As we enter the new year, I ask this – How many of you are happy to see 2020 in the rear-view mirror? In a certain way I am, but also in a certain way I’m not. Yes, it was in many ways a trying year for multiple reasons, especially COVID among others. Let it be said I don’t want to focus on COVID, but I know that it is still on all of our minds with all of the challenges that it brought. But also, in another way, and I’m going to say this, it also created a new thing for us in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that is the use of virtual technology.
Now I know that some of you might be saying – REALLY, COVID was a blessing? I’m not saying that, but it caused us to figure out how to continue as a community of faith around worship and worshiping in new ways. And I want to share with all of you that it wouldn’t have been possible except for the commitment of our leadership team and our staff. We all had to step out of our comfort zones and be willing to try a new thing and then grow with it despite some tech issues at times.
With that being said, I want to share with you all that as we begin the new year, we also are working on new things here at CLUMC. We are in the process of building a new
website that will be more user friendly, more up to date, one in which we will be able to archive our worship services, and one where you will be able to pay your pledges. We also realize that in the last year we were able to virtually do worship, but in a very limited manner. So, we are also looking at improving that capability through some different technology that will improve the video and sound quality and will also be able to send over multiple outlets/platforms. The improved technology will also allow us to share the Gospel in different ways. We also are getting set up for those who don’t have internet or smart phones the ability to call a number through “Sermon by Phone” to listen to our worship services after they have been uploaded.
In this new year there are a lot of possibilities of things to come and as your pastor, I want you all to know that I am holding all of you in my prayers as we move forward in 2021. I will say that I have no doubt that there will continue to be challenges as we move forward as COVID and other things will not go away. One of our major challenges deals with church finances. For some of you this might come as a surprise and for others it won’t. We began 2020 looking at a shortfall financially due to various reasons. If you remember the Finance Committee did a Second Ask during the year to help out. With COVID, we were truly concerned as to how we would be able to pay our staff, our bills, and our covenant in our Apportionments to the Annual Conference and the General Church. In total transparency, we didn’t pay the last two months of our 2019 Apportionment, and we have only paid a portion of our 2020 Apportionment but have remained current on all of our other obligations.
During the Fall Stewardship Campaign, we received commitments from 62 giving units which totaled approximately $150,000.00. In the previous two years we also have received between $50,000 and $60,000 from non-pledged givers. If we receive approximately the same amount in 2021 that will give us approximately $210,000 to operate on. We currently have a carry-over in our General Fund of approximately $50,000 to $60,000 that will give us approximately $270,000 if all honor their pledges/commitments. The Finance Committee submitted an unbalanced working budget to the Ad Council at their December meeting which the Ad council accepted.
I know that I have shared a lot with you with all of this. It can be overwhelming if we allow it, but I have the faith and the confidence that we can move forward in our faith and in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
There is a tradition that one makes a “New Year’s Resolution” every year. I know that in the past I have and like most if not all of us it isn’t too many days later that it is broken. I want to share with you a tradition that began so many years ago in the Methodist Church – “A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition.” Historically it was shared at the beginning of the year in the Methodist Churches, the Classes, the Bands, and the Society’s within the local church.
I ask that you pray this with me-
“I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt. Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal. And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.”
Shalom- Pastor Dave