This document was created by council in partnership with our synod. This is a document that is meant to create conversation about what we hope will happen in the future, and we want your input. Rev. Kristin Nielsen will join us to facilitate discussion of this document this Sunday, June 2. Then on Sunday June 23, we will have a congregational meeting to vote on calling Pastor Jonathan. Please hold this month of discernment in prayer.
The congregation desired to call a Pastor who felt called to work in an inner city church environment and that holds a traditional worship service on a Sunday. The location of Grace in the uptown neighborhood of Kenosha and Grace’s history of outreach were both a good fit with the ministry interests of Pastor Jonathan. In addition, our mission and outreach had in many ways slowed down and Grace felt that Pastor Jonathan had the energy, and interest to rejuvenate Grace’s ministry.
Grace’s ministry has been rejuvenated under the care and leadership of Pastor Jonathan. Pastor has inspired members of Grace and people in the greater community of Kenosha through his faith, ministry work and commitment to outreach. It is often said “he walks the talk.” Pastor has also been good about visiting, counseling and praying with members of Grace’s congregation.
It has been a positive experience for the congregation to witness the Grace Welcome Center grow, the Shalom dinners on a Wednesday evening and the soon to open food pantry. In addition, we have been able to maintain our current ministries like the Dorcas quilters and Infant Moses. These ministries have resulted in numerous partnerships (approximately 30) with other faith and non-faith groups in our community. In addition to receiving positive support from the Mayor of Kenosha and other locally-elected officials.
Pastor Jonathan has been supportive of the numerous traditions at Grace, including our traditional liturgical worship and choice of hymns. The confirmation of four middle school students in 2018 was positive for the congregation, the families of the confirmands and Pastor Jonathan. The confirmands were encouraged to grow in their faith, schooled in the teachings and history of both the Bible and Lutheran faith.
While the congregation, council, and Pastor Jonathan have expressed an overall positive feeling and satisfaction over the last three years, as in any environment there are always areas of frustration. Often these areas of frustration are not aimed at one person, or the congregation, but at situations. As a congregation we are often frustrated that we struggle financially despite our good works. And, similar to other congregations Grace can be fearful of change, whether it is of modernizing our worship, or new situations and people we perceive are outside of our comfort zone. However, Grace has accepted the call to “step out in bold faith” and often move forward despite our fears.
The congregation of Grace is a community that cares about one another and is working hard to nurture and sustain our church family. The congregation also has shown the ability to pull together and support ministries that benefit the neighborhood we live in. Grace has learned how to welcome volunteers into our building who have willingly come to paint, clean, build shelves and update the electrical for our pantry.
The financial needs of Grace may be our biggest struggle. The stewardship of the congregation does not sustain the financial needs of the building or personnel. We need to be able to look for financial resources outside of our congregation. We have relied on a deficit budget for a number of years and in 2019 there is currently a $20,000 budget shortfall. However, through the Grace of God we find ways to survive. Whether it is through sharing our building with two other congregations, or building our outreach ministries in a manner that is self-sustaining.
We are a strong church family that cares for one another and there is an amazing group core of members who are willing to show the hospitality that is needed for us to continue our outreach work. In listening to council and members of Grace there is an overwhelming feeling that Grace should strive to retain all of our current ministry programs, and congregational events which we feel are growing and currently sustaining themselves. A strong strategic plan has also been created that the congregation approved which will help us focus on our ministries.