I don’t remember a time when I didn’t sing. My father was a professional musician, and my mother and three older siblings all sang. I thought everyone sat around the piano in the evenings and sang together in harmony. The first time I sang in public, I was 7 and I sang with my sisters in three-part harmony at the Musician’s Union picnic in Cleveland. The audience didn’t pay much attention, but I was smitten with the thrill of singing in harmony about thoughts and emotions that I didn’t have the words to express. I felt my soul soaring with the song and for the next 50 years I felt that same thrill as we sang at weddings, funerals, service organizations, parties and dance recitals (our dance teacher took one look at our dancing and said you three can sing).
Music, especially singing, is the vehicle to experience and enhance every human emotion and situation you encounter as you go through your life. It provides a theme song for every joy, sorrow, challenge and success you could ever have.
I recently discovered a song by Lauren Daigle called “You Say”. Every morning I ask Alexa to play this prayer and meditation that reminds me that I am loved and supported by God who knows me better than I know myself. The words are “You say I am loved when I don’t feel a thing. You say I am strong when I think I am weak. I believe, I believe what you say of me.” I sing along with the words and begin and end my day with this declaration of faith and gratitude for the joy of creation and the many wonderful people I have to share it with.
You don’t have to be a good singer to experience the uplifting joy and comfort that music provides. You just have to be willing to throw yourself into the experience.
Hi CGS! My name is Skye Gordineer and I’m just finishing up my first year on the Church Council. You can usually find me wrangling anywhere from one to three kids in the back of the church on Sunday. We sit there because of the amazing kids area that CGS has set up in the past few years. There are toys (quiet ones), books, art supplies and more that make it so much easier for me to bring the kids to church every Sunday.
This space is one of many areas funded by the church budget that the Council is currently working on for next year. Spaces like the kids area in the sanctuary, the nursery, as well as The Godly Play classroom need continued resources to provide the support families need to make it easier to attend church on a regular basis.
Please consider making continued or additional contributions to the offering plate this year. Did you know that you there are many different ways to donate to CGS? There’s the obvious envelopes in the pews (for checks or cash), but there’s also ways to give online to CGS via Breeze, Amazon, PayPal, Facebook, and EBay. Ask a council member for more info, or click here. Thank you for continuing to make CGS a welcome place for everyone!
By Theo Olson, Council President
In August the Council went to St. Francis Retreat Center in San Juan Bautista for our annual retreat. This year our focus was on stewardship and CGS finances. We faced our financial reality as a community, we studied abundant giving as Paul describes in his 2nd Letter to the Corinthians, we celebrated the work God is doing through CGS as we live out our mission, and we left inspired to support our shared mission.
As a group, we dug into our finances and learned that we have an abundance in our investments. We discovered that some of the restricted funds were for ministries that we no longer carry out, so we took steps to un-restrict these monies so that we have it available for future ministry.
We did a deep dive on the budget and all our accounts so that we can understand and share with the congregation our financial reality. And with this deeper understanding, we began work on the 2020 budget, stewarding our money, keeping mission as our first priority.
We discussed our stewardship and began to look at ways in which leadership can know and understand member giving in an effort to know what is reasonable and possible as a community as we develop budgets and manage our finances. We spent time in Bible Study reflecting on abundant stewardship and learning from the Macedonians to joyfully give of our first fruits. These initial steps will help us develop a stewardship plan for our congregation in the months ahead.
Through the ELCA Treasurer's Office and other expert consultation, we are reviewing our financial processes and putting together written policies to ensure CGS is current with our fiscal management.
The Council is inspired by the way members are responding to our mission and stepping up in various leadership roles to help us learn how we serve our community. For example, learning how CGS could become a safe car park location or how to get involved in addressing the homelessness crisis. Some of us are leading book discussions and reading, Dear, Church, in preparation for our conversation with Rev. Lenny Duncan in November, which will also be an opportunity to open our doors even wider to our community for this important discussion.
