Pastoral Post 7.27.2016

(With the exception of the final paragraph, this post was also included in this week’s First Words.)

Recently we sat down with our accountant to go over our audit for 2015. As always, I am amazed at what is revealed, especially what we as a congregation give to missions beyond the church. In 2015, we gave $499,625 over and above our general operating budget to missions causes. Through the general budget, we gave another $42,000 to missions, plus we paid $89,244 to district and conference apportionments. This means that, in total, we gave $630,869 to causes beyond our own doors.....causes like children’s homes and orphanages, Habitat, Stop Hunger Now, Haywood Christian Ministries heating fund, denominational missions around the world, etc. This, to me, is an astonishing number! It illustrates just how generous this church is, just how much we are focused outward instead of inward.

Another interesting number in the report was the $66,911 that was given to our Permanent Endowment Fund. These monies will work in perpetuity to fund scholarships, provide special funding for designated purposes, or to provide annual funds to be directed by the Leadership Team to current causes not otherwise budgeted.

The report shows the $301,310 which was realized from the sale of the Ridge Road parsonage last year. That money will remain dedicated to pastor’s housing, whether producing income to go toward a housing allowance or funding for a new parsonage.

Well, those are the numbers that stand out to me in the multi-page report. They tell me that this church is very generous. They tell me that this church is a vital congregation, for generosity is closely akin to vitality!

Now here’s another number—you have given over 300 pairs of shoes for Clothes to Kids to distribute to needy children in our community for their back-to-school wardrobes. Another example of extraordinary generosity!

While we are talking about numbers, let me say a word of thanks to all whose attendance in recent weeks has helped us exceed all expectations for summer worship attendance. In fact, the total attendance at the services in recent weeks has exceeded our yearly average for 2015—that, in what is supposed to be the worst attendance time of the year, and when 30-50 of our regular attenders are worshiping at Lake Junaluska each Sunday. (They will all be back on August 14.) In our membership vow, we pledge to support the church with our “presence,” and many of you are fulfilling that pledge admirably this summer! Enjoy your vacation time, but be here with your church family on those Sundays you’re in town! Remember if you normally worship at 11:00 that there are two options to worship earlier on those Sundays you may be leaving town or having a picnic later.

There are many opportunities coming up for service, involvement, and enrichment. If you are able, join me in giving a pint of blood next Thursday on August 4 to honor the memory of Heather Reid and to save a life. Take a hike with fellow church members on Sunday, August 7. Don’t miss the outstanding summer choir program with the Carolina Brass on August 11. Give a financial gift and plan to be part of the exciting intergenerational event packing meals on August 14 for Stop Hunger Now. Join in the excitement of Back to School Bash on August 28.

This Sunday we will return to Luke once again, this time 12:13-21. Someone asks Jesus to straighten out the family feud over an inheritance. Jesus wisely avoids the controversy and warns against greed (Isn’t that the cause of most such controversies?!). Then, as he so often does, Jesus tells a parable to make his point, and leaves the reader considering what it means to “store up treasures” for ourselves vs. being “rich toward God.” We’ll ponder that a bit and see what Jesus might be saying to us about our own “treasures.”

Be involved, be connected, and be blessed!

Sandy

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