God blessed our congregation with an incredible gift in 2012 that we have since operated as the Fusion Fitness Center. It has served the needs of our church and community in a variety of ways by giving us an alternative worship site, providing a home for our youth ministries, and allowing us to offer Bay County residents marvelous recreational opportunities. There is no doubt Fusion has made a difference in countless people’s lives and enabled many persons to have life-changing encounters with Christ. That being said, it has never been financially solvent nor do we feel we have maximized its ministry potential. Earlier this year, Fusion Campus Pastor Rudy Olivo put together a team of LHUMC members with backgrounds in business, sports, government, and nonprofit organizations. They looked at various ways we could better utilize the Fusion facility and ultimately brought in two consultants to help us find a way forward. One of them, Dan Cook, is an architect who builds churches and schools. He also has created a company called BGW Sustainable Solutions that helps congregations utilize their facilities to generate income. The other consultant, a business partner of Dan’s named Shawn Walker, runs Event Management Solutions (EMS), which operates recreational facilities across the country. After much prayerful consideration and deliberation, the church council decided to enter into a management agreement with EMS to run the day-to-day operations at Fusion. We are currently in an interim, joint relationship until November 1 when Shawn and his group will become the principal operators. While fitness activities will still be present, we will increase the recreational emphasis, especially with additional programs targeting children and youth. Fusion will still be a ministry of Lynn Haven UMC; EMS will simply be the operational manager. We will keep Fusion’s distinctively Christian environment and our youth will continue to use the facility for their Sunday and Wednesday night programs. We hope and pray the partnership will produce two results. For one, our goal is to make Fusion financially stable and even profitable, thereby creating an income stream that will enable us to channel more financial resources into ministry and mission. This partnership with EMS will also allow us, as a church, to focus on ministering to people rather than trying to run a business. We anticipate an increased flow of patrons at Fusion which will give a larger pool of persons to reach with the Good News of Jesus Christ. We plan on having church members serve at various times and be assigned to specific programs for the sole purpose of interacting with the clientele. We want to welcome people in Jesus’ name, tell them about our church’s ministries, share the gospel with them, and pray for their needs. If you would like more information about our plans, please come to a “town hall” (or should I say “church hall”) gathering on Tuesday, September 12, at 6:30 pm in the Fusion Community Room. After a presentation by Terry, Rudy, and I, you will have the opportunity to hear from our EMS partner, Shawn Walker. There will also be plenty of time for questions and answers. I am excited because I am convinced this is going to be a “previval” for Fusion. If you don’t know and understand the word, previval, you’ve obviously been skipping church the past month! I sincerely believe this is a new beginning that will enable us to grab hold of the future the Lord has planned for us and to reach many people for Christ.
To God be the glory!
In Christ, Craig Carter
Lead Pastor, LHUMC
By now you should be aware that sign ups for our Imagine campaign have begun. Imagine is a church-wide, nine-week journey that is designed to change the way we think about and manage our God-given resources of time, talents, treasures, and relationships. In particular, every member and participant in the life of the Lynn Haven United Methodist Church is being asked to join a Financial Peace University (FPU) class beginning the week of September 10. Our goal is to have at least 80% of our worshiping congregation enrolled in a group. FPU was developed by Dave Ramsey, America’s foremost money management guru. More than 2.5 million people have taken the course and learned how to embrace a lifestyle of biblical stewardship. In a recent letter to the congregation, I outlined why our church is participating in Imagine. In this article, I’d like to tell you why you should personally consider joining the effort. First of all, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are disciples. By its biblical definition, a disciple is a learner. When it comes to management of our God-given financial resources, we all have some learning to do. Some of us have a little to learn, some of us have a whole lot. My wife, Lee, and I took FPU last fall with a group of fellow staff members and spouses. While I consider myself a fairly good money manager, I gleaned a great deal of new information from the endeavor. In particular, I was reminded that everything I hold in my possession ultimately belongs to the Lord and therefore, I must use it wisely and carefully in order to produce the maximum benefit for God’s Kingdom. By sticking more closely to a budget, my family is now able to give more to the cause of Christ and other charities. Many of us simply need to learn how to construct a budget, develop a plan for getting out of debt, or start saving for retirement. “Imagine” what it would be like to have more knowledge and less financial stress in your life. Another reason for participating in Imagine is to be able to assist others in finding financial freedom. If you’re a good steward of your worldly treasures, you can help others through your accumulated wisdom. Those of us more “seasoned” adults have learned many lessons the hard way and we can spare others the heartache we’ve endured by mentoring them. A major component of FPU is discussing the material presented by Dave Ramsey. This group interaction is vital to growing as disciples in the area of financial management. So the classes are a wonderful forum for young and old to interact and learn from each other. “Imagine” making some new friends in Christ and celebrating their victories. Finally, our church as a whole will benefit from your participation. Something special happens when God’s people get on “the same page” and concentrate on a specific topic. For this reason, we are encouraging a “pause” of regularly scheduled Bible studies, Sunday School, life groups and other ministries to focus on the subject at hand. For example, I am “pausing” the Wednesday night Bible study and will facilitate a FPU class during that time period. With the whole congregation going through FPU, including versions for children and youth, we will become singleminded in our focus, at least for a little while. Several members have told me how significant it was years ago when the entire LHUMC went through “The Purpose Driven Life” together. In a similar way, I believe we’ll look back fondly on this time when we joined our hearts and minds in a common endeavor. Besides, your participation may encourage those who are reluctant to join the effort to get on-board. “Imagine” more people unified in purpose able to do more for the Kingdom. There will be FPU classes offered at various times and days throughout the week. Find a group that fits your schedule and then sign up on-line or in the church lobby. Just “imagine” what a difference this journey is going to make in your life and in the life of our congregation.
