THE FIRST FIFTEEN YEARS...
This is a story of a 'Missionary at Large", who moved to Boise. Grab a cup of coffee, and enjoy this rich history as Pastor Tom shares his initial challenges of making contacts in 1993, through temporary locations (including those with parrots), to the build-out of the Preschool and first Church building. God's hand has been all over this family, and we are thankful!
1993 ~ Year 1~ We Started as a Church Plant!
Friendship Celebration began as a church plant of the Northwest District of the Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod. In the fall of 1993, the Northwest District extended a call to me, Tom Hausch, to be a Missionary-at-Large in the west Boise area with the goal of starting a new church. I was serving as Pastor of Peace Lutheran Church in Bremerton, Washington. I had served a little over 20 years in the parish ministry, but never had been involved in a church plant. I accepted the call and moved in with Mel and Gert Clausen in Boise. They were members of an existing Lutheran Church. The model for this new church as suggested by the Mission Executive, Rev. Paul Schmidt, was the ”meta church” model--a church similar to the New Testament churches, a church built on small groups of Christians who met in homes.
1994 ~ Year 2~ Nurture Groups Begin Grooming Future Leaders
The first months were challenging. Many contacts were made. I followed up on referrals from other pastors and relatives of un-churched and de-churched people in the area, but there was little response in the early months. Our daughter, Kara, came to live with me in Boise after I found a small rental. The rest of the family remained in Bremerton for the first half year. After three months, the first Nurture (Small) Group began and several members of the first group began training to become leaders of groups they would start in the coming year. The purpose of every group was to give birth to another group in 1 tp 1-1/2 years. The leaders of the Nurture Groups were called Shepherds; and by mid-year four people were meeting once a week in what was called a “Huddle” to review the vision, plan for the next group meeting, and develop their skills as leaders. In July of the first year, I bought a small house in West Boise and the family came over from Bremerton. In the fall three new Nurture Groups began led by Mel Clausen, Fred May, and Pat Casey. All the groups were invited to come together periodically for worship. The first year ended with the baptism of two adults and three children. The Mission Church began looking for a more permanent place to worship.
1995 ~ Year 3 ~ Two meeting rooms, Five Nurture Groups, a Sunday School Program and "Squawking Parrots Rejoicing with Us"
In mid-March of 1995, the first place to worship was found. Debbie Dumont was a Recreational Therapist at St. Alphonsus Hospital and she made arrangements for our small group to use a large room in the North Tower of St. Alphonsus. (Today that area is the Cardiac Care Unit.) We worshipped Sunday evenings at 7:00. One of the highlights of this year was attending the Promise Keepers Conference in Boise. About 10,000 men attended the conference at the BSU pavilion. Ten of them were from Friendship Celebration. The time at the hospital was short. After 6 months we were told that the hospital needed the space for future development. The next worship location was the Good Samaritan Village. It was a Lutheran Multi-level Care Facility. We worked with a Roman Catholic Chaplain. It was a unique and challenging location because we shared the room with a number of parrots who squawked all during our singing. A Sunday School program was developed at this time. By the end of the year, five Nurture Groups were meeting on a weekly basis on four different days of the week.
1996 ~ Year 4 ~ God Answers Prayer with Eagle High School and almost 90% of All Adults in Nurture Groups
(and we are sure the Parrots missed us)
The location for worship was far from ideal. Residents of Good Samaritan came in and turned on the TV during worship. They could not understand why we were in their space, and the parrots continued to dislike us, too. I began talking to the Meridian School District about the possibility of renting space in a high or middle school. Income at this time was at a little over $2,000.00 a month. On March 17, 1996 we began worshipping at Eagle High School. It was a great answer to prayer. We were able to use the auditorium, two classrooms, and the social center for our worship service, Sunday School and child care. The rental fee was less than $100.00 a week. This all happened as a result of contacting Chuck Liehe. He was in charge of the maintenance for all the schools in the district. When I had asked at different schools about renting their facilities, I was told that janitors were not willing to open and close the facilities on Sundays. I asked Chuck to train me to be a janitor in the school district. He authorized me to have a set of keys to Eagle High. With the new meeting place, a greater effort was made on the part of all of us to invite our friends and neighbors to worship. The Northwest District nominated me to attend a Church Planters’ Conference sponsored by our denomination in Bronxville, New York. What a great experience! The assignment at the conclusion of the Conference was to go back to Friendship Celebration Mission and develop a team of people who would put together a Mission Ministry Plan. The result, after many weeks of meeting, was a clear mission and vision statement, ten core values, and plan of implementation. These were put in place by seven team members, but we received input from all the participants in our mission. As we grew, this porta-church needed more helping hands. On Sunday morning more and more were getting involved in the responsibility of setting up and taking down the church, leading worship, music, the sound system and teaching. By the end of this year 86% of all adults were in Nurture Groups.
