Friday, January 01, 2016

Levels of Giving

In the fall of 2013, Lutheran Campus Ministry of Southwest Minnesota State University launched a level of giving program in the hopes to increase our giving. It was instituted in the beginning of 2014. Thus, we have two years under our belt and are going into our third year. I am going to share with you the giving levels and then share with you how many are in each category and then ask you if you will join our team.

We named our levels in comparison to "levels" of schooling since we are at a university.

Church Levels

Graduates: $ 2,500 +
Seniors: $1,000 - $2,499
Juniors: $500 - $999
Sophomore: $250 - $499
Freshman: $1 - $249

Individual Levels

Graduates: $1,000 +
Seniors: $500 - $999
Juniors: $250 - $499
Sophomore: $100 - $249
Freshman: $1 - $99

Church that Give

Graduates: 1 in 2015 and 3 in 2014
Seniors: 1 in 2015 and 3 in 2014
Juniors: 4 in 2015 and 10 in 2014
Sophomores: 1 in 2015 and 8 in 2014
Freshman: 24 in 2015 and 25 in 2014

Individuals that Give

Graduates: 0 in 2015 and 0 in 2014
Seniors: 1 in 2015 and 1 in 2014
Juniors: 1 in 2015 and 1 in 2014
Sophomores: 3 in 2015 and 4 in 2014
Freshman: 5 in 2015 and 9 in 2015

In 2014, we had 49 churches give and 15 individuals give. In 2015, we took a step back and received gifts from 31 churches and 10 individuals.

We are needing to step up our donors in 2016. We want to ask you to join our team of givers. Great things are occurring in the ministry and to keep the momentum going; we need finances and in addition to our donations down this year; we will be losing some of our grant money.

If you want to know more about our ministry and what is happening on campus; please let me know. I would love to share with you some of the great things occurring. Thanks for your prayers and consideration.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Our Adoption Story

The journey that we are sharing with you today is one that expands over two years. If we take a look back, the journey is really one of over five years, but we will begin with the journey starting in September of 2013.

Stacey and myself began to take foster to adopt training classes in September of 2013. Stacey and the kids had only been in Minnesota with me for about three months. We had taken the classes in both Ohio and Indiana so they story of adopting was one that we have been very familiar with for a long time.

In September and October 2013, we took the 36 hours of training that is necessary from the state to be able to foster or adopt children. After the classes, there was plenty of paperwork to fill out and there was components of the house that we needed to do to make sure that it would pass home inspections.

After five months, we received our foster care license with the approval to enter into the adoption process. The paperwork was processed and approved on March 27th, 2014. Thus, it took us approximately six months to get our license after we started class.

On April 15th, 2014, we had a meeting in our home with our caseworker and the county caseworker to map out a plan for adoption. Stacey and myself had already done extensive research; even before our classes and showed them ten to fifteen families that we were interested in that were currently in the Minnesota Foster Care System.

We were a little shocked with the resistance that we received and all the no's and wall blocks that seemed to come from the county and state and them not wanting to pursue any of the children that we were willing to open our home to. Some of them, were sibling groups up to three, which we were approved to but there was no movement. In the meantime, we did open our home up to various children who needed temporary placement.

Summer of 2014, we started to make inquiries about children outside of the state through Adopt US KIDS. We were amazed at how many caseworkers from other states were very interested in our family and was sending information to our caseworker for us to review.

We were successful in adopting through Adopt US Kids and here is the story of how Summer entered our house and officially became Summer Elizabeth Greathouse on Wednesday, December 16th, 2015.

Here is the 14 month timeline after our inquiry:

On August 12th 2014, we made an inquiry om a brother and sister from Kentucky. Through Adopt US Kids, we made inquires on children in states that we had lived in. Our thinking, maybe wrongly, was that this could/would make the child more comfortable with us because we had once lived where they lived.

