|December 2014St. Paul’s United Methodist Church 223 Hillside Street Asheville NC 28801
The Rev. Dr. In-Yong Lee, Pastor 252-6512 Bill and Patsy Pott, Editors
|ContentsFrom the PastorCounters for December
United Methodist Women
Permanent Endowment Fund
“What’s Going On #3. Our Conversation with Central”
What a wonderful month we had in November with the Asian Cultural Celebration and Pancake Day! Now we are ready to have simultaneous translation devices installed in the sanctuary, including two translator booths. Translation service will start some time in December. This is the third and last of the series of articles that explains all the activities that are going on at St. Paul’s. In the October issue, we talked about Multi-ethnic efforts; in November, about “Loving Neighbors”; and now, we will talk about our conversation with Central UMC. You have heard bits and pieces here and there, and now you will be able to understand the whole. Looking back, I cannot help but be thankful for the progress we have made and for the wholesome direction in which it is going.
As soon as I graduated in May, 2012, I was finally ready to fully focus on ministry at St. Paul’s, to give extra attention to ways in which we could grow. What I found – alas! – was a grim outlook of decline in membership/giving. Of course, I had noticed it earlier and been concerned about it. But when I started tackling it, it was so daunting I didn’t know what to do. It was a very painful time. After quite a bit of struggles, I decided to resume the early morning prayers, which I had done in Korea, because the church is God’s and without God’s help and guidance, we cannot do much. Ever since, I have been praying at 5:30 am every weekday morning at church.
Another thing I did was to attend lots and lots of seminars and lectures that pertained to the churches’ current reality and their revitalization. Over and over again, I heard that mainline denominations in America have been all experiencing the similar decline for the past 60 or more years, now even Baptist churches, and that we are living in a period of great change whose magnitude is compared to that of Protestant Reformation in the 16th century in Christian history. At the most recent seminar, even the end year of each denomination was predicted. It has become clearer and clearer that what we are experiencing at St. Paul’s is simply a microcosm of a much bigger phenomenon.
Finance Committee has been instrumental to the development of the conversation. Early on in 2013, the committee met for a regular meeting and saw that St. Paul’s finance was seeing the same, if not worse, level of deficit that we had seen year after year. What was different that day is that the committee agreed that we couldn’t ask the congregation to give special offerings for the capital campaign again, because it felt like squeezing our beloved people who were doing their best already. Instead, we decided to be bold in acknowledging the reality and in looking for more fundamental solutions. We made the decision to look at all the options for the use of church buildings and for the clergy configuration, because after years of trimming the budget down all that was left for consideration were maintenance of the buildings and of the personnel.
Through many, oftentimes tumultuous and heated discussions, in the Finance Committee, Finance/Trustees joint meetings, and the Ad Council meetings, with the constant guidance of our DS, throughout 2013 and the earlier part of 2014, we got total 8 options to consider, that were included in the report that you received at the congregational meeting on April 6, 2014. As was presented in the same report, after thoroughly studying pros and cons of each option, the Ad Council chose the combination of #1 and #2, which you see below:
- Merge or form a dynamic partnership with Central UMC
- City churches’ cooperative fellowship among Central, St. Paul’s, Haywood Street, and Berry Temple
After the Church Conference on June 1 in which the professing members who were present approved the idea of pursuing cooperative ministries with Central with the intent of creating a dynamic partnership with them through a vote (43 yeses, 12 nos, and 1 abstention), St. Paul’s/Central Task Force’s work gained real strength. The two churches had been already in dialogues – “testing the waters” – with our Ad Council’s help, because it took both churches’ efforts, not just St. Paul’s. The original members on the Task Force on St. Paul’s side were the pastor, Bettie Sue Smith, Bill Pott, Jeannette Byrd, Teresa Stephens, and Leo Smith. After Bettie Sue died, Barbara Morton replaced her.
The Task Force’s work has continued with renewed power especially with the help of new CVSs (Church Vitality Strategists of the conference). At the September 28 meeting at Central, we adopted the call to action of “creating a dynamic partnership with shared pastorate and with a new vision” through unanimous consensus. Also, we agreed to form a Design Team from both churches to design the new strategic partnership. According to the desired characteristics of potential Design Team members that were defined in that meeting, St. Paul’s Task Force members named a few individuals. Thankfully, Andrew Crosson and Beth Hook agreed to replace Bill Pott and Barbara Morton, which was reported to the Ad Council on October 28.
At the first Design Team meeting which was on Sunday, November 9 at Central, we created four subgroups that will study demographics of this area, potential ministry opportunities by walking through the neighborhoods, financial/trustees implications, and potential model for shared pastorate. Especially with our Finance Committee’s recent recognition of dire difficulties in approving deficit budget for another year, which precipitated the “Stewardship Report” series on Sunday mornings with the 13th month giving requests for the end of 2014, the findings of the Design Team are believed to have a great potential to benefit St. Paul’s, hopefully as early as the beginning of the next appointment year. And the shared pastorate might include not only St. Paul’s and Central, but a few other church/ministries.