These are just a few examples of the many ways in which we, the Body of Christ at CGS, are ministering to our community and one another. Thank you for all that you do in small and large ways to be God's Hands.
While we move into the budget planning season, please hold the Council in your prayers as we look to keep a balance between the mission work and ministries of CGS with our financial reality. I also encourage you to talk with the council members about your ideas on stewardship and the budget.
Soli Deo Gloria!
By Pastor Manda
For the past month, Jean Hope has been taking the drawers of CGS history and digitizing it for our archives. Recently she found an article from the very first Sierra Pacific Synod Assembly in 1988. We both marveled at how much this newsletter article from the bishop sounded exactly like a newsletter article that we would find in this newsletter in 2019.
Based on the content (which you can find on the kiosk in the Narthex) there was a great deal of anxiety in the community about the amount and rapid pace of change. “Do we have to make so many changes so quickly?” “What will the new church be like?”
He talks about how many people were relieved to hear the new language of worship and see the diverse expressions of faith in the new assembly. He also acknowledges that others were hurt or offended by the same things.
What’s even more remarkable is that through the Presiding Bishop Chilstrom’s sermon, he reminds us that the apostle Paul writes about the same things in his letters to the first Christian churches. “Paul, what about those nasty lawsuits between members?” and “What are you going to do about those who make pigs of themselves at the Lord’s Supper?”
And thus we are reminded that we’re not doing anything new at CGS. We’re repeating the same cycle of questioning, change, and adjustment that the Body of Christ has been doing from the very beginning. Our community is not drastically changing for the first time, we’re doing it for the 2,000th time.
But church. I want to tell you – you are doing it well.
At our special congregational meeting in September I wanted so badly for things to go well. I worried that if we couldn’t figure out how to communicate well that there would be fear and a loss of trust in one another. My fears were unfounded because what I witnessed on Sunday was a community that did a MARVELOUS job of facing change together.
The council did a phenomenal job of preparing for that meeting. They put months of thoughtful prayer and conversation into those motions. Our members did a wonderful job of raising excellent questions. We even proposed amendments! And amendments to amendments! THAT WAS AWESOME!
In that meeting I saw a community that isn’t stuck in the past nor afraid of the future. Or, well, maybe we are individually but collectively we’re faithfully responding to God’s call and shifting our resources, our way of life, and our hopes to Proclaim, Welcome, and Serve.
Of course, the same thing is true that has always been true. Every year there will be something more to change, some new adjustment to make. But Church, in your ability to be adaptive and flexible to the whims of the Holy Spirit in our midst, I am seeing the Word of God at work, creating new things and speaking the truth of resurrection into the world. Thanks be to God.
By Daniel Thomas, CGS Musician
Last month I used this space to thank our musicians, who provide us with a wealth of time and talent to beautify our worship time with their skill and artistry. I’m going to give them a little extra shout-out today as we have moved into our fall liturgy.
This season we are using liturgical music from “Dancing at the Harvest” by Ray Makeever. Makeever was born in 1943 in Illinois and studied at Luther College and Iowa and Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He holds a Masters’ Degree in Divinity. For over forty years Makeever has been composing and publishing music for worship; “Dancing at the Harvest” was published in 1997. He currently lives in Minneapolis.
As a musician, Makeever’s primary instruments are guitar and flute, and you can hear this in his writing, much of which has a pop and folk influence. I wanted to honor those influences as we performed this liturgy, so we have purposely left the piano out of our arrangements this season. Rob, who normally plays bass guitar, has joined Gail on acoustic guitar, and I am playing bass guitar. A lot of the melodic support that I would normally provide on the piano is now being picked up by the sax, clarinet, and viola.
I’d like to think the sound we’re making is closer to Makeever’s original intention, and I’m enjoying the chance to play a different instrument during service. Since we’re doing the hymns in the more “traditional” arrangement (with me on piano), and we’re incorporating the bells in the “Alleluia,” and the choirs are back from summer break, providing music during offering and other times, we now have a wide variety of musical textures throughout our service.
