The Super Bowl is on February 5th, and the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots are playing against each other. In order to vote for who you think will win the game bring a food item (or two or three), and put with your team's logo. We did this last year, and we correctly chose who won the game! All items are then donated to Upper Des Moines Food Pantry! I know who I'm rooting for...do you? You see we can have fun while supporting a good and worthy cause!
Why do we do what we do? What makes us really want to reach out to the poor, to bring food? Why do we choose to help others? To love others? Going beyond it is 'the right thing to do,' for me it is because God first loved us and calls us to love one another. Methodism started out as a society, a group of people led by John Wesley, wanting to live a more Christ Filled life. This February we will be having two studies, Wednesdays at Noon and at 6:00pm, on Bishop Job's Three Simple Rules: A Wesleyan Way of Living. This is an interpretation of John Wesley's General Rules for today! It calls us to mutual respect, unity, and a deeper relationship with God. I invite to be a part of one of the studies, and if that is not possible to pick up one of the books and read it, and pass it along to someone else.
"Do no harm, do good, stay in love with God."
One last thing..."Go Falcons!"
As of now we have paid apportionments through October of this year, which means that we are right on track to be able to pay our apportionment in full! In previous posts, we have discussed Conference Ministries and Conference Missions. Today, I’ll explain a little bit more about the category entitled General Church Apportionments. 4 out of the 9 areas receive the bulk of the money that is apportioned through General Church Apportionments, World Service Fund (42.1%), Contingency to pay our General Church Apportionments at 100% (16.7%), Ministerial Education Fund (14.5%), and Episcopal Fund (12.6%).
The World Service Fund is the essential core of our global outreach ministry, underwriting Christian mission around the world. World Service connects our church to a long list of Christian mission and ministry throughout the denomination in the work of the General Church Agencies and other national and international programs. It is the heart of our denomination presence, with 4 areas of focus: developing principled Christ Leaders for the Church and the World; Creating New Places for New People & Renewing Existing Congregations; Engaging in Ministry with the Poor; and Stamping Out Killer Diseases of Poverty by Improving Health Globally.
Support for the bishops happens through the Episcopal Fund. Bishops are elected and consecrated to speak to the church and from the church. Our bishops oversee and promote the church’s spiritual temporal interests. This fund covers the bishops’ salaries, their office and travel expenses and provides their pension and health-benefit coverage.
One significant way that we help men and women answer the divine call to ministry is through the Ministerial Education Fund. Our United Methodist seminaries lead the effort to proclaim God’s word in a world desperately in need of that message. A portion of the money goes directly to the 13 United Methodist Seminaries and is based on the number of full-time United Methodist faculty and senior administrators within; however most of the funds relate directly to the number of students in Master of Divinity programs who are registered candidates for ordained ministry, and how many graduates have been ordained in the United Methodist Church.
Our conference has made paying 100% of our General Church Apportionments (the conference is given their amount by the general church). In order to do this we have to leave an allotment for churches who don’t pay all of their apportionments, and that is the reason for the Contingency to pay our General Church Apportionments at 100% area of the budget.
So, you might recall my blog post from February 25th of this year. (It’s ok if you don’t, just scroll down and you will find it.) In that post I said that we have three main areas of apportionments: Conference Ministries, Conference Mission, and General Church. The remainder of that specific post was about Conference Missions and what it supports. This post will discuss Conference Ministries.
So what does our Conference Ministries portion support? There are 15 different areas that receive funding. There are four major areas that receive the bulk of the Conference Ministry Funding. They are: District Funds (32.2%), Allowance for Uncollectible Conference Ministries (18.2%), Connectional Ministries Council (10.3%), and the Council on Finance and Administration (9.1%). Our Conference Ministry Apportionment total for Estherville UMC is $25,212.20.
Our Conference is Iowa, and we have 8 districts. Each district has a District Superintendent, Field Outreach Minister, and District Secretary. These funds pay for salaries and benefits (for all 24 individuals), as well as space and equipment for them to work with.
Allowance for Uncollectible Conference Ministries:
In order to properly fund for each area, there is line item for each area that accounts for those churches that do not pay their apportionments at 100%. This line item helps to keep the funding levels up for the Conference Ministry portion while at the same time not taking the money from the missions side.
