LitChicks is a fun, come-when-you-can group for women. We have lively, thoughtful discussions where we are free to consider issues from a Christian perspective or just from our own perspective. Anyone is welcome to come to any meeting, there is no commitment needed.
Our bimonthly meetings will be on the second Thursday from 7:00-
8:30pm in the Fireside Room. Most importantly, we will read good books, have deep discussions, and laugh a lot. Please join us!
- July 11, 2019 One Good Mama Bone by Bren McClain
- September 12, 2019 The Solace of Water: A Novel by Elizabeth Byler Younts
- November 14, 2019 Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee
- January 9, 2020 The Story of Arthur Truluv: A Novel by Elizabeth Berg
- March 12, 2020 The Possible World: A Novel by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz
- May 14, 2020 Virgil Wander by Leif Enger
I was reminded recently of just how important it is to get the whole picture!
Our local StarTribune newspaper has run a series of articles this year about the changing trends in religion and churches in our country, and the latest installment ran in early November. It was a very good article, supported by plenty of strong research, and it reports the trends accurately. But I fear the title of the article, “Fastest Growing Religion is ‘None,” could send the reader away thinking all churches are doomed, which is far from reality. Particularly at Mount Calvary.
Are these trends real? Yes, absolutely. Should Mount Calvary members be worried about this? Not today.
We don’t need to look far for evidence that there are churches in trouble; Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, which provides critical daycare and food shelf services in their community, has seen their congregation dwindle over the years, leading to a need for outside assistance which we gladly support. But while the StarTribune article is helpful in articulating some general trends inner-city and rural churches are facing today, this is clearly not the case for all churches. In fact, if we look further, we can even find some positive signals and evidence of opportunities ahead for churches like ours. We just need to dig a bit deeper, get a bit more information, and paint a more complete picture of our own outlook
The importance of “completing the picture” was made very evident to me several years ago by a simple example; hold up a bowl between two people with the bottom facing one person and the top facing the other and ask what shape the object is, convex or concave. Obviously, each person will have a different answer even though they are looking at the same object because their information is incomplete. Gathering more information, from different perspectives and sources, can often enhance our understanding.
In preparation for some upcoming Church Council activities, I’ve recently reviewed several survey and research reports from a collection of reputable sources that can add depth and color to the picture sketched out by the recent newspaper article. Interestingly, a 2015 report by Scott Thumma, Ph.D., a professor of sociology at Hartford Seminary and the director of Hartford Institute for Religion Research, found that the vast majority of congregations with 500-1799 weekly worshipers (Mount Calvary is in this category, near the low end) are growing quite rapidly compared to smaller churches, at a median 5-year growth rate of 17%. In addition, almost three-quarters (72%) reported their financial health as good or excellent. So, while there are broad, general issues for some categories of churches, this does not reflect the situation or outlook for our church.
Importantly, a couple of reports I read also highlighted the importance of “spiritual vitality” to the healthy condition of a congregation. The message here is that churches can determine their destiny if they remain innovative and relevant to their members. After attending a very relevant and rousing Sunday service, participating in a well-attended new member meeting, hearing about some recent community support/interaction from our neighbors at Wells Fargo, and seeing the success of the Many Hands, Many Meals packathon at our church – all within the past two days – I have no doubts about the vitality of Mount Calvary. Be assured, our congregation is thriving!
As summer fades, with family vacations just a memory and kids back in school, it’s time to look ahead to my favorite season…fall. And of course that means our Mount Calvary annual meeting is right around the corner—Sunday, October 7 to be precise.
As a prelude to the meeting, I want to offer a refresher this month on some of the key efforts that your church council is working on.
Our most recent strategic plan, which included congregation input from a church-wide survey, resulted in a guiding imperative to celebrate and communicate who we are and to build on our strengths. We learned from our survey that we are clearly doing most things very well, and in these areas we are striving to move from good to great. There are also a few areas that we found which required our attention to make some necessary improvements.
The output from our planning process was the following eight initiatives (included here in abbreviated form), and we assembled a team for each initiative composed of our council members and the pastors. The eight initiatives are:
• Ministry: Grow faith and values through life-stages, and connect the generations.
• Leadership: Develop an organizational development and succession plan.
• Worship: Continue developing and evolving worship to meet the ever changing needs
of our congregation.
• Inclusion: Work to overcome social and cultural boundaries within our walls, and seek
to develop “radical hospitality.”
• Stewardship: Clarify and align relationships between funds/campaigns, and develop
multi-year facilities and benevolence approach.
• Awareness: Develop and deploy an identity plan to tell our theological and community
• Listening: Develop and deploy active ad hoc and periodic feedback disciplines.
