Christ the Good Shepherd, as a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), is governed by a constitution, bylaws and continuing resolutions. Every three years the ELCA holds a Churchwide Assembly where among the business presented to the delegates are recommended updates to the ELCA's model constitution. Each congregation is then responsible to reflect the changes in their constitutions. At CGS we haven't been so good at keeping up on the constitution updates. In fact, from what we can determine, it has been at least a decade. That's a lot of changes to incorporate!
Thanks to the diligent work of Pastor Manda, Chelsea Byom and Petra Menard, we have several updates to our CGS Constitution that were approved for adoption by the CGS Council at its November Meeting.
At our Annual Congregational Meeting on Sunday, January 27 one of the agenda items is to update the CGS Constitution. We're focusing on adopting the ELCA Model Constitution verbatim to get us caught up before the next Churchwide Assembly, which is in August 2019.
Here are a few things about the proposed updated constitution:
· The 3 separate documents (Constitution, Bylaws and Continuing Resolutions) were consolidated into one document.
· Clarified and corrected our numbering of several items.
· Added Model Constitution language adopted by the Churchwide Assembly on Diaconal Ministers.
· Updated some details about committees to reflect current ministries at CGS.
I encourage you to take time over the next month to read through all the proposed changes to our Constitution. If you have any questions, please reach out to any Council Member.
You can find the proposed updated constitution at www.cgslc.org/important-documents or in hard copy in the Narthex of the church.
On behalf of the Council and in service,
President, CGS Council
As we read the Bible we discover that hospitality is not just “niceness” or “neighborliness,” but crucial. Famine-stricken Israel found hospitality (food and welcome) in Egypt. Later, in the dark wilderness, Israel experienced the bright light of God’s hospitality: manna, quail, water from a rock. When Jesus sent 70 disciples out to announce and demonstrate the coming of God’s kingdom, he ordered them to travel light: “Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals…” (Luke 10:4) In this way they would be dependent upon the hospitality of others, and would invite them to enter into the generous, open-hearted hospitality that characterizes God’s rule. They were sent not just to talk about God’s coming rule; they offered people an experience of the kingdom of God, of generous gift giving and receiving.
In 2014 Faith Lutheran Church in Reno received a request. The high school youth group from Trinity Lutheran Church, Enumclaw, WA, was hoping to come to Reno for a summer mission trip and needed a place to sleep and prepare and eat meals. Faith is a small congregation, averaging about 50 at worship each week. But Pastor Tom Beck regularly reminded them not to focus on the things their size prevented them from doing, but to remain alert to the opportunities that might, despite their size, come their way. That message resonated with Sonja Dresbach, a church leader gifted with open-hearted hospitality. She offered to be the person who would meet the group when they arrived, orient them to Faith’s more-than-adequate rooms and kitchen, and check in with them during their stay. So Faith agreed to provide the needed hospitality.
Deacon Tammy Rismiller, an ELCA rostered minister of Word and Service, has been working with faith formation of children and youth at Trinity, Enumclaw, since 1996. Now married and a mother of three teens (two sons and one daughter), Tammy loves her work and has worked with six pastors at Trinity. Trinity is not a large congregation, either, averaging about 130 at worship each week, but 20-30 high school youth show up each Sunday evening for youth group. They come from Trinity Church, from other congregations in that small town, and some are unchurched. There are ten trained peer leaders. Four small groups, led by adults, meet during the week. Most of all, Tammy reports, “The kids love service!” So the highlight each year is the summer mission trip, often facilitated by Youth Works. In recent years the group has served in New Orleans (working with people with disabilities), Lame Deer, MT (a Cheyenne reservation), Nicaragua (a medical mission trip), Appalachia, and, of course, Reno, where the youth work with Reno/Sparks Gospel Mission, a Christian residential substance abuse treatment program, a Boys and Girls Club, a community food bank, and a homeless shelter. These trips provide a rich experience of different kinds of people in a wide variety of settings. Most importantly, Tammy says, “After the mission trips many youth report a new, deepened relationship with God.” Two Lutheran pastors, a LCMS pastor in Sacramento, CA, and the pastor at another ELCA church in Enumclaw, are graduates of Trinity’s youth group and mission trips.
