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Pr. Lenny's Semi-Annual Meeting Report

Listen to Pr. Lenny's report from the Semi-Annual Meeting of the Congregation on Sunday. He updates us on all things Jubilee and shares exciting data and insights on this emerging ministry. Follow along on the transcript below:

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Tim Dahlin, CLT President:
Up next, if we have a report from Pastor Lenny regarding Jubilee collective.

Pr. Lenny Duncan:
Hello. Hello.

Tim Dahlin, CLT President:
Hi

Pr. Lenny Duncan:
Oh, thank you so much.

Tim Dahlin, CLT President:
Morning.

Pr. Lenny Duncan:
So good morning. Incredible job putting together a congregational meeting under really strange circumstances. So, like, I don't know why no one else has held that up for you guys, but I'm going to hold that and reflect that back. Way to bring us all together, really cool to see the gallery view.

Pr. Lenny Duncan:
Hi, everyone. I never met yet. How's it going? A year later, I am the Reverend Lenny Duncan. I am the mission developer, pastor here at Messiah Lutheran Church, which is where my letter of call originates.

Pr. Lenny Duncan:
So I serve as a co pastor with Kathy and Peter, and I do all the weird stuff that they just don't know about or don't do. And I want to tell you a little bit about what that's been like. Not going to go through the whole report, I will say this.

Pr. Lenny Duncan:
2020 was perhaps the most challenging circumstances I have ever experienced as a called an ordained minister, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, as a father, as a husband, as a patriot.

Pr. Lenny Duncan:
And so it's a hard thing to plant a church in the midst of all that. And what I'm so grateful to report to you is that we have a church y'all. Not only do we have a church, we have a church that's so alive I can't control it. It is beyond me. And that's how I know it's the Holy Spirit. So I'm going to tell you a little bit about what's going on, give you some highlights and even some stuff that's not in the report that I think is going to be really cool. So I'm just going to give it to you by the numbers you know, by the grace of God, we're still moving along, evolving and changing and becoming something beautiful. I don't know what it is. Sometimes I feel like I have a hold of it and it changes in front of my eyes and I just try and kick back and watch it. But by the numbers, just on a fundraising level, just to give you some sense, there is business of the church. And I'm glad that Doug pointed that out, because we do have some realities that we have to face, too, in 2021. And the church leadership team has done an incredible job of doing that. And I got to tell you, as a young minister, I've just been along for the ride and taking copious notes from Kathy and Peter and the church leadership team. Kudos to Mark, Doug, Tim. I mean, you know, tons of other people I know I'm not naming because I'm just goofy like that, but just kudos for the work that they've done in particular in the last couple of months.

Pr. Lenny Duncan:
But, you know, just on a fundraising level, you know, I fundraise--So I was going to look for a place to for us all the worship in downtown and have a storefront ministry.

Pr. Lenny Duncan:
But then there was a global pandemic and I had to react very quickly and thank God for God and thank God for the people in Messiah, because I put out a call and I said, hey, I think I'm going to turn it into a mobile ministry that I'll be able to drive around and reach out to people in a time when a lot of other churches aren't doing it safely or at all.

Pr. Lenny Duncan:
And I--safety was the number one thing. I wanted to take this seriously. I read the signs. I read the numbers. I mean, you know, and let's just be honest, the average age a member of an ELCA member is above sixty five. Right. And so I had to take it very seriously. I was a vector.

Pr. Lenny Duncan:
And so I thought, how can I still do all the things I want to do? How do I stand with the prisoner? How do I walk with the poor? How do I feed the homeless? How do I close the naked? How do I do all that in this time?

Pr. Lenny Duncan:
And then I came up with the idea of putting it all in the van and you all stepped up.

Pr. Lenny Duncan:
I raised twenty eight thousand dollars so far. There's thirty six thousand pledged. The van is totally paid for. It's fully equipped right now where I could do anything from, feed a couple hundred homeless people to have a worship in front of your front yard if you requested it. And that request is always out there. Just email me and we'll do something for five, ten minutes. We'll bring you some communion and a safe space. We'll make it all good for you. All of these things are all inside the van. It's you got to see it. It's an incredible investment in our future. So what is this van done? Well, it ran one week's resupply to ninety six migrant families when the sky was on fire. I don't know if you remember that week. It's been a rough year,

Tim Dahlin, CLT President:
[chuckles]

Pr. Lenny Duncan:
But the week that the sky was on fire, your love was going down. The migrant families who had no paperwork and just couldn't get help. Right. And we made sure that they were fed and taken care of. We've done four hundred hours of pastoral care downtown in Esther Short Park, direct connections with people who might not have experienced Jesus Christ. We didn't talk to him. We helped the city of Portland put together the official interfaith memorial service for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who, by the way, was not my favorite justice. I'm more of a Scalia guy. I'm a constitutionalist, but we'll move on.

