God’s grace, peace, and hope be with you through our Savior, Jesus Christ .
Like rain after an endless drought, the gift of gathering in person this year has quenched a deep thirst. The pandemic revealed anew the depth of our thirst for community; Scripture also articulates this profound human need. Advances in technologies like livestreaming are indeed gifts to our church and world. Still, our hearts sing when we can rub shoulders around the communion table, embrace those who grieve, and raise our voices together in resounding song.
The mission of the synod is to support communities who share the thirst-quenching love of God – forming disciples, building beloved community, and working for just and healthy neighborhoods. I am deeply grateful for the many ways that we walk together in our journey of faith.
The synod staff walks closely in partnership with congregations, especially in times of transition, planning, or conflict. Last year, we accompanied congregations in 58 call processes. We offer skills trainings for lay members through the annual Tool Kit, and for church staff through peer groups and communicators gatherings. And, our Faith Practices & Neighborhood Practices program strengthens congregations in faith formation and engaging their neighborhoods.
Synod staff also work closely with our deacons and pastors. We experience great joy when we gather with congregations for ordinations, installations, and Ministry Site Profile reviews, as well as in preaching, presiding, and offering adult forums. We support our interim pastors who provide wise leadership in times of transition and our chaplains who provide critical care in a variety of settings. And, currently, we support 50 seminary students preparing to become pastors and deacons.
Our congregations worship in Spanish, Swahili, ASL, Oromo, Hmong, Lao, Norwegian, and Amharic. As we celebrate our diversity, we also recognize inequities affecting our congregations. Using a “racial equity lens,” the synod council launched an in-depth process to evaluate and strengthen partnerships with our “strategic ministries,” addressing historical realities of disconnection and resource inequities.
As a synod together, we will gather again April 28-29 for Synod Assembly. All are welcome at the opening worship Friday night; voting members will carry out the business of the synod on Saturday. We are blessed with the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III as our keynote speaker.
Thanks to the incredible generosity of Lutherans in our synod and in the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria, the ground-breaking for the first ever Lutheran University in Nigeria occurred this December. We celebrate God’s provision and look forward to the blessings this university will bring.
During my sabbatical, I have been studying “the church in the U.S. – hopes and challenges.” I would like to present some of my learnings as well as facilitate conversations in as many congregations as possible during the coming months. For more information about these visits or news about what’s happening around the synod, please visit the synod website and sign up for our weekly enews.
Bishop Ann Svennungsen
Pastor Anna Helgen and Pastor Jeff Sartain
The past year felt like a renaissance at ECLC. So much of what was lying dormant beneath the soil of the pandemic restriction blossomed. New ways of approaching former ways of doing things surprised us time and again. Rather than church life going “back” to the way it was prior to the pandemic, it has been a rebirth and a time of growing into newness.
Our theme, which began in the fall of 2022, is Deep Roots. We have solid evidence that deep roots of faith sustained us during the pandemic, and now we see shoots of new growth everywhere! Below are just a few examples.
We are singing again! We have seen a steady increase in attendance, with some Sundays approaching pre-pandemic levels even without including those who are worshipping from home via livestream. We have improved our technology so that the worship-from-home experience is richer. The same improvements have helped us address the long-term sound system issues we have had in the sanctuary. The word is heard much more clearly both in the sanctuary and over your computers.
Our Legacy Fund
After years of exploration and preparation, the congregation approved the formation of an endowment-type of fund to hold gifts in perpetuity that will sustain ECLC into the future. Two remarkable gifts were received to launch that fund, and other gifts have been made and are in process. It is clear people are grateful to have this opportunity to leave a legacy for the future through gifts to this fund.
Children, Youth, and Family Ministry
It has been a joy to return to in-person gatherings for our children, youth, and families. This summer, five youth and two adults went on a canoe trip to the BWCA through Wilderness Canoe Base (WCB). Several households attended intergenerational camp at WCB as well, and all participants shared great stories of growing deeper in relationship with God and one another. ECLC’s first ever Justice, Art, and Music (JAM) Camp brought together children, youth, and adults from ECLC and several partner congregations for four days of singing, art, and collective storytelling. This fall, we welcomed kids and youth into our classrooms again for Sunday School and Confirmation, and we are thankful for a new tenant in our building—Lake Harriet Community Child Care. The transition has been seamless, and we are grateful that this beautiful space can be shared with children nearly every day of the week!
Capital campaign: See What Yes Can Do
We keep moving toward our base goal of $1.6 million dollars. Work has begun on removing buckthorn and other invasive species from our property. Plans are in hand for a retaining wall that will one day soon make gathering space and a scatter garden possible along the south side of the building, increasing the usability of our property and addressing erosion issues.
Keeping our witness to love and justice vibrant in the world continues to be a top priority for ECLC. Our work on reproductive rights made the Star Tribune in September. The Edina Ant-racism Collective has become a gathering place for area clergy to collaborate. ECLC is seen as a leader in so many aspects of justice work, but more importantly we are continuing to learn to follow the leadership of communities and leaders of color.
