Please join as we worship and interact virtually during Holy Week and Easter.
Invitations to the Zoom events will be in our email newsletters for security reasons.
Watch your inbox and the website for a meditation on Salvador Dali’s painting of the Last Supper written by Alice Schultze.
Gather on Zoom at 7 p.m. for a brief worship service with Holy Communion. To participate in Holy Communion, be sure to have some bread and either wine or grape juice at hand before we begin.
Watch your inbox and our YouTube channel (Esperanza Lutheran Church – Ahwatukee) for a service of the Stations of the Cross, with a message and prayer by Bishop Deborah Hutterer and readings by Fiesta Conference pastors, produced by Pastor Christine Stoxen and the staff at Holy Trinity, Chandler. This will be available for viewing beginning at noon on Good Friday.
A recorded Easter service will be available on our YouTube channel beginning at 12:00am on Easter day.
Gather on Zoom at 10 a.m. for a brief worship service with Holy Communion to be followed by coffee hour. To participate in Holy Communion, be sure to have some bread and either wine or grape juice at hand before we begin.
We’re hearing from all sides that we will not be going back to an unchanged world after the immediate threat of the novel coronavirus passes. A lot of things will be different. It will take a while for people to get comfortable with physical contact—even the casual proximity we took for granted in the past. We’ll be on edge when we hear about any new strain of pathogen, anywhere in the world. Stores and restaurants are hard hit by this pause in business activity, and some undoubtedly won’t reopen. And, for many of us, our financial situation won’t return to what it was before—at least not quickly.
The landscape will be different in ways we can, and in ways we cannot, predict.
Individuals can alter some of the damage from this outbreak—by ordering more take-out from a favorite restaurant, for example. But the changes that may happen on a macro level are beyond our reach.
Still, one place where you can have a real impact is your church: Esperanza Lutheran Church. Your financial contributions are vital if Esperanza is going to come through this critical time looking fundamentally as it did going in.
For some of us, making a difference means keeping up with a pledge we’ve already made. For those of us who haven’t pledged, it could mean committing to giving regularly and generously starting now. Some of us may even find we’re in a position to give above and beyond for these few months—perhaps, as a couple of people have mentioned, by diverting money saved on restaurant meals not eaten, or classes not taken or entertainment that’s temporarily unavailable.
This time is a challenging time, a time for each of us to shine with renewed intentionality and cheerful generosity. Now is the time for each of us to recommit to supporting Esperanza with our gifts of treasure, gifts that will help ensure the future of our church.
As soon as we get the “all clear” we want to be able to open our doors and return to joyful weekly worship, meaningful learning, impactful service efforts, and enriching fellowship. And, importantly, we want to be in a position to call a new pastor who will help to carry our life and spirit into the next season of Esperanza’s ministry.
So, even though we cannot gather together in our sanctuary, we can still make our offering to our church. Here’s how:
First consider writing your check and mailing it to the church each week. Our mail is still being picked up and your check will be deposited that same week.
Second, consider using your online banking to send your check. If you set up a monthly bill payment your gift will be sent automatically.
Third, utilize Vanco, a faith-based payment system, which automatically withdraws your gift from your bank account and transfers it to Esperanza. Print the authorization form, fill it out and return it to Joni in the church office with a blank, voided check attached.
If you have questions or concerns about Esperanza’s finances, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with someone on the Finance Team: John Gemma, Herb Pinske, Rocky Armfield, Robert Elsaesser, or Mark Entsminger.
If you have questions or concerns about what’s happening at Esperanza in general, please get in touch with Pastor Carol (firstname.lastname@example.org) or a council member. Council members are Michelle Tinsley, Rachael Hanania, Peggy Wagner, Doris Dorwart, Jessica Mueller, Liz Farquhar, Robert Elsaesser, Herb Pinske, and Paul Gerrish. If you need contact information for any of these folks, please call me at 224-422-9552 or Joni Thorpe in the office at 480-759-1515.
May God keep you safe and in good spirits. May this be a time of growth in faith for you. And may God keep our church strong and united.
The Site Profile Team continues to move forward with completing our work in support of the pastoral call process. Last week we completed three live, online sessions and one for the youth in our congregation, which were designed to gather input for our pastoral call. Thank you to everyone who attended the sessions. Our goal is to provide several ways to gather feedback, guaranteeing that everyone who wishes to contribute may provide input.
Today, we are happy to announce the Online Site Profile Survey. This survey provides everyone in our community the opportunity to provide feedback in the call process. The survey has several questions that helps us provide an in-depth view of our history, our community and our needs. Your thoughts are valuable and critical as we continue on this journey, and we encourage everyone—even those who participated in the Zoom sessions—to complete the survey. The survey can be completed on your laptop, tablet or smartphone.
