News And Updates

August: Greetings from Pastor Nate

by Pastor Nate Phillips on August 01, 2021

August 2021

Dear Kirk family,

Sometimes the news is bad.
The bad news of last spring affected the shape of our lives in almost every way possible. We will recover - as individuals,
families, and a church community - but it will take us some time and the psychological aftershock makes it tough to see
light when it shines.
Sometimes the news is bad.

But, sometimes, the news is good.
I know I need to be reminded of that - maybe you do too.
Sometimes the test results align with our hopes. Sometimes the cost comes in better than the estimate. Sometimes the
call back comes with a great offer.
Sometimes the news is good.
I have spent my entire career in church ministry concerned by the overarching decline in the traditional
church. Presbyterian pastors have come to assume that the only growing churches are evangelical and nondenominational.
My colleagues and I have felt that our job is to stem the tide the best that we can. The latest news,
however, offers a different kind of story.

In what Religion News Service calls an “unprecedented data set,” they report,
“White Christian decline has slowed. Mainline (traditional) Protestants now outnumber white evangelicals … and
religiously unaffiliated Americans, or ‘nones’ in religion demography parlance, have lost ground.”
While we must admit that this is only one snapshot of information, could it be that the rumors of the death of traditional
church have been greatly exaggerated?!
Sometimes the news is good.

I believe that our ministry at Kirk in the Hills supports this narrative.

  • Our in-person worshiping community is coming back stronger than could be expected with three services (8:00 a.m.
    in the chapel, 9:00 a.m. in the garden, and 10:15 a.m. in the sanctuary) every Sunday. It is so life-giving to see one
    another in person and I hope you will come back when you are ready. We continue to offer online options at 9 a.m.
    and 10:15 a.m. along with the radio at 11:00 a.m. and we are finding that hundreds of people continue to tune in
    every week. Our total attendance, combined in-person and online, is in line with our pre-covid numbers. In
    addition, the Garden Club for children continues to be a huge hit … growing in numbers of children again this year.

  • Our front patio project is complete and it is gorgeous! Come and check out the beautiful blue stone that matches the
    sanctuary and cloister. We will return to having summer coffee hour on the patio on August 15.

  • In a year when we didn’t know if travel could happen, our youth pulled off a mission trip to Appalachia last month
    and our young adults are headed to Traverse this month. They will share about their experiences in worship on
    August 29. Plans are already in the works for next year’s mission trips!

  • We are excited to be celebrating our 75th Anniversary next year! So many fun plans are in the works - including a
    pilgrimage to Scotland, an original logo and promotional materials, a celebratory weekend in November of 2022,
    and an expansive fundraising campaign to address our current needs and follow God’s vision forward.

  • Speaking of that, the Anniversary Campaign is off to a fantastic start with an ambitious goal of $5 million to be
    raised. I am so grateful for the generosity being offered already! If you would like to participate in the “Visiting
    Phase” (going on now), please let Bob Libcke know by emailing and he will get you
    scheduled with one of the pastors or a member of the campaign executive committee. We would love to visit and
    share the vision and invite your participation in the campaign.

  • The church’s finances are in solid shape. Last year we ended with a healthy budget surplus and our endowments
    currently sit at their highest amount in the history of the church. In the wake of the pandemic, we were most
    worried about our operating budget for this year - but we are on steady footing and should finish the year strong as
    long as pledged and non-pledged giving keeps up as it has. Thank you for your amazing generosity and support! If
    you can make a special gift to the church this year, it would be most welcome.

  • We are glad to have an exciting group of new members joining this month. A healthy-sized, intergenerational
    group is taking the class and will be Kirk members on August 15. We will have another class at the end of September
    - so bring someone to church and help them find their home with us! We also look forward to a tremendous
    confirmation class this fall that will encompass two grades (9th and 10th graders) and will be led by Pastor
    Kelsey. Email her at to register.

  • Soon we will announce a complete interim music team. We are so fortunate to have Nicole Joseph and Dennis Curry
    to provide stability and excellence. Even this summer, Nicole included twenty youth in the “It’s Cool in the
    Furnace” musical production! You can hear an excerpt in worship on August 8 and see it live in the refectory on
    August 13 at 3 pm. An online offering of the production will be available later in the month. Dennis has, once
    again, blessed us with an amazing summer carillon series - such a blessing every single weekend. Even still, we look
    forward to introducing you to new additions to complete the interim team in the very near future.

  • Our pastoral team is in a position of great strength - we have incredible pastors for formation, mission, and youth in
    place. When was the last time the Kirk went a year without having an interim or search team in place? Ten years
    ago? More? Let’s keep the team together!

  • What kind of “good news” list can you make for your life? In a world that is addicted to the telling and retelling of bad
    news, it can be liberating and motivating to remind ourselves that the Spirit continues to move.
    Sometimes the news is good.
    I know I need to be reminded of that - maybe you do too.
    I can’t wait to send my September letter - and roll out what we have planned for this fall. Be sure to mark your calendars
    for Homecoming Sunday on September 12! Until then, have a great rest of the summer and …
    Stay warm,
    Pastor Nate


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