1997 ~ Year 5 ~ Seven Members Confirmed, Seven Nurture Groups, Five Sunday School Classes, and Adult Classes. Church Attendance at 59!
Included in our Mission Ministry Plan were goals for the future. They included plans for incorporation, search for a church site, expansion of our ministries, and starting a preschool. The first Youth Confirmation Class of seven members was received this year, 1997. The number of Nurture Groups had expanded to seven. I spoke with Gabe Flicker about starting a Preschool. Flicker was one of the experts in Christian Education in our district. The Sunday School had expanded to 5 classes through the 12th grade and we offered 2-3 classes for adults through the year. By the end of this year, church attendance was 59 and we had $51,000.00 in savings. The weekly giving was about $900.00. Junior High Youth were meeting weekly for fun activities, relationship building and Bible Study.
1998 ~ Year 6 ~ Set Your Sights .... High !
* The "Mission" Graduates to a "Church" on October 25th, 1998 *
and Build the Preschool Building/Office
One of the interesting things about 1998 is that a goal was set in January for a 48% increase in worship attendance and by the end of the year we reached it exactly: 87. Another goal was to purchase property--it happened. Another goal was to charter and become incorporated as a congregation--it happened. Another goal was to begin a Preschool--it happened. Setting goals can be scary, God honored our risk and He empowered us to follow through. In March and April of this year everyone had the opportunity review and edit Friendship Celebration Lutheran Church’s Constitution and By-Laws. They were submitted, edited, and accepted by the Constitution Committee of the district. The first Congregational Meeting took place in April. We elected officers and Ministry Team Leaders following the guidelines of the new Constitution and By-Laws. Myrl Schroeder became involved in the property search by going door to door in the area we were looking for property. He found a parcel with a house on approximately 10 acres. The property only had a well with no connection to city water. The need, according to the Fire Marshall, was a fire hydrant. We contacted the City of Meridian for a variance and permission to connect with the closest water utility. At the time, the Meridian Water District was miles away. Permission was granted and we connected with United Water. After this we began the long process of going through Ada County Planning and Zoning to receive a conditional use permit to develop a preschool and church on this parcel. Stu and Raeleen Welton, the owners of the property, were so patient in the lengthy process. During this time Sandy Lindemood stepped forward to begin and direct a Preschool. Gabe Flicker gave Sandy excellent guidance in the process. The target starting date was September. With the installation of the water line and fire hydrant, the remodel of making a house into a Preschool and church offices was a $100,000.00 project. Dave Claar managed the task with the precise and organized plans of an engineer. He organized and directed the work on the inside of the house; and Myrl Schroeder, with his crew and backhoe, did the outside work. The work could not begin until the loan was finalized in September, so the beginning of the Preschool was postponed. The Youth Ministry Team was going strong this year. It was led by three adults and two youth. Neal Lindemood was a key adult player in getting the Youth Ministry going and growing. The Youth were very active in the remodel process, especially tearing things down and apart! October was an exciting month for all. Ministry Teams shared their vision for the coming year, the Charter Sunday took place on October 25th, and I was called to be the first Pastor of Friendship Celebration Lutheran Church. We now were no longer a mission. The final inspection of the remodel project happened in December and the PRESCHOOL BEGAN with one class. Sandy Lindemood was the first Teacher and Director.
