addresses issues and concerns that need resolution prior to initiating the call process;  updates constitution if need. [Constitution revision in progress.]
  • The council, interim and the bishop mutually agree that the congregation is ready to move forward with the call process.
–  Taken from Florida-Bahamas Synod guidelines for transitioning pastor.

Notes from the President — June 24, 2011

THE ETHICS OF PASTORAL TRANSITION

Congregations and pastors need to understand the professional ethics of ministry relating to former pastors, interim pastors and current pastors.  A pastor who resigns or retires from a congregational ministry setting no longer serves as pastor to members of this congregation.  Former pastors should not agree to pastoral responsibilities that rightfully belong to the current pastor of the congregation.

The PURPOSE of this paper is to clearly state the proper boundaries for former pastors, interim pastors, current pastors, and members of congregations relative to on-going pastoral responsibilities and duties.

FORMER PASTORS

If a former pastor is asked to officiate at a special service by members, he/she should respond immediately by saying: “Thank you very much for asking me, but is simply NOT appropriate for me to do that since I am no longer your pastor.”  The former pastor then encourages them to call their present pastor.

It is very natural that members turn again to a former pastor who perhaps baptized their other children, or performed other weddings and funerals for family members while serving as the family’s pastor.  Again, with great sensitivity and love, the former pastor should graciously decline and direct the family to their current pastor.  As with other family friends, the former pastor might attend the service as a guest.

Former pastors should avoid the comment to members, “You’ll need to speak FIRST to your present pastor about me doing this.”  Such a comment places the current pastor in the very awkward situation of having to relinquish the pastoral role to the former pastor, or saying no to the members’ request and thus appearing insensitive, uncaring or insecure.

INTERIM PASTORS

The interim pastor is the current pastor of the congregation until that time comes when the new pastor assumes the role of pastor and shepherd of the congregation.  Whether part time or full time, the interim pastor should be contacted for all pastoral acts during the transition time.  The former pastor should not be contacted by members to return to perform a pastoral responsibility during the transition.

CURRENT PASTORS

Current pastors should speak as positively as possible of the ministry of former pastors even though their style and vision might be very different.  The current pastor should never feel pressured to relinquish his/her pastoral role to a former pastor.  When a current pastor feels it is appropriate and healthy to invite a former pastor to return to participate in worship in a supportive role, he/she can certainly extend such an invitation.

MEMBERS & FRIENDS OF THE CONGREGATION

Members should avoid placing both the current and former pastors in awkward positions by seeking the pastoral services of a former pastor.  Members should simply not ask for such favors from former pastors.  By showing high regard to the current pastor, members affirm the significance of the pastoral office which was once held by the former pastor.

If the congregation, council or current pastor experiences difficulties with proper boundaries being maintained, the bishop should be contacted. 

Notes from the President – June 20, 2011

The assistant to the Bishop for the Florida-Bahamas Synod ELCA, Pastor Paul Lutze, spoke with the congregation on June 19, 2011.  Pastor Jon was in attendance for the first worship service but due to uncontrolled pain had to leave before Pastor Lutze addressed the church.  Pastor Lutze prepared a 2-page memo to members of our church dated June 18, 2011.  Copies are available in back of the church or at the church office.  I highly encourage you to read it.  I will attempt to summarize the highlights of Pastor Lutze’s memo below interspersed with my comments:

Pastor Lutze continues his ongoing, fervent and continual prayer for God’s guiding, healing and sustaining hand of blessing for all that we say and do in matters related to the health and well being of Pastor Jon and the congregation.

In March 2011, discussions began between Pastor Jon, Pastor Lutze, colleagues in the Office of the Bishop, and Shepherd of the Hills church leaders as Pastor Jon’s medical problems became evident.  With the diagnosis of cancer, Pastor Jon and his doctors decided that extended medical leave would be necessary due to his long course of medical treatment. Pastor Jon’s last pastoral acts at our church were on April 10, 2011.

Pastor Jon stated that in fairness to the congregation and because of his medical needs, other permanent pastoral leadership for our church would be required.   Pastor Jon then made the decision to end his pastoral call to Shepherd of the Hills.

Pastor Jon took 30 days of annual leave with his full salary and benefit package.  He then began 60 days as Shepherd of the Hills funded short-term disability and received his salary, housing, board of pension benefits and Social Security allowance.  His last day of short-term disability and pay will be July 14, 2011.

