Questions and Answers on the 2010-2011 Vision Appeal
Q: What is the Vision Appeal?
A: This is an opportunity to add a part-time pastor, Blair A’Hearn, to our staff for a term call starting this fall and ending on August 31, 2012. A term call means that unlike normal pastoral calls which are open ended, this one would be for a specific time period of about 2 years.
Q: How would this help Resurrection achieve our mission and goals?
A: In 2007 the Vision Team, after a long process of seeking congregational input, crafted 10 goals and recommendations for the years 2008-2012. These were approved by the congregation at the 2008 annual meeting. While most of the goals have been met (such as goal #1- adding a third worship service and a second Sunday School), three goals have been difficult to achieve. Having a third part-time pastor would give LCR the flexibility and trained personnel to achieve these goals.
Q: What are LCR’s unfulfilled Vision Goals?
A: The first one is: Strive toward being a church of small groups. As churches grow in attendance like we have, it is crucial for those who join LCR to connect with others in fellowship groups. While some of that has taken place, we still have many folk (especially newer members) who long for friendship with Resurrection members. Blair is a natural at small group process and training leaders to run small groups.
The second one is: Improve care for the elderly and home bound. The Care Ministers do a great job of working with the pastors to provide care for shut-ins and hospitalized folks. The missing piece in this pastoral care goal was marriage counseling and helping those with depression, caring for aging parents, and other issues. Most pastors are “generalists” when it comes to counseling. They look to specialists with Masters’ degrees in therapy to provide counseling for more difficult situations. Blair would be a tremendous asset in this area, providing that care as well as developing a new marriage ministry for couples. In addition, Pastor Dennis could do more home visiting of retired members and others desiring a pastoral call if he was freed up from counseling responsibilities.
The third goal is: Renew adult education. One of the results of having 3 Sunday morning services and 2 Sunday Schools has been a decline in our adult education program. The pastors are tied up with preaching every other week at 9:45. Pastor Dennis and a lay member lead a new member class at 9:45 three times a year for 6 weeks at a time. With the addition of Blair, we would offer both a Wednesday night adult bible study and a 9:45 Sunday morning adult education offering.
Q: What sort of background does Pastor A’Hearn have?
A: Blair was ordained in 1991 and has 20 years of experience as an ELCA pastor in three different congregations. He was a music teacher for several years before going to seminary. His wife Lyn is a vocal music teacher at Harding Middle School, and has a Masters degree from Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago as a diaconal minister.
Blair has two years left on a Masters program at UNI in Marriage and Family Therapy. The 2010-2011 year will be academic courses. The 2011-2012 year will be a supervised clinical internship under the guidance of a local licensed therapist. Blair is available for those two years to do some part time ministry for a church. Upon completion of his degree program, Blair’s desire would be to divide his time between pastoral duties and a therapist position.
Q: What specific duties and time commitment would be involved in this part time term call?
A: A job description for a 20 hour/week position would include the following: leading the Wednesday Evening Song service; counseling; small group coordination; leading adult education on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights; preaching every fourth or fifth weekend; and helping with baptisms and weddings. Starting on August 4, Blair and his wife Lyn assumed leadership of the Evening Song service, following the departure of Matt Wheeler to graduate school in Duluth, MN.
Q: What is the cost of adding this position?
A: The minimum synod guidelines for a pastor with 20 years of experience in a half time position with ELCA pension/medical coverage is about $3200/month. Our 2010 budget includes $400/month of that cost for leading the Evening Song worship. That leaves an unmet need of $2800/month. (Blair would need only single coverage for health insurance, as Lyn is covered by the Cedar Rapids school system).
Q: How could our congregation support this Vision Appeal?
A: If 140 LCR giving units (out of over 400) would pledge an additional $5/week, we would meet our goal. Or if 112 giving units pledged $25/month, we would meet the $2800 goal. For the cost of a coffee drink at Starbucks, a member or friend of LCR could pledge an additional $5/ week to cover the cost. Or, for the cost of a dinner out at a local restaurant, a member or friend could pledge $25/month to cover this position.
Q: Would my Vision Appeal commitment be added to my regular general fund giving?
A: No- a special fund would be created to track and manage these contributions. Future offering envelopes would include an additional line for the Vision Fund. Our Simply Giving authorization would be revised to include this new fund.
Q: How long would this commitment run?
A: This would be a 2 year term call to Pastor A’Hearn. The Vision Appeal, as a special commitment, would continue through December 2011. Subsequently, this position would be incorporated into the General operating budget.
Q: What happens if we don’t meet the goal of raising the $2800/month?
A: We would not issue a letter of call. We would miss out on a great opportunity to add a gifted, caring pastor to our staff. Eventually the Wednesday night service would need a new worship leader. The unfulfilled goals would continue. Counseling situations beyond our pastors’ scope would continue to show up at their doors.