Having enjoyed and appreciated Faith’s hospitality in 2014, the group returned this summer, July 7-13, for another mission trip to Reno and sojourn at Faith Lutheran. This year’s group consisted of 32 youth, 10 adults (cooks, drivers, and more), and 6 college students who had been high schoolers on the trip to Reno four years ago. But this year there were two new kinds of service in addition to the previous trip’s. The group from Enumclaw worshiped with Faith on Sunday morning, providing a skit and doubling the size of the congregation, and spent Monday at Faith painting, doing yard clean-up, and helping with other tasks Faith’s older members are unable to do. Just like Jesus intended! The kingdom of God came near as hospitality led to gratitude, and gratitude led to reciprocal service.
Faith Lutheran Church, Reno, which doesn’t have the gifts to create and sustain a vibrant, life-changing youth ministry, discovered it does have the gifts to support and participate in such a ministry.
Alert to opportunities!
The Spirit works in amazing ways!
By Daniel Thomas, CGS Musician
Although I was born and raised in Northern California, I lived in Southern California for 17 years before coming back. And while I had a lot of great experiences, made many life-long friends (including my wife!), and found some truly lovely spaces, I never really acclimated to the “L.A. scene.”
For many years while I lived there Christmas Eve was one of my busiest days of the year. The caroling group I sang with had a standing 10 AM gig at a beautiful private home on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, then usually had another party somewhere in Orange County in the early afternoon. Then I’d play the 5 PM service at my church in Long Beach, then do a four-hour caroling gig at a restaurant in Newport Beach. So by 11:30 PM, I was drained physically and mentally and had put in about 125 miles back and forth on the 405 (and even on holidays, there was still traffic).
Then, I would drive on PCH from Newport Beach home to Long Beach. I would listen to a classical music station that would play lovely choral versions of Christmas carols. Because it was Southern California, the weather was usually clear as a bell, and I could drive up the coast with the lights of the city on one side, and the ocean and stars on the other side. It was not only the most peaceful part of my day, but one of the most peaceful moments of my entire year. I could reflect on the joy I had brought to so many people during the day; but more importantly, I could reflect on the glorious event that was the reason for all of the parties and feasting and celebrating. As I drove down the highway and looked out over the beach and into the calm, starry night, and the strains of Handel or Mohr played on the radio, I could envision the small village in the desert - calm, peaceful, but with the choirs of angels guiding weary travelers towards the unimposing stable where Jesus was brought into the world, bringing with him the message of hope, of love, of joy, of peace.
For that little sliver of time I could let go of all the enmity, the conflict and strife, the ego, greed, and pride that infects so much of the world, and I could reinforce my belief in the best of humanity.
Every year, when someone wishes me Merry Christmas, I remember those moments late on Christmas Eve, and that makes me merry indeed.
I hope that all of you can have that moment of clarity, of peace, where you can leave the cacophony and rush of the holiday season behind and remember why we are celebrating, and give thanks for the arrival of Jesus and his promise of love. I hope that is your Merry Christmas moment.
By Rebecca Thomas, council member
We are all taught the difference between right and wrong when we are kids. Daniel and I are currently dredging though this tough topic with 3-year-old Joshua, who defines the concept by labeling everyone a “good guy” or a “bad guy.” While I have never been a fan of those phrases (since it is behavior that is bad, not a person), I do understand why his young brain needs to label in this way for the world to make sense. Things need to be black and white. Right or wrong. Soon enough, however, he will grow up and become familiar with another concept - the dreaded grey area.
I’d like to share with you how the Council has found itself in its own moral grey area for a long time when it comes to one truly frustrating topic: what to do about Carden School.
For years the Council has agreed that, while we were happy to provide a facility for Carden to teach their students, the relationship with them was purely financial, and did not fit with our CGS mission to Proclaim, Welcome, and Serve. Naturally, it seemed that we should find a “higher and better” use for those buildings. But what about the income they bring us? Wasn’t our role as Council members to make sure we took care of this congregation? And that cannot be done without financial stability. These debates kept us in an unstable relationship with Carden, as they continued to miss payments, use more of the campus than agreed upon, and ignore our correspondence. The relationship was becoming a liability to us, just because we were trying to do “the right thing.”
Ultimately, we decided it was imperative to send a very detailed lease that would protect CGS both legally and financially. It was sent to the owners of Carden School in November, and they did not agree to sign. By not agreeing to our terms, Carden will be evicted from our campus on December 31st. This has presented us with a grey area that troubled me more than any so far – what about the poor students, their families, and the staff?
It breaks my heart to know how difficult this will be on the families as they will have to scramble to make other school arrangements. And what will happen to the teachers? Will they still be paid through the end of the school year? Have the families been told what is happening? Sadly, we don’t have the answers to any of these. Would Joshua define me as one of the “bad guys” in this situation?
