Important reading for our congregation ~ from our congregation and beyond
JUNE INTO JULY ~ by Terry Speiker, council member
The COVID-19 closures continue to upend life as we knew it at West Denmark Church even as we continue to work at adapting our worship to an online environment. A primary question for Pastor Linda and the Church Council has been how to keep West Denmark strong enough to weather the pandemic and emerge from it as a still-vital church community.
In April, we felt blessed to be chosen to receive a forgivable loan from the federal government that could be used for the costs of Pastor Linda’s salary and benefits. These funds enabled West Denmark to help keep the church financially healthy in spite of not being able to host the types of spring and summer events that earn much needed operating funds for the remainder of the year.
Mark Pedersen and the Heritage Council have gifted West Denmark $2000 – their ‘rental’ amount had Fiddle School been held. The Family Camp committee has previously given $1500 in lieu of their rental agreement. These donations are kind and generous acts, coming at a time when the forgivable loan funds have been nearly spent.
We extend a profound “Thank You” to Mark and the members of the Heritage Council, to Henrik and the Family Camp committee.
What More Can You Do to Support West Denmark Church and Community in This Challenging Time?
- In addition to continuing to give your regular financial contribution, consider making an extra tax-deductible donation. Your gift will help West Denmark fulfill the church’s mission and to remain available to community members who benefit from the hope it provides in this difficult time.
- Follow West Denmark on the church’s website, listen to the ‘Sounds of Home’ podcast, participate in Zoom Sunday worship services and read Pastor Linda’s sermons and the Sunday and daily prayers.
- Spread the word about West Denmark’s on-line worship, the podcast and prayer offerings with your friends and family. Invite them to join in the church community.
How and when we will be able to safely return to face-to-face worship has been a constant topic of Church Council discussions. We have been getting thoughtful guidance from Bishop Laurie Skow-Anderson, the Northwest Synod staff, the ELCA and the Wisconsin Council of Churches on this topic. We are also looking for your input and thoughts on this question.
- We are asking you to tell Pastor Linda and Council members your ideas for how we can continue to meet the needs and wishes of our church community, whether we are worshipping in the church or on-line.
Thank you for your continuing commitment to West Denmark. You are the church.
|Dear Faith Leaders –We write to you in acknowledgement of the pain, grief and anger of our Black siblings. We bear witness to the most recent incidents of violence perpetrated against them and their communities. To those who would judge, we say: anger can be a righteous response to murders and targeted state-sponsored violence, which has been cascading down for far too long. We cry out against the systems and structures which have perpetrated this violence for centuries. |
We call on majority white faith communities to center the voices and experiences of Black and multicultural communities at this time. We ask majority white faith communities, and their leaders, to respond to the needs of communities of color, to serve as allies and supportive partners, and not place additional burdens upon Black leaders or communities, by asking them to interpret or exegete this moment for you.
We have heard offers of help and questions asking, “what shall we do?” We have heard loud and clear from our Black siblings that:…this IS the time to speak up.…we cannot end with one sermon, prayer, or phone call…speaking up, by itself, is insufficient, without additional action.
If you are looking for something to do, please make it concrete, and action-oriented. We have reached out to leaders in the African-American Council of Churches and intend to let their priorities guide us.
In the meantime, be bold in leading your people. Speak and pray as one who longs for systems change. Raise funds for ministries grounded in the Black community, for those jailed in resistance movements, for human needs. Contact public officials and demand systems change, an end to violent, militarized police action. Use your privilege to put yourself between those who would do violence and those who need room to express their pain.
There may yet be an opportunity to show up in person; but we will wait for that call. There are those in our communities who would use this as an opportunity to sow mayhem and division. Some will tire of this message, and grow angry, and ask us to soften our words. We urge you to remain strong. Peace will not come without justice.
We lean on the teachings of our traditions that urge us to love our neighbor, to care forthe vulnerable and those who have been mistreated, and to seek the well-being of theplace you inhabit.
Rev. Kerri Parker Executive Director Wisconsin Council of Churches
Rabbi Bonnie Margulis Executive DirectorWisconsin Faith Voices for Justice
ELCA World Hunger
|Good morning, I recently sent you a letter to tell you about a special opportunity that will double your gift to ELCA World Hunger. If you’ve already sent in a gift, thank you. If you haven’t seen my letter yet, I want to send you a quick note to let you know that, thanks to generous friends of ELCA World Hunger, right now all gifts to ELCA World Hunger will be matched — dollar for dollar — until we reach $101,000. Your support is urgently needed. As coronavirus disease 2019 continues to tear around the world, people who were already living on the brink of hunger are now vulnerable to starvation. ELCA World Hunger is uniquely positioned to respond. In more than 60 countries, including the United States, we’re walking alongside companions and partners as they work to provide food, health care, agricultural training, safe water, livelihoods support and more. If you can, please support ELCA World Hunger. Even during great tragedy, we have an opportunity to reflect Christ’s light to the world in hope and love.|
State of the church in May
Thank You to West Denmark’s Members and Supporters!
