by Pastor Kris Gorden

“Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”—2 Corinthians 9:7

Olivet is an amazing community, filled with sinner/saints who seek faithful lives. The Spirit is good here, and we are deeply blessed. God continues to care for us in powerful ways and has an exciting mission for us. What do we do with such gifts?

At our Open Forum on July 23 the Financial Report offered a good outlook of where we are as a community. Giving is up; expenses are down. Such data points to a healthy congregation. We offered an update on staff changes. We welcome Kelly Heyer as our Communications Coordinator, and Bev Gravdahl as Communications Assistant. There is also a great blessing as Olivet welcomes Pastor Gary Erdmann, who is helping with visitation for the summer months. Olivet is Gary’s home congregation. Welcome home, Gary! There was also discussion about future staffing needs. Currently, there is now a posting for Volunteer Coordinator/Financial Secretary, as we anticipate Gail Berg’s retirement in November. In addition, we had conversation of future needs for pastoral staff, as well as expanding staff for Children, Youth, and Family Ministries. We’re holding our own, yet as we continue to grow and set goals in our Strategic Planning Process, staffing needs will grow as well. The Spirit is alive and well, and has much for us in this faith community. Our next Open Forum is scheduled for October 1. I’m sure we’ll have more good conversation.

Perhaps the most exciting and somewhat shocking news that was shared is an incredible gift we will receive in the near future. Olivet is named as a beneficiary in the estate of Irene Olson, who for years resided at Manor Care across the street from us, and passed away in January. While not an Olivet member, Irene was touched by our ministry. The anticipated gift is in the neighborhood of $500,000. Irene designated this gift to be used equally in four areas of ministry; Mission, Education, Radio Fund, and the General Fund. Our Church Council gathered several knowledgeable and skilled financial people to help construct guidelines for faithfully using this gift. In short, the advice is to identify some immediate needs and uses, and invest a large portion in endowments, thus establishing long-term ministry benefits from the gift. This seems wise, prudent, and faithful advice, as we seek to honor the spirit and intent of a cheerful giver.

Perhaps the most insightful response I’ve heard to this news is that we never know how we impact the lives of others. Irene Olson had the grace and wherewithal to offer a financial gift. Others have different ways to offer gratitude, while for the vast majority of our encounters we never know the outcome. Yet, as we are ambassadors for Christ we continue to faithfully share love and grace, and let the Spirit transform hearts and minds.

Indeed, we as the Olivet congregation, are deeply blessed in a variety of ways. Perhaps our own generosity and cheerful giving is inspired by the likes of givers who have gone before us. The Spirit of Christ has a great mission for us. May we seek to live faithfully in response to all God’s good gifts.

Pastor Kris Gorden