November 2022 Pastor's Report
Two events had me leaving the Fairbanks North Star Borough this month: the first was fall collegium, wherein all the pastors who can meet with the bishop for prayer and workshops. We heard from the Rev. Marcia Wakeland who spoke about her pilgrimage on the Camino De Santiago and helped us think about our callings as pilgrimages. It was also a great time for me to meet my new colleagues; while I had known many of them before, I felt as if I was meeting them in a new way since my ordination.
The second thing that took me from Fairbanks was First Call Theological Education (FCTE). As I’m writing this report, I haven’t yet been, but we’re studying conflict in congregations and how to navigate it—something all pastors will have to do, so hopefully I learn something!
FCTE was not the only continuing education from this month. I also finished up my first continuing education class, Building a Culture of Generosity, which shepherded us through the stewardship campaign and gave other insights into how and why we put on stewardship campaigns. I found it very edifying and it gave me hope that I can actually lead a church through a stewardship campaign, which I think led to the success of our first campaign together.
We finished our stewardship campaign and our final tally (as of this report) is 23 pledges! We smashed our goal of 20 and have $111,480 pledged, with 6 new families giving as well as 5 families choosing to increase the amount they gave. My belief is that many families do regularly give, but I likely did not communicate the importance of pledging, so next year we will have to encourage that more.
Regarding Adult Education, we have wrapped up Why Lutherans Worship. The class was a success and, from what I have heard, has helped some people to find a greater appreciation for the Lutheran traditions around worship. Our devotional study on 1 John has seemed to be enriching; one participant said it was a refreshing approach to Bible Study. Looking toward Advent, I will be teaching a synod-wide class on Mary in Lutheran Perspective because many people believe the Virgin Mary is just for Roman Catholics—not so!
Worship life has been busy at FLC. Our Raven Landing service continues to be a success, and the people at Raven Landing have been very grateful for our presence. Depending on the week, we have between 10-18 people (and one dog, Peaches) who attends the communion service. Because of collegium and other events, I have had to miss one or two services, but I have written a sermon and Al Holmberg has been my stand in as they celebrate a service of the word and read the sermon together, which they claim works well. I am looking to bring in others to help the RL service when possible.
We had several special Sundays. Reformation Sunday was a fifth Sunday, so it featured the youth in leadership. Because it was festive, we had a couple of processionals, and the kids seemed to enjoy leading worship. All Saints Sunday featured a slideshow of recently deceased saints as well as our reading the names of these saints as an offering to God.
However, we did more on All Saints’ Sunday than commemorate the saints. We gave First Communion to six kids. Although they have been receiving communion already, to celebrate the completion of a Communion Class and to commemorate their first communion, we also celebrated communing six more kids. Finally, we baptized three new Christians who have been meeting with my regularly as they discern baptism.
Besides regular Sunday Services, we have had two funerals at FLC that I have presided over. The first was Jerry Krier, not a member but known to the community; his son Greg, who did much of the organizing, was very grateful to FLC. The second was longtime member Jan Flodin’s funeral. The service went smoothly, Jan’s daughter Sandra repeatedly stated how she appreciate the service; likewise, the reception afterwards was well received.
Regarding pastoral visits, I had one visit this month with the baptisands they prepared for baptism. I met with a UAF college student who wants to transfer her membership to us but has been overwhelmed with fulltime work and school. I have had conversations with two members as they’ve dealt with illness, but neither family requested a visit.
Youth ministries are continuing nicely. We have had two more joint youth groups with CLC and UCPC that have been fruitful! Confirmation shifted times to accommodate swim schedules. The curriculum had a slight switch as we included two intensive weeks of first communion prep, but we are now back to studying Paul for the time being.
In closing, a few things that should be noted: My ecumenical work with the TVCC had me write an article that was published in the Daily News-Miner. The Christmas Bazaar appears to have been a great success! I took one sick day after All Saints’ Sunday. Thank you for calling me to be your pastor!