CLC Blog

Deny Yourself, Pick up Your Cross, and Follow Jesus: An invitation to the best-worst journey ever.

To my beloved CLC,

Sunday morning you welcomed me into your homes to share a message God placed on my heart surrounding Matthew 16: 21-18. For those of you unable to tune into the livestream/unable to access audio recordings, I did not write out a sermon for Sunday, but instead presented conversationally/freely. However, what I am about to share and write here presents the same message as Sunday morning, just through a different story/lens.

I wrestled all weekend with what to say and how to say it. I made speech outlines. I started writing out a speech. I started creating a powerpoint. But still I wrestled. Not because I did not know what to say. I knew exactly the message and invitation God had for us—that our cross is to choose love, a restorative love, a love that will cost us everything we think we desire but bring us everything we truly need and desire. But I also know the times we are living in, and I know the kind of preacher and teacher I have been in the past and know that it would not work in our context nor in the context in which we are living today. I am a motivational teacher, speaker, preacher, life coach, enthusiastic human being. I love big and I love deep and I love wide. When I jump into something I make a big splash. I have been known to bring the thunder and lightening of God, the power and force of God through speaking and activating a crowd of young people into setting the world on fire with love (a provocative metaphor in these times perhaps, but I have prayed for years the world would be set on fire with love…I prayed it metaphorically, but ask those of you uncomfortable to hold tight in what we are seeing in the world that there is a fire that heals. I know there is so much violence taking place but I promise you there are people working towards deep, restorative healing. They are my friends and my partners in this work, the sanctuaries I found when I left the church, and the places affirming me that the time has come to step fully into what we are doing. They are pastors and community members who want their neighborhoods restored from the devastation that has plagued them for years…but I digress). What I realized in preparing for Sunday morning is that your youth and emerging adults need my full thunder. They need the bigness and openness of my love that shatters barriers and walls and forces people to confront themselves without my even trying (trust me, this is a pattern in my life we can talk about over coffee sometime). I am aware of who I am and the gift it is to a generation and to people that have felt imprisoned for years but have not known how to get free. And many of you reading this outside that demographic long for and desire these things as well. I am aware that as much as you are an answer to my prayers, I am an answer to yours. And I love you and thank you for the welcome received that has sparred this journey on and brought new life to me.

But for some of you the changes taking place around you are really hard. Life has been really hard. And I knew I was speaking to an audience more diverse theologically and culturally than I am used to, especially knowing it was on the live stream and available for the world. So as much as I was wrestling with how to present the word to you, I was also wrestling with how to present the invitation to the world.  I know that 2020 has been different for each of us. Some of us have felt isolated and alone, cut off from those we love and the things we love, and for the first time maybe ever in life, we are having to face our doubts, fears, and insecurities in ways we never have before. We are having to engage parts of us and things in us we didn’t even know were there. Some of us are doing fine. Life hasn’t changed that much and/or the ways that it has changed have actually proven really beneficial for you as individuals and families and, other than not loving the state of the world around you, you yourself and as a family are doing okay. Then I think of my own community. How many people have lost jobs and been displaced from work because of COVID. How many are scared because they are teachers and nurses and doctors and things are not okay. How many are grieving because the people being shot are their friends and family and loved ones. How many are grieving because their husbands or wives or kids are cops who really do want to do their job well and feel trapped and unheard in the war between the system and the people. We are all experiencing different things in 2020 and the only thing we can do is remain true to the path Jesus has called us to walk, remaining anchored in his love and Creators love and the call of the cross that leads to the promise of resurrected and restored life.

And so I wrestled. And I prayed. And in the end I laid down every outline I made for Sunday morning and picked up the cross of having an open, honest, gentle yet real conversation with you all. Sunday morning felt vulnerable for me and was a personal act of stepping out and trusting God. Teaching on Sunday for me was like Jonah finally going to Nineveh, only unlike Jonah, I had asked God to help me learn to love people who once were/represented my oppressors and was trusting that God had indeed been preparing your hearts to receive the message and come along this journey you began before I even arrived. Rather than be angry about the injustices committed, I had to lean into my hope I have for you all, a hope God planted and you have watered in my soul through your love, welcome, and embracing of me and who I am and what I bring to the table, holistically. A hope that says maybe, just maybe, there really is a community of people who want to love the world around them and share in the goodness of Jesus, no matter the cost. Maybe there is a church that exists that wants to be a true sanctuary and safe place for every member of humanity. I’m telling you, I am in love with everything you say you stand for and plan to do. It is EVERYTHING I have been looking for in a community and church. But now we have to learn how to do it. We have to learn how to embody our core values so that we can carry out our five year plan in a way that holistically meets the needs of the world in which we live.

