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State of the Church Report 2019

Our vision as a congregation is to be a thriving church where families can discover life together in connecting with Christ, growing in the Spirit and serving generously. The last year has seen great fruit in our strategy of connecting, growing and serving. I am enthusiastic about being your pastor!

Connecting: We’ve established quarterly events to connect with our community: The Chili Cook off; The Easter Breakfast, The Harvest Festival and the Drive-thru Nativity. Great crowds have attended and we have worked hard at building relationships with the people who come.

We supply brochures to Highland Township to use in their new resident

packets. We have over 400 followers of our Facebook page and our posts are seen by 3400 people each week! Our website is visited 8900 times a month. We’ve added a donate button to the Facebook page and we are moving forward with plans to begin live streaming our worship services. A new pictorial directory with electronic app is also in the planning stage.

Growing: One of the important numbers we have control over is the number of first-time worship guests. For most of this year the number has been less than 1 per month. We set a goal of 9 first-time visitors per month. Since we set that goal 4 weeks ago we’ve seen a jump of 7 new visitors! Our Young Mom’s group had over 10 at their first meeting this year. Paul Elliot and Mari Elghoul teamed up to launch a Young Adult Bible Study last spring. New small group offerings this past year included “The Redemption of Scrooge” Advent study; Disciple I Fast Track; Men’s New Testament Bible Study and “The Absolute Basics of the Christian Faith” class.

All all-church campaign called “The Story” is set to launch in January with new small groups and a unified learning experience on Sunday morning for 31 weeks. Financial Peace classes and two estate planning seminars are also on the calendar. Last March, members of the Ad. Council attended the 180 Church Growth conference at Dewitt Redeemer UMC.

Serving I celebrate how our buildings and grounds are cared for by an all-volunteer team, wow!

We approved a new governance plan for a single board to be launched in January. This will improve communication, make more effective decision-making, and free up volunteer hours for ministry.

We sent 22 people to Mexico; 30 youth to Flint; 4 to JAARS; 8 confirmation kids to the North End Soup kitchen; a team of 22 for Rebuilding Together, 18 served at Cass Social Services on 2 different Saturdays. Some of our members volunteer at the Power Company Kids’ Club and we raised $3000 for them on Christmas Eve. Our middle school youth served at Community Sharing and the North End Soup Kitchen. Our efforts with Operation Christmas Child continue to blossom and we were blessed by having Helena from Russia share what such a gift meant to her as a little girl living in an orphanage. Our members adopted 28 Mexican school children to fund their education this year. A fantastic year of service!

Facilities and Finances Using reserve funds we were able to renovate our worship center and lobby. More decorating is in the works. We continue to make progress on paying down our loan balance with the Michigan Area Loan Fund. We anticipate a capital campaign next spring to eliminate the debt with a goal that will be under $400k. We’ve added an e-giving app “Give-plus” for members and friends to use on their cell phones and our stewardship team has created a program of year-round stewardship education. Despite these efforts giving is down over last year.

Challenges lie ahead in 2020—learning to operate under a new system for governance; holding a successful capital campaign, growing in the number of first-time visitors, and finding positive ways to teach tithing in our church family.

Changes are looming for the denomination. Our Bishop David Bard has urged us to accept the separation of the United Methodist Church as inevitable and desirable in order to resolve a debilitating conflict over the definition of marriage and the standards for ordination. As a congregation we will likely need to choose between two new expressions of Methodism, a traditional one or a progressive one. It’s my intent to love my way through this uncertain time: holding to the Gospel teaching on marriage (Matthew 19:4-6) and holding to the Gospel teaching on love (Matthew 22:37-40). I believe the Spirit of God is moving and he is about to renew the Methodist movement and free it for fruitful mission. Let us trust God, treat all with respect and keep to the main thing: making disciples for Jesus Christ.

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