by Rev. Mary L. Janz
Pastor Jhon Freddy and I presented the following proposal at Emmaus’s April church council meeting:
“As your pastors, we continue to be grateful for the many ways God is at work among us. As Emaús prepares to celebrate six years together as a mission start congregation and Emmaus celebrates over 160 years as an organized congregation, some important questions are now being asked about where God is leading us into the future.
“We come to you recommending that an official consolidation of Emmaus and Emaús be considered. Why consolidation? While both faith communities bring strong assets and resources, we realize that continuing as two separate congregations is neither practical nor sustainable. We need one another, and we are stronger together as a whole, unified body.
“We are proposing the calling of a bilingual lead pastor to serve this newly formed congregation. We envision a transition team that will work together to explore what this unified body will look like, acknowledging that there will be new ways of doing things and that the new face of this congregation will be lived out in a variety of expressions.”
In the discussion following, questions were posed about the economic feasibility of such a consolidation. Questions were also raised regarding worship style and staffing. The council was assured that worship services in English and Spanish would continue as they currently are with the possibility of adding a service at a later date. Such a consolidation would require contracting both guest preachers in English and Spanish, together with other support staff, including the addition of a part-time bilingual secretary. A motion passed recommending that the possibility of such a consolidation be considered.
On April 26 the pastors met with an advisory team (Kathy Christensen, Carol Eschmann, Melissa Lemke, Stacy Steinike, Trinidad and Antelmo Hernandez, Soledad Beltran and Pablo Enriquez). The group discussed some of the pros and cons of such a consolidation and was presented with a preliminary unified budget, which had been prepared by the pastors and Art Smith. If the position of a Bilingual Lead Pastor is created, Pastor Jhon Freddy would be invited to be a candidate and to interview for that position should he so choose.
There will be an open forum led by the pastors following each of the worship services the weekend of May 2 and 3. Opportunity will be given for discussion and questions and answers. The advisory team will then meet again to assess whether the proposal should be further considered and developed by a Transition Team. If this new model were to be recommended by the body as a whole, it would then be presented to the congregation for a formal vote.
We are at a very key place in our journey together. As we keep the mission of Emmaus/Emaús in our prayers, we pray for God’s guidance and for open hearts and minds as we imagine our future together. We are able to look ahead with excitement and anticipation, rather than in fear, because we know that it is God who leads the way! Let’s have passion, courage and commitment as we move forward in faith!