Connectional Ministries Council:
This area funds our 4 Leadership Development Ministers, and assistants. The 4 Leadership Development Ministers are: Camping & Christian Formation, Young Adults & Generational Ministries, Evangelism & New Ministry Development, and Social Justice.
Council on Finance & Administration:
Accounts for the Salaries and benefits for some of our employees in the conference center. These are the offices that oversee the day to day finances of the conference, software, and hardware that is needed to do this.
Have more questions about the conference ministry section of our apportionments, or about apportionments in general? Feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email! Thank you for your continued financial support of the church. Because of your faithful giving we have paid our apportionments through May!
Below is a statement that was made on Sunday, May 8th during worship:
“In just a few minutes, we’re going to have what we call the offering. Every Sunday, we take a couple of minutes and invite people to financially support the mission of this church. The reason why we do it is not to put pressure on people. It’s to encourage people to move from spectators to participants in the vision. We are SO GRATEFUL for all the things your gifts allow us to do!
As we approach summertime, our kids are getting more and more excited. Why? Because they no longer have to sit in classrooms and learn for several hours a day. Who can blame them? As you’d expect, this also causes some of their learning to go backwards. Here’s a fun fact. According to onlinecollege.org, "On average, students lose about 2.6 months worth of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills during their summer break." So for all of you parents out there, you should be multiplying fractions with your kids on the way to Grandma’s house!
I’m kidding, of course. "But just like kid's math skills go down in the summer, so does church funding. And it’s not because anybody says, “I just don’t feel like supporting the mission of the church this summer.” It’s because people forget. They’re out of town. There’s a lot of other stuff going on.
As a church, we have a lot of exciting things we want to accomplish this summer. But they also require money and resources. That’s why your decision to continue giving is such a big deal.
So I want to invite you to give today. But I also want to invite you to continue giving this summer. We will work diligently to be good stewards of your donations. We have the ability to give on line any day or time of the week, just by going to our web-site (click on the tab on-line giving).
How many of you have a smart phone? There is an app you can down load called “Easy Tithe” that makes it easier to give on-line, and of course we always accept cash and checks in person or in the mail as well!
I do want to personally thank you for your continued support for this year that allows us to be up to date with our apportionments along with our other bills! Thank you so much for your faith in this area, and for supporting this church!
It was the Friday before Easter, and Allan and I were walking into the grocery store together (a rare occasion during Tax and Lent Seasons). We had paused just for a moment at the front of the store, which is where the Easter candy was located. We were thinking about what exactly we needed to pick up. There was a woman standing there, looking at the candy, and then it happened. She said: “You’re buying candy for small kids, whereas I’m buying candy now for ‘big’ kids.” (We weren’t even really looking at the candy.) The assumption was because of our age, I’m guessing, that we had small kids at home. This got me to thinking, we tend to make assumptions all the time without even realizing it.
One of my assumptions about blogging was the simple fact that by doing so I would be saying that what I have to say is so important it is worth your time to read it! Then, I realized that every time I preach, I’m basically saying that I have something important that I want to share with you, and it is worth your time on Sunday Morning or Wednesday Night to come and listen (along with the music, and fellowship with other believers). I began to look at blogging then as a way to concisely share thoughts on particular subjects. However, blogging is more than just about my thoughts, it is a way to begin a conversation. So I invite you anytime you would like to respond to post, to either comment on it, or on our Facebook page, send an email, etc.
So, some assumptions that we make can be good, but sometimes assumptions lead us into trouble, and leave us the wrong impression. Last night another Admin of our Facebook page Larinda Mueller posted a video by "Affinity" that was along this theme, of making assumptions. So, I invite you to watch the video, and to think about times when you have made assumptions. I invite you to share some of the assumptions you have made over the years if you would, and also how you have been able to move beyond making judgments based upon assumptions rather than facts.
As we know Holy Week is the week leading up to Easter, the last week of Lent. During this week we follow the last days of Jesus’ life, from his entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday), to the Last Supper (Maundy Thursday), to the Crucifixion (Good Friday), and Holy Saturday. Easter in not actually a part of Holy Week, but starts another liturgical season, Eastertide.
On Maundy Thursday/Holy Thursday, we commemorate the supper Jesus shared with his disciples before his crucifixion, when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet and instituted the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. This year we are once again having the Living Last Supper 7:00pm tonight. Hopefully the words spoken and sung will give us a new insight and appreciation for the events that happened long ago on this night.