1999 ~ Year 7 ~ Still Creating Firsts: Bible Camp, Secretaries While Adding an Evening Service and Nurture Groups; Attendance is over 100
Now that we had church offices in the basement of the Preschool, who was going to be down there? I had an office downstairs and we also needed a secretary--or in our case, secretaries. Our first secretarial pool began in March of 1999; and for the first time, I had help with correspondence, the worship folder, the newsletter, keeping member records, and having someone there to answer the phone for the church and the Preschool. Much thought was directed to a plan to build the first church building. We had a good relationship with Eagle High School for a place of worship, but the school district had a five year limit for allowing churches to use their facilities. For Friendship Celebration, the time at Eagle High would end March 2001--two years away. One of the things that several in the church were concerned about this year was Y2K. Our church purchased a diesel generator which would be able to power the Preschool and church offices in case there was a major power outage as the year turned 2000. Thankfully there were few problems. The generator was purchased with the plan of donating it to Camp Perkins. By mid-year Tom Buuck became the chair of the Future Development Group. This year our church had the first Summer Bible Camp. It was a smashing success. The children loved the facility, especially the barn, and all the animals that were brought to the first camp. A second Celebration Event (Worship Service) began this year. It took place on Sunday evenings at 6:00. It was led by Missy Nichols and was aimed at GenX’ers, young adults and teens. As Sandy Lindemood planned for enrollment for coming year, the Preschool would expand to have a class for 3-year olds. Jan Graves was selected for that position. The number of Nurture Groups this year for adults held at eight. One new group began. The Youth of the church also began a Nurture Group which met twice a month. The year ended with a worship attendance of 111.
2000 ~ Year 8 ~ Focusing on Our Spiritual Gifts
One of the efforts that was made in the early part of Y2K, 2000, was to help people in our church family understand the spiritual gifts in the Bible and then discover and use their gift in the church or the community. The Young Adult Nurture Group did a study on spiritual gifts as well. Ray Ayers began a unique Nurture Group for men only. It met at 6:30 in the morning beginning in March. Camille Ayers began a group for women on parenting. The secretarial pool was still very effective, but the secretaries kept changing. Phyllis Garner began the first Prayer Chain. People were invited to share their needs and praises and they were passed on to others in our church family who would pray for them as well. Other changes that also took place this year: The Preschool added a Teacher Assistant; for a short time, we had a Parish Nurse; a new officer position was added (Executive Vice-President), and a new Inter-Generational Nurture Group began in June. As the year came to a close the church was on the agenda with Ada County Planning and Zoning to take the first step to break ground for the first church building. Since the district of our denomination had taken out a loan to purchase the house and property we were using, we now applied for a loan from the Lutheran Church Extension Fund to take over that responsibility. At the end of the year there were ten active Nurture Groups and our worship attendance was 115.
2001 ~ Year 9 ~ Leadership, Seder, and Blue Jeans Sundays
In the beginning of 2001, about 10 of the members of our church enrolled in the Leadership Advancement Process. It was sponsored by Concordia University, Portland, Oregon. The program was designed to be a two-year intensive program to prepare people to be lay assistants in or outside their local church. Courses included: Christian Doctrine, Old and New Testament, Lifestyle Evangelism, Methods in Teaching and Preaching, the Practice of God’s Word in Daily Life, and several others. One of the unique experiences this year was the celebration of the Passover Seder in the barn on our church property. The meal that we shared together was similar to the dishes and Passover liturgy which Jesus shared with His disciples at the Last Supper. A very special part of the time together at the Seder was celebrating Holy Communion. Another one of the highlights of this year was the addition of Debbie Allen as a 3’s teacher in our Preschool. She was a vibrant teacher and a great model in showing little ones what it means to live like Jesus. This year the Sunday School had its first “Blue Jeans Sunday.” It became a tradition that the kick-off for the new Sunday School program for children and adults begins with a relaxed outfit, fun and games, and lots of good food. During this year I attended a Refocusing Training Conference for pastors and congregational leaders. After the training I met with four other pastors from Southern Idaho for the next year and a half to help them and myself be more focused in our personal lives and in the spiritual leadership of our churches. In the following years, this carried over to the whole ministry of our churches. This was the year of 9/11. All were affected. People realized that terrorism had been going on for many years, but our lives were not touched so closely and deeply until it hit our shores directly. As this year came to a close, the number of Nurture Groups slightly decreased and worship attendance increased to 128.
