Pastor’s Annual Report 2015
Rely on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. 2 Timothy 1:9
At the Bishop’s Convocation in October colleagues me asked about my call to Prince of Peace. I surprised myself, when more than once I responded, “the honeymoon is over.”
By October the seriousness of our financial shortfall became worrisome. My first year at Prince of Peace was behind me. Attention and action were demanded. I would be less than honest if I didn’t say that I was concerned.
On more than one occasion, leaders confided that they feared I regretted my decision to come to Prince of Peace. Others wondered if I was disappointed in the congregation.
The writer of 2 Timothy reminds us that the Letter of Call is a holy calling, not according to our works but according to God’s own purpose. My presence as pastor at Prince of Peace is to answer this call with faithful leadership. I have been called not to solve the problem of our budget shortfall, but to invoke the presence of the living God into this particular situation, and to help the congregation discern God’s calling to our ministry in this new day.
Prince of Peace is a faithful congregation. My family is settled and thriving in our new home. Yes, I am challenged, but I have never regretted answering this call. I look forward to our partnership as we faithfully move into the days and years ahead.
Brought to our Knees
Although Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he continued to get down on his knees three times a day to pray to his God and praise him, just as he had done previously. Daniel 6:10
Not to compare our financial picture to Daniel being thrown into the lion’s den, but Daniel models our position of prayer in times of trial.
Sometimes in crisis we are brought to our knees.
The difficult reality is that our 2015 budget is forced to address salaries and staff. Prince of Peace has been blessed by a faithful, dedicated staff that serves the congregation well.
The bind is that giving has not kept up with expenses. Put simply, we are living beyond our means. Because this affects people we love and respect, we are brought to our knees.
But falling on our knees, like Daniel, is not always a bad place to be.
It is easy to conclude that our imposing deficit is an unfortunate predicament, a problem to be solved. But could it be a path to new life?
On our day of discernment in November I shared with the church council a quote from the spiritual journal Weavings:
“Rather than lamenting our restlessness and feeling threatened by it, perhaps this is a reason to rejoice! If we consider that the Holy Spirit has often been an agent of restlessness within the church, then perhaps we need to give what is happening receptive attention.”
To what new life is God calling Prince of Peace?
Alternate Worship, perhaps midweek.
Intentional prayer ministry. We are praying on Wednesdays prior to the congregational meeting. There is good reason to keep this ministry growing.
Hosting a center for spirituality to meet the “spiritual but not religious” crowd.
Council Reorganization. Instead of overseeing finance and property, council can be the source of big ideas.
Gathering for prayer and study on becoming a congregation that is transforming.
Connecting the generations as we pass on the faith. I’m intrigued by an idea of creating a nursery within the sanctuary, a gathering place for our youngest children and parents, allowing them to still be present within the worshiping space.
Renovating the church house, for housing or a ministry center.
Outside of renovating the church house, (which has attracted alternate sources of funding,) the cost of these new ministries would be minimal. I was impressed by one comment at our council day of discernment: Prince of Peace can be a small church, with a big ministry!
I invite you into prayer and discussion to share your thoughts of new life at Prince of Peace, and to where you feel God is calling our congregation.
For this reason I bow my knees before my Father. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14,17-19
Speaking with Doug about these particular days at Prince of Peace, he shared a definition of courage: “Courage is fear that has said it’s prayers.”
So much of church decline results from fear. We fear change, we fear technology, we fear the stranger, and we may even fear where God is calling us.
But when we are afraid, and it will happen, we need to fall on our knees and say our prayers. On our knees we begin to comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth of the fullness of God. Here is the place of courage.
Too many churches have caved in the face of fear. They lack courage because they haven’t said their prayers.
The church needs to face reality, we need to be honest and make hard choices, we need to change. It’s scary, but when we kneel before our God in prayer, Prince of Peace will have the courage to be church.
On the third Sunday in Advent, in my sermon I quoted Brian Doyle, a Roman Catholic who decided to stay in church against all logic and reason. He names our mission.
“The point of the church is to stop fussing about power and real estate and edicts and remember that our charge from the thin astonishing rabbi is to be arrows of love and hope and mercy against the epic tide of rage and despair and cruelty. ”
I do not regret being pastor of Prince of Peace, and I feel called to be the pastoral presence during these challenging, yet exciting times. I look forward to continued discernment as we courageously move forward to be the church.
I give thanks for our staff; Kathy, Doug, and Victoria. I am grateful to the Cherry Tree Club and for the selfless service Wendy gives to this ministry. I am also grateful to the congregation for our partnership in ministry. It is good to be here.
In the Name of Jesus
Pastor Peter Froehlke
January 8, 2015