A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Top 10 Athens First UMC News Stories of 2016

What are the top Athens First UMC news stories from 2016? That's not easy to rank since there have been many, but here is my personal top ten list. It has been a great year of ministry and outreach!


Folk Music Program

This past spring, the music ministry of our church hosted a fun folk music program. It was a groovy and really far-out time as we sang late 60's and early 70's music. We had a lot of families with young children attend along with those of us who grew up before and during the 70's!


Church Talent Night Poem

OK, even most people's top 100 lists would not include this horrendous poem but it's included here because I put a lot of time into writing it (about 15 minutes, but still...it is a tear jerker and it is my blog after-all.)


Kappa Phi Potato Bar with All the Toppings Fundraiser Meals

Kappa Phi hosted several potato bars with all the toppings fundraiser Sunday meals . Since they are known to have the best baked potatoes on this side of the Hocking River, how can they not be included in the top ten somewhere??


Outdoor Prayer Cross

Our Boy Scout troop and our Tuesday prayer ministry team joined together in making this outdoor prayer cross. We mounted it in the ground in front of our church on Scout Sunday which was on February 14. Many students who walk by our church building place prayer cards in the secured box and we lift up these joys and concerns to God every week in prayer.


Sunday 10:30 Worship Moved to Fellowship Hall

Due to our capital improvements which started in early September, our Sunday 10:30 worship service needed to move down to our Fellowship Hall space. Even though it's not technically a sanctuary, we have been blessed to have this secondary space in which to offer our worship to God.


CORE Courses Launch

In September, our church launched six Core Courses which include Christianity 101, United Methodist History & Theology, Personal Finance & Stewardship, Intro to the Bible, Means of Grace, & Spiritual Gifts. Each course last three weeks and are taught by area United Methodist pastors and teachers and are held at various churches.


Small Groups Launch

During the season of Lent, we invited the congregation to participate in one of six new small groups. These groups are designed to be share groups where we share our faith with each other and reflect on the past Sunday's worship theme. These groups continue to meet and are led by trained facilitators.


Athens First Saturday Community Outreach Launch

Our Athens First Saturday community outreach started this past April. Our church gathers in Fellowship hall on the first Saturday morning of each month to be sent out to serve and bless our community. We make blankets to give away to organizations, pick up trash in our community, lead a nursing home worship service, make baked goods to give away, arrange flowers to take to the hospital, write positive sidewalk graffiti in front of our church, as well as many other projects. There is something for all ages to do! 


Tripled Our Giving to Habitat for Humanity!

Our recent Christmas miracle was that we raised $6,218 to give to Habitat for Humanity toward the building of a home for a needy family in 2017. We tripled what we gave to Habitat for Humanity from last year's offering! The picture above is the house that we helped to build last year in nearby Amesville. The 2017 house will be build right next to it.

And coming in as the #1 highlight of 2016 is...

We reached our Capital Campaign Goal!

This past March during worship, we announced the awesome news that we reached our Capital Campaign pledge goal of $696,000 to go toward renovating the sanctuary, adding a front entrance glass atrium, installing an elevator and adding two staff positions for our college and community outreach ministries. Not only did we reach our pledge goal, we had also received $264,175 in cash when we made the announcement to help us begin our building improvements just months later in September. We are now looking at a February completion date of all projects! Praise the Lord!

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