As 2021 has come to an end, it is once again time to reflect on yet another year in the life of Grace Lutheran Church. This is the sixth one of these year end reports that I have penned, which also means the fifth anniversary of my ordination and call to serve Grace have passed. It has been an amazing almost six years serving God and you all at Grace! But nothing could have prepared me for the last two years and the challenges of a global pandemic.
Last year at this time I reflected on the first year of the pandemic and the challenges faced at Grace and in our own lives. I could have never imagined I would be duplicating that theme in 2022, but here we are. Because we have been living under the cloud of Covid for so long, it may seem all too normal and easy to forget what life was like prior to March of 2020. It has only been seven months since we returned to worship in our sanctuary, having spent well over a year with outdoor or online worship. I am so thankful and appreciative that we are able to worship together in our sanctuary! I am not sure how much longer I would have been able to preach to a cell phone in an empty sanctuary.
Although worship has returned (with those tiresome masks) the rest of our life together has remained ‘on pause.’ We have yet to resume our occasional fellowship events (I was poised to bring home a third chili cook-off medal when the pandemic hit!), we have not been able to host the Easter Egg Hunt or Trunks of Treats since 2019, and the plan to fund the facility renewal fund and actually use those funds has been mostly on pause because of the uncertainty of our finances and the impact the pandemic could have had. These are just a few examples of the impact Covid has had, and a reminder of what life was like prior to the virus.
Yet, despite the challenges there have been a number of things that we ought to celebrate and thank God for. I am very thankful for your faithfulness in supporting the Church, the Preschool, and the Action Food Pantry during the past 21 months. Giving has always been though to be directly tied to attendance in worship, but that proved not to be the case as we experienced more consistency and generosity with your offerings! I also continue to rejoice in how many of you have stayed connected in spite of having less opportunities to meet in person. We also continued our benevolences in 2021 to local, national, and global ministries both directly to some and through our offering to our Synod and the ELCA. We have also become fairly adept with our use of technology.
And one of the things I am most appreciative for are the staff members and those who give and have given their time and talents in service to God at Grace Lutheran. There are far too many to name and I hope you all have heard from me how thankful I am!
I do not imagine any of us can predict what 2022 will bring after the last two years, and that makes planning a bit of a challenge. One thing I will be doing is spending more time emphasizing the facility renewal fund and our aging facilities. Remember two years ago in 2019 at our Congregational Meeting we approved and committed to raising the necessary funds to proactively replace and repair things like our doors and parking lot, electrical panels and A/C units, an aging roof and old plumbing.
I realize we ask much of you all just with our regular giving, but we are asking everyone to go an extra mile for a few years. It is vital to the future of Grace, but also a sign of trust and hop in God that we will continue to serve our community for decades to come. I expect that we will be doing some of those upgrades in 2022 with the funds we do have, but we need all of you to help if we are going to complete all the projects that need to be done.
Even with some uncertainty, what I, and we, can count on is God’s continuing and ever-present grace and love. God has been faithful and steadfast to Grace for well over six decades! All that we have and have ever done is all thanks to Him. And I will continue to encourage us all to fulfill the call our Lord places on His churches not just proclaim the Gospel with our words but to also proclaim the Gospel by our actions.