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Action Team Action!

Thrivent Financial is throwing Saint John’s a party on December 6. Instead of our usual First-Sunday Eat and Greet potluck, Thrivent will provide food and entertainment for the members of Saint John’s. Why the big hurrah? Well, Saint John’s was one of the nation’s most active churches in Thrivent’s new Action Team program!

The idea of Action Teams is to support small teams doing important projects. Individuals are encouraged to apply for action kits, which include promotional items, t-shirts, invitation cards and thank yous as well as a $250 “Community Impact Card” to be used as seed money for supplies and promotional materials. Using these kits, the applicants form small teams to address unmet needs in their community.

Each Thrivent member is eligible to lead two Action Teams per year. That’s two projects that receive special attention and start-up funding every year! Saint John’s has many members who have accounts with Thrivent, so that’s a lot of potential projects. And we’ve been putting those teams and dollars to good use this year. Here are a few of the things that have happened because of the Thrivent Action Team program!

Trustee Projects

Our Trustees purchased some bins, hooks, clips and peg board and spent a week getting the custodial closet under the stairs of the south entrance cleaned up and organized. This space is used for painting, electrical, plumbing and other supplies as well as hand tools. It’s also where Don Walker, Saint John’s custodian, keeps all of his cleaning supplies, vacuums and other tools. It’s an area that gets a lot of use and was in real need of attention! The Trustees brought a bunch of old paint and chemicals to be recycled and spent a few days sorting through the closet.

You’ll be glad to hear that the closet is still looking neat and clean. It helps to have a home for every tool and supply!

Earlier this year we also undertook a project to re-key all of the interior doors in the church. This has been something we’ve wanted to do since getting the outside doors set up on a master key system. Over the course of a couple of weeks the Trustees removed all of the door handles—a surprising number of handles!—and brought them to Don’s Keyway for re-keying. Their work saved us the cost of a house-call from Don’s, and allowed us to use the money for changing the locks.

Most recently, a few of the Trustees spent a day tearing down old ceiling tiles in the Food and Clothing Bank area. The six-by-six tiles have been dropping, one-by-one, over the past few months, and were getting harder and harder to glue back up. So, after tearing the old tiles down, the Trustees spent another morning putting up drywall in their place. What a difference this makes! There was even a little money left over to purchase new toilet seats for the restrooms in that area of the church.

Sunday School Events

Did you come to this year’s New Life Festival? If so, you know how much fun it was to plant seeds, decorate eggs, see real rabbits and lambs and learn about Easter and Jesus’ resurrection. This annual festival is a great event for Saint John’s and for our neighbors and friends. We used Thrivent Action Team projects to support a publicity team, an entertainment team (who coordinated such things as the bounce house) and a teaching team (for the various stations the children visited through the morning). It’s always so much fun, and the support from Thrivent means we can provide that much more in the way of activities and learning opportunities.

This summer’s Vacation Bible School was also the focus of a Thrivent Action Team. The food crew, who served dinner and snacks for each of the four nights of VBS, are a huge part in making our Friends and Family Nights possible. Thanks to our cooks and to Thrivent for helping to provide food and supplies.

Equipment Upgrades

Thanks to the work of talented and hard-working individuals at Saint John’s, we were able to put together teams to complete a bunch of miscellaneous upgrades around the church. Our Action Teams …

  • … installed new sound equipment—speakers, a mixer board, additional microphones and a fancy power supply—in the Large Fellowship Hall. The old system was noisy and over-complicated. The new system is built to handle not only our usual Sunday morning Bible study needs, but also any other concerts or events we might want to hold in the Hall. We may be demonstrating this at the Thrivent Party itself! The funding for the new equipment came from another source, but the extra wires and other connecting components to put it all together came from the Thrivent seed money, and our team of volunteers donated the time to put it all together!

