June 2020 – From the Pastor’s Desk

Greetings everyone!

I pray for each and every one of you during this continued time of separation.We are currently trying to discern the best way to move forward and with each step we take, we keep you in mind!  We will have an outdoor service and will use this time to be together and talk!  We haven’t gotten to do this as a faith family very much and I look forward to seeing you and talking about what it’s been like for
you, the things you have learned, and how you might see us move forward. It would be good for us and I think, in a sense, we need it!  We have quite a special space in our backyard and it will be perfect for us to gather!
“The New normal” is getting to be the catch phrase recently and I wonder if anybody has really thought about what “normal” might look like in our future. For me, in the ups and downs of what has been for the last three months, I have discovered that my “new “normal” continues to be my relationship with Jesus and, if anything, it has moved deeper and gained strength. I am grateful for that, which reminds me how I have learned to be more grateful for my own normal and doing that normal with Jesus.
 
I have realized more so than ever that this normal with Jesus allows for consistency and stability, no matter the storm, just as Jesus has
taught us. I pray that each of you, too, have grown closer to Jesus and you have discovered in your own way how important it is to be
close to Jesus, to walk in relationship with Him, striving to make Him your best friend and keeping Him at the CENTER of your lives.
 
If I have learned anything, I have learned that the world around us is not consistent and stable, we will always face something.
Hopefully not ever as serious as the storm of which we are in the middle. But how do we know? Can we be sure? Paul encouraged
us to be IN the world, but not OF the world…very appropriate for our here and now…he goes on to say that we should be transformed
by the renewing of our mind.We renew our mind by being in relationship with Jesus and learning from him and being nourished by Him in doing so.
One of the ways I do this is by reading this wonderful devotional called, “Come Away My Beloved,” and it was given to me by someone very special!The words, on a regular basis, feed me and nourish me. I would like to share one of the paragraphs from this book…
“Behold, I have sent you out alone, but I have gone ahead to
prepare your way; yes, through the darkness to bear a light. I ask
you only to follow Me for I will surely lead you on a safe path,
though dangers lurk on every hand. Yes, I will be your protection. I
will be your comfort. I will be your joy.”
~ Come Away My Beloved
 

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May 2020 – From the Pastor’s Desk

Dear Faith Family,
What an interesting time it is right now! The thoughts going through our minds are, at least for me, nothing like I have ever experienced! It is a challenge to discern direction and best practices in a time that has not been experienced before. Who would have thought we would be into our second month of not having church together in our sanctuary every Sunday? Totally surreal!
 
Certainly we benefit, in a way, from the time of being set aside from the busyness, the scrambling to make sure everything comes together on a regular basis, the running from here to there, and what had become often the everyday reality that is our lives. We have been forced to look at life differently! It’s interesting to hear how many people lately have said that they are tired of their own cooking! I add my respect and honor to those who have had to take on the role of being teachers now, in addition to being parents! Life is different!

However, one must acknowledge how simply our own ability to be in charge of our lives has been altered…. a stark reality that often we fall short of thinking about…life is not always in the palm of our own hands!

It reminds us of the very precious life we are gifted with and how significant this faith walk we are encouraged to embrace really is! Faith teaches us that God has us in the palms of His Hands! Our God who created us in the very beginning calls us to deeper, to stronger, to more peace, to love and relationship, not only with each other, but with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
 
We have been spending time following friends of Jesus after his death on the cross, a time when their lives seemed upended. We have talked about and watched how the disciples held on to their faith and deepened their relationship and went on to be strong advocates for Jesus in the wake of distress. How did they do this?What was it like? We are learning that having peace and allowing time for God to speak was (and is) important. We have opened the idea of trusting and surrendering and spending time with our faith, in God’s Word, in quiet and through the idea of peace.
 
Remember, BE STILL, PEACE BE WITH YOU!

Friends, we are in different times! It will be a moment in our history we will never forget and hopefully never have to experience again! But, as I type this, I also pray you will use this time to honor God in your life and allow God’s Spirit to shape you in ways you have only been able to think about until this moment.
 
As we learn from the followers of Jesus following their own stressful and very different times, let us embrace the time God has allowed us to go deeper with him!

Be blessed!
 

