October 30, 2018
I haven’t written a “Life of the Church” article in several weeks, mostly because, like you, I’ve been living the life of the church, not just talking about it! The autumn is a congregation’s busiest season, and there are three items on our current agenda which I wish to highlight.
• This coming Sunday, November 4, is All Saints Sunday, the occasion when we remember loved ones who have died during the previous year and have joined the communion of the saints in heaven. During 2018, two of our beloved church members, Bruce Horton and David McWhirt, joined that “great cloud of witnesses.” If there are others whom you wish to honor during our time of remembrance this Sunday, please call the church office with their names by Thursday, November 1.
• The following Sunday, November 11, is New Consecration Sunday at WUMC. Of course, we’ve had “Consecration Sundays” and “Stewardship Commitment Days” in the past – so what’s the “new” in New Consecration Sunday? The premise of this program is that churches typically appeal for pledges as a means of supporting their budgets, which is about as exciting as watching paint dry! New Consecration Sunday appeals to the “better angels of our nature” – the commitment of our financial resources to God and to the work of God’s kingdom through the ministries of the local church.
In the days ahead, the Finance Committee will be updating you on our church’s present monetary condition. The good news is that our 2018 giving has met advance expectations; the disturbing news is that we are still running a significant budget deficit, which we also expected. The temptation, perhaps now more than ever, is to conduct a stewardship campaign in panic mode, as a vehicle for turning red ink into black. But our Church Council and Stewardship Committee co-chairs, Toby McGrath and Joann King, have chosen instead to “stay on message” – to call for generous giving for the right reasons, as a tangible way to acknowledge God’s place in our lives and build up the Body of Christ. If each of us does that, our budget deficit will disappear.
I want to urge all of you to be present for the New Consecration Sunday worship service and the celebration luncheon which will follow. Yes, this is a crucial time in the life of our church, but it is also the perfect time for each of us as individuals to examine ourselves and our commitment to grow as stewards.
• On a personal note, I want to express gratitude for your many gestures of hospitality to my family over the past nine days and two Sundays. And thank you, too, for observing “Pastor Appreciation Month” while they were here, punctuated by a keepsake banner from our children and a special cake during Fellowship Hour. Please know that the appreciation is mutual! Grace and peace, John