Impact Report 2021

it's a wonderful life

2021 IN REVIEW

Okay, maybe that’s not how you would sum up this last year.

But we have seen some amazing things this year, and we hope that you take some time to hear the wonderful things that the Lord has been doing in the hearts of our church family, in our community, and in the world.

The lights at morning star

Few events bring together as many of Morning Star’s core values as The Lights at Morning Star. We believe in missional living, in bringing Jesus to our community in culturally relevant ways. We value family, whether born or created or fostered. We want everything we do to be glorifying to God by doing it the best we can. 

From creating an excellent story based on biblical truth to supporting our foster care community, this event truly represents our heart for people to know our Savior, experience His love, and live a Jesus-first life. 

Usually an event of this size would take 10-12 months to plan and execute. Our team of amazing staff and volunteers did it in just two, reaching almost 18,000 people and raising over $20,000 to support Salem Angels, a non-profit who’s mission is to walk alongside children, youth, and families in the foster care community by offering consistent support through intentional giving, relationship building, and mentorship.

THE LIGHTS AT MORNING STAR STATS

This event was made possible by generous individuals and businesses in the Salem community, with Salem Angels receiving almost $23,000 in donations from The Lights. This year, we already have many amazing partners and are excited to see what the Lord does!

All hands on decking the halls

Over 200 volunteers showed up over the course of two months to bring this amazing vison to life. And we’re doing it all again this year! Sign up below to be a part of this incredible team.

students

We see around 100 middle and high school students at our midweek gatherings, with new students coming all the time. This ever-expanding ministry is raising up the next generation of Jesus followers with a passion for serving, worship, and living a Jesus-first life.

"My favorite part of camp was our small group. One thing God taught me was that friends will come and go but the ones that stay are meant to be."

Ella Winters, Middle School

Student missions

This year, we tried something new with missions! Since COVID-19 had changed our normal Spring Break Missions plans, we pivoted towards a summer trip and are so thankful we did. We partnered with Base Missions, an organization that already has great ties to Morning Star and we were connected to a small church in Lind, WA. Don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of it. What the town lacks in population, it makes up for in character. We met some of the most incredible people, spearheaded by their pastor, Rod Dennis. Rod is a full time farmer and also pastors two congregations on the weekends. I don’t understand where this man finds the hours in the day. But even with their farming community in the peak of harvest season, they made us feel at home and treated us like family. While in Lind, we put on a Sports Camp for elementary age kids as well as an outreach event for local middle and high schoolers. We’re excited to continue this relationship with such a special community!

Student worship

"A thing that I feel like that we’ve been pretty big on is heart over talent. What we believe about God is more important than how we perform, and communicating why God is worthy of our praise has been a huge thing, more than what we can do to sound better. I love the idea of “worship education”, teaching students what worship means and having scripture to back up what we do and what we sing. I really love combining my love for worship through music and mentoring students, and being able to do that every Wednesday night."

Hannah Johnson, High School Worship Intern

"I have loved the opportunity to train up new people, especially young people (because I haven’t really had any old people), and teaching them what worship is and how to be comfortable worshipping, not just in front of people but also on their own. Feeling like I have an impact on these students and I'm able to teach them and train them up as worshippers and believers is really cool. It’s really encouraging to see the students worshipping because it's very different from how adults worship. Its really refreshing because we get older and it's scarier to be super vocal or move your body during worship. It’s a lot easier to feel insecure but with middle schoolers it’s so refreshing because sometimes they just run in circles while you sing, literally they’ll run in circles around the room and I fully 100% believe that is glorifying God and it’s great!"

Kate Lee, Middle School Worship Intern

forever changed

Over 40 people were baptized at Morning Star during this last year. We are proud of those who've take the step to live a Jesus-first life!

jumping right in

In 2018, Dan and Marta Guajardo moved to Salem from Southern California with their daughter Elizabeth. Soon after they settled in, their neighbors Tim and Ashley Sparks, invited them to visit Morning Star, and they felt right at home! After joining a Community Group, Ashley asked Marta if she’d like to try the Thursday morning Women’s Bible Study. Marta’s first study was in fall of 2019, and she connected well with the ladies at her table, many of whom were also in her Community Group. 

In the spring of 2021, Women’s Ministries Director, Jen Tompkins, shared with the Thursday morning group that, due to COVID-19, many of the previous small group leaders were not attending, and there was a need for new women to rise up and be willing to lead a group of women, as they worked through that session’s study of the book of Colossians. 