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April 2020 – From the Pastor’s Desk

Greetings Dear Church,
Who would have thought…You know, I have said that and typed that more often than I would have liked to over these last weeks…But it’s
 true, isn’t it? Who would have thought we would all be sheltering in place, practicing social distancing and trying to stay as connected as
 we can to each other and our faith family?
Manny and I and some of our youth just returned from a youth trip in Des Moines when everything began to get very serious, in fact; we were learning about school dismissing for two weeks on Sunday morning when we were getting ready to head home. The kids, of course, were animated and it sat us down to talk about the COVID 19 virus and what it could mean for life as we knew it. But I have to say, we never imagined it would have turned into what has now become the day to day life before us.
When we go away on youth trips such as this, it becomes our habit to take turns praying at appropriate times, giggle at appropriate times,
discuss biblical topics, laugh out loud at appropriate times, share the things we have learned throughout our day, smile and poke fun at
appropriate times, and put our day in motion with the things God expects of us. And oh yeah…the food…very important!
 
And in the midst of these things, as we were discussing some of the things we had learned throughout the day, one of the kids just happened to say something profound…and yes, profound because of its impact… but even more profound because of what is now our day to day life.
“I learned that sometimes we don’t understand what we are learning or experiencing at the moment, but one day it will make sense.”
 
Obviously, this became our theme for much of what was left of our time and will become something so significant, they just might not get
the depth of that single statement for a long time to come.
Today, we maybe just don’t understand what this is all about, but one day we will. The important part is that we know God has us in the
palms of hands…watching out for us, working out the tomorrows ahead of us…we are called only to trust!
Wow, kids…how cool is that? Thank you for reminding me, that this is all in the hands of God! And someday…well, someday it will all make
sense!
From Proverbs:
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
AMEN! Hang in there….we will get through this! God promises!
 

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Mar 2020 – From the Pastor’s Desk

 
We are already approaching March…will it come in like a lion or a lamb. Don’t forget we are now in the Lenten Season and our Wednesdays and Sundays will be full of activities. And hopefully we will be welcoming some great weather along the way. Stay connected to all that happens here with our website, our phone app, bulletins and newsletters.
 
As we continue our series on learning about the administrative work of our church, we will venture a little deeper into the role of those on the Church Council. As we shared last month, the Church Council is made up of Chairpersons from the various committees represented on the Council. It is there that the Chairpersons bring the activity and decisions their committees have been involved in for the last period of time.
 
The Church Council is to be the formal place committees go for final approval for their actions. As an example, the Trustees put in the work of determining the need and best way to move forward with the decision of doing the heating and cooling project, but before they could move forward, the Church Council needed to give its final approval and recommendation.
 
Currently we have Chairs and Representatives from the Trustees, the Staff Pastor Parish Relations, Worship and Music, Membership and Missions, Schwartz Scholarship, Endowment, Memorial Committees. We also have a Website and Technology leader, two young adult representatives and three representatives for the Education area. We have a Lay Member of Annual Conference and a Lay Leader, as well as two members at large.
 
As we move through this series, we will describe all these areas in detail. The Chairpersons of the above committees are in charge of planning meetings and activities specific to their work area, including the dissemination of information. If anyone has any questions about
the work of the chairpersons or specific work areas, please feel free to ask. We will begin to share information about the various committees and their work in the coming months.
 

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Feb 2020 – From the Pastor’s Desk

Hello Everyone,
As part of the new year, we have decided it appropriate to share about how our church works. For the next few months we will be sharing
about the structure of our church. This month we will focus on our Church Council.
Basically, it is the Church Council’s job to coordinate its business of the church in the following ways: its committees, hearing reports,
encouraging direction and supporting recommendations in an effort to keep the church flowing in its vision.
The Church Council:
• Plans and administrates the organizations of the church.
• Empowers the vision and programming of the church
• Meets at least quarterly.
• Sets goals, authorizes actions, determines policy, receives and accepts/rejects motions presented to the council.
• Validates budget, sets financial plans.
• Members present and voting at any duly announced meeting constitutes a quorum.
 
All committees are responsible to the church council; including Reporting, planning, financial approval and final acceptance of recommendations.
 
Below is a demonstration of the basic organization of a local United Methodist Church. The diagram shows which member or committee
is responsible to answer or report progress, concerns or any church based recommendations to.
 
 
I hope that this will shed some light on what it is the Church Council is here for and how it works to keep our faith family growing and working together efficiently to do so.
 

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Jan 2020 – From the Pastor’s Desk

Happy New Year everyone!
 

It is a special time; we are entering a new decade…it’s 2020! When I reflect on that it seems almost unbelievable! Memories of past years flash through my mind and I realize I have been in ministry in one way or another for 25 years! I think of all the people I have been blessed with working alongside throughout the years and the special times we’ve shared, the friendships we’ve gained. Just recently, I reminisced about a youth trip way back in 1996 to Chicago and all the great memories of that time! Wow! I am humbled by the awesome responsibility I have been given and the ways God has used this path to create and accomplish many things!


