We had a very good year financially in 2009. Back in September I expressed concern and you responded. We have broken the disturbing pattern of spending just a bit more than we earn, and I’m grateful for that.
Thank you to my fellow Board members for your contributions. Olaf, Thad, and Dorte are leaving the Board to return to busy lives. Have fun with that and expect us to call on you again in the not too distant future.
Thank you to Solvejg who again this year has served on the Nominating Committee. You have a fantastic talent for knowing everybody and knowing us better than we know ourselves. If you had gone into business a few decades ago, you would now be sitting on millions. Instead the church benefits, and we’re grateful for that.
I want to thank Knud and Doris. You are involved in so many things from Movie Night to the Kitchen & Lift Project that I’m afraid we often take you for granted and think that surely somebody thanked you just recently. You are pillars in this church; thank you.
Also thank you to Bodil and Bodil. You have been a great help for me figuring out how to be president, you have kept me from putting my foot in things, and with our combined efforts the daily administration of the church has worked out pretty smoothly. The Tuesday mafia has been a great team.
We have many plans for this year: The Kitchen & Lift, extending the Memorial Walk, even some early thought about how we might celebrate our 75th anniversary in 2012. But we should also go beyond plans and dream a little bit. Where might we be in, say, ten years? We plan another Visions and Goals Seminar this spring, but let me share some of my thoughts now. Then you mull it over and come up with something better.
We need to be better at learning from others. Last year Knud and Doris visited the Danish church in Calgary to see how they pull off their bazaar. Knud and Doris came home with their heads full of ideas. I don’t expect those ideas to turn into Grand Plans, just small adjustments in how we do things. Small changes so obvious that we’ll soon think that we have always done it that way. I suggest that you do likewise: when you travel, make a point of visiting a DSUK church or any volunteer organisation and ask them how they do it. Then bring home the good ideas and let’s try them out little by little.
We should reach out to other churches here in Greater Vancouver. We have spent many decades being the church in the Danish community; we should become the Danes in the church community. I don’t know exactly how we should reach out, what the content and context should be, but I feel that we have isolated ourselves. Once out of need, maybe, but now we need to part of a larger network. I invite you to help me look out for opportunities for connecting.
We need to be better at putting money in the basket Sunday morning. We are very good at fund-raisers: rummage sales, bazaars, meals. We’re not so good at letting go of our money without getting anything back. We laugh about buying stuff at a rummage sale only to bring it back to the next sale. True, the church makes a few dollars each time, but it is a lot of work. If we could change our attitude and simply put the money in the basket, we could earn the same revenue and save the trouble. But it takes a change of heart. Can we do that?
What do we do when Granly no longer has a pastor? Granly has shown remarkable resilience—bless them–but expecting the end is reasonable and prudent. There is work for more then one pastor in the Danish community; the pastor doesn’t just work on Sundays. How will we deal with that? Do we turn our backs to the Danes living south of the river and on Vancouver Island? Do we ask our pastor to work harder? Now that DSUK is getting closer to Folkekirken and, maybe, closer to Folkekirken’s financial resources, do we look to them to fund a fractional seamen’s pastor? Or is that just wishful thinking? Do we ourselves hire a young (and therefore cheaper) pastor? or maybe an intern: someone who has not quite finished his or her education as a pastor? If we do hire someone, does it have to be a Dane? Could we have a senior pastor from DSUK and a Canadian intern or junior pastor? How much work would it be for our senior pastor to train the younger one? And how do we pay for it?
But focussing on the money is not always the right way. When we think about the future, we often get stuck worrying about money. Then we should turn things around and remember that the money will come by itself as long as coming into this building is worthwhile. So there is the true challenge: how do we keep the activities in this building fun and meaningful and inspiring.
Mogens Lemvig Hansen, President.
Postscript: Another idea came up right after the Annual General Meeting, so I include it here lest I forget about it. When Granly closes, maybe what we need is not a junior pastor but a youth secretary, ungdomssekretær, as in several other DSUK churches. A youth secretary could be an important ingredient in reaching out to Danes who are passing through Vancouver and in general expanding our activities both short term and long term. That still leads us with a problem when our pastor is on vacation (or sick, or when we are between pastors), but maybe we could solve that by cooperating with another local Lutheran church. We do after all have decades of experience with exactly such an arrangement.