Happy Wednesday! I hope each of you is having a good week and continues to stay safe during the pandemic. Today I would like to begin to examine our initiatives for 2021. In case you missed this a few weeks ago:
“Last month, a team met to discuss the opportunities and challenges before us in 2021. As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and the vaccine, we feel called to move forward in some specific areas.
Our five areas of focus for 2021 are:
- Digital worship and engagement
- Fresh Expressions of faith (Dinner Church)
- Growing daily in Christ’s love
- Children in our community
- Opportunities to worship at home with neighbors”
Today I would like to focus on growing daily in Christ’s love. As followers of Jesus, we are reminded over and over in the Gospels that loving God and people is not optional or a nice goal. It is what we are called to do every day of our lives as we seek to become the persons God created us to be.
In pre-COVID times, we would gather in small groups or Sunday school classes. In today’s world, and most likely moving forward, there needs to be a digital component to everything we do as the church of Jesus Christ. We have been in conversation with a company that provides access to online, video based Christian studies, devotions, and other digital resources. Please take a look at this website:
We hope to get everything set up for our church next month. Individuals can access Bible studies and devotions, small groups can access topical studies and book studies, and there is even content for children, youth, and families. We will be able to share these resources with our MECE Preschool and Fresh Expressions, like Dinner Church!
In the past, a pastor would lead a weekly study at church or a teacher would lead a Sunday school class on Sunday morning. These digital resources will allow us the flexibility to gather online via Zoom, Go To Meeting, and Facebook, as well as grant us access to digital content with our smart phones and tablets when meeting in person.
The whole purpose of this technology is for us to have new resources to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ in a daily basis. Sometimes our growth is individual and sometimes our growth is through a small group.
One of the greatest blessings in my life is a small group of men that I gather with in-person and online. I have been part of this group for over 25 years, and I can’t imagine doing life without the support of this group. Maybe you feel alone during the pandemic or desire to connect with a group? Our hope is that we become a church of small groups. Not simply a church that has a few small groups, but a church where people connect and grow in their relationship with God and people through small groups. If you would like to find a group, please email me and we will create a list of interested persons.
More information about this new digital offering will be available in February. I am excited that this will provide more individuals and small groups with digital resources to grow in the love of Jesus Christ.
In God’s Amazing Grace,
Because of our current pandemic, many of our normal events and “happenings” may not be happening or have moved to an online platform. Please contact the church office at 561-395-1244 or email for additional information.
Thank you for purchasing the following poinsettias “in memory of or in honor of”:
In Memory of:
John Fish given by Carol Dolcemascolo
Christel Horsch given by the Herschelman family
Edith Herschelman given by the Herschelman family
Mabel Pike given by the Herschelman family
Jackson Families by Richard Thornton and Nigel
Thornton Families by Richard Thornton and Nigel
Nigel III Thornton by Richard Thornton
Philomena and Lawrence French by Jack and Brenda Failla
Marie and Salvatore Failla by Jack and Brenda Failla
John F. Welsh by Doris Welsh
My mother, Therese by Janice Davis
My father, Joseph by Janice Davis
My sister, Patsy by Janice Davis
Madison Quinten Hinesley by Bette Hinesley
Robert Bruce Stevens by Bette Hinesley
Myra Kibbe by Bette Hinesley
William & Eleanore Freytag by Lynn & Glenn Freytag
Friends & loved ones by Lynn & Glenn Freytag
In Honor of:
Pandemic Essential Medical Care Personnel and Volunteers by Richard Thornton
Our Children by Dru and Sharon Saige
Thornton Families by Richard Thornton and Nigel
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.