On September 2, 2014, our matching study paperwork was submitted. The matching paper being submitted meant that the agency in Kentucky, after reviewing our home study thought that we might be a suitable home for the children. The children at the time was 15 and 16, so they had the ability to choose during this process as well.

On September 8, 2014, Summer's brother decided that he did not want to leave Kentucky and chose not to enter the adoption process. We were uncertain what this really meant for the process.

On September 10, 2014, our caseworker came over to show us her "file" and share with us her life story. We learned everything anyone could ever want to know. We won't share those details with the obvious exception that over time, both of her parents had parental rights terminated and that is why she was in the foster care system looking for a forever family.

On September 17, 2014, we informed our caseworker and the Kentucky agency that we were still interested after previewing her paperwork.

On October 9, 2014, Summer met with her case worker and after previewing our family study and understanding that her brother did not want to be adopted gave the county the green light to begin the adoption process.

On October 21, 2014, the first step was completed when Summer filed separation papers from her brother so she could be adopted.

On December 11th, 2014, the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children was completed. This process seemed to take forever as all the paper work flew back and forth from Minnesota to Kentucky.

On January 16th - 18th, 2015, Stacey and myself traveled to Kentucky to meet Summer. We were in Kentucky for 48 hours. On Friday afternoon, we met the team that worked with her: teachers, counselors, foster mom, therapist and caseworkers. On Friday night, we met with her at her foster home. On Saturday, we spent the whole day together. On Sunday, we went to church and then lunch and this is the selfie she took and captures the first time we were together.

On February 6-8, 2015, the whole family traveled to Kentucky to meet her. We picked her up from school and went to a cabin at the state park. It was simply an opportunity for us to spend the weekend together and see how we "gelled". It was also an opportunity to see how the four kids would respond to one another; not that you can tell everything in 48 hours. Here is the first photo that we snapped of all four of them together.

On February 9, 2015, the Kentucky cabinet called to ask how the weekend went and to see if we were still wanting to move forward in the process. We said yes.

On February 27 - March 6, 2015, Summer visited us in Minnesota for a week. This was her opportunity to see where we lived and how our lives work in a "normal" week of life. We were concerned how the week would go, especially with Isaiah, Jacob and Bethany in school and her not being in school. The visit seemed to go well.

On March 9, 2015, I was in New Orleans for a mission trip with Lutheran Campus Ministry when I received a phone call from Kentucky. The phone call was to inform us that Summer would be placed in our home. Here is a photo from where I was at in NOLA when I received the news.

On April 3, 2015, we picked Summer up and signed the paper work for her to be placed in our home and for us to begin the process of adoption. The placement had occurred but much was still needed to be done prior to her officially being adopted. Official adoption could not take place until she was with us for six months.

On April 5, 2015 (Easter Sunday 2015),  here is the picture of us together for the first time in our home church (at that time), St. Stephen Lutheran in Marshall, MN.

We were told that you have to wait six months to petition the courts, so the clock began to tick and the calendar days were flipped; albeit slowly.

On September 2, 2015, we were able to meet with the lawyers to begin all the legal documentation that needed to occur. There were still a lot of i's to be dotted and t's to be crossed. By now, you would think that we would not be surprised at this, but we were.

On October 7, 2015, we were informed that all paper work had been officially submitted at the courthouse and the adoption would be occurring soon.

On October 20, 2015, the lawyer called us to confirm that we had a court date. The date would be Wednesday, November 4th at 1:45 pm.

On November 3, 2015, Our lawyer gave us a call to let us know that the adoption would NOT occur on the next day because the state of Kentucky did not send the original paper works. They sent copies. We need to have the original birth certificate and the original termination. They were gone for the day, so no answers on why this occurred. This is just unbelievable.

On November 12th, 2015, our lawyer contacted us and told us that the official paperwork had arrived and that the new adoption date would be December 16th, 2015.

December 16th, 2015 at 3:45 pm, we walked into the courtroom and adopted Summer Elizabeth Greathouse.

Here is the photo of us in the courthouse minutes after it was official with the lawyer and judge.

