1 Thessalonians 3:12- “And
may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and
for all, just as we abound in love for you.”
is the verse the Spirit has guided me to for a theme verse for Palm
UMC for this church year we just began last Sunday, the first Sunday
in Advent 2018, through 2019. So far in my time with you I have been
thoroughly enjoying getting to know you, and can have witnessed and
experienced the great love present within our faith community and
that already overflows beyond it. From small gifts and cards to words
of encouragement and appreciation, you have welcomed me very well and
I thank you!
I have been focusing over
these last 4 months or so, on visiting to build relationships (over
20 visits so far) preparing the church for neighborhood ministry, and
working towards financial stability/stewardship. Visiting one on one
is something I love to do and very important to build relationships
within the church to be able to work together. If you have not yet
had a time to sit and chat one on one and want to just let me know
and we’ll set it up.
From my first few days at
Palm I have felt God pulling me towards doing neighborhood ministry
and specifically to Wilson Elementary school just a few blocks away.
We have started planning a ministry of going to read to children
during the school day. This is something that meets a need in our
community, as Principal Adriana Baza expressed, many children are in
households with parents working long hours, only one parent or even a
grandparent as their primary caretaker and do not have that time of
being read to, which is so important for literacy which is important
for the rest of their lives! There is a high percentage of illiteracy
in those parents as well. At the same time this gives us an
opportunity to get to know children in our neighborhood and is a
first step in building relationships.
The Pastor’s Bible study
started up in mid-September going through the book: Claiming
Resurrection in the Dying Church. This Bible study is a part of
preparing us to do neighborhood ministry as well. The book helps us
examine our church and learn about practices to be faithful disciples
and prepare for God to work resurrection within us.
Looking at the balance
sheets it was also clear from the beginning that we need to work on
our sustainability in terms of a more balanced budget. Actually
having a budget is the first step, and we have previewed a first
version so far in the council and are updating it some more, to
hopefully be adopted at the January council meeting. I did a
stewardship sermon series through October and November culminating
with stewardship letters and pledge cards. Your pledge at whatever
level is right for you is needed and cherished for the work of
ministry God is doing and will do through Palm UMC!
One challenge I have
issued to the council is for us to grow in small groups enough so
that by October 2019, every council member is participating in a
small group. Small groups are important first for our own spiritual
growth and maturity, and also so we have a place to invite new people
to grow in their faith mature and experience Christian community.
I have also been
participating in our UMC Circuit (the pastors of UMC churches in
Tulare county), the Lutheran Pastor’s conference the Dinuba
Christian Ministerial Association, and the new District Latino
Ministry Cohort as I am able.
The goals I want to
accomplish are first, to take steps toward building a neighborhood
ministry: my goal is that in the first half of 2019 for 8 (or more)
volunteers from Palm UMC will read to children at Wilson every week.
Offering services to parents such as literacy classes and helping
fill out forms are other ideas to follow up once we start with that.
I would like to see at least 2 new small groups start in the first
half of 2019. We need to grow our pledges and fundraisers to meet our
expenses, I would set that as a 2 year goal. I also am dreaming about
the youth and children’s ministries and I think with a little help we
could have some great ministry with youth and grow our children’s
ministry as well.
This is my report to you
as pastor- you may notice that there is something YOU are invited to
do in every paragraph. That reflects my firm belief that we have to
do this together! I thank you for all the ways you are inviting me
into your lives and collaborating in the work of Jesus Christ. In
all this, may the Lord continue to increase and overflow our love for
one another and for all.
Yours in Christ’s Love