WARREN WILLIS UNITED METHODIST SUMMER CAMP 2021
Dear FUMC family,
Since launching our first Facebook Live Service on March 15 we greatly appreciate your flexibility, your prayers for our Worship Team, and ALL of the positive feedback we have received regarding the sermons, reflections, prayers, and musical offerings. We were especially blessed on October 18 when we honored our church’s faithful servants on Laity Sunday with presentations by Cathy Herschelman, Sean Kelley, Min Pusey, and Danny Davis; thank you to Jane Hill for decorating our altar for the fall season. We also appreciate the MANY people who sent in pictures for us to use in our efforts to connect virtually with our congregation during our services. We hope that seeing all the smiling faces as part of our service benediction brings you joy!!
Thank you also to Avry and Anna Parker, Debbie and Mike Woolsey, Jacob Saige, Juanita Goode, Vincent Kelley, Jane Dent, and Cyndy Briggs for being part of our Online Services as Scripture Readers these past two months, as well as the many people who served this past summer. Your contributions are greatly appreciated.
There are many opportunities to continue to help out in our Online Worship Ministry. Advent is fast approaching, so we will be looking for Advent message reader/candle lighters, as well as weekly Scripture Readers. We still welcome additions to our Service Benediction closer if you would like to submit a picture. If you would like to be a reader or submit a picture, please let me know.
Thank you for your continued support of the Worship experience here at FUMC.
Arlene Sparks, Director of Music
by Danny Davis
Grace to you, and Peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus, the Christ. I bring you greetings and a word of reflection for this moment in our church.
There are many tender feelings in the church today. This time it is over the decision made Monday evening to sell the church property on Glades and begin a new era for our worshipping community in west Boca. Biologists define life with 7 traits. One of those traits is growth and change. How does a church grow? Too frequently, we define that growth by the number of people we bring in as members or the increased number of giving units we have acquired over last year at this time. This is an organizational approach to growth. This is the secular definition of growth. It is about increasing the power base of the church and its apparent presence in the community. But is this really biblical growth?
In his three or so years of ministry Jesus never increased his called disciples beyond the twelve, yet he kept calling for the growth of the Kingdom. It is apparent to me that the growth Jesus sought was the growth outside the organization. Jesus was teaching his disciples and those hangers-on following him, that the real growth was not in the number of people in the organization, but in the presence of the organization through service in the community. In other words, using Wesleyan terms, all of our personal holiness will get us nowhere in the Kingdom of God without social holiness. Our decision to follow Christ and become disciples is a discipline of life called sanctification. But this discipline has little meaning without the social holiness, the good works that become a part of our personality from our relationship with God.
Social holiness is not about how we have a presence in the community to attract new members. Social holiness is about finding ways to meet the needs of the community around us. It is about identifying the hurts, the habits, the hang-ups that cause division in the lives of people and help remove those barriers. It is about giving food to the hungry, cool water to the thirsty, clothes to the naked, and comfort to the oppressed and marginalized. It is about taking the candles off the altar and carrying them into a dark world where the people can see the light. Social holiness is serving God’s creation through the teachings of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The world is changing! The church is changing! We are changing! But remember, change is not a sign of death, it is a definition of Life. For many years, indeed, for some, many decades, we have been nurtured by our pastors, our teachers, our mentors, our friends and our significant Christian relationships inside the walls of the church. We have grown in our personal holiness. We have learned to live by “not my will, but your will God.” We have sought to reach beyond our own desires to do the will of the Kingdom in our midst. We work on the regulation of our emotions to highlight the attitudes: love, joy,peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, that serve God and the Kingdom. Each day, as we walk closer to God, we change. We become more Christ-like. We see, not what we want, but what must be done to bring the Kingdom of God into our midst.
This change is always scary. It can be stressful. But, if we are following God, we have the power of the Holy Spirit to support us. If we are living in the Kingdom we have each other to support us. We can walk into the newness of a life with God each day. I commend to you the opportunity to change, not just your life, but the life of your community in the power of God. Change is life.
Thank you to everyone that participated in the called church conference on Monday night. At the meeting the church approved the sale of the west campus property. Though we grieve this decision to sell some of our property, it is with hope and anticipation that we move forward with a desire to reach new people in new spaces.
