Pastor’s Report – 2019
Note: Each year I write a Pastor’s Report for our annual Charge Conference. The following is my report for this year:
As I reflect on the past year, there are several things that I remember. While there are no single, earth-shattering, monumental achievement to report, there are many small, sometimes incremental, changes that are building a sense of excitement and hope for the future. Some of these are things that Christ Church has been doing for a long time but sometimes in a new way, others are new altogether, some are growing, and some are happening again after a long absence.
A class of confirmands graduated and joined the church and there have been two new member classes that have, so far, resulted in two new members, in addition to those from confirmation and transfer. Among these were also two baptisms and a wedding. We have trained and certified several of our members for the UMVIM Early Response Team disaster response mission opportunities that may arise in the future. And several of our Sunday school classes have been discussing the call of scripture, and the command of Jesus Christ, to be invitational as well as how we can overcome our fear of inviting others to meet Jesus.
Our United Methodist Women continue to be a strong, positive, and missional influence on our church, our community, and beyond as they reach out in many ways and in many places with the love of Jesus. Not least of these efforts is their continuing Cooking for the Soul mission, in which they are teaching the women of our community the basics on how to cook at home and save money by cooking from scratch instead of buying prepared foods. These classes continue to be filled to capacity and often have a waiting list to get in. It is my hope that, with a little encouragement, these classes might be expanded to include other subjects such as basic sewing, or home/auto maintenance and repair.
Likewise, the meetings of our church trustees have taken on a new tone as we are no longer just discussing issues of church maintenance and repair, but ways that we can make our church more inviting, friendly, useful, and available to new and emerging ministry opportunities. Among these discussions are facility upgrades like expanding the areas served by air conditioning, new interior and exterior signage, electronic defibrillators, and upgrades to our electrical service to more easily facilitate our plan to once again prepare and serve over one thousand Thanksgiving dinners to the people of our community (which was a new ministry which we took over from another church last year).
The support of our entire church for mission, of all types, local, national, and international continues to be strong and passionate. The people of Christ Church are often asking how we can do more and contribute to ongoing projects in unexpected ways without being asked. We continue to support, both financially and with many volunteer hours, the Alliance Food Pantry, Habitat for Humanity, the Salvation Army, and other community missions, support Red Bird Mission and its outreach centers in Kentucky, provide scholarships to school children in Sierra Leone and Liberia, as well as contribute to the construction of a new high school in Harrisburg, Liberia through our conference Farmer to Farmer mission. And extensive as it is, this is certainly not a comprehensive list. Christ Church and its people are doing the work of Jesus Christ in so many places, in so many ways, that it’s often difficult to keep track of them all.
There is an old question that I have heard in various places, from church conferences, to district superintendents, to books, to internet memes that asks, “If your church were to close tomorrow, would anybody notice?” Christ Church can answer that question with a resounding “YES!” As I reflect on our activities of the last year, I can say with confidence that we are here, we are active, and that Christ Church is making a difference in Alliance, in Stark County, and around the world.