What is “normal”?
I’ve never been good at scheduling and planning. In fact, much of the time my brain doesn’t seem to turn on until my back is against the wall of a deadline. Things get done, tasks are accomplished, but always just under the wire, and without margin for error. It’s always been infuriating to me, but I also knew that it was my “normal.” This is probably one reason why I’ve gravitated towards a career in the arts, where ever-changing rehearsals and performances and such mean there’s never really a “normal” schedule.
Like so many of us, whatever sense of a regular schedule I did have was wiped out by the pandemic. No live performances, working remotely, our son attending school from his room. As weeks became months and stretched out past a year, this topsy-turvy life became our “new normal” – but rather than settling into it, there was always one eye towards when things would return to the “old normal.”
Now that we’re ever-so-slowly emerging from the worst of the pandemic, I realize that, in spite of the unpleasant reasons for our world changing, there were some truly wonderful things that we experienced that will be unique to this moment in time. On the top of this list was the increased time we had with our son. Although in the moment it felt like we never had a free moment to ourselves, looking back at watching him go through kindergarten, our near-daily walks to the park, the games and puzzles and books, and yes, the tears and frustrations, we got an opportunity to bond and grow as a family that may never be replicated.
Now we’re getting back to the “old normal.” Rebecca’s going back to her office more; I’ve been doing nights and weekends at the theatre, Joshua is at school and in soccer and swimming lessons. And while it’s familiar (and often quieter!), I find myself missing some of what I just recently considered craziness. I was so caught up in what was or wasn’t “normal” and how we would get back to “normal” that I almost missed the extraordinary.
As we go through life, looking for comfort in answers, patterns, rationales, and a sense of normalcy, we need to remember that human life is unpredictable, chaotic, and irrational. There is no such thing as “normal” – and if we can embrace that, maybe we can find the comfort we seek in the extraordinary, in the astonishing, and in the miraculous.
Last week your Call Committee held "office hours", with times in the
morning, afternoon and evening. We didn't have any callers, though
one household let us know they intended to call but missed the time.
But there's a silver lining to this. At least the committee members
had some really good conversations with each other!
When we meet as a committee, we're very focused on discerning the
needs of the congregation, rather than our personal preferences.
So these calls were a chance to talk about qualities
we personally like to see in pastors, even if those aren't necessarily
qualities that seem to have much general appeal at CGS.
The conversations were illuminating, both in how they revealed the
diversity of preferences among call committee members, but also in
the differing expectations regarding what CGS might *not* like.
What qualities would you like to see in our next pastor? Not
wishful-thinking "they'll make X, Y, and Z happen", but rather
the skills, personality traits, and attitudes they will need.
Likewise, are there any qualities that you see as potentially
problematic, things that would react in unhealthy
ways with the culture and context of this community?
It's even helpful to know what you consider unimportant. For example,
one might say that substantial financial expertise isn't a requirement
for a pastor at CGS, because we already have breadth and depth of such
expertise among our active members.
So please, talk to us!
Randy Presuhn (chair), Adolfo Ramirez, Julia
Tranchina, Paul Thomas, and Sarah Janigian.
Your Call Committee continues to meet weekly. We are diligently
compiling information to craft the Ministry Site Profile (MSP). This is
the document that pastoral candidates use to decide if they want to
apply for a position at a particular church. Therefore, it’s important
that our MSP represents CGS accurately, so we can connect with the
candidate(s) that will be the best possible match for our congregation.
That said, your Call Committee wants to hear from you! Why do you love
CGS? What are your hopes and dreams for our future? Let us know. Either
in-person, by email, or virtually.
Speaking of virtually, this week (November 15-19) we will be holding
"office hours". Each office hour has its own Zoom link. For each Zoom
session, we plan to have two Call Committee members online to listen to
and discuss your hopes and desires for the future of CGS and perhaps
which qualities you would like our next pastor to possess. An email with
the details and specific Zoom links will be sent to all congregational members who currently receive email from the church office. Here is the
schedule for your reference:
Mon 11/15 10am-11am Julia & Randy
Tues 11/16 7pm-8pm Adolfo & Matt
Wed 11/17 10am-11am Sarah & Randy
Wed 11/17 1pm-2pm Julia & Randy
Thu 11/18 7pm-8pm Adolfo & Matt
Fri 11/19 1pm-2pm Paul & Randy
If you haven't receive the Zoom link information please check your email
or contact us at email@example.com
The members of your Call Committee Randy Presuhn, Chair, Paul Thomas,
Sarah Janigian, Matt Byom, Adolfo Ramirez, and Julia Tranchina greatly
appreciate your prayers and support.
For this season of thanksgiving, I just want to share some excerpts from a sermon by Rev. Dr. Ron Barnes of Anchorpoint Counseling Ministry. I believe we will find these very helpful and relevant as we go through this season once more in the midst of a pandemic.
- Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. ~ James 1:2-6
“A heart of thanksgiving is a loving heart. A heart often becomes grateful because it has experience in being ungrateful. It has become a grateful heart because it has realized there is much to be grateful for despite life’s trials and difficult times. A heart becomes grateful when it experiences the significance of the Love of Christ. A person develops a deeper appreciation for the life he or she has been given, even amidst difficulty.
A heart of thanksgiving is usually a heart that has been tested. Despite all the challenges a person has experienced, he or she has realized that living gratefully and appreciatively is the high road to travel. Ask someone who has had an organ transplant, who has survived a traumatic accident, who has dealt with tragic loss, who fights chronic pain or chronic illness about having a grateful heart. The challenge of living appreciatively or depreciatively is ever-present. It is present for all of us, but it is more obvious when there are ongoing struggles.
So what keeps us from having a heart of thanksgiving? A lack of an appreciative mind and heart is the obvious answer. But what is creating an ungrateful spirit within us? There are very difficult problems in this world. How are we to have a grateful heart when facing intense problems like a global pandemic? The Christian faith calls us to take the high road even when the low road is closer and more convenient. James challenges all of us about this issue. This scripture in James is a hard one for most of us to understand. It confronts our humanness, our human condition as many scriptures tend to do. James never suggested to his readers that Christianity would be an easy way. The truth is we need this scripture and in reality, we need hearts of thanksgiving.
Hearts of thanksgiving enable us to develop a spiritual perspective. A heart of thanksgiving helps to nurture our spiritual nature which moves us beyond our human nature and human condition. If our heart is not grateful, it is difficult to be a loving heart which we are called by God to have towards our self and others. God’s love is indeed a healing love, and having a spiritual understanding of God’s grace can only lead us to having a grateful heart. May each of us continue to live our lives in full reception of God’s grace and love.”
-Rey Lambatin, Choir Director
Call Committee Newsletter article #3 (Nov.3, 2021)
The Call Committee (Randy Presuhn, Chair, Paul Thomas, Sarah Janigian, Matt Byom, Adolfo Ramirez, and Julia Tranchina) continues to meet on a regular basis. Following the meeting with the bishop of our Synod, the Committee has begun work on seven brief essay questions from the Ministry Site profile designed to help us summarize the current life of our congregation. These essays should help us understand better who we are, and once the Committee has finished, they will be presented to the Congregation for its feedback, and eventually they will be made available to the pastoral candidates to help give them a better idea of just what CGS is like.
While we are doing this, the Call Committee really wants your thoughts on what it is you would like to see in our next pastor. We are very pleased and grateful that a few of you have already approached us with ideas, but we need more of you to talk to us. Please track us down at coffee hour or before services or whenever or wherever you can find us or send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The week of November 15, we plan to make ourselves available via Zoom for those of you who may prefer to contact us that way. The details of that process will be forthcoming soon.
The important thing is that the Call Committee needs your input and we hope you will let us know what you think is important. You can not only tell us what you want and feel is important to have in our next pastor, but you may also tell us what you don’t want or don’t like. Two sides of the same coin perhaps, but however you put it, we want to know what you think.
Please continue to pray for the Committee
- Paul Thomas
Happy November CGS!
With November’s arrival the holiday season is officially in full swing. Calendars start to get booked with time slots of people and events fighting for attention. I’ve heard from those around me that this year they plan to make the holidays extra special or the celebration on a larger scale to amend for lack of time spent together in 2020.
While I understand this perspective, I was inspired by Pastor Jill’s art that hangs in the office space. “ Be Still Life” it reads over my desk space.
Taking the time in the whirlwind of the season to put it all on pause, to enjoy the moments as they are without placing pressure can provide little pockets of peace. And so no matter the level of commitments or pressure you might feel during these next two months, I hope you find little pockets of stillness to relax and enjoy this season of life.
- Christina U
Please join Emma Steger in participating in the Synod-wide service day.
Items needed are as follow:
* Light weight bath sized towel ( between 20' x 40" and 52" x 27"), dark color recommended
*Bath size bars of soap equaling 8oz to 9oz
*Adult- size toothbrush
*Metal nail clippers
Personal care items can be donated in the bin by church office. Thank you for the support!
Call Committee Update:
The Call Committee is hard at work, taking very seriously our responsibilities on behalf of the congregation to find our next pastor. First and foremost is completing the Ministry Site Profile. This very important document is given to the Office of the Bishop and to prospective candidates to tell them who we are, to help identify candidates and for candidates to decide whether this ministry would be a fit.
We need everyone’s help in letting us know your thoughts about our congregation’s life, personality and future direction. Conveying an accurate picture of our church community, our “feel”, realities and aspirations is important as we prepare documentation for the Office of the Bishop. Please take the time to talk to any of the members of the Call Committee in person, or by email. You can contact team members individually or send an email to email@example.com. There will also be more formal ways to give input to the committee through surveys and focus groups as we move along in the process.
