Abiding Grace Lutheran Church
July 8, 2010
Attendees: Phil Hart, Dee Rose, Patti Langsdale, John Nelson, Kenn Mingus, Nolan Clemens
Note taker: Kim Saunders
Phil opened in prayer.
Before our pastoral candidate, Nick Billardello, came to the meeting, Kenn gave us some background. He was a regional sales manager with Chrysler before attending seminary. He served at Calvary as an intern. He has finished school and is awaiting his first call; therefore, he is not ordained. The bishop can authorize him to do communion, etc. The synod is going to talk to him about taking the training to be a mission developer. He graduated from Trinity Seminary in Columbus OH. (The other candidate that we talked about last meeting has bowed out)
Nick then came in and we all had a great talk. Phil mentioned that we don't want to be "LW in Exile" – we want to be a new ELCA church in the area. Phil also mentioned that 115 people voted to stay with the ELCA, but some of them have joined other area churches. A few more than 30 met with the bishop at Briarwood. The second vote at LW is the last Sunday of August. Nick asked if we had been looking for places to worship. Phil caught him up on that. We have a couple places of interest, but they may have to be put on hold for financial reasons. We do have a name, and EIN, and a steering committee. Patti mentioned that we are small but mighty. John mentioned that we don't have a lot of families with kids because we don't have as much to offer as other churches.
Nick grew up Lutheran, worked as a counselor at camp during college. He worked for Chrysler after college and was moving up the corporate ladder very quickly. At a dealer meeting with some of the powerful Chrysler people, he looked around and saw many successful men who had unhappy lives. He decided that he didn't want his life like that. He quit Chrysler, moved home, and got a job as a youth minister. When his pastor was unable to preach, he asked Nick to fill in. He was very nervous and asked God for help and guidance. After that, he preached more often at that church.
He had also worked with campus youth at Ohio State University. He understands that a church cannot grow without getting the kids in. He can definitely connect with kids and is getting better at connecting with young adults. He said that we are at a unique moment in time where we have a chance to do something wonderful. We have the opportunity to take what we love about church and run with it. It isn't going to be easy, but it is doable.
He asked how we came up with the name "Abiding Grace". We explained that everyone on the Leadership Team wanted Grace in the name. Grace is very important to us. Nick said that having a name that is also your mission is very good and can be built upon. He also asked why we didn't just join another church. Many of us feel the need to have an ELCA church in this area and if we don't start it now, then when? We feel that we are called to start a new church.
Nick also asked if we are in a position to trust another pastor. We all mentioned that we are. We also said that we want to be a congregation that serves the community.
Nick also asked what our expectations of the new worshiping community and are we open to something brand new. Kenn talked about Kevin Kanouse's speech at the last synod meeting and how the Lutheran church is going to die if we continue doing everything the old way. We want to figure out how to be disciples. We want to get beyond just bringing in others from churches. We do want to stay Lutheran, with liturgy and not become non-denominational. We want Lutheran tradition, with joy and grace.
Nick talked about mission statements. He said that every church has a mission but many don't know what it is. He had a professor that said we should take the mission statements out of churches – we are all part of the mission of Christ – to go out and made disciples of men. It requires a change in thinking and in attitude, and it will have to be church wide. How do we do that? What is in the Gospel that has transformed our lives that makes us willing to start a new church? Phil said that we are being called to not take the easy route, but to be there and invite others in; to be out and about in the community.
Nick gave a little history – many years ago people were concerned with death. The Catholic Church came up with purgatory. In Luther's time, people were more concerned with guilt. Now people do have hurts and that is where the message of Christ can heal them. The message of Christ is what "completes" and individual. How do we as a church bring the healing message to the community? How do we make people feel complete?
Patti mentioned the "Feed our Kids" program as an example of getting out into the community. We will have to have a mobile ministry. We may have to take worship out to other places. Nick talked about Abraham being comfortable where he was, but being called by God to go out. At each stop, he built an altar to God. It is so important to "take God" with us as we go out in ministry.