  • Replaced old fire extinguishers and removed the old extinguisher built into the kitchen hood. We had a team go through the church and evaluate the condition of all of our extinguishers. Did you know that fire extinguishers have expiration dates? Well, several of our had reached theirs. In addition, the system built into the kitchen hood above the stove) was so out of date that no one would re-certify it for us. And getting a new system would involve not only getting a new extinguisher, but replacing the entire hood with stainless steel and a new exhaust system. Which would all be nice, but not in the budget at this time! Our only alternative was to remove the fire system from the existing hood. Our Action Team made these projects possible.
  • Are building new benches for the Welcome Center area. We have a high school shop group building some new benches! We’ll have more on this long-overdue project once the finished benches arrive.
  • Will label our library books and shelves. Our office volunteers, especially Joyce Hart and Jane Kinney, have been working to catalog all of the books in the library and get the whole thing reorganized. Now that’s done, and we want to preserve their efforts by labeling and stamping the books and marking the new library categories. If you’re interested in being a part of this team, please watch the bulletin. We’ll be getting a group together for a “labeling party” on a Saturday morning.
  • Are building a cart for the handbell equipment. We have a team (namely, Eric and Sue Gardner) working on a contraption with which we can transport the handbell cases and all of the accessories—stands, pencils, mallets—that go along with them. It’s amazing how much time we spend moving all that stuff around, and a cart will make it much easier.
  • Will fix up and polish the handbells. The brass of the handbells need a good cleaning and several of the plastic parts have cracked or outright fallen off. We’ll have an Action Team applying the elbow grease at some point in the near future, once the replacement parts arrive.
  • Rewired the lights in Room 302 and will be installing a ceiling-mounted projector. Leon Knox fixed the lights so that the fixtures above the screen can be turned off independent of those in the rest of the room. We’ve purchased the equipment to get a projector mounted on the ceiling in this classroom, and will be installing that system soon. Watch for this nice technological upgrade, to match the installation of speakers and the corner cabinet from last year!
  • Rebuilt and replenished the first aid kits in the Sanctuary and Large Fellowship Hall. Mary Harp, Friday morning office volunteer, has been keeping an eye on the first aid supplies. The only problem: we haven’t had a stock from which to replenish anything that was used! We’ve finally fixed that with an Action Team project, and have gotten the kits back up to date. We have a nice stock of supplies from which to draw for the foreseeable future, as well!

  • Made a few small upgrades and fixes to the Sanctuary sound system. We’re working on putting together a team to do some soldering and run wire to tune up the sound system. In particular, some of the chancel floor boxes need some attention. We’ve used seed money to purchase some of the needed supplies and will be leaning on some of our technically-inclined members to do some work some weekend in the near future.
  • Are constructing additional shelves in the attic. The boys of our scout troop (under the guidance of their leaders, of course) are planning and will be constructing shelves in several of the bays of the attic, providing us some much-needed space and—hopefully!—organization up there. The attic’s ever a cleaning project in progress, and we hope that these shelves will not only provide Troop 96 some better storage space, but also open things up for us!

Supporting Saint John’s Groups

Saint John’s softball is back! We didn’t exactly have what you’d call a winning season, but we still had a great time. The players on the field and our loyal fans in the bleachers enjoyed Sunday evenings at the ballgame thanks to an organizing Thrivent Action Team. Along with donations from members, the seed money offset some of the costs of getting started this season, including paying the entrance fee and offsetting the cost of uniforms.

Speaking of ball games, the Elderberries organized a trip to a Colorado Rockies game. The team putting together the game day plan registered as an Action Team and used the seed money for van rental, gas and parking. It’s nice to be able to keep the trip expense down and offer a comfortable ride to our active older members.

Funkes in Tanzania

Eric Funke, grandson of Bill and Lola Funke, and wife, Linda, are serving as missionaries in Tanzania. Saint John’s has supported their ministry since they moved there in 2012. This year the Funkes identified some specific needs that we were able to raise funds for using Action Teams. Early in the year, we held a fundraiser to purchase Bibles.

More recently, we had two occasions to collect offerings for a new library being built at the school where Eric teaches. One of the fundraisers was during the fellowship time, where we used the seed dollars to purchase the day’s refreshments so that your offerings could go to the construction project. Bill and Lola hosted this event.

The Mission Guild then decided to send the money raised at the annual Fall Fair to the library project, as well. They used an Action Team to help with their planning process and to purchase the food and other supplies.

