Transition Information

Special Congregational Meeting

August 23, 2020

A special congregational meeting was held after church to consider the draft proposal between Bethany Lutheran Church and Helderberg Lutheran Church on the offer to share Pastor Silvernail from September 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020., with this contract renewable until May 31, 2021. There were 24 members present. President Cornwell reviewed the contract and highlighted the major points of both the contract and attached schedules.

Pastor Jeff briefly spoke about the arrangement stating that beginning in September he would be working with the confirmation class, having a weekly bible study and be available for meeting with members of the congregation. He also stated that most likely he would devote more than 50 % of his time to Bethany and that is why the contract is written on a short-term commitment.

President Cornwell than opened up the meeting to anyone having questions or concerns.

Cathy Ciaizzo asked if Synod was ok with this deal. Chris replied that Synod is okay with this arrangement as they already have in place contracts with Helderberg until next May and a contract with Bethany until next May. This was just an arrangement between Bethany and Helderberg as to how to split the cost due Pastor. As for our local Dean of the Foothill Conference, we have had no communication with him since last March. Chris mentioned that Pastor Jeff speaks with Synod and our local Dean.

Betty asked about the future and finding a permanent Pastor at Bethany. Pastor Silvernail will work with both Bethany and Helderberg to help us in obtaining a Pastor to share.

President Cornwell mentioned that Helderberg had already met and is ok with this contract,

No other comments or questions were asked.

President Cornwell than said he would like to get a motion to enter this contract with Helderberg Lutheran Church from Sept. 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020, with the terms outlined and presented, at a cost of $48, 737. Per year to be split 50/50.

Dorothy Lawyer made the motion, Shirley Lawyer seconded, and the motion was carried unanimously.

Other Comments made were Dorothy Lawyer liked Pastor Silvernail as he is down to earth. Someone else mentioned they like meeting outside for service this summer. Chris said we would continue to meet outside as long as weather permits. President Cornwell said that we could consider doing this next summer, and hopefully we would not have to sit so far apart. Chris also mentioned that the painting has been completed. We were awaiting word from the contractors on availability of when they can install the carpet. Yvonne mentioned that it has been great working with Helderberg on this proposal and thanked everyone for coming to the meeting. Linda Carman stated that the money in this contract is only for a part time call for a Pastor and that if we wanted full time it would be double the cost. Yvonne mentioned that Sunday School would most likely be once or twice a month. Pastor Silvernail will assist Yvonne in setting up a Sunday School schedule.

The Garage Sale is September 12 and we o sell, plus help on Friday and Saturday. Also mentioned was the Turkey Supper flyers and the fact that tickets will be pre-sold only. More details later.

Motion was made to adjourn the meeting was made by Bob Klingbeil and seconded by Linda Klingbeil and meeting was adjourned.


A Letter of Agreement for Intentional Interim Pastor


Bethany Lutheran Church (BLC)


Helderberg Lutheran Church (HLC)


Rev. Jeff Silvernail, Pastoral Leader


(At Present HLC has one-year Intentional Interim Contract

BLC has one-year Transitional Ministry Contract)

Section A: Times of Work and Leave

  1. The Pastor will be available during the week for pastoral care, emergencies, other services as required for a total of 25 hours per week (20 hours in currently contract with HLC plus 5 hours Pastor of Record BLC). Time is to be split between BLC and HLC at the ratio of 50/50 split. This split is to be renegotiated in November 2020, based on how much time is required by BLC and HLC – perhaps a 40/60 split is needed. At present time due to COVID 19 is yet to be determined.

  2. Pastor will cover both Sunday morning services (currently at 9 AM at BLC and 10:30AM at HLC) One Sunday each month Pastor serves at Gilead. Each congregation will be responsible for the payment to a supply preacher on this Sunday.

  3. Per Synod 2020 Minimum Compensation, Pastor is allowed five (5) weeks of vacation per year which includes 5 Sundays. Each congregation will be responsible for payment to a supply pastor on these Sundays.

  4. Pastor is allowed two (2) weeks additional time per year, which includes Sundays, for Continuing Education. Each congregation will be responsible for payment to a supply pastor on these Sundays.

