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CHURCH Newsletter – February, 2022

Pastor Corey Shaffer

           

Annual Reports for EOY 2021

Professional Church Workers

Pastor Corey Shaffer

               Having been installed on June 27, 2021, the first half of 2021 is excluded. As a result of the pastoral vacancy during COVID, it is unclear who is a legitimate “shut-in” and who just hasn’t returned to the habit of in-person worship. Following a vacancy, many new potential members can slip in the front door unnoticed (by me); we have not yet held a new membership and adult confirmation class for these folks. Another challenge is that several old members can slip out the back door without follow-up. This is a learning process for me and a continual task for our Board of Elders. It is not uncommon for members to fluctuate in attendance during a pastor’s first year at a new church; many people are unwilling to stay at a church once they determine that they do not like (or agree with) the pastor. This is an unfortunate consequence of a society that places the interests of the individual above that of the community.

            Salaries and working hours were cut for COVID, but they have started to gradually return after seeing the financial gifts of 2021. Estate planning remains a crucial task for all members of the congregation. Our operating expenses rely on a steady stream of donations, and we need members to remember Trinity in their will. This is important for the church, but it is primarily driven by our obedience to God’s Word (for the heart of the giver). We are taking a long time to consider how best to use these gifts, so we hope that our delays will not deter continued giving and estate planning. The organizational structure of Trinity (like all churches) is challenged by a lack of volunteer leaders and by an inability to meet the rigid demands of our own policies. It should be noted that the volunteers at Trinity are hardworking, passionate about this congregation, and deserving of our appreciation.

            Making decisions regarding our response to COVID will always be unpopular to someone. In the absence of a pastor, this difficult task goes to committee. As the only full-time staff member, and in an effort to lead and under shepherd this congregation, I have attempted to implement a balanced response. This response has favored caution on areas of Christian priority—regarding membership rights—such as attendance in the divine service and participation in the Lord’s Supper. While the cases in Wood County are high, attempts are made to create a safe atmosphere for these core tasks. Worship is likely considered a mass gathering on Sunday (and sometimes on Wednesday). However, many of our Bible Studies, fellowship events, and other activities are treated differently. These former events, which are rarely approaching the mass gathering “feel” for their space, are not membership rights (like worship and communion), so the response has favored to individual decision. Members who are uncomfortable with this practice are free to stay home from those events; however, we are doing a grave injustice to our members when they feel unable to attend in-person worship and receive the Lord’s Supper. All other activities are organized according to interest and willingness to attend. I would be happy to organize events where masks are required, but I have received no indication of this desire.

            Milestone Ministry (MM) has been a joint effort by Deaconess Ashley and myself. It has been a great opportunity for us to work together, as I get to know her and her potential. The program focuses on the various ages and stages of life. The goal is to provide some continuity to any possible program. We have provided a “Grief” class for those who have experienced the death of loved ones, we have provided an integrated Confirmation program (the primary focus of MM), and we have provided a series of weekly teachings on a variety of theological topics and life stages. The program is a reaction to the decision to have Deaconess Ashley assume the duties of the Board of Christian Education. This has not pulled our Deaconess into the Church Council, and it is not a clean substitute for our constitutional objectives, but it has filled a void in leadership, and it has enabled the pastor and deaconess to work together on a project (toward a beneficial outcome).

            A call was extended to Deaconess Ashely Wenndt on October 10, 2021. As of the time of this report, the call documents were not completed, and Ashley has not yet been installed on account of the lengthy process. As her first call out of Seminary, the process needed to go back through the Fort Wayne Seminary before it could begin with the North Wisconsin District office. We anticipate the process being completed very soon. Having a new pastor has further delayed the process as well. The reason for this call is that the “hiring” of her, nearly 10 years ago, was never officially made into a call, and she was never officially a commissioned worker in the Synod. This will rectify that issue, and it will benefit all.

          Christ can be all things to all people, but we cannot. Trinity has some vision and direction, but we desperately need to redefine and clarify this unifying task for the alignment it produces. Our church has reached a point (combined with the tragedies of COVID and vacancy) where we could easily become inwardly focused on survival; the future of Trinity is a real concern, but we need directional leadership to inspire and guide our congregation into a new era of witness, mercy, and life together.

Deaconess Ashley Wenndt (Board of Christian Education)

            We at Trinity have been blessed with opportunities to continue to learn and grow in the faith. This past year we have had Sunday school continue to work through the Bible chronologically with the Answers Bible Curriculum. We have had up to 20 kids attended but as the year went on the numbers fluctuated and have gone down to an average of 5. The Christmas program saw more kids but then numbers went down again. There has not been the maintenance and growth that we were hoping for.

            The Milestone Ministry classes started and we had a good turn out for them. We had up to 10 people attending (not in confirmation). Confirmation is also a part of Milestone Ministry and we had a great turnout of 11 youth show interest; with 6-7 regularly attending. It is a ministry that was and is still in the working stages.

            Bible studies on Tuesday and Wednesday continued with a few new members but losing others. The women averaging 6 and the Wednesday averaging about 10 people.

            VBS was at St. Luke’s and we had 2 families volunteer and 1-2 families attend.

Respectfully Submitted, Pastor Corey Shaffer

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