Thus, 20 months after our license got approved, we welcomed a 16 year old daughter into our home; well, technically, she will not be 16 till Christmas Eve.

Welcome to this crazy family Summer Elizabeth Greathouse. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Grace First

I cannot believe that I have been at Grace First for four weeks. It has been a very busy YET fantastic four weeks. Worship attendance has been up, worship committee has been formed, confirmation has started and there seems to be excitement in the air.

I am still working on my schedule. Scheduling with the university chaplain position and the solo position at Grace first plus schooling (CPE) is definitely making the hours push up there but for the time being, I am managing.

Last Sunday was the first time that I presided over Holy Communion as the Vicar and on staff with them. We (I) decided that we would do communion in a manner that they had never done before. I think that overall it went well. I tried to create a hybrid of what both congregations were use to. Thus, we had individuals come up to receive the elements after the initial liturgy and then they returned to their seats and we finished the liturgy (words of institution) and took the bread and the wine (grape juice) together.

This Sunday, we have a baptism. The baptism will be the first for me at Grace First and it will also be officially the first baptism as the united Grace First Parish.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Just Call Me ... Vicar ?

This morning, I made the official announcement that I have resigned from St. Stephen Lutheran Church (Marshall, Minnesota). For the last three years, I have been in a ministry position with St. Stephen and Lutheran Campus Ministry of SMSU. They created  a full time ministry position three years ago and I am forever grateful that I was given the opportunity to serve in Marshall, a town that I had never heard of before coming up for the interview. Even though I am resigning from St. Stephen, I am remaining in Marshall.

Lutheran Campus Ministry has also dissolved the partnership agreement with St. Stephen and I am remaining with LCM as their chaplain and forever grateful for this ministry opportunity. I absolutely love life on SMSU and the students that I have the honor to walk alongside with.

So, what am I am doing and what is with the title of this post ?

Here is some of the background ....

In March, Lutheran Campus Ministry of Southwest Minnesota State University had our review. Every three years, the ministry gets reviewed by the Lutheran Campus Ministry State Board President, representatives from the synod (ELCA), and a peer. In the review, we take a look at our ministry and invite students, student leaders, faculty, staff and ELCA pastors to the table. the review went really well. The review got the ball rolling for me to enter into the candidacy process.

With me already having a masters degree in ministry and with me being ordained in the background that I grew up, my journey will be  little different than those who are "just" coming out of college and walking their path of ordination.

Thus, I am blessed that I am going to be able to remain as the Chaplain as SMSU and I am going to be placed and called the "Vicar" at Grace First in Russell, Minnesota. Grace First is a church that has been formed with two churches merging: Grace Lutheran (ELCA) and First Presbyterian (PCUSA).

The term ....

The vicar is the vicarious symbol of the church, or better defined as a representative of a church. The term has since come to have many fine distinctions about a church leader or minister. It can also designate the status or training of a person working in a ministerial capacity in a church.

As I serve these two ministries, I will be pursuing my ordination in the ELCA.

Below are a few pictures of the town and the church:

The town of Russel is 15 miles from our house in Marshall

A welcome sign coming into the town

The Russell sign if traveling by the railroad system

The Church that I will be serving

The "old" church sign in front of the building

The church building - Grace First

The view of the town from the church parking lot
SMSU students at Grace First in April
Thus, let the journey begin. My last day at St. Stephen will be on Monday, August 31st. I will start my CPE (Clinical Pastoral  Experience) on September 8th. Then I will supply preach at Grace First on Sunday, September 13th and then officially start on Wednesday, September 16th.

We (our family) are still going to be connected to St. Stephen in many ways and LCM will still be involved in numerous ways as well. St. Stephen is one of our biggest supporters and we are so thankful for their generosity.