We want everyone at CGS to know that we have tried everything we can think of to keep a healthy relationship with Carden, and their eviction was not something we decided upon lightly. That is why we chose to do it at a time between school terms, giving them the best chance possible to find a new classroom situation, while no longer putting us under potential financial and legal liability.
These grown up decisions are harder than anyone prepared me for when I was 3. The only way we can all get through is to pray that God continues to give us all guidance - Joshua, my family, the Council, Carden, everyone at CGS, and all inhabitants of this world we share. With God’s help, the answers become clear. Please, Lord, continue to help us out of the grey and into your LIGHT!
It’s Christmas! It’s that time of year when everyone seems get very busy in preparation for the season. We decorate our houses for days, inside and out, sometimes with unspoken competition with neighbors. We put up Christmas trees in more than one room of the house if possible, sprucing them up with a mix of new ornaments and those that were collected through the years. We make a list of names of friends and loved ones, and shop for their perfect gifts. We plan travels to spend time with family and friends. We create the perfect menu to serve, when everyone gathers around the table for that special holiday meal. We shop. We cook. We bake. We eat. Outside of home, we also help decorate the church, our work space, our community. We buy more gifts to help our less fortunate neighbors. We travel to lend extra hands in feeding the homeless and the hungry. We shop. We cook. We bake. We eat.
It’s also this time of the year that the choirs are the busiest, with the concerts, carolings, and other special events and parties that happen around the holiday. We fill the air with songs and carols to help bring everyone to the season’s spirit. We sing. We sing. We sing. We sing. But in spite of all these, all the busyness, as our Christmas concert’s focus: this time of the year we’re going to celebrate Christmas. The real reason for the season - the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. My hope is that in the midst of all the decorating, shopping, traveling, cooking and baking, the “joy to the worlds” and “hallelujahs,” we’ll take some time to rest, think, and be reminded about what Linus shared - the true meaning of Christmas.
- Rey Lambatin, Choir Director
I need to catch you up on our relationship with Carden School. If you were present at our congregational meeting in November, you might remember that Carden school has been in arrears for some time and that over the past 6 years our relationship with them has become laborious. In November, our congregation offered a new lease to the new owners of the school. This past week the new owners declined our terms for a new lease.
Finding a way forward for this relationship wasn’t easy for our council. At the very least, the council wanted to ensure that the families and students would be able to finish their semester. However, as a congregation we are not able to sustain the kind of relationship that we have had with Carden. As of December 31st, Carden school will no longer be renting property on our campus.
No matter how necessary, this is still a heartbreaking outcome. Please keep the staff, students, and families in your prayers as they head into an uncertain and difficult future. Please also keep our leadership and the property team in your prayers as they sensitively execute on the eviction in the next month. As we move forward there are many unknowns and possibilities. I encourage you to be in conversation with the council leaders and join the planning and preparation for whatever it is that comes next for us.
In Advent hope, Pastor Manda
by Daniel Thomas, CGS Musician
For many people, December is the most musical month of the year. The “sounds of Christmas” worm their way into our ears, often before Thanksgiving dinner is even finished. We hear the familiar strains of Mel Tormé, or Mariah Carey, or Bing Crosby, or the Carpenters coming out of the radio, through our television sets, across the shopping malls, and likely haunting us in our sleep.
For many generations, Christmas music meant the carols of Advent and Christmas – many of the songs and hymns we’ll be singing over the next few weeks – beloved tunes and texts about the anticipation and celebration of the birth of Jesus. In the last century or so, however, Western culture has added what is often referred to as “secular” Christmas music – songs about family and friends, food, parties, love, Santa Claus, presents and so forth. As someone who often gets asked to provide talent for various holiday functions, such as Christmas tree lightings, corporate parties, and the like, I’m often asked whether or not the singer can do “non-religious” holiday music. It has gotten to the point that if you asked the person on the street to name a Christmas song, you’re as likely to get “White Christmas” as you are “Silent Night.”
That said, I think the breadth and depth of seasonal music – both religious and secular – is a wonderful thing. I know people who decry the Tin Pan Alley or Pop Christmas song as neglecting “the reason for the season” – and we should never lose sight of why we celebrate and give thanks on December 25. But, I feel that many of the themes of these songs – friendship, family, peace and unity, generosity, love – are things that Jesus would want us to embrace, and in fact, would hope that we would be singing about throughout the year. And while we won’t be playing “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” in service, I hope that when you do hear that song, or any of the dozens of other ear-worms that you’ll be bombarded with the next 35 days or so, you’ll think about the happiness and joy they bring to so many people of all cultures, the happiness and joy we are lucky enough to enjoy because we also know of the happiness and joy of the coming of Jesus.
