The Bulletin for

  • Sunday, June 7th, can be found HERE
  • Sunday, June 14th, can be found HERE
  • Sunday, June 21st, can be found HERE
  • Sunday, June 28th, can be found HERE

 

 

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

 

This week the elders, congregational president Philip Wuthrich, and I met to review the current trends in COVID-19 cases and continue our plans for re-opening the church.

 

Based on guidelines from the State and Federal levels, and taking into consideration the COVID cases and testing information released by the State of Texas, we believe it is appropriate to start allowing in-person gatherings at the church building.  Our target is to start this on June 21st, roughly 2 weeks from now.

 

There are several conditions attached to this statement.  I will send out more detailed information in another email this next week, but to start I would like to highlight two of the most important points.

 

From our State guidelines:

 

The following are the minimum recommended health protocols for all individuals attending churches, congregations, and places of worship in Texas.  These minimum health protocols are not a limit on the health protocols that individuals may adopt.  Individuals are encouraged to adopt additional protocols consistent with their specific needs and circumstances to help protect the health and safety of all Texans.

 

The virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to others by infected persons who have few or no symptoms.  Even if an infected person is only mildly ill, the people they spread it to may become seriously ill or even die, especially if that person is 65 or older with pre-existing health conditions that place them at higher risk.  Because of the hidden nature of this threat, everyone should rigorously follow the practices specified in these protocols, all of which facilitate a safe and measured reopening of Texas.  The virus that causes COVID-19 is still circulating in our communities.  We should continue to observe practices that protect everyone, including those who are most vulnerable.

 

Two of the most important guidelines are as follows:

  • Strongly encourage the at-risk population to watch or participate in the service remotely.  (At risk population are those who are 65 or older, especially those with chronic lung disease; moderate to severe asthma; chronic hearth disease; severe obesity; diabetes; chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis; liver disease; or weakened immune system.)

Please read the above point again, and honestly assess if you are described in the above.  While we reopen, the elders and I encourage in the strongest possible language for at risk individuals as described above to continue to participate in the service over the radio.

 

The second guideline to address at this time is:

  • Ensure proper spacing between attendees (at least 6 feet separation between parties/family groups attending together, with six feet separation empty on either side.) 

 

Because our pews are so close together, we will have two out of three pews marked so they remain empty.  We will have to balance how many family groups are attending, and how many are in each group.  Because of this, we will ask for responses letting us know if you plan to attend so we can best arrange the available seating.   

 

For right now, this is just for your information. My next email will have the full details of our opening plans.

 

At this time, I am again going to turn the remainder of this message over to our congregational President, Philip Wuthrich.  He will give the information we need to consider for our Special Voter’s Assembly.

 

I remain your servant in Christ,

 

Rev. R.W. Lutjens

 

 

From Congregational President, Philip Wuthrich

 

Dear Members of the St John’s Voter’s Assembly:

 

I appreciate your willing participation in this process as we consider how to continue to conduct the business of God’s Church during these “strange times”.    If at any time you have concerns regarding the actions taken by your church, please do not hesitate to contact me directly so that your concerns can be addressed.

 

The two items before us at this time are the damaged church organ, and the Federal Paycheck Protection Program Loan.

 

The Church organ sustained damage months ago as a result of an electrical event.    The event was so severe that it “fried” the battery unit that we had installed between the wall and the organ to protect the organ,  and caused some damage to the internal circuitry of the organ.   The extent of the damage is unknown,  but our organists and the manufacturer have acknowledged that there are features of our church organ that are not as they should be.     The manufacturer of the organ says that the damage is such that it has voided the remainder of our factory warranty.     Our insurance company, after coming out and doing an inspection, agreed that the organ has been damaged and qualifies to be replaced by filing a claim.

 

Our organ company submitted an estimate of work to our insurance carrier that states to replace the entire unit would cost $100,000.   Our insurance company has agreed to this replacement cost, and is prepared to reimburse the Congregation the full amount minus our $25,000 deductible, so $75,000.     Obviously, the Congregation can not agree to this without Voter’s approval.

