Notes – digital information meeting in Immanuel Church 22 November 2020

Present in the broadcast:
Stephen James, Chair of Immanuel Church
Ulla Marie Gunner, Senior Pastor
Cathrin Sjöström, Church Secretary
Isak Wang, Technician, sound and video
Michael Taubert, Camera and Video Producer

Chair of Immanuel Church, Stephen James, welcomed everyone to the digital information meeting. The board believes that, even if there could not be a congregational meeting this time, it is important to have an information meeting. If members have questions or comments after this meeting, please email the board, 

Then Stephen prayed for the meeting. 

1 Budget 2021 (See presentations in the appendix)
Stephen began by showing figures of what the budget and finances were like in January 2020, i.e., what the plan was for this year. Then he showed comparable statistics for the first 9 months of the year. The economy is reasonably on par with budget. It’s the offerings that are slightly lower than budget. 

Next slide showed a presentation of Probitas and our companies. The results for 2019 were shown and Stephen underlined how grateful to God we should be for our companies. He explained how hard corona hit the companies during the year. The preliminary outcome for 2020 gives nevertheless, despite the pandemic, a positive result, although it is modest in comparison to 2019. Stephen urged everyone to pray for the staff of our companies. They are struggling. 

Then Stephen went through some presentations for the budget of 2021 showing that the proposed budget is a budget in balance. There is a certain increase in ambition for the year, especially in terms of youth activities and deaconal work with people in vulnerable situations. The agreed increase in Probita’s dividend by 0.3% is included. 

The final presentation showed how gifts and collections have increased over the years. That is the reason for the positive increase in ambition for 2021. The presentation of the church tax showed that it will remain at the same level in 2021.

Stephen thanked everyone for the offerings. 

2   Report – Nominating Committee
The Senior Pastor, Ulla Marie Gunner, gave information about the Nominating Committee, which was elected at the Annual Meeting on 18 October 2020. The Nominating Committee shall prepare a proposal for an Election Committee to the Annual meeting in 2021. On Sunday, 24 January, a congregational meeting is planned, which in its structure will be much like the Annual Meeting. There, the congregation decides on the Election Committee.

In these times of pandemic, the Chair of the Nominating Committee, Karin Pettersson, together with Karin Sandström, last year’s Chair of the Election Committee, have made a proposal on a simplified approach that the Board has supported. This means that the election committee towards the annual meeting in April 2021 in their work will focus on roles that are central to the congregation’s finances and ministries. Regarding the congregational groups, we need to find new ways to gradually complement their needs. 

The Nominating Committee is proposed to prioritize and concentrate on, among other things, the election of the Chair, the board, the Auditors, the Ministry Evaluation Committee, the Nominating Committee, the three councils, etc.

The Nominating Committee has also come to the conclusion that the work of the Joint Election Committee needs to be done in Swedish. This needs to be taken into account when selecting the representative of each language group into the Joint Election Committee. The Election Committee needs to start its work before the congregational meeting 24 January, 2021, when a formal decision can be made. 

3 Equmenia Association in our congregation (See presentations in the appendix)
Stephen James brought up the subject from the annual meeting on 18 October regarding the equmenia association in the congregation, which is now being put on hold. The basis for this is that which was presented by Equmenia Immanuel Stockholm at the Annual meeting, where it became clear that it has been difficult with commitment to the ministry and membership recruitment and that the association’s board felt that their mandate in the congregation was unclear. Possible reasons for this may be that the children and youth ministries are led by employees and that the diversity of the church means that there are many who do not understand the importance of the association.

Stephen read a passage from the vision that Equmenia nationally has, which shows a very thriving association. In order to find a way forward, the Board wishes to send two questions to our councils:

  • Is an equmenia association needed and possible in Immanuel Church?
  • How can it cooperate with our ministries in a sustainable way and become an obvious part of the assembly? 

The Board will return with a report to the congregation. 

4 Congregational information (See presentations in the appendix)
Stephen James promoted the new website and highlighted the congregational vision and approach. He pointed out in particular our diversity and read the paragraph on this and stressed that this is who we want to be, and what we want to do in Immanuel Church.
We start from a “we” and not from “we and them”.

He informed that the project with the Portuguese group, which has been running for two years, will end in January 2021. The project has been a collaboration with the Uniting Church in Sweden (Equmeniakyrkan). Stephen thanked Ivani and Johan Ahlberg for their work with the group and wished them God’s blessing as they look for a way forward.

At the congregational meeting on 24 January, the assembly will also decide on the call of Pastor Esther Kazen. If you want to know more about Esther, see the links in the appendix. The congregational meeting will also decide on new articles of association for our companies (Probitas). Proposed changes are, among other things, the number of auditors needed and the language also needs to be modernized. 

Stephen concluded this point by stating that the Board has instructed Samuel Borg, Probitas, to gradually phase out the assembly’s owned condominiums. 

5 Advent and Christmas, 2020 (See presentations in the appendix)
Ulla Marie Gunner informed about an alternative Christmas market that will be held this strange corona year. Instead of our traditional Christmas market, it will be a gift market where we sell Christmas gifts for the benefit of our sister Congregations, Panvel in India and N’djili in Congo Kinshasa.

On our website, please see “Christmas gift” where you can  find more information. For this Christmas present you do not have to stand in line, do not have to wait for packages to come in the mail and you are doing something great for other people. Join in yourselves, tell others and make it possible to reach the goal of 140.000 SEK together.

Don’t miss the Advent concert Saturday, 28 November via Youtube, for the benefit of our sister congregations. Music will be played, transitioned  with information about our mission and sister congregations.

The Uniting Church in Sweden´s, (Equmeniakyrkan), own offering will take place separately on some Sundays. When you give your gift, please write to what purpose it is aimed, so that it ends up where it belongs. 

Ulla Marie also informed about the webinar “Christmas in Bethlehem”, 8 December from Bethlehem.

Jul i gemenskap – Christmas in Community – cannot be arranged at Immanuel this year due to the corona restrictions. However, we will be the gathering center for the Christmas bag that will be packed and distributed to different places in town. 

6 Other information in times of corona
Ulla Marie Gunner informed us that we follow the national advice and restrictions as safely and as well as we can.

– Services and concerts are broadcasted via Youtube. 
– Wednesdays we have a webcast devotional with candle lightning. Write your prayer topic on the website, and a candle will be lit for this. 
– We are now also trying to open the church on Wednesdays for worship and candle lightning. 
– A pastor or deacon is available every day. 
– Keep in touch with each other. Call the ones you know, but also call someone new. 
– Pray for each other and for the congregation. 
– Our hope is to be able to re-open in mid-January. 

Stephen James thanked everyone who attended by watching this digital information meeting and extended an invitation to e-mail the board with comments and questions. 

Senior Pastor Ulla Marie Gunner concluded the meeting with scripture reading and prayer.  

Notes approved:
Cathrin Sjöström, Church Secretary & Stephen James, Chair Immanuel Church