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Board of Stewards End of Year Letter 2020

Greetings Central Family,

On behalf of the Board of Stewards I bring you warm greetings and a number of important updates. I hope you’ll take some time to read this letter in full; perhaps grab a cup of something warm and settle in with me.

I am sitting in our cozy home with a cup of hot tea in my hand, and our Christmas tree twinkling brightly on this cloudy day. If you look just past the tree you’ll see our nativity set; I unpacked all the pieces and put them in the little stable two weeks ago, but I cannot quite bring myself to set them all up properly. So Mary and Joseph and the wise men along with the donkey, cow, and lambs are all lying askew in a pile; front and center, tipped on His side in the manger lay Baby Jesus. It seems oddly symbolic in this year of our Lord 2020: everything feels a bit chaotic, and yet Jesus is right there in the center. Emmanuel: God with us.

This year at Central has been filled with change, and at times it has been a bit chaotic. We faced budget cuts that forced us to cut two Children’s Ministry staff positions, a church break-in, the departure of Pastor Joel and the hiring of Intentional Interim Pastor Steve, major construction and a new parking lot, and a global pandemic that continues to exact a toll on each of us in varying ways. The challenges we have faced have at times seemed overwhelming. But God has indeed been with us all along.

With 2021 rapidly approaching, we want to share our Board priorities for the coming months:

1. The 1913 Building Project After years of incredible work by the Property Development Committee (PDC), church membership voted to approve the proposal for the redevelopment of our 1913 building. The goal of this project was two-fold: first, to address the state of our aging infrastructure which faces threat of shut down by the Fire Marshal, and second, to create a revenue stream that would help to financially support the ministry of Central Baptist Church.

We need to let you know that the project, as you voted on it, is no longer viable. The PDC recently discovered errors in two previous professional calculations of the usable square footage in the project. The result of this is that were we to move forward, the revenue generated would not in fact cover the cost of the loan, nor provide revenue. While this is certainly disappointing in the short term, we are grateful to God for the timing of this information. The loan had not been finalized, and we accomplished a herculean task in moving critical ministries out of an aging and unreliable part of our infrastructure.

The Board, in conversation with the PDC, is currently evaluating three possible paths forward, and we will bring you specific updates on our next steps soon. In the meantime, we are excited to say that the transformational work on our lower level Great Room is nearly complete. While more work remains to be done (such as adding bathrooms), we look forward with hope and anticipation to see this underutilized resource of our church come to life. We trust that great things will happen in that space, to the Glory of God.

2. Staff Comings and Goings There have been a great number of staffing changes at Central since July 2019, including our Worship and Children's ministries, Administrative support, and our Community and Senior Pastor. As we look ahead to the New Year, we know there will be more difficult decisions as we consider our mission and Kingdom call, evaluate the needs of our church, and the resources we have to support those ministries.

The church in America is experiencing a period of great change for a number of reasons, in large part due to the pandemic and its impacts. As we look to the future, some key words and themes have emerged from a variety of national church leaders and pastors: pivot, substantive change, simplify. Thom Ranier, a writer, researcher, speaker, and former president of Lifeway Christian Resources goes a step further, encouraging churches to consider a “church plant” mindset: “​I have called this new opportunity “the blank slate”. Instead of doing things the way we’ve always done them, ruthlessly evaluate everything your church is doing. If your church were starting anew, what would it start doing? What would it stop doing? COVID has given us a new opportunity to rethink church. Don’t let the opportunity pass.”

The Board anticipates more changes and shifts coming in 2021 as we look to our future. We understand you may have questions about past staff transitions and/or future ones, and before we move forward, we want to extend an invitation to you to have a conversation with Board members about your questions and/or concerns, past or present. If there is something on your mind or heart regarding our church staff, we invite you to email Vice Chair Alice Magnuson at ​campalice4@live.com​, with the subject “Staff Changes” and any additional notes you wish to add, as well as your phone number. We will contact you and arrange for a meeting with a few members of the Board to address your concerns.

3. Pastoral Search Committee In accordance with our Bylaws: “At the request of the Board, the Nominating Committee must propose to the Board a Pastoral Search Committee of seven members comprised of a chair and six other members. At least three of the seven must be members of the Board at the time of appointment. Choosing members of the Search Committee should be done with a concern for the diverse interests in the church membership.”

The Board is prayerfully considering the three of our members who will be asked to serve on the Search Committee. That means we will need four additional church members to serve. This is a significant undertaking and time commitment, and requires members who come to serve without agenda. We need people who are deeply committed to Central; people who are hope-filled, forward thinking, collaborative, organized, prayerful, able to work through conflict and disagreement, and who are spiritually discerning.

If you wish to forward names for consideration, please send them to info@centralbaptistchurch.com​. Pastor Steve will be collecting these names on behalf of the Board of Stewards, and we plan to submit names to the Nominating Committee in January. Our prayer is that the Pastoral Search Committee will be voted on by late February or early March.

4. Our Kingdom Call to Ministry It has been 5 years since former St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman announced a new soccer stadium would be built in the Central Baptist backyard. The Board of Stewards had hard conversations and much prayer as we considered the impact on our church and neighborhood. We believed then, and continue to believe today, that the Lord has called us to remain on the corner of Shields and Roy where we have built a legacy of faith, hope, and love in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Central is a changing church, and we are excited to see where the Lord will lead us in the weeks, months, and years to come. We have a unique opportunity to serve a diverse and changing community, and doing so will require a literal and figurative leap of faith.

As the Board of Stewards focuses our energies and attention on these priorities, we humbly ask for your support and, more importantly, your prayers. Pray for each of these priorities and the many people involved in the various processes. Pray for discernment and wisdom. Pray that God would raise up the right people to serve on the Pastoral Search Committee. Pray for the PDC and encouragement in what has been a years long exhausting process. Pray for a fresh vision for the 1913 building: we believe the Lord is up to something, and trust Him for a solution. Pray for the Nominating Committee. Pray for the logistics of voting in a pandemic. Pray for our Staff. Pray!

As Pastor Terri has shared with us, “Advent is a period of waiting, of marking time. It is not an empty waiting, but one that anticipates a blessed event.” I believe that Central Baptist is also in a period of waiting. I don’t know about you, but I look forward with great anticipation to a fresh season of ministry for Central Baptist Church.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Yours in Christ,

Catherine Westby Chair, Board of Stewards

DeeAnne Bonebright, Rob Boyd, Dave Hansen, Lorilyn Hoglund, Tim Horn, Alice Magnuson, Adam Rynkiewich, Steve Schoepf, Jackie Tollers

                 420 Roy Street North, Saint Paul MN 55014

Phone: (651) 646-2751

©2020 by Central Baptist Church. All Rights Reserved.

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