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State of the Church
First Church has had a great first half of 2016.
We are one church with a variety of worship services in multiple locations. Worship has been strong this year. While we haven't 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. Also, our church members are embracing the command in Genesis 1:28. They have been fruitful and multiplied! We had a record number of babies born in 2015, and 2016 hasn't slowed down much.
Our Nettleton Campus continues to do well. Jim Markley our campus pastor is doing a great job. They have become an active church with children and young adults. They have more than doubled the congregation that we inherited a few years ago.
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. They grew by 30% in 2015, and are on pace to top that this year. Casey and his wife Tiffanie are also leading a recovery ministry called Breaking Bonds. This ministry has a Tuesday bible study in our south annex. He also has become the chaplain at the Bono Methodist Boys Home.
Our youth ministry continues to thrive under the leadership of Jeff Jones. Jeff does a great job with our young people and he has recruited a great group of lay leaders for our small group times as well.
Our Children’s Minister, Karen Holloway has great experience in children’s ministry and I am grateful for the joy and enthusiasm she brings to her work.
Rev. Patty Soward continues her remarkable work in care ministries and mission outreach.
The medical ministry of First Church continues to touch lives in ways that continue to keep us all in awe of the Glory of God. Over the years this ministry has grown beyond belief as we supply durable medical equipment and medical supplies to anyone in need. We are a resource for medical personnel in 6 counties. Nurses, hospitals, social workers and families contact us throughout the day for items and seldom do we fail to meet the need. Over the years we have exceeded $2 million in medical equipment to the community.
Obviously, none of thes ministries 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 lifeblood 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.
Finally, I want to close with a word about our future building needs. We have a great facility for adults but our youth and children still need a place that is spacious, secure, clean and easy to find. We will establish a long range planning team this year to address the facility needs of our church. We will explore the timing for a youth and children’s building to be built on the site of the south annex, the old Christian church. That church has been a great interim facility for us but it is long past its prime. It is my hope that in the next few years we will be able to reduce our current debt and move forward with a state-of-the-art facility for youth and children. Please be in prayer for our long range planning team.
Once again, I know I can speak for the other clergy and staff in saying thank you for allowing us to minister in such a wonderful church!
— John Miles, Senior Pastor