State of the Church
This last fiscal year has been a year like no other. Not just because we celebrated the 50 year anniversary of Laurelwood in September, but because we started the fiscal year in a pandemic, and we are still in one! We went from doing services online (something we had never done), then to the parking lot, then gathering indoors in a limited capacity, to back online, and now finally gathering more in a “normal” context (whatever normal is these days).
On top of all that, Pastor Mike who has been leading and shepherding this church for 25 years, retired in April of 2021. We have begun the transition process to find “Pastor Next” while our interim pastor, Dennis Beatty, helps Laurelwood prepare for this next season. We are excited about the progress of the Search Team as well as the makeup of our new Elder Board as we look to the future of Laurelwood.
It has been quite a year, and on behalf of the Elders I want to thank you for your patience, your support, and your graciousness as we have navigated this challenging year. It has not been easy for any of us. Yet, through it all, God has been at work and has been shaping our church into who He wants it to be.
As you read this annual report, I pray you are encouraged at the amazing ministry that has continued to happen despite this being what might be the craziest year in the history of Laurelwood. God has been using people in this church and ministry has still been happening. It is exciting to see what has taken place even during a pandemic, and I want to thank you for being a part of the work that God is doing at Laurelwood.
Stephen Jones (Elder Chair)
Transitions With Our Interim Pastor
We are still in COVID Transition but things are beginning to change to open up our ministries. People are returning to the worship service in person! I have enjoyed getting to know the elders, the staff and the congregation. It is a joy to be here.
The search team is up and running and has met with CVNW (Church Venture Northwest) on two separate occasions for several hours. The elder council and the pastoral staff have shown great wisdom as we approach opening up the entire ministry post COVID. We don’t want to be the first, we don’t want to be the last, we want God‘s timing on opening each phase of the ministry.
As we search for Pastor next pray pray pray. Pray for your elders. Pray for your pastors. Pray for your search team members. Pray for your ministry leaders and pray for yours truly.
It’s a joy to serve your church. Gwyn and I have had so many positive conversations with the members of the church.
Blessings to you all,
by Pastor Kevin Kruse
This past year has been a challenge to pivot and adapt our worship services to the COVID-world we live in. We have had to be flexible and quick to make changes during this whole year, and I am so proud of how our church and our worship teams have risen to the challenge. From meeting 100% online, to parking lot services, to gathering in-person in limited capacity, to now a hybrid model, we continue to grow and explore new ways of doing church and being unified.
During the COVID season, we created a whole new category for the Worship Ministry: Production Team. We bought several remote cameras and invested in equipment that allows us to broadcast online at a quality level. We had to train a whole new group of people how to run all the production side of things (camera operators and live video feed via ProPresenter). I’m proud of the team that has stepped up to take on this new challenge.
Toward the end of this fiscal year, we had a couple big Sunday events: namely Easter Sunday followed by Pastor Mike’s Retirement service. A lot of work went into both those services and we had our highest attendance at those services since pre-Covid. Those Sundays were also a catalyst (I believe) for people to feel more comfortable gathering in-person as our in-person attendance has been growing each week.
by Syd Jones
This year has been a time of huge transition for the Men’s Ministry of Laurelwood. Leadership of the ministry has changed. Vision and goals have changed. Things beyond the ministry also caused changes within. As the pandemic-induced restrictions increased, we went from huge yearly external retreat of thousands of men to internal church retreat of less than a hundred men. We went from breakfasts out to breakfasts in. We went from close fellowship to not so close fellowship. We had to say goodbye to Pastor Mike. Masks, temperature checks and hand sanitizer became the norm whenever we met together. Meetings and Bible studies went electronic. All of these things, and more, have had a huge impact on how we have done ministry. It has challenged us to be more tech savvy and given us a deeper insight into how to reach younger men.
Even as the ministry adapted to the unfolding changes, it still kept its dedication to serving others. Our men helped people move. They worked at improving the appearance of the church. They helped at the children’s Trunk or Treat and the Easter Outreach. Our men kept growing in their knowledge of God and His Word through classes on mentorship, inductive Bible study, and the Men’s Fraternity 33 Series. Many of our men also improved their ability to be leaders in their own lives, at home, work, community, and church through the Leadership I and Leadership II courses. We have gone on hikes and hope to do more outdoor activities like this together. Some of our men even met new and interesting people. It has been an exciting year and we want to not only continue these elements of the ministry but expand our intergenerational flavor. We want to include youth in our planning team and are planning barbeques for our Youth Group. We also want to improve how we work with other ministries. We invite men of all ages to be a part of this ministry as we work together to glorify Jesus Christ in all we do.
