Dear friends of our Good Shepherd,

Merry Christmas!

We have so much to be thankful for in this new year! Last month, we announced an opportunity from an idea by Lucy to provide laundry baskets and grocery gift cards to people in need at Laundry Love—and you came through! We were able to provide laundry baskets and gift cards for 25 families. Thank you!

The new year is a time for new beginnings. This January, we are beginning to host the Flavors with 5-0 Cooking class for West Middle School students, and we are beginning “The Bible for Dummies” Bible study. We are also exploring an exciting new adventure—exploring, and hopefully embarking on, the ELCA’s Congregational Vitality Project. It is a way of taking our congregation’s spiritual temperature and finding the best ways to improve our congregation’s spiritual vitality, in line with the 7 Christian faith practices of prayer, worship, study, inviting, encouraging, serving, and giving.  We would do this alone, but rather we hope to engage in the process with other congregations in the Rockford area. Assistant to the Bishop Gary Erickson will join us at our Annual Meeting to share with us about the opportunity for congregation wide growth in spiritual vitality.

Along with most churches today, we have challenges—but those challenges are also opportunities for deepening faith and deepening relationships with one another and with our wider community. I am hopeful for the future of Good Shepherd, because Jesus Christ is Lord—this is our Good Shepherd’s church. We are a warm, welcoming, hospitable, and loving congregation. God has great things in store for our neighborhood, and God will continue to use us to spread love, justice, peace, and friendship with our community.

Living and sharing Jesus,

Pastor Eric