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Pastor’s Message: Oct. 11, 2019

A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: BUILDING OUR CAPACITY

Last week I spent three days at the “Stewardship Kaleidoscope” conference of the Presbyterian Church (USA). I’ve taught and/or spoken at the conference since it was created about a decade ago, and it is still one of my favorite dimensions of the national church.

Part of that is simply the chance to be with colleagues in ministry from all over the country. Part of it is that it is a very mission-focused gathering; everyone is really there simply to help each other build up the mission capacity of their local congregations.

But most of all, it continues to amaze me how many people all over the country are not simply aware of our story here, but are cheering us on in spirit and in prayer. So it was a special joy to be able to share our story of all the ways in which we growing in our life and ministry for Jesus Christ in Bethlehem and beyond.

This was all good timing, since our fall emphasis on stewardship begins next week. I am thrilled about what that will involve this year, and can’t wait for it to begin! Before we start talking about 2020 though, I want to reiterate something important that I said during the Town Hall about us ending our year of ministry well for 2019 in terms of our financial support for our expanding mission and ministry:

  • First, please check and see if you are up to date on fulfilling your 2019 pledge. It is easy to get behind in the summer if you are someone who relies on the offering plate to make your gift, and we have not caught up as a church with where we should be in terms of giving towards the fulfillment of 2019 pledges.
  • Second, please make your gift to support our commitment to the national ministry of the Presbyterian Church (USA). For 2019, this is $36 per member (not household). It is extraordinary how far such a small gift goes in terms of our national church, from our international mission commitments to theological education to congregational resource development. Please send in your gift marked “Proportional Giving” in the memo line so we can fulfill our commitment together.
  • Finally, consider whether you are in a position to make any extra gifts in addition to your pledge and denominational support. As I said in the Town Hall, we are exploring some exciting possibilities for using our facilities in new ways that are both mission-aligned and financially sustainable, but that process is taking more time than we hoped to do it well, and so our projections for income from the facilities were too high for 2019. Your extra gifts will help us end 2019 in a position of strength and allow us to start 2020 as well as possible.

As I told my friends and colleagues at the Stewardship Conference: it has been an extraordinary year of ministry for us here at First Pres, and we’re not even done yet! I am inspired and grateful to be in ministry with each of you, and I look forward to what the rest of the year holds and to what a new year will bring!

Grace and Peace,
JC

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