The Church Council is the primary administrative and decision-making body in the local church. It is responsible for overseeing and implementing the congregation’s ministries and mission efforts. The LHUMC Church Council, chaired by Tommy Tew, is made up of our pastors and staff, program coordinators, and at-large members.
At a recent meeting, two decisions were made that I would like to share with you. For one, the Council approved a 2017 ministry budget of $1,732,000. This represents a very slight increase (less than 1%) over last year’s. This budget includes monies for staff salaries, facilities, denominational support, programs, and outreach. In addition, about $75,000 from designated funds will be used to supplement certain areas, primarily to fund maintenance needs.
Last year, our congregation contributed $1,685,000 to the ministry budget so we need to see about a 3% increase to fully fund this year’s budget. This is an easily attainable goal given the fact our giving experienced a 5% growth rate in 2016. But it will require everyone’s participation and commitment. As I shared in a recent sermon, we have a large number of members and regular attendees who financially contribute little or nothing. While everyone cannot do the same thing, everyone can do some thing. I am truly grateful for the extravagant generosity shown by this congregation in support of God’s work in the world. I encourage each of you to consider prayerfully how much you can contribute to the cause of Christ and then give as the Bible commands – freely, consistently, generously, and cheerfully The Church Council also approved hiring a consultant to help us chart a course for our Fusion campus.
As Pastor Rudy Olivo described in last month’s newsletter, we are in the process of re-envisioning what Fusion can mean for our church and community, while at the same time, creating a business plan that will make it financially viable. During its first five years of existence, Fusion has been a wonderful platform for worship, youth ministry, and evangelistic outreach. But it has never had a clearly articulated mission, nor has it been financially solvent. Given the unique situation of a church having an off-site recreational facility for community use, we decided to enlist the services of BGW (Building God’s Way) Sustainable Solutions and Daniel Cook. Daniel is a licensed architect who helps churches use their facilities “more effectively, creatively, and efficiently to be relevant witnesses and engaging ministers of the Gospel to the surrounding community.” That sounds exactly what we want Fusion to be so we are looking forward to what Daniel will contribute to our understanding of how we can best use and operate the marvelous facility God has blessed us with. Daniel is already reviewing our financial statements and gathering demographic information. Then he will be on-site March 28-30 to tour our campuses and meet with staff, key leaders, and Fusion clients. Please be praying for Rudy, our Fusion Vision Team, and Daniel as we seek God’s direction.
I am thankful for the good leadership God has provided to our congregation and I appreciate the careful and prayerful consideration our Church Council gives to every decision. I look forward to what the Lord has in store for us in 2017, at both Transmitter and Fusion, and perhaps beyond.
To God be the glory!
Craig Carter Lead Pastor, LHUMC
I once heard a professor say that our stories inform where we’ve been & who we are. While I can’t recall the name of the one who uttered these words of wisdom, the idea underneath the phrase has never left me. Because of that when I get to a new place serving in a pastoral role I do my best to listen to the stories members tell. The process helps me understand who they see themselves to be as individuals and as an outpost for the Kingdom.
As I’ve engaged in this listening process over the last few months I’ve come to find something interesting: the stories I’ve heard people tell about why Lynn Haven United Methodist purchased Fusion have at once common points of fact, but they are told with decidedly different emphases.
To summarize the main points of virtually everyone I’ve heard from, Fusion was purchased:
1. To be a mission outpost, reaching folks who wouldn’t go to a traditional church
2. Because it was a sound financial decision, costing far less per square foot than a site built gym at the Transmitter location
3. Because there was financial potential on the business operations side to have it cover some amount of its cost
4. To provide a unique facility for youth within walking distance of Mosley High School
While all four of these reasons for purchasing Fusion have individual merit, each one will lead us to a place of success only if working in concert with the other three. Unfortunately, it seems none of the four has gained a place of prominence, while all have struggled to find how they work together. Because of that, there exist questions about what marks we are shooting for relevant to new disciples, revenue generated, how the space should be used, etc. All the while these questions loom, there is still this palpable connection to the Holy Spirit, that God is doing something here even now and there is this sense that Fusion is on the cusp of something even greater, if only we can connect the dots.
Because of this “almost great” feeling as an on-going way of life it has led to discontent. That feeling of discontent coupled with Julio’s departure, and the turn of the New Year all provide for us opportunity to look at 2017 as a turning point year for Fusion. As I mentioned earlier, our past stories inform who we are, but they do not have to define us. To that end, we are seeking to use our common history to inform where we are, but not to leave us there. Instead we want to launch forward, creating newfound success with a common narrative of why we have Fusion. In an effort to set vision and action for what Fusion will look like in the future we’re taking a few steps that I want to make you aware of:
1) We are refocusing ourselves on the mission of our church. When we make any decisions about Fusion we’ll make sure that we’re seeking to further our desire to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of our community and world.
2) We realize Fusion has a unique role in the disciple making and growing process. To that end, we are seeking to live into our new Fusion purpose statement which states that Fusion exists, “To change lives in our community and world by growing people in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and others.” This mission statement comes from Luke 2:52 and will be the focus of the sermon series I will preach at Fusion in February.
3) I’ve created two action teams to help set a course for newfound success. One team will look at the ways we can integrate those of us who worship at Fusion on Sundays with the lives of folks who come to Fusion through the week who have no church home. The other team is focusing on the business operations at Fusion and asking what we can do to create the best structure to honor our mission of making disciples while finding a new level of financial stability and health.