So what are the next steps? A strategic planning team will be meeting over the next few months to work on initiatives and goals for the next 3-5 years. They’ll also he working on a time frame to transition west campus worship and ministries in the late spring or early summer of 2021. If you are interested in being part of this team, please email me.
We also will be working with our real estate company on creating a contract and navigating the due diligence period. The estimated time frame for the transaction to close is in May-June of 2021.
Please continue to pray for the church leadership, strategic planning team, staff, and pastors as we work through our church’s next steps and continue in a year that has been difficult in so many ways for so many people.
In times like this I like to remember one of my favorite gospel texts, a powerful reminder of the peace that is possible through Jesus Christ.
Mark 4:35-41 NIV: 35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
I can’t believe this is the last week of October. We were just blessed by the MECE costume parade. During a very challenging year this beautiful parade gives me great joy and hope for the future!!
Finally, I would like to invite you to join us for online worship on Sunday as we celebrate All Saints Sunday and Holy Communion.
As we are reminded by the great cloud of witnesses, may we remain in the faith and live for Jesus.
In God’s Amazing Grace,
As you know, we are preparing for a virtual Town Hall meeting on Monday, October 12th. This will be followed by a virtual Congregational Meeting on October 26th at 7:00 pm, at which time we’ll vote on the offer we have received from MetroGroup Development to purchase our West Campus property.
If the congregation votes to sell the West Campus, I also want to acknowledge that I know that it will be hard on some of our members. Our church buildings are special to us. We celebrate births, grieve the loss of loved ones, laugh and cry and grow together within their walls. I hope we can all be sensitive to this fact in the weeks and months to come. Let’s be kind to each other.
We have tried to anticipate as many questions as possible in order to have an efficient meeting in a few weeks. In this message I want to share the details and decision-making that got us here.
Who is making this recommendation?
In February 2020, our church voted to convene a special task force to receive purchase offers for the West Campus on behalf of the church. Task force members include Leadership Council Chairman Chuck Reeder, Trustee Bruce Wetmore, Trustee George Liebel, and Lay Leader Danny Davis. Sharon Saige and I served on the task force as ex-officio members.
The task force was given the following mandate:
To receive offers for the West Campus church property for market value (at least), with preference given to buyers open to a partnership allowing FUMC to continue its presence on the property.
What is the appraised value of the West Campus property?
The appraised value as of 6/20/19 was $3,555,000. The appraisal report is available to view here.
What are the terms of the offer being presented?
A letter of intent from the potential buyer, MetroGroup Development, is available by calling the church office.
What process did the task force use?
The task force decided to use the firm of Avison Young to assist with marketing to, and vetting of, potential buyers. Avison Young is a global commercial real estate firm with an office in Boca Raton at Lynn Financial Center. Additionally, we received legal advice from John Cappeller of Cappeller Law in Boca Raton.
Click here for a detailed timeline on the task force’s activities outlining actions, offers received, and the committee’s final recommendation.
How did the task force decide to move ahead with the offer before us now, and what offers were rejected?
In total we received 10 offers: 3 from churches and 7 from real estate investors and businesses.
We decided to reject offers with unfavorable or undesirable terms. We also felt it important to find a buyer able to work quickly through the due diligence period. (Due diligence in this context means a standard period in a real estate transaction allowing the buyer to check out all assets and requirements of the property in order to understand repairs, environmental concerns, zoning laws, insurance requirements, and other matters before the transaction is completed. If substantial concerns arise during the due diligence period, the potential buyer has the right to terminate their offer.) Finally, we decided to reject offers below market value.
Seven (7) offers received were below market value. Unfortunately, all offers that could have allowed a continuing partnership with FUMC were significantly under market value and included unworkable requests. One church, for example, wanted to require those that attend the West Campus to merge with their church. Another church requested a 10-year, interest-free balloon payment without any details as to security or source of fund for the original deposit, which we don’t have the means to support.
Three (3) offers were above market value (including the one we selected).