So, I’d like to thank our musicians again for being willing to “play around” with our sound, both on this liturgy, and for all the other ideas I come up with during the year. CGS is lucky to have these artists in our stead, and I hope you enjoy all that they have to offer as we worship together.
By Chelsea Byom
“Supportive housing ends homelessness.” Say what? Someone actually knows how to end our homelessness crisis? My mind was blown on my very first day as a member of the Leadership San Jose Class of 2019, a leadership training program of the Silicon Valley Organization (Chamber of Commerce). It was Ray Bramson, Chief Impact Officer at the nonprofit Destination Home, who shared that quote with us. Ray told us that studies have shown that supportive housing is proven to end homelessness and reduce costs. All we need now are communities that are willing to speak up to ensure new developments are approved and supported after construction.
Count me in. I volunteered with a group of my Leadership San Jose classmates to join the Housing Ready Community Action Network to spread the word. Faith communities are an important part of this network, as our faith calls us into action to address this crisis. Churches, synagogues, and mosques across the Bay Area, including CGS, are stepping up to find ways to create housing on their property, in their buildings, and in even their parking lots. And many faith communities are leading the conversation in their neighborhoods about the need for more housing, even when it’s unpopular with the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) crowd.
I look forward to having this conversation with you on September 29 after worship. We’ll discuss the facts and dispel myths about homelessness in Santa Clara County, share how supportive housing ends homelessness, and invite you to join in action that will move us toward the solution.
By Rey Lambatin, Choir Director
After a needed time of break in Summer, our choirs are back to sing and be part of our worships again. As I’ve noted before, Summer break does not only rest our voices, but also in part, our spirits. This gives our singers time to recover physically, and renew and rekindle our passion for our ministry, so that when weekly rehearsals and worship commitment resume, we’ll be prepared and excited to sing again. And we’re thrilled to start this season, with a number of exciting events lined up for our choral ministry. Aside from sharing our music every Sunday in our worship, we will soon dive in to start preparing for our Christmas concert that will happen on December 7.
As some of us might already know, CGS members Sarah and Adam Erickson are the Mt. Cross executive directors. So, this year’s Christmas concert will benefit the Mt Cross Ministries, and the funds we will raise will help with the planned improvement and updating of its facilities. In addition to this, the choirs will also be involved in different Christmas activities, networking and outreach to different churches and congregations, and next year’s Lent season’s musical presentations. We are anticipating an exciting and fulfilling season, and we’re inviting you to be a part of it! Come join our choirs and help us make beautiful music together. If interested, please contact me, Rey Lambatin, or at 408.439.2864.
By Pastor Manda
In July, the council focused the majority of their agenda time on trying to pick through the constitution and prepare incremental changes of the necessary items. The chapters that seemed to need the most critical updating were chapters 10-12. These are the chapters that deal with the congregational meeting (10), the officers of the congregation (11), and the council (12). The conversation was deliberate and thoughtful, which meant that all the ground was not covered in one day.
Some decisions were made. The proposed changes are one of the reasons for the special congregational meeting next week – on September 8th. In addition to some spending that goes beyond the $5K allowable outside budgeted items, the council will bring a couple motions that are the fruition of their discernment and conversation.
One conversation was about the size of the council – something that had not been updated for many, many years even though the congregation has changed a great deal in that time. The new proposed language would set the size limits between 4 and 20 persons and (in a continuing resolution) specify that the council shall be 10 people.
Another conversation was about the representation of diversity on the council. The ELCA model suggests specific language that singles out youth and young adults serving on council. However, there wasn’t a model suggestion for diversity in ethnicity, ability, gender, or sexual orientation. The new proposed language directs the Nominating Committee to consider these and other characteristics when finding individuals to serve on council.