May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, so that you, being rooted and grounded in love, will be able to grasp fully the breadth, length, height, and depth of Christ’s love and, with all God’s holy ones, experience this love that surpasses all understanding, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. --Ephesians 4:17-19
Author Brené Brown often starts meetings with a two-word check-in. When I consider this past year at ECLC, the two words that come to mind are “deep-rooted” and “rebirth.” In almost every aspect, I have witnessed the deep roots of our congregation and a flourishing of our ministry and congregational life.
Each report contained herein will reflect one or more of the priorities that emerged from the 2021 Strategic Plan: Post-COVID return, Relationships, Capacity and Financial Vitality, Justice, and Spirituality. Although I encourage you to read each report, I would like to highlight a few items that show the strength of our collective commitment and offshoots of growth that have emerged from this past year:
At the 2022 Annual Meeting, the congregation voted to pursue a third Capital Campaign; the Council voted to launch the Campaign soon thereafter. In an act of faith, members responded with generosity and conviction. We already see results of these commitments: buckthorn has been removed from the woods, tithes were given to four prayerfully chosen organizations, and $300,000 was applied to our mortgage principle.
The congregation’s commitment was extended again in November through the establishment of a Legacy Fund. The votes to approve the Capital Campaign and Legacy Fund give witness to a congregation that values our present mission and future ministry opportunities. Thank you.
Throughout this year, the Council met monthly on the third Tuesday of every month. Together, this group deliberated decisions and shared updates about respective ministry areas. From reimagining a new structure for Adult Faith Formation to choosing artwork to be displayed in the building to continuing to build upon our strong mission partner relationships (and so much more!), the Council has kept what we learned during the darkest days of the pandemic and returned to some of our most precious events and routines. I am grateful for and humbled by their time, commitment, and talent.
These past twelve months have provided new opportunities, continued adjustments to ministry, and periods of rest for our dedicated and talented staff. When Lake Harriet Community Child Care moved into ECLC over the summer, our staff adjusted to new sights, sounds, and relationships during the normally quiet business hours. All staff worked hard to establish our “new normal” of fall programming and worship services, now with streaming and hybrid opportunities. We are grateful that we could provide sabbaticals for some staff, including one for Pastor Jeff during this first quarter of 2023.
Finally, when I consider the renaissance of this past year, a specific date comes to mind: Sunday, December 4, 2022. On this day, we welcomed twenty-five new members to ECLC, and we dedicated the commitments made by 212 households to the 2023 stewardship campaign. Adults met during fellowship hour to discuss the stories and cultural roots of some of their most important food dishes, while children gathered in the basement to practice their “ABCs of Christmas” program. Between services, financial donations were made to support partner congregation Redeemer’s Christmas Store. At the 9 a.m. service, my family joined together with two hundred others to sing, pray, reflect, and commune in the round. It was a full, beautiful service, and I was grateful to be there.
These are just a few of the countless ways that ECLC has symbolized both “deep-rooted” and “rebirth.” Thank you to you, the congregation, the Council and Executive Committee, and our staff for your work in 2022. It has been an honor to serve as the Council President this year.
The council was able to have a mix of virtual and in-person meetings this year and, as secretary, I was privileged to record the Council of Ministers decisions and actions. Thank you to my colleagues on the council, it continues to be an honor to serve with you.
Here are some notable discussion and decision points from the 2022 ECLC Council of Ministers:
Under the strategic plan pillar Post Covid Return:
Under the strategic plan pillar Justice:
Under the strategic pillar Capacity and Financial Vitality:
Under the strategic pillar Relationships:
Under the strategic pillar Spirituality:
2022 was a busy year financially for ECLC. At the 2022 Annual Meeting, the congregation approved an expense budget of $1,162,753 with a deficit of $51,368 in revenue. The deficit was paid for through 2021 surplus funds derived from Federal COVID relief funds: the Payroll Protection Program and the Employee Retention Credit. The congregation also approved two other significant areas of revenue: a Capital Campaign that was launched in the springtime; and a Legacy Fund which was created in the fall.
The Capital Campaign’s focus will be debt reduction, but the congregation will also gift 10% of receipts to mission and undertake some outdoor improvements to the land. The campaign got off to a fast start with 125+ households pledging roughly $1.147M; in addition, nearly 50% of the pledges have been paid already, and this enabled significant work to begin this year. In November, $300,000 was applied towards principal of the mortgage and after re-amortizing the loans, it resulted in nearly $20k savings in the operating budget. Planning and design work for a retaining wall in the rear of the church will form the basis of finished space, including a scatter garden. Significant buckthorn removal and landscape rehabilitation is also underway.
The Legacy Fund will act as a quasi-endowment fund and allow gifts made to the church to live on in perpetuity, while providing a steady source of operating income; if the fund total is greater than $100,000, 4% can be withdrawn annually for the operating budget. The creation of a legacy fund and a gift acceptance and use policy was approved at a November 9th at a special congregation meeting. In December, the newly created Investment Advisory Committee met for the first time. Committee members John Byom, Jen Thompson, and Mark Woell will bring a recommendation for investment of the Legacy Fund money to the Council in 2023. Once the money is invested, the committee will monitor fund performance and provide quarterly updates to the Council. The Legacy Fund received several generous gifts, and the total was $202,500 at the end of 2022! Thank you, members, for approving the creation of the fund and to the very generous donors who have made the startup gifts.
