E-List SignUp Form
State of the Church
2014 marks the first full year in our new Wesley Hall and Atrium. It has been all we hoped it would be. I love walking through our Atrium area on Sunday morning and seeing all the people visiting and enjoying fellowship. Our state of the art Wesley Hall is the largest and best contemporary worship space in United Methodism in Arkansas.
We are one church with a variety of worship services in multiple locations. Our worship has been strong this year. While we have not seen worship grow by the same number we have in the last few years, we continue to see new people and new families in all of our services.
Our Nettleton Campus has shown a great deal of growth this year. Jim Markley our new campus pastor is doing a great job. They have started new Sunday school classes for children and young couples and they have doubled their worship attendance.
Casey Turner is leading our Elevation service which is growing and bringing in more new Christians per worship attendee than any service in our church and maybe in our UMC community in Arkansas. Casey, and his wife, Tiffany are also leading a new recovery ministry called "Breaking Bonds". This ministry has a Tuesday Bible study in our South Annex.
Matt Penny is our new college minister. He has already made an impact on the ASU campus in his work with foreign students. He leads a service on campus on Sunday evenings and has been leading small groups as well.
We also have partnered with Christ Way UMC here in town. We share a pastor in Herschel Richardson who is our associate at First Church and the lead pastor at Christ Way. Herschel also is working hard at developing the small group ministry of our church.
As you know, we also have brought on a new music minister. I think everyone who has worked with Derek McNatt has been impressed with his musical ability and his love for Christ. He has already grown our youth and adult choir and has given us great music in our contemporary services.
We continue to grow in our First Group ministries. We have groups meeting here nearly every day and night of the week. I am grateful for all the many lay leaders who take the time to help create small group environments for our church. Wednesday nights are still growing and shaping lives.
Our youth pastor Jeff Jones has had real growth in youth attendance over the last couple of years. We now average 140 to 150 young people a week in Wednesday night services. Shannon May continues to do good work in our children’s ministry and it continues to grow. We had the largest VBS attendance last year in our history. We continue to offer great children’s programming on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. Our summer camps at Wayland Spring are always a joy!
Patty Soward continues her remarkable work in care ministries and mission outreach. She and Shannon May helped us get our Christmas Emporium going at Micro Society. We had a great turn out with our church members helping needy parents shop for gifts for their children. It was a beautiful day.
The Medical Ministry touched more lives than we can even know, as we have supplied everything from adult diapers, oxygen concentrators, potty chairs to hospital beds to hundreds of people. Power chairs have been given to individuals and the Hospice House to change the lives of people. In 2014 we were blessed to share $624,606 in used medical equipment to those in need. We thought the $200,000 from 2013 was big but we found that as the needs continued to grow, the supply grew, by the grace of God.
The Jonesboro Public Schools honored our church for their work with Micro Society this year. We provide the Elementary school with tutors, lunch buddies, home room helpers and we provide food for the much needed back pack program.
Obviously, none of this would be possible without the work of countless volunteers who do most of the ministry that happens in this church. Volunteers who teach classes, sing in choirs, play instruments, work with children and youth, greet visitors, help serve meals, contact shut-ins…. are the life blood of our church. Without the efforts of hundreds of people none of our ministries could happen.
Our church people not only serve to make the church a better place-they work in this community to make it a better place as well. Our church provides vital ministry to City Youth, Helping Neighbors Food Pantry, Church Health Center, Women’s Crisis Center and the list goes on.
For many years now our church has provided outstanding care and spiritual education daily for preschool children. I love ministering to the children at Chapel on Wednesday mornings. Many of our church members bring their children to our Learning Center. I am grateful to Debbie Williams, Adrianne Cruz and their staff for the great work they do.
On top of all this we also had the best financial year in our church’s history. December is always a great month but this December was the best ever. Not only did we meet our actual expenses, but we exceeded our proposed budget for 2014, something we did not think we would be able to do. On top of that we received the largest gift in our history - $500,000 - to help us pay down the First Forward debt. We are looking at another large gift coming in the first quarter of the year to continue to help us with the First Forward debt retirement. We are grateful for Scot Woodruff and Sherri Slaven for their work in financial management.
I don’t want to leave out James Reddig, Patty Minga, and Janet Agee for the work they do in keeping our building in great order. With all the constant activity around here that is quite a job. I also am grateful for the work of Christy Sutterfield. She has the title of Communications Director but she does much more to help our church fulfill its mission.
I have to say a special thanks to our church staff and lay leaders. We have had some very difficult staff transitions over the last couple of years. It has been extremely difficult to be a member of the Staff Parish Relations Committee. All our leaders have done a great job. They have done a wonderful work keeping this church on track. I am grateful for their devotion.
With the great success we have had in 2014, I really believe 2015 will be even better. Please pray now for your church and her ministries.
Pray for our various worship services and our pastors. Pray for our youth and children’s ministries. As you pray, ask God where your place is in the ministry of this church. Pray that all of us together can prioritize, Putting Jesus First!