Bolstered by the confidence of her friend Lindsay Reece, Marta and Lindsay told Jen they would be willing to co-lead a group of women. With some prayer, training and encouragement from Jen, the two friends jumped into facilitating a table of women through the study. In August of 2021, Jen asked Marta and Lindsay if they would be willing to continue leading, along with Marta’s old neighbor and friend, Ashley Sparks! The three ladies are currently loving and leading a group of ten women through a study of the book of Galatians on Thursday mornings. 

Marta’s husband Dan worked in law enforcement for many years, and they have a dream to start a community group for first responders and their spouses. After leading a similar group at their church in California, they’ve seen the need for a safe and confidential space for this demographic.

ONLINE CAMPUS

My name is Jim and I’ve been working with our Online Campus this last year. Wow, what a journey! Like most churches, we pivoted to online when the pandemic nose-dived everyone’s plans. Thankfully, God had been working in our plans for a long time before to make us more ready! We’ve had so many amazing stories this year-some heartbreaking, some joyful- but all of them are powerful reminders that God moves far beyond the walls of Morning Star, and EVERYONE needs the hope of Jesus.

We’ve prayed with people overcoming COVID-19, to then see them in the building once they recovered! We’ve prayed with people losing their loved ones as well, and walked with them through heartache. We’ve seen around one person each week come to know Jesus and commit their lives to Him during service! We’ve hosted online weddings, funerals, Sunday services, discussion times- MStar.Live is more a place where people connect! So many times we’ve met folks at their first service in person, only to tell us they’ve been attending online for months, and knew before their first time in the building that this was the church for them!

As we head into the fall, we’re excited to have launched the first “online-native” community group on Discord, where we hope to continue to grow the community of people following Jesus beyond Sunday services, and into the joy of walking through life with other believers to challenge, motivate, and encourage each other!

More than anything, I’m thankful. I’m so overwhelmed by the passionate community of Jesus followers that attend online, that call MStar.Live their home. The internet isn’t worthy of the message that it can carry. But that’s what’s so great- none of us are worthy of the message of the gospel; a Bible printed on solid gold would be insufficient to bear the name of Jesus! But through 1’s and 0’s, God uses the effort of people to reach other people, and I’m so thankful that this church values making Jesus known throughout this city, this state, country, and this world!

 

mstar kids

Children’s Ministries has turned into something pretty special during the pandemic. It is a place of solid normalcy that so many of the children in our church have needed over the past couple years. I recently had the grandmother of a child, that recently has come back to church, share with me how desperate her granddaughter was over the past year and a half to get back to her Sunday school class. This child is from a broken home in which Jesus is not modeled in either her Mom or Dad’s house. She does, however, get to go to her Jesus-loving grandparent’s house weekly and get fed the Word and get brought to church. Her grandma told me that it has been our love and constant pouring into her over the past few years that has made all the difference and kept her joyful and confident in Jesus’ love for her. We love to love on these children and show them and tell them about God’s love for them.

We’ve been able to put on some great events this year, check out what we did below!

Louie Schmitz

Louie Schmitz

MStar Kids // Bridge 45

Candace lute

Candace lute

MStar Kids // Early Childhood

savanna yuzko

savanna yuzko

MStar Kids // Elementary

celebrate recovery

“This year at CR has been memorable and very impactful. Neither the fires, frost, or COVID-19 has been able to dampen men and women from heeding the Holy Spirit’s call to gather and allow healing to happen in their hearts. Up through October over 500 people have come to CR. Over the course of this year so far 26 individuals have surrendered their lives for the first time to Christ. Over 400 have rededicated their lives once again to following Jesus. Numerous families have and are being helped and healed by the Holy Spirit.  

I like to equate CR to a healthy family, at it’s best it creates a safe space where the practice of healing and forgiveness can take place. It offers the possibility of having a companion to share the journey, proving that we never are alone, providing someone to help us to dig a little deeper, to reflect more fully on what God has provided by His Spirit in His people. And that when committed to God’s plan, He will provide any and all resources needed along the way to ensure healthy relationships within the family community.

I’m overwhelmed by God’s grace and various mercies. Beginning with the continued support of our pastoral leadership, this being our 15th year, in allowing CR to have a safe, well-maintained place where people can come to deal with their various hurts, habits, and hang ups. Aside from the awesome facilities, this year was memorable in that almost all the pastoral staff, ministry directors, and elders have either taught or shared their testimony at CR.

The effect has been profound within the CR community as people were amazed at the depth of integrity, honesty, and pursuit of following Jesus that all our staff and elders displayed. This choice alone has brought tremendous healing to those who have trust and self-esteem issues. It showed how much our church truly cares and values those who are struggling in various areas of their lives; that they are neither alone nor forgotten, but are part of the body of Christ.”

