I continue to offer this phrase, the motto of the Theological School of Drew University, as my personal mission statement. I am privileged to employ my gifts and talents among the United Methodists of Pinehurst, North Carolina. Our journey from small to larger membership church, from store-front to permanent facility, from predominantly retired persons to a diverse cross-section of ages, from charter visionaries to emerging leaders continues as we launch our second decade of ministry. This year we began refocusing our vision for ministry and we offer the following for our first steps in pulling together for God’s purposes:
Pinehurst UMC is pursuing the joyful, transforming, and connecting power of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
- in our worship as we are embraced by God’s grace;
- in our fellowship as we are shaped into Christ’s character;
- in our missions as we are humbly led by the Holy Spirit.
Pinehurst UMC Values:
- FELLOWSHIP: Building relationships with God and others.
- CHARACTER: Learning to become like Christ.
- GRACE: Experiencing God’s gifts of faith, hope, and love.
- HUMILITY: Valuing God and others before self.
- MISSION: Serving others in our community and beyond.
Pinehurst UMC Believes:
- God created all things good and all creation needs redemption.
- God loves us enough to give his Son as a sign of love and forgiveness.
- Jesus is the means to an abundant life with the Triune God.
- Jesus comes alive in believers through the Holy Spirit.
- Scripture is the primary source for what we believe and do.
- The church’s faith is expressed in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds.
- Members of the church are called to a life of discipleship.
- Disciples grow as they share in the sacraments and other means of grace.
- Disciples joyfully offer their prayers, presence, gifts, and service.
- Disciples share in the Wesleyan emphasis on personal and social holiness.
In the coming year we will need to focus the energy of the above statements into creating concrete ways of describing our mission and specific action items to accomplish the same. As we move forward we will pay attention to the leading of our Bishop, Al Gwinn, who is inviting every church in our conference to consider becoming an “ACTS 2 Church.” This involves paying special attention to the following: Radical Hospitality, Passionate Worship, Intentional Spiritual Formation, and Risk-Taking Mission and Ministry to the World. Below is his challenge:
- … by the Annual Conference of 2008 I want us to be able to identify, by name, 200 Acts 2 Churches in this conference! Churches that have all four of these qualities functioning well in the life of the Body. Churches that have decided to reach the lost, the unchurched, the de-churched – to reach children, youth, Hispanics and Latinos – not counting the cost or sacrifice involved.
- Churches that have prayer-based, Spirit-filled, quality worship services. By the way, our 2005 statistics also show that our average Sunday morning worship attendance is down 2,796 persons! That fact should cause us to ask ourselves several serious questions about how we do worship, what we are or are not teaching about commitment and if real relationships actually exist.
- By 2008 we will name 200 churches that are teaching their members to go deeper and not just wider. Churches that are serious about every member being in small groups where they are supported, encouraged and challenged to grow in Christ. Churches that are helping their members understand the gifts of the Spirit and the role of those gifts in building up the Body of Christ. Churches that forge strong, full partnerships between the clergy and laity. Churches that want a leader to equip and empower them and not do their ministry for them. Churches that want to be challenged and not coddled.
- In 2008 we want to name 200 churches that are risk-takers in attacking poverty, seeking justice, caring for the needy – eager to give a hand-up and not just a hand-out.
- Bishop Al Gwinn, The State of the Church Address, Annual Conference 2006
As part of that work I offer the following as areas of emphasis for my ministry:
- Refining and aligning our worship with the our values and beliefs,
- Lead us in a disciplined approach to adult spiritual formation that recognizes that small groups are the way this church will accomplish fellowship and ministry together.
- Create a systematic model for reaching out into the community to invite persons into our community of faith and helping them become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.
- Continue refining our systems of congregational care to include the formation of a new congregational wellness team with a parish nurse and teaching our first team of Stephen Ministers for providing care at moments of specific need.
This year we have welcomed 40 persons into membership in the church (current membership is 503 persons). Our worship attendance is averaging 300 for the year, although we experienced some decline in worship during the Promised Land Campaign.
We celebrate the following results of our Promised Land Campaign
- $585,000 pledged in cash.
- $68,000 received through November 30, 2006.
- Gift of Steinway Baby Grand Piano.
- Gift of a Log Cabin Kit ($45,000).
- Gift of two pieces of real estate (not yet valued).
- Other specific gifts are being discussed.
In our community we support Friend to Friend, the Sandhills Interfaith Hospitality Network, the Coalition for Human Care, Habitat for Humanity, and Moore Housing. With our hands we have mowed lawns, weeded and planted flower beds, replaced roofs, provided meals to the homeless with Community Presbyterian Church, and served countless hours in thrift stores. We have sent four teams to work alongside victims of Hurricane Katrina in Bay Saint Louis. We have raised in excess of $30,000 for missions’ projects close at hand and at a distance. We are living into God’s promise to Abraham that we are blessed to be blessing.
I continue to challenge our church to remember with Paul that the work of a pastor is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry” (see Ephesians 4:11). I remain committed to setting each of us free for ministry in this place. Roger and Jean Hicks continue to invite God’s Spirit our worship life together. Stacy Pell, Stephanie Lind, and Bryan Fillettte are a breath of fresh air for our children’s and youth programs. I give thanks for Ellen Hertlein and Roberta Culver who provided valuable assistance to the administrative life of our church. Their able handling of the details enables me to spend more time with the members of our church and in prayer with Jesus. I am also blessed to work with my colleagues Lovell Aills, Jean Arthur, Bruce Carlson, Emil Johnson, Betsy Kugel, and Ronda Torres. May we find strength in the willingness “to become all things to all people so that by all means some might be saved” (1 Corinthians 9:22).