…Children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. (Mark 10:14b The Message) You don’t have to be around the Lynn Haven United Methodist Church for very long to realize that we have taken these words of Jesus to heart as “children are at the very center” of our congregational life. This reality is clearly in evidence in our ministries this summer. Last month, 70 of our middle and high school students went to Camp Lee in North Alabama for a five-day spiritual retreat. Joining with several other churches, a total of nearly 200 young people enjoyed times of worship, recreation, and fellowship. By week’s end, eleven persons made first-time professions of faith (including three Lynn Haven youth) and nearly half of the group recommitted their lives to Christ. Can anybody say, “Praise the Lord!”? Our younger children were busy in June as well with two Service Squad events, which included ministry to the residents of the Panama City Nursing Center. Then about 20 upcoming middle schoolers enjoyed an overnight trip to Wild Adventures in Georgia. Things will really “kick into high gear” during the month of July. We expect as many as 400 children to participate in our Maker Fun Factory Vacation Bible School, July 9-13. That vital ministry will require at least 120 workers and there are still many places available to serve. You can find your spot by signing up at the link provided on our website (www. mylhumc.net) or by contacting our Children’s Minister, Mary McQuagge (firstname.lastname@example.org or 265-5231). Following our own VBS, we’ll be taking the ministry “on the road” to Honduras, July 1724. A 16-member team led by Ms. Mary and Ms. Bobbie will minister to 250 at a youth rally and 500 kids at three separate VBS-style events. Our children will fund many of the activities through our VBS offering this year. The youth will spend much of the month ministering in a variety of ways. Dozens will serve as VBS assistants, twenty teenagers will travel to Baton Rouge, July 16-22, on a mission trip to perform repairs to flood-damaged homes, and about fifteen middle school students will perform service projects at the Alabama Girls Ranch, July 24-26. Finally, we’ll close out the summer with our annual Back to School Bash for the students at Southport Elementary on August 6; there will be the Blessing of the Backpacks and Teacher Appreciation Sunday on August 13, and Youth Week will take place July 30 – August 2. I haven’t even mentioned all of the children’s and youth activities planned this summer, and I’m tired just writing about them! But I’m thankful to be the pastor of a congregation that follows Jesus’ example and makes ministry to young people a high priority. There is no question the psalmist was right when he wrote: “Children are a gift of God; they are a real blessing” (Psalm 127:3 TEV).
May we be as much of a blessing to the next generation as they are to us.
Craig Carter Lead Pastor, LHUMC
As we enter the month of June, the subject of “vacation” is on many of our minds. This is certainly the case for children as the long-awaited summer break has finally arrived. While students are glad it’s here, teachers are even more elated.Most of us are planning to take some sort of vacation in the next few months, my family included. This month we’re headed to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary and to Los Angeles, California, to visit Lee’s family. According to the dictionary, a vacation is defined as “a period of suspension of regular work, study, or other activity.” While we all need and enjoy time away from our everyday routines, we must remind ourselves that this mindset should not be allowed to spill over to our Christian lives. Nowhere in the Bible will you find the term, “vacation,” used. This is not to say vacations are anti-scriptural. This fact does suggest, however, that vacations are not appropriate in the spiritual realm. That is, we never need to take a leave of absence from our relationship with God and His people. To insure this doesn’t happen, let me make a couple of suggestions. First of all, while we may enjoy a respite from work or school, let’s agree not to take a hiatus from church. In fact, the summer months may provide opportunities to increase our involvement in worship, fellowship, and service as we suspend some of our normal activities. Please make a commitment to be faithful in your worship attendance and, if you’re not already doing so, consider joining a Sunday School class or small group. If you need help getting “plugged in” to one of our faith development ministries, please contact our Adult Discipleship Coordinator, Mindy Clemons (email@example.com). There are also ample opportunities to serve in ministry and mission, both inside and outside the church walls. Our Director of Hospitality Ministries, Heather Howell (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Missions Coordinator, Katie Fanning (katie@mylhumc. net) will be happy to assist you in finding places to serve our church and community. Lastly, please stay consistent in the giving of your tithes and offerings. Our congregation has made significant financial gains in recent months so let’s not allow a “summer slump” to hinder our progress. Even if you’re away, you can use our convenient on-line and “text to give” options to support our church’s on-going work for Christ. Second, even when we are away on vacation, we don’t need to take a sabbatical from church. Whenever my family travels, we enjoy the opportunity it affords us to visit other congregations. I am already looking forward to worshiping at Saddleback Community Church in SoCal, when Lee and I attend their Purpose Driven Conference at the end of June. Let me encourage you to find a house of worship when your travels take you away from our community. You’ll discover God is active in a variety of places and settings, and you may even make some new friends in Christ in the process. Be sure and bring back ideas that may aid us in fulfilling the goal of offering “passionate worship” experiences. Let our Worship Minister, Brad Burke (bburke@ mylhumc.net), know what you find meaningful and inspiring in other congregations. Enjoy a wonderful season of vacation – from work, school, but not from the Lord and His Church!