Lastly, the council spent a great deal of time on the conversation of when council members are elected and begin serving in their roles. For as long as anyone can remember, the council has been elected in November and new members begin their terms on January 1st, when our fiscal year begins again. However, this is right in the middle of our busiest time of the church year. It’s a time when we’re celebrating Advent and Christmas, when people are away on vacation or visiting family, and we have increased events because of the holidays. Additionally, this is when we need to close the books for the year and pass a budget for the next year. It is a time when the staff and council need to prepare annual reports for the congregation and the ELCA and the council needs to conduct two congregational meetings. In short – this is the worst possible time to orient and welcome people who are new to serving in church leadership.
The proposed new language in the constitution suggests that we elect our council persons in the spring, just before Pentecost Sunday, to begin their terms on June 1st. The hope is that doing this when the church calendar is a little less full, when people have a little more time, and when there is space to have one-on-one meetings, hand off duties, and orient new people, will result in better prepared leaders who are able to dive into the autumn months ready to plan for the coming fiscal year.
Changing the constitution is necessary to keep us from tripping up on our way to proclaiming, welcoming, and serving. To make these changes, we’ll take two votes: On September 8th we’ll vote for the first time. Any motion that is passed on September 8th will stand up to a second vote at our January meeting in 2020, at which time it will need to be passed by a 2/3 majority in order to take effect.
At the time of writing this article one of the unresolved pieces is how we’ll transition from what we have been doing to what we will be doing. Thank God for Randy’s help in that. My hope is that we can bring the necessary motions to the congregational meeting in November. Hopefully by that time, we’ll also have made some headway on suggestions for Chapters 10 and 11.
If you have any questions about these changes, want to see drafts of the proposed language, or have comments or concerns, you can contact any of the council, Pastor Manda, or Randy Presuhn.
If you would like to propose draft changes to any of the parts of the constitution, bylaws, or continuing resolutions, we highly encourage you to do so! Please contact Theo Olson to get these changes on the council meeting agenda.
A few weeks ago, the members of the ELCA voted to become the first Sanctuary Denomination in the US. In its simplest form, becoming a sanctuary denomination means that we are publicly declaring that walking alongside immigrants and refugees is a matter of faith. We have a broken system regarding immigration, refugees, and asylum-seekers. We seek to provide concrete resource to assist the most vulnerable who are feeling the sharp edges of this broken system. While we might have different ideas about how to fix this broken system and may have different ways of loving our neighbors, our call to love our neighbors is central to our faith. Being a sanctuary denomination is about loving our neighbors.
Being a sanctuary denomination will look different in different contexts. The way that we are called to come alongside immigrant and refugee people may be different from the way that other congregations are called to act. Being a sanctuary denomination means that we, as church together, want to be public and vocal about this work. It will all begin with conversations rooted in curiosity. If you are curious what being a sanctuary church might look like, what our options are, or what the next steps could be, keep your eyes out for the Wednesday newsletter email from CGS. You can also speak with members of the council, those who traveled to Las Cruces this summer, or any staff person.
As a part of a collaborative effort, we are helping collect items to provide to a network of shelters in Ciudad Juárez, where families are currently staying. The list we have received from the shelters includes the following (Note: ALL items MUST be NEW and in its ORIGINAL packaging to cross international boundaries):
Children's Items: Diapers, Wet wipes
Clothing Items: Underwear, Children's clothing (S, M, L), Adult clothing (S), Sandals, Shoelaces
Food Items: Crackers, Granola bars, Juice boxes
Toiletry Items: Toothbrushes, Toothpaste, Shampoo, Bar soap, Sanitary napkins, Bath towels
Food: Cookies, Baby food, Baby formula
Educational materials and Board games
Items that are needed at the Hospitality center at Peace Lutheran Church THIS MONTH ONLY are:
Men's & Women's shirts (XS)
Individually wrapped beef sticks
Phone Charging cords USB Type-A to Micro Type-B 2.0 Cable - 5-Pin, 28/28AWG
Items may be sent to: BSC 1701 E Missouri Ave, Las Cruces, NM 88001.
If items are for Juárez, print "Attn: Juárez"
All items will be taken to the shelters and distributed.
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.