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.
By Daniel Thomas, CGS Musician
Fall is fast approaching, along with all of the renewed activity it brings at home, school, and work. We’re also ramping the music back up for the fall - beginning a new liturgy, and welcoming back all of our instrumentalists from “summer break.” We’ve got some exciting things lined up that will blend familiar and well-loved music with some new twists - so be sure to keep your ears open! For now, though, I want to take advantage of my space this month to acknowledge our musicians and everything they contribute to our worship service.
Ronny Johnston is our drummer and percussionist, and is one of the most easy-going and talented musicians I have had the pleasure of working with. He is always ready to provide whatever texture is needed to fill out the music, rolls with any changes or additions that come up last-minute, and can take a piano part and find an effective and musical percussion part from it. We are lucky to have such an accommodating, reliable, and gifted musician working with us.
The rest of our musicians are volunteers and give freely of their time and talents to create a beautiful musical foundation to our worship. Our “rhythm section” is filled out by Gail Johnson on guitar and Rob Colver on bass. They have both been playing since long before I started here, and while their playing may not be as immediately noticeable as drums or wind instruments, they fill out our sound with their solid accompaniment. I’d also like to acknowledge Jean Hope, who had been playing with us for many years (and hopefully will be returning to us soon!) and Lynne Hunger, who joined us last year.
We are truly blessed and fortunate to have Chuck Witschorik on tenor sax, Kevin Visscher on clarinet, and Rachel Visscher on viola. This somewhat non-traditional combination of instruments work beautifully together, and allow me to have a great amount of flexibility in arranging our music. I can have some instruments supporting the congregation's melody while others are playing supporting lines or descants; I can have all three playing together to provide a beautiful chordal texture; or any of them are capable and willing to take solo lines. They are accommodating beyond reasonable expectations and willing to try anything - including playing the handbells. None of them had any experience on handbells prior to CGS purchasing them in late 2017, but they jumped in without hesitation and have given us some beautiful handbell music over the last two years (and there’s going to be more!). Of course, I also want to thank my wife Rebecca, who is a handbell veteran and has lent her talents to our group on many occasions.
The collective talent and dedication of this group gives us musical possibilities that far eclipse most congregations of our size. I am tremendously grateful and humbled for their hard work and commitment to making music a vital part of our community, and thank them all from the bottom of my heart. I hope that when you see them you can take a moment to give them your thanks as well.
"And when the musician played, the hand of the LORD came upon him.” -2 Kings 3:15
Next up: Transgender
TRANSGENDER is an identity many people use whose self-experienced gender does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. For example, a transgender person might be someone who identifies and lives as a woman but whose birth-assigned sex was male. Other transgender people identify as somewhere in between the societally recognized genders of a man and woman, as neither, or as one gender at some times and another gender at other times.
TRANS can be an umbrella term used to refer to transgender, genderqueer, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people. The colors of the transgender flag are incorporated here.
When someone shares their identity, honor that self-understanding by using the words, pronouns, and identity terms they provide
by Susan Duran, CGS Council Member
Did you know that the homeless resident population in San Jose is now over 6,000? With some of the highest housing costs in the entire United States, many people living in our city, especially those with low paying service jobs are at great risk of living on the street. (The Mercury News, May 16, 2019)
Yes, I know there are many reasons for homelessness besides low income including: astronomical rental prices, mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse, discrimination, poverty, and loss of employment. But aren't we called to help others less fortunate than ourselves? Romans 12:13 says “Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.”
While we can't solve the problem of homelessness, we can take part in the solution. One of the ways we assist others is by contributing personal hygiene products. Thank you all for your ongoing and generous support of the homeless in our community by giving personal care products so that Encompass Ministries can distribute the supplies to our siblings living on the margins of society. “How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?” 1 John 3:17
Did you know CGS is in the process of helping some of the homeless in our city by participating in the Safe Car Park Program? Our church will be partnering with 10 or more other groups locally to develop a rotating Safe Car Park. The objective is to start hosting people next year with the sites each hosting for several months of the year. Stay tuned for more information on this vital program.
Thank you for saying yes when help is needed.
For more ways to help others in our community go to:
For more information on Encompass Ministries and how you can help go to encompassministry.org or call Pastor Jim Clark-Moore at (408) 761-2062.
Don't forget about our own church helping Rise Against Hunger on Saturday, September 7th starting at 10AM. We will be packaging meals for hungry people around the world. I hope to see you there!
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.