MESSIAH EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
Combined Church Council and Call Team Meeting with Pastor Robert Abrams
August 11, 2020 6:00 p.m.
a. Members present: Nancy Meyer, Bob Combs, Lisa Simpson, Jan Murphy, Mike Melvin, Pennie Brown, Donna Schafer, Jacqui Thompson, Bob Brenning, Dave Adams, Linda Nichol, Debi Knull, Steve Leep. The meeting was conducted by Zoom; for those present in the sanctuary social distancing was observed.
b. Nancy Meyer made a brief statement regarding the history of the present issues surrounding the move to the single worship service and the call process, and introduced Pastor Abrams from the Synod office as the guest. Pastor Abrams opened with prayer.
i. Differences in how decisions are perceived – Council went through a year-long process evaluating the change to one service, soliciting input from the congregation; attendees at the early service felt unaware of the change until it had happened.
ii. The Call Team feels disconnected from Council, and surprised by the decision to enter a closed call process. Felt that their work to collect information about the church was disregarded; did not understand why the decision was made. Council President made announcements to the Congregation including rationale for the decision, and the rationale was reviewed in detail at 2 subsequent Call Team meetings, but those communications have not been successful.
b. Worship change
i. Survey and Cottage Meeting data emphasized the strength of worship at Messiah; feeling is that this strength has been ignored by Council in making the change.
ii. Council’s plan was for the remaining service to be blended, and this has been done, but may not be meeting everyone’s expectation of “blended”.
c. Call Team and Call Process
i. Members felt disenfranchised when Council decided to go to a closed call process – did not understand that they still had a role but not the original role when they were convened.
ii. Pastor Abrams gave a detailed account of the rationale for moving to this decision – regardless of what we call the Call Team’s process, there are no other candidates. Accepting that fact makes this a closed call – evaluation of only one candidate.
iii. Difficulties within the team in focusing solely on the call process are hampering the team’s ability to move forward.
iv. Call process can be 3-step (Call Team, Council, Congregation) or 2-Step with Bishop’s approval (Council, Congregation).
3. General Ways Forward
a. Communicate effectively – be creative in evaluating effectiveness of communications. Council to adopt a comprehensive congregational communication strategy that all will follow.
b. Address issues openly – discuss fully, explore all options, communicate per (a) above to maintain transparency and keep everyone informed.
c. Be creative AND flexible in approaching solutions – Put forth energy toward developing solutions rather than on hanging on to past ideas. Ask why not?
4. Next Steps
a. Develop and implement comprehensive communication strategy
b. Discuss formation of worship planning group
c. Discuss next steps for Call Team now that closed call process has been clarified.
d. Follow-up with Pastor Abrams (Nancy and Bob)
5. The meeting was concluded at 7:25 p.m. with prayer by Pastor Abrams.
Nancy Meyer. Call Team Leader and Church Council Secretary