Palm UMC is a really awesome faith community. Sure, it’s only been two months that I’ve been here but the more I learn about you, the more I am convinced that the spirit of this church is truly a loving, giving, helpful, caring one. We have a lot to give. Blessings are shared freely. God is moving in this church, and I feel, God is about to move even more.
At the same time there are challenges before us. Our spending just on the minimum upkeep, utility bills, and paying the pastor, etc. is outpacing our giving. Hopefully we will have renters in the second parsonage soon, but even then, it’s not certain that the gap will be covered. Yes, there are some savings but they have a limit- if we use them all, then what?
Questions about all of this swirl in my head sometimes: What kind of ministry is God calling us to do in our neighborhood? What should the priorities be for the money we do have? How can we find some more money to do the ministry God is calling us to do? What untapped gifts for ministry do we already have in our midst?
We have a budget meeting scheduled for this Sunday after church, and while I have a lot of questions about the finances that I hope to learn the answers to, the budget committee will also have to take a stance of faith in some cases. Even though we don’t know where more money will come from, we need to put in a budget line for doing outreach ministry- something concrete to bless our neighbors. Even though we don’t know where the money could come from, we really should budget for paying a musician or musicians. (Aiko is so wonderful to have offered her musical talent for free for so long- but just like it’s important to pay a pastor, it is important to pay a musician as well.) And what about some children’s ministry things- and something for the youth- we can do inexpensive rather than expensive things, and some people just assume costs on their own but it isn’t always fair so how can we spread those costs around….
In the Pastor’s Bible study we have started reading our book, Proclaiming Resurrection in the Dying church which contains some advice for practices to follow, to be faithful to God and prepare for resurrection to happen. As of today we have gotten to chapter 2, where we are encouraged to get up, and look around at our neighborhood today. I am excited to take a walk with our group around our neighborhood in 2 weeks, and see where God calls our attention in knowing our neighbors a little more.
I also am planning something special for November 4th, which is All Saints’ Sunday, and will be just over two years since the Merger Dedication service (October 30, 2016). We will remember those who have gone before us, and I hope, hear a recounting of two faith lives, one from First and one from Palm, to help us remember the Legacy of Faith we all have inherited.
All of this is an introduction to… a stewardship campaign! I am not usually excited to do stewardship campaigns. Like most Americans I am uncomfortable talking to people about money. But you can’t do ministry without money. And the potential to do great ministry is great! So, we need to meet the potential to do great ministry, with some great money!
The Teriyaki dinner is coming up and that is one way that we all pitch in and raise funds for doing ministry- and I hope it is a great success! But I have a hunch that even with that, we will need our regular givers to give more, and those who aren’t yet giving regularly to pray about what that might mean – in other words, to all pitch in a little more, all year round.
I am using Legacy of Faith as the theme for the Stewardship sermon series- which will be over the next several weeks. We have received the legacy of faith passed down from our mothers and fathers in the faith, our church family and others. Their legacy has made our faith community possible. But as a church we can’t sit still- it is our turn now to pass that legacy on to others, to prepare for future brothers and sisters in Christ we might not have even met yet. Yes, this includes prayer, yes this includes discipleship practices like Bible study and coming to worship, but it also includes faithful giving.
I am not usually excited about stewardship campaigns. But this time, I kind of am. Because you-we- Palm UMC- really are an awesome faith community, and I am pretty sure that God is going to move, in a big way.
Blessings to all of you!