An ongoing series responding to questions asked at the initial meetings in May. Each participant was invited to say their name and ask one question. These questions were divided into broad categories. Participants Norma Dirks, Mary Hart and Jenine Jordahl volunteered to find resources and people to explore and address questions in each category. You are invited to participate in any or all of the discussions in this series. Each of the titles is offered on two consecutive days: Wednesdays 11:30 a.m -12:45 pm & Thursdays 7 – 8:15 p.m. Each Thursday session will also provide a Zoom option upon request. The schedule:
Hospice / Palliative Care
Funeral Industry Options
Memorial Service Planning
July 13 & 14
August 17 & 18
September 14 & 15
October 12 & 13
November 9 & 10
Pastor Mike Wilker
[To Be Determined]
[To Be Determined]
Scott Helms, LFD
Pastor Mike Wilker
The Congregation Council met June 17-18 to build our relationships with one another, to review the past few years of our congregation’s history and to sketch plans for the next 6-7 months. On Friday night we met at Phelps Park for a potluck, welcomed new Council member Kara Franke, and reflected on Jesus’ call to be salt of the earth and light in the world (Matthew 5:13-16). On Saturday morning, we reviewed the key themes and recommendations from the 2018 Focus Groups, the 2019 Kairos Listen Report conducted before covid which led to the Capital Campaign, and the 2020-2022 Action Plan and Ministry Site Profile. Then we considered the themes that rose up during this year’s Lent Small Groups. We ended our time by stating the tasks the Council needed to guide over the next 6-7 months. These included: the Building and Sanctuary remodeling and additions; the Call Committee and staffing process; continue to help new and long-time members connect and build relationships with each other; support high school youth trip and ministry, meet about middle school ministry and confirmation, and provide Orange and other youth and family ministries in the midst of the building renovation; prepare the 2023 budget and nominate new members to serve on Council; continue visitations with people who are homebound and/or ill; prepare for how to provide funeral ministry when the sanctuary is being remodeled; determine times and locations for Sunday morning worship, education, and fellowship ministries while the buildings are being remodeled. Pastor Mike will also call initial gatherings of interested members to consider the following service and justice issues: mental health, addictions, affordable housing, and anti-racism. He’ll continue to meet with leaders to support the Free Clinic, Food Pantry and Creation Care boards and teams.
A congregation meeting will be held in the sanctuary on June 19, immediately following the 8:40 a.m. worship service. The purpose of this meeting is to approve members for the associate minister call committee. The Council will release a slate of nominees next week. The Call Committee will 1) develop and propose a position description for the full and/or part-time ministerial position(s) for approval by the Council, and once approved 2) interview and recommend candidates to the Council for call. We will also vote on the Trust fund bylaw amendments at the June 19 meeting.
The First Lutheran Trust Fund is now accepting applications for the 2022 EPIC (Educational Partners In Covenant) Scholarship Program, which provides fully enrolled college students with scholarship money that is matched by participating ELCA colleges. First Lutheran is delighted to be able to support students within our congregation by offering $1,000 scholarships for the 2022-2023 academic year. Applications are available in the church office or right here. Applications must be filled out completely and returned to the church office by May 1, 2022. Students need to reapply each year in order to continue to receive the scholarship. If an application is late, there is no guarantee that funding will still be available. The Gipp Family Scholarship Fund supports a student from the FLC congregation in their first year attending Luther College. Eligible students will be identified from their EPIC applications.
The FLC Covid Task Force met on March 1 to review and make recommendations for FLC’s next steps. They forwarded the recommendation to the Council which approved it. Covid infections and hospitalizations are approaching the lowest levels of the pandemic. Vaccination numbers are good, especially among people 65 and up, but booster rates are below 40% for the eligible population. As we continue to move towards a more endemic stage of COVID-19, it is OK for First Lutheran to move to a “mask optional” phase for worship and large group gatherings. Communion servers will continue to wear masks while serving. Small groups, including children and youth ministries, consistent with the Decorah Community School District, already had the option of deciding when to wear masks. As with other small groups, the adult and children’s choir leaders and members can decide when masks are optional; until the directors and members decide otherwise, masks will be expected for choir members in worship and practice.
We will continue to monitor the situation and meet quickly to address any upticks or changes in the covid cases in our community. As has been true throughout the pandemic–and before–the quality of our care and respect for our fellow parishioners and neighbors is paramount. Pastor Mike Wilker and the Task Force know there are a good number of members in our congregation that are severely compromised by the Covid pandemic because of their current and potentially critical health conditions. We are grateful to the congregation leaders and members who create and host livestream options for small and large groups as well as for worship. Each month Pastor Mike and Jenine visit members and bring communion–especially to those who cannot attend in person because of Covid. Please contact them if you would like to be on the visitation list.
The COVID-19 Task Force met on Tuesday evening, January 18, to review current procedures at First Lutheran. We began by praying for health care workers, for people who have lost loved ones because of covid, and for people currently living with covid. Then we reviewed FLC’s past protocols, the rates of infection and vaccination in our county, and the practices of other area congregations.
Worship is the activity that will keep the highest safeguards since we want as many people as possible to be able to participate. We also recognized that even with the current omicron infections rate, the vaccines are working to make life better for many people and organizations. Therefore, we agreed to make the following changes regarding worship. We will resume passing offering plates during the worship services and we will offer worshipers the opportunity to come forward for communion. We will offer the option for worshipers to take communion at their seats. Communion distribution will be similar to our practice pre-covid. At the 8:40 a.m. service there will be two “stations,” one on the piano side and one on the pulpit side. At the other two services there will be one station. Thank you to Pastor Mike Wilker, Spencer Martin, and Megan Pitz for developing a thoughtful and safe plan to resume these key parts of worship. Pastor Mike will give further instructions during worship. Also, Pastor Mike reiterated that if any members want to receive communion in their home, please contact him to arrange a visit.
We decided not to make any other changes at this time. We continue to encourage mask wearing in the building for any activity. Small groups members are responsible for speaking with one another to decide together about mask wearing during their gathering. This also means that FLC will continue to follow the Decorah Public Schools protocols for mask wearing for children and teens. Finally, for fellowship times, beverages and food can be shared and we recognize and respect that individuals and families will make choices about their participation. The Task Force will continue to monitor the pandemic and make changes as needed.