The Ministry Site Profile Team is hard at work, completing the ministry site profile. Thanks to all of you who participated in the zoom calls last week. If you were not able to be on one of those calls, no worries, soon we will be providing alternatives for you to provide your feedback. We would like to now start putting the call team together so we are ready to start the process soon after we can all be together again.
If you are interested in being part of the call committee, please read the information below and email Rachael Hanania at email@example.com by April 26, 2020, regardless of whether you have already notified another person of your interest.
The significance of serving on a call committee
Serving on a Call Committee is an opportunity to serve your church community, putting your faith in action by using your unique gifts. Many people report that serving on a Call Committee turned out to be one of the most important experiences they ever had as members of a congregation. It allowed them to witness firsthand how the Holy Spirit works through committed Christians to help the church be faithful to its calling.
How the call committee will be selected
The Call Committee is made up of six voting members plus two alternates.
The council will ask for nominees, but it is possible that some nominees may not be selected because the Call Committee must represent all groups that combine to form the congregation.
The list of nominees, approved by the counsel, will be presented to the congregation for a vote.
Who should be on the call committee?
People of prayer. The call process is Spirit-led, and members are expected to be in prayer daily throughout the entire process.
Willing to commit. The process can take a year or longer and members must be able to attend every interview.
Faithful. Call Committee members need to be people who are spiritually discerning, good listeners, and willing to trust a process.
Discreet. Members must be able to maintain appropriate confidentiality.
Who cannot be on the call committee?
No ordained ministers (active or retired)
No staff members or family members of staff members
No family members of church council members
No two people related to one another can serve together
After the Call Committee is selected, the Bishop will meet the Call Committee to provide information on the call process.
The annual election is coming up in May. At that time, two of our leaders will be going off council: Rachael Hanania and Jessica Mueller. Please consider using your uniquely individual gifts in service to our community at this exceptionally challenging and exciting time. To place your name in nomination or to get your questions answered, contact Council President Michelle Tinsley or Pastor Carol.
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
If these words ring true and you are able to give during these times of uncertainty, you may be wondering how you can still give cheerfully while maintaining social distancing. Here are a few ways to easily and safely send your contributions to Esperanza.
1. First consider writing your check and mailing it to the church each week. Our mail is still being picked up and your check will be deposited that same week.
2. Second, consider using your online banking to send your check. If you set up a monthly bill payment your gift will be sent automatically.
3. Third, utilize Vanco, a faith-based payment system, which automatically withdraws your gift from your bank account and transfers it to Esperanza. Print the Vanco authorization fill it out and return it to Joni in the church office with a blank, voided check attached.
We are also working on a giving button for the website. When it is ready we will let you know!
We’re underway with the online meetings we’ve set up to take the place of the day-long discernment workshop that had been set for March 22. Pastor Miguel Gomez-Acosta from the Grand Canyon Synod office is leading groups through a three-part look at Esperanza’s past, present, and dreamed-for future.
Last Sunday, March 22, was the first meeting. Thirteen people participated in the meeting, with three more listening in to capture notes. It was a great conversation and a productive meeting. Particularly interesting: Pastor Miguel shared Esperanza’s “trend report” that shows changes in such things as baptized membership, worship attendance, and our financial situation over the last eight years. Particularly encouraging was the response to his question: If money, volunteers, and time were unlimited, what do you dream Esperanza could do?
This morning, 11 of us engaged in an interesting and in-depth conversation, and 15 are scheduled for Sunday, March 29 (9 a.m.-noon). There’s room for more! Register by emailing Pastor Carol at firstname.lastname@example.org or call or text her at 224-422-9552.
The thoughts shared in these meetings will feed into the writing of the Ministry Site Profile, which is the document the bishop shares with potential pastoral candidates for Esperanza. The Ministry Site Profile will be available for the congregation to read before it goes to the bishop.
New Facebook Group
For those of you who are on Facebook, we have a new group called Non-news Esperanza. News updates get posted on our official Friends of Esperanza page, which is public. This new group is visible only to members of the group and is intended to be what Liz Farquhar called a “virtual coffee hour”—a chance to stay connected, post photos, request prayer, and share mood-elevating inspirational messages, videos, and funny stuff. To join, just type “Non-news Esperanza” in the search bar, go to the group, and click “join group.”
Not on Facebook? No interest in being on Facebook? You can sign up for free and just do this one group, then deactivate your account when we can all get back together. Just a thought.
For this Sunday, March 29, we will not try to do any kind of online worship because we have the meeting with Pastor Miguel. The plan is to get something out to everyone on Saturday night so it’s available for you when you want it.
What exactly we’ll be offering week-to-week going forward is in flux. We do want to maximize opportunities to connect.
Hi, Esperanzans and old and new friends of Esperanza!
Your church council met last night via Zoom and we have some updates and very important information to share with you.