TOM CASEY

Celebrate REcovery

on stage (and off!)

“This past year, we have been having many encouraging conversations as a worship team about how to better lead people to praise Jesus in an authentic and passionate way. It’s amazing to hear the hearts of some of our team members as they express a desire to see our church take the next step into really understanding why we praise and what worship looks like both in our everyday lives and on Sundays.

I have seen people grow, push themselves to be better, and really enjoy serving together as a team. We have had some good times of fellowship and gathering together, and I’ve seen my faithful team step up to the plate at every twist and turn we face. So grateful to be serving alongside them.

It was incredible to see all of our people come together to reach people at the Lights at Morning Star. Several of our team members creative minds, time, and effort went into reaching thousands of people with a message of hope and the gospel of Jesus. I can’t wait to see what God continues to do in the future.

I wish that people knew the amount of time, effort, passion, practice, creativity, and love that my incredible volunteers put into our services and events every week! There is so much that quietly goes on behind the scenes that many people will never see that makes it possible for us to come together, remove distractions, and praise Jesus with excellence and authenticity. Our team members give their very best and I’m so grateful to them all!”

COOPER ANDERSON

Creative Arts and Production

"I simply enjoy being helpful, and enjoy getting to know more people in the church to make it feel less like an event and more like a family. I’ve very much enjoyed the opportunities to do sound, it really makes me appreciate music in a new way. It’s enjoyable, and I think it’s a blessing from the Lord, especially with the bleak years 2020 and 2021 have been. I’m grateful that the Lord has found a place where I can be happy and helpful. I very much need that these days"

Jacob Mahugh, Production & MStar Live

"It’s nice to be a part of a team to honor the Lord through our praise and worship!"

Howard Biskie, Production

I’ve been on worship teams at Morning Star for the better part of 29 years. And God has used worship team to teach me many things over the years. Servant leadership, community that feels like family, trust, patience, humility… just to name a few. This year, in this season, God has been using worship team to teach me about facing my fears and insecurities (and I have a lot). I overthink and over-worry about everything. And at times, it’s crippling. I know fear has kept me from doing things God has called me to do more than once in my life. But this year, being outside my comfort zone, learning to sing harmonies, even reading scripture in front of the whole congregation for the first time ever, God has been stretching me. And I want to continue to be stretched. Someday, I may even be brave enough to tell my story. Someday I may be brave enough to lead. I just know that right now, if that’s what God asks me to do, I want to be willing, despite all my fears.

Julia McFerron, Worship Team

Community

How do you make a big church feel small? Community groups! These intentional groups do more than meet and talk about the sermon; they live life together. The good, the bad, and everything in between, they live out the call to care for one another as they pursue Jesus.

Many groups helped each other clear property of debris from the ice storm in February, as well as logging and providing firewood for those in need!

"Here are a few pics of members of our group hauling in wood. We give some of the wood to others who need it. The cutters get some for their winter stoves for their efforts. Six hours of cutting and two flat tires. 30 years ago this would have been much easier.

Even though the church didn't officially do Christmas Blessings this year, our group provided three "Christmas Blessings" of our own. A local family, a pastor in Kenya, and a pastor in Detroit, OR whos church building burned down in the fires. The Detroit church plans on rebuilding at some point. Looks like they saved the baptismal tank, the sign and steps leading into the church is all that survived. Happy we could help these areas of need and bring unexpected joy for Christmas."

Dave Brant, Community Group Leader

2021 has been a wonderful year in so many ways here at Morning Star. What has encouraged us most is that we clearly see God at work in and through you, despite the circumstances of our present day. And even more, we have seen that God is working even when we don’t see so clearly and need to look more intently and intentionally to perceive what He is doing. It sure is nice when the hand of God is clear and evident, but He is just as good and still wonderful even when we see His works dimly or not at all. The beautiful thing is that on clear days and in times when we need to dig a little deeper and look a little closer, we find Him powerfully working.

With our deep trust in Jesus, we look toward 2022 with great anticipation and hope! We do not expect things to get easier, but we do expect that we’ll find God lovingly and effectively at work transforming lives in seen and unseen ways. A wonderful life is a Jesus-first life and that is why, in this coming year, we will continue to discover in practical ways what it means to lead people to pursue Jesus first. 

You are a wonderful church family, Morning Star. That is clear! We love being your pastors.

Jesus first!

Pastor Scott and Pastor John 

with your Morning Star Staff and Elders