Jeff’s Jottings

bragging rightsYou always give me something to brag about.

I’m writing this in the days following the UCC Conference’s Annual Gathering. From Thursday to Sunday, Pastor Brenda, Michele McConville, Val Parker, Joy Barnitz, and I got to hang out with people from United Church of Christ congregations all across Northern California and Nevada. We met for worship and workshops and business, to hear reports and to share stories, to eat together and to sing together.

I have enough history in the Conference to have friends who live in various corners and time and again they would ask me, “How are things going at Niles Discovery Church.” And time and again I would tell them how wonderful I think our congregation is and how blessed I feel to be pastoring here.

One of the themes that came up several times was how generous our congregation is and what a big heart our congregation has. They might ask me for examples and I would point out how quickly we raised the money needed for our solar panel system, or how quickly we topped off the needed money for the organ, or how in just one Sunday (without any pre-publicity) we raised enough money to cover the purchase of almost all the children’s picture books for our Sunday School classes.

And then there are the special offerings we receive each month. Like you, I pick and choose which of the special offerings will get my support; there are some that I am more passionate about than the others. Still, month after month, we as a community give hundreds of dollars in special giving.

On top of that, our Treasurer Beth Rasler reports that people are keeping up with their pledges to the General Fund, and giving from people who did not make a pledge is more than we budgeted. Pastor Brenda and I had every intention of writing a thank you note to each of you who made a pledge last fall to financially support the ministry of our congregation in 2017. Neither of us have gotten to our portion of the list because our church has such a big heart.

On Sunday morning, Pastor Brenda and I were sitting at a table together and we were asked who was preaching (this was June 18). We said that our church is so awesome, we don’t need to be there for worship to happen, and then we explained how we are moving forward on our Strategic Plan and the preaching was being done by five champions of potential new service projects to help us discern which are going to get the congregation’s focus this year. I think I made some crack about how our church is so caring that it was going to be difficult to make a decision. It turns out, that wasn’t a joke.

On Sunday morning, Pastor Brenda and I were sitting at a table together and we were asked who was preaching (this was June 18). We said that our church is so awesome, we don’t need to be there for worship to happen, and then we explained how we are moving forward on our Strategic Plan and the preaching was being done by five champions of potential new service projects to help us discern which are going to get the congregation’s focus this year. I think I made some crack about how our church is so caring that it was going to be difficult to make a decision. It turns out, that wasn’t a joke.

At the Cabinet meeting on June 19, we discussed the results of the post-worship planning meetings. The number of people at each meeting was pretty even. It wasn’t obvious that any one project just shouldn’t get our focus this year. So, in keeping with the timeline adopted when the Strategic Plan was chosen, we will be moving ahead with all five projects, although three of them need more development at this time. 

Jeffs Jottings

We are a generous, loving congregation that, following the example of Jesus, welcomes all people, grows in our relationship with God and each other, and serves our neighbors near and far. And that’s why it’s easy to brag about you.

Peace,
Pastor Jeff

P.S. It is time to put together a team to lead our pledge campaign this fall. If you would like to be part of it, please let me or Pastor Brenda know.

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