2016 thru August 31, 2017
In early 2016, Redeemer’s Pastor Annie, Intercession’s Priest Mother Jane and their respective leadership teams discussed sharing some common worship times as the two communities together. As a result of those discussions Redeemer and Intercession celebrated the Easter Vigil together at Intercession’s building on Church Street. Worship ministers for the service were a mix of Intercession and Redeemer members. Additional joint services followed on April 24 at Redeemer and May 1 at Intercession.
In June, Pastor Annie accepted a call to be Chaplain at Luther College in Iowa and Redeemer put together a call committee. Once Pastor Annie left, Pastor Chuck Tews served as the interim Pastor.
During the summer, Mother Jane met with some of the Redeemer's council to discuss the possibility of continuing to share ministry together as two churches.
FOR THE SCHOOL YEAR OF 2016-2017 the two churches decided to combine their Wednesday nights worship and education. Interim Pastor Chuck and Mother Jane worked together to provide worship and education, along with Redeemer’s education team.
At the end of September/Early October Intercession held a of FDL representative), about whether to stay in their buildings or leave. On October 16 the decision was made to leave their buildings and ask Redeemer if they could nest (share space) in their building.
At Redeemer’s quarterly meeting on November 16, the option to allow Intercession Episcopal to nest in their building was passed. Following notification of that decision Intercession created transition teams to prepare to move out of their buildings.
On February 19 Pastor Chuck Tews and Mother Jane celebrated Eucharist at each other’s churches.
In February of 2017 as Redeemer and Intercession began negotiations to develop a contract for the nesting, Cathy Cowling and Pastor Amy (ECSW) met to begin assisting the two leadership teams with the transition process. This was followed with a meeting in March to begin making timelines for this process.
In early April following meetings with Bishops from both congregations and the sharing of each church’s histories, both churches started working groups to discuss how spaces would be managed (what would be brought; what would be left, where things would be put, etc)
After interviewing Jane in late March, Redeemer voted to call her as their part-time pastor and Intercession voted to allow Jane to accept the part-time call. Starting September 1, 2017, Jane moved to serving as the pastor for both congregations: 50% Redeemer—50% Intercession.
During early summer both churches worshiped together at Redeemer once a month; checked with other Episcopal/Lutheran churches to see how their partnerships worked; proceeded to: build relationships and learn one another’s policies, customs, practices; decided what ministries could be shared and established new shared policies (i.e. Weddings, funerals, building usage, etc). In August the two churches began using the name The Beloved Community of Intercession Episcopal and Redeemer Lutheran (listed alphabetically) and created a shared website: www.belovedcommunitysp.org and decided to share one phone number.
At the end of July, Intercession finalized the selling of their buildings (church, parish hall, and rectory). Intercession Episcopal’s final Sunday Service at 1417 Church St. was held on August 20 with several Redeemer members as well as Pastor Amy and Cathy Cowling in attendance. Their move into the Redeemer building at 900 Brilowski Road was done the next day. Deconsecration of the building at 1417 Church St. with Bishop Gunter was done on August 23.
Though budgets for both churches would be kept separate certain items were set up to be shared and would be included in the covenant being developed between Intercession & Redeemer: Jane’s salary, Intercession would pay Redeemer for the building usage; monthly reconciliation of expenses (buildings and grounds; office expenses, etc); 50/50 building expenses for 2018; Capital Fund payment of $4000 by each church for larger expenses; The first shared expense was for Signage for the Beloved Community.
August 27 was the first Sunday Service for both churches at 900 Brilowski Rd. Red Film paper was put on the entrance doors by Redeemer members as a welcome to the “church with the big red doors” since that had been Intercession’s unofficial name for years. A big WELCOME sign was also hanging above the entrance to the sanctuary.
At the end of summer, Intercession’s Mission Action Team and Redeemer’s Outreach members begin working together. The Liturgy Guild-Worship Teams from both churches met and made the following initial decisions:
1. The two churches would have one joint morning service each month (first Sunday) in addition to Principal feast day services.
2. Other Sunday mornings would have an 8 a.m. more formal service (more like Intercession’s customs) and a 10 a.m. more informal service (more like Redeemer’s customs) and continue any evening services that were previously held.