2002 ~ Year 10 ~ Dedicating New Celebration Center, Clearer Vision Seeking and Continued Growth
The early months of 2002 were exciting. The first church building was just about complete. The contractor, Ron Van Auker stayed within the $350,000.00 budget. Ron Dines, the Building Supervisor, said a number of extras were added along the way to improve the quality and use of the building at their expense. They included structural enhancement, extra concrete, extending the bumper curb in the parking lot, and insulation in the downstairs walls. We also added some things as well. They included a fire alarm system which was required. We installed wiring for sound, television, and phone systems, and finally fire dampers which were also required. Landscaping was done in the spring. The congregation was able to occupy the new building in April, but the Sunday for the dedication of the Celebration Center was May 19, 2002. After the dedication event, I flew to Oakland to begin training for the congregational phase of our Refocus Training. The purpose of this was to develop a clearer vision on where God was leading our church into ministry. During this year, Ray Ayers, a member of our congregation, began his seminary training and the church committed a portion of our budget to support him and his family as he prepared for full-time ministry as a pastor in the Lutheran Church. In September, we had the first Voters’ Assembly Meeting in the new facility. The leaders presented a packed agenda: Commissioning of Ministry Teams and Officers, Budget, President and Pastor’s Report, and status of what needed to be done in and outside of the new facility. Priorities that came out of the meeting included: A church sign, chairs and tables, acoustics, carpet, audio-visual system, computer, completion of the second floor, and expansion of the parking lot. There was also some discussion about planting churches in Ada and Canyon counties using the method that was used in starting Friendship Celebration. The number of Nurture Groups through this year stayed about the same. We concluded the year with an average worship attendance of 141, a 10% increase over the previous year.
2003 ~ Year 11 ~ RE-AIMING, a Variety Show!, and 150+ Attending
The Year of 2003 became the year of Refocus, or in our case: RE-AIMING. The purpose was to look back and see WHAT GOD HAS DONE in our short history, look at WHAT HE IS DOING RIGHT NOW through us, and finally to become ALIGNED WITH HIS FUTURE PLAN. A team was enlisted and Guy Goodlett became the facilitator in the Re-aiming process. I shared my personal mission statement at the beginning of the Re-aiming process. The essence of it was to prepare the young leaders of today to lead the church of Jesus Christ into the future, to effectively pass on the baton. In order to have all these summits we needed tables and chairs. They came in mid-year. The first step was the Focused Living Retreat. It challenged the participants to: Reinforce how God has been working in their lives, give clearer direction for the future, learn how to grow up spiritually, and use their gifts to help others use theirs. Another one of the first steps in the Re-aiming process was to take the Natural Church Development Survey. It measured how well we were doing in empowering leadership, gift-oriented ministry, passionate spirituality, functional structures, inspiring worship services, holistic small groups, need-oriented evangelism, and loving relationships. The score for Friendship Celebration was 65. (Any score above 60 is considered a healthy church.) This year we also had the first ICE CREAM SOCIAL AND VARIETY SHOW. Ed Sullivan, eat your heart out. It was unbelievable! What fantastic talent we discovered in our church family, young and old, large and small--singing, speaking, dancing, playing musical instruments. God’s gifted people! God is using us to make an unforgettable impact on the world we are a part of in Idaho! All through the years people have been supportive of the Preschool’s Harvest Celebration. This is year #5. Thousands of dollars have been raised through the years to purchase things for the Preschool classrooms which are not in the budget. The Director, Sandy Lindemood, and teachers have been always grateful for the support and commitment that members and parents have had for this annual effort. The year ended with ten Nurture Groups. Worship attendance increased to 151.
