Tuesday, July 17, 2018

July Adventures...

Happy New Appointment Year!! 

July 1 begins a new year in the life of clergy in The United Methodist Church, as our appointment year begins anew.  It gives me great joy that Bishop Minerva Carcaño has appointed me to serve another year in Quincy, as I begin my third year with you.  This is an amazing place to live and serve and I can’t be thankful enough to be here!! 

As we begin our third year together, I always like to take some time to look at where we have been and where we hope to go this next appointment year.  I know this will be a longer article, but I hope you will have the chance to read and think about where we have been and where God calls us to go, and where we can engage in conversation in this next appointment year.

Since I began serving here in 2016, we have welcomed new people into the life of our church, while saying see-ya-later to some who have moved away, and have commended some into God’s eternal care these last couple years.  Some other highlights include:

·       * Adding a second Sunday School class for intermediate grades AND having children in church and actively involved every Sunday!!  We are also in the process of planning a youth group for kids entering grades 6 through 12. 
·         *Building improvements including the lift to improve accessibility to the sanctuary, replacing dry-rotted facia board along the outer wall of the sanctuary, converting to LED lighting in the sanctuary and fellowship hall, and in progress, restoration of our steeple. 
·        * An increase in our average worship attendance from 58 at the end of 2016 to 72 where we stand right now (this will fluctuate in the summer). 
·       *  Continued involvement in our community through Rotary International, Soroptimist, PEO, Dress-a-Girl/Dude, Lions Club, Plumas District Hospital Volunteers, Quincy Chamber, and other service organizations. 
·     * Increased use of our building with the Quincy Crazy Quilters holding events in our Fellowship Hall and a youth Tae-Kwon-Do/adult jujitsu group interested in using our space which will be an important relationship building opportunity. 
·         *Continued growth in our music ministries with growth in the choir and bell choir, along with the development of the children’s choir.  The new choir robes and stoles and stoles for the bell choir have added a nice touch, thanks to the bequest by the estate of John Ellison. 

There are many other things that I can list and celebrate here.  As we go into another year together and as our church continues growing, I hope to continue looking forward and listening to the Holy Spirit for guidance, seeing where God is calling us to go together. 

What are some things we can envision in this coming appointment year together?  Here are a few things from my perspective, although please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and ideas with me as well:

Discipleship is an area to strongly focus on this coming year.  While we have seen growth in worship attendance and have felt a new energy, are we growing as disciples, or as I like to say, growing in Spirit?  What spiritual growth opportunities interest you and in general, what are your spiritual needs?  I would like to consider engaging in A Blueprint for Discipleship this Fall and invite as many people to engage in this study.  Or, would a focused, covenant Bible study (i.e. “Disciple”) be something that interests anyone?  One of the items on the strategic plan for churches in the California-Nevada conference is to develop a plan of discipleship and my hope is that we can work towards this in this coming appointment year. 

What is discipleship exactly?  According to the glossary in UMC.org, discipleship is defined as the following:

The active living of the individual Christian in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ, that is, being as effective a disciple of Christ as possible. Discipleship involves a ministry of outreaching love and witness to others concerning Christ and God's grace. Discipleship also calls the Christian to ministries of servanthood and service to the world to the glory of God and for human fulfillment.[1]

The church calls our response to God Christian discipleship. Discipleship focuses on actively following in the footsteps of Jesus. As Christian disciples, we are not passive spectators but energetic participants in God’s activity in the world. Because of what God has done for us, we offer our lives back to God. We order our lives in ways that embody Christ’s ministry in our families, workplaces, communities, and the world.[2]

I highly encourage all of us to go deeper into a life of active discipleship and find creative ways to encourage each other in living like Christ and regularly checking in with each other. 

Gifts and Service:
I want to commend and affirm us in our financial giving and want to encourage us to continue giving generously of financial gifts, talents, and time, or other gifts we can offer when we put our faith into action.  Our membership vows include giving of our gifts, presence, prayers, and service, which we can offer to God and to our church.  While financial gifts help us to keep our building operating and help our  connectional giving, not everyone can always give financially, in which there are other ways to give. 

We have opportunities for helping around the campus and even if someone is signed up to host coffee hour, usher, greet, mow/shovel snow, you can still volunteer!!  You can also give the gift of time by helping prepare the sanctuary in cleaning out pew racks, making sure there are hymnals and offering envelopes, or if you have a creative mind, help decorate the altar in between the liturgical seasons.  There are periodically workdays around the church which is where the gift of time is given and shared too.  Or, if you are gifted with caring ministries, I would like to continue working on getting a group of lay people to do regular visitations with our homebound, supplementing my monthly visits.  Plus, lay people in caring ministries can help keep me informed about any pastoral care needs in the congregation that I might not be aware of. 
Lay Leadership
Is God calling you into a leadership position in our church?  Our lay leadership development team, including myself and lay leaders Marty Byrne and Leslie Mikesell would love to talk more, as we get started on filling out the leadership positions for 2019 that will be approved at our annual church conference (aka charge conference) this Fall.  Committee work can feel like it could be cumbersome, yet I feel that it is an honor and blessing to be involved in the leadership of the church.  We have many backgrounds, theologies, ideologies and we need all sorts of perspectives at the table in the leadership of the church.  While some committees do require being a professing member of the church (where you have taken the vow of membership), there are other ways to be a leader, such as leading a small group or fellowship group.

Membership and Presence:
The vow of presence in our membership vows is highly important and I want to encourage ALL of us to live into our vows of membership in the life of the church (see above and paragraphs 217-221 in The Book of Discipline).  Your presence means attending worship and engaging in a spiritual growth activity as regularly as possible.  I do understand that there are factors that might prevent everyone from being here, such as mobility, moving away, illness, travel, work, being hurt by something or someone, or other factors.  Barring factors that prevent full presence, if everyone who is a member of the church that lives in town and our constituents (those who are active, attend regularly, but have not taken the vows of membership) attend worship here each Sunday altogether, our worship attendance would be close to 100 or more.  Why do I emphasize being in worship so much?  Worship is a time of recharging our spiritual batteries and I hope that our time of worship inspires us and blesses us to go out to serve and live like Christ.  Simultaneously, I am aware that not everyone will always like how we do things or how I lead, which is part of the inspiration. 

These are a few things I hope we can work together towards this year and beyond, through good times, challenges, and all.  As we move into this new appointment year together on July 1, I look forward to all opportunities that await as we listen to God’s voice and let the Holy Spirit guide us as we continue to live and serve like Christ!! 

Peace & Blessings,
Rev. Andrew

[1] Communications, United. 2018. "Glossary: Discipleship – The United Methodist Church". The United Methodist Church. Accessed June 13 2018. http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/glossary-discipleship.

[2] Communications, United. 2018. "Becoming Disciples – The United Methodist Church". The United Methodist Church. Accessed June 13 2018. http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/becoming-disciples.

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