Stephen Ministry

Today’s blog is by Dave Newman, one our Stephen Leaders.

Zion IS a Stephen Ministry Church

In 1993, Zion became a Stephen Ministry Church. The original prayer was for an ongoing ministry that could prepare lay members to better care for their hurting peers. Through the years, Stephen Ministry has done that…and much more! Stephen Ministry has helped grow disciples.

God calls us all to be disciples…in some cases Stephen Ministers. Since 1993, 48 of us have responded to that call here at Zion. Through training and supervision, we grow together into a Stephen Minster community. Just as Jesus modeled when nurturing his original disciples, discipleship happens through relationships…seldom alone.

As we grow, we realize that our inner spirituality is to be balanced with a concern for others. Jesus taught his disciples time and again to “love thy neighbor”. We estimate that through the years, over 150 hurting people have been gifted with over 5000 hours of distinctively Christian, entirely confidential care from Zion Stephen Ministers.

Commitment to Christ builds discipleship. Though regular Sunday worship, twice-a-month supervision and continuing education, and weekly visits with care-receivers, Stephen Minsters are kept grounded in the Word, the power of the Holy Spirit and our mission to bring Christ’s love to those hurting. Discipleship is our response to God’s love.

We pray you take a moment to listen…God is calling you to be a disciple. If you would like to respond by becoming a Stephen Minister, find us at our table in FLC, Room 101 September 4 and September 11.

Thank You for your prayers of support for Zion’s Stephen Ministers and their current care-receivers.

Peace,
Dave Newman
a Zion Stephen Leader

The Adventure Continues, Part 3

In the previous posts, we shared information about what we know about Church #3 and how that impacts the rest of the construction project. Let’s look ahead to what’s coming –

1. Scaffolding is going up around the sanctuary and administration building.  It will take several weeks for the scaffolding to go up.
2. One of the commonly asked questions is – When do we expect to be back in the sanctuary?  We expect to return to our sanctuary in late Spring 2017.  In the meantime we will continue to meet in the Family Life Center for worship.
3.  Our architect and contractor are aggressively working on finding us savings. They understand our predicament and have spent many hours working for us.
4. We are working on the financial implications on all of this. Our capital campaign team that did such a marvelous job with Connect*Give*Grow has reconvened.
5. It is important that members of this community keep their offerings to the general fund and building fund current.
6. We will have a congregational meeting on June 26, immediately after the 11:15 service (at approximately 12:30). We need you to be present for that meeting.

If you have other questions or comments, please feel free to send an email to the church office and we’ll be happy to answer them the best we can. The building team, council, and staff have committed themselves to communicating as much as they can about this.

Finally, we invite you to be in prayer during this time. We went into this trusting that “God is calling…” and we continue this trusting that God is still calling.

The Adventure Continues, Part 2

Yesterday we shared a little bit about what’s happened with our building project.  To say the least, it’s an unexpected obstacle in this time of adventure!

The building team, staff, and council have been hard at work these last several months trying to figure out our next step forward.  We have been blessed with gifted contractors and architects who have been very helpful and supportive.

The main priority for us is to fix this problem so that it won’t happen again.  We don’t want to “kick the can down the road” for future disciples at Zion to deal with this because we know that this problem will get worse with time.

Our contractor and architect had several lengthy discussions on how to properly fix this and we were informed that the only way to move forward is to remove the exterior limestone, abate the damaged portions of the wall, properly fix the “bones” of the interior walls, and then put the limestone back up again. This fix will make sure we have a water tight building that won’t have this problem again.

This is not something we want to do but it is something we have to do. If we don’t do it now, not only will the building get worse (and cost more to fix), we also  run the risk of losing our construction financing.

This will be expensive. The initial price estimates we have received are that this will cost us about $1.2 million dollars. Since we had no way of knowing this was happening, we did not budget for such a major expense. At the same time, we cannot responsibly borrow another $1.2 million without putting significant financial strain on the congregation, so we have two options –
1. To pause part of the first sequence of construction until we collect the needed money.
2. Raise the $1.2 million quickly to pay for this unexpected surprise.

While we hope that we will be able to raise the necessary funds as soon as possible, at this point the leadership of this congregation feels that we must do the financially responsible thing and make the difficult decision to stop part of the project.  To save enough money, we must either –
1. Complete the exterior of the education building but not any of the interior.
2. Complete the exterior of the sanctuary but not any of the interior.

We don’t like either of these options. We strongly feel that both of these spaces are needed for our ministry. We also don’t like that if we stop work on either project; it will cost us more to complete it at a later date.

Our contractor and architect made the recommendation that we stop work on the interior of the education building. We agree with their recommendation and have asked them to work on finding as much savings as possible by not finishing the education building.

This means that the exterior of the education building will be completed but the rest of the education building will remain incomplete until we raise the needed funds. When people drive by our church, they will see a completed exterior. But because the interior will not be completed, we will not be able to occupy this space until the interior is completed.

Right now, we our main priorities are to keep the congregation informed on what’s going on and to navigate what has become a very complicated building project. We know that we will need to vote on some important items on June 26 at 12:30, so we’re asking for your presence at this important meeting. We are also asking for your prayers and support during this time.