Section B: Compensation

  1. Pastor’s total cash stipend contract for the period of the agreement will be $48,737.00. Per year. See attached Schedule A. This amount is to be paid semi-monthly. (monthly)

  2. The Pastor may designate a portion of cash compensation as housing allowance and /or medical reimbursement according to the appropriate Internal Revenue Code. The Council’s shall approve this.

Section C: Expenses

Each Congregation separately shall pay the following expenses incurred by the Pastor in fulfilling the duties of office up to the budgeted amount:

  1. Travel expenses, at IRS allowed rate, plus out of pocket cost of parking fees, tolls, bus fare, etc. when working on behalf of each congregation and upon submission of appropriate documentation shall be paid by each congregation individually, when submitted by Pastor to each congregation’s Treasurer.

  2. As Pastor is serving two separate congregation, any expenses for Synod Assembly will be a 50/50 split.


Section D: Revision

  1. This letter will be in effect for the term of 9/1/2020 thru 12/31/2020 and may be revised by mutual agreement of both Councils and the Pastor. This agreement with BLC and HLC will be reviewed no later than 12/15/2020 so that a new agreement may be signed for the period of 1/1/2021 through 5/31/2021. This agreement will then be reviewed no later than 5/1/2021 by both councils and this agreement will be renewable.

  2. If after the period has ended on 5/31/2021, if BLC is the congregation that will be paying for more than 50% of the contract price, we may re-negotiate and request a new Agreement thru Synod with BLC holding the contract.

Section E: Other Agreements

  1. This Letter of Agreement shall be made part of the minutes of each of the Congregational Councils following its signing.

  2. If the Pastor or either of the Congregational Councils are in disagreement concerning this Letter of Agreement or should there be a presenting reason to reconsider the continuation of this agreement, either party may request a meeting for the purposes of discussion and resolution.

Section F: Payment of Compensation

  1. Payment to Pastor Silvernail for Compensation will be made on the 15th and 30th of each month by BLC and HLC.

  2. Payment for BLC share of this contract shall be made to HLC on the 15th and 30th of each month, see Schedule B attached.

  3. Payment for Vouchered Reimbursement will be made within 10 days of submission by Pastor Silvernail to each congregation’s Treasurer.

  4. Payment for Continuing Education shall be made by each congregation upon submission of paperwork by Pastor Silvernail to each of the congregations Treasurers.


Date: ___________________________________

Pastor: __________________________________

Jeff Silvernail

Congregational President: _________________________________________________

Bethany Lutheran

Congregational President: _________________________________________________

Helderberg Lutheran



Schedule A (Letter of Agreement)

Helderberg Lutheran Church IIP Contract

Cash to Pastor:

Base Salary $18,077.00

Housing Allowance $ 6,240.00

Social Security Offset $ 1,860.00

Total Cash to Pastor Helderberg Contract $26,177.00


Benefits to Pastor

Retirement $3,141.00

Health Coverage $4,392.00

Additional Health Coverage $1,668.00

Disability Survivor Benefits $ 759.00

Total Health and Pension $9960.00

Total Contract with HLC $36,137.00

No Mileage included


Bethany Lutheran Church Transitional Ministry Contract

Additional Cash to Pastor

Monthly Stipend $6,600.00

Supply Pastor Salary $6,000

Total Contract with BLC $12,600.00

No Mileage included


Total Combined Contracts $48,737.00 New Contract Total



Monthly Amount $4,061.42

This would include for each congregation

Vacation (5 weeks including 5 Sundays)

2 Weeks of Continuing Education (includes 2 Sundays)

Days off (part time call – 25 hours per week,

to include one Sunday off per month (Gilead)


Vouchered Reimbursement

Auto (2020 IRS Rate .575/mile) plus tolls, parking $2,500.00 (estimated)

To be reimbursed by each congregation as submitted

By Pastor for each congregations’ purposes (estimated)


Continuing Education $500.00 (estimated)

To be split 50/50 by Berne and Bethany




Schedule B Based on a 50/50 split (Letter of Agreement)