Discernment Meetings with Pastor Miguel
First up is a new format to go forward with discernment meetings with Pastor Miguel Gomez-Acosta from the Grand Canyon Synod staff. Pastor Miguel was going to lead an all-day workshop for us this coming Sunday, but, of course, that’s out. So, instead, he’s offering a three-hour online meeting, which will be available three times (identical meetings).
These meetings will be limited to 20 people to allow for conversation. All you’ll need to have to participate is a computer with a camera and microphone and an internet connection. We’ll send details for how to sign on to participants ahead of the date of the meeting.
Dates are Sunday, March 22, 9:00-noon; Thursday, March 26, 10:00-noon; and Sunday, March 29, 9:00-noon.
Sign up by emailing me at email@example.com. If requests for a particular day exceed 20, I’ll get back to you to ask about an alternate date.
Realizing that a 3-hour online meeting might not sound like much fun under other circumstances, I hope you’ll see this the way one council member does. She said, “I think hanging out with people from church for three hours sounds great! It’s an event!” Plus it’s a great way to invest in Esperanza’s future, as the information gathered will help our Ministry Site Profile Team as we move the process along toward calling a new pastor.
The plan through the rest of Lent is for me to develop something for each Wednesday and Sunday that will be a mix of scripture, meditation, prayer, maybe music…hoping to be a little bit creative. We’ll recognize Holy Week and Easter as well.
But, then, we’ll plan to do a full Easter celebration two to three weeks after we’re able to resume in-person worship. The two to three weeks is to give us time to prepare some music, maybe Easter breakfast, an egg hunt, etc. Technically every Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection anyway; we’ll just go big one week.
Caring for One Another
The council will be calling members to ask who could use some help, who can give some help, and whether people are getting news updates via the newsletter. We’ll compile a list of people able to offer assistance to others, and that list will be available to me, to Joni (our parish administrator), and to members of council. We’ll be able to update it in real time to prevent the same one or two people from getting all the help requests.
If you’re able to pick up some groceries or prescriptions or whatever’s needed for someone who can’t or shouldn’t go out, please let us know when you’re called. Then, if you later become unable for a time, you can let us know that as well and we’ll pause you on the list.
I plan to do some online confirmation instruction (though probably not in a class format).
Thursday Matters will try meeting via Zoom beginning April 2 at 9:30am.
Watch for information about Children of Hope Preschool, which is closed at present.
So … our expenses as a congregation go on even when worship gatherings aren’t going on. We will likely be able to reduce some expenses, but many will remain. And many of our members and regular attenders make their donations to church by bringing their envelopes when they come on Sundays.
You’re probably already ahead of me on this, but: We, as a congregation, need you, as a part of the congregation, to continue your generous donations to support the ongoing and future ministry of Esperanza Lutheran Church.
Esperanza is in a particularly vulnerable stretch here—between regularly called pastors and now enduring this pandemic along with everyone else. We want to assure that we can keep things going as much as possible, including such things as the call process, and also be prepared to jump back in with energy when in-person worship and other ministries get the green light to start up again.
Speaking to everyone at Esperanza on behalf of everyone else at Esperanza, I strongly encourage you to keep up your regular giving. You can do that in one of these three ways:
mail your offering to Esperanza Lutheran Church, 2601 E. Thunderhill Pl., Phoenix, AZ 85048 (seal your envelope in some way other than licking it, please)
sign up for automatic giving through Vanco (email Joni Thorpe at esperanza@myesperanza or call the church office at 480-759-1515 to ask for a sign-up form)
set up your donations as an automatic bill-pay via the online option with your bank
You are an important part of keeping our church strong through this challenging time.
Church Council will be meeting every two weeks, at least for a while, as events and advice from government health authorities change from day to day. Please get in touch with any questions, thoughts, and, especially, needs you may have. And please stay in touch with your friends and neighbors.
“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” –Philippians 2:1-1
What’s On and What’s Off for Now as We Do Our Part for a Healthy Community
Deborah Hutterer, bishop of the Grand Canyon Synod of the ELCA, sent out the following this morning:
“Having prayerfully considered our current situation with respect to COVID-19, in conversation with bishops from the wider church, and in light of the quickly evolving nature of this pandemic, I am recommending that all ELCA congregations in the Grand Canyon Synod, regardless of location or number of congregants, suspend public worship gatherings, events and meetings beginning immediately until at least April 1, possibly longer.”
We will follow this clear guidance and suspend worship services, Bible studies, and all other gatherings for now. If you are part of a small group and choose to meet, please plan to meet somewhere other than at church.
We will find ways to support one another, including sharing devotions and updates electronically. Please stay in touch with friends and fellow Esperanzans by phone. Please feel free to call Pastor Carol at any time with concerns, prayer requests, and updates. (We’ll make sure members have her cell number.)