 One of the things you will come to learn about me if you decide to continue on this magical journey of learning to embody our core values and love our neighbors and humanity well is that I will not preach or teach or lead or go or invite you to anything I am not willing to do or have not done myself. That would be abusive, oppressive, and mean, and as someone who has sought deep healing from those things happening to her and has also confronted the ways in which she has been those things, I work hard to lead in humility and love with integrity. I love you CLC. I have fallen in love with you. The more time I spend with our youth and emerging adults, the more time I converse with them and hear their stories and wants and desires, the more my heart overflows at the goodness of God in this season. Your young people are incredible and I consider it the greatest honor and joy that I get to be a part of their lives. Not only that, they want me to be in their lives, and that blessing and welcome fills me with more good feelings than I know what to do with or have experienced in my life. When I say I love you, I’m rooting for you, and I’m here for you, I mean that with everything I am.  

It seems the time has come for me to once again deny myself, pick up my cross, and follow Jesus. That is the embodiment of trusting God in this life.

Anyone who knows me and knows me well knows that I love cities. I lived in Los Angeles for a couple years and LOVED IT. It was my favorite place on earth, rivaled only by Barcelona, Spain as a I place I would want to live for life (I love Bangkok, Thailand and Buenos Aires as well, but LA and Barcelona feel like home when I’m there. Something about them just puts my soul at ease). And anyone who has met me since moving back to Minneapolis knows how much I love living in Robbinsdale and with my friend turned roommate turned sister. In fact, without her welcome into her home, I could not have said yes to your part-time work offer. However, that part-time work has shifted to full-time work, and because my doctoral dissertation is now tied into the work, I am working 60+ hour weeks in order to get in your hands what you need to understand the journey we are about to go on as a congregation and why this is what we are doing (again, it is based in your core values and the plan you all set in place before I got here. I’m just going to help you do it because it is everything I have been looking to implement and train people in for the past 2-4 years…I just thought I’d be at a university or individually consulting…but I digress).

I never wanted to live in the Midwest, but somewhere along the way that changed. I knew God was calling me to Minnesota when I left Ventura, I just did not understand why. I landed in Saint Paul because I hated Minneapolis at the time but knew I needed a city if I was going to survive. My brother and his family lived in Madison, WI at the time, my parents in eastern South Dakota and my sister and her family in Texas (so a flight no matter where I lived), so Saint Paul felt like the middle ground. Then life took me to the west metro. Then to uptown. Then back to South Dakota before calling me back to you all, beginning with a home in Robbinsdale. My boundary when I accepted a job in Lake Elmo was that I would always live in a city. However, as I pray and think through what the best way is to engage the work that is about to be developed, I know the answer is to go back to what I learned in the beginning—to move into the neighborhood and live among those you seek to serve. I have done this in many contexts. I just never thought with a call to missions I would be doing this in an upper middle class suburb (I am the person who chose slums and brothels overseas and “bad neighborhoods” in the US over a path that would lead to a big house with a white picket fence in the United States. Though through understanding and loving you all, I’m beginning to see the gift big houses and big spaces offer when connecting and gathering with people. I just knew wealth and big houses as empty and lonely and isolating spaces when growing up, but those are stories for another day. When I tell you there is room for all of us at the table, there is room for all of us. And truth be told, we all need each other just as we are, more than any of us realize).

I know what I am called here to do, CLC. I am called to serve your youth and emerging adults while helping the body/congregation learn how to make space for those not yet represented in our church and community. It is scary. It is challenging. But it is so so good and everything I am made to do. However, the only way I know how to do it is to move into the neighborhood and build relationships.

So once again I am denying myself, picking up my cross, and following Jesus, this time into the Stillwater/Lake Elmo/St. Croix Valley area. I’m moving your way. I don’t know if it will be next week, next month, or next year (I do not know the time table, but know anything is possible. Afterall, it was three weeks total from the time I applied for a job with you to the day I began working, and it involved a move across states). I am saying yes to Creator’s invitation, so trust that when the timing is right a home for me will be found and I will make the move. So be praying for me CLC, as I deny myself, pick up my cross, and move into your neighborhood to carry out my personal call in what God is asking us corporately to engage in this season. I’ll keep you posted along the way.

