How will Zoom work for our Annual Meeting? A: We're working hard to make it work as well as possible, but as noted by Council President Steve Nelson, it's going to be different. We throw ourselves into grace and invite you to join us in making the best of a very difficult situation. Here are a few important notes:
The "Zoom Waiting Room" opens at 10:15AM. You may have to wait a few minutes before you move from the waiting room to the actual annual meeting because we have to take note of every voting member as you arrive. If possible, please put your names on your Zoom screen. If you have any trouble with Zoom, please email or call the church office: firstname.lastname@example.org (319)338-0944.
Worship and the Annual Meeting are different Zoom links. The worship Zoom will close and everyone will need to join the second, different Zoom link to move into the Annual Meeting. These links are in this e-news and will be provided again in the Sunday morning email that arrives at 8AM on February 7.
The meeting will begin as soon as we have 50 identified voting members (quorum) present AND the waiting room is empty. Expect this to take some time. Patience is a wonderful gift of the Spirit.
We will use Zoom Chat to collect and process questions, as well as the "raise hand" function to vote. Please familiarize yourself with these things before the meeting. If more than one voter is on your screen and you want to vote differently, you'll be instructed to use the chat to register separate votes. Otherwise, use of the "raise hand" function will be considered a vote for every voter in the screen.
- What if I'm feeling disconnected or discouraged by church right now? A: It is certainly understandable, and you are not alone. Many people are struggling as this pandemic, and its many restrictions, drag on. Many are even struggling with their faith and sense of God's presence. Please know you are a treasured part of the community of Zion, and the community has many resources available to help and support each other. Contact either pastor or any member of staff to invite a conversation, a time of prayer or an offer of support or connection.
The budget is balanced, but it concerns me that some important things are not included in the budget. Is there wiggle room?
Yes! The Finance Committee and Council were both committed to presenting a balanced budget, but they also recognize that no one is confident predicting how 2021 will go. This is a “Covid-Budget,” meaning it is a conservative, best guess. Zion’s leaders share an equally deep commitment to regular budget reviews, updates, and revisits. As soon as the new council is installed, we will schedule a “Coffee with Council,” for some time in April. In the meantime, questions about the congregation’s health and vitality are always welcomed by the pastors, staff, and leaders.
What about music ministry?
In 2019, the Music Ministry Task Force wrestled mightily with how best to keep Zion’s powerful music program vibrant, especially in the face of significant financial challenges. The recommendation of the task force was to fill the Music Minister position and the Director of Adult and Youth Choir position as soon as possible in 2020, and then work together to figure out the best way forward with the remaining needs and potential. In March, with the onset of the pandemic, the Council determined it was still critical to fill the Music Minister position, but to pause the Adult/Youth Choir Director search until it was safe to resume indoor, in-person choral singing. The 2021 budget continues that commitment with priority being placed on filling the Adult/Youth Choir Director position hopefully no later than June 1, if finances go as planned. Together with the rest of the Zion staff, the music staff has generously and energetically swapped out familiar tasks for new, COVID-responsive ones, finding Music Ministry opportunities in a time that is in so many real ways inopportune. We are so thankful for this hard work! And we fully expect all of Zion’s ensembles to be supported and reinvigorated as soon as giving rebounds to support it. What we don’t yet see clearly is exactly how that will happen. But the commitment to music at Zion has always been strong and generous. In fact, the commitment to music ministry at Zion is more zealous than ever, with many new ideas ready to launch.
What about the Sunday School Administrator and children’s ministries?
Currently, the SSA is not included in the 2021 budget, which is something we’d like to see change, soon! Like other important things that are not currently in the 2021 budget, this position should be restored as soon as giving rebounds to support it. This has been an incredibly hard season for families with children, and Zion staff have worked diligently to support them with prayers, texts, emails, calls, Sidewalk Church and God’s House/My House kits. Supporting families and rebuilding VBS and Sunday School will take effort and intention, something families have to ration carefully across the months of the pandemic, we know. Currently volunteers are being sought to work on VBS alternatives for this summer. When we are able to resume in-person activities, and when families are ready to return, we look forward to welcoming all to Sunday School with open arms.
What about the organ--how long will it be out of commission and how will it be covered?
The gap between the existing funds for organ repair/maintenance and the expected expense is $66,000. This project came together too late for inclusion in the 2021 budget, but as these are one-time expenses and considerable generosity for them has already surfaced, we are confident this project will be fully funded. For example, a matching gift challenge is already in the works. In the meantime, gifts given to the Organ Preservation Fund at any time will be applied to this gap. Additional plans for meeting this expense will be developed in the coming weeks. Our hope is to sign a contract with the organ technician as soon as possible that provides a timeline to a full or partially-functioning organ, hopefully by time we are ready for in-person worship again. Our wonderful musicians have recorded a small stash of hymns on the organ to be used over the next few weeks. Beyond that, most hymn accompaniments and other service music will be recorded on pianos at their homes.
Why can’t worship happen from the building?
We are all mourning many losses across this time, not the least of which is worshipping together. Early on, decisions about worship were made based on what we could accomplish safely, quickly and with the skills and tools we had at the ready. As the pandemic drug on, our Emergency Response Team laid out safe boundaries for worship and other uses of Zion’s space. On more than one occasion, considerable effort was put into moving us back into the building in one way or another, and every time the changes in information and expectations resulted in those efforts being shut down for safety reasons. The present approach to worship is not ideal, we know, but it allows for the broadest participation of people with the lowest degree of risk and, for those able to join the Sunday Zoom, with a reasonable amount of interaction. Music Ministry staff and volunteers are exploring apps that will potentially allow us to incorporate voices into the hymn recordings for the worship videos. Listen for this additional vocal support to your at-home singing to begin in Lent!
How are Zion’s staff doing?
Thanks for asking! Like so many across this time, Zion’s pastors and staff have been working hard and pivoting often. They have, without exception, picked up all manner of dropped balls, new initiatives and even a few lost causes. They have all cancelled vacations and worked across countless days-off, and we are grateful for the dedication and faithfulness they have shown to Zion. We also want to support them in catching up on that missed time-off, and in taking good care of themselves and their families across this long, stressful season. Zion’s pastors and staff frequently express their appreciation for the support and encouragement they’re receiving.