We have just celebrated the bringing in of a new year. 2020 has arrived and with that we have another blank calendar to begin filling in with our ministry goals, our vision and what our tomorrows look like in light of God’s guidance! One day at my desk, I had come across my introduction flyer from when I was to be appointed to this church in 2012. It speaks to what I hoped was to be our shared ministry… I described my leadership style as a partnership. Feeling “very strongly that working together is the best way to accomplish anything and having the love of Jesus at the center of all we do is vital. When we ground it all there first, our path will be very strong. God doesn’t lead us astray and often shows us amazing things along the way!
 
How true that has been. Throughout the eight years, when we have worked together, we have accomplished so much! During the month of January, we try to celebrate leadership and recognize some of the things we have experienced together and how it impacts us. We lift up the gifts and graces God has blessed us with and let everyone know who is responsible for what on our leadership ladder.
 
We have been most blessed with the warming of our spirits and our relationships! And I give praise and thanks for the ways God has moved among us! I am most thankful for those who have been open and willing to step into and going deeper with leadership responsibilities. I have a strong aversion to “do it my way” leadership and find that working together accomplishes far more than what anyone could do on their own. What is happening around us currently certainly reflects this thought!
 
Please join us on January 12 and help us celebrate leadership in our church! I also want to give sincere thanks to those who have worked hard to hang in there and participate in leadership roles, YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE! And for those of you who continue to participate in the positive things taking place here…I give thanks for you, as well! God is good and continues to bless us…your leadership is important and needed!

Here’s to 2020 in God’s ministry together!
 

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December 2019 – From the Pastor’s Desk

Thank you,
Faith Family for all the ways you have been present this year.  It is a special thing to watch your faith grow and your connection with Jesus find more depth.
 
I am also thankful for your care and concern in these last months. It has been a challenging 2 years and my family, and I would not have made it without you.
 
We have much ahead of us, much for which to anticipate and be excited!
 
May God bless you all at Christmas and in the New Year!
 

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November 2019 – From the Pastor’s Desk

One Sunday, not too long ago, several of us stood at the altar of our church and prayed for God’s continued presence and direction. As we now do every Sunday, we ended this time of prayer with a very obvious and dedicated “AMEN!” It was then that some of us looked to
the back of our church and saw the fellowship, laughter, talking and connection that was happening. We felt blessed!
 
For those of you who enjoy research, you may be able to find reports that most church members would describe their church as friendly. But once you go deeper in that research, the guests would typically find those same experiences as unfriendly. In doing some checking into the same kind of research within our church, one would find many of the opposite things to be true. Most guests and new members would tell you that our church is of the warmest.
 
In Acts 2:42-44, God’s Word says,
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and
to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common.”
 
Notice that when Luke wrote this account of the early church, he didn’t write, “See what great buildings they built.” He said, “See how
they love one another.” A recent author wrote that this is “a crucial mark of a world-changing church. A church that makes a difference in
its community is one that truly loves one another.”
 
Rick Warren writes, “when God has a bunch of baby Christians and soon-to-be baby Christians, he looks for the warmest incubator he can
find. God blesses a warm church with new believers because he doesn’t want them in the church of the Frigid-Air. He wants them in a warm environment where they can grow.”
 
In the beginning chapters of Acts, we keep hearing how the early church was unified…and we know the scripture that speaks about God
adding to their numbers everyday. Luke talks about heart and purpose and spirit….unity, and being united in thought throughout those
chapters….It is love and caring and concern that holds relationships together.
 
In spite of the more common concerns that most churches have, (concerns we will certainly take care of, thanks to the presence of God),
one thing we can hold up and embrace, is the relationships and love that is growing in our faith family. More than ever there is a unified
spirit among us…a spirit that strives to work together to bring us even closer to a God who loves us so…..Let’s keep celebrating the ways the Spirit is moving and how God is working among us…..
 
Way to go church….keep it up!
 
                                             Hugs,
                                                       

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October 2019 – From the Pastor’s Desk

 
The Old Testament tells us God’s people followed the law of tithing. To accomplish this commandment, Church members give one-tenth of their income to the Lord through His Church. These funds are used to grow the Church and promote the truth of the Lord throughout the world. We are called to live by this principal throughout our lives. We also promise to do so when we are confirmed or profess our faith in the United Methodist Church.
 
A five-year study that culminated a few years ago, revealed that “only 10-25 percent of the families in the church tithe.” If we would try to put a picture to that, we learn that out of the 247 million US citizens who claim Christianity as their religion, only 1.5 million tithes. The math tells us this is less than 1%.
 