More to come tomorrow…

Building Update

I thought I’d put together a brief update of what’s been happening with our construction:

-Penelope the Organ
To begin with I’d like to show a video from the Christ Cathedral in California after the Roman Catholic Church purchased that property from the Crystal Cathedral.

Our organ project isn’t nearly as large, but you can begin to see from the video how time consuming a project like this can be.

The pipe organ in Church #3, which was nicknamed Penelope, was removed from the sanctuary last week. It was a fascinating process to watch from start to finish. Each of the individual pipes had to be carefully removed, labeled, wrapped, and then put in boxes for transportation to the Dallas area. There are also parts on the inside of the pipe organ made of various types of wood that are made with various types of wood that are bulky and heavy that had to be removed and stored.

After a very full week of work, the final pieces of the pipe organ were removed from the sanctuary on Friday afternoon.

A lot of people have asked – what’s going to happen to Penelope?  If we were going to continue to use her in the sanctuary, she was going to need some significant repair work.  Rather than repairing Penelope, our organ builder took parts of Penelope so they can be re-purposed for future pipe organs throughout the country.

-All The Pews that Fit
Before major construction begins, the pews in the sanctuary have to be removed during construction. So here’s a quick run-down of what’s happened:
1. When the pews were installed, they were anchored into the floor. They had to be removed from the floor.
2. The longer pews in the sanctuary are actually two pieces joined together. They were taken apart.
3. In preparation for moving, the pews were wrapped in plastic to protect them as they’re stored during construction.

After all of that, the pews are being removed from the Sanctuary Wednesday and will be in storage during the renovation and it will be time for some selected demolition in the sanctuary.

-Moving Dirt…
Work on the education building continues…

Last week several parking spaces on the 1604 side were fenced off. There have been lots of loads of dirt dumped on our property that form the base for the new education building. The dirt has been moved around, packed, and will continue to be formed into a solid foundation for this building.  If you come up to the church campus during the day, you’ll probably hear the beeps and other sounds of heavy construction equipment like bulldozers.

-Finally
As always, we’re thankful for the ways in which this community of faith embodies generosity and adventure.  I invite you to keep our building team, staff, and construction crew in prayer.

Getting Ready For Sunday

Before we begin, let us pray.

O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
-A prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship

This Sunday marks an important shift for 2016 at Zion – we are moving down to the Family Life Center for most of the year while our sanctuary is remodeled. This past Sunday we said goodbye for a little while to Church 3 and now it’s time for the adventure to continue.

Before we continue, I want to thank the 60 or so people that helped move us out of the sanctuary this past Sunday. Their work made a major difference! We’ve also had several other projects during the week that others have done to help with this transition. Thank you for your generosity!

Now onto Sunday….
When you pull into the parking lot, you’ll notice we have moved some handicap parking spaces over by the Fellowship Hall. If you are more able-bodied, please reserve better parking spaces for the elderly, families with small children, and those who have mobility issues closer to the FLC.

Also, please don’t park in the loop next to the Family Life Center. That is for people to drop off people and functions much like our port cochere (the covered driveway by the sanctuary) did when we were in Church 3.

Starting at 8:00 we will have some coffee on in Room 101. There are some comfy chairs, tables, and we think it will be a really neat space to visit before or after worship. Come on in and visit!

There are three entrances to the worship space. You can enter through Room 101, the doors next to Room 101, or the doors facing Braun Road (the doors closest to the Coke machine). On days when the weather isn’t bad, we’ve asked our ushers to be outside to greet people.

The layout of the worship space is similar to the sanctuary. You’ll notice some chairs with arms through out the sanctuary. If at all possible, please reserve these chairs for people who need a little more help getting up out of a chair.

As a reminder, the nursery has temporarily moved to the Fellowship Hall. If you need to have your child cared by our awesome nursery staff, enter through the doors facing Leslie Road.

If you see something that we’ve missed or something that could make things run a bit smoother while we are worshipping in the FLC, let one of the pastors know and we will see what we can do.

Here are some common questions we’ve been asked as we prepare for this adventure:
How long will we be worshipping in the FLC?
We will return to the sanctuary at sometime in Fall 2016. We will have an exact date once we are closer to construction being completed.

If I have items to donate to CAM or somewhere else, where do they go?
There is a plant on the main floor of the FLC with a sign that says, “Donation Station.”

Because the pews aren’t in there, I’m assuming we won’t have Bibles, hymnals, or other papers and envelopes in our seats?
That’s correct. Our bulletin will include hymns and songs that weren’t previously in there.

If I forgot my offering envelope or want to make a special donation on Sunday for a special cause, what do I do?
You can find envelopes that were in the pews at the Welcome Center.

What about our theatre ministry? How will that work?
2016 won’t be quite the same as years past, but there are some really neat things planned. Stay tuned!

One final thought:
We are on an adventure together. We have tried very hard to do as much as we can to make this transition as smooth as possible. Thanks be to God for your commitment to the mission and ministry of Zion. It has been a joy to be a part of this time in our church’s history.