In mid-March, Pastor Linda and the Church Council posted information here about the effect COVID-19 distancing was having on worship services and the church’s financial situation.
The news was daunting. In-person worship services are cancelled until a future unknown date. Our sources of summer revenue have been cancelled. Portico sent a letter threatening to cancel Pastor Linda’s health care coverage if the 2 over-due monthly bills were not paid within two weeks.
Regular obligations are about $7,800 a month and there was also a back bill from Northwestern WI Electrical for $1,400 due to an oversight on their part when we converted to Solar. But West Denmark’s checking account only had $700 to cover these incurred debts.
In order to keep West Denmark financially afloat into April, Pastor Linda and the Council decided to borrow $7,750 from the Park/Dane Fund to pay the March bills, and posted the State of the Church letter under a new COVID-19 tab on our website.
In the next two weeks, members sent in regular offerings just as though you were attending in-church worship services! Several members were able to make extra contributions to the church’s General Fund, and one couple paid forward to cover the outstanding electric bill. The Family Camp Board voted to pay their usual ‘rent’ of $1,500 to help the church sustain the loss of Family Camp revenue. So the month was saved!
Thank you to everyone who has been able to donate to West Denmark!
Your quick response and extremely generous contributions made the church’s immediate cash-flow situation secure. And your enthusiastic support and involvement in West Denmark’s on-line worship services and resources has helped sustain some sense of community.
Wonderful News Arrives
In early April, the Synod and ELCA posted information about the Payroll Protection Plan and encouraged churches to apply for it. The federal Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program was set up to provide forgivable loans to small businesses or non-profit applicants to help pay for a maximum of 8 weeks of salary and benefit costs for their employees.
Pastor Linda brought the information she had received from the Synod to the Church Council and we decided to apply for the program. Then she quickly worked with West Denmark’s bank, Frandsen Bank and Trust, to fill out and submit the application.
This week we were excited to learn that West Denmark was awarded a Payroll Protection loan for $15,800. The money can only be used to help cover the costs of our Pastor’s salary and benefits for up to 8 weeks.
In order to have the loan fully forgiven by the federal government, West Denmark will need to carefully document how the money is spent. Thank You to Chris Tou, who has volunteered to work with Pastor Linda to ensure that use of this forgivable loan is managed and reported as required by the terms of the loan program.
Receiving this loan is truly wonderful news and something to be celebrated!!
However, the closure of church for worship services, the loan of $7,750 from the Park/Dane Fund to West Denmark’s General Fund and the cancellation or delay of spring, summer and (perhaps) fall money raising events means that our finances will need to be carefully monitored and additional contributions from members and supporters solicited and gratefully accepted.
To give you a better sense of the church’s financial situation, a summary overview can be found at the end of this edition of the State of the Church letter.
We will continue to update you about the status of church finances and changes in worship service plans as the weeks proceed. At present, worship resources can be found on the website ( New Posts ), and by Zoom for those who have a computer or smart phone. Email Pastor Linda if you would like to join us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please contact Pastor Linda, Council President Nikki Strandskov, or Council Vice President Mike Miles with your questions or comments.
Thank You again for your strong support of West Denmark.
Financial Summary and Overview
West Denmark Lutheran Church 5-1-2020
Average amount of money needed each month to fund West Denmark’s ministry and mission: $7,800
- This does not include large one-time bills such as propane and insurance.
While we are not meeting in the building for Worship, Sunday School, choir rehearsal, AA, and other groupings, we realize some savings – heat/AC; musician stipend; copier costs per page for bulletins, choir music; coffee, paper products, etc. This amounts to about: $400/month
Repayment of the loan from the Park/Dane Fund for coverage of March bills: $7,750
- March and April obligations have been paid in full. General Fund balance on 5-1-20: $1,796
- Park/Dane Fund balance (includes deposit of $15,800 fully forgivable loan received from federal Payroll Protection Program): $22,713
Estimated amounts of lost income for the remainder of 2020 (the majority of this money would ordinarily be deposited in the General Fund and used to operate West Denmark, including salary and benefit costs):
- Cancellation of Fiddle School: $1500
- Cancellation of Family Camp: $1500 (FC Board has donated this to the church)
- Lost rental income from church, Hall, Dane School: $6660 in 2019
- Cancellation of Æbelskiver: $3000