Total 50/50 split

Amount paid by

Each congregation

Base Salary $18,077.00 $9,038.50

Housing Allowance $ 6,240.00 $3,120.00

Social Security Offset $ 1,860.00 $ 930.00

Total Cash to Pastor Helderberg Contract $26,177.00 $13,088.50


Benefits to Pastor

Retirement $3,141.00 $1,570.50

Health Coverage $4,392.00 $2,196.00

Additional Health Coverage $1,668.00 $ 834.00

Disability Survivor Benefits $ 759.00 $ 379.50

Total Health and Pension $9,960.00 $4,980.00


Additional Cash to Pastor – BLC

Monthly Stipend $6,600.00 $3,300.00

Supply Pastor Salary $6,000.00 $3,000.00

Total Cash to Pastor BLC Contract $12,600.00 $6,300.00



Total Combined Contracts and Health and Pension $48,737.00 $24,368.50

*Does not include Mileage


Monthly Cost Total Due Pastor $4,061.42 $2,030.71

Bi-Monthly Cost Total Due Pastor $2,030.71 $1,015.35

Per congregation


Vacation 5 Sundays

Continuing Education 2 Sundays

One Sunday per month off (Gilead)

Mileage is additional cost

Continuing Education To be paid by each congregation

  • HLC Pays Bi-monthly current contract of $1,505.71

  • BLC Pays Bi-monthly offset for Pastor of $525.00 to bring total to $2,030.71 for Pastor

  • BLC Pays bi-monthly offset to HLC of ($1,505.71 - $1015.35) = $490.36

  • BLC Total = $1,015.35; HLC Total = $1,015.35 (50%/50%)

Schedule C Estimated Cost to BLC (50/50split) Letter of Agreement


Total Combined Contracts and Health and Pension $24,368.50


Mileage for Pastor Silvernail (est.) $ 1,400.00


Continuing Education for Pastor Silvernail $ 250.00


Supply Pastor one Sunday per month x 12 months $ 1,800.00

Mileage for Supply (estimate) $ 800.00

Supply for Vacation Sundays (5) $ 750.00

Mileage for Supply vacation Sundays $ 300.00

Supply Pastor for continuing Education (2) $ 300.00

Mileage for supply for continuing Education $ 120.00

Total Ministry Cost for BLC $30,088.50


Organist Cost per year - estimate based on 2020 budget $ 6,895.00

Sexton Cost per year – estimate based on 2020 budget $ 2,879.00**

General Expenses – based on 2020 budget $15,774.00

Benevolence – based on 2020 budget $ 1,725.00

New Projected budget based on 2020 budget $57,361.50


**Sexton will need to hire new, unknown rate

Weekly amount needed to meet new budget $1,103.11


Current average weekly giving as of July 31, 2020, (30-weeks) $31,994.81 or $1,066.49

(shortfall of ~$37.00/week)


Current average weekly giving as of July 31, 2019, (30-weeks) $38,836.82 or $1,294.56

(surplus of ~$191/week)

In person worship starts on July 5th
– outside on the yard at 9:00 am-
Bring a comfy chair


 Council meet on Monday night (6/1) with Pastor Jeff in person (social distanced of course) and a few key updates to go over with everyone:
  • We agreed to start discussions with a formal partnering with Helderberg Lutheran Church in Berne which Pastor Jeff is serving as an Interim Pastor currently. A small committee consisting of Carol, Jeanette, Yvonne, and myself will lead this with HLC and our first meeting is this coming Monday, June 8th at Bethany to start discussions.
  • We discussed worship start up. As of the guidance we had from the State and ELCA Monday night,  we had decided to resume worship services on July 5th outside for the summer months through September. We will have a mic and meet under the maple shade trees behind the parking lot. We will have chairs, but the preferred method will be to bring your own chair if possible
  • This will also start a ‘trial’ run of our shared services with HLC in which time services will start at 9:00AM for the month of July, while HCL will be moved to 10:30.  Pastor Jeff will be leading these 4 Sunday worships for the month.
  • Also our painters are supposed be starting up the sanctuary  painting project here in the coming weeks now that they have resume work and this way if we meet outside we don’t’ have to worry about coordinating with them or have to worry as much on sanitary precautions and think it will make everyone at ease.  So in case of rain, bad weather – we will figure that game plan out. 
  • However, based upon the guidance from yesterday on the news, it sounds like we technically could resume earlier – so that is something I will go over with Council and the thought is we might resume worship at the regular 9:30 for the remainder of June with Pastor Bert outside staring on June 14th.  More to come on this this week.
Pastor Jeff Silvernail's Transition Sermon

Pastor Jeff has prepared some opening remarks:


I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19


Christians just celebrated Pentecost hearing the story of the mighty wind filling the house and the tongues of flame resting on each of the faithful who then spoke in the native languages of all who were gathered in Jerusalem. Exciting stuff.


