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October 29, 2015

Generous Grace

At Grace, fall feels a bit like a family reunion. Students are back, new students and guests join in worship, children fill our halls, and we re-enter a rhythm in our worship life, activities and involvement after the summer diaspora.  We catch up on the news of each other’s lives: the changes, challenges, hopes, discernments and joys we face.  We tend to one another, welcome the newcomer, and extend friendship and a prayer shawl to the patient from the hospital.  We ask curious questions of students we sit near, or pass by in the hallway – what’s your name, what are you studying, what brought you to Grace? 

This fall you have been generous in giving special offerings to Lutheran World Relief in response to the current refugee crisis.  We are blessed to partner with a top-notch organization with a long track record of working with partners around the world to provide lasting solutions to poverty, injustice and human suffering.

We celebrated the children at Grace, and prayed for them and children around the world. We heard a powerful sermon by Grace member Pastor Kubisa. Preaching in French, he shared his ministry with children in the DR Congo and God’s call to step out of our comfort zones. 

This fall we have welcomed babies and toddlers into the Christian faith and community, as well as confirmed nine youth, surrounding the newly baptized and confirmed with love and prayer.

Your financial gifts help the community of Grace respond to people who find themselves in crisis. A bit of help gets them through a rough spot and lets them know the church cares. These Good Samaritan Funds, which allow the pastors to help in a timely manner, is sorely in need of replenishing. We encourage you to designate a special gift to this fund – it provides help for housing, gas, food, and clothing when needed. 

This fall we resume Bible Studies, forums, Sunday school, confirmation, Book Clubs, retreats, meal services, student worship and programs, serving food to the hungry, working as advocates to make change that will improve people’s lives throughout our community.  Your steady and generous contributions to Grace’s ministry make all this possible.

Last year the congregation voted to increase staffing and support a robust, forward-looking and mission- focused budget. We are grateful for your faithful and steady support.  At this printing, our income is not meeting this budget. Without increased giving, a $25,000 shortfall is projected for this year. Those of you behind in your pledges, those of you able to increase your giving, and those of you new to pledging and financially supporting the ministry at Grace: your gifts are vital and critical at this juncture.

This fall some new offerings have emerged: a new confirmation class of 11 students began using a curriculum of our own design. Because families are busy, and Wednesdays are no longer reserved for church activities, confirmation is now organized around five 1-day retreats, along with youth group involvement and other events throughout the year. A day together is energizing, fun, and allows for creative interaction and learning.

The adult choir added a two-hour rehearsal on the second Saturday of the month. This has been hugely successful, allowing the choir to rehearse without the time pressures of Sunday morning and to prepare larger works.  

We added a young adult program – MOSS Studies (Masters of Sunday School).  The “faculty” for MOSS, held the Second Sunday during education hour at the coffee shop on the corner, are Grace members who are clergy/professors. They engage young adults in theological and biblical reflection. 

The pre-confirmation class meets every Sunday with children under three (the "Littles") and their parents for Storytime. Led by Pastor Melanie, this is an interactive way to teach biblical stories, with the older kids becoming teachers for the young children. This new venture meets in the foyer outside Pastor Dan and Mary’s offices, utilizing our limited space in a creative way.

Jenny Odden, Grace’s new Sunday school superintendent, provides wonderful worshipful experiences for families on second Sundays. Plans are in the making for a family camp.

We are always discerning God’s voice and call in responding to the needs of our community and the world. Issues of racism, racial and economic injustice scream out daily.  We are involved in ISAIAH and the synod, working with people of other congregations to make a real difference in our community and in people’s lives.

This November the congregation is invited to read Lynne Twist’s book, The Soul of Money. Come to one of the book clubs and join in the conversation with Pastor Dan, read it on your own, or engage others in conversation. Let’s talk about money, and the duty and delight in giving and sharing our resources with the church, as well as other causes we care about. 

Along with the above, your pastors are engaged in the wider church: Synod Candidacy committee, ISAIAH leadership, Disciplinary Committee, Synod Public Voice, Synod Worship planning, the Hawkinson Foundation for Peace and Justice, Christian Public Leader mentors for three seminarians, as Fairview/LSS clergy coaches, and Fairview Faith Advisory Board.

Thank you, in advance, for responding to our 2015 budget concerns. You will be hearing soon from the Stewardship committee about pledging and plans for 2016.

We give thanks to God for you, the Grace community, and the mission and life in Christ we share.

Pastor Mary, on behalf of the pastors and Grace council

Copyright © 2015 Grace University Lutheran Church, All rights reserved.

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