For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him, as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
Highlights from the first Strategy Meeting of the year included the election of a new elder, Michael Thiel; a Treasurer’s Report summarizing 2011 giving; the adoption of the 2012 Church & Missions Budget; 2011 ministry reports from Bethlehem leadership; and a South Site Property update.
Election of New Elder, Michael Thiel
Pastor Kenny Stokes introduced Michael Thiel  and explained that Michael has served Bethlehem by leading a small group that grew into multiple small groups, which he has continued to shepherd faithfully.
Michael came to know the Lord during his sophomore year at the U of M. He was invited to church by a Bethlehem member and soon started attending a Bible study on campus and was baptized as a believer. He grew in his faith under the leadership of Campus Outreach Minneapolis, being discipled by Ken Currie. Michael's wife, Emily, was discipled by Samm Poteat.
Elders Paul Tattersall and Tom Lutz both shared that they see great maturity in Michael & Emily. They also see wisdom in having some younger elders. (Michael is 28.)
Treasurer’s Report: 2011
Scott Rebney shared the Treasurer’s Report , which, in addition to numbers, graphs and charts, includes both thanksgivings and challenges from 2011 giving and a “Don't’ Waste Your Deficit” bulleted list.
Scott explained that we ended the year 2011 with a significant deficit. In summary:
Church & Missions Contributions Through December 31, 2011
2010 Contributions to C&M: $8,957,565
2011 Contributions to C&M: 8,772,148
2011 contributions represent a -2.1% decline from last year, and a -9.6% decline from the 2011 budget of $9.7M
2012 Church & Missions Budget and Vote
Summary: $9,550,000 Budget
Motion from the Elders:
Based on 2011 C&M contributions of $8.772M, the Council of Elders recommend that we adjust the previously-presented 2012 C&M budget of $9,875,000* to $9,550,000, and that the budget includes $100K to replenish the C&M reserve.
*Based on expected 2011 C&M contributions of $9.1M
The motion was approved by voice vote.
Highlights From 2011, Looking Ahead in 2012
Leadership gave testimony to God’s manifold graces to Bethlehem in 2011, as well and hoped-for ministry in 2012. Reports came from the three lead Campus pastors, David Livingston (South), Dan Holst (North) and Kenny Stokes (Downtown); and pastors for Life Training (Sam Crabtree), Outreach (Ken Currie), and Operations (Jon Grano). Bethlehem Urban Initiatives Director Scott Anderson also gave a BUI report.
Update on Potential South Campus Property
Ron Vrieze (in Klaas Van Zee’s absence) reported that we are still negotiating the purchase agreement for the property on Dodd Road, across from Lakeville North High School. The purchase agreement has been passed back and forth, and there are some environmental concerns that are being researched before we enter into the agreement. Ron asked us to pray that God would move and soften the heart of the seller.
Documents made available to the congregation included ...
The meeting closed with Pastor John reading the names of members who passed away in 2011:
Marge Anderson, January 10
Bob Lockman, January 24
Harry Eriksson, February 23
Betty Anderson, March 19
Bridget Kenadjian, March 20
Geneva Kachina, April 12
Gordy Cunningham, May 2
Don Pearson, October 20
Thanks to Church Clerk Sarah DeWire for her assistance in the preparation of this post.