Preamble: We believe that it is more than sheer coincidence that our congregations have come together as they have thus far. We believe the Holy Spirit is guiding a process by which the strengths of our respective congregations are enmeshed to offer an innovative approach for carrying God's Word and saving grace to more residents of Stevens Point. Based on our wonderful experience of worshipping together, as well as discussions among clergy and lay leaders, we believe the stage is set to take our discussions to the next level.
Many churches these days are caught up in a kind of denominational tribalism, asserting their own inherent "rightness," above and beyond all others. The Called to Common Mission Concordat approved by the ELCA and the Episcopal Church in 2000 affirms a theological reciprocity between equals. It also establishes the groundwork for reciprocal practice in mission and ministry, arising out of that same unity about which Jesus spoke. Creation shows us that God does not favor uniformity, and so we can embrace diversity - in this case denominational diversity - without allowing it to become or be divisive. We, the congregations of Redeemer Lutheran Church and Episcopal Church of the Intercession recognize the authenticity of each other's teaching and practices. And even as we strive to celebrate those things which make us uniquely Lutheran and uniquely Episcopal, we place our focus on that most important element which we hold in common: our faith in Christ. While leveraging resources, we come together in unity to live out the call and message of the Gospel in service to our neighbors. As we continue in this common life, and the covenant which has come out of our relationship, we pray that we may be increasingly guided by God's wisdom, illumined by God's light, protected under God's wing, and receive the courage to make bold decisions.
September 2017 thru 2018
In Sept. of 2017 the first 2-Year Covenant was signed by Senior Warden Pat McVeigh, President Judi Cumley, and the Rev. Jane Johnson. Jane then began serving both congregations, each half time. She was officially installed as Redeemer’s Pastor on November1, All Saints’ Day.
In December a meeting was held to get feedback from congregational members regarding finances, what was working well and what opportunities were provided by the partnership, and what service times worked best. At this time members were encouraged to serve on common committees, i.e. building and grounds, etc.
At the January annual meeting the first election of officers was held under the plan established in the new covenant; each church elected fewer at-large members going from 6 to 3.
Redeemer would have President, Vice President and 3 at-large members. They would also elect a secretary and treasurer. These two offices would have voice, but not vote at joint meetings but both responsibilities when deciding on issues that only affected Redeemer.
Intercession would have Senior Warden, Junior Warden and 3 at-large members in addition to a secretary and treasurer (approved by Vestry); who also would have voice, but no vote at joint meetings.
January 1: agreement to split payroll expense 50/50 begins (thereby ending “Redeemer employees and Intercession employees”. Continued to have “rent” to Redeemer be the shared expenses from the previous year split 50/50
In Spring’ leadership created a Vision Statement for Beloved Community:
A welcoming community of joy, worship, and compassion bringing God’s love to the world.
During the summer an outdoors block party was held to celebrate the 1st year anniversary of Beloved Community and Redeemer’s 25 Anniversary as a congregation.
The Social Justice Advocacy Group started in November with the purpose of educating members of the BC and the community to increase engagement, understanding and advocacy. The team reflects the ELCA Synod and Episcopal Diocese advocacy/lobbying teams. They initially identified the following primary issues of focus: healthcare, climate change/environment, and racial tolerance.
Switched to sharing most expenses equally except for those that are purely denominational (for example: Intercessions’ support to Diocese, Redeemers’ support to the ELCA Synod, Redeemer’s mortgage payment, etc).
Joint leadership agreed to combine youth funds for youth gatherings (like ELCA’s national gathering and Episcopal Youth Event (EYE) and mission trips. Also created a shared summer camp scholarship fund. Funds and expenses will be equally shared.
Redeemer decides to actively engage Redeemer folks with “paying down the mortgage”---due to this, Redeemer’s mortgage is decreased by $118,264 by the end of 2019.
Summer 2019: While Jane was on sabbatical, just one Sunday service was held. The cost of Sabbatical was split 70% covered by Intercession and 30% covered by Redeemer. Pastor Karen Rendall served during this time leading alternate styles of worship every other week. This one service alternating style schedule would continue into fall, as would the smaller contemplative evening service led by Linda Schubert. Living Compass study groups met to build relationships and grow in faith led by facilitators from both congregations. The updated draft of the next 2-year covenant was approved by leadership for approval. Jane would review when she returned from sabbatical.
