Pastor's E-Letter

Pastor's E-Letter

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Pastor's E-letter 9/27/19

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It was such fun to begin our new series, "Dear Church," with you all in worship this past week. I'm grateful that Revelation is so full of symbolism and mystery, and equally grateful that Pastor Augie and Mike are spending time thinking about this in Journey! For our purposes, in worship, we'll be focusing instead on these first few chapters. As we explore them and the letters to the seven churches at the beginning of Revelation, I've been struck by their simple wisdom for us today. They aren't big and scary at all, but helpful words to us as a church in a chaotic world.

We learned this week that the context of these letters is incredibly important. They were written to churches in chaos. Unlike our American church, these early churches were under the daily threat of violent persecution. They courageously followed God even when it death and separation from their communities were very real possibilities. The church at Smyrna, which we will study this week in Revelation 2:8-11, is a perfect example of this response. Instead of cowering in the face of this daily threat of violence, they held to the promise of resurrection life. They stood up to the persecution they received and proved faithful.

John encourages the church at Smyrna to remember that there was a fate worse than bodily death. As I reflected on that church, I thought of our Cuban brothers and sisters. While we have never experienced violent persecution as an American church, our neighbors to the south in Cuba have an entirely different story. The Cuban church has a deep and abiding faith that stands strong amid violent opposition. They are such wonderful examples to us of what faith in God really means during difficulties, and we benefit from our relationship with them.

Tonight, we'll celebrate an ongoing relationship of support and mutual prayer that we have had with the Cuban church at 6 pm in our Worship Center. (You can purchase a $20 ticket at the door- we'd love to see you there!) We'll share in a delicious dinner in the safety of our church building and remember the great and abiding faith of our Cuban brothers and sisters. While we may support them with our presence and our financial giving, the Cuban church supports our faith, reminding us of the truths contained in the story of the church at Smyrna, too.

I hope we'll see you later tonight and if not, that we'll see you in worship on Sunday as we continue to abide in our faith in Christ in our chaotic world.

In Christ's peace,
Allee

Posted by Allee Willcox with

Pastor's E-letter 9/20/19

                   We began our work together, with me as your Director of Outreach, about three and a half years ago. When I started, it was a tall task to try and learn where we all were serving together. I met with a lot of you to find out about the many places you served, and your passion and love for that ministry. I learned more about our community. From there I was able to go out into the surrounding community and meet Executive Directors of different non-profits and learn what their passion was and how to better connect with them. I worked with the mission committee to get a better focus on how we would structure our work. One of the first things we did was sit down and look at where our ministries were located. Were they local, national, or international? Where are our missionaries: local, national or international? How could we make sure we were offering a full span of missional opportunities to our congregation?

               Then the leadership of the church underwent the 4D visioning process. Through this process, we began to dream about what our future as e3 people (people who Love God, Love Each Other, and Love Our Neighbors in extraordinary ways) would look like three to five years down the road. That vision process, along with our mission committee, identified the amazing work of our Cuba team and how much great work they are doing with our sister churches. (Don’t forget the Cuba Dinner is next Friday, September 27th, get your tickets after church service! The food and program will be amazing!) What we also realized is that there was more work to be done in the world and mission-minded people to engage that work. That’s when we drafted the statement: “Expand the number of mission partners and mission trips, both foreign and domestic, and the number of adults who participate in those opportunities.” One of the specific engagements for this vision was to look to partner with a new international mission.

               This past Sunday, at the Church Council Meeting, we heard about an amazing opportunity to partner with Zoe Empowers (zoeempowers.org). Through empowerment programs that focus on orphans, Zoe has lifted thousands of children out of extreme poverty. During the presentation, we learned how children are given the tools, training, and resources to help themselves and their community through the amazing gift of Hope. That hope is enabled by giving through church partnerships around the world and missionaries who come and experience the power of these children’s stories. I’m excited to inform you that Sunday afternoon our Church Council approved a full partnership for the next three years. This partnership will allow us to help empower nearly 100 kids to leave the world of poverty that they know and see the hope of a new life. There will be more information coming out in the future as we fully engage this ministry and we look forward to having you join us in this work.

               As always, it’s a pleasure to serve alongside all of you. Suntree UMC is a loving place that is fully committed to being kingdom builders. I look forward to further expansion of our missions, including mission teams, to help in post-disaster cleanup and restoration (more information to come regarding that).

               Be sure to join us this Sunday as we begin the new sermon series Dear Church – The 7 Letters to the Churches in Revelation. We will be taking a look at how the message to the churches then are still relevant to us today. Looking forward to serving with you, worshiping with you and seeing how God is moving through Suntree UMC!

With Grace & Peace,

Augie Allen

 

Posted by Augie Allen with

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