Year-end reports for 2016 have been completed, and I’ll share with you some of the numbers. The most exciting number to me is the increase in worship attendance, which is perhaps the greatest indicator of church vitality. Our attendance increased 5% last year, from 549 to 581. Church membership also increased, from 1612 to 1642. Not surprisingly, we showed increases also in Sunday School attendance and in children’s and youth programs. We also had an increase in the number of persons engaged in mission. People are coming ….people are growing in their faith…..people are engaging and serving!
On the financial front, the good news is that we paid all our bills and all our missions goals, including all our denominational commitments which extend our missional reach globally. The amazing number is the almost $1.8 million in total giving. This number demonstrates the remarkable generosity of this church. However, there is more to the financial story, and you will hear more than can be written here very soon. Let me remind those of you who have not made a pledge for 2017 to please do so. (Call or email Barbara Iversen: 456-9475; email@example.com) The Leadership Team has not yet been able to approve a working budget because we have not heard from many of you. The church’s growth means greater costs of programming and pastoral care. Please be generous in giving to the church budget so that we can fund the growth we are experiencing.
Last Sunday we focused on the Beatitudes, the opening verses of the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7. This Sunday we will read the next verses from the Sermon (5:13-20), with the familiar words, “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world.” How are we salt and light? What do these metaphors mean to us, our faith, our faithfulness?
Last Sunday I used a benediction at 8:40 and 11:00 that drew several comments. I first heard these words in 2001 at an Anglican Church in Jerusalem. The words are from Father Potter of Peckham, an English WWI chaplain who became known for his work among the poor in the slums of post-WWI London. Susan and I value a beautiful calligraphy of these words, done by a friend. The benediction/blessing goes like this:
May the babe of Bethlehem bring you peace;
May the child of Nazareth bring you joy;
May the man of Galilee bring you strength;
May the Christ of Calvary bring you courage;
May the risen Jesus bring you hope, and the ascended Christ a foretaste of His glory.
See you Sunday, where we share God’s blessing,