2004 ~ Year 12 ~ "Refocus, Re-aiming"
In January of 2004 we began the Refocus, Re-aiming process in earnest. Through the year there were three summits. In Summit #1, a journey wall was created. We asked, “Where have we been? What have been the high and lows in our short history? What have been some of the struggles?” (The detailed results of the first summit is connected in appendix #1.) In Summit #2, we looked at the community. An expert from our district office reviewed the demographics in the three-mile radius around the church. That was compared with the demographics of the church family. Based on that information and the Ten Core Values, these questions were asked: “What are our needs? Where should we direct our efforts based on what’s happening in our church family and the community? What is God saying to us?” The three areas of focus were leadership training, a greater effort to have the highest percentage of the church members as possible in Nurture Groups, and further develop the youth ministry by calling a Youth Minister. The bottom line of the second summit was to draw a picture of the preferred future. Summit #3 had the purpose of reiterating what the major goals would be for the next three years and fleshing out the step-by-step strategies to reach those goals. In the refocusing process, we also continued to discuss the possibilities of planting house churches in the area--Kuna, Garden Valley, Council, Middleton, etc. A church has now been established in Council. A couple in our church, Bill and Dottie Basye were instrumental in the beginning of the Council Church. The initial discussion about calling a Director of Christian Education (Youth Minister) continued through the year. One of the most visible things that happened this year was a church sign with a reader board. It has become a great asset in communicating who we are in the community. The number of Nurture Groups remained at ten and the average worship attendance for the year was 174, a 15% increase.
2005 ~ Year 13 ~ ANOTHER Year of BIG FIRSTS ~ DCE, Women's Group, Summer Camp Extravaganza, and a Second Floor for Youth, Sunday School and Sound System
As we began the year 2005, the goals included adding a Director of Christian Education in the area of Youth Ministry, enhancing the Nurture Group Ministry, and providing more leadership training. In February of this year, a group of women from the church came together for a brainstorming session to share with one another what they would like to see in a Women’s Group. Here are some of their ideas: Support military families with letters and packages, support for the ministry teams of the church with what they could do, quilt/blanket workshop, help in the assimilation of visitors and new members. This was the first year for the Preschool to have a summer program. It was called the Summer Camp Extravaganza. It ran for five sessions which were quickly filled. It was a great success to be reviewed and expanded next summer. The members of the Leadership Advancement Process began the last class that was available in a classroom setting. Some of the members had taken this one before. It was called Mission Outreach in Context. It taught them evangelism theology and also the practical skills of how to share their faith in day-to-day living. During this year a DCE Call Team began meeting. Our Lutheran Universities were contacted for possible candidates. People in the church also submitted names. The team began sifting through 230 pages of resumes, evaluations and references. Nine candidates rose to the top. Five of those nine eliminated themselves because they had already accepted positions in other churches. The remaining four were interviewed by way of a conference phone call by the Call Team. After the interview, two candidates contacted our church. One decided to begin seminary training and the other accepted another DCE position. One of the remaining two was invited to visit Friendship Celebration in July and the entire congregation was able to become acquainted with Zachariah Davis and his family. In mid-July the church offered a contract to Zach to be the DCE, and in September he became the first Youth Minister. A major project this year was beginning the completion of the upstairs of the church building. Scott Graham was the Director of the project. One part that the church did not anticipate was installing a sprinkler system in case of fire. That part of the project we could not do ourselves; but with every other aspect of the upstairs completion many of our members and friends pitched in. The result was a Sound and Youth Room, three Sunday School classrooms, and the Youth Minister’s Office. This year ended with ten Nurture Groups and an average church attendance of 209, a 20% increase over the previous year.
2006 ~ Year 14 ~ Second Sunday Morning Service, the Tlucek's Begin Their Haiti Mission, Part Time Secretary and Our First Trunk or Treat!