To close, here is my official resignation letter:

St. Stephen Lutheran Church Council:
I am writing this letter to you today to inform you that I am resigning from St. Stephen Lutheran church as the Youth Director, with the effective date of August 31st.  I have enjoyed the last three years at St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Marshall. St. Stephen has truly been a great place to serve.
In March, Lutheran Campus Ministry of Marshall conducted their tri-annual review. The review went extremely well. Since the review, I have been in conversation with the campus ministry board, the synod office, seminaries and multiple organizations. I have decided that I am going to enter into candidacy in the ELCA.

On September 8th, I am going to begin my Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) in Sioux Falls. In addition to the CPE this fall, I will remain as chaplain at Lutheran Campus Ministry. I will also be placed at Grace First in Russel as their “called Vicar” (solo minister) on September 15th.  In January, after my reviews, I will continue to serve these two positions while fulfilling my educational obligations from Wartburg Seminary in Iowa.
I am very excited and very nervous as I enter into this new adventure. I would appreciate your prayers. St. Stephen will remain steadfast in my prayers. We will remain in the community and hopefully remain connected to St Stephen, if permissible. Bethany would continue through confirmation, Isaiah would continue to teach Sunday School and Jacob would continue to play in the band on their weeks of responsibility. As a parent, I would love to be a chaperon on trips, if schedule permits.

In Christ,

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Block

Earlier today, I wrote an article for the website that I work for AOSN and it dealt with JayVaughn's block. Did you see it / Here is the story: The Block

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Kentucky Wildcats Shine

The University of Kentucky basketball team dominated their competition on Tuesday night. They played the # 5 team in the nation (Kansas) and took them to the woodshed.

They have done it by implementing a platoon system. I am writing for AOSN and you can find my insights on the system and game there.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Saira Blair

Saira Blair becomes the Youngest Lawmaker in the US and also probably will be the most misspelled one. I hope that individuals will pick up on her spelling quickly and not spell it wrong.

Congrats on being the youngest. I grew up in West Virginia, so it was nice to see a positive article coming out of the state. I have been out of the state more years than Saira has been alive :)

Great job on running the campaign out of your dorm room. Good Luck and may you make a change.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Breastfeeding & The Eucharist

This morning, an article came across my Facebook news feed that I wanted to share on my blog. Here it is: Breastfeeding and the Eucharist.

One of the many lines that stood out to me was the following:

Through the breaking of the bread, God invites us into the nursing relationship: the meeting of all our needs.

May God meet your needs.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

MBA: Here I Come

In an hour, I begin my journey.

I will update tomorrow as we have two events occurring in 10 minutes before I head to class:

- serving at a local church
- grill out for the college students

Friday, January 10, 2014

Aimate: Faith Series

Today, the Animate DVD came in. Thus, I have popped it into the computer and am listening to it as I write this article and do an ad for the study. We are going to use the study for our Thursday morning study at the Campus Religious Center on the campus of Southwest Minnesota State University. Our ministry: Element 26 (Lutheran Campus Ministry) will be meeting for breakfast and then watching and discussing the series.

Here is the study:

January 23 - God | Faith is a Quest | Brian McLaren                                         

How can we chart a course through the often-murky waters of Christian tradition and find our way to God?

January 30 - Religion | Spirituality Is Not Enough | Lillian Daniel            

In this age of religious pluralism, is it possible or even desirable to stick with our age-old traditions?

February 6 - Jesus | The Revolution Of Love | Mark Scandrette                     

What does it mean to walk in the way of Jesus?

February 13 - Salvation | Abundant Life Now | Shane Hipps                          

The cross of Christ stands as a symbol of God’s saving work. But what, exactly, does it mean to be saved?

February 20 - Cross | Where God Is | Nadia Bolz-Weber                                                     

Our theories about the cross tell us as much about ourselves and our view of God as they do about Jesus and salvation.

February 27 - Bible | A Book Like No Other| Lauren Winner                         

Why read the Bible?

March 6 - Church| An Imperfect Family | Bruce Reyes-Chow                          

What does it mean to commit ourselves to the church family, for better or for worse?