At our last meeting we met (via Zoom) with Bishop Rohrer, who is going to be handling our call process. Our bishop is familiar with CGS and has worked with several of our former pastors over the years. The bishop gave us some thoughts about the process, and the importance of the Ministry Site Profile (MSP) and the information that is provided. It was stressed that congregational trust is vital to the success of the process, and providing the most complete picture of who we are is very important. Again, the Call Committee is looking to members of the congregation to let us know your thoughts about our church life.
How long this is going to take is unknown. The Call Committee is committed to meeting weekly and working hard to gather data and put the Ministry Site Profile together. We do not want to rush the process. Call Committee members want to make sure that we submit a final Ministry Site Profile that accurately reflects who we are and the type of leader that will be best for our congregation. Our goal is to submit the Ministry Site Profile in the beginning of the new year.
Call committee progress updates will be provided on a very regular basis through announcements and bulletin articles. Please use the ways that have been set up to let us know your thoughts, hopes, and dreams. We want to hear from you.
Please pray for us.
The Call Committee
Randy Presuhn, Chairperson
CGS Call Committee members Adolfo Ramirez, Julia Tranchina, Matt Byom,
Paul Thomas, Randy Presuhn (chair) and Sarah Janigian would love to
hear from you! We've been gathering demographic reports (thank you,
U.S. Census, ELCA, and synod staff!), financial reports (thank you,
Jean Hope!), mission statements and annual reports (thank you, Skye
Gordineer and Christina Unzen!), personnel parameters (thank you,
Michael Flanagin!) and other factual information for the
Ministry Site Profile (MSP). But that information gathering is
only part of our work at this phase of the process.
We also need to know your thoughts about the congregation's
"personality" and direction. Your observations about our life together
that would help us convey a meaningful picture of the "feel,"
aspirations, and realities of this community to potential candidates
would be especially welcome. What are the stories that would help
a candidate discern whether we are meant for each other? Talk to
any of us in person or by email, or reach the entire team by sending
an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have spent enough time with the previous MSP to realize much has
changed in the last eight years, and are now going through the details
of the profile to construct questions for the community when we are
unable to give confident answers ourselves. If there are questions
you think would be helpful to our bishop in identifying candidates,
or to candidates trying to decide whether this ministry
would be a fit, please let us know!
We have not yet decided what combination of in-person meetings and
on-line or paper surveys to use, and so would appreciate your
insights on this as well. We are trying to get through this as
quickly as we can while still assembling an accurate and useful
profile and hope the congregation is left feeling empowered rather
than exhausted by the process.
A frustrating aspect of this work is that timelines are elusive. The
Call Committee has been meeting electronically every week, and on
October 27th will be joined by our bishop, reviewing where we are in
the process and looking at the steps to come. We are acutely aware
of the coming holiday season and of the need for significant work on
the MSP. But we also know that too often the perfect becomes the enemy
of the good, and we must avoid the temptation to polish the MSP past
the point of diminishing returns.
Fortunately, our bishop has visited CGS many times over the years, and
has worked closely with some of our former pastors. The bishop may be
able to give us some guidance on how to determine whether the MSP is
"good enough" to be useful to them and to prospective candidates.
We fervently hope that this process will be as transparent as possible.
If you have questions or comments or ideas, please let us know. We have
to maintain information about candidates under strict confidence until
we have made a recommendation to our council, but anything else is fair
Please keep the Call Committee in your prayers!
- Randy Presuhn
Your CGS Church Council has been busy lately!
As you know, both our bridge Pastor, Pr. Jill, and the new community coordinator, Christina Unzen, both started this month. They have both been great so far and I think I speak for the entire council, that it is such a relief to have them here to help. While the entire council did an amazing job stepping up and covering all the roles that these two positions usually cover, we are happy to hand over the reins to them! If you haven’t met them yet, come see them both at worship each Sunday.
Also happening this past month was getting the parsonage ready for Pastor Jill. Pastor Manda moved out on the 30th of September and Pastor Jill moved in on the 3rd! That’s a fast turn around. Thank you to all who helped with that!
Lastly, the council has been planning our Congregational Meeting to be held Nov. 14th directly after worship. Please plan to attend as we need your vote. The major item on the agenda is approving our 2022 budget. The finance committee did an amazing job putting together the first draft. Look for the final draft budget via email prior to the meeting. We will also be sending a hard copy to those who need it. The council plans to have a budget informational meeting the Sunday prior to the Congregational Meeting. Come with your questions and comments! Also on the November meeting agenda is electing our nominating committee (any volunteers?), electing our Synod Representatives (June 1-4, Reno), and getting an update on our kitchen and bathroom remodel.
Don’t want to wait for a council update? Join us on the 3rd Tuesday of each month at 6:30 for the council meeting!
-Skye Gordineer, Council President
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.