Pastor’s Pen – February 12, 2020

Hello Church family,
I would like to begin this article by saying a big thank you to Claire Vande Polder, Bruce Wetmore, Chuck Reeder, and Sharon Saige. These four servant leaders have been leading our town hall gatherings and drafting/editing the documents that have been shared with the congregation. We are blessed at FUMC with an amazing team of leaders and staff.
Click to read the financial reality handout, the questions and answers document 1 (town hall west)  and the questions and answers document 2 (town hall east). These documents are important to read before the upcoming church meeting and vote this Sunday at 4:00 pm in the East Campus Sanctuary.

The main question people have been asking over the last few days is “What happens if we vote ‘no’ on selling/partnering the West Campus?”

Voting “no” on this proposal is certainly an option and it would mean returning to the drawing board with the same information before us. Our budget shortfall for 2019 was $115,000.  Our leadership council has been responsibly diligent about the need to balance our budget. Without alleviating our property expenses and with the information that our property insurance will likely increase by 20 percent this year, we would need to remove staff, services, and programs to balance our budget. We know the effects of such radical changes would be felt in all areas—children’s and youth programming, congregational care, worship services, music, etc. Cuts of this nature would also impact our ability to connect with people at a time when those efforts are more important than ever. We would all agree that our buildings do not make us a church: our people and programs do. However, choosing to keep two physical campuses in operation is a decision to value property over people. Church leadership believes that reducing our facilities’ costs is our best hope for long-term budget relief that will allow us as a church to realign and refocus on the well-documented challenges facing the American church.

The called church conference will begin promptly at 4:00 pm this Sunday in the East Campus Sanctuary. Registration for FUMC members to get a ballot begins at 3:15 pm. Childcare will be available. The meeting will be led by our District Superintendent Rev. Cynthia Weems.

Lenten Congregational Study

Each Wednesday in Lent, beginning March 4th, there will be a weekly study. The book is “The Walk: Five Essential Practices of the Christian Life” by Adam Hamilton. The hope is that every participant will deepen his or her walk with Christ as we explore the five essential practices of worship, study, serving, giving, and bearing witness to our faith. Pastor Kernie will be leading the study each Wednesday from 12-1pm in the West Campus Chapel. Pastor Marcus will be leading the study each Wednesday night from 7-8pm in the East Campus Life Enrichment Center (LEC) on the second floor. Everyone is invited to join us for one of these studies. Books will be available to purchase for $11.00 each.

Have a blessed week!

In God’s Amazing Grace,

Pastor Marcus

P.S. Join us on Ash Wednesday (February 26th) for a special time of worship at 7:00 pm in the East Campus Sanctuary. This is a time to reflect, share our thanks, and remember the greatest sacrifice. We look forward to being in worship with you.

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

Pastor’s Pen – December 18, 2019

Hello Church Family,

Here is a devotional thought from Christian author and leadership guru, John Maxwell.

“At her death on March 30, 1975, most people assumed Bertha Adams was poor. An autopsy revealed she had severe malnutrition and evidences of poverty were abundant in her disheveled apartment. Lack of heat, lack of food, lack of the basic necessities of life – there could only be one conclusion. Bertha Adams was an obvious example of one who was missed by the national safety net of social spending.

But then, while taking inventory of her personal effects, authorities found two keys. Trusting a hunch, they took the keys to a neighborhood bank and found her safety deposit box stuffed with $799,000 in cash. Also, crammed into that box were hundreds of valuable and negotiable stock certificates, bonds and other securities.

Bertha Adams had a stewardship problem.

She viewed possessions as something to be hoarded. She did not understand that the blessings of life were given to her to be used and invested rather than to keep. Bertha Adams did not understand that the purpose of life was to manage her resources, not selfishly to hold on to them.

God has given us things in this life not to hoard, but to manage for His glory.

One of the titles of the Christian in the New Testament is the term “steward.” The Greek word oikonomos (steward) is a compound word derived from the term for house (oikos) and the verb to arrange (nemo). The word oikonomos was a servant designated as the manager of a household, estate or other affairs of his master.

Each Christian is a steward of all the resources God has given us, including time, talent and treasure.

A good steward manages his or her time, talent and treasure for the glory of God.

But like Bertha Adams, there are many Christians who have misunderstood stewardship and are poor managers of the resources of God under our control.

