On Friday, the United Methodist Women invited the women of the church to gather outside the Sanctuary, around the gazebo, with masks and socially distancing, to introduce the books for the Reading Program 2021. Each woman was able to review the books and plot her reading schedule for the year. These books have been chosen to allow the reader to grow spiritually and mentally. During this time of separation and, for some isolation, reading could be a wonderful past-time. Any woman who wants a book can contact Ardyth Stone.
Last Sunday our church celebrated the first in-person worship since March. It was a joyous celebration for those who came together. Yes, we were masked and were socially distanced, but we were together. This is not for everyone. There are many who need to take extra care and stay physically away from others, for those we produce an online worship service. Sunday afternoon the Praise band from the West Campus celebrated with a music concert for over 30 people who spent the afternoon enjoying a physical presence while masked and socially distanced. The joy of music is always heartwarming. It is the hope of the leadership that as time progresses we will increase the attendance at these worship services and increase the opportunities for gathering in physical community.
This has been a very busy week for your church leadership and it is only Wednesday. On Monday the Leadership Council met to review the paperwork for the Charge Conference. This work included reviewing the nominations committee report, setting the pastors’ salaries and benefits and reviewing the published list of members who cannot be contacted in the third year. These items will all officially be submitted and voted at Charge Conference.
The Leadership Council also received the report from the trustees on the disposition of the West Campus property. The church conference voted to enter into a contract for the sale of the property. The Leadership Council authorized the trustees to work with Avison Young to complete a contract and develop a timeline for the sale. The council also heard from Pastor Marcus about the work of a strategic planning committee to envision the future of the church including our presence in west Boca. Pastor Marcus invites anyone who would be interested in serving on this committee to contact him.
Sharon Saige, our Business Administrator presented our financial picture. While it was not as difficult as it might be, it was not as bright as we would like it. The last few Sundays have been below expectations and with a projection that many of our northern visitors will not join us this year we are looking for our members to redouble efforts in giving. While some expenses are not the same as in the past, there are still expenses. In fact, due to COVID, the demands for social ministries have increased considerably. Our staff costs have been pared with the loss of Wyatt, but demands on the staff have grown. It is not easy to provide pastoral care in this time of COVID and separation. But our staff continues to rise to the demands. We do not have the same costs for air conditioning, but to protect the electrical and music equipment we must still run air conditioning. The ministries of the church continue, frequently in new dimensions, but they continue to accrue cost. The Leadership Council urges all members to continue giving and when possible increase giving if you can to meet new and continuing needs.
Last night, Tuesday, our church Charge Conference was held with Rev. Vidalis Lopez, an elder from Coral Springs, presiding. The nominations committee reported new nominations for Staff Parish Relations. Michelle Shaw will come on the class of 2023. Debbie Woolsey will come on Nominations on the class of 2023. There are still two positions on Finance that can hopefully be filled by the next Leadership Council meeting December 14.
The pastoral compensation will stay the same as the last year. Chuck Reeder expressed his hope that next year we can increase the compensation in recognition of the good work done in the midst of this time of separation. The new needs have increased the responsibility of the pastoral staff, requiring the preparation of additional worship services and additional community building programs. Even with these new demands the pastoral staff has continued to engage in all organizations of the church and they continue to exclude the joy of the Christian life, even in this time of change.
The last item was the acceptance of the names of those members we have lost contact with over the last three years. Even with due diligence we were unable to make contact with these individuals, so they will be removed from the church rolls even as they remain in our hearts and in our prayers.
Rev. Lopez took time to recognize the effective ministries of fresh expressions we engage in to spread the Love of Jesus. Even in this time of COVID and separation we continue to call the community of Dinner Church together in ways that meet the needs of those who seek to experience the Word of God in community and the breaking of bread. While we are not now gathering in person, we are providing a meal for the body and devotions and crafts of the children that feed the soul. Dinner Church, housed at Coral Sunset Elementary School now gathers in car lines for distribution, but some day we will again gather as the Body of Christ. Until that day the Love of our church will continue to rain down on those who seek to be fed physically and spiritually.
Rev. Lopez also recognized the Pub Theology fresh expression ministry, which in the best of times meets in secular locations to provide an arena for discussion of things sacred and meaningful. It has been difficult to meet in meaningful ways that makes the ministry available to those beyond the local church, but recently has met outdoors at Barrel of Monks for a time of discussion and community. The participants wore masks and were socially distanced.
It was good to have a review of what the church is doing. In seeing what can be done, even in the midst of this pandemic we recognize that we have many more opportunities as we learn to accommodate the current reality. If we keep our eyes open and our thoughts on possibilities we will find many new ways to communicate God’s Love through our actions in the coming months and years.
Next week is Thanksgiving week. For many, it will be very different than any Thanksgiving we have ever had. Some may not be able to gather with family. Some may not be able to travel. But we still have much to be grateful for. Even if seeing the grandchildren is on Zoom or Duo or Facetime we can be grateful for family and future. Our Dinner Church is grateful for the members of this church that have supported them and each of us can be grateful that we have enough. We can be grateful that the church continues to be our spiritual center. While we focus on the difficulty we have so much in life and community to be grateful for.
We have so much to look forward to in this future we have been given. We are learning that there are many ways to communicate and to gather in the presence of God. We are planning a dynamic Advent time that will bless your soul. And, although, Christmas will be much different this year we will still celebrate God’s coming into the world to experience life with us. Whether it is online or in person we will experience Hope, Joy, Love and Peace, and most of all new beginnings.