 

Many have questioned why we can’t just take the agreed $75,000 and do with it whatever we want, i.e.  buy a cheaper unit, or just continue with what we have until the damage causes the organ to quit.     The answer came from Church Mutual in an email.

 

Claim number: 1396812
Loss Location: ST JOHNS LUTHERAN CHURCH 
Loss type: Lightning Damage

 

The following definitions are relevant for interpreting your statement of loss:

 

recoverable depreciation– refers to the dollar amount difference between your property’s actual cash value and its replacement value. … After you’ve repaired or replaced the damaged property.

 

replacement cost–  this is the amount which is quoted that pays for the full expense of your item, of like kind and quality.

 

The deductible on your policy is set at $25,000.00. This means that no matter what the cost of the “replacement” organ is, a deductible of $25,000.00 will be applied. 

 

Church Mutual will not continue to insure a “damaged” organ.

 

With this in mind, the resolution being presented to the Voter’s for approval is:

 

Resolution
Replacement of Damaged Church Organ

Special Called Voter’s Assembly Meeting – June 14, 2020
St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church – Wharton, Texas

 

Whereas, the Congregation’s Church organ was damaged in a severe electrical event; and

 

Whereas, our insurance carrier has confirmed the damage and is willing to acknowledge a total loss;  and

 

Whereas, the total replacement cost of a “like” organ has been agreed by all parties to be $100,000.; and 

 

Whereas, our insurance policy has a $25,000 deductible that the Congregation is responsible for in order to replace the organ no matter what “replacement “ organ is purchased;  therefore be it

 

RESOLVED

 

That the Voter’s Assembly of St John’s Lutheran Church authorize the purchase of the same quality organ at the agreed price of $100,000. ; and be it further

 

RESOLVED

 

That the Congregation use the $75,000 from our insurance claim, and $25,000 from the Arthur Koch Fund to pay for the replacement church organ.

 

Respectfully Submitted,

 

Philip Wuthrich 
Congregation President,  on behalf of the Church Council

 

Carol Koenig,  Secretary 

 

 

The second item of business before the Voter’s is the Congregation’s participation in the Federal Paycheck Protection Program Loan.   The following is an email that was sent to your Church Council on April 14th.

 

 

 

(BEGIN QUOTING OF EMAILS)

From Philip Wuthrich
To Church Council

This is for the members of the Church Council at this time.   I think we are all thankful that during this “crisis” our Pastor and Elders have put together a plan to continue to try and meet the spiritual needs of the congregation.   Much thanks to them.

There’s also another part of not meeting together regularly that can cause distress to our little congregation.   Without meeting regularly there has been a concern about the revenue needed to continue the ministry and pay the congregation’s obligations.     Pastor reminds us of our worship through offerings each Sunday.

 

That’s why I need to inform you of some of the actions taken on behalf of the congregation. 

 

Late in March, our banker at NewFirst called Ken and informed him about a government program to loan small businesses money to assist them through this difficult time.    He stated that if you continued to meet your payroll and also meet a couple of other items, the government was prepared to make the loan a grant, and forgive the debt.   Ken mentioned the call and conversation to Pastor, Ervin and I and we agreed that we ought to at least apply.  (at this time we didn’t know if our application would even be accepted or approved,  so telling council or the voters was premature)    Ken and I spoke last week (April 7),  and he indicated that it appeared that the approval process was moving along quickly.  (largely because Ken acted quickly and got our application in before the whole herd of applications started appearing)   

 

Ken told me last week that he had been notified that our application was submitted and we should know something soon.    That’s when he and I first discussed that we needed to make the congregation aware.   I discouraged that,  since at that time there really wasn’t anything that was definite.  Only that an application had been submitted, and the intent was to comply with the terms, and have the loan converted to a grant.

 

I did feel that we needed to make the members of the Church Council aware of the steps that had been taken and have their approval.  

 

Well things did move quickly, and you can read from Ken’s message below that the application was approved and funded over the Easter holiday.   So we need to know if anyone objects to the loan.   You know our intent,  but sometimes strange things happen.   I would like for Council to be in agreement that this is what the congregation should do.  