In combination, the Annual Fund, Capital Campaign, and Legacy Fund provide the three legs of a giving stool – allowing members to find the gift that is right for them. We give thanks for the many gifts and acts of generosity we have witnessed this year!
In 2021, it was forecasted that the church would run out of operating cash at some point in 2022, perhaps even as early as the summer. As anticipated, cash flow was an issue throughout the year. In June, council approved reallocation of 2021 surplus funds designated for 2023, to the 2022 operating budget to alleviate immediate cash flow needs and, when needed, the use of capital campaign funds to pay the principal portion of the mortgage payments for the remainder of the year. After communicating these decisions with the ECLC community, many households responded by either making additional gifts or paying 2022 pledges early. In September, $18,000 of capital campaign funds were moved to the operating budget to pay the principal portion of the mortgage for the remainder of the year. The combined efforts of the congregation and Council leadership prevented the use of the line of credit and the need to make reductions in operations and staff hours.
At the conclusion of 2022, overall income was slightly less than budget and total expenses came in around $17k under budget. Thanks to the generosity of members and the actions discussed above to manage cashflow, the 2022 budget deficit shrunk from $51,368 at the onset, to $36,532.
Looking towards 2023, the annual pledge campaign exceeded $1,000,000 pledged for the first time ever. The 2023 proposed budget is balanced for the first time in many years and does not rely on any surpluses, transfers, or other mechanisms to balance. The generosity of members highlights the congregation’s capacity and financial vitality. Even if no further capital campaign pledges are received, ECLC anticipates paying $300,000 each of the next two years, which will pay off one mortgage loan and reduce the total annual mortgage expense to less than $90K, as compared to a high of over $200K in 2016.
A big thank you to the Finance Committee members (Anna Reding, Lorraine Hart, Corey Haaland, Travis Atkinson, and John Anthony). This committee is a joy to work with and provides detailed, thoughtful insights related to the budget and finances of the ECLC community.
As I look back on 2022, I feel a mix of emotions; in my personal life the year was turbulent, to say the least. My husband was unexpectedly diagnosed with heart disease and underwent a quadruple bypass, as well as other procedures. He also experienced involuntary job loss and has ongoing health concerns. We are grateful for all the prayers and concern shown by this community! However, in my work life I think this was a highly productive and successful year, with numerous high points to celebrate. I worked across a broad variety of areas and have highlighted them below:
Professional Growth: After completing a certification in Nonprofit Accounting last year, I worked on a more comprehensive and robust certification through the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance as a Certified Nonprofit Professional. The certification process focused on communications, leadership, and management, stewarding gifts, technology, and human resources.
Building and Land Improvements: We made several more technological updates this year including new microphones for the pastors, microphones to pick up congregational singing (which will enrich the online experience), and the installation of a large screen and speakers in Fellowship Hall which will facilitate presentations for large groups. The land was also an area of focus as we continue to work with the city on a retaining wall behind the church, which will eventually enclose a scatter garden and a major cleanout of buckthorn and other invasive species.
Childcare Center: LHCCC moved in midway through August! We are excited to have them fill the space with laughter, learning, and joy! The partnership is off to a great start, and I look forward to opportunities to further strengthen our connection.
Finances: This year brought dynamic and vibrant changes to our financial picture. While the year did have several serious financial challenges, overall, we boldly embraced the future as we undertook a capital campaign, legacy fund, investment portfolio, and a balanced budget for 2023. I feel optimistic and encouraged that 2023 will be a positive inflection point in our financial history. Because of the success of the capital campaign, annual fund drive, and legacy fund, we have changed our financial future from unsustainable deficits, to one where in the near future, we will be able to project budget surpluses and expansion in our mission and ministry. Thank you all for your courage and generosity as we undertook this important work.
Finally, I look ahead to what 2023 will bring. I am hoping to attend conferences on stewardship and technology in churches, explore installation of solar panels on the roof, continued work with the campaign and preparation for more activity this spring, continued work with the investment advisory group and legacy fund in its infancy, and working with LHCCC to find space for a small, onsite playground which will also benefit the ECLC community. I look forward to another busy, full year, and give thanks for a vibrant and open community that makes it all possible!
We give witness to love and justice at God’s welcome table and in the world.
Each time I picture our powerful congregational mission statement, I picture one of the symbols for Deacons: The Infinity Cross (pictured here). This Infinity Cross, and our mission statement, reflect the unbroken connection between faith and justice, an interweaving that I believe is strongly reflected in our ministry together over the past year and that we will continue to deepen in 2023.
A few of the ways this interweaving is reflected in ECLC’s ministry this year are:
This ministry happens because of our congregation’s deep commitment to this intersection of faith and justice; it is my deep joy to accompany you in it. I give special thanks to our many faith and justice committees and the energy you commit to ECLC each year. I am also grateful for the opportunity to be on sabbatical last summer and for what new ministry may come together for us in 2023!
