Monday, September 30, 2013

Challenged to Trust

“Climbing,” the lone voice said.

“Climb on,” replied the small chorus.

The youth leader was battling to be brave in front of the students who look to her every day for direction and guidance. This time they held her belay rope securely, she hoped, in their teenaged hands.  She trusted them in this moment with her safety and prayed this was a moment, unlike many others, that they would take seriously. Each step further up the ladder was an exercise in trust and the moment she stepped foot off the ladder and on to the tree was a personal accomplishment. 

This is the scene I witnessed on Sunday at the Challenge Course at Glisson. Time after time on this holy dirt, people are challenged to trust one another. Groups come here to build trust, practice trust, and ensure trust. Why are we so focused on trust that we've made it a major part of our business at Glisson? Because trust is a building block of meaningful relationships, and meaningful relationships matter in our personal and spiritual growth. They remind us of what it means to trust fully as we put ourselves on the line in the face of fear. 
“Don’t worry,” one of the teens yelled to the youth leader. “Remember, God won’t let you down.”

“True,” the voice muffled with nervous laughter replied, “but God’s not holding the other end of the rope. The boys are!” 

The boys, in that moment, had to make a choice to react in such a way that trust was built by their actions, or to not take things seriously and decrease the trust, increasing the fear of their climber.

Psalm 56:3-4 reminds us, “When I am afraid, I will trust in Thee. In God I will praise His Word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.”

Who is on the other end of your rope? Are you taking the time to foster the relationships that matter in your growth? Are you holding the rope for someone else and needing to be reminded how seriously you should take that responsibility? Are you looking to the ultimate belayer in those times where the climb has you fearful? As the church, may we be ever understanding of the role we play in one another’s growth.

--Kim Bell is program director at Glisson Camp and Retreat Center

God Is Still In Control! 

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

Monday, September 23, 2013

Planned Giving

The grass withers, the flower fades; But the word of our God will stand forever.”

  (Isaiah 40:8 – NRSV)

Edna loved children, yet she was never blessed to become a mother.  Instead, she taught children all her life and cared for each one of them as a gift from God.   As she prepared her will, Edna spoke with her pastor about leaving a portion of her estate to the church to be used for children’s or youth ministries.

Pastor Phil suggested she make her gift available to provide seed money to start new ministries that might emerge during the program year, outside of the normal budget cycle.   He pointed out that often there’s no money to even try some new and creative ideas for reaching out to children and youth, when they come up in the middle of the year.  Edna was excited about that possibility and included a paragraph in her will stating that a percentage of her estate would be sent to First Church to establish a Ministries Fund.   When she died in 1997, $20,000 came to the church and an account was established with the Wisconsin United Methodist Foundation.  Every year 4% of the market value of the fund is sent to the church to be used for developing program ministries.

Shortly after Edna’s gift established the Ministries Fund, another estate gift came to First Church from her friend, Mae and was added to the fund.  Mae and her husband, Bill, were also committed to caring for the children and youth of the church.   Before he died 10 years earlier, Bill had named the church as the beneficiary of a Certificate of Deposit.  He knew that if Mae needed it after he died, the money would be available to her first.  But, if she didn’t need it, they both had the assurance that a significant gift would be given to the church at the time of her death.  

If you have questions about how you might leave a legacy gift to your church, please call us or visit our website listed below.

-- WI Annual Conference Stewardship Message

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

Monday, September 16, 2013

Giving is Fun!

”God loves a cheerful giver.”  (2 Corinthians 9:7b)

Blake was so tired one night in the middle of the mission trip that he fell asleep at the table during supper! When he got home he was sick for a week, became dehydrated and had to spend time in the Emergency Room.

Now that he's recovered, his pastor asked him, "If you had known ahead of time that you were going to get so sick, would you have gone anyway?" Blake quickly responded, "Of course! Those people have to live like that all the time. We only had to do it for one week.  And, we were able to build some things to help make their lives a little better."

God gives us time, talents and treasures to use for God's glory.  They are not gifts given to us to store in bigger barns for ourselves.  They are like seeds, given to us to plant in good, rich soil so that they can bear the fruit of God's love for us to share with the world.

We often feel the temptation to use all the blessings that come to our own lives for our own benefit.  Our Christian faith, however, invites us to live in community.  Jesus calls us to TITHE, SHARE, and SACRIFICE from all our blessings.

How will you use your time, talents, and treasures to make a joyful difference for God this month?

-- WI Annual Conference Stewarship Message

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

Monday, September 9, 2013

Should I Give Less When I Retire?

Yes, my income is less; yes, I need to tighten my belt; but, please hear the experience of a couple from First UMC in West Allis when they reached retirement.

Introducing Sheridan and “Lou” Ellsworth.   Sheridan retired from a long career of teaching and as a Principal in the West Allis School System.  “Lou” was a homemaker and a very talented artist.   They loved this church!  When retirement came they pondered “must we reduce our giving to match our reduced income?” 

After much thought and prayer the answer was, “Heavens, No!”  They discovered that when not holding a regular job their expenses were much less, and so in retirement they actually increased their giving! 

You cannot love something and not offer your best – especially to your church, your family, your friends, and your Lord… “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also!”

-- Rev. Earl F. Lindsay, Retired,WI Annual Conference

The following was story one of many stewardship stories that we will be shared from individuals throughout the Wisconsin Annual Conference.

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

Monday, September 2, 2013

Building Church Budgets

Around this time of year, many churches are beginning to prepare ministry budgets for next year.  We get calls with leaders trying to figure out how much should go into each category to help make sure a church is sound financially.  As a very broad, general rule, we have recommended that churches consider using one third of the budget for missional giving, one third for facility and operational expenses and the other third for staff compensation.  This kind of a budget would be a goal as we know that many churches have suffered financially during the economic downturn and we have seen budgets so bare bones that 80% or more was for paying the preacher and the other 20% just to keep the lights on and doors open.  That does not leave much room for outreach and evangelism efforts.

As the economy begins to pick back up and individuals begin to come back or grow in giving to the church, we encourage you to take a look at how the budget is structured at your local church and make sure that budget reflects where your heart is as a church and helps you grow the mission of your church.  This may be a perfect time to revamp the budget and prioritize resources to the places that will help to focus the ministry most effectively.  Money and financial assets are only resources to assist ministry to get done and not barriers to ministry happening.   Give thanks to our Lord for the great abundance God has given us and do the very best you can with the resources that have been given.  If we are solely focused on God’s work, our efforts will be blessed and we will do far more than we realize can be done with what we have.  Thanks be to God for the blessings of which we are aware – and the ones we are given that we don’t even recognize!

-- Christine, North Carolina Annual Conference

God Is Still In Control

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer