On Sunday our church held our Annual Meeting. Annual Meeting is a time to take a look at the church's overall work of the past year and make the turn toward the year ahead. It is a time of taking seriously the task of looking at where we've been and holding that in tension with where we believe God is calling us in this new year.
As part of this year's Annual Meeting, a Behavioral Covenant was introduced to the wider congregation. To use the language our conference uses, "A Behavioral Covenant is a written document created by a community of faith, agreed to and owned by the community, and practiced on a daily basis as a spiritual discipline. It is a way of developing common language, common commitments, and an awareness of healthy behaviors that build community." In other words, our behavioral covenant at St. Paul puts into words the ways in which we are committed to being in relationship together. It is our plumbline for life together.
At Sunday's Annual Meeting, our behavioral covenant at St. Paul was adopted unanimously by those in attendance. It was then signed by every person at the Annual Meeting. That signed document is framed and sits in our sanctuary as a reminder to us of our shared covenant. This signing of the behavioral covenant will become a yearly exercise at our Annual Meetings go forward. It will be for us a yearly renewal of our covenant to do life together in life-giving, life-affirming ways.
This covenant is not meant to be something on the shelf, it is something you will hear in worship. It will be used as reflection and prayer to begin church meetings. We will do our best to ensure that the spirit of this covenant is reflected in our events and our gatherings, and extended to all who grace us with their presence. For in their presence with us, and our presence with one another, we will most surely find God.
On the covenant journey with you,
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Rev. Melissa Sternhagen
Rev. Melissa Sternhagen was called as the pastor of St. Paul Congregational UCC in June of 2020. Prior to her call to St. Paul, Pr. Melissa worked as a hospice chaplain in the Ames, IA area, following pastorates at rural churches in Central Iowa and Southern Illinois. Pr. Melissa is a second-career pastor with a background in agribusiness and production & supply operations. She received her M.Div. from Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, MO, and holds a MA Ed. in Adult Education and Training, and a BA in Organizational Communications.