Mark your calendars now for a Special Congregational Meeting to be held on Sunday, January 24, 2021 immediately following our 9:15am worship service for the purpose of voting to call Mandy Gardner as a Deacon to serve at Christ the King Lutheran Church.
This past year has been remarkable. Not always in good ways, but also not always in bad. I have been proud of the ways that we here at Christ the King Lutheran Church have adapted, pivoted, re-evaluated, and re-thunk (ha!) the ways that we have always done things in the face of the obstacles that 2020 has thrown at us. These last several months have forced CtK and every other church around the world to figure out how to do ministry in an online environment, whether ready or not. To that end, our digital presence has skyrocketed, and new emphasis has been placed on making our website easy to navigate and functional, ensuring that worship can still be accessed reliably on a regular basis, investing more time and resources toward electronic and social-media communications, and so on. For many of these adaptations, Mandy Gardner has been at the helm and deftly navigating these challenges. As we approach a congregational meeting in January on whether to transition Mandy from a hired employee to a called Deacon at Christ the King Lutheran Church, I thought I would re-post my verbal report from November. It outlines very well the responsibilities she has taken on.
Oh my goodness. Folks, I don’t know if I can tell you everything that Mandy has done and continues to do for this congregation. From being our congregation’s webmistress to build and sustain our digital ministries, to taking on the role of Sunday School teacher for our kids, to working with me to learn and implement new audio-visual technologies in the Sanctuary, to brainstorming with me about how to “be church” in this age of COVID, to taking on the responsibilities of Youth Director… dear church, I am dead serious when I say that this congregation is absolutely BLESSED to have her, and we would not be anywhere NEAR as healthy as we are these days without her. Mandy’s humor, and theological training, and administrative skills, and creativity, and passion, and get-it-done-ness is vital to our ministry and witness at CtK.
In some ways, the pandemic and the ensuing quarantine have really put a spotlight on Mandy’s role. If you’ve been to our website at all in the last eight months, you have seen first-hand her work in building beautiful websites that are intuitive, informative, interactive. And lest you think that that kind of thing isn’t really ‘church work,’ think again. These days, the digital presence we have online through our website, social media, and communications campaigns are every bit as important – if not MORE so – to bringing people into this community as anything else. Just over the summer, I had at least 5 out-of-town visitors who specifically wrote to me to thank me for our website. They found it easy to navigate and playful. And one couple even visited the church, investigating it for an upcoming wedding, just because they liked the website! This work of building and maintaining a good, clean, enjoyable website is all done behind-the-scenes, but it is the new evangelism. And Mandy is the one doing it all.
In August, the Spirit called and Mandy responded by stepping up to take on the role of Director of Youth Ministries here at Christ the King Lutheran Church. Actually, I guess it was the Spirit talking through Becca Awe – a former youth at this congregation who convinced Mandy that she was the perfect person for this job right now. In any case, Mandy has been meeting with the youth weekly lately, and has filled them with energy and enthusiasm for the ELCA National Youth Gathering to be held in 2022. While this is a long way away, these events are expensive and fundraising needs to start NOW. So, let me encourage you to go to our website, and under the ministries tab you’ll see a page for the Youth Fundraiser. These pages will tell you all about the Gathering, all about our Youth, and will give you ample ways to support them financially as they seek to raise money for this incredible event.
In September, Mandy also tackled once-again the juggernaut of what to do with our younger kids. Through the pandemic, churches around the world have reported that young children are the ones who are being most left-behind in terms of attendance and participation. Online worship services just cannot keep their attention and do nothing to satisfy their primary reason for coming to church in the first place: social support and interaction. But these are also crucial years for children to learn the basics of faith – about prayer, about worship, about service, and about the Bible. So, in September, Mandy began creating videos for our younger youth that are sent to them weekly. They are not Zoom meetings – they don’t have to log in at a specific time to watch them – but they are videos that the kids can watch when they have a few minutes to spare during the week to hear a Bible story, to hear a short sermon aimed at the children each week, and to be given some sort of activity or challenge to do for the week ahead. These videos that Mandy has been creating have been AMAZING. (If you’d like to see any of them for yourself, just go to https://www.ctkdurango.org/faith-formation-at-home/.)
Dear Church, my thankfulness for Mandy and her work for Christ’s church is beyond words. I quite frankly could not do the work of being a pastor here without her. And it is for this reason that I am strongly advocating for us to officially call Mandy as a Deacon at Christ the King Lutheran Church in 2021. The impacts on our budget to do this are negligible. And I strongly feel that it is the right thing to do. Christ the King Lutheran Church paid, after all, for sending Mandy through seminary education. She has been duly interviewed and approved by the Candidacy Committee of the Rocky Mountain Synod as a qualified candidate for a call in the church. And at this point it sure feels like NOT following through on our investment, not to mention our desire for her to do this, sure feels like we are robbing her of the opportunity that this work has prepared her for. But beyond the benefits that we receive at CtK for moving her from a hired employee to a called Deacon of the ELCA, a huge benefit is that we give the church at large a well-qualified Deacon who loves Jesus and loves leading other people to love Jesus. I cannot think of a better qualification than that.
The transition to calling Mandy as a Deacon at CtK will involve a congregational meeting to officially call her, which will take place at a Special Congregational Meeting after worship on January 24, 2021. Transitioning her to a position of Deacon will not change her job responsibilities tremendously, but there will be some additional expectations including: a more regular opportunity to preach, every six weeks or so; a voice and vote at Council meetings; and Synodical and Churchwide expectations.
If you have any additional questions about what it will mean to call Mandy as a Deacon at Christ the King Lutheran Church, please do not hesitate to contact me or Ann Duft.
And, when you have a chance, please take a moment to express your gratitude to Mandy for the work she does here on your behalf.