The highest offer we received was not selected because the buyer requested a due diligence period of 18-24 months without significant at-risk deposits.
We decided to accept MetroGroup’s offer for several reasons. They are an established developer with a good reputation. They submitted an above-market offer noncontingent on full governmental approvals, and they requested a 120-day due diligence period that indicates a willingness to work quickly. The due diligence period starts after the approval of the sale by both FUMC and our district, and a fully executed purchase and sale agreement.
If the sale goes through, what does MetroGroup plan do with the property?
This has not yet been announced, though we do know it will likely be a retail project. Whatever the property becomes, it must conform to the existing zoning and preserve the existing wetlands. MetroGroup’s past and present clients include national and regional retailers such as Tractor Supply Co, Cumberland Farms, Chase, CVS, WaWa and others.
If we vote to sell the property, then how long will we be able to continue church operations on the property?
If all goes as planned, we predict the deal will close in March/April of next year. We would need to transition away from the property by approximately June 2021.
After the property is sold, what will happen to those that attend the West Campus who aren’t able to come east?
Five years ago we created a vision statement for our church that has been our North Star in terms of direction. That document expires at the end of 2020, so we recently convened a strategic planning task force to work with our pastors to pray, strategize, and discern goals for our next five years.
Members of the task force come from both the east and west campuses. The survey we distributed a few weeks ago is part of that process, and we’ll continue to seek the input of church members in the months to come.
One aspect of the task force’s mandate is also to provide direction about how FUMC looks after our anticipated transition from two physical campuses to one. We are considering several options, including the possibility of renting a space on Sunday mornings to allow worship out west to continue. Though we have yet to formulate specifics, we are committed to maintaining a presence in West Boca.
Our mission as the church of Jesus Christ is certainly to take care of each other in our own congregation during this transition. Our overall mission is to continue to share God’s love with our entire Boca Raton community.
Note that our financial realities are still very much a concern. FUMC has spent more than we have taken in for more than a decade now, and our reserves are lower than they should be. All planning for the future assumes that we will operate within budget, which should be more manageable with one campus. (Note that according to the Book of Discipline, we cannot use the money from the sale of property for our operating budget. We will, however, be able to use the interest accrued from that money to fund operations.)
Since our current vision statement runs out at the end of this year, the task force will be working quickly to provide recommendations, which will be shared with leadership for approval, by December 2020.
Still have questions?
In order for us to hear from as many people as possible, we will be taking questions before the meeting. Not everyone is comfortable raising a hand and speaking up in front of a crowd: this method gives everyone a chance to be heard.
Please email questions by October 24th to Questions@FUMCBocaRaton.org.
I would like to say a big THANK YOU to the task force team for the many hours of meetings and emails, especially with COVID precautions, as it was even more work than anticipated. Also, I would like to thank Claire, Sharon, Becky, and Michele for sharing their time and talents.
So why do I believe this is the best decision for the future of FUMC? In short, the last six months have made it clearer than ever to me what is truly important as the church of Jesus Christ: the future of the church is within people, not within walls.
Since we went into quarantine in March, we’ve operated as a church with NO physical campus! And yet we have loved and prayed for each other from a distance. We’ve been meeting online and in small groups for worship, study, connection and community.
We join many other congregations, from a variety of denominations, who are realizing that the future of the American church is in finding ways to connect to and interact with people in our local communities, not in maintaining physical structures. The future of the church is in seeking opportunities to engage new people in new places, not in convincing people to come to our property on Sunday mornings. By supporting this recommendation that has been approved unanimously by our Leadership Council, we will be moving into a future that can be more focused on reaching new people.
This is an exciting time to be the church of Jesus Christ!
Please be in prayer about our upcoming church meeting on Monday, October 26th. Pray specifically that God challenges us to not simply maintain the status quo but instead for FUMC to thrive at sharing the love of Jesus Christ in new spaces.
In God’s Amazing Grace,
Pastor Marcus, Senior Pastor