October 2022 Pastor's Report
The Wednesday evening class, Why Lutherans Worship, has seemed to be well-received.
Our study on Thursday afternoon study on 1 John, which utilizes the “kaleidoscope bible study” method, has been a success as well. I’ve enjoyed the approach of listening to how the Bible speaks to readers instead of simply lecturing on the Bible, and I think we still have been able to learn a lot together.
The Mary Martha and Miriam Circles have been fruitful and engaging, and I have been impressed with how well they manage themselves fluidly.
Youth Activities have been hit and miss. The joint youth group with FLC, CLC, and UCPC has had trouble getting off the ground. We had one event last month that was attended by three youth; this month’s first event wasn’t attended at all, although one family has informed me they do intend to keep trying.
We had a well-attended (first) communion class and will give “first” communion to roughly 10 kids on All Saints’ Sunday. (I put quotes around first because some kids have already received communion, but this will be a celebration of them reaching that point).
Confirmation is continuing smoothly. Our students have shown keen insight into the Gospel passages we’ve tackled; I look forward to how they fare with Paul!
I attended to one emergency call at FMH for a non-member to give Last Rites and provided a pastoral presence to his wife.
I’ve met with one potential new member and have been working on organizing a new member orientation for several new members; once a time is settled, we’ll have an orientation and then officially welcome them in worship sometime in November or December, God willing!
I’ve been counseling one family as they have been discerning baptism. It would be the entire family getting baptized.
I have been working with one of our members as he prepares for seminary, meeting as needed to discuss the random issues that come up in the seminary process.
As to formal pastoral visits, I have only had two. I have had numerous informal conversations this month as I learn the needs of the congregation.
Since our last meeting, I was installed by Bishop Shelley on September 18th.
We have had a little over a month of two services, which have seemed to be well-attended and well-received. I have been fielding some complaints from a couple people about the contemporary service, but I feel the energy of the services has been an overall success. I have received multiple compliments about the overlap-times between the services: supposedly there is more fellowship with the second service starting only a half hour after the first.
The congregation has often mentioned to me that it had a goal of “doing more” with Raven Landing. This month, we started having Thursday Night Services at RL, which has had between 11-15 people. It’s a simple service, roughly three songs, a short homily, and communion, but I’m told it’s been impactful so far. We may even have some cooperation with our Missouri Synod counterparts to help cover the third Thursday when I’m at council.
Our Stewardship program, which is based on my continuing ed course “Building a Culture of Generosity” will hit its zenith the Sunday after our council meeting. I hope you all extend some major appreciation to Sandy as she has been pivotal in getting everything printed and organized for this campaign. God willing, we’ll meet our goal of 20 families deciding to give.
The Social Concerns Committee had a successful winter gear drive.
I also met with the new mediator at Consultation to Clergy who introduced himself to the Alaska Synod this month. He is a resource the synod provides to clergy to help them whenever mediation is needed (i.e., if a church/pastor relationship was bad. Ours is not, don’t worry!).
For several weeks, Pastor Ben from Seward was in Fairbanks and I met with him and Pastor Dustin of CLC for breakfast. It was helpful to have conversation with more seasoned ELCA pastors and learn from their stories while also supporting them as colleagues do. He attended worship with us for a couple of Sundays.
Our regular Pastor’s Text Study has continued on, including adding one new pastor, Pastor Lois at UCPC, the interim there. Pastor Ben and Dustin are both a part of that text study, and that study group is proving to be a strong support network that will help my longevity here in Fairbanks.
I have attended my second meeting of the Tanana Valley Christian Conference. They are quickly becoming an insightful resource for me as a pastor despite differences in theology.
I also met with the pastors of Zion Lutheran Church. Their senior pastor, Andy, and I got lunch and discussed the needs of the services at Raven Landing. I also met with their visitation pastor Scott about the service there, too.
Regarding Advent, I look forward to hosting soup and bread suppers with Holden Evening Prayer for a time together.
The Bishop, when she visited for my installation, encouraged me to teach a synod-wide class on the Virgin Mary during Advent, so the next class may be opened to the whole Synod via Zoom. I’ll also continue my tradition of writing for the Synod’s advent devotional.
I’ve been invited to take The Rev. Rich Mauer’s place on the Synod council. I’m not sure what that looks like, and it’s not final, but the conversation is beginning.
The Christmas Bazaar and Women’s Advent Brunch are also on the way—I look forward to experiencing these advents for the first time! I have heard so many good things.
We’ve entered the bulk of our programmatic year and there’s lots going on! We are busy, but that is a good thing—Fairbanks Lutheran is a church that enjoys life together.