Cornerstone Update 3/4
NOTE: This letter contains two very important messages. One is an update on some of the exciting opportunities unfolding. The other is an announcement for a special called business meeting on March 7, 2021 following the morning worship gathering in-person and online. Each section is highlighted by a bold paragraph title, in case you want to jump between spaces.
MINISTRY UPDATES: Two years ago, my family moved halfway across the country and way up north to help lead Cornerstone into new directions in our newest location. As I met with the search team, church staff, and board during that hiring process, I believed Cornerstone’s brightest future was rooted in biblical teaching, leadership equipping, community mission and church multiplying. Two years later, we are moving down that path.
Despite COVID-19, we have taken intentional steps in building friendships with like-minded Christian men and women in the Greater Twin Cities. Partnering with Training Leaders International and From Scattered to Gathered (Bruce and Julie Adamson), we are set to begin a Diaspora Church Leadership Cohort in the Fall of 2021.
Diaspora is a word used to describe immigrant peoples who have moved from their respective homelands into new communities. Recent data tells us that 1 of every 3 citizens in the Greater Twin Cities is an immigrant person. By the year 2030, that number will be an estimated one million citizens, 90% of whom will have no relationship with Jesus Christ, based on religious affiliations today. We are working now to create space and opportunity to influence and invite these beautiful people into a relationship with Jesus.
We have slowly begun initiatives to incubate new church plants who desire to partner with Cornerstone in reaching immigrant citizens. We have piloted the first of these church plants with Esau Jasper as the lead planter of a multicultural, African immigrant centric gathering. We are in regular conversations with two other church planters Alfonso Morales, from Guatemala, who is working to plant a multicultural Spanish-speaking church and Nyng Yang, part of a Hmong church planting team who feels called to our neighborhood. Research data affirms that each of these immigrant groups represent the fastest growing immigrant populations in the Northwest Metro. These developing partnerships represent intentional steps towards engaging our multi-cultural community.
In the wake of the tragic events surrounding the death of George Floyd, we have partnered with Itzinya, an entrepreneurship development organization investing in young entrepreneurs mainly in the developing world, and forcibly displaced people in Europe, equipping them to start and grow small and medium size companies that enables them to employ other young people. Itzinya’s leadership desires to see the Twin Cities’ most deeply disparaging neighborhoods benefit from idea incubation, business coaching and entrepreneurial catalyzation. Cornerstone member Charles Kolstad and I attended the initial training for coaching program. Itzinya is currently recruiting a second wave of potential coaches and business-minded mentors before launching the program in full later in 2021.
The chaplaincy program, which we piloted in November 2019, also has found life in the wake of this tragic summer. In the next few months and at their request, I will be meeting with city leaders across the Twin Cities, to discuss equipping and training community chaplains across several neighborhoods. These chaplains will be equipped to help city leaders by using skills to deescalate neighborhood tensions, identify mental health stressors, and help calm potentially traumatic situations before they happen.
As we seek to connect with young people in our community, our youth director, Christian Schnurpel, has worked diligently to build friendship with the Northwest Metro’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Two districts are in need of meeting space, Cooper High School and Brooklyn Center High School. We are soon to become the primary meeting hub for these young people to have a safe place to connect in faith and athletics together.
We are also in the process of developing an intentionally designed online church community that would be staffed and readied to engage the expanding online community of faith that has developed over the past year as COVID-19 disrupted the way much of our lives have looked. We are looking at this digital campus as if it existed as a stand-alone church plant. The advancement of Kingdom influence in these digital commons is an exciting missionary opportunity.
These opportunities do not represent all the amazing ministry shifts and developments that have happened since COVID-19 transitioned the way Cornerstone’s ministry looks. Shawna, Kim, Christian, and Linda have been an incredible team to work with through the weight of crisis we have witnessed over the past year. Our worship team, tech team, greeting team, finance team and board have been great supports as well. Your faithfulness to our Emergency Aid Fund allowed us to help four times the number of families than we did the prior year through the economic crisis caused by COVID-19.
MEETING ANNOUNCEMENT: The harder pieces of ministry before us, from a forward progress point-of-view, all come from the need for additional help. Due to financial restrictions and critical timing caused by the pandemic, we are short-handed on staff. In the simplest way of saying this, we need help.
Adding to this need for help, our long-time financial administrator and bookkeeper, Linda Howell, has submitted her resignation effective June 2021. Linda has faithfully served Cornerstone both on staff from her days at Happy Time to her current role in our finance office and has served faithfully as a volunteer leader in children’s ministry, leading our missions support team and serving our community through Dinners at Your Door.
Linda’s pending retirement adds to the load left behind from previous transitions over the past year. Several of you have offered incredible help to keep many office tasks moving. We are thankful. And still, we need help. To that end, we would like to hire a full-time associate pastor, who would help carry the load of many of these exciting initiatives as Cornerstone seeks to advance the Kingdom in our community.
Recently, we were blessed with a memorial gift that could provide the salary for an associate pastor, thus accelerating the hiring process. Additionally, our Finance Team and Board applied for Phase 1 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provided under the Federal Government’s COVID-19 support for businesses, non-profits and churches. This program provides fully forgivable loans up to 2.5 months of payroll expenses. Our application qualifies for $59, 924.
The total funds of the gift and the PPP would provide two years’ worth of salary for the associate pastor we desire to bring on board. We are hoping to have this position filled by Summer 2021.
Although this loan is declared as fully forgivable in the application and approval letter, it still originates as a loan, thus we must have congregational approval to move forward. Respectfully, the application was approved far quicker than we honestly expected.
We anticipate that many of you have questions. We hope to answer them. We anticipate shared excitement with much of what was shared in this letter. We believe you care about Cornerstone and the well-being of our faith community. Therefore, we invite your voice, through discussion and vote regarding the acceptance or rejection of the approved PPP. Thus, we are hosting a special called meeting on March 7, 2021 following the morning worship. This meeting will be conducted both in-person and online. Absentee ballots are not necessary for this kind of meeting, and thus will not be made available.
On a personal note, I am as excited today as I was when Cornerstone brought the Bratchers to Minnesota two years ago. As I have said all year, we must be the church beyond the building. I see so much good and Gospel-centric work happening now and sense even more to come. Thank you…each and every one of you… for your continued support, prayers and encouragement. Let’s keep doing good, shining light and sharing Christ’s love with all!
Glad to Be Your Pastor,
Hi Pastor Jeremy, I realize your plate is full. I would, however, like to mention that there is another population that gets overlooked frequently. Veterans. Believe it or not here in the Twin Cities we have a huge population of homeless veterans. Is there something we can do as a church to reach out to this population of men and women to let them know that we care and show them the love of Jesus. I know some of them aren't right in their minds, but I believe through Jesus Christ they can be healed. Please let me know what I can do. In my heart these are my brothers and sisters.