• Partnership: Introduce tools to evaluate partnerships, communicate activities and status to the congregation, and solicit volunteers and support for various partnerships.
You will receive an update from one of the initiative teams at our annual meeting, but this will also be a great opportunity for you to ask about any of the initiatives.
I look forward to seeing you on October 7.
If you have spent any time around the church office over the past sixteen years you probably have met our Director of Communications, Diane Eidsmo. If you haven’t met her in person, you have met her through her Mount Calvary ministries of word and design – in our Caller newsletter, our Web site, emails, social media and many print materials.
Here in the office, we have all come to depend upon Diane’s thoughtful and valuable presence. She is one of those team members that you can always count on to get things done, and she gets things done without fuss or drama. She has a natural ability to discern what looks just right and a talent for cutting through surplus information to find the real story.
Diane first began her Mount Calvary journey in 2002. Her background in corporate communications and marketing gave her a particular insight and expertise in telling the stories of our faith community. Throughout her 16 years at Mount Calvary, she worked in almost every facet of office life – facilities, accounting, and communications, working for three Business Administrators. As Pastor Dave says, she has brought us through “generations of technology changes.” She has been part of creating two Web sites, through too many technology changes to count, and, most importantly, contributed to Mount Calvary’s success and growth.
“These are job related ‘rocks,’ but on a personal level I have made long lasting friendships and had the honor and joy of working with so many wonderful people within the Mount Calvary congregation,” she says. “This has been a job where I loved every part of what I did on a daily basis, and the relationships with staff, volunteers, and church members were the highlight of the past 16 years.”
We wish you all the best in your retirement, Diane. We hope to keep in touch, and we expect to see some great pictures of you and your grandchildren doing water ski tricks together! Thank you for your work and witness and may God bless and keep you in your new ventures.
HIS HOUSE THRIFT STORE…Gone But Not Forgotten
In August the His House Thrift Store was torn down to make way for a Starbucks! We have had that store in Minnetonka for 10 years. Since then we have partnered with RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) Resale Store and created a Regional Resource Center at 2460 Chaska Blvd in Chaska. The Resource Center includes a food recovery program with Carver County Public Health for people that have a barrier getting to the food shelf or need extra food. We also created a car repair program for people that cannot afford to repair their car, and we took all the wonderful donations from our His House Thrift Store to share with people graduating out of the Families Moving Forward homeless program. So, His House Thrift Store might be gone but the mission and ministry lives on. We will continue to focus on basic needs and homelessness in our community.
One weekend mid-August the His House team worked the Cub Brat Stand again. This is a great program. All proceeds from the brat stand go to the charity working the food cart. The wonderful volunteers from Mount Calvary came out to assist. When we were done serving on Saturday evening, the His House team took any leftover food to a homeless couple staying in a tent in the back of a local business. Yes, there are homeless people that are in the shadows of our community. Many live in cars, some in tents. One young man was sleeping at the Cub Store overnight in the deli. Homelessness is all around us even here in the suburbs.
Does His House need a building to continue in our missions of serving the marginalized…NO!
Thank you for the last 10 years….we look forward to the next 10 years.
STATE OF THE CHURCH
This month I am sending out two invitations via this letter. Both are directly related to sharing information about our church, both involve your participation, and both are quite painless (you might even enjoy them!).
Our Mount Calvary Annual Meeting is scheduled for October 7 at 11:45am and I would like to encourage everyone to attend. This is a great opportunity to get updated on the status of our church and to hear about some of our most recent activities. You will also get to meet your church council members, some of whom joined the council within the past year. If you use any of the church services or contribute in any way, you should plan to join us for this important meeting.
Each month as I prepare to write my article about the state of the church, I think I should instead be asking the congregation how our church is doing. I never forget that this is your church, and the council and staff are working on your behalf. So, it really is important to ask you … how is the state of the church? Are we providing the programming that you want/need? Are we staffed appropriately to execute our programs? Are there any “gaps” that should be filled? Are we doing the right stuff?
I fully expect that there are not any glaring issues or shortfalls because we have not made any major or controversial changes that would lead to such a situation. But often there are ways we can improve which might not be obvious to those of us on the front lines. We fielded a survey to the entire congregation in 2016 and found that we were doing quite well in most areas, but as expected, we learned that we could do a few things differently and better. These are the “gems” that are so valuable in helping us to continually improve what we do. It might be time soon for another survey, but in the meantime I invite everyone to keep the council informed about the state of our church from your perspective as a member of the congregation. Please reach out to me at CouncilPresident@MountCalvary.org with any ideas, comments or suggestions that you would like to share.
We hope you are reading this in the comfort of your favorite space with your favorite beverage and you feel especially thankful for what we hope is your favorite church! Mount Calvary is a favorite space for many. It is filled with people who come here to love and serve others. It is filled with giggles and tears. It is filled with dreams of making our world a better place, one action at a time.
