This past Saturday, your six elected church council members, along with your two pastors, spent the better part of a day dreaming about the future of Good Shepherd. We began the day by exploring and affirming the variety of personality traits and skill sets that brought us into leadership positions. We studied and discussed the marks of effective council leadership. We reflected on the mission and values of GSLC to better understand our collective DNA. And finally, we created a strategic list of 2019 goals that might nudge us toward a better fulfillment of our mission.

This week's Gospel lesson is that famous - perhaps infamous? - missive from Jesus to "love your enemies." That's pretty radical stuff. I've always thought of this lesson in a very personal sense. Who are my enemies? How and why are they hindering me? How can I better love them?

In light of last weekend's council retreat, I'm now pondering a different angle: What are the enemies of our collective congregation? How are these enemies keeping us from best living out our mission? Are these enemies still worth loving?

The thing is, enemies are a little trickier to identify in an institution than they might be in your interpersonal dealings. In fact, enemies might be the other side of a two-sided coin. Here are a couple I can think of:

Tradition. We're Lutherans! We love our traditions. As Christians, traditions help us stay connected to our ancient forebears. They give meaning to our ritualistic practices. We also have traditions that are particular to our denomination and our congregation. These help reflect who we are and what we believe. And yet, the hairs on the back of your neck should stand up when someone says, "But we've always done it that way!" A compulsive need to keep things the way they are can be the enemy of evolving ministry needs.

Comfort. Many of you can remember a time when Good Shepherd was a fledgling outpost without a physical home. Decades have passed. We now have a beautiful building, a top-notch staff, and a full array of excellent programs. I'm very comfortable being a part of this community. And yet, comfort can stir the soul into spiritual sleepiness. A desire to protect the good things we've worked hard to establish can be the enemy of accepting God's call to lean into new and uncomfortable opportunities.

There are others, of course. What enemies, both overt and hidden, have you observed that could keep us from "growing a Christ-centered community through life-changing service?"

At our council retreat, we came up with several 2019 goals.

We want to enhance our worship experience by working with John Jahr to address the evolving music and sound needs of our congregation.

We want to be more intentional about identifying leaders in our congregation by establishing a Nominating Ministry Team.

We want to continue exploring plans for the physical expansion of our narthex so that we can provide a more welcoming and functional gathering space for our community.

Well, none of that is terribly uncomfortable, right?

Try this: the NC Synod has identified GSLC as a potential candidate to become an "anchor church." This would involve us creating a second physical site for our congregation, most likely in the growing areas of the triangle north or east of here. Through financial grants and significant programmatic support from the Synod, we would add another pastor, who would first seek to understand our DNA and then gradually focus more on the details of this second site. Of course, many months of communication, research, and self-reflection would be required before accepting this challenge.

Does this make you squirm a bit? Good! Based on what I've read in the Gospels, "squirming" is the appropriate reaction to the movement of the Spirit. I don't believe in change for change's sake. I don't believe that every new idea is a good one. But let's promise each other in 2019 that we will courageously open our eyes, ears, and hearts to the new, exciting, and uncomfortable plans that God has for us. I look forward to walking - and dreaming - with you.
 
In Christ,
Nelson Nunalee, GSLC Council President
 
P.S. Care to chat with a council person? We'd love to!
Nelson Nunalee, President
Andrew Ballard, Vice President
Kate Greengrove, Secretary
Brad Buff
Elizabeth Lindsay
Claudia Rivera

This Sunday's Readings
Genesis 45:3-11, 15
Psalm 37
1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50
Luke 6:27-38

Final Generations Forum is this Sunday, 9:30-10:30 am, Underwood North -  If you've talked to anyone that has attended a Generations Forum, you've likely heard the buzz. Each week, we have learned and laughed through the stories that the generations have shared. Join this final Generations Forum featuring Gen X, and see what the buzz is all about!

Worship on Wednesdays (WOW) - February 27, 5:15 pm, Fellowship Hall  Is your family looking for a worship service that allows your young one(s) to move and respond creatively?  This worship service is geared towards families with small children, but all are welcome!  Join us for pizza at 5:15 pm followed by a family-friendly worship at 5:30-6:00 pm.

Rams Men's Ministry Hurricanes Hockey Night -  Friday, March 1, 6:30 pm  All men are invited to join Good Shepherd's Rams Men's Group to watch the Carolina Hurricanes take on the St. Louis Blues at PNC Arena.  $25 cost includes game ticket and transportation. Sign up online.

Our Guests Will Be Here Soon! Have you signed up to help families in transition March 3-10?   In partnership with Family Promise, Good Shepherd will be hosting families in transition in our church March 3-10. Learn more and sign up to serve, password: homeless.

Summerfest Auditions -  Monday, March 4, drop in 5:30-7:00 pm, Sanctuary  All rising kindergarten through 6th grade children are invited to come prepared to sing a simple song of their choice and recite a few lines! Summerfest is a week-long (August 4-9) musical theater "camp" at Good Shepherd. Let us know that you will be coming to auditions on Realm or email barb.newcomer@gslchurch.org.

Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper -  Tuesday, March 5, 5:30 - 7:00 pm   Come enjoy a pancake supper (including gluten free options) hosted by the GSLC youth!  Freewill offering will support the youth attending the 2021 ELCA Youth Gathering in Minneapolis.

More information about upcoming events is available in  this week's bulletin announcements. 

Health and Healing for Margaret Odegard, Mary Franck's aunt; Diane Rapp, daughter of Lois Walker; Cathy Dresser; Pearl Burhman; Barbara Houze, mother of Rich Houze; and Justin Chmelewski. 

For the Orphans of Mnene Parish , including Zaranyika Zhou and Lindiwe Maseko.

Zaran will be 26 this month. He attends Midlands State University, working towards a degree in Geography and Environmental Studies.  He completed his attachment (internship) and is working to complete his degree.  He and his brother Zvido joined our support program several years ago when their father was killed in an accident.  During university break this winter he saw Annie while he was shopping for groceries.  His Mail For Mnene partner is Rosalind Bowling.
 
Lindiwe is 23.  She was one of our 1st Mnene support program college graduates, receiving her degree in Theology and Religious Studies from Midlands State University.  She applied for a Master's Degree scholarship in theology in South Africa.  We have not received updates regarding her acceptance.  She told our 2017 mission team "I did not know there was something missing from my life-it was Good Shepherd.  After entering this program my rise was so fast.  Our lives (the orphans) are a testimony-unbelievable!"  Her Mail For Mnene partner is the Sloman family.

Visit the Wittenberg Information Center in the Narthex for photos of this week's orphans and  more information on the Mnene Ministry.
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