P.S. I also think there hasn’t been a good Christmas song written since 1970’s “Merry Christmas, Darling.” Feel free to argue with me!
The publication Stories of Faith in Action and the resources that go along with it are designed to share how important your weekly offering in your congregation is in sustaining and growing God’s mission. The portion of your offerings that support the ELCA’s synodical and churchwide ministries is called Mission Support. The publication helps explain and answer questions about Mission Support and tell the story of those gifts in action.
Sharing space, growing in faith
A growing, new worship community—ELCA Batak—is sharing space with First Lutheran
Church in Redlands, Calif., and leaders say both groups are enriched by the experience.
“It’s working,” said Kamser Siahaan, president of Batak’s council. “We have a good relationship.”
The partnership began last fall, and members even celebrated Christmas together.
Siahaan’s faith community, with about 60 people, is awaiting a new pastor from ELCA companions in Indonesia, where the Batak have their roots. They have been worshiping together in Southern California for more than 10 years, originally part of a larger Batak group, said Tom Goellrich, director for evangelical mission in the ELCA Pacifca Synod.
Goellrich helped match the Batak community with First and provides support. Mission Support from the synod and churchwide organization sustain his work.
“They’re a very enthusiastic, very energetic group who have a great faith and a great love for Jesus,” he said.
While they await a pastor, the Batak community calls on outside help to preach on Sundays, sometimes from other pastors who speak the Indonesian language. Having an Indonesian pastor helps older people in the congregation who can’t understand English as well as younger members, Siahaan said.
Kim Krogstad, pastor of First, also helps. She recently presided over the wedding of Siahaan’s daughter.
As with any new relationship, there was some “stepping on each other’s toes,” mainly involving scheduling, Goellrich said. The congregations worked it out.
First has worship services on Sunday mornings and the Batak congregation worships in the afternoons, with singing, dancing and a meal afterward.
“We have a lot of growing because members of the congregation live around here,” Siahaan said. “We’re
hoping to have more than 100 people.”
Krogstad said she hopes the youth groups in the congregations can share activities. A new group of people with a different background is bringing life and joy to their congregation, she said,
by Susan Duran
BEYOND the building, I love that phrase! It means that we not only considering making some much needed remodeling and updating of our building infrastructure, but that we are concerned about helping our community and others outside our church walls. It means that we truly want to live out our mission statement of proclaiming, welcoming and serving.
Even though we are still in phase one of our five phase multi-year project, I am excited and hopeful about the outcome. I know that the journey ahead will not be easy, but together with the many different gifts that the Holy Spirit has given each of us we can go forward. To do that we need to know if our members are willing and ready to move forward with trust so that we can take risks and accomplish our goals. Every person at our church is extremely important and necessary to our future success. Now if the time for your thoughts, opinions, and viewpoints.
So won't you please join us at the November 18, 2018 (yes, that’s today!) Congregational Meeting following church service. A light lunch will be provided. We will have elections to council, go over the listening study report, discuss 2018 financials update, as well as 2019 goals and our draft budget for next year.
(For more detailed information about the phases of BEYOND the Building, please go here on our website: Beyond the Builiding)
Your fellow worker for Christ,
Do you know that in a year, our CGS office gets visited and gives assistance to about 120 unhoused or underhoused guests, 48 transients or travelers passing through, and 60 people who just need help with buying groceries so they can use their own funds for other necessities? Yes, we help by giving them gift cards in varied values, that they can use to either purchase food and other sustenance, or gas for their vehicles that they use as their lodging, or to continue on with their travel. Sadly, there are times when we have to turn people away because we run out of gift cards to hand out.
This year’s Christmas concert aims to help raise funds for this ministry, while showcasing the abundant musical talents that God has blessed our church. We will help spread the holiday spirit with musical renditions from our choirs, the Keynote Vocal Group and CGS Mixed Choir, sound of familiar carols will fill our sanctuary with the instruments of our CGS Band and the Hand Bells, and solo interpretations of songs that bring us the hope, love, and joy of Christmas.
There will be no tickets to see the show, but we ask people who are planning to come to bring gift cards in any value, for groceries (Safeway, Target, etc.) or for gas from any gas station. We will also collect free-will donations during the concert and we will take care of purchasing the gift cards with the offerings we will gather.
We hope that CGS can continue to help spread the spirit of giving throughout the year, and bring a little bit of comfort and joy to people in need through this ministry.
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.