Monday, October 06, 2008

So Many Congregational Changes!

The days leading up the the High Holy Days are supposed to be a time when God renews things and helps us more become the way he wants us to be.

This has certainly been true at Sar Shalom. In fact, it has been a bit ridiculous. Let me list the changes that happened during September...

1. The congregation has changed its meeting location. We now meet in the building of Immanuel Lutheran Brethren Church in north Eugene. Compared to our old location, this facility is a better size, is cleaner, has a very nice kitchen.

2. The shift to using prayer books instead of PowerPoint for liturgy was supposed to happen months ago, but was delayed until now. (We will still be using PowerPoint for music lyrics.) With the prayer books we have a new order of service that better allows God's Spirit to direct our Shabbat worship.

3. Our worship team was temporarily disbanded. The congregation needed to work on worshiping in unity, and it was too much for any worship leader to focus both on leading the congregants before him or her as well as other musicians beside him or her. Now that growth has happened, and the worship team can come back together.

4. Our website is updated and at a new web hosting company. This was supposed to happen in August but the change met with unexpected complications from both the old and new companies.

5. Our finances are straightened out, thanks to the congregation's new bookkeeper. The old bookkeeper did things very poorly. Deposits of multiple donations were made without note of the individual contributions. Deposits of tax-deductible offerings were mixed with other types of income (such as the cost to attend the Passover seder). Now the books are straight. We have also incorporated so we can use bank accounts under our own identity instead of that of our umbrella organization.

6. Changing our rental agreement prompted us to organizationally "get our house in order". We have almost finished compiling a Policies and Procedures manual, rather than people serving the ministry according to verbally communicated instructions and routines. We also made a few changes, such as deciding we needed an usher during services to be a greeter and also keep an eye on the doors and hallways.

7. Our rabbi took an unplanned but commendable sabbatical. He realized he was not spending enough time with his children. Knowing it would be too difficult to rearrange his schedule while doing all he normally does, he delegated his duties to the other elders for two months. This would not have been tricky if the other six changes were not happening; his sabbatical was forced to include being kept "in the loop" about the progress of these other changes, and he had to be more active than that on a few occasions.

Whew! I am glad God is helping us have more unity and order, while still avoiding legalism or homogeneity.

(And I did not touch on some remarkable personal growth in many members. That will be the subject of a later blog post.)

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