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Listening Post Information


From the July 2019 Forward:

Thanks again for all that participated in the Congregational Meeting. We are continuing to work through the Listening Post report with your help.
Council has updated the church handbook. You will find it in the red notebook in the lobby. You will note that this is an interim update with a number of items identified that require new policies. So it is a work in progress.
One of the reasons we could not completely update the handbook is the fact that our constitution is out of date. The ELCA is voting on an update to the 2016 model constitution this summer and we will need to update our document to comply. This gives us the opportunity to deal with governance issues identified in the Listening Post report. If you are interested in helping to draft the new constitution, contact the office. The goal is to have a new constitution ready for the December or January congregational meeting. Look for updates in this spot.
I don’t have a quick question for this month. Instead we are going with a survey.
We have lots of traditions here at St. Paul’s. And traditions are part of what defines us as a congregation and ties us together across generations. They make us unique. We have been blessed by have had a history of pastors for a long period of time. The outcome is that it is difficult to separate traditions that have come from the pastor and traditions that are part of the fabric of our congregation. Hence we don’t know what to hold on to and what to give up. The Listening Post report recommended that we inventory our traditions and decide which are essential, which we can let go and if there are new traditions to add. So we are asking you. The enclosed survey was presented at the Congregational Meeting. If you missed it, now is your chance to weigh in. Look over our list and rate each one on its importance. If we have missed something, please add it. Surveys can be dropped off in the box at worship or sent to the office. The deadline is August 4, 2019. After we tally the results, the Worship Committee will evaluate changes to services as we plan through the year. Remember only the Ten Commandments are set in stone!

From the June 2019 Forward:

Check out the report on the Communication Workshop.  It is posted on the bulletin board.  Over the summer we will be working to develop a consistent look to our communications along with identifying how information can be transferred to each of our publications.  If you are interested in working on this project and can be available for about six meetings, please let Denise Crews know.


Quick Answers

There were two service order issues in the Listening Post report.

  1. We should move the announcements later in the service so the choir can hear them.

  2. Move the peace to a different part of the service and make it shorter.


I consulted with Pastor Betsy and she provided a really good explanation for the service order.  Basically the service has four actions; The Gathering, The Word, The Response to the Word and the Meal.  When you look at a service that way, it is obvious that the announcements belong in The Gathering portion of the service.  Pastor Betsy and the Worship Committee discussed this and decided the announcement should be at the beginning to avoid disrupting the liturgy.  In any case we are going to make an effort to minimize announcements by keeping the bulletin up to date.  If there is anything you would like to announce, the deadline for the bulletin is Wednesday and a note to the secretary either in writing or by e-mail will work.


The peace was added to the service with the introduction of the Green Hymnal in 1978 but was part of the ancient liturgy.  According to Pastor the location in the service has moved around and the Worship Committee discussed this when Pastor came.  In some cases it was part of the Confession and Absolution in the Gathering.  Others have placed it at the end as part of the Sending.  But in accordance with the ancient tradition it has been the bridge between the Word and the Offering.  As to the length of the process, it is up to the congregation members.  We do try to be considerate of the music performers and mindful of the service length. 

From the May 2019 Forward:

Thanks again for all that participated in the Congregational Meeting. A report is now available and council will be taking up recommendations in the next few meetings.

Your input is valuable.
Quick Answers
Why does the church issue quarterly reports of giving?
This was asked at the Congregational Meeting and was worth an answer. Each quarter the Financial Secretary issues a summary of your giving. This has two purposes. First it is required by our Constitution and Bylaws to issue quarterly statements. Second it gives you a chance to correct any errors both for your records and for ours. It is much easier for Kerrill to make corrections during the year than to wait until the end of the year when everyone is trying to balance their books for annual and tax purposes. It is an issue we will look into when we start on updating our Constitution and Bylaws this summer, but in the meantime we still issue them quarterly. You can help by picking up your quarterly statement in the hallway between the church and the chapel.

We should project portions of the service and hymns.
An interesting idea that is being used in many churches. And as with many ideas it has good and bad points. One group of thought is that projecting the service allows people to get their eyes out of the bulletin or hymnal and focus on the communal worship. The other side is that projecting the service line by line disrupts the meaning of the litany and becomes a distraction especially when words are supplemented by videos and graphics. And with hymns, projecting just the words leaves out the music which makes following an unfamiliar tune difficult. But the simple answer is that we don’t have any place to project during a service. Adding a screen to the front of the church would block the stained glass window or the altar. And the walls on either side of the lectern and pulpit are too small to allow a large projection. Who knows what technology in the future may bring? We may all be getting our Sunday bulletin on our smart phones. If you are having problems reading the bulletin or the hymnal, please ask the usher for a large print bulletin. They are available in the back or the church.


From the April 2019 Forward:


May We Talk?  This month we begin to tackle the first Listening Post theme, Communications.  The report identified a number of issues related to the way we provide information to the congregation and the vacuum that exists when we don’t. 

   Communication or the lack thereof then folds into the other themes that the congregations faces.  It is a basic instinct to communicate.  After we draw our first breath, our cry becomes our first communication to the world.  So if communication is so basic, why is it so hard?  Communicating takes effort and requires us to interact with others.  It is a two way process-I tell you something and you process the information and respond.  We have to use the information we receive.  So when we don’t make the effort to share information we enter into a cycle of lack of knowledge and the rise of rumor and disinformation. 

     We need your opinions and comments as we move to what the report calls “a culture of greater openness and sharing”.  But we also need you to take ownership of your communications.  Anonymous letters and rumors do not allow for open discussion, cause hard feelings and create tension.  If you are not comfortable talking to Pastor Williams or to the Congregational Council as a whole, find a council member.  That’s what we are here for.  So, may we talk?

     A big “thank you” to everyone who participated in the congregation meetings on April 6th and 7th to help us begin this process!.

Denise Crews, Congregation Council

From the March 2019 Forward:

The Listening Process Report Hasn’t Gone Away


It has been six months since the Synod Congregational Resource Team presented the Listening Process Report to the congregation. It may seem that the report has been ignored, but in fact it has been discussed vigorously at Church Council. But as the report said, “The Expectation on many people’s part is that the pastor and council should be able to fix everything. This is not fair, realistic, or healthy and there seems to be no plan or process to share the responsibility with the congregation.” As we delve deeper into the report we are going to need assistance and input from the congregation. We will be posing questions, asking for work group members, and striving to include you in the process of growing and healing. To this end, starting this month, we are introducing Listening Post Corner. In this spot we will be providing answers to small issues that were raised in the report. There will be updates on the steps we are taking to move the report forward. We will also pose questions for congregational input and making announcements. You will also find this information on the bulletin board in the lobby. As always, Council invites your questions and concerns.


Denise Crews, Congregation Council

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