This year, we celebrated stories of generosity as the ECLC community came together for our annual campaign. We leaned into our theme, Deep Roots: Weaving our Stories. As a congregation, our roots run deep, and we are so thankful for our collective stories of generosity. They show up in new ways each season of life, so thank you for prayerfully considering how you are called to grow in your journey of generosity. We are grateful for all the ways the congregation builds a solid foundation upon which to minister to one another and those beyond our walls.
The support of the ECLC community makes it possible to have compassionate and engaging staff members, inspiring music, thoughtful ministry work, nurturing children’s programming, challenging faith formation, and so much more! Gifts of all sizes make an impact when we give collectively and give with grateful hearts.
Together, we are able to move into 2023 with a budget that is robust, abundant, and meets the needs of our congregation in a balanced and sustainable manner. On behalf of our committee and staff, Joe Lindell, Catherine Malotky, Dick Magnus, Kienan Mick, and Pastor Jeff Sartain, thank you for your important investment in the work of ECLC.
THANK YOU to all who have pledged and are contributing to our 3-year capital campaign!
As of 12/31/2022, 125 households have given or pledged a total of $1,147,969.
Your gifts are already making an impact:
As your gifts continue in 2023-2025:
Reaching our Campaign Goals by 2025 (at least 160 Households participating)
THANK YOU as we See What Yes Can Do, and is doing, through your generosity! If you would like to make a new or additional gift or pledge, please contact Kienan Mick.
Loren Hansen and Kathy Magnus - Campaign Co-Chairs
Steve Olson - Campaign Consultant
After decades of wanting a perpetual fund to support ECLC, the congregation approved a bylaw on Nov. 9, 2022, to establish the Edina Community Lutheran Church Legacy Fund. The fund and its first few (unexpected!) gifts were dedicated during worship on Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. The newly formed Legacy Fund Advisory Committee (Kienan Mick, John Byom, Jen Thompson, Mark Woehl and Whitney Hansen, ECLC Treasurer) began meeting in December 2022 to develop a recommendation to the Council of Ministers regarding which outside professional investment management organization should be used; the fund will remain ECLC’s property and will follow the investment screens adopted by our national denomination, the ELCA (https://www.elca.org/Resources/Corporate-Responsibility)
The purpose of the fund, as defined in the bylaw, is to “generate revenue via permanent gifts for the continuation of this Congregation and the long-term health and well-being of this Congregation’s mission and ministry.” It’s supported by a new Legacy Fund policy approved by the Council, as well as by ECLC’s new Gift Acceptance and Use Policy.
Four percent of the invested funds will be withdrawn each year that the fund balance reached $100,000 or more in the previous year’s third quarter. That amount will become part of the next fiscal year’s annual operating income, which is part of the operating budget the congregation approves at each annual meeting. The current fund balance is $202,500 and will generate over $8,000 of income for the annual fund.
Many thanks to the committee that spent most of a year taking the fund from the ideas of Pastor Jeff and Kienan Mick to the development of the documents approved by the Council and the congregation: Co-chairs Eileen Supple and John Byom, Tom Holm and Catherine Malotky.
If you’re interested in giving to the Fund — now or later — please contact the church office for more information or to notify them of your decision.
Mission in Action
Key strategic themes for the Mission Committee’s work in 2022 were racial justice and ECLC’s current theme Deep Roots. These two themes provided the foundation for discussion of a variety of actions. The ECLC strategic plan priority, Justice, remains the guide for the Committee: Focusing our justice work on racial, LGBTQIA+, and eco-justice issues, at home and beyond.
For example, the mission partner profile form was updated to focus more specifically on BIPOC staffing and community services, and Mission Partner Liaisons were encouraged to explore Deep Roots with partner contacts to foster deeper discussions, including related to the origin stories of partnership beginnings with ECLC.
The Committee benefited from an early workshop with racial justice coach Julica Hermann de la Fuente as ECLC determined its current racial justice journey status and goals for the future. In November we worked with Julica specifically on awareness and action steps that the Committee could take to advance ECLC’s overall efforts toward anti-racism.
The Committee welcomed sixteen new ECLCers as Mission Partner Liaisons to the group of twenty-one liaisons and hosted two training sessions for liaisons as mechanisms to share ideas and identify synergies across various partner organizations. The Committee engaged ECLC members in school backpack programs to address food insecurity, assisted older seniors as they strive to remain independent in their homes, and supported international efforts to help ease immigrant conditions and other human rights issues, among other key priorities. See mission partner details at https://www.eclc.org/mission-partners.
Through funding support and the actions of ECLC members, we have journeyed with our three sibling congregations – as Redeemer Lutheran Church and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church have undergone significant leadership transitions and as the Cristo de Paz community faced hurricane-influenced food shortages and government restrictions of movement.
A total of $139,644 was distributed to mission partners, with each receiving at least $2,500, based on critical need, special requests, opportunities to deepen partner relationships, and alignment with the ECLC mission and vision statements. This amount included $43,687 that was contributed by ECLC members through special offerings throughout the year. Gifts included $35,000 to the Synod in support of its mission.