- Resist Passivity
- Accept Responsibility
- Lead Courageously
- Invest Eternally
Like all ministries, Women’s Ministry was affected by COVID; most of our regular programs were put on hold as meeting together was not practical. Even so, during the 2020-21 ministry year we continued with our regular Bible Studies and more than doubled the number of offerings we had for women—from three to seven studies meeting weekly or bi-weekly both in person and over Zoom. We had many women join us for the first time in studying God’s Word together!
God also blessed us with a fabulous weekend in October at the Cannon Beach Conference center for our annual Women’s Retreat. We had 21 women who attended. There were many highlights: Hearing from speaker Carol Kent, ziplining through the trees, walking along the beach, and enjoying the company of other women.
by Pastor Luke Jech
Online Youth Group – During the initial months of pandemic, we were not allowed to meet in person for youth group. Luckily with some tech skills from Luke, and some creativity from our high school leaders, we were still able to have youth group online. We did games and teaching on Youtube, and small groups through Zoom. While we didn’t enjoy it as much as meeting in person together, God did some great things for our group during this time! The student leaders were so creative during this time by coming up with themed online youth group nights such as a magic show or a costume contest dance party!
Baptisms – On Easter Sunday we baptized nine people, including three youth group students and one young adult from our ministry. It was amazing to hear the testimonies that they shared about what God has done in their lives. There’s nothing better than to see young people give their lives to Christ and represent that with baptism!
Planning Team – Our high school student leaders planned a great year of youth group for our students. Through prayer and coaching, our planning team came up with teaching series including “Misconceptions About God,” “Mental & Spiritual Health,” and “Learning Basic Christianity.” The way our student leaders have planned out youth group has lead to many conversations about faith. They have done a great job this year helping students explore who God is and what it really means to follow Christ.
Summer Ministry – For Youth’s Ministry, summer is usually one of the busiest times of the year. This year was a lot more laid back as we unfortunately had to cancel summer camps due to the pandemic. However, the pandemic gave our ministry a chance to show students how much we loved and cared for them in the midst of difficult and disappointing times. Our ministry team held online youth groups, visiting families outside of their homes, and eventually got to meet in person again at the park. God showed our staff and our students how important relationships truly are. The first few weeks of youth group in the park students and staff spent almost the whole time talking and catching up with one another. They simply loved seeing each other again!
by John Rawson
Obviously, this year was a bit more challenging to serve our kids and families due to the COVID pandemic. BUT God is good, and gave us creative ideas to reach our kids and families for Christ. Here are a few of the highlights!
- We sent out over 1,500 pieces of “snail mail” to our kids. Inside were stickers, toys, and other object lessons that were accompanied by a brief lesson or note of encouragement. These were received with great enthusiasm by our children, and showed them that the church really cares for them. In fact, it was met with such success that we have continued to do this monthly.
- We could not do the Harvest Party this year, so we provided ‘Trunk ‘n Treat’ instead. The kids by October had had so many things taken away from them, that we wanted to provide ‘something’! Well, over 150 people attended the event, which went very smoothly.
- When some of the restrictions were lifted, we offered a weekly “Drop-In” time for ages 4 and up. Our sanctuary became a playland with soccer, dodgeball, table games, rings, balls, toys, and even floor hockey a couple of times. We let the kids choose their activities, provided a snack which became a great time for ‘teachable moments’, and then an organized activity to finish things off. Most importantly, one was able to see the absolute need of kids to be in community with one another, and this program helped provide that.
- Club 66 will not be stopped! At first services were offered through zoom, and then when safety protocols could be put in place, Club started meeting in person again. As always, Leng Halstead and her team did a GREAT job of providing this annual ministry to our kids.
- We could not have an easter egg hunt, so instead the Holy Spirit moved in a couple of workers to create “Journey to the Cross.” This activity was like trunk n treat, but instead showed the path that Jesus took in his last week in Jerusalem to save us all. This was so well received that we had at least 4 or 5 people ask if it would be an annual event.
- God is good indeed. We know of at least 3 children who accepted Christ as Savior when we were not doing in person services, and we baptized 5 children during Pastor Mike’s last church service with us!
Small Group Ministry “Wins” in 2020/21
by Crista Hagan
- Transfer of coordination/administration from Kevin to Crista.
- Getting other groups, besides the Hagans’, involved in service together in the community.
- Several very helpful conversations with other ministry leaders (in and out of LBC) that are helping Crista develop a new Small Groups “vision”
From Herman & Trang Chan’s Group
What a year it has been for small groups! But God is writing our story as we speak. At the beginning of the pandemic we raised money for a couple single moms who lost their jobs, we prayed for one another and helped each other out with meals and yard work as each of our families went through challenging times, we helped prepare meals for the elderly at Live Love Center, and last week we celebrated getting out of the wilderness and getting to gather in person again! But most of all we grew closer to God and to one another despite Zoom fatigue and social distancing. We look forward to the next chapter God is writing for our small group!
