It always arrived in late Autumn. By mid-December it was tattered, creased, marked-up and mangled. In our home, it was a shared treasure among four children. We placed our initials throughout its pages—SD, DD, JD, FD—signifying the items each child hoped to find beneath the tree on Christmas morning. The Sears Wishbook was a tangible symbol of our childhood dreams.
The closest thing our church has to the Sears Wishbook is our Annual Mission and Ministry Plan (the budget). Each Autumn, our committees, lay leaders, and staff compile a list of mission and ministry projects we would like to accomplish in the coming year. Our wishes include: Senior Adult trips and activities, Youth Family camps and retreats, missionary support, seminary support, upgrades to technical equipment, educational material, candles and flowers for the holiday season, stipends for guest artists, funding for needed shelter and food, new music, children’s projects and books, insurance premiums, refinished gymnasium floors, contributions to United Ministries and a multitude of other local community agencies, counseling assistance, postage, and of course, pay for the preacher. Our Finance Committee compiles the budget, our Diaconate approves and recommends the budget, and our congregation votes to accept and fund the budget. For the past six budget cycles, our staff and church leadership have been good stewards of your trust; we have underspent each budget. For the last six budget cycles you have been faithful stewards of God’s blessings in your life; you have over-given each budget! These healthy patterns have afforded us the ability to better maintain our properties and expand the reach of our missions. Thank you!
I am hoping—trusting—we will exceed our budget requirements again this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to deepen our internal ministries and expand our external mission investments. From the beginning of this pandemic, we were determined to face this challenge with creativity, positivity and the expectancy to thrive rather than just survive. In the strangest of ways, our church has been blessed this year. Let’s be thankful for the ways God has blessed us during this strange year. As we end this strange year, give generously to your church—a church that has stayed strong and relevant. Then, let’s take a deep breath and prepare ourselves for the joys and challenges of 2021.