Dee mentioned people in nursing homes – pick them up; or have worship there.
Nick also asked about our assets – such as musician, etc. We do have many singers, an experienced treasurer; we are getting hymnals from St. Paul in Flower Mound. (An update – we also received a communion set from St. Paul's)
Nick asked why we want to stay with the ELCA. Many of us have been Lutheran our entire lives and don't embrace the Missouri synod. Others came to being Lutheran as adults. We are all Lutheran because of the Lutheran concept of grace. John is studying Lutheran theology and said there is a real joy in "living Lutheran". We all like being part of something global – that way we can be part of global work.
Kenn asked how he would have voted at the churchwide assembly and what his reaction would have been. Nick would not have left the church regardless. He was frustrated with the way it was handled. It breaks his heart that the church did something that is going to divide us. Theologically he thinks we should have done more work melding science and theology. Personally he feels that the bible says what it says and the bible says a lot of things that we don’t teach today, such as divorce as a sin. We as a church have decided to read the bible with a highlighter and a sharpie. We can affirm your position that this is sinful but we can see your argument about science/psychology. He put the bible down and looked at people in his life that he knows including homosexuals and heterosexuals. When he is on the fence about something, he errs to grace.
“A Place at the Table” Kenn just finished reading this book by a Lutheran Pastor – it ends with it needs to be a lot more about Jesus and less about Deuteronomy.
Nick talked about how we as a church neglect preaching the life and message and application of Jesus. It was what He was saying and doing that got him killed. We take the cross seriously and the resurrection seriously; but we skip the message – the message is what fills that hole inside of us.
Nick mentioned that Phil at Calvary has said we can use their building anytime they aren’t using it. Phil said that although the offer is very generous but we really want to meet around here and grow it here.
Nick asked what we are looking for in a minister. We want a Sunday morning service and adult bible study. Some of what we want depends on finances. We also want someone to lead us to grow out of being a SAWC and into a mission status. Patti mentioned that we need to get out of our box and bring in non-Lutherans, but we don't know how to do that. Nick asked if we had asked the synod for financial help. He realizes that in order to grow, we need a full time mission developer.
Nick said that this is very exciting and scary. For something like this to work, it has to be organic, it has to form itself. We have to be willing to listen to the Holy Spirit. He read Acts 2:42-47. This scripture is about the fellowship of believers. It includes scripture, fellowship, worship, and prayer. If we stick to those four things, we will grow.
Kenn asked if he would preside at our worship at Parr Park. He will bring wife Michelle. Her parents were mission developers of two mission churches in the area.
We were all very impressed with Nick and will use him as a "supply pastor" as we get started.
We have a challenge right now with our email distribution list and getting information to the group. John is working on this! John is also setting up a website. We are fortunate to have a "tech guy" as one of our assets.
John mentioned that Nolan and he talked about financial arrangements. He had talked with someone in the synod office about forms that need to be filled out and also about getting approved by the synod. So when would we be able to start worship services – we can have worship services even before then.
Nolan talked to the bishop and will talk to Stephen Kanouse next week. He has a list of questions for him. Lynette compiled a list of amounts that were "pledged". The total amount is $20,450 from now until the end of the year. John knows of other people that may not have received the email about the "pledge". He is going to work with Lynette to get more names.
Places to worship –
Montessori school is $1500 a month. It is a fabulous facility. They started at $2000 and came down, but it could go back up after a few months. They have three keyboards, a PA system, restrooms, and a kitchen.
Catholic school is also $400 a week.
Epicenter in Southlake is $2000 a month.
John is going to talk to the HOA about the facility where he lives. It is much smaller but may fit our needs for now.
John is going to try to expand our list and work on "technical/computer" things like website and email list.
We will have the picnic on the 18th and Nick will preside.
Think and pray about where we are going to meet.
We need to make sure that the Bishop has his day at LW after the vote. We can use that time to advertise. Mass mailing or emailing – once we have started.
Nolan will meet with Stephen. He is going to use First Financial Bank – we can get a free account there.
Closed with prayer at 9:38