Rev. Emily Munger’s Pastoral Report 2018

Wow, we have a lot to celebrate as a congregation for 2018! I know many details about ministry events will be carefully recorded by other groups in the annual reports, so I’d like to share a few personal joys I witness as the minister of First Congregational UCC, Pierre, SD. Here’s only a handful of the many ways I see God at work among us in 2018:

Growing in faith formation: Sunday school, adult education, confirmation and youth group, Lenten sharing, VBS, testimonies in worship, coffee hour connections, guild meetings, choir, small groups bible studies, and of course Sunday mornings are all ways we expand our knowledge of God together. I am so proud to be a part of a church that is eager for faithful and scriptural understanding of God’s still-speaking voice in this world.

Extended community outreach: This year alone, your coffee hour donations enabled us to give $50 DakotaMart food vouchers to nearly 40 households within Pierre. The “love fund,” as we call it, also helped defer utility, rent, and gas costs for those most in need (even helping one couple rise from homelessness into a place of their own). Several groups within the church give of their own funds to PARS and other local organizations (be sure to check out their reports!). We also offer a sense of welcome to many community members through church events dedicated to fellowship and belonging. We proudly host a Montessori preschool, a weekly NAMI support group, community musical events, local organizations in need of gathering space, excited couples for weddings, and grieving family during funerals. We are always seeking to understand and meet the continued spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of those around us.

Cottage meetings: This year we gathered, a lot! 60 people participated in 9 different cottage meetings, during which we celebrated our identity and brainstormed new ways of living into our mission as a church. “To welcome and serve all people who are seeking a deeper understanding of their faith; to give witness to the life-changing power of Jesus Christ and God’s grace and mercy through the Holy Spirit.” We have MUCH to unpack in 2019 from the tremendous insights we gained. One thing is for sure: those who came wanted more of the same! We’ll keep offering ways to become better acquainted as a church community.

A new sign: The day I write this, our new digital display went live!! Thanks to the generosity of Glenn Kietzmann, in memory of his wife Janet, we have a renewed form of communicating our desire to welcome all and serve all in our community.

Robust congregational care: I often hear one reason people decided to join the church is because they experienced a deep sense of care during a time of need. This is what faith community does best, and I am grateful to witness it happening in so many mutually-supportive relationships here. As a pastor, I have the privilege of walking alongside each of you in tender and celebratory moments alike. What better testament to God’s love than sharing our love for one another.

Collaboration amongst leadership boards: An administrative joy for me! This year our leadership committed to trying a joint board night, for the sake of enhanced communication and collaboration (not to mention decreased evening commitments for your pastor), and I am thrilled it seems to be working! In addition to sharing a board evening, we’ve gained the momentum of a monthly executive council meeting. This consistency offers space for us to vision together (with God) for a church future that provides vibrant ministries for all.

Joy in the worship space: I’ve listed this last, but it’s first in my heart. Each Sunday (and really every time we gather in community) I am filled with joy. Joy because God is SO good. Joy because the Spirit in me acknowledges the Spirit in you. Joy because you and I are creating faith-filled meaning for our time on earth, inspired always by Jesus Christ our Redeemer.

 I cannot wait to keep exploring the many ways we are called to serve Jesus in Pierre, SD and around the world in 2019!   -Your minister in Jesus Christ,   Rev. Emily Munger