The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all the people of Williams Bay Lutheran Church.
(Here is my annual report to the congregation. God has truly blessed our congregation in 2018.)
This past year was filled with both challenges and joys. Overall, I am grateful for the many ways that we came together as a faith community in order to move our congregation forward in mission. Thank you to all the people of Williams Bay Lutheran Church! I am especially thankful to God for three surprises that happened this past year.
The first surprise was Vacation Bible School. We have not held VBS at our church for three years. This past summer the education committee decided to take a step of faith and plan for a week of VBS. When the week for VBS came thirty-six kids appeared! It was a fantastic week and the children were blessed by this ministry. As time goes on, and we continue building up our VBS program, I hope that we become known in the community for offering an outstanding VBS ministry.
The second surprise was all the new members that we received. I was filled with joy on New Member Sunday as twenty-one adults and children joined our congregation. It has been a while since we welcomed new members to our congregation. This past year God blessed our church with a large group of new members. We have been doing the work of evangelism! Already our new members are getting involved and are participating in the life of the congregation.
The last surprise happened at our Thanksgiving Service and our Christmas Eve services. This year I decided to invite the Chapel on the Hill congregation to join us for our traditional community Thanksgiving service. They welcomed the invitation! That evening we filled the church as we gave God thanks and praise. A very large ecumenical choir also sang during the Thanksgiving service.
For Christmas Eve we decided to bring back the 10:00 service. The attendance between the 5 and 10 service that night was one hundred sixty-seven people. That was the highest attendance for Christmas Eve worship in many years!
While there were challenges this past year I am so grateful for your enduring support and grace. One thing that I have learned, from my two previous congregations that I served, is that the work of a pastor is too great without the support of other people. I am grateful for your partnership with me in God’s mission and ministry work here at WBLC.
I especially want to thank Carol, Rebecca, and Chad. Thank you Carol, for your creativity and for your beautiful music. Thank you Rebecca, for your good work and for helping to promote our church within the community. Thank you Chad, for being such a faithful and dedicated church council president.
Lastly, I want to thank the church council for walking with me in both the challenges and joys of ministry this past year. Can the challenges and joys of ministry coincide so deeply? We discovered that it can! Thank you to those who are serving now on church council. Thank you for your leadership and for your love for our church.
As we look to a New Year I hope that we can, even more, awaken our love for God. In looking ahead to the coming year I have started planning ministry for 2019. I will soon be leading a Bible study on the Psalms. I will also be leading a class on a book that has greatly influenced my spirituality: Desiring God by John Piper. During Lent I will be inviting people to share their faith stories during the Wednesday Lenten services. I have invited the Voice of Praise, a sacred chorus, to come and to sing for us on Sunday, March 17th . This fall I am planning on leading a class on the topic of living out our faith in real and practical ways. In the fall I would also like to invite our congregation to participate, in some way, in our town’s Centennial celebration. Lastly, I am planning on working ecumenically with UCC and Chapel on the Hill for more ecumenical worship services.
Please continue to keep our church in prayer and to remember me in prayer as well. I will be praying for you and for our church in 2019. May God richly bless our congregation!
Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish those words over a lifetime. –Dale Carnegie
Pastor Tom Dowling