Pastor's E-Letter

Pastor's E-Letter

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Pastor's E-Letter 8/28/20

I remember when I visited Suntree UMC for the first time and realized that I would be working with Kennedy Space Center technicians, engineers, and other individuals who had worked on the Apollo launches to the moon. I was overwhelmed by the intelligence, patriotism, and (frankly) celebrity of the group who had worked alongside astronauts to complete such important exploration. My first few weeks, I joked with my family that I was “literally preaching to rocket scientists,” and brilliant engineers who challenged my thinking and my way of perceiving the world. This work didn’t stop with Apollo, though. So many in our congregation are still very involved in the space industry here in Brevard County. Members of our congregation work for SpaceX, Boeing, and NASA, all continuing to innovate as we launch into space.
 
As we began preparing this map, someone on our team suggested we use a launch metaphor to describe what it means to proceed further into our faith and grow deeper in our love of Christ. I loved it! The language of launch, the teamwork required to complete such a mission, and the deep thinking that a launch embodies also characterizes the Suntree spirit. You are indeed deep thinking, loving and team oriented, and engaged in the life of the church here and around the world. As we journeyed through our planning, the idea of “Launching into Extraordinary Love,” taken from our e3 commitment to love in extraordinary ways was born. 
 
Through this series, I’ve wondered if the image of the launch has held the same kind of excitement and salience for you all as it has for me. When I think about the work that is being accomplished in worship, small groups, Journey and Oasis, missions like Cuba, our Foster Care Ministry, and Daily Bread, I wonder if you feel the same connection points and excitement about the direction our church is launching into (and has been for some time). Your love of God, one another, and neighbor, is extraordinarily evident. This map simply names a truth already present: you are growing in love of God, and the world. You are working for the Kingdom. Your faith is real, present, and transformative. This launch sequence only enables further growth- it doesn’t start it. You are a wonderful church to work with. (Honestly, I feel blessed simply to be a part of this.)
 
As we close out this series though, I’m reminded that our question is not, “Where have we been?” but, “Where are we going?” The work is always beginning. Part of what you all will know so well, as engineer and engineer-adjacent people (shoutout to us non-math people, right?!) is that constant monitoring is what ensures a launch’s success. To help us explain this, we had a congregation member, Rich Dixon, talk about his experience working with the Apollo program and data collection that made launches to the moon possible. 
Launch Into Extraordinary Love - Intro
 
I love Rich’s testimony so much because it highlights so many important parts about what it means, as a church and as individuals, to launch into extraordinary love. We need to have that data feedback- a constant monitoring as we grow further into Christ’s love to see if we’re being serious about what Christ calls us to be. We need to be willing to work as a team- as a church- to gain the momentum needed to have a successful, kingdom oriented mission. Finally, we engage in the launch because we know that God will use our work, even the smallest parts of it, to make a difference in the world. 
 
As Methodists, we talk about this rigorous and continued growth in terms of “sanctifying grace.” We do not believe as Methodists that you are finished with your faith when you say “yes,” praying the sinner’s prayer and checking the box on the commitment card. We believe in that moment, faith is just beginning! Throughout your life of faith, you’ll have the opportunity to grow, change, and become more like Jesus- becoming “sanctified,” and growing further up and further into God’s love. 
 
So, as we engage “Stage 4: Orbit in Extraordinary Love,” I invite you to look again over the sequence and assessment. Don’t judge yourself, but ask earnestly: where am I heading in my faith? Reflect on what is possible with your time and schedule, especially during the pandemic. We have plenty of Grow and Serve opportunities, online and in person, listed below, as well as ways to serve within the church (like our childcare, welcome, greeting, and congregational care ministries). All of these opportunities can be growth points in your launch sequence, if you’re willing to take God seriously and engage in your faith.
 
It is my and the Grow Team’s earnest goal that this map is a tool that will be used for years to come. We want this to become a part of our collective language and the way we as a church help others come to know and serve Christ. I hope you’ve heard the excitement we feel about this work throughout this series, and are ready to launch into extraordinary love! We need all of us, pulling ahead to love of God and neighbor, to make a true difference in our world. 
 
See you Sunday,
Pastor Allee 
Posted by Allee Willcox with

Pastor's E-Letter 8/21/20

Greetings, Suntree! I am Staci Plonsky, your new Director of Outreach! My husband Terry, and I, along with our three children, have participated in the life of Suntree UMC community for many years. I became a certified candidate for ministry in the Florida United Methodist Conference in 2019, and began seminary at Iliff School of Theology, using their online learning platform. Additionally, Suntree UMC serves as my pastoral internship site for this year. 
 
This new role represents so many of my hopes and dreams for where I sense God is calling me. Sometimes, it feels like a dream! As I’ve begun to envision how God may propel us as a faith community into new expressions of loving our neighbor in extraordinary ways, I began to think about the kingdom of God. 
 
Sometimes, we think of heaven as a literal place: the City of God, with streets of gold and sparkling buildings, a location far removed from my own home, nation and world. When I think of Heaven in the distance, both physically and temporally, I can dream of a “someday.” I can imagine that “someday”, all will be beautiful and perfect and redeemed. That my own identity and character will be perfected and revealed in beauty, in the absence of conflict and evil. Fear will be absent, poverty abolished, evil vanquished.
 
This is such a beautiful vision, isn’t it? 
 
And yet, when Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of Heaven, this isn’t exactly the picture he painted. In fact, Jesus began His ministry proclaiming, "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." In other words — it is now here! Jesus’ teachings and life give us clues about how to live faithfully in the Kingdom of God. We learn from Jesus the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:37-39 “. . .You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind . . . and the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 
 
Living in the Kingdom of God is more than just thinking about God or donating our time or money. Living in the Kingdom of God is building community with our neighbors, sharing our groceries, bearing witness to another’s pain and challenges, and building each other up through our faith. As we share our own gifts and abilities, we also gain insight about justice, compassion, faith, resilience, grace, generosity and abundance. We start to see a richness in others that we may have missed otherwise. 
 
I think that’s why I love Outreach so much. Diversity energizes me, as I am reminded that God’s deep love is not reserved just for me, but all of the beautiful souls in this world. I am reminded that Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection was intended for the benefit of all creation. People who are generous and open, and committed to making the world a better place inspire me to do the same. And I find that through serving God’s beloved people, I find the Holy Spirit works powerfully to change me, to bring me a little closer to the God-given sanctification I long for. 
 
God has called each of us to use our talents, abilities and gifts in unique ways. I think the fullest response to God’s love is to love our neighbors. As we faithfully respond to God’s love for us and for our neighbors, I believe we will move closer to realizing the Kingdom of God here and now. 
 
If you’d like to explore how to become involved with the myriad of Outreach projects and opportunities, please email me at  . I’d love to get to know you and to serve with you!
 
In Christ,
Staci Plonsky
Posted by Staci Plonsky with

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