From John & Carly Wecks’ Group
Our small group was able to celebrate the send-off of Chris and Cheryl Ciufo and Wendy Snow to California, and Pastor Mike and Susan into retirement. We stayed connected on Zoom and some in-person. We enjoyed getting into God’s Word.
From Bob & Connie Russel’s Group
What a wonderful group of people! They love getting together to look at God’s Word together and pray for one another and have fellowship. Our plan is to have get-togethers in the park next door to LBC during the summer. We did this last year and it was really well received by everyone. Being retired people, they crave getting together in person for fellowship. The people in our group are really good at reaching out to their neighbors and friends. Two of our members asked for prayer this week for a neighbor and a friend who are not believers and they have plans to get together with them soon. Many of our people have a long history of reaching out and quietly meeting the needs of church friends and non-believers as well. We have a group of very special people and we appreciate your prayers as we minister to them in whatever way we can.
From David & Crista Hagan’s Group
Our biggest “win” as a small group in 2020/21 was simply this: staying together! We tried meeting in person with masks, but then December hit. We tried hybrid zoom/in-person meetings, but that was too complicated and didn’t promote group unity. We spent the spring meeting online-only, in which setting we finally settled into some semblance of routine and connection. Through it all, we continued to MEET...weekly, for the most part. Staying together in a season of life that seems to be working over-time to break us up is a BIG win! Another “win” for our group was taking steps toward SERVING together! We worked together, along with some of the Hagans’ neighbors and friends, to provide 3 dinners for the men and women living at the Live Love Outreach Summer Tent City. Different members of the group served in different ways, with everyone taking part in a way that met needs while respecting exposure comfort levels. We will wrap up the year together soon and look forward to relaxed Sunday morning gatherings over the summer.
by Scott DeViney
As a church, we provided significant support for 9 missionaries and organizations in fruitful service locally and around the world.
- In November, we packed 794 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child - the most ever!
- In December, we provided gifts for 40 children and 19 families as part of the Angel Tree ministry.
COVID continued to affect our missionaries. Like us, they were challenged to do ministry in different ways. For example:
- By moving to online training, Phil Ball exceeded his goal in training 75 network coaches, including 2 overseas.
- Al & Autumn Ray began offering their marriage coach training online, which allowed them to train couples in 8 different states which was never possible before.
- We sent a special gift to George and Molly, who were able to help Christian brothers and sisters suffering from COVID and from work stoppages in India.
- In spite of COVID restrictions, Josiah Venture was able to lead 35 evangelistic camps and 42 other evangelistic events and advance their online training and discipleship efforts.
by John Crawford
The Laurelwood Campus
- 5 Acres – Clark Co. assessment = $2.8M
- Over 50 trees
- Over 90 shrubs
- 80,000 SF of lawn
- 30 zone sprinkler system
- 200 parking spaces
- 109,000 SF of pavement
- 4 Buildings – Age of buildings ranges from 1974 to 2006 (Worship Center remodeled in 2017)
- 34 windows
- 850 feet of gutter
- 16 downspouts
- 16 Toilets
- 13 Sinks
Annual facilities Budget is $150,000 (Includes Taxes, Utilities, Mortgage, etc.)
What does it take to maintain a 5-acre campus? A faithful team of amazing volunteers led by John Crawford!
- Weekly volunteer work force of 3 – 7 people spend Wednesdays (9:00 – 2:30) fixing stuff.
- Bob & Sue DeViney, Trent O’Neal, Ken Crays, Henry Green often work other weekdays and Saturdays maintaining the garden beds, lawns and parking lots.
- Annual repair/replacement expenses typically run $15,000.
- Annual savings due to volunteer workers is $25,00 - $40,000 (depending on Projects).
- Cost savings due to upgraded LED lighting, Digital Thermostats, Improved Drainage.
- All new campus network & security camera systems.
- Remodeled & upgraded Children's Ministry rooms.
- Priorities: Health & Safety (Ex: Ramps, Crash Bars, Alarm Systems)
- More work on Network and Security Systems
- Remodel Chapel (Lighting, Sound, Video & Stage remodel)
- Crack Seal Parking Lots
- Gutter & Downspout replacement on Breezeway and Fellowship Hall
- New LED Lighting in Fellowship Hall & Chapel
- Roadside Entry Signs … Replace 172nd and Install New in Parking Lot Island
- Capitol Projects not yet defined: Kitchen Upgrade, New Children's Center
- New Volunteers needed due to current ones aging out