Happy New Year!!
I know, the fact that our fiscal year begins on October 1, rather than on January 1, may seem rather arbitrary to many of us. Here around the Office, however, it’s a big deal. If you serve on a committee or ministry team, it matters to you too. As we pass from 2021-22 into 2022-23, I want to do what we all tend to do personally as a new year begins: look backward, and then look forward.
Let’s reflect together. I wish to thank everyone that has volunteered on a committee or ministry team within the past year. As usual, the Finance Committee, Nominating Committee, and Personnel Committee have been particularly busy in recent weeks, spending the bulk of the fourth quarter gearing up with proposals for the new fiscal year. The Personnel Committee has been particularly busy within the past year. We hired Jacqueline Miller at the very beginning of the fiscal year, and you elected to hire Maxwell Digman in July. I would have never thought we would have filled the Children/Students vacancy within the fourth quarter, but by God’s grace Braydon Turpin came our way, and the Personnel Committee exercised great wisdom in a relatively few number of weeks, working hard to make it possible to get this all done before the end of the year! I would also be negligent to not thank specifically our SONquest volunteers for all their labor within the past year. 2021-22 was the first year since the corona virus where we have been able to have twelve months of uninterrupted children’s ministry. I’m thankful for folks who worked with various age groups Sundays at 10:00, Sundays at 11:00, and Wednesday evenings to make this ministry so strong. O, and by the way, we did it without a Minister of Children at the helm. A number of volunteers stepped up in significant ways to make things work together! This is perhaps our most robust area of ministry strength across our church, and I am profoundly grateful for the ways in which God has blessed it.
I also wish to thank our Deacons for serving. David Burroughs, Roy Busick, Andy Cheek, Mark Moore, and Blaine Williams will continue serving, but I thank these men for the wisdom and care with which they have served our church. Jim Oakley and Chairman Ronald Watts just completed their fourth year of a three-year term. We all owe these men a hearty thanks for their steadfast leadership through service in many areas of our church’s life, but particularly as we navigated a pandemic. As we give Jim and Ronald a well-deserved rest from this area of service, we are excited to have Brad Cheek and Randy Wood take their place in the year ahead!
We have folks joining committees, we have new Chairs, we have new teachers, we have new classes, we have new staff, we will financially support some new ministries, we are turning over a series of new leaves! As you have heard from my “Now What?” sermon series, we are asking a series of questions in hopes that God will provide answers. I would regret not taking this opportunity to invite anyone reading this to become a part of our Ministry Leadership Action team. As new committee Chairs become part of this team, it is a great time to join. We will meet on the third Sunday of each month, and continue the work of crafting annual plans and setting particular goals for several areas of ministry.
It is this team, and the long-range strategic planning process that has directly shaped the our current sermon series. In the weeks ahead, we will continue to seek God’s answer for each of the following questions. What do we do? This is answered by our Mission. Why do we do it? This is answered by our Values. How do we do it? This is answered by our disciple-making Strategy. Where are we going? This will be revealed in our Vision. Where do we start? This will be gauged by our Annual Plan. How do we know if we’re getting there? This will be measured by Goals. As we continue to unpack this vision package, my hope is that God clarifies to us all what He would have us to see. It will be vital to the health of our church for these to not merely be fun gimmicks that change our branding, fill a pretty note book, and then sit on a shelf. If this process is going to do what we want it to do, it will need to be a vision that every member of our church sees together!
The 2022-23 annual plan will be centered around one big thing: first impressions. God, in His grace, has sent many new people our way. Are we taking care of them as well as we should, or could? My hope is that we shore up this area of ministry in the coming year. It will result in personnel changes on certain teams, and will affect how those teams function. It will affect our facility. There will be systems in the Office that shift. There will be systems on Sunday mornings that shift so that we can better care for our guests. I know that God has already moved us toward a culture of being more welcoming of our guests. We want to take the caring heart God has given us and inject a structure that will give it more impact. From walking in the door from Summit Street, to going with some of us out to lunch, we want to do whatever it takes to treat our guests the way God wants us to.
My hope is that God continues to bless our church in the days ahead. We want to continue doing what we have been doing, raise the bar of quality, and add new areas of ministry. I am excited for God to reveal these things to us!!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, o Ruler of all!
Rev. Andrew J. Reynolds