Let the Children Come

Dear Friends,

World Communion Sunday 2018 – First UMC

 
On Sunday we recognized World Communion Sunday in worship with altar and chancel decorations and by celebrating the sacrament of Holy Communion. It was a day that joined with Christians around the world in gratitude for who we are – united – as the Body of Christ. We are grateful to Cindy Kopp and Kay Oien for their decorating skills and commitment to helping us most fully experience the joy of special days like this.
 

Cradle Rocking at First UMC – September 1961

This coming Sunday we celebrate Children’s Sabbath Sunday – a day set aside every second Sunday of October to celebrate children as active participants in the life of the church today. As part of celebrating we will baptize little baby boy, Blaine, and present two of our third graders with bibles promised at their baptisms. 
We will also offer our 96th annual cradle rocking – a custom brought to Lindstrom by Swedish immigrants nearly 100 years ago. The first cradle rock for our congregation was in 1922! We will rock three little ones this Sunday!
The theme verse for cradle rocking – and the preaching text for the day – is Mark 10:13-16.
 
“People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.”
 
This Sunday, also, as part of the broader picture of celebrating children and inviting them to come to Jesus, there will be an informal question and answer opportunity following worship in the church lounge regarding our 2018 Stewardship Challenge. This challenge is to add a part-time Children’s,Youth and Family Director position to begin in 2019. At the same time of adding a new position we hope to provide compensation and honorarium increases to all current staff. This is all explained in the letter that was sent out last week to members of First UMC. You can view the letter on our website and by clicking here.
 
Now is the right time for this challenge. If we wait, we lose energy and momentum. The potential within our congregation and broader community is ripe, at the moment, for significant growth in the children’s, youth and family ministry program area. I have even been contacted by Youth Ministry Consultants, Inc. about being a part of a small church project cohort because of the great potential in this program area that exists among us. Now is the time. A solid children’s, youth and family ministry program always results in overall congregational growth – numerically, yes – but also spiritually.
 
I also have experienced with such growth in membership and worship attendance that weekly and annual financial offerings increase. The finance committee and I are aware of the need to proportionately increase our district apportionments as well. The District Superintendent and I have discussed this and Bishop Ough has asked me directly to create a plan for our congregation to strengthen our connectional covenant with the annual conference, specifically by increasing our annual apportionment amount. It makes sense for such a plan to be evaluated and created following the addition and placement of a new children’s, youth and family position, as expected and increased financial offerings occur.
 
It is up to our congregation now to prayerfully and carefully discern if this is important enough to make happen. God has provided us with the resources to do it – I am certain. October 28 is Stewardship Sunday. We will receive pledge/commitment cards that day as part of worship. The total amount pledged that day will be an indicator of support (or lack thereof) for this vision. The Staff Parish Relations Committee and the Finance Committee, and I, will then decide whether or not we can proceed. If Stewardship Sunday shows enough financial support and commitment towards the vision, the SPRC will put together a new position description and include it in the 2019 proposed annual operating budget. If the budget is approved in January, the position would be posted and interviews would be scheduled and conducted, and the position could likely begin middle to late Spring and be in place for Summer ministry planning and opportunities. Current staff compensation and honorarium increases would be effective retroactively to the beginning of 2019 following the annual meeting on January 20.
 
Please contact me or Jim Caldwell or Scott Lecy with any questions or concerns. Please keep the vision and the process in your prayers – always asking for God’s will to be done.
 
I am thankful for you and for our congregation. We are deeply blessed to be a blessing in our community. Let’s gather on Sunday to celebrate the blessings our children and youth are, as well!
 
See you in Church!
 
Pr. Dale