Living and Growing Together

Our church is at a great place right now in its life and ministry. You have heard me mention this on several occasions because that is something I celebrate as a pastor. Truly, it is something for all of us to celebrate. And a big reason our church is so healthy and growing is because of all of you who make up our church family.

The Apostle Paul noted that while we are many members within this “Body of Christ,” we each have different gifts and functions and places of service. In other words, each of us has something to contribute to the well-being of our church; and then he lists some of those areas, such as ministering and teaching, even giving—but all in a spirit of compassion and cheerfulness and genuine love (see Romans 12).

For us, as United Methodist Christians, it is lived out in the membership vows that are made when we come into the church. Remember those? It is our promise to uphold our church by our “prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.” And for Paul and us, the ultimate goal is simply to “build up” and grow this Body of Christ we know as “First Church.” And that is exactly what we are doing well right now!

And yet, we realize that we aren’t where we can be as a church. There are always new opportuni- ties to learn and grow and serve for each of us, and as we are growing in our faith and discipleship, so will our church continue to grow. Speaking of new opportunities, September is a great time to refocus on “being the church,” and to jump into some new things.

For instance, “Souper Suppers” will start back on Wednesday, Sept. 9. That means children’s choirs and new studies are also coming. In addition to the two DISCIPLE courses being offered on Wednesdays, a new 8-week study of Paul’s Letter to the Philippians will be led by the Rev. Dr. Scott Baker; this will be followed later in the Fall by a 6-week study on Paul and his teachings (Adam Hamilton’s series THE CALL).

A new group for college-age and “20 somethings” is now underway on Sunday mornings and shows a lot of promise—15 were in attendance for the “kick-off” and 8 were attending from Brevard College.
By the way, Sunday School attendance for August 23 was 263!

In mid-September, our church leadership team will take the first steps toward a new visioning process for our church. Where is God leading us as a church? The Rev. Luke Lingle, who is our area representative for the conference Vitality team, will be our facilitator.

The month of October brings fall colors, but also a special Sunday called “Children’s Sabbath,” on October 11. The plan is to combine our three worship services into one (10:55) to celebrate children and youth together. It will also kickoff the annual stewardship campaign for 2016.

This fall, we are launching two new areas for ministry and service in our church, which will enable us to expand our Christian education programs, as well as fellowship and caring ministries. The first focus area is “Spiritual Growth and Discipleship” which includes Sunday School, Bible studies, confirmation, youth and children’s ministries, stewardship, membership training, discipleship groups, devotional aids, and teacher training. The second focus area is Church Life and Caring Ministries. It includes Stephen Ministry, prayer groups, bereavement, visitation to homebound, prayer shawl group and others as part of caring for the congregation. But another emphasis will be on fellowship (Souper Suppers, church picnics, and special events) and wellness ministries (hiking, walking, recreational ministries).

All of these things are coming out of an effort to answer the questions: “How can we do this better? And how can it involve more of us in our “prayers, presence, gifts, service, & witness?”

I am grateful for all you do for Christ and your Church…

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