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State of the Church
2012 has been a year of transition in the life of our church. In 2011, we raised over five million dollars in cash and pledges, took possession of First Christian and broke ground for our new facility. On March 24, 2013, we will have our first Sunday worship service in our new building we have named Wesley Hall. 2012 was the year we had to cope with the loss of space and the inconvenience of a massive building project.
Even with all the obstacles this has still been a fruitful year in our church. Worship continues to be something we do well here at FUMC Jonesboro. For the second year in a row we averaged over 1000 in worship for the year. Even with three back to back services in the Sanctuary we still had strong attendance. Sean Pollock and the music department have worked diligently to accommodate all the different needs for the services. We are grateful for all the fine musicians who share their talents with the church. Brian Henkelmann, Marc Sexton, Krisie Holmes, Sherri Cothern and Mike Bridges all bless us with their musical gifts and leadership.
In July we opened the Atrium and reopened our Chapel. The Atrium is already becoming a place of fellowship and community. One of my life long desires has been to have a water feature in my church. The symbol of water runs throughout the Bible. In Revelation there is a river of life flowing through New Jerusalem. I also wanted a place where I could perform immersions for those who desired to be immersed. We have already had several people baptized in our Atrium. Even though we removed a few pews from the Chapel, it still is a wonderful venue for small services, weddings, funerals and a place of prayer.
We will open Wesley Hall on March 24, 2013. I am very grateful to everyone in the church who has prayed and worked and sacrificed for this great day. I am especially grateful to Marvin Day, Chairman of our building committee, who has done yeoman’s work in managing our building project.
Our church has shown its commitment to Bible study by the number of small groups and Sunday school classes we have started. Most days and evenings our church is busy with men’s and women’s Bible studies. It is a real inspiration to see all the people who are learning more about their faith. Ellen Pollock leads this ministry and would love to get every member of our church in a Sunday school or First Group.
Wednesday evenings are still strong even though we lost the use of our Family Life Center. Our South Annex, formerly the First Christian Church, has been a great boon for us. We have been able to move many of our youth and adult classes into the Annex and we are in the process of gutting and demolishing the Union/Warner building. That lot will then be used for much needed parking. The renovation of the South Annex was done almost entirely by volunteers. Their work saved us thousands of dollars and created a pleasant, if temporary, space for meetings and worship.
Jeff Jones and Shannon May have seen growth in their youth and children’s ministries. Our youth have moved to Wednesday nights for worship and small groups. We have over twenty adults working with our youth on Wednesday evenings. We are also grateful to Ethan Leonard for his help as our assistant youth pastor.
Shannon May had her largest Vacation Bible School this past year. We also changed over to an exciting new curriculum this year called Orange. This curriculum is helping to keep the lessons relevant and inspiring. Kristen Blumreich is our assistant children’s minister and we are grateful for her, as well.
Our Sunday school hour has not been growing but with all our small group ministries and Wednesday night activities we continue to see our church growing in Christian education. Small groups not only function as a place for learning about Christ and scripture, they also provide an avenue for Christian fellowship. In a church our size, there is no way for all of us to get to know each other. Small groups are a way to get to know a few people intimately.
Wednesday evening activities are another part of our fellowship. We are able to eat together and then break into First Groups and our adult Bible study. I am grateful for all the people who come out to study a chapter of the New Testament with me every week. Patty Minga is our cook on Wednesday night and she does a great job. Patty is thrilled with the new kitchen in Wesley Hall and is excited about the move into our new facility in March.
There are some in our church who can no longer get here on Sunday or Wednesday evenings. Patty Soward, along with her great volunteers, is working hard to keep our seniors and disabled connected.
We launched a new website early in 2012, and we are grateful to Christy Brannon for keeping it updated and for designing our weekly newsletter and bulletins. We recently achieved the capacity to put our Sunday morning sermons on line. If you miss a Sunday you can go on line and watch the sermon. Of course, we are also grateful to Kathy Johnson for the gracious way she runs the office.
In this year of transition maintaining a clean building has been a real challenge. I am grateful to James Reddig and his staff-Janet Agee, Ronnie Helderman, and Nathan Vail for the work they have done keeping our building clean and functional during this construction year.
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. Micro Society Elementary School has become a big focus of our church. We provide tutors for first and second graders in reading, lunch buddies for all grades, and help with food for the backpack program. We also help provide school supplies and warm clothing to children throughout the school year.
We are grateful to Patty Soward for organizing our medical supplies ministry. If we were to sell this equipment at Goodwill Store prices we gave away an astonishing $262,000 in 2012. We have given away almost 1300 prayer shawls and work closely with the schools, Veteran’s Administration, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, Area Agency on Aging, and nursing homes. Thanks to her work, the number of people in our church and community who have been able to get badly needed free medical supplies is incredible.
We have a wonderful child care program that we offer at the church. For many years now our church has provided outstanding care and spiritual education for preschool children. This year of transition has been especially hard on our Daycare as we had to shuffle classes to accommodate construction. Through all the confusion and relocation, our staff adapted and maintained their focus on loving our 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.
I cannot help but also point out the wonderful financial faithfulness of this congregation. We are on track to raise the five million pledged for our capital campaign and we finished 2012 in the black. With the resignation of our business manager we are deeply grateful to Sherri Slaven for stepping in and managing our church finances.
Finally, we are very grateful for all the people who have joined our church in the past year. Thanks to an energetic confirmation class and a welcoming congregation we have had sixty people who either made a first time profession of faith in Christ or recommitted their lives to Christ after years of being out of church.
Once again, let me say how proud I am of this church. 2012 has been a great year. I believe with prayer and faith 2013 will be even better. Please be in prayer for our grand opening of Wesley Hall on March 24, and believe with me that God is about to do something even more wonderful with FUMC Jonesboro!