This is the last Reflections article of this year, so I suppose it is only natural I find myself looking back not just on the last week or two, but on the whole year.
You may recall we started the year having just come through a very successful capital campaign and looking forward to getting started with the renovation of our sanctuary. We actually began the renovation on May 14, and for almost seven months most of the Congregation was displaced in one way or another. But then came December 2nd and we moved into our newly renovated sanctuary. If you are like almost everyone I have talked to you can now see the wisdom of our making this move. It has been wonderful and it has certainly enhanced our Contemporary and Traditional Worship Services. And, all the while our Chapel Service has continued to grow and become a strong service in its own right. What a joy to know we have three distinct services to offer to people who prefer one style over the other.
You may also recall we began 2018 by having a Congregational Training on Radical Hospitality. Nearly 250 people gathered for the first weekend in January and ever since we have been developing this ministry. Again, what a joy it has been to watch this ministry grow, to hear stories of how your radical hospitality toward others has had an impact on peoples lives, and especially over the last couple of weeks to see it expressed to so many new people who have been visiting our Church.
Of course, 2018 has not been without challenges. Our Youth and Children’s areas began the year struggling. If you look at them now, both areas are gaining strength and the future is looking brighter and brighter. We had some staff issues that had to be dealt with and we also had staff changes. These are always painful and impact morale. However, currently I think we have turned that corner and are now moving in a positive direction.
We have also faced some financial challenges. This actually came late in the year while we were out of the sanctuary, and to some degree at least seems to be tied to the decision the United Methodist Church is facing in February 2019. As a response, a sub-committee of the Finance Committee has been monitoring this very carefully, we have put some protocols in place, and candidly, I am encouraging people not to withhold their giving to the Church based on how they ‘THINK” the General Conference will decide. That only hurts your Church now, and the fact is we don’t know what they will decide.
That said, we remain a very strong Church. We once again had successful programs like Foodstock, the Great Day of Service, the Holiday Festival, Wednesday Night Suppers, Bible Studies, Sunday School, Mission Trips, and on and on the list could go. All Churches face challenges, but one of the things that makes DUMC so great is that we see challenges as opportunities to discover what Christ wants to teach us and where Christ wants to lead us.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to say “Thank you” to all of you who have worked so hard this year. Your efforts are paying off. The ministry of Christ in this Church is strong. Our worship services have come alive in fresh and new ways. Lives are being touched. New people are coming to faith. And, the broken are experiencing the Master’s healing touch. So again, thank you. You are making a difference!