Echoes From Our Annual Meeting

Our congregation had its annual meeting at the beginning of March. There was about thirty people in attendance and the meeting went right on schedule under the leadership of Peter Makila. Peter deservedly and beautifully thanked Pertti Pietarinen, our council’s departing president, whose term came to a close this Spring. All of our volunteers and trusted individuals also received thank you’ s.

Most significant items on our agenda were the financial and functional challenges due to Covid-19 as well as the upcoming arrangements for taking care of pastoral duties. We came to the conclusion that despite these challenges, our congregation made it through the past year very well. The situation would have been much worse had we not sold the church building at the end of 2019.

I had draw two simple charts to show how the pastoral work is planned to be taken care of in a couple of years to come. The duties of a pastor will be executed by several different individuals. Year round work will be done by our new shepherd Sami Ettanen. The Florida-Bahamas Synod, which we are a part of, has given Sami the authorization for Word and Sacrament Ministry. The church of Finland will send a seasonal pastor to help Sami during the busy wintertime. We can trust that Mauri Vihko who knows our congregation well will send us a good and talented pastor. If necessary we will also use supply pastor’s from the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).

Find below a portion of my speech from the annual meeting.
We have yet another change ahead. This time it refers to the new ways to take care of the pastoral duties of St. Andrew's. We have made careful and precise plans for this change to take place with the Church of Finland and the Florida-Bahamas Synod, already since last Fall.
Our new working model adds flexibility and saves resources for the important work of spreading the good news of the Gospel more effectively outside of the church walls.
I feel strongly that the changes which we are implementing are a blessing from our Heavenly Father. This is why I dare to say that St. Andrew’s congregation is in a good place even in these still somewhat uncertain times created by the epidemic. God is now in control.
Figuratively speaking, I can compare our congregation to a ship that was anchored in place to the bottom of a small bay for a long time.
Many parts of the ship had corroded over time in a way that a strong storm could have easily capsized it.
The crew woke up in time to strengthen the structure, rebuilding the sails and ensuring that the loved vessel would stay seaworthy. We are now observing the weather conditions and are ready to lift the sails and turn the bow of the ship towards new adventures. Let’s let God’s winds blow; let’s use His Word as our nautical chart, and let’s use a compass with a needle in the form of a cross. Ships are built to make journeys, not to stand still.

My own work here is nearing the end. I still have time to write one more Pastor’s Greeting for our Newsletter before my departure to Finland on the 24th of May. My farewell will be held at church on Pentecost Sunday of the 23rd of May, and at the same time we will celebrate our volunteers as well as Sami and Tarja who will be taking over many responsibilities.