Considering the reality that church-member participation and forms of worship are changing and the denominational loyalty is being eroded and replaced by other religious expressions, our partnership with Central and others will not only give us a brighter and new future but also will serve as a good model that other churches may use. We have come a long way overcoming uncertainty, doubt, and fear, and are beginning to see a bright light ahead of us. I ask you to pray for this endeavor, because the two congregations (and others) will eventually make decisions. All together, may we move forward with courage and hope toward the day of a better, more effective mission in North Asheville!
United Methodist Women
Looking Back a Bit!
October 18th was UBUNTU DAY for United Methodist Women of the WNC Conference who spent a “day of service” at the two Bethlehem Centers, Bennett College, Pfeiffer University and Brooks-Howell Home. Tasks were determined by each locale. Forty-five persons (45) worked at Brooks-Howell to wash windows, work in the archives, do chores for residents and clean and resurface the meditation walks in the woods. Two (2) members of St. Paul’s Unit participated.
The annual Pledge Service was the feature of the October 1st meeting using the theme, “Living Our Calling.” Pledges of $8221 were received which are the basis for building the 2015 budget.
The World Thank Offering was celebrated at the November 5th meeting under the theme, “Thanks Be to God for his Gift beyond Words.” Gifts from this service of thanksgiving totaled: $2325.86
As a follow-up of the September program, it was voted to send $1000 ($250 each) to the four (4) National Mission Institutions (Community Centers) working with immigrant women and children on the US/Mexican border. We were also able to restore cuts to the 2014 budget that were made before all pledges were received.
World Community Day, a Church Women United observance, was celebrated November 15th at Brooks-Howell Home. Several members of St. Paul’s Unit were program participants.
Christmas is the focus of the December 3rd meeting. An extra feature will be naming the 2014 Mission Recognition recipients.
During 2015 plans for the 150th anniversary celebration of United Methodist Women (2015) will get underway. The first Program Book topic for local Units is entitled “Acting for Racial Justice.” Information about the celebration has been in response magazine including April which highlighted the “challenge gift” made by Brooks-Howell residents to the Legacy Fund.
First meeting of the New Year will be January 3rd. 2015!
Barbara E. Campbell, President
Church Calendar for December
Dec. 1 10 – 10:45 a.m. “Reading Buddies” @ Claxton School
Dec 2 8:30 a.m. Prayer, No Choir
Dec 3 Advent Service @ St. Mark’s Lutheran Church (6:00 p.m. soup & sandwich, 7:00 p.m. worship)
Dec 6 8:00 p.m. NA
Dec 7 Hanging of the Greens
Dec 9 8:30 a.m. Prayer, 7:00 p.m. Choir, 7:00 p.m. Boy Scouts
Dec. 10 Advent Service @ St. Eugene’s Catholic Church 6:00 p.m. soup & sandwich, 7:00 p.m. worship)
Dec 13 6:00 p.m. NA
Dec 15 6:30 p.m. SPRC Committee in Ballard Room
Dec 16 7:00 p.m. Choir
Dec 17 Advent Service @ St. Mary’s Episcopal Church (6:00 p.m. soup & sandwich, 7:00 p.m. worship)
Dec 20 3:30 p.m. Cantata @ Brooks-Howell Home, 8:00 p.m. NA
Dec 21 Cantata
Dec 24 7:00 p.m. Christmas Eve Worship Service, No Choir
Dec 25 Merry Christmas!, Office closed
Dec 27 8:00 p.m. NA
Dec 31 7:00 p.m. Choir
2014 Advent Offering: “Missionaries around the World”
The United Methodist Church has an international missionary force of over 300 persons serving in countries of Europe, Africa, Asia and South America. They serve in a variety of capacities, and in some of the world’s danger spots: in the war-torn Ukraine were the minority Protestant community faces severe judgment as a religious minority. Missionaries were in Liberia and Sierra Leone long before the resent Ebola crisis, but all efforts are jeopardized as the epidemic spreads.
A recent Global Ministries letter indicates “In parts of Central Asia where Christianity is not a recognized religion, missionaries and churches must go underground to create new worship spaces, taking care not to be discovered.”
The General Board of Global Ministries can cover just 72% of the costs to fund missionaries through apportionment (World Service) giving alone. The gap of 28% must come through second mile giving such as Covenant Relationships, individual gifts and special offerings.
Our Advent Offering for “Missionaries around the World” will be received throughout December. Use the special Advent envelopes or the regular pew envelopes. Make checks to St. Paul’s and mark for Advent. Please give generously!
For information go to: http://www.umcmission.org/2014 missionary.
Apportionments & Special Gifts
Apportionments — also called “Sharing beyond the Local Church” are our share (our portion) of the world-wide ministries of the United Methodist Church. This includes Annual Conference and District ministries. The amount is annually assigned by the Annual Conference. This year our amount is: $14,919 and it has been paid in full!
Additionally, individual members have contributed $6500.05 (through October 19th) for special programs such as UMCOR National Disasters and International Emergencies, the Six Special Sundays with offerings and support of our Covenant Missionary, Fran Lynch ($1335.05). Several contributions were also made to Habitat.
All gifts are received with appreciation!
