First United Methodist Church
Sunday, December 08, 2013
As church activities pick up the pace, I find myself reflecting on the number of essential ministries going on in and through this congregation. When I was younger my family always made it a priority to be at church during the summer, and I always complained about it because none of my friends would be there and nothing ever went on. Then, after Labor Day, they would come back, activity resumed, and it just seemed like the church was coming back to life. It was an awesome feeling then, and it still is today!
This year, in particular, I found myself reflecting not only on the number of essential ministries that are resuming, but also on the impact that this church has on our community and world. I wonder what it would be like if FIRST UMC did not exist. What if we didn't worship or have Christian education? What if the Fellowship Kitchen was gone? What if we had no staff, no pastor, no space for recovery groups? Where would those in need stop for assistance with food, or a listening ear? It is a frightening thought, isn’t it?
There are so many times when we all count on the fact that FIRST UMC will be there - providing for our spiritual needs and giving us the love of an “extended” family. It is frightening to go down the road of "What if...?"
The reality is that on any given day, the "what ifs" are not far from becoming reality. Churches are among the only organizations that exist entirely on the generosity of those who are a part of them. Every piece of the church building and its furnishings, every watt of electricity or gallon of fuel, every piece of curriculum, every Bible, choir robe, computer, and stamp comes from gifts given by the people of this congregation. When donations decrease, within days ministry decreases and the church becomes less of what it is called to be in the community and world.
Now the reason for this letter. First thank you all, the FIRST UMC family, for your time, talent and treasure, so freely given, that allows this church to continue its ministry as it has since 1868. Without the loving generosity of you and the generations before, the FIRST UMC would not be serving the needs in Rochester and the world now. With your gifts and service we have come this far in our ministry to Rochester and beyond.
But now I need to share the reality of what we face for the remainder of this year even with the spending restrictions we are implementing. Our church approved a budget for 2013 which knowingly included a $40,000 deficit between budgeted expenses and pledges and other anticipated giving. If our giving continues at our present levels, we will fall approximately $30,000 short of our 2013 financial obligations. Obviously a shortfall of this magnitude will have a direct impact on the operation and ministry of our church. This is our “What if ...” moment.
The Finance Committee and your pastor are asking you to prayerfully consider going a "second mile" with an added special financial gift to the church to overcome this “What if ...” moment.
Here are some ways that you can help:
First, consider being a part of FIRST UMC's "Century Club," 100 donors giving an extra $100 for each of the three remaining months. If 100 people each gave $300 that would provide $30,000 to continue our vital ministries and meet our obligations. Perhaps a one-time gift of $100 works better in your budget - that is a great way to "join the club." Payments are welcomed as a lump sum or an additional weekly offering
Second, in gratitude for the gifts God has given you, prayerfully consider giving $1 each month for every year of your life and the others in your household. In the Korean tradition, these are called "Thank Offerings" and they are very popular!
While these are some ways to participate, needless to say, we appreciate any gift in any amount.
I believe that God has a plan for FIRST UMC, and I believe that our ministry begun in 1868 will continue to make a difference in lives for years to come. With your help, the "What ifs" that now confront us will never be reality.