Thursday, April 18, 2013

Everything Is The Same, But Different

Pastor Linda Jean shared last Sunday a phrase she often heard growing up, "everything is the same, but different."  So it appears to be here at Girdwood Chapel.

Now that our pastor of twelve years is gone, Girdwood Chapel looks/feels the same, but different.   While I don't pretend to know WHY we weren't immediately assigned a new pastor, nevertheless it would appear (to the untrained eye) that this might be a good time for our chapel's congregation to look at itself critically.  While we await the appointment of a new pastor, it's a good time to ask ourselves some very important questions:

Why do we attend Girdwood Chapel?  If Girdwood Chapel ceased to exist, would anyone (but ourselves) notice it?  Does Girdwood Chapel need to change/improve anything?

With a new pastor, some things will change, of course; however, what should those changes be? Must we wait passively and accept what/who we're given, or can we anticipate change, prepare ourselves for it, and become part of the process?

One thing I've noticed (in retrospect) is that perhaps, too often, the church relies so much on its pastor that it loses sight of its collective responsibility to one another.  A body isn't composed solely of a head.  We are a BODY of believers with different parts (spiritual gifts/abilities) to help coordinate us.  (For more on this concept, look at 1 Cor 12:12-27.)  

This "interim" gives us the chance to take a look at what all of us "bring to the table."  Who are the hands of the church, the heart, the feet, of change here at Girdwood Chapel?  What are our role(s) in (re)making Girdwood Chapel a visible, vibrant, and valuable part of our own lives, those of the congregation, and then to the community at large.  

So, how do we go from here?  The United Methodist Church leadership has given us five "talking points" to help us.  We are at step two of the process -- (re)discovering our "identity."  

I have NO idea how we do that, so I unabashedly proclaim to you a "cut-and-paste" suggestion taken directly from the Internet.  I don't own it; I'm not promoting it, either.  Like you, I'm trying to figure out what it might mean.  Here's one person's "take" on the issue:

Paths to Discovering a Church’s Identity

Congregational Identity

The Spiritual Dynamic

What are our Biblical values?
What are our Biblical convictions?
What spiritual experiences have most of us had?
The Demographic Dynamic

What is our age?
What is our income?
Where do we live and work?
What is our ethnicity?
The Organizational Dynamic

How do things get done?
How do we communicate with each other?
How are decisions made?
What programs/activities do we do together?
Who is admitted as a member, and as a leader?
How do we relate to other churches and our denomination?
Our Community Identity

Research through government publications
Research through interviewing community leaders
Research through home-to-home visitation
©Mark Kelley 2010
There will be an all-church meeting after the 10 a.m. church service this coming Sunday.  We will be discussing these and other questions at this time.  Lunch and child care are provided.  All we need now is a good number of folks to be present for the discussion.  Thank you for attending!


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

2013 Pledge Drive

If you're like me, news of a "pledge drive" is about as thrilling as hearing that the April deadline for filing income tax is fast approaching.  However, without a pledge drive, Girdwood Chapel could not write a realistic budget for the year.

This year's budget is of vital importance, as it pertains to the future of Girdwood Chapel.  As we look forward to the arrival of a resident pastor in our community, it is important to determine the level of financial support we can provide.

Are we financially able to support a full-time pastor, or even a 3/4-time pastor?  The answer to this important question lies, in part, with our best "guesstimate" of our financial income for the year.  That brings us to the "pledge drive."

Girdwood Chapel depends upon its congregation to contribute to the life and mission of our faith community.  The funds we collect are used for the whole work of the church.  Just how much we will be able to do this year is determined, in part, by our annual budget.

The term "pledge" has been (incorrectly) interpreted as a promise or obligation to the Chapel.  It is not.  The amount you pledge (by faith) is your decision, based upon your financial situation as you hope it to be in 2013.  "Life happens" and, with it, the amount you will be able to actually give.

We just ask, as a chapel, that you give us a ballpark figure upon which to base our budget.  With our budget written, we can proceed to make decisions that will affect all of us who call Girdwood Chapel our church "home."

The 2013 Pledge Cards are available at the church.  You may wish to electronically download the card and submit it either by e-mail or regular mail to the addresses printed below.  Thank you, in advance, for your participation in the annual pledge drive.

Girdwood Chapel e-mail address:

Girdwood Chapel mailing address:   P.O. Box 1068, Girdwood AK 99587


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Easter News

We had a good crowd at both the mountaintop sunrise service and the 11 a.m. service down in the valley.  As always, the crowd at the top was mostly from out-of-town; but even at the 11 a.m. service we had a good number of visitors. (One group said they were from Virginia!)

We tried something new at the 11 a.m. service.  We used the video player to display music and text both before and after the service.  Folks seemed to enjoy the "Hallelujah Chorus" as interpreted by the Yup'ik community of Quinhagak.  (We could well understand why their version has been viewed by over one-million people on You Tube.)  The twenty-second pealing of the bells (from Seville, Spain, also via You Tube) was a nice touch.

The sunrise service folks pitched in and gave just over $800 to our new one-time emergency needs fund.  This is especially good news since (by a show of hands) most of those assembled up-top were not from the Girdwood area.

We are also extremely grateful to announce the receipt of two very sizeable donations toward the elimination of our debt (mortgage).  One gift was for $4,000 and the other was for $1,500!  Such generosity is especially encouraging as the chapel finalizes its 2013-14 general budget.

Although we didn't mention it at the Easter service, we have recently distributed "pledge cards" to the congregation and hope these will be returned to us a.s.a.p.  We need to create a more realistic operating budget, to help us determine what type of position Supt. Beckett can advertise (3/4 or full-time resident pastor).  Please note that the term "pledge" is different than a "promise," in that those who state their estimated giving amount on the card are not creating an obligation; we at Girdwood Chapel understand that "life happens" and that "reality can bite."  Think of it as a sort of "faith promise" that you can hopefully complete in the coming year.  We thank you, in advance, for whatever amount you feel you can give to the chapel this coming year.

Also, for those who are unable to attend services (out-of-state / illness, etc.) but would like to turn in a pledge card, please contact us and we'll get one sent to you right away!

Thank you, in advance, for whatever part you can play in helping Girdwood Chapel create its budget for the coming year.