As always, know I love you, I’m praying for you, I’m rooting for you, and I am here for you.

With an overflowing love and joy found only in the goodness of Creator,

Andrea, your Director for Next Gen Ministries and sister/auntie/friend through the love that binds us all together as one people, amen. 

Posted by Andrea Zirbel

Council Minutes August 2020

Special Note

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Christ Lutheran Church Council met using a hybrid model of in-person, socially distant attendance and virtual attendance by council members via the Zoom video conferencing application.

 

Present: Carrie Carlson, Pastor Andy Evenson, Andrea Zirbel, Diana Erickson, Blaine Erickson, Allan Kristenson, Terry Lohmann, Terri Strom; Jim Kelly and Steve Kallevang (via Zoom)

 

CALL TO ORDER/ADOPT AGENDA

                7:02pm

 

DEVOTIONS: Psalm 138 (Carrie)

 

REPORTS

WELCA Report – no report

Will meet next on September 1, 2020.

 

Pastor’s Report (Pastor Andy)

New bible study Tuesday mornings in the park and at Arbor Glen on Wednesday mornings. Have open office hours on Mondays that are going well. Thinking ahead to October and navigating through fall and winter.

 

Secretary’s Report (Terri)

Council reviewed July Council Meeting minutes. Minutes approved. Council reviewed the July Annual Congregational Meeting minutes. Revisions received and congregational meeting minutes amended.  Minutes approved as revised.

 

Treasurer’s Report (Diana)

The general fund is in deficit; however, it is the first month of the fiscal year. It was a soft giving month. Expenses ran under budget. No areas of concern. There is a certificate of deposit for $125,000.00 that matures on August 20, 2020. As former treasurer, Roger will cash it out and move it to the money market account at Lake Elmo Bank. Roger will continue to manage the PPP loan. Motion to approve the budget report. Motion carried to approve.

 

Next Gen Ministries Director Report (Andrea)

Home visits with confirmation families.  Will offer a hybrid model for confirmation.  Setting up a conversation platform for youth to meet and connect outside of formal meetings. Meeting with high school youth for a back to school event. Continuing to connect with senior high youth to determine how best to support them. Also planning to offer Sunday night sanctuary – gathering in different areas and activities to find sanctuary and safe places with God. Setting up a page on the website for youth and families to sign-up for individual support.  Also working with middle and high school youth to organize activities for younger children.

 

MINISTRY BOARD LIASION REPORTS

Admin/Finance Ministry Team (Tim Wieland) – no report

 

Worship Ministry Team (Pat Urtel) – no report

 

Evangelism Team (Debbie Smith-Hutton) – Carrie Carlson

Fall activities have been put on hold.  No new activities.

 

Hospitality Team (Dave Boorman) – no report

 

Mission Team (Lowell Gillette) – Allan Kristenson

The Guatemala trip planned for January has been cancelled and will be rescheduled when COVID-19 is more under control.

 

Property Team (Ken Hauck & Mike Stumpf) – Blaine Erickson

Elevators and fire extinguishers received maintenance checks. The louvres anticipated to be done by the end of August.  No one has stepped forward to take care of the rose garden.  In late September, it will be converted to grass. The electrical is being worked on for the new monitors.

 

Faith Formation (Anne Sheridan) – Andrea Zirbel

Met Sunday, July 12th.  Planned back to school activities.  Next meeting on August 30th.  The plan is to finalize what faith formation looks like for this fall and figure out small groups.  Groups of people are putting together care kits. 

 

INFORMATIONAL ITEMS

 

Devotion Sign-up

Council members signed up to take turns leading devotions at each meeting.

 

Ministry Team Liaison Assignments

Admin/Finance – Diana Erickson

Evangelism – Steve Kallevang

Faith Formation – Terri Strom

Missions – Allan Kristenson

Property – Blaine Erickson

Worship – Terry Lohmann

 

Ministry Team – Council Meeting

Discussed organizing a meeting in September for Ministry Team leaders to meet with Council to talk through plans, concerns and discuss new avenues for collaboration and continuation of ministries during COVID-19. Pastor will send a doodle poll to find a common date.

