Year in Review 1995

Report of the Moderator

Report of the Minister

Church Clerk's Report

Digest of 152nd Annual Meeting of January 18, 1995

Proposed Budget for 1996

Report of the Moderator

It’s been a year of transition, change, and involvement, which has led to much enthusiasm and progress.

Rev. Lonnie Richardson

Beginning with the Annual Meeting and a Church Council Retreat in January, the boards, committees, and congregation have all been instrumental in "making things happen."  In addition to the Annual Meeting, the two other All-Church Meetings were well attended and provided ample opportunity for discussion and questions.  In May, we voted unanimously to call our Senior Minister, the Reverend Lonnie Richardson.  In November, we endorsed and embarked upon the "Restore our Heritage Project."

Church activities have continued to develop and grow. Attendance at the adult education programs is increasing. Under the able leadership of Tom Healey, Phil Landis and Steve Peay, we’ve had a wonderful opportunity for spiritual growth. Monthly fellowship dinners have been well received. Congregational Care programs have increased our outreach to many who are unable to be with us regularly. Our Benevolence giving has focused on consolidating our benevolences and giving more substantial gifts to each. We have responded immediately to critical needs such as the Oklahoma Disaster and two inner city churches which burned this year.

Highlights of the year included POW Charlie Plumb’s inspirational and motivational message, our first special Easter service for the handicapped, Bob Wilch’s farewell service and brunch, and an ordination service for our own Tom Healey. Our installation service for our Senior Minister, Lonnie Richardson, saw the return of 14 past moderators, our most recent past senior ministers, Phil Muth and Norm Ream, leading members of the National Association, as well as a full choir and congregation.

We have re-instituted a stronger involvement with Congregational Home. Church boards and committees have each held a meeting at the Home this year. Many of our church dinners as well as the Mobile Meals program come through Congregational Home. Bob Wilch has taken on the Chaplaincy role there and Lonnie Richardson is committed to continuing our close relationship with the Home.

Rev. Dr. Steven Peay

Our ever faithful staff has also seen many transitions and changes.  For the first six months of the year, Bob Wilch’s warmth and ministry were appreciated by all.  July saw the commencement of Lonnie Richardson’s ministry filled with enthusiasm and leadership and the beginning of a new era for our church.  The recent addition of Steve Peay has strongly solidified our staff and brought a depth of knowledge and understanding.

Our challenge has been and will continue to be the financial well being of the church. Our benevolence giving, our fine building, and our growing programs require a strong commitment for each of us in order to be maintained. We each need to make our church giving a priority in our financial planning. It is our responsibility to insure the present and future of this church.

It’s been an exciting year to be moderator. I have been truly blessed and thank each one of your for the opportunity to serve and for your support. "We are all in this together" and with God’s help it’s been a wonderful year! Thank you

Mary York, Moderator

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Report of the Minister for 1995

Rev. Lonnie A. Richardson

January 14, 1996

This is my first opportunity to submit an account of our ministry. Let me first say that I am please to have this responsibility. You have welcomed me with an eager anticipation which excites me about God’s future at First Congregational Church, Our first six months together reveals an answer to prayer and the remarkable providence of God.

I am a person who pays attention to statistics and believes they are a descriptive dynamic of a local church. As I have studied our past, there are things to celebrate and things which challenge. First, there are more of us in worship. An important indicator of relative strength is average attendance in morning worship. This can tell more than membership because it indicates active participation and potential. 1995 saw the most significant increase in worship attendance in the last twenty years. Since 1973 worship attendance has steadily declined from 726 to 348. Only five of the last twenty years saw an increase over the previous year. 1995 was the largest gain from 348 in 1994 to 375 at the end of 1995

There are more adults joining and becoming involved. Forty-eight adults covenanted in membership which is the largest number of adults in years. Par5ticipation in Sunday School, the adult education hour and youth activities has been increasing. More people are giving. The average pledge is just less than in 1995 but the number of pledges has increased and total pledge income has increased 6.6%. This is in addition to the amount pledged for the ‘Restore our Heritage’ project.

We need more members. A loss of 58 through death or transfer ended our year with fewer members. We have been intentional in being a more "visitor friendly" church. The direction of staff efforts to membership development and assimilation will turn this around. At the same time, we had 34 baptisms which was the highest in several years.

Our task is to help people connect to God. With this before us as our definitive focus, we will meet the challenges of the future whether they be a new steeple, a place to park, or being an inspiration.