We talk continually of what it takes to support our church and not only through money, but also in way of service, presence, prayers and witness, just like it says in our membership promises. But for some reason, we find ourselves cringing when it comes to talking about our finances. It is a real piece of this church and what we are doing.
 
Let’s think about this study and put our own words and pictures to this…We have approximately 175 active members, let’s say they average about $15,000 in an annual income and multiply that by 10%, which is the tithe that God calls us to, our church would receive $262,500 annually for their yearly budget. Say instead, there is an average annual income of $25,000 and they decide they can only give 5%, that gives us $218,750 for our annual budget. While the first amount offers money on top of our budget, both scenarios would support our current ministry, but you see the difference….and though the point is not so much about having enough, its more about the idea of giving back to God, who then works at providing ways for us to share his love in more ways.
 
Besides that, we know that often we fall below tithing. And often, we look at our giving to church differently than what the Bible tells us.
 
What if every member of our church tithed? Would we be able to make an even greater difference in our church, community and/or world if we were to give as God called us to? How many more people could be reached with the gospel if we had the means to share it even more? We already touch many, many people through the things in place now. We have added regularly to our membership for a bit now and this is not the norm in the United Methodist Churches, and we can thank Jesus for bringing people to us. Can you imagine if we were to continue to add to our membership? What a blessing that would be!
 
Many of you have all kinds of stories about how God has provided amazing moments of clarity and presence. This letter is written to try and prompt a thought process and call all of us to a deeper sense of prayer about how we support our church. There is not a doubt that we can raise a great deal more than the numbers provided here. Throughout the next three months, you are going to hear lots about giving and supporting your church, so please be prepared. We will also do several things to try to raise the money we need to meet our budget for the end of the year:
 
  1. The Bison Feed, please come, as this is one way a family uses their resources to helps us raise dollars for our budget. We are thankful for that opportunity and we need to be a part of it.
  2. Our Dessert Auction at the end of the month, another wonderful way to support our Church and receive in return.
  3. In November we will be putting up a “Thanks” giving board with 100 envelopes on it. You will have the opportunity to choose an envelope and give the corresponding dollars written on it. Another painless, but simple way to support your church.
  4. Our annual Holiday Letter will go out mid-November/December.
 
We are also going to collect notes and letters from people who are a part of this Faith Family in varieties of ways, in order to hear from others how they feel about what happens here. Please read this note and those to come in the manner they are written. Giving and supporting your church is one of the most difficult yet fulfilling and meaningful pieces of church life, and something very important to our ministry to all of God’s people. It is also important to note that many churches are struggling right now.
 
We have made a difference in many lives and we can make a difference in even more people’s lives with your help. And remember, that is more than just dollars and cents! We need you as well! You are sometimes the only Bible some people will meet.
We need to continue building our strength to do so…
isn’t that a great thing!?
 
 

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September 2019 – From the Pastor’s Desk

I love the word EMPOWER!
 
               It’s soooo, well, empowering
 
Even though we know this world makes almost anything possible, I think we have a tendency to hold ourselves back in one way or another. Maybe we tell ourselves that some things are impossible, or no one would ever
possibly get behind that, or I don’t have time…. Possibly, whatever dreams we may have had while growing up have gotten lost in other endeavors or adventures, the creation of a new path before us, with family, career choices…

As we have been studying the Holy Spirit these last few weeks, the word empower seems a fitting word to describe how the third circle in the Trinity can be a part of our lives. The Holy Spirit is often described as an invisible, powerful energy, working in us to help us to
spread God’s goodness in the world. In the Book of John, Jesus tells his followers,
 
“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper
(Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor-Counselor, Strengthener, Standby),
to be with you forever-“
 
That helper is to be our friend who helps us make decisions, encourages us to live our faith, energizes us and guides us.
 
The crux of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to understand that the Holy Spirit works for those things which fit into God’s plans. We can’t use the Spirit in order to accomplish our wants. It is by surrender do we experience His power. It is through the Spirit we are blessed to be able to show love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control, which all serve to empower us to do the will of God.

Remember how we talked of listening to the Spirit in our life walk and by doing so we will grow in love and knowledge of Christ? When we encourage each other and ourselves to learn and grow in Christ with the help of the Spirit, we are empowered to live life to its fullest
and as close to the path God has for us as possible. The power of the Spirit, through us, feeds us and helps us to carry out the word of Christ, which is for the good of all.

As we continue this study, just through September, let us be continually empowered to do the will of God. Spirit, fill us to walk in God’s love, strengthen us to follow you more closely, give us the courage to trust in you more deeply…. AMEN.
 
 

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