 

Council Congregational Communication Plan

Council has received feedback from congregational members on a feeling of being disconnected. There may also be a generally feeling of overwhelm and missing our regular ways of connecting. Council discussed avenues of communication to create more connection and make sure the congregation is aware of what is happening with council and the church. One point of connection for council liaisons is to regularly communicate council updates to ministry leaders and teams. Council will also make a draft of the meeting minutes available to the congregation through Flocknote and our church blog, and a dedicated bin outside of the church door the week following each meeting. Council will complete an initial review of notes via email and formally approve final minutes at the following council meeting. Terri will send out minutes to council for review and the draft for sharing to Sara and Andrea for distribution electronically through Flocknote and the blog, and physically through printed copies available for pickup in the bin located outside the church door. 

 

Policies and Procedures Documentation Project

The Board of Administration has developed a central file for all policies and procedures documents and a process for regular annual updates. They have identified the owners of all policy and procedure documents.  Those owners will be asked annually in August to review the policy and/or procedure documents and update. The point person for document distribution and return is Sara in the office review policy and/or procedure and update.  This year’s review is delayed one month and will be completed in September.

 

5 Year Plan

Council reviewed the 5 Year Plan. Accomplishments: The screen installation is in progress.  Worship times have been shifted. We launched and tested Wednesday evening worship. New signs have been installed. Council discussed pausing the long-term vision represented in our 5 Year Plan and focusing on having several short-term, flexible, COVID responsive plans that are created in conjunction with the COVID Smart Team and Ministry Team leads.

 

Volunteer/Staff Appreciation during COVID-19

Council discussed the need to show appreciation to our congregational volunteers and staff. Discussed practice of writing thank-you notes to volunteers. Steve will work on organizing a process. Discussed plans for staff acknowledgements also.

 

ACTION ITEMS

 

Authorized Signers Resolution

Resolution: Be it resolved that Carrie Carlson, President; Steve Kallevang, President-Elect; Terri Strom, Secretary; and Diana M. Erickson, Treasure are authorized signers on the checking account, money market savings account and certificates of deposit at Lake Elmo Bank; and the brokerage account at Cetera Advisor Networks LLC. Only one signature is required. Records are being updated to add Steve Kallevang and Diana M. Erickson and to delete Charles LePage and Roger M. Knutson. Motion to approve the resolution as stated. Motions carried to approve.

 

PPP Loan Forgiveness Authorized Manager Resolution

Resolution: Be it resolved that Roger M. Knutson is authorized to complete the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application and to initiate, accept or excuse all documents in connection with this application with the Lake Elmo Bank. Motion to approve the resolution as stated. Motion carried to approve.

 

Knoblach Fund Request

The Knoblach Fund is a designated fund with the purpose identified for use as “to help people in need.”  The fund was created over 10 years ago and there are currently over $62,000.00 available. Andrea, Next Gen Ministries Director, brought a request to council to consider utilizing funds from this account for a family in need of assistance due to a wrongful discharge from employment. Council discussed the alignment of this request with the designated purpose of the fund and the amount of funds available. Motion to approve a one-time disbursement of $2,000.00 from the Knoblach Fund to the family in need identified, with the stipulation that Council will create a process and procedure before any future disbursements are approved. Motion carried to approve.

 

ADJOURN

Meeting adjourned at 8:54pm

 

Upcoming Dates:

September 8, 7:00pm                     September Council Meeting

Posted by CLC Council
in Truth

What does Jesus look like?

If we grow up in a church filled with images of Jesus with white skin, we naturally learn to picture Jesus as white. As a man from Galilee in the Middle East, it is obvious that this is not what Jesus would have looked like in real life. This phenomenon extends beyond Jesus to depictions of his mother Mary, his disciples, and many Saints. 

I would like the congregation of Christ Lutheran to ponder what effect this has on those who do not share the same skin color. Would BIPOC feel welcome at our church with a largely white population and white portrayals of Christ? 

While I do not believe the answer is to destroy all white images of Jesus, we should make an immediate effort to incorporate more diverse and accurate representations in our place of worship. Let us remember Christ is alive in all of us, but can especially be found in those outside of our own comfort zone.

Posted by Audrey Kelly
Tags: jesus, art, color, black

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