Human Needs

Our Human Needs board is always busy finding ways to help those in need in the community. The board itself raised dollars in several Action Team-supported fundraisers to provide a summer camp experience for Bauder elementary students and to put together Thanksgiving baskets for the families we support at Laurel Elementary. They also raised money to purchase diapers, a much-needed but rarely-donated item, for Saint John’s Food and Clothing Bank.

In addition, the Quilters, whose quilts are donated for sale in the Fall Fair and for use around the world, were able to purchase batting thanks to an Action Team fundraiser.

Open Arms Christian Preschool Projects

Our preschool has benefited from several Action Team projects this year. At the beginning of the year, the preschool hosted an open house for potential families to come see the school. It was a big success! One Action Team was used for our publicity team, to purchase a banner and help with advertising costs. Another was used for the costs of the event itself.

On the eighth of November, the preschool’s bake sale fundraiser was also supported by a Thrivent Action Team. It allowed us to provide some refreshments to the morning’s volunteers and the balance will be used to replace some of the playground toys. In a year when fundraising proceeds are going to the preschool’s bottom line, it was very nice to have some money for a special project.

We have also been building a preschool tuition assistance fund. One of our Action Teams was used for a fundraiser to support this effort.

Missions

The Heseders have been taking advantage of the Action Team program in several ways. First, they have used them when providing meals to the congregation, during Lent, on Easter morning and, soon, during Advent. The seed money is used for purchasing food and supplies so that the free-will offering from those enjoying the meal can be put to use for special Heseder projects, like the support to Wind River Lutheran Church on the Wyoming Reservation, and to help fund the work of our Heseders at home and abroad.

Action Teams have also been an essential part of the Heseders’ work on the annual Yard Sale. The seed money goes to signage, advertising in the Coloradoan and other basic supplies. And it’s nice to have the shirts so all the workers have a consistent “uniform” the day of the sale.

We put together several Action Team plans for the medical mission work Kimberly Pepmiller and Nelly Sanford did in Uganda this summer. Seed money provided extra medical supplies and helped cover the cost of transporting the supplies to Uganda.

Coming Soon

Yes, it’s been a busy year of fun, useful and valuable projects at Saint John’s. And we still have a month of projects to go! Still to come this year:

  • Repair of nursery paging system;
  • Fence repair;
  • Advent meal fundraiser for the Human Needs Gift Tree;
  • Installation of a removable outdoor banner stand.

Please come help us celebrate all of this work on December 6. Our planning team—yes, another Action Team!—has ordered a tasty catered meal. There will be a presentation from Thrivent and even live music! You don’t want to miss this free meal. We will be taking a free-will offering to raise money for the preschool to build a new sandbox out in the playground area. But whether or not you can donate, please come enjoy the banquet and celebration!

Tom Miles is the Parish Administrator at Saint John’s. You can reach him at the church office Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to Noon and 1:00 to 4:00 pm, at 482-5316 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Time, Talents and Treasures

God’s stewards are managers, not owners! God’s stewards are given the privilege to manage the resources He has so richly orchestrated for each of us. We have been entrusted with these godly gifts. Whether great or small, they are meant to be shared. We are not solo performers; rather we are empowered by God to be a giving congregation and Christian family.

The Board of Stewardship is asking each congregation member to give prayerful attention and planning to the task of sharing what is reasonable for you. Congregation members will be receiving an offering pledge letter and card in the mail in the next week. The letter is simply asking that you fill out the card with a financial pledge for 2012.

Our worship focus through the first half of October will be on stewardship, with the program Fearless Giving in Fearful Times. We ask that the pledge cards be returned to the church on “Commitment Sunday”, October 16. (You may drop your card off in the office if you’d like to return it before the sixteenth.)

This pledge collection is happening earlier than usual in order that the pledges can be used to guide the fiscal and operational planning decisions at Saint John’s.

Giving of time, talents and treasures is truly a spiritual direction that is between you and God. Please give prayerful consideration in responding to the pledge letter. And, as you consider your commitment of money and time for 2012, consider becoming a part of the Board of Stewardship!

Saint John’s Stewardship Board promotes the development of good stewardship and giving patterns among the members of Saint John’s.

