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Wednesday Words, Oct. 23, 2018

Stewardship Moment with Phil SMith

Oct. 21, 2018

When my wife Courtney volunteered me for this speech, I told her “I’m more of a behind the scenes kind of guy.” Thinking maybe that would get me out of it.  But her reply was “Perfect! You can speak about volunteering your time!”

So here I am… “behind the scenes”

Courtney and I first came to Bethany shortly after we had our first child.  At our first visit, we were greeted by John and Judy Engebreston. As we entered the sanctuary, we were met with more smiles and welcomes. At that moment, we knew this place was special.  A few months later, we decided to become members. And then I decided to get baptized with my son Nolan.

I never grew up with a church to call home.  We would attend different churches at different times throughout my childhood.  I probably spent more time at my friend’s churches than I did with my own family.  I didn’t know how much a community, such as this, could impact my life. When I was baptized with Nolan, I knew I wanted him to feel a part of a church family.  I wanted to lead by example for my son, as he experiences God’s grace and show him how to live in his faith.

After we became members, we knew we wanted to give back to the church, but by this time we had two children and had double daycare costs.  We weren’t able to give financially as much as we would have liked so I began to give in other ways. We cleaned up the landscaping and I became a counter.  I was then approached by Pastor Cathy to join church council. Again, I knew this was a way for me to give back to the church, even though I couldn’t give as much in the weekly offering like I wanted. Once again, I wanted to lead by example for my sons and show them that volunteering your time can have a big impact in small ways...mini miracles.

We are now in a better spot, day care costs are down, so we intend to increase our annual pledge.  I looked up the definition of stewardship in Webster’s dictionary and it said “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care”   We are that “someone.” We have been entrusted by past and present generations to take care of our church both at a local and a worldwide level.  So I’m not only pledging this year to set a good example for my sons, but to increase our donations and volunteer efforts.

So I look to all of you to lead by example and do what you can whether it be volunteering your time, offering your skills, or donating financially.  

Thank you to all the people of Bethany Church that have donated their time and money.  All of your mini miracles, behind the scenes, help our community of faith continue to thrive.    

Wednesday Words, Oct. 17, 2018

Stewardship Moment with Ellie Pierzina

Oct. 14, 2018

My name is Ellie Pierzina. If you don’t know me, you might know my dad, Todd Pierzina, who is president of the church council. Yeah, he’s the one who you quite possibly have had either the most funny or most awkward conversation with ever. Yeah, now you know who I’m talking about.

My life has always revolved around Bethany. I went to preschool here, came to Sunday School every week here as an elementary schooler, attended confirmation for all three years of middle school here, and as a high schooler I enjoy representing Bethany Lutheran Church at the mission trips we go on every summer. There are several mini miracles I have experienced at Bethany just from volunteering.

The missions trips we go on every summer are always life changing. I have gone on two so far, and I have loved both of them. My first one was to Minneapolis, and the second one was to Birmingham, which was this summer. At both, we helped package food and school supplies for kids and families in need, we helped out at retirement homes, a garden, and so much more. At both, it was a miracle to see all the kids who may have not been super close when the trip started grow closer and closer as the week went on. Through all of our volunteering and hard work, we were able to become such great friends, and at the end of the week it felt like we had known each other our entire lives, and that for sure was a miracle just in itself.

I am currently a sophomore at Crystal Lake Central, and I am in band and choir at school. I also am in the choir at Encore Music Academy, and many times I play flute here at Bethany. Because of my musical abilities, I was offered the opportunity to help out at Vacation Bible School over the summer. I would perform in the opening and closing ceremonies every day, and I would help teach the kids all the songs that they would perform for the parents at the end of the week. It was truly a mini miracle to see the kids come in everyday excited to learn, and although the class I helped teach probably wasn’t their favorite class, I still found it a mini miracle that they came in every day with an open mind, and were willing to try whatever I and the other helpers would throw at them.

One thing that is truly exceptional about volunteering here is what you get in return from it. No, not cash, or a check, or anything like that. Instead, through helping out at VBS, I have realized that when I’m all grown up, I would love to become a teacher for elementary school kids. What I haven’t decided is if that’s a music teacher, classroom teacher, or any other type of teacher, but at least I have it figured out that I want to teach kids in some sort of way. At VBS, I learned the best ways to get kids attention, keep them interested, and how to make what they were learning fun. Figuring this kind of stuff out was exciting, and made me want to keep doing it, which is definitely a mini miracle.

I am definitely very lucky to be attending Bethany Lutheran Church. If I wasn’t a member here, I would not be experiencing so many miracles every Sunday, and I would definitely not be the person I am today without it. So, thank you Bethany for everything you have done for me in my time here.

Wednesday Words, October 10, 2018

Wednesday Words

Stewardship Moment with Kirstin Cannon

My name is Kirstin Cannon.  I am not the member of my family that prefers to talk in front of many people, so it is a mini miracle that I am up here all in itself.  However, I’m really here to tell you all about the mini miracles I witness each day I come to Bethany. That is the miracle of community.  Our village. All of you.

Since most of our family lives in Minnesota, Bethany has literally become our family.  Our multi-generational family that loves us and our children unconditionally. From the middle school kids willing to chase Isaac around the office loop while I change Elin’s diaper, to all the grandparents who give Isaac hugs and Elin snuggles whenever I’m willing to pull her out of her carrier. I feel like it is a mini miracle that I am able to make it through each service with two kids, luckily there is always someone willing to make silly faces at Isaac when he is feeling ready for the service to be over.

We have seen Isaac blossom in ways that amaze us daily and I think it is in large part due to this community.  He is able to love and socialize with people of all different ages and it has helped him develop in ways we could not have fostered by ourselves. When I brought Isaac to Lutherdale to visit Paul and the kids a few summers ago, he quickly attached himself to Michael Effinger, who was one of the confirmation students at camp. Recently I was talking to Isaac on a Sunday afternoon and mentioned something about longtime Bethany member Mr. Bengston, and he responded, “Sometimes we call him Gene”. If you ask Isaac who his best friend is, about half the time he will respond “Tammy”, as in Tammy Nobbe his Sunday School Teacher.  With the shear mention of Tammy, Isaac’s eyes begin to sparkle. Fellow book lover and Bethany member, Corrine Zoellick is responsible for probably a quarter of the books in our home library and Isaac loves to run up and give her hugs every Sunday. I could keep going for the remainder of the service about all the ways our kids have and will be changed by the people in this community, but again, I’m not the Cannon who likes public speaking.

Our immediate family may live far away, but we are lucky to have family right here at Bethany.

Wednesday Words, October 3, 2018

Wednesday Words

Stewardship Moment with Terry Micklevitz

My name is Terry Micklevitz and I was asked to speak to you in regards to the pledge card, which is available to all of us. It’s very simple to fill out and the choices are the same as what’s on the offering envelopes we all receive.

What the pledge card asks of us is to reach out and commit for the full year rather than just for the current week. The pledge card gives you an opportunity take a closer look at your giving habits and for those who are considering increasing their giving they may find this to be an easier way to evaluate the entire year.

Dian and I have two sons who are grown up now, and in fact it’s fun on their birthdays to let them know they’re catching up to me. They went to Sunday School and were confirmed here when we first joined Bethany; unfortunately, shortly after that we became inactive members. But now we are back and have been active members for about 5 years and have enjoyed becoming involved in numerous activities.

Being inactive from church for a long period of time and then returning causes some realignment of habits, especially Saturday nights and Sunday mornings. Even more important is recommitting our giving to God. We have grown in our giving since our first year back by increasing the amount each year since.

Our first year back was a growing experience in giving and when the pledge card was put in front of us I was a little frustrated and concerned at the same time. We were growing in our giving and I wasn’t sure if we would always maintain that amount. Now I was supposed to firm up a yearly pledge? On top of feeling this way I felt somewhat pressured. I resented the fact that our giving weekly wasn’t enough of a commitment. I felt God wasn’t looking for a yearly commitment, He was okay with whatever we could give currently.

In the coming months the subject came up with another Bethany member and I reiterated my feelings. His feelings were the opposite of mine and I listened to what he had to say.

What he said, in so many words, was that the church is a family just like you and I are. It has financial obligations the same as us. What’s different is we know pretty much what our annual income is going to be but the church really doesn’t know unless we as members pledge.

The church understands there are going to be changes in giving. Things happen in life, such as a job loss, unexpected expenses, etc., but sometimes good things happen and things kind of balance out.

After having that conversation I thought things through and had a better understanding as to why the church was asking for a yearly commitment. Since then we have pledged for the last two years, this will be our third year. Personally it has helped us budget our giving tremendously and with God’s blessing we have been able to increase our giving each of our years back at Bethany.

So in ending I hope you see and understand what we saw. Don’t be hesitant to pledge as it helps Bethany Lutheran Church, our church family, to better serve us and so many others.

Thank you.

 

 

Wednesday Words, September 26, 2018

Wednesday Words - EnoughSeptember 26, 2018
Pastor Paul Cannon

Whoever is not against us, is for us.-Mark 9:40

 

A few weeks ago, I looked nervously at the registration numbers: 22.  Not Good.  We reserved two 56-passenger coach buses for the Lockout, sent out numerous registration reminders, countless emails, and with just 2.5 weeks to go, there were a lot of spots to fill. 

Maybe this was a mistake.  Maybe we’re not big enough to pull off an event like this.  Maybe we just wasted a whole lot of time and energy trying to do something big. 

I’ll admit, that fear was born out of a mentality of scarcity. I mean, we’re not a 5,000 member mega church and we don’t have endless pockets like some congregations.  Maybe families don’t have enough time or energy for youth ministry anymore.  Maybe it’s a simple failure of leadership (gulp)!  Maybe partnering with other churches is a venture doomed to failure!!!

But sometimes, you just have to do the best you can and trust that God is enough. 

Last Friday, when the day of the Lockout came, the buses were literally overflowing.

Humans can be funny sometimes.  We like to look over the fence, just to double check whether the grass is really greener over there (it’s not).  The church is no different.  We always find ourselves comparing our ministries or our attendance or our Sunday School with that of other churches (or even other generations) and make ourselves jealous (or overly prideful) over it. 

In the Gospel reading this week, the disciples came to Jesus to complain because somebody was casting out demons in Jesus’ name, and as they told Jesus “he was not following us.”  He’s not part of our group, our people, our congregation.  But Jesus reminds them that God’s Kingdom is bigger than their group.  He tells them, “Whoever is not against us, is for us.” 

God has provided enough ministry opportunity for everybody.  We thank God for all the churches in town, because they are reaching people in different ways, spreading the gospel of God’s love.

And God has indeed given us enough and blessed us to do ministry in the world.  There were over 120 people who came out for the lockout.  There was no need to worry.  God is here, doing great things among us.  And that is enough.

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