 

You can read Ken’s message below.  We are blessed that he acted so quickly to secure the Federal Funding.  Thank you Ken for your service.   As a member of the Church Council, please let me know how you feel about this process.      (and the Church Council did agree)

 

From Ken Johse
To Members of the Council

 

On March 25 I informed Philip, Ervin and Pastor that there was a new SBA loan program for small businesses due to our current crisis.   Non profits including churches could borrow monies based upon payroll and other employee benefits for a period of two years at 1% interest.  I asked for their approval to apply and received it.   I did not contact all of you as I wanted to be one of the first ones in line at NewFirst for this program.  If it was later decided not to have this loan we could repay it assuming we received approval for the loan.

 

Yesterday morning (Monday, April 13) I received documents to sign since our loan was approved.  I signed the documents and our loan was funded in the amount of $25,617.  The money is presently in our bank account.

 

But here is the real story behind this loan.  Within the next eight weeks if we use these monies to pay salaries to Pastor and Jane, and pay Pastor’s insurance and retirement, the monies will be forgiven and our loan will actually turn into a grant!    Yes, a grant.    So starting tomorrow, Pastor’s salary will go into the calculation of monies spent towards our grant.

 

So, in order to have you in the loop, so to speak, I wanted to inform you today of what has transpired.  At some point in the future we can ask for the Voter’s approval for the prior action.  

 

As a side note, our members have been terrific stewards during the last six weeks or so.  We ended March with over $50,000 in home treasury offerings for the year, and as of Sunday our April offerings have totaled $11,055.   What a blessing from our members!

 

If you have any questions please feel free to reply to all.   Thanks.

Kenneth Johse

(END QUOTING OF EMAILS)

 

 

 

That summarizes the activities as they occurred, and the actions that were taken on behalf of the Congregation.     As items were moving quickly, and we were not sure if we would qualify, and formal actions of the Voter’s Assembly would have been impossible to throw together in the time allotted with the public meeting restrictions,   we acted in the interests of the Congregation as best we could. 

 

With these things considered, the Church Council brings the following Resolution:

 

Resolution
Congregation’s Participation in the Paycheck Protection Program Loan

Special Called Voter’s Assembly Meeting – June 14, 2020
St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church – Wharton, Texas

 

Whereas,  the global pandemic associated with Covid-19 has caused the State to prohibit gatherings of more than 10 in March of 2020; and

 

Whereas,  St John’s Lutheran Church has been unable to meet as a congregation since March 15;  and

 

Whereas,  the members of our Congregation, and many of the population are severely impacted negatively financially; and

 

Whereas,  there is increased uncertainty regarding the monetary gifts that the Church will collect; and 

 

Whereas,  the Federal Government in an effort to assist businesses in meeting their payrolls offered a Paycheck Protection Program Loan program where organizations that maintained their current payrolls during this period could have their loan amounts treated as grants, and forgiven;  therefore be it 

 

RESOLVED

 

That the Voter’s Assembly of St John’s Lutheran Church ratify the actions taken in order to apply, and accept $25,617.00 from the Paycheck Protection Program in the form of a 1% loan; and be it further

 

RESOLVED

 

That the Congregation comply to the best of our ability and complete the required documentation to have the loan reclassified as a grant, and the amount forgiven.  

 

Respectfully Submitted,

 

Philip Wuthrich 
Congregation President,  on behalf of the Church Council

 

Carol Koenig,  Secretary 

 

 

 

This concludes the two items that needed to come before the Voter’s Assembly at this Special Called Meeting.

I apologize  for the length of this email, but felt it was important to provide you all the information that we have.    Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need additional information or have a question.  If you want to contact Ken Johse directly on the loan his email is:    kennethjohse [at] sbcglobal [dot] net  

 

Pastor will send out a special email on Sunday, June 14th to supply the steps to cast your vote when you are ready.     The deadline to cast your vote is end of day Tuesday, June 16th.

 

Thank you for all you do for our Congregation.

 

Philip Wuthrich