With the 2016-17 year at and end, I am realizing just how much Bethany has accomplished in this past year.
We began the year by welcoming Ann Ridge to the Church Council to replace Georgette Tarnow. Other continuing members were Dean Arnold, David Digel, Kathy Rodriguez, Sara Haas, Linda Zawada, Alicia Ervin and Judy Beaupre. Sadly, Linda had to step down mid-year due to health issues, and was replaced by Adam Franklin.
The highlight of the year—and a primary reason why we have accomplished so much—was the hiring of a new team of pastors, Vince Amlin and Rebecca Anderson. In the eight months they have been here, they have brought energy, enthusiasm and a renewed sense of community to our congregation. They have infused our worship services with sermons that have been meaningful, timely and relevant. Although we were sorry to say goodbye to Beth Dickerson, who had served as our interim pastor for almost two years, we are happy to be embarking on a new phase in the life of Bethany. In recent months, we have welcomed 11 new members to the church, as well as a growing number of visitors to our Sunday worship services.
We continued to rent space to a number of outside groups, We renegotiated our agreement with Pilgrim Lutheran School, which uses our gym for basketball and volleyball practices, to more effectively cover the costs of maintenance that we envision in the future. The Chicago Montessori School continues to be our primary renter; this partnership is currently critical our financial stability.
During the year, we undertook initiatives designed to spruce up the church building and reclaim areas that had fallen into disrepair. Under Kathy Rodriguez’ leadership, the nursery was cleaned, painted and recarpeted, and Scott Beaderstadt used his artistic talents to paint colorful animals on the walls. We also devoted two weekend days to cleaning out the rec room and disposing of many years’ worth of collected items and unusable furniture that had accumulated (Thank you, Adam Franklin, for using Craigslist to help with this). The project is not totally complete, but now have one outside group using the space on a regular basis.
Our annual stewardship campaign brought in pledges of $47,540 for the year. Once again, we offered the option of online giving, but the majority of gifts still come in the form Sunday envelopes.
In addition to continuing our traditional mission projects—working with Night Ministry to provide meals, both on the street and at the Crib, a shelter for homeless youth—we partnered with Pilgrim Lutheran Church and School to cosponsor a refugee family. Many members of the Council and congregation have been involved in this project as mentors, tutors, donors and worker bees. We work with our family, a single Rohingya Muslim mother from Burma and three daughters, twice a week. Helping them learn English and find a new apartment closer to other Rohingya immigrants are our biggest challenges at the moment. In April, we held a successful chili and dessert cook-off to raise money for the project, making more than $2,500.
I want to extend my thanks to Bethany’s members, and particularly to those who served on Council, for making this year a successful one.
Judy Beaupre, President BUCC Council