If we are confused and frustrated in our stewardship of financial resources, it may be because we see them primarily as permanent personal assets that someone—the tax collector, the bill collector, the greedy, or even those who solicit donations for worthy causes—is trying to take away from us.”

Stewardship is the management of God’s resources.

I encourage you to think how you can help us balance our budget by the end of 2019. FUMC is making a difference in our local community. You can help us to financially end 2019 on a strong note.

Thanks for your continued support!

In Christ,

Pastor Marcus

 

Pastor’s Pen – December 11, 2019

Hello Church Family,

It’s hard to believe that it is only two weeks until Christmas Eve. In the midst of the holiday rush, we were blessed with our annual Christmas concert last weekend. Our Director of Music, Arlene Sparks, created and conducted a beautiful reminder of the hope, peace, joy and love of the Advent season. A big thank you to Arlene, Carina, Wyatt, the choir, the orchestra, the audio and visual tech, and everyone else on the team that participated in the magnificent Christmas concert.

I was recently asked at a United Methodist Christmas party, what is my favorite Christmas song/hymn? O Holy Night has been my favorite Christmas song for many years. Here are the lyrics:

O holy night the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angels’ voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night divine o night
O night divine

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angels’ voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night divine o night
O night divine

Here is one of my favorite renditions by Josh Groban:

 

Finally, during this Christmas season I would like to encourage you to give an end of the year financial gift to the church (by clicking here). We are hoping to end the year on a strong financial note so we can dream some BIG dreams in 2020. Thank you for your faithful support of the operations and ministries of FUMC. Thanks to your giving, we have 2 campuses and 5 weekly worship services.

In God’s Amazing Grace,

Pastor Marcus

P.S. Please remember to invite your family and friends to join us for one of our 5 Christmas Eve worship services.

Pastor’s Pen – December 4, 2019

Hello Church Family,

Thank you for your extra generosity as we begin the season of Advent. Twenty -five (25) gift tags have been claimed for the Spirit of Giving Gift drive, over 50 ornament tags were claimed to support foster children with Christmas gifts through 4Kids, and we learned about the “re-gifting” needs for the AACY Christmas Shop later this month. Please bring all items for these collections to any worship service at FUMC this Sunday.

Christmas Concert

Friday, Dec. 6th and Sunday, Dec 8th at 7:00 PM in the East Campus Sanctuary – Check out our “Facebook event” and please share to invite your friends and neighbors!

This week is our annual Christmas concert! We are blessed by the amazing musical talent in our community. This year’s Christmas concert under the leadership of our Director of Music, Arlene Sparks, will be this Friday and Sunday at 7:00 PM in the East campus Sanctuary. Please invite your family and friends to experience the joy of the Advent/Christmas season. There is no charge for the concert, but a love offering will be collected so we can continue to offer special music opportunities for the community. Childcare will be available both nights.

This Sunday is the second Sunday of Advent and the theme is “Peace.” On the East Campus, I will be focusing on how we experience inner peace as we surrender more of our lives to God. Our Biblical example is Joseph and his encounter with the angel in Matthew 1:18-25.

Hope to see you Friday night at the Christmas concert!

In God’s Amazing Grace,

Pastor Marcus

 

Pastor’s Pen – November 20, 2019

Hello Church Family,

November has been a great month at FUMC. We experienced a powerful All Saints Sunday and Commitment Sunday on both of our campuses. As of today, 126 individuals/families have made a commitment to God through FUMC for 2020. If you would like to make a commitment for 2020 please print off a commitment card and place it in the offering plate on Sunday.

Last Sunday we experienced a powerful confirmation worship service. I am thankful to Wyatt Robinson and Pastor Rachel for their leadership with the confirmation students. May God continue to guide and bless these teenagers.

This week around 30 servants are participating in a Family Promise hosting week. We continue to find ways to partner with others to help alleviate suffering in our community.

This Sunday we will experience another opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of children in Palm Beach County. Tom Lukasik from 4Kids will be speaking at all three worship services on the East Campus. 4Kids’ vision is for every child to have a home. I encourage you to join us on Sunday and invite someone who is interested in making a difference in the lives of local children.

Finally, on behalf of the Pastors and Staff, I wanted to take this opportunity to wish each of you and your families a blessed Thanksgiving. Everyday may we grow in the grace of Christ and find new ways to share His love.

 

 

In Christ,

Pastor Marcus