Pastor Jon applied for long-term disability and medical disability coverage through the Board of Pensions. The disability review process requires that Pastor Jon still be on active pastoral call to a church before any disability benefits are considered. Therefore, Pastor Jon wishes to remain as called pastor [but in an inactive medical leave status] and then to resign no later than October 1, 2011.  Upon approval, benefits should begin July 15, 2011.  Benefits are retroactive to that date if the Board of Pensions decision on the long-term disability application is approved after the July 15 date.

Pastor Krier is providing pastoral care at the present time and serving as Supply Pastor, since April 11, 2011.  She will continue until an Interim Pastor is appointed by the Bishop and begins service in the congregation.

The Office of the Bishop identified and appointed an Interim Pastor who will be announced at the July 14, 2011 Council meeting.  Both Pastor Lutze and the new Interim Pastor will be in attendance at the July 14 Council meeting.  It is an open meeting and will be held in the sanctuary due to the numbers of people asking to attend and meet the Interim Pastor.  Shepherd of the Hills has the right to refuse the appointment.  If this is done, the Synod will send another Interim Pastor appointment.  At this point, Shepherd of Hills cannot form a call committee; that will eventually be done in the future when the transition needs of the church have been met. Pastor Lutze is recommending that the Interim Pastor serve in a full time status:  the council has not yet met to make the decision between part time and full time status for the Interim Pastor as well as to determine the benefits to be offered to the Interim Pastor.  It is anticipated that a specially called Council meeting on June 26, 2011 will make the decision then.

Until the Interim Pastor begins serving at Shepherd of the Hills, Pastor Terry manages day to day pastoral care and leadership matters and Pastor Lutze, on behalf of the Bishop’s Office, serves as manager of the administrative oversight and responsibility matters assigned to called pastors in ELCA congregations.  Pastor Lutze, working for the Office of the Bishop, will continue to work with our church on matters related to pastoral transition that develop in the coming months; and as those events unfold, suggest other options relating to the formal conclusion of Pastor Jon’s call to Shepherd of the Hills.

Notes from the President — May 4, 2011

PASTOR JON STATUS:

Pastor Jon remains on Shepherd of the Hill Funded short term disability medical leave.  He is in the middle of 5 ½ weeks of combined chemotherapy and radiation and reports being very tired.  Jon is in the process of applying for long term disability for the duration of his course of treatment and recovery.  He is projected to have a 9 – 12 month therapy treatment course with a recovery period after.  He is having 5 ½ weeks of combined chemotherapy and radiation followed by a 1-2 month rest period; then surgery; then a 1-2 month recovery period; then 4 months of three IV chemotherapy drugs [every 2 weeks]; he will need time to recover from chemotherapy.  Thank you to all who are driving Jon to Orlando, Monday through Friday.  The Synod has asked Pastor Terry Krier to come out of retirement and serve as our Supply Pastor at this time.

Pat and Alec Quellhorst are heading up a project to frequently send Jon get well cards signed by people from the church.  If you want to donate get well cards, please be sure to apply a postage stamp to the envelope. Cards can be placed in the offering plate, given to the church office or me.   Pat and Alec are 10:15 am Sunday worship people.  If an 8:00 am Sunday worship or 7 pm Wednesday worship individual wishes to collect signatures from that worship, please coordinate with Pat and Alec at 352-217-0856.  If you wish to send Jon an email, Jon’s email address is pastorjon13600@yahoo.com

Sandy Finnila looking for people who want to cook a meal for Jon.  Several people have been asking to do this.  Sandy has volunteered to lead this effort.  Please contact Sandy at 352-552-8903 if you wish to help provide Jon with some meals over his extended course of treatment.

The Synod will not leave Pastor Terry in the position as Supply Pastor for more than a few months.  The Synod feels strongly that a Pastor should not remain with a congregation after they formally leave the position of Pastor.  In other words, if Terry stayed with us the entire time Jon was out with medical care the Synod would not let Terry remain as a member of Shepherd of the Hills.  She would be asked to leave our church family.  Terry does not want to leave and we do not want to lose her.  Therefore, the Synod is looking for an Interim Pastor.   Synod will give us a name for a proposed Interim Pastor.  We have the right to refuse the Synod’s choice.  For an Interim Pastor position, we do NOT have the right to choose a name from a list of candidates.   The Synod will choose who they will send to our church as Interim Pastor.  Now remember, Pastor Ken Stroyer [a member of our church] came out of retirement to serve as Interim Pastor to Zion Lutheran Church in Groveland…..that was 2 years ago and he is still there.   The length of time an Interim Pastor serves varies.  There is no need for a Congregational Call Committee to form as an Interim Pastor is by nature a temporary position.