In the fall, the 2019/2020 Wednesdays night’s education schedule began. Two learning groups: PreK-3rd grade and 4-6 graders were provided for children. Adult and youth were combined.
In September, the 2nd the combined churches’ Steak Feed was held. It was very community-oriented and built relationships. The profits were split between the Mission Action Team community ministry and the downtown/campus ministry.
The original covenant between the two congregations was updated to include more details and clarifications for the Mutual Ministry team, plate donation distribution, employer clarification and salary reimbursement, exclusions to the 50/50 financial agreement and capital improvement funds and procedures.
November: Crafticopia team agreed to purchase a large TV for fireplace area to display announcements at winters’ Farmers’ Market and for use by the two churches. The team also paid for installation.
In February a combined leadership retreat focused on Invite, Welcome, and Connect.
When the pandemic began our building closed in March, staff moved to working from home and our services moved online. Jane began a daily online morning prayer message for adults and an evening bedtime story for children. During the summer she shared an online service/liturgy for children called StoryChurch.
The Payroll Protection Loan was applied for and approved $32,000 to be split evenly between the two churches.
Crafticopia funds were used to purchase Mevo Camera and ipad for better live stream quality. The two churches separate Scrip accounts were merged into one account and income and expenses would be evenly split between the two churches.
To meet the extra community needs during the pandemic an outreach effort to the community expanded. Members from both congregations provided direct help for specific needs of Stevens Point/Plover community members. The Compassion Response Team worked with the Good Samaritan Fund, and Neighbor’s Supply Closet. They also provided delivery service for Farmshed’s meal programs that provided lunch and snack bags throughout the summer of 2020 to neighbors at Point Motel and Turn of the Century home.
In September, the Episcopal Confirmation was held in person for families only, with all present masked and distanced. On November 1 the online worship moved to Zoom gatherings providing a more interactive platform than just a recorded service.
The Payroll Protection loan was forgiven were applied toward expenses.
In January the Annual Meeting which was held online through Zoom. Those present virtually voted to allow the same leadership team to stay on through the pandemic. The budget was presented as Beloved Community Budget with columns for RLC and IE denominational expenses. Though the building remained closed to others, staff returned to working in the building.
Financially, there was a Covid related impact on the usual offering plate donations and as well as other forms of regular giving. However, members of both churches have been faithful and generous.
Beginning in February, all active members were given the chance through a survey to give feedback to leadership on how they felt about: what was going well as BC, what were the struggles, and what hopes for the future were held.
Also, in February, staff roles were revised to adapt ongoing to digital formation of worship, media, music and ministry. The position of Admin Assistant for Worship dropped to 10 hours; The Admin Assistant for Finances, Facilities and Communications remained at 20 hours; A new position of “Director of Music and Media for Worship and Formation” changed to expand the Director of Music Ministry position.
On Palm Sunday, March 28, in-person attendance was held, limited to 25, masks required and physical distancing observed.
Hybrid worship was held on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday with some in-person ministers and others online. An in person outdoor Easter service was held with unlimited attendance. Those attending were required to mask and physical distance. Following Easter limited in-person services returned with some Sundays (i.e. Pentecost/Confirmation) having outdoors unlimited services. When services had to go indoors, we moved into the gym with masks and distancing required.
In May, we moved to 2 services 8:00 AM (More formal) and 9:30 AM (more informal). It was still necessary to sign up in order to limit capacity.
Starting in spring the Compassion Response Team once again helped Farmshed in delivering Farmshed Fresh Produce boxes to community members
On June 6: Redeemer Confirmation was held in the gym.
In July, mask optional services were tried with suggestions that those unvaccinated continue to wear masks. This did not require online sign-up since the capacity to safely distance was possible with the numbers that were attending.
In August, we returned to masking by all people in the building ---vaccinated or unvaccinated. We continue to encourage all people who are able to be vaccinated, for the sake of the community of Beloved as well as our wider community.