Pastor’s Annual Report for 2021
Return to the Lord, your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.... --Joel 2:13
These words from the prophet Joel were written during a tough time in the life of God’s people. The people of God had been exiled: forcefully moved to a foreign land and living under foreign control. Generations passed, and finally they were able to return to their homeland. Those who chose to return to the Promised Land found their homeland impoverished, and things were not like they were before. Moreover, because they were still ruled by a foreign empire, the people were no longer defined politically or geographically, but religiously. Their faith defined them more so than it ever had before.
It is during the time of the exile that God’s people refined their understanding of what it meant to be God’s chosen people. During this trying and challenging time, the people of God leaned into their understanding of who God is: gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. And for us, the modern-day people of God, we continue to lean into who we know God to be through Jesus Christ and who we are called to be for the sake of the world.
I am reminded of this verse from Joel and the time when God’s people were in exile as I consider where we were stand nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to see so many things shift and change in our community and congregation. In 2021, Good Shepherd saw transitions with its staff with the departures of Drew Swanson as Youth Director, Andrew Helmann as Music Director, and Gloria Scholbe as Administrative Assistant. This fall we welcomed Corey Christenson into the Music Director position, as well as Accompanists Grant Colburn, Terry Brennan, and Jeremy Raduenz. Our confirmation ministry has been blessed with the leadership of Tara Jagler and faithful small group leaders.
In many ways in 2021, we returned to the ministries and core values that define us as a congregation:
· Holy Week 2021 was indeed a holy time, as we returned to in-person worship after a full year of worshiping online and in the parking lot. This July, our worship centered a sermon series based on the book of Ruth and God’s loving kindness. And this Christmas Eve, we again joined in song in our worship together, making a joyful noise to the Lord. Thank you to all our worship volunteers and musicians who serve on Sunday mornings and Monday evenings, both in-person and online.
· Our Sunday school and confirmation ministries returned to in-person activities, including the Easter egg hunt, a special Mother’s Day activity, and “God’s Work, Our Hands” Sunday. Fourth-grade students received their First Communion in March, while the 9th and 10th grade confirmation classes were confirmed this Spring. Thank you to all our Sunday school teachers and confirmation small group leaders for modeling the faith and sharing the Good News of Jesus with our children and youth.
· This October, the partner congregations of the Green Bay Mobile Pack for Feed My Starving Children returned to packing meals in-person and sought to raise $240,000 to pack 1,000,000 meals this year. Thank you to all who packed, donated money, and served in many ways to feed God’s children through the world.
· In 2021, we broadened our connections with scouting, as we became the charter organization for BSA Troup 1107. And we continue to partner with Cub Scout Pack 4107. In October, Good Shepherd hosted a Trunk or Treat event with the scouts, which was well-attended by congregation and neighborhood.
As we returned in 2021 to so many ministries that are vital to who God has called us to be, I also look forward to 2022 with hope for the new opportunities to which God is calling us. In 2022, we will formally celebrate 50 years of ministry in Howard-Suamico and beyond with a ministry celebration and neighborhood block party. We will complete audio-visual upgrades to our sanctuary to enrich both in-person and online worship experiences. We will improve our facilities to make our facility more accessible to all. We will seek to become fully staffed, so that we can more fully live out all our shared ministries.
As we continue to return to our shared mission and ministry, I also give thanks to God for all of you. Throughout this pandemic, you have reflected the grace, mercy, and steadfast love of our God, Jesus Christ our Lord.