Thinking of the past year I can only say that it is amazing how fast the years are passing by nowadays. I am looking forward to turning 90 and to see how fast the years will pass at that age.
It has been a good year! Looking at the statistics we had more of everything, more baptisms, at least one more than last year, more confirmands, more wedding, more people attending the Danish church services, more people attending the English church services, and unfortunately more funerals than last year too.
We have had a wonderful engagement in many different tasks by volunteers; the finances are absolutely O.K., the cooperation with Granly is developing and expanding without any problems. It has been a joy to attend all the board meetings; a bad word was never said there.
Dee and I are very thankful for many wonderful people’s encouragement and support.
The change from being affiliated with DKU to DSUK seems to cause no problems; everything works more or less the same way as always.
If you compare the programs run by our church from one year to the next, this last year has been as good as any other year. Lots of people have been here for many different reasons from attending church services to watching old Danish movies or buying stuff at a rummage sale.
When I said that the finances are O.K. it was because we are so blessed here in this church that we have never had to stop any activity or not start a new activity because of lack of funds.
I am fully aware of the fact that this takes many peoples hard work, no doubt about that, but they, and we, see the result. In this church we have been able to do what we planned and what we wanted to do. That is something to be very thankful for.
It is always dangerous to start mentioning names when you want to say thank you, because you will so easily forget someone who deserved to be mentioned, but there are a few I must mention. Thank you to the entire church board for your understanding and support, thank you to the President of the Board with whom I have had a Thursday morning meeting every week, where many questions have been tackled. Thank you to Sharole Tylor, who kind of works behind the curtain. She is putting every issue of the newsletter together and she is having the contact to the different groups who wants events announced as well as to the advertisers who may want to have prices changed for every new issue. Sharole has taken a big workload away from me leaving me more time for other things.
Thank you to Bodil, the church’s and my secretary, without her I would often be lost, she knows where everything is, she is often two steps ahead of me regarding planning and executing all the things that come to church office, more important, at least sometimes she makes coffee, and most important of all she is always cheerful and has a smile on her face. Thank you Bodil, for always being such a great help to me.
I will mention one person more, namely Dee, my wife. None of you can know how much she means to the church, but I know. Without her and her support and her understanding of the fact that I work to the wee hours most days every week, I would not have been able to do my job. Thank you, Dee!
Those of you who know me, will now think that cannot be it! There most be something more, he never makes such short speeches
You are right, because it scares me a little that everything runs that smoothly, it is as if we have no problems, no challenges, if we just do as we have always done, things will keep on running.
Maybe and maybe not. I am in no way trying to have a negative attitude, but I really think that we need challenges in our church, something to achieve, we should go somewhere, we should set a goal or two and move towards them.
A few years ago we were challenged to stop thinking only of ourselves. Until then we had donated a few hundred dollars to The Canadian Bible Society, to Camp Luther, and to The Lutheran World Relief Program, and that was it. Since then we have developed a program to support LUMS, we have early morning breakfasts in our church, we collect clothing and more for the people living downtown east side Vancouver. We are actually caring for and donating to people outside our own congregation!
I will now disclose to you what I think should be the next big challenge to our church. First a rhetorical question, what are we doing, as a church, to try to get new members, new people to attend the church services and the other programs in our church?
I am afraid that the only answer would be, not a thing!
We have been so blessed, that we have had quite a few people attending almost everything going on in our church. It has not really been necessary for us to do anything, and frankly speaking it is a lot easier not to have to do anything.
I am not jumping onto the wagon with the people who always tell us that the Danish immigrants are dying and one day there will be no one left, and then we can close the church and sell it to some other immigrants. No, so far new people have come every time we have lost some of our faithful members.
But you know what, we have always talked about the at least 15,000 Danes in Greater Vancouver. Even if we include Granly I think that we only have contact to between 2 and 3,000, what about the rest? What about the group of university students and teachers from Denmark coming over every year? What about the new immigrants, yes, because new immigrants are coming all the time, maybe not in big numbers, but they are coming.
I will spare you here at the Annual General Meeting the rest of my long list. We will very soon have a joint board meeting for the church boards in Granly and in our church, and they will get the whole list of challenges for the future of the Danish Church in Greater Vancouver as I see it.
I know, some of you may want to say, well, that was a little late to come up with all these ideas, you are on your way out, yes, but some one will follow me.
You may wonder why not more of my speech here tonight is about the fact that Dee and I are leaving in two and a half months, why I am not responding more to the nice thank you words from the President in his report.
The reason is that I am still working full speed until May 31st, I will save all my thoughts regarding retirement and thanking the congregation that has given me the most wonderful years as a pastor, I will save all that to the very end.
Until then folks, we have a job to do, we are here as those who, by the grace of God, have a wonderful church to gather in, as those who have the possibility of sharing that with as many people as possible. We, each and everyone of us, are sent by God to the people we meet in the sanctuary, in the kitchen, in the church hall, in the Sunday school, outside the church.
Our warm heart, our smile, our gentleness, our care, our friendly words may help someone to cross the doorstep to the Danish Lutheran Church, that is a church with a great future.
Kai Glud, Pastor.