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Congregational Annual Meeting Remarks

October 22, 2017

(Note: I spoke at the meeting from notes: these are, therefore, both excerpts and expansions on those remarks.)


We have so much to celebrate: what we do from here is up to us. 


God has been generous to this community and we have been faithful in following the Holy Spirit to best serve our community and share God’s love in this time and place. 


We - together- have created a vibrant community of disciples, a place to serve and learn and praise God together. Visitors feel welcome here. 


We - together- have created a unique and inspiring new kind of church - built on ancient traditions of worshiping outside, with nature. People come here to see it, they visit and write and call.


We are a church that is doing well financially, making steady progress towards our goals of owning land, being able to pay a pastor to lead us, and continuing to give generously to our community and other mission efforts. 


We are a church that is growing steadily - you are not going to go to many congregational meetings and hear - we are growing in numbers and in giving. 


We are focused outward on serving our community and on caring for and giving thanks for creation —and people want to be part of that. 


When I came, five years ago, you, New Life, wanted a more focused mission, so we did that - together. We decided we wanted to care for and grow with this piece of God’s creation - so we’ve done that. We wanted to include more people, to grow as a congregation - to invite more people into God’s collective work in Dripping Springs - and we’re doing that. 


People outside our worshiping group have bought in - we’ve received probably grants from the ELCA and the Southwestern Texas Synod. And since we started our outdoor worshiping ministry, individuals from other churches and places have responded to our calls for help: some of those funds we used for ministry, and some we saved - we have over funds ready to pay toward our land- all gifts from others outside our congregation. People are excited for us and about us. 


So here is where we are with the transfer of the property into our new congregation's ownership - it’s coming along. We have approval from ELCA missions to take over the land. Talks with MIF (the banking ministry of the ELCA) for a mortgage for the land are starting. We’ve done a lot of fundraising and we are a good loan risk: we make our payments faithfully, and the land we’re buying is worth more than we owe.


We will have to decide whether to apply for a mortgage for the land, and secure that, or to try to include a first phase of building a pavilion, which will would include fundraising - a capital campaign -