2015 State of the Church Pastoral Report

2015 Pastoral Report 

Pastor David Tatgenhorst

St. Luke Charge Conference

 

The church, at its best, is in the business of saving lives, transforming lives, building community. We don’t always talk about – sometimes we don’t even notice – the lives that have been effected by the work of the congregation. This year I want to highlight one family’s life that has been changed by our congregation and mostly by the work of one individual – Carolyn Harmon.

Carolyn literally saved the life of Shirley Younger a few weeks ago when she went over after church to check in on her. She realized Mrs. Younger was having an emergency. She got her to the emergency room and Shirley barely made it. Thank God for Carolyn and her vigilance.

Carolyn had been visiting the Younger family for the past few months and she got me involved when she realized there were some serious issues. She and I together have been working to help the family through the crisis they’re having this year. We are grateful to have the children as part of our children’s program and grateful to God for the chance to make a difference in their lives.

Carolyn has put in many extra hours and many extra miles on her car to make sure the children are well cared for while their mother is in the hospital. Prayerfully we have made it possible for them to not need foster care or some other major disruption in the family during a very stressful season. We are praying that Mrs. Younger will make it back home soon.

 

I am proud of this church for it’s participation in and support of POWER Metro. We are on track to become a founding member of POWER Metro in February, 2016. We will be planning for that meeting in our assembly this Sunday and hearing about the difference we have already made in the discourse about equitable funding for education in Pennsylvania. Lauren and I will be speaking.

Brian, Carolyn and I are planning to have a one week summer day camp here in 2016 with a theme of gardening and the care of God’s creation. We will be partnering with the Harvest Farm at the Methodist Home for Children. Carolyn, Cayla, and Daniel and other children prepared for this great idea by planting a garden behind Lurwick Hall this past summer.

Our attendance in worship this past year went down by about 5 people per Sunday. If things don’t pick up significantly, we may end this year averaging under 50 people per Sunday. You and I know that means a lot of people are missing out on truly life giving and life changing worship experiences. We have considered doing a marketing blitz for St. Luke in the past year. I held back. Lauren has cautioned us against doing just random advertising. We’ve seen plenty of money go for ads that don’t accomplish what we desire.

My goal is to engage the services of a church growth coach/consultant who can prepare the St. Luke congregation for a marketing strategy in the fall of 2016 which will welcome 10 new people into a faithful relationship with the Living God as facilitated our membership.

Another major accomplishment this year at St. Luke is that we became a Reconciling Congregation. This happened through the work of core leaders of our church, with a patient and persistent boost from Marilyn Arnott who is a blessing to me and to this congregation who I want to thank you for her patient leadership. We didn’t become a Reconciling Congregation to be cool, or to please Marilyn, or to annoy traditional Christian folks, or to make a political statement. We became Reconciling to draw the circle wide, to challenge ourselves to truly offer the radical hospitality Jesus Christ to all God’s children. It’s part of our life-saving mission. Because LGBT folks are dying when our culture rejects and demonizes them. We are called as a church to open our hearts, open our minds and open our doors to save lives of all God’s children.

 

I feel enormously blessed to have been pastor of this church for the past 19 years. I hope to have some kind of party next summer to celebrate 20 years at this church, 30 years as a pastor and 40 years of living in West Philadelphia.