Notes from Congregational Meeting

May 5, 2023
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Highlights from the CMC Congregational Meeting

On Sunday, June 11, we had a very positive and informational Christ Memorial Church Congregational Meeting with more than 250 members attending. This letter, with highlights from the meeting, is part of our commitment, as Lead Elders, to communicate with our members more clearly and more often.

Lead Elders’ Comments

Lead Elder Vice President Becca Dernberger noted that this has been a year of significant change, and the Lead Elders have spent a good deal of time confronting the “brutal facts,” a phrase borrowed from the Jim Collins book, Good to Great. With so many changes and challenges, staff departures, the Human Resources Committee, have been analyzing the underlying issues and creating action steps. Lead Elders’ recommendations will be used by the Transition Team as they plan next steps.

Both the paid staff and our volunteers are doing an incredible job to keep us moving forward.

The Transition Team

Lead Elder Ryan Venhuizen is heading the Transition Team, a group that represents CMC members of various ages and walks of life and is charged with helping us move forward. They have analyzed information from the past including feedback from Leaders Journey (our consultants in 2019) plus various surveys and vision work from previous years and identified the following historical values of CMC: deeper preaching, discipleship/education, classic worship, missional generosity, and youth ministry.

Our Future Structure: Exploring a Shared Leadership Model

The Transition Team and staff are looking into the idea of a “shared leadership model,” in which a team of pastors is empowered to lead the church together (instead of calling and installing one lead pastor). This is being used successfully at Fellowship Reformed Church and could be the direction in which God is calling us.

At this point, we are investigating this option and intend to try it out, but we will only adopt it permanently if it becomes a proven concept.

We plan to hire an interim co-pastor to team up with Pastor Mike and Pastor Eric in leading our church. The current Staff Leadership Team (Pastor Mike, Pastor Eric, Josh DePree, Adam Lokker plus Stephen McCarthy and Jen Prince – representing operations) are working on job descriptions and how this could work, including whether the pastors should be full-time or part-time.

Next, the Transition Team will form a search committee to look for an interim pastor to join the team.

We will engage a coach to support the pastors in this new, shared model.

The interim pastor would be hired on a contract with no automatic end date. If the individual or the co-pastor model does not work for us, we’ll move in a different direction.  But if it does work out, we would “call and install” all three pastors and they will lead under supervision of the RCA Classis.

Worship Update

Pastor Eric Schrotenboer presented an overview of the plans and ideas for worship at CMC. He said God is calling us to worship together, in unity, as one family, He noted that “nothing is going away” in terms of our choir, orchestra, ensembles, sacred dance, etc. At the same time, our worship should engage people of all ages and backgrounds. Our summer blended services are a step in the right direction.

This fall we will be encouraged to read the Bible together as a congregation and in small groups using Immerse: Messiah, which is a chronological reading of portions of the New Testament in modern language. If this 8-week plan goes well, we could read the rest of the Bible using the Immerse series over a three-year period. This fall, we’ll create new, temporary small groups to guide and support each other as we read and study scripture together.

Pastor Eric also introduced a concept for The Second Hour, which will be a fun and engaging after-church program to teach our children, and it will also provide parents the freedom to participate in adult programming during this time.

How We Care for Each Other

Paster Mike Westerveld presented an overview of the work and vision for Care and Connections, using Exodus 18 as a model. (When Moses’ father-in-law Jethro recommended a structure in which leaders care for small groups of people instead of expecting one person to do everything.) The vision for the future is to care for people and build community to capture a “small church feel” with help from teams that focus on those who worship either in person and online, prayer, sacraments, membership, and connections/community building.

Sanctuary Renovation Update

Deacon Paul VandeBunte provided an update on the sanctuary project, which is on track scheduled for completion by September 1.  On September 17, we are planning a sanctuary dedication in conjunction with the kickoff of our fall ministries.

The CMC volunteer construction team meets weekly to keep a close eye on progress.

Financially, the project is budgeted at $1,730,338 including a 10% tithe on donations and a contingency fund. We have received pledges totaling $1,577,585, which means we must raise an addition $152,753 to complete the project.

Consistory Update

Deacon Board Chair Dave Langworthy said the Deacons are focused on using our vision (Outfitting the Church to Influence the World) and the Matthew 25 concepts to make decisions about our resources. There is a plan in place to improve awareness of the missions and ministries we support to create stronger relationships and more service opportunities.

Care and Connections (C2) Elder Board Chair Rick Dernberger focused on the challenge of caring for and connecting with people at church, reaching out to guests, members, and online attendees. One tactic recently implemented is the use of “secret greeters” to reach out to people and make them feel welcome.

Lead Elder Board has been divided into two ‘seasons’ – the first eight months were working through the role of Lead Elders and Staff Leadership. The Lead Elders gave leadership four goals: Dwell, Strategic Planning, Creating a healthy work environment, and the Sanctuary Renovation. The past four months were spent responding to the events that have occurred. The Elders look forward to moving forward with the great momentum that is being built by the Senior Leadership Team (SLT).

Budget Update

Lead Elder Treasurer Sally Brink reviewed the current budget and presented the upcoming budget for our fiscal year of July 2023-June 2024. She noted that although our giving is down, our costs have also gone down and we will be able to meet the gap using existing financial resources. She also pointed out that we are aiming to reduce personnel costs. We will not be cutting staff to reach this goal, but we are reorganizing the work so we don’t need to automatically replace employees who leave.

The new budget, which was approved at the meeting, is based on faith that our donations will go back to the budgeted level once the sanctuary project is completed and donations are not being diverted to other causes.

New Officers Elected

The new slate of officers was approved to serve from 2023-2026. They include:

  • Lead Elders: Judy Burtch, Scott Cramer, DeLynn Unema, Conni VandeBunte
  • Care and Connection Elders: Phyllis DeHaan, Marlene Holstine, Ruby Kickert
  • Deacons: Jim DeVries, Al Speet, Vidal Velazquez

 

Thanks for taking time to read this long email. We hope you find it helpful and appreciate your support and grace in this time of transition.

Sincerely,

The Lead Elders
John Auwema
Joel Bouwens
Sally Brink
Becca Dernberger
Norma Hook
Barb Jansen
Brad Laninga
Brad Prince
Jack Siebers
Bill Swets
Ryan Venhuizen
Mary Wierenga