This year, we give thanks for the mission committee, Luke Brandt, Sarah Broich, Carla Carlson, Adele Mehta, Karl Olson, Doris Pagelkopf, Chad Reding, Sara Schwiebert, and each of our 21 Mission Partner Liaisons. And we give thanks that the ECLC community, as individuals, was able to continue to learn via Zoom, advocate via email, serve in-person throughout our community, and ultimately walk with our siblings here and in far-away lands.
*Holding monthly diaper drives with Redeemer for the Northside Neighbors Food Site which supported 6,822 families this year!
Solar Energy Info Session (hosted by MN Green Corp) in ECLC Creekside Room
Climate Justice Plan for 2023
Practical climate action and lowering carbon emissions in our congregation
Relational/Spiritual commitment for climate justice
Climate Justice Plan for 2022 - possibilities
An ad hoc group of members began meeting at Pastor Jeff’s urging after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization (2022), thereby overturning Roe v. Wade (1973), which guaranteed a constitutional right to abortion in the U.S.
The ECLC group developed an ECLC Reproductive Rights Congregational statement (https://www.eclc.org/reproductive-justice) based on 1) the ELCA Social Statement on Abortion, 1991, and 2) the Pastoral Message on Abortion from Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, May 17, 2022.
The group also decided to order fifty lawn signs proclaiming, “People of Faith for Reproductive Rights,” hoping that other congregations would use them, too. Most of the signs ended up being used by member households. An article in the StarTribune on Sept. 24, 2022, featured the work of the ad hoc group as part of an article about faith communities and reproductive justice.
Thanks to Pastor Jeff, Pastor Anna, Deacon Lauren, Sharon Aadalen, Judy Andersen, Karen Boyum, Mary Breen, Rynda Carlis, Laura Hanson, Kay Larsen, Jane Lepisto, Bev Luttio, Richard Magnus, Doris Pagelkopf, Catherine Malotky, Cheryl Persigehl, Eileen Supple.
ECLC continued its Racial Justice Journey in 2022. The Racial Justice Vision Committee (Carol Bungert, Kirsten Horstman, Katie Kaul, Lisa Novotny, and Mark Woell) “RJVC” along with Karen Boyum and Anne Lindell from the Racial Justice Action and Advocacy and Northside Strategy teams, continued our work with Julica Hermann de la Fuente to examine the systems and structures of ECLC, with a special emphasis on our ministry of Adult Faith Formation and how ECLC engages our prophetic voice.
Staff members, the Mission team, and the Racial Justice Action and Advocacy teams also met with Julica throughout the year. We thank them all for their continued engagement, and especially recognize the longstanding efforts of the Racial Justice Action and Advocacy and the Northside Strategy teams. They have decided to conclude their committee structures this past year.
As we close out 2022, we will be reducing our engagement with consultants, which was emphasized during the Racial Justice Journey. Amidst these transitions, the RJVC is welcoming new members in 2023 and the time is right to explore new ways in which we can work together. As we begin the New Year, we have shared plans outlining our intention to implement a new collaborative structure for all of ECLC’s racial justice groups. We anticipate these quarterly forums to be a space in which we can exchange ideas and continue the important work many of us are engaged in through ECLC and other community partners. As a community of faith, our commitment to racial justice remains strong and we look forward exploring new ways to make a difference.
Compelled by the liberating message of the gospel, the goal of the Cash Bail Reform Team is to further the justice work of ECLC by addressing the systemic inequities of pre-trial detention. We aim to educate ourselves, our congregation, and the community at large so we are equipped to advocate and support policy changes regarding cash bail.
We work closely with ECLC’s mission partner, Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF) as we believe that wealth should never determine who is kept in jail. MFF provides mutual aid in the form of bail for those who need it, as their data show that 60% of people held in Minnesota’s county jails are presumed innocent and awaiting trial, jailed only because they can’t afford to pay their bail.
We eagerly welcome others from the ECLC community to join us.
In 2022, our work included:
2022 Cash Bail Reform Team: Camilla Madson (chair), Rynda Carlis, Karen Graham, Rita Laker-Ojok, Catherine Malotky, Cindi Quehl, Eileen Supple, Terrie Thompson
The people who make up the Indigenous Rights group came together in late 2021 after participating in the 3-part session on the Doctrine of Discovery offered by Mark Swiggum and Dick Magnus, with guest Vance Blackfox from the ELCA. We were uniformly humbled by our lack of awareness of Indigenous history, peoples, and issues, and have met monthly since then to begin to remedy that.
With help from ECLC’s Adult Faith Formation and connections with the ELCA team working to respond to the ELCA’s repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery (Dick Magnus is on that team), we started learning together and then eventually offering a focused series of weekly communication and learning resources within ECLC, kicking off at the time of Indigenous People’s Day in October and culminating in the introduction of a land acknowledgment at Thanksgiving. These learning materials live on ECLC’s website under “Justice” and “Indigenous Rights.” This land acknowledgment is now on ECLC’s website and will appear regularly in our bulletin and in worship. We intend to revisit it regularly to update based on what we learn over time.
