By Kurt Kincanon
The school year is well under way, and we now have a few weeks of navigating the return to school under our belt. Last week, Indiana Governor Holcomb announced that he advanced the state of Indiana to Stage 5 of “Indiana Back on Track” through October 17th. Stage 5 does still require face coverings and social distancing for all indoor events. Click here for more information on Stage 5. As we have in the past, ECC will continue to monitor for changes and comply with the State of Indiana’s plan.
Last week our Children’s Ministries Director Kristin Mueller introduced our reopening of Children’s Ministries to begin this Sunday October 4th. If you missed any of her announcement, you can find the details here.
As we announced this past Sunday, ECC has now begun to implement strategies to safely and compassionately reopen our facilities for community members to use. We want to emphasize we are slowly opening up, and we will be considering building usage requests individually.
ECC’s commitment to any group using the building is that ECC will provide a room that has been sanitized prior to usage. Additionally, ECC will provide hand sanitizer for use as well as soap and disposable towels will be in the bathrooms for handwashing.
ECC is requiring all groups (internal or external) using a room to sign a COVID-19 Facility Use Agreement. This is an addendum to our standing Facility Use Agreement. Group Leaders must sign this agreement and ensure that group participants are informed of the agreement. Groups agree to good hygiene practices to be utilized including sanitizing of hands upon entering ECC building, wearing of face masks by all attendees, and practicing social distancing of 6 feet or more.
Group leaders must also agree to notify the Church immediately if a member of their group who used space at ECC in the previous 14 days tests positive for COVID-19. Names are not required, but it is with compassion and care that we will necessitate the closing of the relative portion of the building for sanitization and the notification of any groups or individuals that may have been exposed so they may take actions accordingly.
As we slowly reopen, prioritization of building usage will be given to internal ministries, such as studies and small groups, over external requests. We want to make sure that we can adequately sanitize rooms, entry areas, and rest rooms between usages. We are not at the point yet where we are hosting dinners, athletic events, or parties. Once we gain some more experience with the flow of ministry events, we will consider adding more to the activities calendar. Of course, any of this can change should direction change from the State of Indiana or the Tippecanoe County Health Department. For more questions or information on indoor room usage or our plan to safely reopen ECC for room use, please contact the church office.
By Kurt Kincanon
I want to thank the congregation for your participation in the Congregational Meeting last Sunday and your interest in our church’s stewardship of the resources God has given us. I can’t recall exactly when or where, but somewhere in either the live or online conversation Sunday, someone asked the question: “What are all these names of people in the financial statement?” To which someone replied, “Those are the missionaries.” I was delighted that the question was answered by another congregant!
Just like you and your household hopefully participate in God’s mission by giving a portion of your income for the mission of ECC, ECC gives a portion of all we receive to both the Evangelical Covenant Church and the Central Conference. A large part of what ECC and other churches give to the greater Covenant Denomination is for world mission, the “Serve Globally” mission priority. ECC of Lafayette, designates a portion of that gift to currently support 9 missionary families. These are some of the missionaries that we pray for every Sunday.
If you would like to be more informed on how to pray for our 9 Covenant Missionaries, as well as all of the Covenant Missionaries serving globally, I invite you to get a copy of the Serve Globally Prayer Calendar. If you would like a copy of the prayer calendar, please let the church office know at firstname.lastname@example.org or (765) 474 4842. Additionally, you can learn more about Missions and ECC’s Mission Commission at ecclife.net/missions. Click here to learn more about the Serve Globally Prayer Calendar.
By Pastor Kurt Kincanon
2020 will be a year none of us will forget. Many of the patterns and routines we are accustomed to in the rhythm of the year have been altered, and we have adjusted or pivoted according to the needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic. ECC Lafayette’s fiscal year ended June 30th, 2020. Traditionally, our congregation would have held a congregational meeting in May where we approved our operating budgeted for the 2020-2021 fiscal year that begins July 1st. As you know, we chose to not have a congregational meeting in May. The Church Council has scheduled a congregational meeting for this coming Sunday September 20th at 11:45am following the worship service. The meeting will be held in person (with social distancing) and via Zoom and our private Facebook page.