The really big thing that happened at the beginning of 2006 was the addition of a second Sunday morning service. This meant a greater commitment on the part of the Worship Team--double duty every Sunday. They committed to it and have followed through. The attendance for worship balanced through the year with a little over 100 attending each service. A second major happening at the beginning of this year was the search for a part-time church secretary. This year, Byron and Shelly Tlucek were invited to Friendship Celebration to share their life-changing venture. They were moving to Haiti along with their five children to open orphanages for Haitian children to prepare the children for adoption. I, along with my wife Linda, have a family connection with the Tlucek’s. Our son-in-law, Josh, is the brother of Shelly. Friendship Celebration began and continues to support the Tlucek’s with financial resources, personal items and necessities for the orphanage. Friendship Celebration continues to be thinking about the future. With the help of John Bruns and Dick Kanemasu we have been challenged to be thinking about what kind of ministries for family, adults, discipleship, assimilation, social ministry, and worship we should be developing. By mid-year the upstairs of the church facility had been completed. Thanks to Scott Graham and the dozens of others who gave their time and talent to make it happen. Another goal of the refocus effort in the previous year was leadership training. Six additional Shepherds were trained to lead Nurture Groups and they began contacting members of Friendship Celebration to become a part of their new groups. This year the church hired Nell House, long-time loved member of the Friendship Celebration Family, to be the Church Secretary. I am so grateful for all who have served through the years doing the important pieces of the church office work which needed to be done. The key element which Nell added immediately was continuity and clearer communication for all the things going on in the church. A mid-year event was the ordination of Ray Ayers. He was a member of Friendship Celebration. He was ordained as the Pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, Marengo, Illinois. I participated as the guest speaker. Upstairs classrooms were completed and Friendship Celebration was blessed with Sunday School Superintendent, Ray Ohlaug. Ray jumped in with both feet and has done a great job! In the fall of this year Friendship Celebration had its first “Trunk or Treat” event initiated by the Youth Minister. It was a grand event! We had Hobo Stew, hotdogs, s’mores, and all the candy anyone’s little heart desires. The year ended with about ten Nurture Groups and a church attendance of 239.
2007 ~ Year 15 ~ Growth Demands Increased Communication and New Communication Techniques
The New Year 2007 began with a couple new Nurture Groups. In the past several years we have added groups, but at the same time several have stopped meeting. We are at an all-time high of eleven mid-week groups. Counting Adult Sunday School classes, we are at about fifteen. At the beginning of the year a phone upgrade was completed thanks to the research of Jeremy Clark, our IT guy. Now we are able to intercom in every area of our church, Preschool and church offices. Since we have grown as a church body, many don’t know all the members of the church as they once did. Our annual update of the church photo directory has helped. Members have expressed an interest especially in knowing the Administrative Ministry Team and the Elder Ministry Team. We have made a concerted effort to identify these people by introducing them, displaying photos in our church, and naming them in the newsletter and Sunday bulletin. The Elder Ministry Team has taken on greater responsibility in Pastoral Care. They monthly make calls to those assigned to them. This is a great help to me. This year we had our first Ministry Fair. It was an idea that came from our DCE, Zach Davis. For several Sundays, all the ministry teams had small booths around our worship auditorium displaying items about what their ministry team does. The purpose was to provide more information about our ministries and give people the opportunity to climb on board if they were interested. John Bruns, our Financial Vice-President and member of the Future Planning Team, led a Master Planning Meeting in September. The purpose of this meeting was to brainstorm all the ministry areas, discuss needs, suggestions for improvement for our future growth. Ministry areas discussed included: Nursery, Sunday School, Marketing, Satellite churches, Youth Ministry, Nurture Groups, Outreach, Joint Efforts with other LCMS churches, Preschool, Offices, Music Ministry, the Arts, Fellowship area, Family Care Ministry, Christian Day School, Greeters, Church Property Director, and Facility cleaning. As we move into our tenth year, we have much to think about as we seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in prioritizing our ministry list.
2008 - current -- much more growth that needs to be explained!