Stories of Faith in Action #2

We’re continuing our series of stories of faith in action.  As people of faith, we are entrusted with caring for all of God’s creation.  It takes all of us using our gifts and these posts are stories of how people have answered the call to serve God in the world.  Today’s story is from Sammy Mikulski, our director of theatre ministries.  She writes:

“For the past 4 years I have had the honor of heading up the Thanksgiving Basket food drive. This is a ministry that is very dear to my heart. When I was a child I was one of those who received those baskets, and the joy that came along with it is unexplainable.

This year we were able to feed 25 families wonderful meals from olives to turkey with all the trimmings,  through to the pumpkin pie desert, because of the generous folks here at Zion. The smiles we received this year were wonderful, and two of the families had us hold hands and say a prayer with them.   They were all so gracious, we were invited in like we were one of the family. To me this is what Thanksgiving is all about.

A huge thank you to Zion for the amazing donations of food, money, and gift cards. And another huge thank you to our food deliverers Celeste, Julie, the entire Christmas family, Bonnie , Brinkley, Lindsay, Gavin, Amy and Manny.  God is Great… God is Good…you know the rest!”

The Adventure Begins!

I am so thankful for this past Sunday. We had a wonderful day where we gathered for worship, offered their intentions to give for 2016, had our annual meeting, and broke ground on the new facilities for ministry. Thanks be to God for all the hard work that went into making that day so meaningful!

This past Sunday at the annual meeting I talked about two important words that will mark our time together for the next year – generosity and adventure.

Generosity – When we talk about generosity, most of the time people think we’re reaching for their pocket books to ask people to give more of their financial resources. While money is a part of generosity, this next year we will have a lot of opportunities to practice generosity. During construction we will need to have a generous spirit with each other. As I said Sunday, we are going to be an equal opportunity offender! Everybody is getting (Everyone will be) displaced over this next year and that means that everyone’s toes will be stepped on. It will be easy for us to get grumpy about things, but Pastor Dave and I want to invite every person in this community of faith to embody generosity in all we say and do, especially over this next year.

Adventure – Christianity is an adventure. God’s call on our lives takes us to places we’d never imagine doing things that seem inconceivable. We can choose to see this as a burden where we complain about all the things we can’t do or we can see this as an adventure, part of our journey with God. We are choosing to see this as an adventure and we invite you all to come along!

As we begin this construction project, let us pray.

O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(A prayer from Evening Prayer, Evangelical Lutheran Worship.)

What Signs of God’s Goodness Have You Seen?

When one of our former Presiding Bishops, Mark Hanson, was a parish pastor one of the first questions he’d ask with the congregation council was, “What signs of God’s goodness have you seen recently?”  I like that question because I think one of the important tasks the church has is to see what God is doing in the world.

I thought I’d share a little bit of where I have seen and hope to see God’s presence.

-A group of people that come to the church every Friday afternoon to assemble the bulletins.  Their work is an important ministry that often goes unrecognized.  But their ministry ensures that everyone who walks through the doors is welcomed to Zion.
-Pastor Dave, Vicar Emily, and I had a chance to spend several days together learning with other Lutheran leaders throughout Texas in New Braunfels.  While we miss being with you all, these times away are very important times for us to learn and grow as leaders in the church.
-I think of the baptism we had at 11:00 this pastor Sunday and the baptisms we will have this Sunday at 9:30 and 11:00.  I love being able to welcome people into Christ’s mission.
-I’m looking forward to hearing about the people that head to St. PJ’s home tomorrow to fix some of their bicycles.  There’s a lot of good happening at St. PJ’s and I’m proud that several groups have come together for this project.
-Three other groups that are meeting tomorrow morning.  Our men’s prayer breakfast, the prayer team, and our quilters all meet tomorrow morning.  Prayer is essential to our life together and I’m glad we’ll have two groups of people praying for our church and God’s world.  The quilters are faithfully making quilts for Lutheran World Relief.
-Meanwhile our drama ministry is hard at work for our Spring show.  I’m glad that we can share some of God’s goodness and beauty through the arts.  I rejoice that people who are a part of Zion and aren’t members of any church are here using their God-given gifts.
-Sunday we’ll hear from President Rick Barger of Trinity Lutheran Seminary.  Zion has been an internship site for 5 different interns from Trinity Seminary and is doing an important ministry for the wider church in helping to train its newest pastors.
-We’ll also be thinking about mission this Sunday in our Sunday school class. Vicar Emily put together a great series of classes to think about what it means to be God’s people in mission.
-Speaking of being God’s people in mission, we’ll be doing a lot of ministry feeding people over the next few days. Sunday you’re asked to bring at least a $1 and a canned good for the Souper Bowl Caring. All the money collected will go to Taking it To the Streets, a ministry that works with the homeless in our community. All the canned goods will go to Christian Assistance Ministry.
-We’ll be feeding people at Fisher House at Lackland AFB this Tuesday. If you’ve not been, you should!
-We’ll also be feeding homeless people in San Antonio this Friday through Taking it to the Streets. If you’ve not been, you should go as well…

Lots of signs of God’s goodness. It makes me thankful to be one of your pastors!

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Russell