Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
(Psalm 150:6)

On Sunday morning, I was blessed to worship with Pastor Matthew Musteric and the people of God at Bethlehem, Pemberville. Their mission is, “Transformed by the crucified and risen Jesus, we are a loving community of disciples making disciples”.

After worship, I was invited to attend and participate in Bethlehem’s Annual Meeting. It was held in the Parish Hall, and “celebration” is the best way to describe it. It was a different approach to annual meetings. Elections were not held. A budget was not presented and approved. No changes were made to the constitution. Bethlehem’s business meeting was held last fall, when elections were held, and the 2020 Budget was approved.  What Bethlehem did last Sunday after worship was celebrate their God given mission and ministry.

They celebrated their local outreach by highlighting the Community Food Pantry that serves folks in need in the Eastwood School District. They celebrated building a Middle School in Haiti in 2019 through Missions International of America. They celebrated Hope for Honduras, and the distribution of filters that provide clean water to rural villages. On February 23, eighteen folks from the Pemberville area will be traveling to Honduras to provide much needed assistance and to deliver 420 “clean water filters”.

I left the Annual Meeting of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Pemberville, both inspired and grateful. I also learned a few things that you might consider for your next Annual Meeting.

1.   Hold the business meeting for your parish on a different date and time. If possible, hold elections, amend the constitution, and approve the budget at the end of the preceding calendar year.

2.   Move away from simply reading through a bulletin of reports. Print them out, e-mail them, or post them on your website or Facebook page. Trust that folks will read through the reports.

3.   Celebrate what God is doing through your parish. Celebrate the mission and ministry. Tell stories. Or better show videos of people sharing testimonies of the great things God is doing in their lives and community. At Bethlehem’s meeting, we viewed a short video of folks from Honduran villages sharing the impact that the new water filters are making in their community. It was awesome!

Thank you, Bethlehem, for allowing me to be a part of your joyful, Annual Meeting, celebration.