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Church Clerk's Report

Membership as of December 31, 1994

Members deceased

Members transferred or removed by request

Total removed
- 58

New Members
Covenant Class 6
Spring Class 13
September Class 3
October Class 15
December Class 17
Total New Members + 54

Total Membership as of December 31, 1995

Ministerial Services

Baptisms, 34
Marriages, 10
Funerals and Memorial Services
Members, 17
Non-members, 5

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Digest of 152nd Annual Meeting of January 18, 1995


Moderator Tom Godfrey called the 152nd meeting to order. Minutes of the 151st Annual meeting were corrected by Jon Hanson regarding his "Vision for the Church" motion made, seconded, to approve minutes as corrected. Tom thanked members of the Council, Boards and Committees.

Ministers Report:
Rev. Robert Wilch encouraged us to invite more people to join and take an active role in church.

Treasurer’s Report:
Joe Berte said all Boards came in under budget except Benevolences. Copies of Personnel budget included detailed figures on sale of the parsonage and amounts paid to former professional staff. Motions made, seconded, approved to accept these reports.

Congregational Home:
Burleigh Jacobs reported occupancy rate at 109 residents. Volunteers and staff were thanked. Members are invited to become involved in the many service opportunities at the Home.

Dr. John Strassburger reported on the status of three theology students, Tom Healey, John Moore and Wendy Sue Earle. Motion made, seconded, carried to continue these people "In-Care."

Benevolence chair, Ed Probst, moved "The Church tithe the monies from sale of the parsonage be distributed by the Board of Benevolences. The monies are to be used solely for benevolence projects." Motion defeated.

Long Range Planning Committee:
Mary York recommended the "vision process" be postponed until the new senior minister and the congregation can develop a vision for the church together.

By-Law changes:
"The Personnel Committee shall consist of seven (7) voting members, one (1) of whom shall be the Moderator, and three (3) of whom shall be other Council members." Motion defeated. Second amendment proposed to Personnel Committee, Article II,C,1,d: "It shall maintain supportive relationships with the ministers and other staff members, assist them to evaluate the fulfillment of their calling, and nurture the relationships between them and the congregation." Motion made, seconded, accepted.

Search Committee Report:
Jim Walsh said telephone conferences with the last seven candidates are completed; the next step is to meet and hear them preach. A ministerial candidate will be presented by late Spring, and, pending congregation approval, may be in the church this Summer.

Jon Hanson reported on his "Vision of the Church."

Nominating Committee report:
Nancy Fisher listed nominees for Council, Boards and Nominating Committee for 1995. Moved, seconded to approve slate of officers. Rev. Bob Wilch commissioned these officers. New Moderator, Mary York, thanked Tom Godfrey for leadership in the "new era of the church." With the church’s rich 150 year heritage, we have an even brighter future. Members wee encouraged to lend talents and enthusiasm to the work of the church.

New Business:
Rod Schmidt presented two amendments to the By-Laws, Article VI, Paragraphs 1 and 2: were presented: VI-1. "Line items of the approved annual budget shall not be changed by more than 10% unless a majority of the boards, committees, etc. deem it prudent to spend less than its allocated budget amount. The total church expenditures shall not exceed the adopted annual budget by more than $10,000 without prior authorization by a vote of the church membership." Motion defeated. VI-2. "the interest from the Growth and Development Fund from the previous year may be used by the Stewardship Committee to balance the current year’s budget." Motion for "VI-2" was referred to Council. Rod further proposed changes in the "Congregational Aid fund" requirements as follows:Par III: eliminate the second sentence: "To any church member or their minor or incompetent children." Par IV-A-1: change to: "A minister of the church" Par IV-A-5: eliminated "The president of the Woman’s League." Replace by "The chairman of the Congregational Care Board" Par IV-B: Eliminate the last 6 words: "on five days’ notice in writing" Par IV: Add E: "A minister may disperse at his discretion up to $500.00 without prior board approval." Following discussion, motion tabled and referred to Church Council. Jon Hanson moved that motion by Rod Schmidt, regarding Congregational Aid Fund: "VI. Amendment: the Church Council may, upon its own action, and at any time amend, alter, modify, or terminate the terms and provisions herein set forth," also be tabled and sent to Church Council; seconded, approved. Motion to adjourn seconded and approved.

Respectfully submitted, Betsy Isenberg, Church Clerk

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Trustees $80,900 $87,849
Deacons 3,475 3,276
Congregational Care 500 495
Christian Fellowship 2,100 2,215
Christian Education 8,100 7,093
Stewardship, regular 2,100 2,215
canvass 4,500 2,507
Communications 27,750 20,970
Music 4,660 3,912
Personnel 390,900 386,438
Council Sub-Committees 2,500 1,760
Benevolences 58,000 80,000
Funded Project from:    
Growth and Development   42,397
Restore Our Heritage   12,587
Expected Pledge Payments $547,335  
Other Receipts 23,150  
Interest from G&D 15,000  

Budget and Finance Committee: Marion Petersen, Chairman; Joe Berte, Sandy Davis, Kent Granberg, Jeff Kelling, Mark Lemke, Sue Melby

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