In addition, we submitted an RFP to the Campaign Tithe Committee, proposing that an Indigenous organization be included among the recipients of ECLC’s campaign tithe. The Campaign Tithe Committee granted us the opportunity to make a recommendation, and we chose the Indian Land Tenure Foundation for our no-strings-attached gift. (Staff from ILTF presented a 3-part series on Native Land in January and February of 2022, and many of us benefited from their insights.)
The Church Council affirmed our recommendation at their December meeting. The ILTF let us know that they will be adding ECLC’s gift to their “Beyond Land Acknowledgement Fund,” which is directed toward helping Native nations repossess land lost in the Westward Expansion, a time marked by deep injustice in the U.S. relationship with Indigenous Nations. Because ECLC’s capital campaign was all about our church home, we are pleased to be supporting work to reclaim Native homelands for Native peoples.
We look forward to another year of learning with ECLC, seeking more justice in our relationship with our Indigenous neighbors, and a more complete understanding of how the assumptions about white, Christian supremacy contained within the Doctrine of Discovery continue to shape the way we see and operate within a world where all are beloved by our Creator.
2022 provided the Worship, Arts and Music Committee with fresh opportunities to think creatively about how to best re-engage both new and existing members. With in-person attendance numbers continuing to increase throughout the year, a focus on experiences and supporting member groups was a priority. We thoughtfully discussed how to improve parishioner’s experiences, touchpoints and build better engagement through the aspects of music, art, and worship. Our goal for the committee is to see each of these facets become more intertwined, cohesive, and brought to light to better interest our fellow members in small ways that combine to make a larger impact within the ECLC community, such as sparking discussions and increasing engagement. Some of the highlights we assisted with and completed were as follows:
We have a full plate for 2023 as we continue to explore how to build relationships by encouraging discussion and thinking about how we can thoughtfully assist in further developing spirituality in different aspects of our ministries. With that in mind, here are just a few of the areas we will be looking into this coming year:
The year began with several evening opportunities on Zoom. We started with a three-part series led by the Indian Land Tenure Foundation on “Native Land Education.” Eric Peterson facilitated 'Midwinter Conversation on Spirituality’ a thoughtful three-part series based on 'Falling Upward’ by Richard Rohr. In early spring we explored the injustices of the pretrial detention and cash bail systems in a three-part series led by members of the Cash Bail Reform team and our mission partner Minnesota Freedom fund.
As the year progressed, Mary Breen passed the baton to Chris Johnson, to complete the remainder of Mary’s term as Minister of Adult Faith Formation. Many huge thanks to Mary for her incredible leadership, especially during such complex times! That transition also allowed us to reassemble a planning team, consisting of Chris and Pastor Jeff, Susan Weaver, Jim Olson, Mary Breen, Jeff Henning-Smith, Ellie Roscher, and Mark Swiggum. Deep gratitude to each of them for their wisdom, expansive imagination, and thoughtful stewardship of this aspect of ECLC’s mission.
In their work across the last several months of the year, the team has assembled an array of offerings that reflect the following priorities: We hope that Adult Faith Formation will:
We determined that with the start of the new program year in September, Sunday morning Adult Forum – now called “Community Enrichment” – would resume and that an array of other opportunities outside Sunday mornings be offered as well. One expression of this has been to develop several themed series throughout the year, which have potentially multiple forms of expression (e.g., Sunday morning in-person sessions, companion programming in Sunday School and in worship, extended online sessions, supplemental book study/discussion groups, experiential-learning “field trips,” retreats, and more).
So far these have included the first of trio of series related to “Deep Roots”: the emphasis in the fall series was “Deep Roots: Where We’re From.” An expansive ECLC Writing Project kicked off this fall, which meets monthly. Other series featured the congregation’s work around Indigenous Rights; a host of events celebrating the presence among us of Pastor Conchi from El Salvador; attention to issues related to faith, voting, and democracy; and spirituality and spiritual practices of Advent.
The year ahead will include “Deep Roots: Where Is Home” (winter) and “Deep Roots: Where Is God Calling Us to Grow” (spring). Two book discussion groups get underway in January. And several opportunities around the theological and ethical roots of social justice will take shape across several weeks in the spring, with leadership from “theologian in residence” Andrew Packman, a member of the faculty at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities.
On behalf of the Adult Faith Formation team, many thanks for your wonderings, ideas, and participation.
After the long COVID shutdown, things are finally returning to a bit of normal. During 2022 we began, with justifiable caution, having funerals at ECLC with receptions following. During Advent, we returned to having simple soup suppers before the Advent service. We felt comfortable doing this with commercially prepared soups that we heated and served from our kitchen. What a blessing to be back in the kitchen with even simple soup suppers! Special thanks to some of the very faithful kitchen helpers including Karen Boyum, Judy Andersen, Kay Larsen, Rynda Carlis, and others I may be missing. We also had the Remembrance Tree in the Narthex – this is a tree where members could place ornaments that were personalized with the names of loved ones who we miss, especially at holidays when friends and family gather. It has been an honor to be your Minister of Shepherding this past 3 years, I just wish we had been able to do the normal fun gatherings of past years.
