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May 2, 2022

Highlights From Campus Special Meetings (April 24, 2022)

Amanda Knoke

Director for Communications

On Sunday, April 24, 2022, the Downtown, North, and South campuses each held a Special Meeting prior to the All-Church Quarterly Strategy Meeting that convened at 6:30pm. See highlights from each campus below.

Downtown Special Meeting

Meeting Highlights

  • Welcome & Worship
  • Membership Report
  • Update on Transition to Three Churches

Welcome & Worship

Pastor René González greeted the congregation and led in song to start the meeting.

Membership Report

  • Pastor Jared Wass presented the membership report. The Downtown Campus membership stood at 1,035. Since then, 36 members were recommended for removal, for a remaining membership of 999.
  • A member of the Downtown Campus made a motion to add her name for removal by amending the membership report motion. The motion was approved and the member spoke to her motion.
  • Pastor Ken Currie stated that the process should be that the elders must recommend members for removal. No elders present at the meeting objected to the removal, so 37 members were recommended for removal.
  • The congregation approved the amendment, and the motion to remove members as per the amended membership report was adopted with a remaining membership of 998.

Update on Transition to Three Churches

Overview of Transition Process

Goal & Guiding Principle
“We are trusting God that the multiplication of Bethlehem from 1 to 3 churches will result in 3 healthy churches from which Gospel preaching and biblical discipleship multiply and increase. Therefore, this is the ‘true north’ for the compass of our plan. By ‘healthy’ we mean biblically faithful and sufficiently resourced to move into the future with confidence in God’s sustaining grace that they will remain viable indefinitely.”

Pastor Kenny gave an overview of a “roadmap” of the proposed transition from three campuses to three churches using these broad categories of consideration for his presentation:

  • All-Church Staff & Ministries
  • Global Outreach
  • Church Planting
  • Partner Ministries (Bethlehem College & Seminary, Campus Outreach, CityJoy)
  • Distribution of Assets, Resources, and Debt
  • Possible Timetable
    • July 2022 Congregational Vote
    • Independent Ministry by January 2023
  • Future Partnership

Downtown Survey Update
The Transition survey was emailed on Tuesday, April 19, and open for responses until 3pm on Sunday, April 24. More than 300 people responded to the survey.

Results on Question 1
I agree that we should move toward becoming three independent and autonomous churches.
(1= Strongly Disagree; 2= Disagree; 3= Neither Agree nor Disagree; 4= Agree; 5= Strongly Agree)

The average response to the first question was 3.9, indicating, generally speaking, there is agreement among those responding that we move to become three separate churches.

Results on Questions 2–4 (areas of concern)
1. Debt – 53.1%
2. Global Outreach – 52.8%
3. BCS – 48.9%
4. Viability of One or All Campuses – 40.7%
5. Retaining Staff – 37.0%
6. No Concerns – 29.1%
7. CityJoy – 8.9%
8. Campus Outreach – 8.5%
9. Other – 6.2%

North Special Meeting

Meeting Highlights

  • Worship & Testimony
  • Membership Report
  • Update on Three-Church Transition
  • Thanksgiving

Worship & Testimony
Pastor Dan Holst led the congregation in song to start the meeting, and Natalie Henneberg’s Baptism testimony from Easter Sunday (April 17, 2022) was replayed, as an example of God’s grace to Natalie and to the North Campus.

Membership Report
Non-members were excused, and in executive session a motion was made to remove three members (with comment) from the North Campus Membership Removal Report. A total of 38 members were removed and 13 new members were added to the North Campus Membership Report.

Update on Three-Church Transition

  • Pastor Steven began this section by sharing results from the North Campus transition survey, which were strongly positive.
  • Elder Nick Brazis provided an overview of one of the “big rock” issues—debt—by highlighting that Bethlehem’s current mortgage debt ($7.2M) is owned by all campuses. He also described various levers that have an impact on establishing three healthy churches, including asset allocation and operational and giving costs. Nick concluded by outlining a process for deciding how best to proceed.
  • Pastor Steven then reviewed several other important areas affected by transition, including all-church staff, the future church name for the North Campus and denominational affiliation(s), CityJoy, the status of our “Fill These Cities: 25x’25” initiative, and the health of Bethlehem’s Downtown Campus.
  • Pastor Steven concluded this section of the meeting by taking a straw poll of support for the transition, which reflected a strong majority in favor, a handful ambivalent or mixed, and a small number neutral or opposed.

Pastor Steven concluded the meeting with a corporate time of thanksgiving to God by praising him for nearly 2,000 in attendance on Easter, and giving thanks for all the volunteers who served in some capacity during Holy Week. Several members of the congregation also shared various evidences of grace:

  • Multiple young people desiring to come to Bethlehem more regularly.
  • One liked the online Good Friday service so much, the individual came in person.
  • Unbelieving family came to see children and stayed to hear the gospel.

South Special Meeting

Meeting Highlights

  • Elder Updates
  • Testimony
  • Executive Session
  • Elder Candidates Vote
  • Pastoral Update
  • Q&A

Elder Updates
South Campus Elder Chair Peter Thorpe gave an update on the efforts of the South Elders in recent meetings and discussions.

South members and medical professionals Mike & Judy Anderson presented a testimony about God’s faithfulness to them in their work supporting a hospital in Cameroon, despite civil unrest and difficulty traveling internationally.

Membership Report/Executive Session
Elder Bruce Power presented the South Membership Report in executive session, and non-members were excused. The report included 15 members being recommended for removed and 10 individuals being recommended for membership.

Elder Candidates Vote
In separate votes, the congregation voted to call Sam Helberg and Bob Horning as non-staff elders for a three-year term.

Pastoral Update
Pastor Dave Zuleger updated the congregation about the Executive Transition Team and their recent activities moving toward campus-to-church autonomy.

Q&A With Elders
The elders received and responded to various questions from the congregation.

Special thanks to Stephen Clayton, Caleb Figgers, Jon Grano, and Bobby Ratliff for the preparation of this post.