Of course, we celebrated that unable to gather in the sanctuary for worship. I know many of you read the Celebrate insert, watch Pastor Bert’s sermons or in other ways worship. As a leader I really do appreciate your efforts to continue in the spirit and practice of worship. We are learning that worship is not confined to physical spaces.


We have also learned the language of pandemic. It may not be something we wanted to learn but besides just learning about virus transmission we have learned how important it is to care for each other. We have put into practice sacrificing our own desires to love and keep our neighbors safe. Don’t discount this important lesson.


A fresh new wind is blowing through our region and through our church. As Upstate New York is navigating the phases of reopening, I want you to know that your leadership is being proactive in considering the best and safest way to gather for worship.


That fresh wind of the Spirit seems to be telling us that for the near future “Drive-In” worship in our parking lot is the way to go. We have a large lot and a relatively small congregation. We can socially distance our cars roll down the window and even sing. Then as soon as it is safe to do so we will reenter into the sacred space you have held dear for so many generations.


I was on an ELCA sponsored Zoom presentation a few days ago in which the presenter said, “Imagine it was Ash Wednesday and you announced that this year for the sake of our members and community, we were not going to have public services for Lent, Holy Week, Easter or Pentecost. People would have thought it was a joke!”


But then he continued, “However more people listened to an Easter message this year than at any time in history!” There is a fresh wind blowing through the church. Thanks be to God!


Blessings in Christ,

Pastor Jeff

Interrum Pastor of Record
Pastor Bert Mayne will serve as Pastor of Record from 4/15-5/31/20.  As of 6/1/20, Pastor Jeff Silvernail will serve as Pastor of Record until at least the end of August. 
The discussion with Zion/St. John's, Seward came to an end without an agreement being reached.  Next discussions will  be with Helderberg Lutheran Church in Berne.

New Pastor-of-Record
Bethany has signed a two-month contract with Robin Ressler (currently of UMC Church in Barnerville) as directed by Synod.  She will be on call as Pastor Zejac was, until we work out a longer term solution.

Meeting of Bethany & Zion St. John's, Seward
Both councils of Bethany & Zion St John's met on Feb. 16th to discuss the possibility of sharing as Intentional Interum Pastor for a one-year time period.  there is still much to talk over and we have scheduled a meeting for Feb 29th @ Seward.  Most of the discussion is the breakdown of hours vs Sunday Services, and doing what is fair for both congregations.

Subject: Bethany IIP with Pastor Silvernail next Steps  - January 15, 2020
Dean Simurro and Pastor Silvernail
Thank you for meeting with Bethany this evening. Following our meeting a motion was made, seconded, and approved by all to allow this process to move to the next steps which is have a similar meeting with you both with Zion St John’s.  Following this discussion, and upon a similar motion by Zion St Johns Council the next steps would be for a joint meeting of by Councils to discuss a potential sharing agreement.
As for a timing for all of this, it is anticipated the meeting with Zion St Johns will occur before Pastor Silvernail departs for vacation by the end of January which, pending similar outcomes from Seward will allow both of our congregation councils to meet early February to begin joint scheduling and negotiations of a shared arrangement.
Please keep us posted as to you conversation with Zion St Johns. I have cc’d Bethany Council on this along with Zion St Johns and will also be letting our Congregation know of our next steps.
Possible Intentional Interum Pastor Jeff SIlvernail can been seen preaching on this Youtube link.
I inadvertantly deleted the items I had here.  I will add any new information going forward.  Cathy
This is the 2019 Annual Report as presented at the January 2020 Congregational Meeting. I did not scan the 2018 Report, nor the pages from the ELCA's Report.  This is my own, scribbled on copy; sorry.