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June 8, 2018, 8:49 AM

Pastor's Semi-Annual Report to the Congregation, June 2018

So those who welcomed [Peter’s] message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. 42They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  –Acts 2:41-42

These words from Acts 2 came to mind as I began reflecting on what to say after worship on Pentecost when we welcomed four young women as adult members of Holy Spirit.  Indeed, the end of last year and beginning of this year have seen us welcoming more new faces to the congregation (seventeen on March 11!).  In the summer months, we will welcome another group of new members as well (thank you in advance for wearing your name tag). I am excited by this growth and the new faces at church, and I am also mindful of the emphasis Luke placed on teaching, fellowship, breaking bread together and praying together to create a strong church community.  So as the summer months approach, I encourage you to make time for these four important components of our life together as Holy Spirit Lutheran Church.

Looking back over the past six months, in Lent we examined the theme of “forgiveness” using Desmond and Mpho Tutu’s, The Book of Forgiving.  Then, during Holy Week, we tried something a little different for Maundy Thursday: Individual Absolution as well as a dramatic presentation from Peter’s perspective on the passion of Jesus.  On Good Friday, we hosted five other congregations in town as well as a 60-member choir and chamber orchestra.  Thank you to all who made that service (and all of Holy Week) such a meaningful remembrance of what Christ has done for us.  

In Adult Education on Sunday mornings, we have looked at the similarities and differences between Lutherans and other Christians, as well as between Lutherans and other religions.  As a conclusion to this series, we will be reviewing the ELCA's draft statement, "A Declaration of Our Inter-Religious Commitment" starting on June 3 and going until we are done with it.  For the rest of the summer, we will likely take a brief break from Adult Education classes on Sunday mornings, but we will continue to offer small group discussions including a small group on “Laughing Your Way to a Better Marriage” scheduled to begin on June 4 at 6:30.  It will run approximately six weeks.

Beginning last fall, I began working with area clergy and non-profit leaders on the formation of a “Grand Blanc Faith Community Outreach Center.”  We will likely have a formal charter and bylaws established later this summer, so look for more information in the months ahead—I will share updates on my blog page on the church website.  In part, this is an attempt to create a central space for some of the services available to the community (similar to a model established in Flushing.  It would NOT affect any of our current outreach programming at Holy Spirit, but having such an outreach center could allow us to work with other congregations, area businesses and other non-profits (like FISH) to better support those in need in Grand Blanc. 

Speaking of community outreach, I am excited to be traveling with the youth and Briana to Houston for the Youth Gathering.  We anticipate it being an amazing experience like previous Youth Gatherings, but still ask your prayers for us and all the participants.  THANK YOU to all who have worked and given to make this experience possible for our youth!

Later in the summer, I plan to lead a short sermon series like I did last year.  It will most likely be on “Children of the Bible” and what we can learn from them.  However, it is still in the early stages of development, so come to worship this summer and find out more! J

A couple personal updates: in early May at the Southeast Michigan Synod Assembly, I was elected as a voting member of Churchwide Assembly scheduled for August 5-10, 2019 in Milwaukee, WI.  Also, this summer, I will submit my Doctor of Ministry dissertation proposal.  If approved, I will be interviewing other ELCA congregations that have joined together with our full-communion partners for ministry in their surrounding community.  While this does not affect our congregation at this time, it is clearly a growing trend especially in rural and urban contexts.

Finally, I would like to say a big thank you to the staff, council members and ministry leaders at HSLC.  Your dedication to Holy Spirit makes it a wonderful community to share in that same “teaching and fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers,” which Luke encourages for us all.

-Pastor Nathan

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