December Newsletter

Dear disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

When I made the announcement to fellow colleagues that I was leaving my position in December to accept a new call starting in January, one of the pastors exclaimed:
What perfect timing for you and the congregation-during Advent-the season of waiting for new birth!” Well he’s right, I guess. Advent is the time we hope with great expectation for how Christ will be born anew among us. But oh my, do the labor pains of birthing hurt! It’s one thing to feel in my heart that God is leading me in a new direction. And it’s another thing to feel the pain of saying goodbye to people whom I’ve grown to love so dearly.

The feeling of grief cuts deep and can go through different stages-denial, anger, bargaining, sadness-before hopefully reaching a place of acceptance and new beginnings. I imagine there may also be disappointments, unmet expectations, maybe even feelings of abandonment. I wish I could take away the emotions of your grief and my own. But the hard work of grief can’t be side-stepped. The only way through it is to go through it. When I was in labor with my second child, it was much more difficult and painful than with my first son. But having gone through it once before, I knew I would get through it again. And what helped me immensely was remembering the reward that came after the labor-the gift of a newborn baby placed in my arms.

As we both go through labor pains towards new birth, I encourage you to remember the hard work and challenges we went through the past five years. Then look below at all of the gifts–the fruits of our labor-that God placed in our arms:

* A growing music ministry with choir and band under Steve and Ulf’s direction

* The rental of our school building to Brighton Hall giving us financial stability

* Combined youth program with Salem Lutheran and adult confirmation mentors

* A clear statement of welcome to everyone-with no exception

* Summer day camp for elementary children

* Media projection to enhance and create worship that is more user-friendly

* Hiring a social media coordinator to engage people with our on-line presence

* Fellowship events including Oktoberfest, Mardi Gras, “American’s Got Talent,” Blessing of the Pets, ALC Angels softball team

* Two productions from the Burbank Children’s Theatre Company

* Increased local partnerships with Burbank Housing Corporation (Adopt a Homeless Vet), Burbank Temporary Aid Center, Lutheran Social Services, Burbank Ministerial Association, Burbank PFLAG, Family Promise

* Global partnership with ELCA missionaries in Central America

* Prayers in worship from the wider community through our prayer chalkboard

* Commitment to much-needed property renovations with a Mission Investment Fund loan and Capital Campaign during our 75th anniversary year

I am so grateful for what God has borne through our ministry together. I am so grateful to have been your pastor-and now to be your friend. May God give us strength and hope to endure the birth pangs of Advent, knowing they will lead to the glorious celebration of Christ’s new birth among us!

Joy and peace,
Pastor Gretchen

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