Our Church Council made the decision last spring to extend the 2019-2020 operating budget “as is” through September 30, 2020. This coming Sunday, I will present another extension. We are still in a time of uncertainty, both from a church operating standpoint and financially, and it does not seem wise to try to project a nine month budget from October 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021. Many of the traditional operating activities and events have not resumed, and as we cautiously open things back up, we gradually add those costs back into operations. A four month period of time between now and the end of January is a more realistic time period to predict; therefore, after working with each staff member and ministry leader, I will be presenting an adjusted four month operating cash flow projection for congregational approval. Much of what I have read recently, as well as observed best practices of other non-profits and churches, points to an operating cash flow projection as the best short-term practice for the season ahead of us. It is the hope of the pastors and the Council, that we will have a clearer picture by January 2021 and we can bring an operating budget back to the congregation for approval at the January 2021 congregation meeting for the remainder of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021.
Additionally, I will give a summary report of the 2019-2020 Fiscal Year performance, the performance for the July 2020 through September 2020 budget extension period, and a snapshot of the current financial position of the church. In April of 2020, the Church Council approved application and receipt of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan for small businesses and non-profits. Many churches across the country including ECC Lafayette participated in the program, which was part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. ECC was to obtain funds that supported over 9 weeks of payroll and utility costs through May and June. It is likely that the bulk of these loaned funds will be forgiven, and we will realize this as operating revenue some time later in the fiscal year. I will also give an update Sunday on the loan, the loan forgiveness process, and where ECC stands.
So, a lot has happened and is happening and there is much to cover. Please plan to join us either in person or through the Zoom link which will be provided later in the week or on our private Facebook page. We are currently not distributing paper documents for our worship services nor do we plan to do so for this congregational meeting. If you would like a digital version of the proposed Four Month Operating Cash Flow Projection that will be presented for vote or any of the other financial documents I would normally have available at the congregational meeting, please let the church office know at email@example.com or (765) 474–4842.
By Stacey Littlefield
This week, we begin a 10-week sermon series based in our first ECC Touchstone of Welcome—we are a place of hospitality, grace, and community for all people. The sermon series (and the book we are studying this fall) is entitled, Love Over Fear. Whether you’ve signed up for a study or not, I hope you will take time to read the book and engage in our sermon series as I think it is a very timely conversation.
Welcome is about hospitality. We desire to be hospitable because, first and foremost, that is the character of God. God loves foreigners and gives them food and clothing (Deuteronomy 10.18). Furthermore, God’s gracious and hospitable character is displayed in Jesus’ parable of the Great Banquet (Luke 14.15-24), where those least likely to be invited are welcomed to the feast that represents the final and full coming of the Kingdom of God.
Likewise, the Apostle Paul exhorts us to “practice hospitality” (Romans 12.13), and the closing verses of Hebrews exhort us to “show hospitality to strangers” (13.2). In fact, the Greek word we translate as “hospitality” is literally two words put together meaning “love of strangers”. Furthermore, Paul exhorts us to “do good to all people, especially those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6.10).
In one of Jesus’ most provocative parables, he warned us, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14.12-14) And we dare not forget the account of the “sheep and the goats” in Matthew 25.31-46. There we are taught that to invite a stranger into our home is to invite Jesus. Is there any image more challenging concerning our calling to welcome others than the image of Jesus in what Mother Teresa called his “distressing disguise”?
In addition to welcoming the last, the least, and the lost, in Romans 15.7, Paul reminds us, “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (ESV) There, more specifically, God speaks to those of us who know Christ welcoming one another, as sisters and brothers in Christ. We are to welcome those from outside of the community of faith as well as those who are already a part of our community.
Because God is hospitable and Jesus lifts hospitality up as a key virtue, we practice hospitality towards all people, wherever they may be on their journey of faith, and however they may find their way to our doors.
So much of the division that characterizes our nation these days has crept into the larger Church and damaged our mission and witness. Even so, we believe it is possible to become a community of people who are able to differ with one another while being gracious and loving toward one another, as well. And so we desire to be a place of hospitality, grace, and community for all people.