Good Friday and Holy Saturday is spent remembering the Way of the Cross, and Jesus being crucified. Although this year we are not having a service, I encourage to take some time on these days for reflection on Jesus’ crucifixion.
This leads us to Easter, the day we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. This year our Junior High Youth Group will lead our Sunrise Service at 7:30am, followed by a Free Will Offering for Breakfast. At our 9:30am worship service, the Praise Team is going to begin the service, and do so taking us from the sorrow of the cross and bringing us to Jesus being risen.
Although I really hope that each and every one of you are able to join us for these services, at the very least I encourage to spend some time each day reflecting over the events of Jesus’ last days here on earth and his resurrection!
This is not really a hot topic...but some people do want to know more! So here is there opportunity. Also this year we are wanting to make paying our apportionments throughout the year a priority, and with your continued giving we can!
As United Methodist we are a connectional church, and apportionments are a way of supporting our connection. We have three main areas of apportionments: Conference Ministries, Conference Missions, and General Church Apportionments. Just like individual churches do not decide how much our apportionments are, we as a conference do not get to decide how much our General Church Apportionments are as they are set at General Conference (meets every 4 years and is our governing body).
The hall way in the church will also have where we are currently in our payment of apportionments for this year to track our progress.
To not put everyone on information overload about apportionments; we will just go more in depth in this post about Conference Missions.
So what does our Conference missions support? This are supports a total of 15 different areas, with four of them receiving the bulk of the funds. They are: the Board of Camps, Conference and Retreat Ministries (25.5%); Board of Discipleship (20.6%); Board of Global Ministries (23.2%); and the Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry (20.8%).
Board of Camps, Conference and Retreat Ministries:
We currently have three United Methodist camps in Iowa (Okoboji, Wesley Woods, and Pictured Rocks). Their apportioned funds will be going towards camping scholarships, improvements, maintenance, and marketing.
Board of Discipleship:
This board focuses on equipping leaders and local churches in the areas of Christian Education, Evangelism, Spiritual Formation, Stewardship, and Worship. Their apportionment request go towards each of those areas to either provide training or to provide scholarships to person to receive training in those areas.
Board of Global Ministries:
This board has nine standing committees that it oversees: Parish Development, Committee on Community and Institutional Ministries; Mission Education; Hispanic/Latino Ministries; Iowa Volunteers in Mission; Iowa-Nigeria Partnership; Disaster Preparedness and Response; Justice for Our Neighbors; and Mission Personnel. As you can see this board has a far reaching impact into revitalizing existing congregations to starting new church starts, to ministries with minorities, the disenfranchised, and those who have been affected by natural disasters.
Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry:
Equipping young adults to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ toward becoming spiritual leaders who will transform the church and the world is the task of this board. There are 4 United Methodist related colleges in Iowa (14% of the apportioned funds), and 4 Campus Ministries-Wesley Foundations (85% of the apportioned funds with another 1% going for evaluations of the Wesley Foundations).
The amount that we are apportioned for the Conference Missions of our apportionments is: $8,881.28.
Have more questions about the conference missions section of our apportionments, or about our apportionments in general feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email! Thank you for continued support of our church's budget which enables us to continue making payments towards our apportionments!
Today is Ash Wednesday. So what? The defining ritual of Ash Wednesday is the imposition of ashes in the shape of a cross on the forehead of a believer, with the accompanied words of Genesis 3:19 "Remember, O mortal, that you are dust and to dust you shall return" or other similar words. This is a symbol of identity with Christ and desire to follow him. Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent. Lent is a season of the church year where believers reflect on the passion and death of Christ and determine to identify with Christ and renew their commitment to him. Lent is a time of fasting, prayer and simple living that end with the celebration of Easter. Our Service for Ash Wednesday is at 7:00pm tonight.
The following are some questions to ponder during Lent:
What progress am I making in sharing gladly with the poor?
How is God's grace evident in my attitudes toward those who irritate me?
How is my corporate worship contributing to community?
Am I equally charitable to family members?
Can I re-budget so as to have more to give away?
Do I speak in defense of those who are unjustly maligned?
How can I better support legislation that helps the disadvantaged?
Am I listening more rather than talking more in personal devotion-thanking more than complaining or requesting?
