Report of The President

As my year as president comes to a close, I first and foremost give thanks.

Thank you, to the entire First English family, for your support during the past 12 months. There are many people who pour a great deal of love into keeping First English a lively and vibrant place to worship, learn, and enjoy fellowship, to all of you, THANK YOU!!!

To my fellow council members, thank you for your support, for your vibrant discussions, for sharing your faith and love. Council said a fond bon voyage to Carolyn Heltzel, we rejoiced with the return of both Roger Riggle and Joyce Smith to the council table. Roger’s short absence and Joyce’s longer absence were deeply felt.

In conjunction with Advent, a Wed morning prayer service was started with invitations to other congregations in the Stuart Circle Parish. Thanks to council member Josh Eckert for developing the idea and Josh and council member Richard Ruff and the Worship and Music Committee for getting this off the ground. Also initiated in Council discussions was holding a food drive for the VCU RAMpantry, thanks to assistance of the Congregational Life committee this will be coming up in winter/spring 2017.

Carol McCue (Council Vice President) and Jim Byerly were tasked with looking at the FELC constitution and bylaws. Delays in updates from the synod have delayed any recommendations for changes. Council approved reducing the number of members to 9 through gradual attrition over the next few years. This change was allowed within the existing guiding documents.

One of my personal concerns is having effective communication about faith, worship opportunities, and activities within the congregation and extending out into our wider community. Cheryl Shiembob resigned as our newsletter editor. We are working to make the midweek update an effective replacement for the newsletter. Nicole Krause continues to work on keeping our website up to date, and a number of people work to keep our Facebook page active. Pastor Schweitzer is sending out a weekly message. If you are not getting the electronic communications please let the office know, copies can be mailed to those who do not have e-mail. Also, please share ideas for improving communication!

Over the past year, it seems that there has been a slight increase in the number of children and young adults present on Sunday mornings. Please actively invite individuals new to the First English community to join in faith development, service, and fellowship opportunities.

For many years, First English has ran a deficit budget. This year was no different. You will find details in the Finance Committee report. The council met with members of the First English Foundation Board to refresh our understanding of the Foundation’s mission and policies. We are thankful to the Foundation board members and to the foresight of past members for creating the Foundation.

After being elected President of the Council I started reading about the declining trajectory of “traditional” Christian churches. On one hand very sobering and on the other inspiring to read about how some “traditional” churches are finding ways to bring active and vibrant faith and ministry to their communities. This is a challenging time not just for First English. I ask that everyone, look toward the future with an eye on how to bring the message of Christ to the broader community, being open to the concept that the future might not look like the past. As we embark on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, it is a fitting time to be committed to prayerful discernment in order to discover the path God has for the future of First English Lutheran Church. Leaps of faith may be needed.

Yours in Christ,

Sheryl Finucane,
President, FELC Congregational Council

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