Throughout the years our members’ dreams and actions have shaped our space. In 1965, members dreamed of investing in education. Their dreams built the Education Wing and later launched our Preschool. In 1988, members dreamed of a strong community church with more room for everyone to worship. Those dreams built our current Sanctuary and later bequeathed it with modern technology. In 1999, members dreamed of welcoming more friends and neighbors. They built our Atrium, Luther Hall, office space and parking lot. Today the parking lot is a shared space for the whole community.
The dreams of our members have shaped our current architecture. We intentionally designed our atrium to be round and welcoming, with open windows to the sky. We added a Columbarium, thoughtfully placed to be at the center of all our activities. We positioned our Welcome Center to be readily identified by visitors, so they can navigate our building with ease. We’ve added signs and maps, all with the objective of directing people through our loved, but 80-year-old building. Last year, thanks to the success of our Mission Forward Campaign, we were able to remodel and relocate our restrooms to provide convenience for members and to increase the safety of our Mount Calvary Preschool.
The dreams of Mount Calvary members have blown the winds of change through our building since before 1945. Where will our dreams take us next? We want Mount Calvary guests to feel the grace, love, and inclusiveness that pulse throughout our building. We want everyone that walks in our doors to feel a sense of belonging.
What can YOU do to make Mount Calvary a better place? We dream of providing more space for our growing community. Our plans include tearing down the coat room and creating more space in the atrium. Take a look at the photo below. Our dreams shaped these plans, and when guests walk through the doors, they’ll be greeted with hospitality and clarity of where their destination is. Our newly-created space will promote warm, casual gatherings of friends, and conversation around tables.
Please take a moment to look at the all in Campaign video and web page. We have big dreams. We need everyone to do something – whatever you can. To make our goals over the next three years possible, we need everyone to be all in!
Mount Calvary Foundation Board members have had the privilege and pleasure of working with Ross McGlasson over his many years of leading the Foundation. Ross was instrumental in the establishment of the Foundation in 1989. He was a member of the Foundation’s first Board of Directors. After getting the Foundation up and running, Ross took a break to attend to the numerous other community activities he has participated in and led. Fortunately, in 2002, Ross returned to the Foundation Board and shortly thereafter took over as its President. The Foundation has been in “good hands.” To state the obvious, Ross McGlasson has many talents. He is smart, he is committed, he has ideas, he is straightforward, he has a sense of humor, he shows up, and most importantly, he is effective.
As a result of Ross’ leadership and stewardship, and the generosity of many in our church congregation, the assets of the Foundation have increased from approximately $190,000 in 2002 when Ross returned to the Board to more than $650,000 today. The Foundation has budgeted and is positioned to make grants in excess of $30,000 this year to support programs at the church, in the greater community, and internationally. Earlier this year, the Foundation Board reluctantly permitted Ross to step down as its President. There were ten no votes and only one yes vote on the resolution. Nevertheless, for some reason the one yes vote prevailed. However, this change came with an essential condition – Ross is continuing as a member of the Foundation Board. We are still in “good hands.”
Ross, the members of the Foundation Board, all current and former board members, thank you for your commitment and guidance in leading the Foundation’s efforts for 16 years. You have been invaluable. We are pleased – extremely pleased – that your active participation and guidance will be continuing.
Change can be a very good thing, if managed properly. What needs changing in your life?
Your Foundation is also changing. Michael Cunningham, longtime member of MCLC and longtime Vice President of the Foundation Board is replacing me as President. It is the right time for this and I am delighted and know that he will do a terrific job. His insights and opinions have been highly valued by the entire board and especially me.
I will remain on the board, serving out my last year of this term. I do not see any major changes in policy or practice. The board members have meshed well together and collectively we have made some major decisions without controversy. Robert’s Rules of Order have been observed with most decisions collegial.
We have reason to be proud of our asset growth over the years to more than $650,000 and the stewardship record of contributing and investing in projects and programs consistent with our mission. We have supported efforts here at church, in our greater community and on an international scale. Most investments have been related to members who have been personally involved.
The history of these efforts range from the very first when a member went back to his roots in Korea and took newborn supplies to the orphanage. Then, there were the computers that we helped Anna Moschet buy when she was in the Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan. In addition, today we support the Seminary in Estonia.
Here at home, we can point to many projects from Eagle Scouts to new paraments to the homeless youth shelter in Chanhassen. We always strive to have your dollars truly make a difference.
It has been my great pleasure to serve as your President and I thank you for all the support and encouragement I have received. Some even bought into the Columbarium! Thanks to all.
Interesting linksHere are some interesting links for you! Enjoy your stay :)
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