How am I confronting prejudice in my life?
How can I practically respond to the hurting people around me, in addition to prayer?
Am I consistent in attendance in corporate worship setting an example of service and God's worth in my life?
Today is January 7th. Today Christmas is officially over. Yesterday, was Epiphany, the 12th and final day of Christmas. Christmas actually begins December 25th, and goes until Epiphany which is when we celebrate the kings/wisemen arriving to see Jesus (although by this time it is believed that Jesus would have been 2 or 3). When I look over our Christmas this year at Estherville UMC, I am thankful for everyone who took part, from our Choir and Praise Team directors, accompanists, singers, bulletin folders, sound and media personnel, ushers, greeters, bulletin distributors (to the home bound and care centers). It took a lot of people to make everything go as smoothly as it did, and to all of you I say thanks!
However, I also want to thank everyone who gave not only throughout the year, but also at the end of the year. At the beginning of Advent a letter was sent out saying that we needed approximately $26,000 in December over and above in order to pay our apportionments in full, and we were able to pay all of our apportionments for 2015 except for $5,753.19, keeping in mind that over $68,689.21 was given over the course of this year for the New Beginnings Campaign, not to mention all of the other projects/special offerings that have been done throughout the year! Thank you for your continued giving, and support!
So, as we begin to take down our Christmas decorations, and maybe begin on New Year's Resolutions/Goals (if you do those), let us remember to make time for our relationship with God this year.
A week ago this past Saturday there were four of us from the church who went Forrest Ridge (for more information about Forrest Ridge, you can go to their web-site: forrestridgeyouthservices.com). Along with providing baked goodies, and a craft/Christmas Card, and singing, we also did a short program. For the program I talked about Mary, Joseph, Jesus, Elizabeth and John. When I spoke of Mary living in Nazareth, and going to visit Elizabeth, which was a nine day journey by foot, and that Joseph probably lived in Bethlehem, about four miles from Elizabeth. So, when Mary went to visit Elizabeth that is when Joseph went over to see her. One of the girls asked "Why didn't Mary and Joseph just live together?"
How would you answer that question, in a short amount of time without having any warning? That is something that never crossed my mind, no one had ever asked that before at least to me. My answer to move us along was that people back then did not do that until after they were married. You see, sometimes stories that we know well, can be confusing for other people who are hearing them or having them explained for the first time.
Sometimes it is also that way when it comes to matters within the church. By now most of you should have received our Christmas Letter. The Christmas Letter indicated that our Christmas Eve Offering would go specifically to our general fund to help pay for our apportionments or you could designate it to go to Upper Des Moines Food Pantry. The Finance and Stewardship Committee are the ones who chose where our Christmas Eve Offering should go this year. We recognized that at that time we still owed $26,000 for apportionments, but knew how much you have given as a congregation to the needs throughout the year. However, we also felt that we needed to be able to support something beyond ourselves, reaching out to our neighbors.
In 2015 there has been amazing ministry and mission done: helping a single mother who had a house fire at the beginning of the year, two young people on their mission trips, sponsored a community picnic, separated the junior high from the high school with each age group having their own youth group, started an alternative worship service on Wednesday evenings, a weekly meal on Wednesday evenings, raised a $1,000 for the 'We Care' offering to help people right here in Emmet County, a children's Christmas Program on Sunday, December 13th, and have raised $68,689.21 that has been given this year alone for the New Beginnings Campaign (Furnaces & Air Conditioners) and have another $22,975 pledged to be given over the next two years to totally fund the $90,000 project. These are just a few of the things that we have done over the year! This is truly amazing, and I am thankful for your continued support and faithfulness.
It is because of all of this giving that the Finance and Stewardship committee felt that we would let the need be known without too much of a push coming on Sunday mornings for 'extra giving'. However, in doing this, some people were confused. Hence, the writing of this article. To date (12/22) we have been given around $5,000 specifically towards our apportionments, and we were able to pay a month's worth of apportionments at the end of November. So, now we estimate that we are a total of $17,000 short of being able to pay our 2015 apportionments in full. Any extra that you are able to give would be appreciated. You can do so by giving money in the offering plate, on-line, or by mail. Thank you for your continued generosity.
My husband, Allan, and I moved to Estherville in June of 2015. We are excited to be here, and to be in ministry with Estherville UMC!