Showing Forth

The four Sundays in February are in the Epiphany season of the Church Year calendar. Epiphany is a word that means “showing forth” or “manifesting.” The Epiphany season begins on January 6 with the visit of the Wise Men to worship the baby Jesus as the newborn King of the Jews. The season continues with the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, the calling of his first disciples, his preaching the good news of salvation and the opening of his famous Sermon on the Mount.

In the four Gospel readings for February we find Jesus teaching that we are lights in this spiritually dark world who give evidence of our new birth as Christians as we love even our enemies and seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. To live that way is truly an “epiphany experience,” showing that we really belong to our Lord Jesus Christ and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, live renewed lives.

That’s what Christian stewardship is all about! Wise Christian stewards manage all of life and life’s resources for God’s purposes and do it freely and joyfully! We practice the kind of stewardship that is pleasing to our Lord when we give freely and generously of our time to serve in special ways that bless the mission of the church and the people living in our communities. This kind of stewardship is also shown when we freely and joyfully offer our talents and skills to help the church prosper and make life sweeter for those around us. This kind of stewardship continues when we give freely and joyfully of our financial resources to support the work of the church in nurturing believers and reaching out to invite others to know Jesus.

Many people view Christian stewardship as something that we have to do—a command—in order to be true followers of Jesus. That simply is not true! Real Christian stewardship is the privilege of offering all that we are and have to make a difference in this world of spiritual darkness. Just as Jesus came on that first Christmas to bring light to a darkened world, so we are called to follow his example.

Will we follow in his footsteps perfectly, using all that we are and have in truly unselfish ways and making sacrifices so the mission of Christ’s church on earth may prosper and become a home for many more redeemed people? No, of course not! We are sinners and will fall short of the glory of God. But, in Christ, God has declared us to be saints because our sins and shortcomings have been forgiven and the Holy Spirit empowers us to let our lights shine so that people will see our good deeds and praise our Father in heaven. \

The bottom line for Christian stewards is to hear and obey our Lord’s words when he taught: “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.

Saint John’s Stewardship Board promotes the development of good stewardship and giving patterns among the members of Saint John’s.

Make the Most of New Starts

Maturing stewards make the most of new starts. St. Paul wrote the following words in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” What a marvelous thought for Christian stewards entering into a New Year.

2010 is gone and with it go the failures and sins of the past. Yes, they remain in our memories and can provide us with good lessons of life as we look to the future, but the real good news is that we have a fresh new start, and maturing stewards make the most of each new start.

A new year reminds us of God’s gift of time and points us to Scripture passages like Psalm 90:12: “Teach us how short our life is, so that we may become wise.” Galatians 6:10 also provides words of encouragement: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

Yes, the past is gone and the future is not yet ours, even though it holds out hope. What we have with each new year and day is the present and God’s forgiveness and strength to live renewed lives, using all of life and life’s resources to give glory to God and provide blessings to those around us.

There’s an old poem that talks about two people riding in a covered wagon—one in the front, looking forward, and one in the back, looking behind. Both people were in the same place, but their perspectives were very different. As new creations in Christ, we, like St. Paul, adopt the motto: “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, we press on with the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Happy New Year, maturing Christian stewards, and may God bless you richly as you say and do those things that honor him and bless others!

Saint John’s Stewardship Board promotes the development of good stewardship and giving patterns among the members of Saint John’s.

Did You Know? (Part 4)

Continued from “Did You Know (Part 3).”

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod adopted eight Stewardship principles at its 1998 national convention. These principles reflect a definition of stewardship commonly used throughout the LCMS. Each principle stands alone as an important guide for the church, yet all eight principles stand together as a summary of how we live our lives of stewardship.

Principle Seven—God’s Stewards are Served and Serving

God’s stewards recognize that their stewardship involves a Gospel-powered style of life which is demonstrated by servanthood within every arena of life.

Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:26b–28

Principle Eight—God’s Stewards Live With an Awareness of the Present and the Future, of Time and Eternity

God’s stewards live intentionally in the light of the Lord’s eternal purpose while being firmly committed to His rule in the here and now.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19–21

Saint John’s Stewardship Board promotes the development of good stewardship and giving patterns among the members of Saint John’s.