Barbara E. Campbell, Chairperson
PERMANENT ENDOWMENT FUND COMMITTEE
If your mailbox is like mine, each day it is stuffed with “Year End Appeals” – a good reminder that as Christians we have an especially compelling reason to analyze each request. Is it one that many people will give to? Or one that has a more targeted audience, i.e. one that carries out the mission of The United Methodist Church? And, as we determine how much to give do we consider “What is God’s share?”
John Wesley’s admonition was:
“Give all you can. After providing what you truly need for your family, give all you have to God. Render unto God not a tenth, not a third, but all that is God’s, be it more or less.”
Amidst the many appeals I have received are the following two quotes:
– “A gift to us (St. Paul’s) at this time of year not only demonstrates your belief in our mission, but also reinforces your commitment to making a difference in the world.
– “Touch the lives of others today by giving back a portion of the rewards you’ve received.” Source: The Shelter Company
Betty J. Letzig, Chair
Have you remembered St. Paul’s in your estate planning?
Report to St. Paul’s Congregation
November 9, 2014
Since I was a child, I have always thought of November as “Thank You” month, probably due to teachings from my mother. We at St. Paul’s have so much for which to be thankful. Included are wonderful memories of our heritage of ministry going back 127 years; faithful members, now and in the past, many who go or have gone way beyond their call of duty; a beautiful building in which to hold services; a great minister; an accomplished choir director; dedicated Sunday School teachers; and a warm feeling of fellowship extended to all who enter.
Currently God continues to bless us with our special Cartwright class, also with our renowned pre-school, which not only teaches children at an early age about colors and their ABCs, but also that God loves and cares for them. We are thankful that we are able to help support the ministry of Fran Lynch, a missionary serving in Willow, Alaska and have other opportunities to give for missions near and far..
We thank God for our new ministry to become a multi-ethnic/multi-cultural church.. We celebrate that we are no longer a homogenous church, but have members and attendees who are African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, Caucasian, and many of us who are ourselves multi-ethnic
We also celebrate our ministry with other congregations through “Loving Neighbors.” At present, 24 young students at Claxton are receiving tutoring in reading from members of the four congregations: St. Paul’s, St. Mark’s Lutheran , St. Mary’s Episcopal, and St. Eugene’s Roman Catholic. We look forward to worshipping with members of these congregations during Advent.
I am sure that you can name many more reasons for us to be thankful.
But we must also be thankful for our challenges. Without them, there would be no growth in our lives and in the life of the church. If all was well, we might have the tendency to become complacent and not try to do new and exciting things for God and his kingdom.
Speaking of challenges, we have a recurring one before us. In addition to “Thank You” month, November is also the time when the finance committee reviews our giving and expenditures for the year and prepares a budget for the following year.
Our treasurer, has compiled a synopsis of giving for the past few years showing that while the number of members or units making pledges has declined (from 52 for $141,912 in 2011 to 38 in 2014 for $120,444), our expenditures have increased each year. The projection for 2015 giving is even less. As an example of increasing expenditures, almost $35,000 has been spent through September, just for insurance and utilities on this older building.
Quoting our treasurer, “As of the end of September, 2014, we have a $15,362 deficit which means that we have used that much of specifically designated giving to pay for budget items. While this is not right, it was this or not pay the bills.”
“We budgeted a loss of $25,000 (2014) which appears to be right on target since we had a surplus of $10,000 to start the year.” (end of quote)
Many of you will want to know that our apportionment for 2014 has been paid in full.
Although the budget process has not been completed, we anticipate another deficit in 2015.
Here is our challenge. The finance committee is asking that we, members of the congregation, firstly, make sure our pledge is up to date, and secondly, consider making a 13th month donation of our pledge for the year. Or, if unable to do this, we consider an individual Christmas gift to the church in appreciation for all that God has given us. On behalf of members of the finance committee, thank you for anything that you can do.
We look forward to the future with hope. A task force is working on ways for St. Paul’s to grow in our ministry. You will be hearing more about this in the months to come. I for one, continue to feel that God is not through with St. Paul’s and that great things are about to happen.
Thank you God for all the blessings you bestow on us and on this church. Thank you for challenges. We know that you love us and want us to continue to do our best for your kingdom. Give us hope for the future and a will to follow your guidance in our lives.
Counters for December
7 Bobbye Henry/Jeannette Byrd
14 Bill and Patsy Pott
21 Barbara Campbell/Betty Letzig
28 Sandra Crouch/Holly Elledge
Dec. 2 Mary Giles
Dec. 4 Ju-Heung Kim
De c. 8 Carlyle Bledsoe
Dec. 9 Doug Elledge
Dec. 10 Beth Hook
Dec. 10 Allison Kiger
Dec. 10 Mary June Penland
Dec. 11 Leo Smith
Dec. 15 Mark Patneaude
Dec. 17 Linda Hanner
Dec. 22 Roberta Bates
Dec. 23 Khadidatou Diallo
Dec. 28 Brian Hook
Dec. 31 Travis Penland
Jan. 4 Vicki Patneaude…
December 5 Bill and Patsy Pott (60)
December 9 Andres and Clarissa Fuentes
December 25 Carlyle and Mary Bledsoe