Pastor’s Pen – January 29, 2020

Hello Church family,
Happy Super Bowl week! Just a reminder that we will be collecting canned goods this Sunday at all worship services.

Our sermon series on faith sharing is off to a great start. For this week’s Pastor’s Pen, I invite you to read this article in preparing for worship this Sunday.

I am looking forward to worship on Sunday!

In  God’s Amazing Grace,

Pastor Marcus

Pastor’s Pen – January 22, 2020

Hello Church family,
Hope you are enjoying the cold weather today! During this time of year, I am thankful for those who serve in ministry to the homeless. Please pray for the Changing Lives outreach at our church each Saturday morning and those in our community that serve the homeless population in Boca.
I want to share an update from our Leadership Council meeting on Monday night. The main conversation at the meeting was about our next steps now that the Emerging Minds Montessori Academy (EMMA) has withdrawn their partnership offer and shared that they will no longer be a tenant of the West Campus beginning in September 2021, at the end of their lease. This development means we must make significant financial changes at FUMC in 2020 and 2021.

To determine our way forward, our leadership returned to the last vote cast by the members of FUMC. In April 2018, more than 20 months ago, we had a called church meeting regarding the sale of the West Campus. At this meeting, FUMC members voted to table the issue of whether to sell property until we evaluated and attempted to live into certain budget and ministry goals. It was during this period of evaluation that the EMMA partnership was proposed to us, unsolicited.

Now that the EMMA proposal is no longer under consideration, we will be living into our agreed response from that April 2018 meeting, specifically the statement that says, “The congregation will be asked to take action prayerfully, which includes the selling of property, so that we can live into the vision of FUMC.”

As you may recall, we previously scheduled several congregational, town hall-style meetings to discuss the EMMA proposal. We would like to continue with some of those meetings, using that time instead to share the financial realities we are facing this year. The first meeting will be held on the West Campus on Monday, February 3rd at 6:30pm. The second meeting will be held on the East Campus on Sunday, February 9th at 12:15pm. Everyone is invited to these meetings, where leadership and staff will share details and answer questions about our budget, reserves, and vision for the future. We will also discuss the continued need to realign pastors, staff, and facility expenses over the next 6-12 months.

The Leadership Council also approved to retain the previously scheduled congregational meeting led by our District Superintendent on Sunday, February 16th at 4pm. At this meeting, we will now be asking church members to approve the need to engage developers, realtors, and/or other potential partners about options for partnership, development, or sale of the West Campus property.

Before assembling to vote on February 16th, please try to attend one of the town hall meetings to get a full picture of the serious financial challenges facing our congregation. Those meetings are your opportunity to ask questions and engage with church leadership, if you so desire.

Monday’s meeting was a very important one, and our Leadership Council is a group of dedicated women and men who seek to live into the vision of FUMC. Please continue to pray for the Leadership Council, staff, and pastors of FUMC.

I am looking forward to Sunday worship when we talk about what keeps us from sharing our faith.

In  God’s Amazing Grace,
Pastor Marcus

Pastor’s Pen – January 15, 2020

Hello Church family,
2020 is proving already to be anything but dull!

First, the last two weeks have been a great kickoff for our faith sharing sermon series. I am thankful to Rev. Jack Jackson for inviting us to participate in brand new faith sharing small groups in the month of March. If this is something you would like to participate in, please email Pastor Marcus.

Second, I sadly have to share that the EMMA school has decided not to partner with us in a long term agreement. They will be moving to another property in 2021. This was unexpected news that we received at our first town hall meeting. Needless to say, the leadership council will continue to discuss the future of our church.

There is a Scripture text that gives me comfort in the midst of fear and uncertainty. 1 Peter 5:6-7 states:

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

The good news of Jesus Christ is that we are not alone. The good news of Jesus Christ is that no change of plans, financial hardship, or anxiety is greater than God. May God continue to give us strength to press forward and find new ways to share the love and grace of Jesus Christ.

In Christ,
Pastor Marcus

Pastor’s Pen – January 8, 2020

Hello Church family,
Happy new year! 2020 is going to be a crazy year! Prayer is essential as we seek to grow and share Jesus in our lives in the midst of changing times. Right now, we need to pray for the tensions in the Middle East and especially for the men and women of the armed forces. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers!
To begin this new year, I wanted to share a letter from our Bishop about some work that 16 individuals did on behalf of the entire United Methodist Church. This work will be shared at the upcoming General Conference on May. As a church, we will have time over the next four months to discuss and have important conversations about the future of the United Methodist Church. I share this so that we understand there are some major decisions that will be made by May 15th. Here is the letter from our Bishop.
In Christ,
Pastor Marcus

Pastor’s Pen – January 5, 2020

Dear First United Methodist Church Family,

Happy New Year! A big thank you to everyone who financially supported FUMC in 2019, and specifically to those who gave an extra end-of-the-year financial gift. Our initial projection is that we ended 2019 with less of a deficit than 2018.

As in years past, however, 2019 required us to use money in our reserves to meet our commitments–and our reserves are now almost depleted. Therefore, the church’s Leadership Council voted in December to balance the church’s budget in 2020. While staying committed to finding new ways of sharing Christ in the greater Boca community, FUMC will need to make changes to live within our means.

One important opportunity we have to live more successfully within our means is through a partnership with the Emerging Minds Montessori Academy (EMMA), currently housed on our West Campus. As shared with you previously, a task force has been working since January 2019 to evaluate EMMA’s offer to buy our property with the intention of leasing it back to us for our continuing operations.

On December 16th, our Leadership Council approved, by a strong majority, sending the EMMA proposal to the entire FUMC congregation for a vote. As we have also shared previously, only our church members—not the pastors, nor the Leadership Council—can approve the sale of property.

On Sunday, January 12th, we will be publishing the specific terms of the deal for the church to review via weekly church bulletin and our website. In short, the proposal’s main points are that we would sell EMMA the west campus property for 3 million dollars. EMMA would then lease back to us use of the campus for a nominal fee. For the term of the lease, we would continue to worship weekly in the Chapel, utilize the Fellowship Hall, and hold special events like the Pumpkin Patch. Importantly, while our operations would continue, we would no longer be responsible for maintaining the facility or managing the property.

We know you will have questions. Therefore, for the next several weeks, we’ll be holding a number of Q&A sessions on both campuses. It is our desire to have the three administrators of the Montessori Academy available to share their dreams and vision with the congregation at these gatherings as well.

Please mark your calendars: the vote on whether or not to partner with EMMA will take place at a congregational meeting on Sunday, February 16th, at 4:00 pm in the East Campus Sanctuary. Church rules specify that votes must be cast in person: no absentee or write-in voting is allowed.

What can you do now? Please continue to pray for our future. The initial vision implantation team, the Montessori task force, and the church’s Leadership Council all agree that the health of our church in the future is to use our resources less on maintaining and administering facilities and more on people and helping them to grow deeper in their relationship with Jesus.

And please keep an eye out for the terms of the proposal that will be made available on January 12th, as well as invitations to the Q&A sessions on both campuses to come.

Finally, I would like to say thank you to the entire Montessori task force for their prayers and dedication over the last 12 months.

In God’s Amazing Grace,

Pastor Marcus