In July, we enjoyed an abundance of blessings in the Lynn Haven United Methodist Church. We began the month by receiving a new Fusion campus pastor, Chris Ackerman. We also welcomed several new members into our fellowship and baptized three infants into the household of faith. Vacation Bible School was a tremendous success as we had more than 400 children and 150 servants participate. During that week, we received more than $3500 for our mission team that, later in the month, took the “Shipwrecked” VBS to hundreds of kids in Honduras. Most importantly, 40 children gave their lives to Christ and will soon be baptized. July concluded with our annual Youth Week that impacted the lives of hundreds of students. On top of it all, we saw a 15% increase in our Sunday morning worship attendance for the month over the same period last year. Praise the Lord for His goodness!
One of the greatest blessings I received last month came at an unexpected time and place. Most folks would consider attending a finance committee meeting about as enjoyable as having a root canal. While that is sometimes the case, it certainly wasn’t true for our most recent meeting. Since most of you weren’t there, let me share the good news.
At the halfway point of our church’s fiscal year, our ministry budget revenue has exceeded our expenditures by $1500. While that may not sound like much, it is extremely rare for us to be in the “black” at this point in time. Even when we end the year in a positive fashion, we are usually behind until December when we make up the difference. On some occasions, we have been as much as $75,000 in the “red” during the summer months. But due to some belt tightening measures combined with increased giving, we find ourselves in our current situation. This is extremely good news as it proves God’s faithfulness and demonstrates our members’ commitment to the cause of Christ. It is a wonderful blessing to me as your pastor as it shows me that God’s people at LHUMC “get it” and it also helps me sleep better as well.
As a result of your generous support of our ministry budget, the Staff-Parish Relations Committee (which oversees our church employees) has recommended and the Finance Committee has approved a mid-year bonus for our full- and part-time salaried staff members. Due to budget constraints, they have not received a pay raise for several years, not even a cost-of-living adjustment. So this extra compensation makes up some of the difference and expresses our appreciation to them for their hard work and dedication. Of course, it is a “step of faith” being taken by our church leadership since there are no guarantees the increased giving will continue. But we are confident it will and so, I thank you for what you’ve already done and encourage you to keep keepin’ on so we can support and expand God’s work through our ministry and mission efforts.
A second dose of good news reported at our July finance committee meeting was that Fusion Fitness turned a profit in both May and June. Hallelujah! This is the reversal of a trend that has continued since we first began operating Fusion in 2012 as we have lost money almost every month. It appears that our relationship with our management partner, EMS, is providing dividends. We have dramatically increased both our revenue and the number of folks using the facility. That means financial stability for us along with more opportunities to share the gospel with the children and adults involved in our programs. If you haven’t been to Fusion in awhile, stop by and see the good things that are happening. I am truly grateful for the outstanding leadership of our EMS partner, Shawn Walker, and the capable staff he has assembled at Fusion. Also, I thank God for the sacrifice of some of our church members who made “over and above” gifts to enhance the facility (especially through air conditioning upgrades) through our Kingdom Investor initiative last year. We are reaping the benefits of those investments both financially and spiritually.
Needless to say, I enter August feeling very blessed. That really shouldn’t be a surprise since we serve a great and mighty God who loves to shower His blessings on His people. That is definitely the case right now so I hope you will join me in giving the Lord our thanks and praise. At the same time, let’s anticipate even bigger and better blessings as we ask God to open up the heavens over our church, our community, and our world. To Him be the glory!
In Christ,Craig CarterLead Pastor, LHUMC