2022 was a year of transition and a return to normalcy for Children, Youth, and Family (CYF) Ministry at ECLC. Much of the year has focused on the Strategic Plan priorities of Post-Covid Return and Relationship Building. Late winter, spring, and early summer brought more in-person events, like Outdoor Family Sunday School, Family Sledding and Summer Playdates in the Park, and a well-attended Youth/Family Summer Kick-Off potluck.
Five middle school youth and two adult leaders spent July 18-24th in the Boundary Waters with a guide from Wilderness Canoe Base. An additional sixteen ECLC members spent July 21-24th at Wilderness Canoe Base at a weekend family camp and welcomed the middle schoolers back from their canoe trip and the entire group enjoyed one evening together on Base.
The first ever JAM (Justice, Art, and Music) Camp for K-5th graders was a great success and touched on both the Strategic Plan priorities of Justice and Relationship Building. Held at Arden Park and ECLC in cooperation with our partner congregations, thirty-five campers and many adult volunteers learned, sang, and created together under the theme of the book Together by Mona Damluji.
In August, Kelly Rowley concluded her ministry as CYF Coordinator at ECLC - a ministry that was marked by great creativity and a love of learning and doing justice. We are thankful for the many gifts Kelly shared with ECLC during her tenure here.
In September, we returned to in-person classroom Sunday School and Confirmation after two years of mostly virtual connection. We are incredibly grateful to our Sunday School teachers and confirmation volunteers, who have answered the call to meet our younger members in story, song, and relationship on a regular basis. We are also grateful for the ministry of Katie Hendrikson, who joined the ECLC staff as interim CYF Coordinator in September. Katie has brought great energy and ideas to our programming and has reached out to our kids and families alike. We have also been blessed to hear her preach on multiple occasions!
Come October, we celebrated five confirmands at our first indoor and in-person confirmation service in two years, and in December our Sunday School children told the Christmas Story in-person at the 11am service for the first time since 2019!
The CYF Ministry Team (Luke and Megan Brandt, Jeff Henning-Smith, Jen Esser, Divya Thamman, Sandy Heidemann, Will Irwin, Sarah Irwin, Katie Hendrickson, and Pastor Anna) meets quarterly, and this Fall led focus groups to receive input on the status of CYF Ministries at ECLC after Covid. Feedback from over forty participants - of all ages - included:
Our 2023 goal is to hire the staff and continue the conversations needed for CYF Ministry at ECLC to grow and thrive in the coming year and beyond!
This year, we welcomed Carrie Hennig-Smith and Liz Liming as new members of the committee, which also includes Jim Olson. We met in person as needed and communicated a lot via email! Pastor Jeff continues to be a great supporter of the committee and guides us in our work.
Our committee exists to welcome new and prospective members into the life of the congregation. Over the past couple of years of the pandemic, we were limited in opportunities to gather together, so we hosted ECLC 101 classes online via Zoom for prospective new members.
With the return to in person gatherings, the Welcoming Committee partnered with the Shepherding Committee to host an ice cream social at the end of summer. We were thrilled that over one hundred people came to the event! We also worked with Pastor Jeff to organize a new and prospective member luncheon, and welcomed new members into the congregation this fall, with recognition in both Sunday services and a fellowship hour featuring a special celebration cake.
Additionally, new member photos are now featured near the Sign-Up Center in the church foyer so all can start to recognize new faces in our community. As a committee, we also maintain the Little Free Library in front of the church building to make sure the books and offerings inside are welcoming to all.
As we look into 2023, the committee is planning a social afternoon at Wooden Hill Brewery in January for all new and newer members who have joined over the past couple of years. We look forward to a casual afternoon of connecting and getting to know one another better!
We feel fortunate to continue to welcome new members to ECLC and are excited for additional opportunities in the coming year to engage with each other and share all ECLC has to offer.
2022 was a year of rejuvenation after the pandemic shutdown. The church was awakened, and new life energized the building with the return to worship, staff working onsite, and the new partnership with LHCCC.
Jonathan kept busy with many building fixes and repairs; from repairing locks, to cutting and adjusting doors, to leading our spring clean-up day, he has been integral to keeping the building loved and cared for.
2022 brought more technology improvements: microphones for the pastors which has cleared up clarity issues in worship, microphones in the sanctuary which enrich the online worship experience, and a new meeting presentation setup in Fellowship Hall.
We also began outdoor improvements thanks to the generous donors to the capital campaign. Ed’s Buckthorn Removal began by clearing buckthorn, mulberries, and other significant invasive species were removed using heavy machinery this winter. Seeding native flowers and grasses will occur this spring. Looking forward, the project calls for some continued maintenance over the next two years. Bernie Beaver, Diann Crane, and Linnea Huinker continue to lead the outdoor space improvements, which begin with building a retaining wall to frame the space. Bernie has worked extensively with our contractor and the proper permitting authorities to start the next phase of the project. We are hopeful to break ground on the wall this spring! Please see plan designs in the lobby, and feel free to forward questions or comments to Bernie, Diann, or Linnea.