Pr. Lenny Duncan:
It was a relief vehicle for several peaceful interfaith protests throughout the area. We provided a COVID-safe Halloween for dozens of downtown Vancouver families. And what I didn't put in the report is that over 70 percent of them were BIPOC families. We distributed 30 new cell phones to families all throughout the area--and by BIPOC, I mean: black, indigenous or person of color families. So a different demographic than we usually see. We distributed cell phones to 30 families just this Christmas, and we've had over one hundred and fifty contacts, interactions and pastoral care sessions just through the van.

Pr. Lenny Duncan:
Worship by the numbers looking real good. We average we now average worship attendance of one hundred and fifty seven people, which is huge for a new church. I want to, but those numbers and I've done a lot of digital ministry, I just kind of want to focus in on that and give you like my experience as someone who's done this a couple of times. I think what that really means is that if we were in-person, we would have 20 to 50 people showing up in worship. And some days my little storefront church would feel real full and my heart would feel like I was doing the right thing. And other days there'd be about ten of us and I'd be real sad and we'd have a lot of people who would watch us online.

Pr. Lenny Duncan:
And I think the online component is something in the future that we're going to be able to flex in a way that other communities around the country are going to not only want to do; I think we're going to be the prototype for the future. And I have some stuff to share about that.

Pr. Lenny Duncan:
Our community impact has been huge. I was recently elected the vice president of the Vancouver, Washington NAACP. That puts me in direct contact with people in Clark County as a religious leader on your behalf, talking to the county commissioners, spending some time with the mayor, spending some time with all of those in charge and talking about queer community and how we as people of Christ can accept them more in Clark County. It's an incredible opportunity. There have been two NPR articles, the Colombian article. But I just want to leave you with a final word 2020 is going to have its challenges ahead, is going to have its ups and downs. But there's also incredible opportunities. Just revolutionary seminary this year alone, we've had seventy five people show up for a class for eight weeks and turn in homework every week. I mean, it's the middle of a global pandemic and people are turning in papers to me. They're so excited for this. We might have a financial sponsorship to take revolutionary seminary on a national level. There's like a seminary that might want to sponsor us.

Pr. Lenny Duncan:
But more importantly.

No matter how big Jubilee Collective gets, the impact it has on the ground in Vancouver, Washington, is absolutely wonderful. And what I say in my report is like this Jubilee collective is not for everyone, but for some people in your town, it's everything. It's the only church they've ever felt safe. It's the only church they've come to in years. I got to tell you, this new ministry, I wanted it to be like fun and not heavy for me, but it's full of people who are wounded from the church. I have 4 or 5 ex-pastors. I have 5 or 6 worship ministers. These are people who grew up in your town.

Your neighbors.

Who were real hurt by the church and for some reason, they feel safe with us. I don't know why we've become that for so many people, but I'm so grateful to hold that for this community for as long as I can. It probably means I'm going to have to flex some things financially. It might mean that I have to go on a more part-time basis. When we look at 2022, there are some challenges ahead financially for everyone in the nation. I'm lucky I'm a writer. I do pretty well as a writer. I think I might be able to stay with you all for a long time to come. And the money might not be a problem. But I do want to say we are going to have to think entrepreneurially. We're going to have to think about the future. We're going to have to think about maybe different configurations of ministry and how we share this ministry and how we lift up laypeople. You, all of you, who care enough on a Sunday afternoon on church to listen to me ramble three minutes longer than I'm supposed to. How do we empower you to be the leaders of the church in the future? So thank you for your time, all the stuff in the report. I'm just glad I got through it without crying.

Tim Dahlin, CLT President:
Thank you, Pastor Lenny.

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Special thanks to Pr. Lenny for his outstanding report.

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