A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: Interesting – and exciting!

As you hopefully know, this Sunday is our Annual Congregational and Corporation meeting, immediately following a combined worship service (with elements of both contemporary and traditional worship) at 10 a.m. in the Sanctuary.

I have to admit, “Annual Meeting” is not the most exciting title; it sounds like “same-old, same-old” in terms of what happens. So you may be surprised to hear that I think this meeting will not just be important, but also exciting!

To me, what is really exciting is a momentous milestone in the life of this congregation: you will be asked to approve the start of a process to call a new, full-time associate pastor to serve here! This pastor will be fully involved in the life of the congregation in terms of worship leadership and pastoral care, but they will provide programmatic leadership in three key areas: welcoming and engaging newcomers to the church; ministry with children, youth, and their families; and community outreach and justice work. These are three of the four mission priorities that the Session has identified for us over the next three years, so this position is designed specifically to support those priorities.

You will recall that the Session also identified this position as one of the most important goals of this year’s stewardship campaign, and Session members themselves are so excited and committed to it that they (myself included) all increased their annual pledges to support this and other initiatives for the congregation. Many of you in the congregation followed suit in doing that, as well.

And, I’m pleased to say that we also had some anonymous donors who are particularly passionate about the importance of this associate pastor position and who created a pool of pledged gifts that guarantee a minimum of three years of funding for the position. So this alone makes the Annual Meeting very exciting and different from the same-old, same-old!

As important and exciting as that is, though, I also need to say that I think the “normal” part of the Annual Meeting is important and exciting, too. It is always a sacred and significant thing when the congregation is calling its leaders to service, which we will do with a group of people nominated to serve as Elders, Deacons, and members of the newly-reconstituted Board of Trustees, as well as the Congregational Nominating Committee itself. We will hear reports from the Board of Deacons and the Session, and you will have the chance to ask questions about those reports. And you will hear reports about the church finances and budget for this past year and the coming one, too, and have a chance to ask questions about them.

So, I look forward to seeing you in worship, at this important and exciting Annual Meeting, and hopefully at the pasta luncheon that our Scout Troop is providing afterwards as a fundraiser for the troop! In any case, please pray that God continues to bless our life and ministry together as we have been so richly blessed so far.

Grace and Peace,