One of the most significant changes to our operations came from the childcare center (LHCCC) moving into the church on August 15th. The partnership has been operating as if we were always together, we are grateful to find a flexible, mission driven partner that shares many common values. Kelsey Rohde, Debbie James, and Sandy Heidemann sit on the LHCCC board as voting members, and Kienan attends all meetings as well. They are currently working with the city and the Minnehaha Watershed Authority proposing a small, 750 sq. ft. enclosed playground near the front of the church property. This will also benefit ECLC members who will have access to the playground. We look forward to another year of growth together!
Finally, thanks to all the members of the committee and their efforts in making 2021 so productive: Ellen Eliason, Karen Boyum, Tom Dokken, Bernie Beaver, Rolf Anderson, and Pat Larson.
This year I had the pleasure of working with committee members John Martinson, Peter Horstman, Dana Wilson Easley, Stephanie Moscetti, and Jennifer Skavnak on the Personnel Committee. We were happy to return to generally meeting in person this year, with a Zoom/in person option at most meetings. Pastor Anna, Pastor Jeff, and Kienan Mick attended most of our meetings.
The Committee’s roles are to recommend compensation and benefits for pastors and staff; ensuring personnel management processes are in place and are followed; maintaining the employee handbook; and identifying opportunities to recognize, support, and appreciate staff members.
In 2021, the committee’s primary focus was to create a performance and compensation review process. The committee worked on that procedure in partnership with the pastors and Kienan. The intention was to create a clear review structure for all staff and broaden the feedback loop.
In 2022, the committee focused on the healthcare coverage the church provides for its pastors and staff, aiming to broaden the choices offered to our pastors and staff in consideration of the church budget. In the end we were able to provide a plan with an HSA while also providing some budget relief.
Next year the committee will continue to focus on supporting the church leadership and will prioritize updating the staff job descriptions.
ECLC’s quilting ministry had a transition year as did the world around it. The group started 2022 with four meetings on Zoom, moved to in-person masked and no lunch sessions, then finally back to our usual arrangement of lunch then work with the quilts. Through this time our focus remained on making quilts to donate and building community within the group.
Highlights from 2022 include:
Looking at the work of the quilting ministry through the lens of ECLC’s strategic plan goals, we find solid support for the goal of building of relationships within the congregational community. Actions paired with this goal include to lovingly encircle all who seek our community as well as to welcome, converse, and include. These activities are basic to how the ECLC quilting ministry works.
Lutheran World Relief is one of ECLC’s mission partners. The quilting ministry’s donation of quilts to this organization helps to deepen our relationship to LWR. In turn, LWR donated quilts to people in troubled countries around the world.
Henry Wells Liming May 1, 2022
James Thomas Iverson May 22, 2022
Emma Virginia Iverson May 22, 2022
Helen Amelia Harper June 19, 2022
Ingrid Alida Hanson August 14, 2022
Margaret Grace Moscetti September 4, 2022
Leo Emmett Bolden September 11, 2022
Linnea Frances Capelle November 13, 2022
Mira Joy Dahl December 18, 2022
Confirmed October 30, 2022
Sofia Kay Danielson
Adin Hans-Joseph Lindell
Aubrey Ryan Mueller
Lydia Suzanne Trenda
Dan Stengel February 20, 2022
Jack Zimmerman March 15, 2022
Gordon Thureen July 1, 2022
Paul Shefveland September 1, 2022
Jack Harness December 31, 2022
For 2022 the average is based on in-person attendance at Sunday,
Holy Week and Christmas services. Online viewings not included.
For 2021 the average is estimated based on in-person and viewings of streamed services (which is a difficult number to capture).
For 2020 the average is based on attendance from services January 5 – March 8 held at ECLC and March 15-Dec 27 services held online-Facebook and YouTube views.
For 2013-2019 the average is based on attendance at Sunday, Holy Week and Christmas services.
Year Average attendance
* Christmas = Sunday
** Christmas Eve = Sunday
Received into Membership
Bruce & Catherine Arnevik
Derek & Natalie Bolden (Leo*)
Luisa & Patrick Cabello Hansel
Lee Fisher & Jenny Wheatley (Vera)
Alan & Louis Iverson (James*, Emma*)
Kevin & Lauren Klee
Kim Knesting (Vanessa Knesting Lund)
Teresa & Marianne Malko
Karla Mickelson & Via Schulz
Kathy Palmer & Jack Harness
Doyle & Kim Ranstrom
Ellie Roscher & Dan Ruth (Miles, Simon)
Mark & Ronna Vinge
* Received by baptism in 2022
Membership (Active & Inactive)
Year Baptized Confirmed
2022 861 623
2021 847 613
2020 869 621
2019 832 613
2018 792 576
2016 905 637
2015 879 623
2014 823 590
2013 789 565
**Adjustment from periodic review of Inactive Rolls.
2023 Council of Ministers
Nominating Committee (all members serve a one-year term)
2023 Synod Assembly: Lay voting members