No matter if you worship at Transmitter or at Fusion, you can join us as we create our new common story of whole person and whole Body of Christ health. You can pray with us, get a membership at Fusion (as a member you get a 15% discount), invite friends, feed the hungry at the food truck, and more. I look forward to having you join us in this endeavor and seeing what amazing things God does in and through us in the process.
Rudy OlivoFusion Pastor, LHUMC
I am truly grateful for the wonderful staff God has provided me to work with as partners in ministry. As we embark on a new year, let me share several changes to our staff structure that should enable us to be an even more fruitful congregation for Christ.
Effective January 1, Rev. Rudy Olivo will become our Fusion Campus Pastor in a full-time capacity. Over the past six months he has split time between his work with us and his service as an Air National Guard chaplain. He will now work full-time on our staff and oversee all ministries at the Fusion campus. I believe this arrangement will help us better integrate what goes on during the week at Fusion Fitness with the Fusion worshiping community. Rudy will still be a member of the Air National Guard and his service at Tyndall AFB will keep our congregation connected with the military community.
Dr. Jim Luther has faithfully served our church as Congregational Care Pastor for more than 12 years. In this capacity, he has fulfilled virtually every pastoral role imaginable – preacher, teacher, counselor, leader, administrator, and shepherd. Starting in January, Jim will “retire” from full-time service, but will continue part time, working approximately 20 hours per week. He will focus his time and energy on visitation and pastoral care, while being relieved of regular office hours and administrative duties. I am thankful to God for Jim and what he has meant and continues to mean to me personally and to our entire congregation. A retirement reception to celebrate his transition to part-time status will be held in the Transmitter Fellowship Hall on Sunday, January 22, at 12:15 pm. Watch for more details and plan to express your love and appreciation to Pastor Jim.
Our middle school minister, Hunter Dennison, has taken a job at a church in Tallahassee. As a result of his departure, Neal McGee will now serve as the Student Minister for grades 6 – 12 and will oversee all student ministries. In addition, we plan to hire a part-time Youth Assistant to provide administrative support and a Youth Intern who will work part-time during the school year and full-time in the summer. Since Neal has been giving leadership to our mission endeavors, the Staff Parish Relations Committee has recommended a part-time staff position to coordinate our local and global risk-taking mission and service projects.
The New Testament commonly refers to the church as the Body of Christ. So each of us is a member of it and has a particular role to play. I’m grateful to be a part of a Body that consists of both paid and unpaid servants who faithfully fulfill their purpose and serve the Lord with gladness. I see God at work in putting together the necessary pieces to do His work in our community and world and I joyfully anticipate who or what is coming next.
Lead Pastor, Lynn Haven UMC
For 2000 years the story of Christ’s birth has been a story of promise, hope, and the unfathomable love of God for His people. But then our American culture got hold of it and what happened? What was once a time to celebrate the birth of the Savior has somehow turned into a season of stress, traffic jams, shopping, and overwhelming to do lists. And when it’s all over, many of us are left with presents to return, looming debt that will take months to pay off, and an empty feeling of missed purpose. Is this what we really want out of the holiday season? What if Christmas became a worldchanging event again? Our congregation believes the news of Christ’s birth can still change the world and is once again holding an Advent Conspiracy to celebrate Christmas by spending less, giving more, worshiping fully, and loving all this season. Rather than giving a gift out of obligation, let us be committed to giving gifts that really will change the world – like quality time, caring for people in need, and looking for ways to be more loving. It’s not just about saving money or about the economy; it’s about remembering that when we give presence instead of presents, we restore the true meaning of Christmas.
The Advent Conspiracy began in 2006 among five congregations, but it has now become a world-wide movement embraced by thousands of churches. You can learn more about this exciting endeavor at www.adventconspiracy.org. Our involvement in the Advent Conspiracy started last year and we raised nearly $30,000 for local and global missions. This year we will once again receive a special offering. If you and your family resolve to “spend less” this holiday season, you will be able to “give more” to three worthwhile causes. On a local level, we will support the Anchorage Children’s Home that serves and protects children right here in Bay County. Regionally, we will contribute to the work of the United Methodist Children’s Home which ministers to atrisk children and their families throughout Central Alabama and Northwest Florida. Our global project is a continuing partnership with our friend, Rev. Isaac Kyambadde in Africa. We hope to build another church building in Uganda in 2017 that will become home to a United Methodist congregation. This year’s Advent Conspiracy offering will be evenly split among these three mission projects and we hope to exceed last year’s total. Please consider giving at least a tithe (10%) or more of what you spend on Christmas. Special offering envelopes will be distributed or you can simply designate your gift, “Advent Conspiracy.” Please remember this is an “over and above” offering that is in addition to your regular tithes and contributions to the ministry budget. You can also embrace the spirit of the Advent Conspiracy when you “worship fully.” Our Sunday morning sermon series this month is entitled, The Christmas Story.
Each week we will use scenes from the movie, A Christmas Story, to illustrate truths found in the biblical narratives of Christ’s birth. We also have a Christmas cantata scheduled for December 4 and modern Christmas musicals planned for December 17-18, all starting at 6:30 pm. Of course, our annual Christmas Eve Services of Communion and Candlelighting will take place on December 24 – 2:30, 4:00, and 5:30 pm at Transmitter, and 4:00 pm at Fusion. You can certainly “love all” by inviting a friend, co-worker, or family member to join you for any or all of these worship experiences. Be a part of the conspiracy – be revolutionary and celebrate Christmas the way it was intended to be celebrated. Spend less, give more, worship fully, and love all. These are all things I’m sure would please Jesus on His birthday!
Craig Carter Lead Pastor, Lynn Haven UMC