PAYING THE SUPPLY AND LATER THE INTERIM PASTOR SALARY:

A major financial consideration is whether to have a part time or full time Supply/Interim Pastor.  A part time pastor is paid $150-175 per day plus mileage expenses. If the pastor does not live in the local area, we will be required to pay for his/her housing as well as travel mileage from his/her home.   If we have a full time pastor, we MUST by ELCA requirements pay that pastor, the same amount we pay Pastor Jon:  salary, housing allowance, auto allowance, continuing education, conference allowance, social security, benefit package [medical, retirement, disability], as well as annual leave.  At this time, the intent is to have part-time Supply/Interim Pastor three days a week.

At the present time we are paying two pastor salaries:  Jon full time and Terry part time.  Jon is currently finishing up 30 days of annual leave and then goes on 60 days of Shepherd of the Hills funded short term disability.  After 11 July, Shepherd of the Hills will no longer pay Jon any salary or benefits.  The plan is that Jon should be on ELCA funded long term disability and will receive 2/3 of his salary plus medical benefits.  So, after 11 July Shepherd of the Hills will only be paying for the Supply/Interim Pastor salary and/or benefits depending on full or part time status.

MORTGAGE REFINANCING:

Progress is slow but remains steady.  It has gone from our lawyer to the investor’s lawyer.  Carroll Fulmer has graciously volunteered to serve as liaison during this process.

CONSTITUTION UPDATING:

Progress continues.  Almost final draft of constitution [draft #5 I think] ready.  Draft By-laws are ready.  Council still working on Draft Continuing Resolutions that address descriptions and responsibilities for each council position and congregational committees.  When the final draft of the constitution is ready [very soon], I will post comments about the major areas of change [few] and tell you how you can review it before the Congregational Meeting in January 2012.  Most of the changes being made are to bring our Constitution into conformity with ELCA Model Constitution.  There are areas identified with an * that our church cannot change because the ELCA requires this to be in our Constitution.  Our Constitution has not been updated since 1997 and there are some things we are doing and not doing that differ from what’s in the current Constitution.  Please thank Milan Barabas [8 am Sunday service] for all his very hard and detail oriented work.  This is a major undertaking he has been working on for almost 18 months.

TIME AND TALENT STEWARDSHIP NEEDS:

Thank you to all who have been coming forward in answer to some of the church needs. Your time and talents are making a significant contribution.  In the 58 years of Shepherd of the Hills’ history, whenever there has been a need, the people with the right experience and talent have stepped forward.  In an effort to make stewardship more than just a financial contribution; I will be sharing with you areas where you may be able to share your  time and talent stewardship gifts with Shepherd of the Hills.  These postings  are merely one way to keep you informed about all aspects of our Church.

MORE PROFESSIONAL CHURCH LETTERHEAD:

Our current letterhead is very basic and not very professional.  When I compare it to letterhead from the Highway 50 church and our previous First Lutheran Church letterhead, it is very evident that it is not up to that caliber.  We already have a church logo, thanks to a church member who developed it.  We need someone who can create computer letterhead.  The church office computer has publisher and Windows Vista.  Volunteer computers have older versions of publisher and are Windows XP.  If you expertise in this area and would like to help, please contact Barbara in the office 352-394-3382, Laura Dilley, or Pastor Terry.

PRAYER PARTNERS:

Private intercessory prayer during worship has been consistently used.  A need exists for more Prayer Partners.  Pastor Terry will prepare you to serve as a Prayer Partner.  Dee Shields and Laura Dilley do not have memorized prayers.  They prepare with prayer prior to serving and the Holy Spirit ALWAYS provides the words.  Often they have no idea where the words they say come from.  Please help and reach out to others who are asking for private prayer.  Contact Pastor Terry or Laura Dilley if you are interested.

MEMORIAL BOOK & GIFTS:

The Memorial Book has been found.  It is now on display in a glass stand in the back of the church.  The Book needs updating.  Also there is money in the Memorial Fund that can be spent.  The Memorial Garden and Fountain have been a blessed addition to the Memorial Program.  Your help is needed to honor the gifts given in a loved one’s memory.  Please contact Laura Dilley, Pastor Terry or Barbara in the church office at 352-394-3382.

E-BAY:

Have you sold things on E-Bay?  Several items have been donated to the church that we need to sell.  Items included an authentic oriental kimono, artwork, a 1954 complete stamp collection of stamps for all 48/50 states plus other government departmental stamps  3 cent stamps.  If you have knowledge of the value of the items, your opinion of the item’s value would be appreciated.  If you know of a better way to sell the items, let the church know.  Please contact Laura Dilley, Pastor Terry or Barbara in the church office at 352-394-3382.