A year with an abundance of mercy and goodness.

The Lord is my shepherd.  I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures.   He leads me beside still waters;  he restores my soul.  He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me.  Your rod and your staff – they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil and my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.  –Psalm 23

Greetings, All!  Here is a preview of the annual report!  The rest of the report, including the budget is available on the information counter at church!  Day by day, I thank God for all of you!

This year has seen the Holy Spirit bring an overflowing abundance of new life to Our Lord’s!  The grace of God’s mercy in recovering from the embezzlement has brought a refreshed way of being the body of Christ to our gatherings, and helped us to see how the Holy Spirit truly works all things to the good.  Christ has been our way when we did not see which way we were going at all!

One of the great blessings the Holy Spirit has brought to us is Christ International Fellowship, our newest mission partner.  As they utilize our space on Sunday afternoons and Wednesday evenings, we have brought a grace to them to have a place to call home for their community faith life.  This blessing of a space where they are comfortable to worship, to pray, and to have their community gatherings, is something we take for granted.  For them, it is a new and wonderful grace.  They have blessed us by bringing a new level of awareness of the blessings of our building, some relationships have started to form, they have improved our building with the addition of projectors, and they have given us new ways to see God working in the world!   It is truly and amazing and unexpected partnership which the Holy Spirit worked for us!

Another great blessing has been our new secretary, Joan Richardson!  She has been here for just over a year, and has brought a grace and stability to the church office which had been missing since Diane retried.  Through her presence, God has brought wonderful gifts of support and communication to all of the other ministries of the congregation.  As we give thanks for her as a congregation, don’t forget to thank her for her ministry in person.   In one short year we have become so accustomed to things going well that it seems like she has been our secretary for much longer!

The past five months have also brought an unexpected grace in a yoga class, which consistently drew visitors into the congregation.  Although the visitors who came each week haven’t become part of the worshiping community, they have been blessed, and they now know there is an open door to grace within this space.  When I decided to use my continuing education to earn my yoga teacher certification, I was focusing on learning new way to engage adult learners with experiential learning and whole body experiences.  I was also focusing on learning to engage a completely different culture in order to more effectively share the good news.   I didn’t intend on actually teaching yoga at all, but the Holy Spirit led people to ask, and so I did.  It has been a blessing to the congregation in surprising ways.

As the yoga group looked to wind down for the summer months, the Holy Spirit brought us another abundant mercy.  We decided to have Rooftop Tuesdays, a time where we gather for beverages and God-talk at various roof-top restaurants throughout the city.  This is a time where some of the visitors can interact even more with the members, and everybody can bring their faith filled conversations!  This also gives us more visibility in the community, so that people can know we are a place where God brings abundant mercy.  See the newsletter for more information, and please join us, starting on June 6!

This year has also brought a larger confirmation class to the congregation.  Although it is only three, those three are very faithful youth, who are engaged in profound ways to learn what it means to live in faith no matter where they are at.   This summer they are attending camp at Tomah Shinga in Junction City, KS.  While they are there, they will build relationships with other confirmation students, learn from new voices, and see how their voices bless all the people around them!  The Holy Spirit is working in this group to build up people who are already changing the world through their gifts, and will continue to live Spirit guided lives as grow in faith.

In addition to all of the new abundance God has brought, the Holy Spirit has also moved to build up the awesome gifts of our current ministries.   These have their own reports, but they need to be mentioned as a whole in this report, because the Holy Spirit is continuing to provide and abundance of grace through these ministries.  People are profoundly generous with each other for the sake of God’s love for the world – both in building each other up, and in allowing the Holy Spirit to use them to be a way for God’s love to come to people who cannot see a way out of their situations.  We all give thanks and praise to God for this overflowing abundance of ministry and sharing the good news of Christ!

This year has also seen the virtually inevitable membership shifts which occur when in the year after a crisis and the re-grouping which happens.  When the Holy Spirit brings new life, a few people will need to hear the gospel in a different way, and we bless them on their faith journey as they offer their gifts to serve the world through different faith communities.  And, we have lived with the quite predictable dip in offerings which happens when people feel the return to safety and peace.  Yet, we have been given other income to offset this, and actually ended the year with a hefty cushion in our account!  It is such a blessing to see how God provides!  The coming year will give us a chance to allow the Holy Spirit to breathe in us, energizing our membership, involvement, and financial commitment with the ever expected abundance of grace which comes whenever the Holy Spirit moves!

May we all have vision to see how the goodness and mercy of God overflows in our lives and in our congregation in the coming year.

Rev. Amanda Esping