Being asked to write a report about the ministry of our church this year has given me an opportunity to pause, reflect, and give thanks for all the ways that the Holy Spirit has moved among the people of South Lyon First UMC. All that we do is to be based on our mission statement to be Christ Focused - Spirit Filled - Mission Driven. We started this year out after experiencing a wonderful Advent and Christmas season. It created a Holy momentum as we entered 2022. It is refreshing to see God’s people coming into the building, reconnecting with worship, study, mission, and fellowship as we moved through the last two years of living in a pandemic.
We started out the year offering one service in person as well as streaming on our YouTube channel. During the summer we continued with one service but offered one service outdoors each month. Our congregation especially enjoyed a special Blessing of the Animals service. Our music department offers wonderful music in both traditional and modern genres. Drama’s were offered as well as dramatized scripture readings.
This fall we were finally offered two services again. They are identical services offered at 8:30 am and 11:00 am. We are building up and training new hospitality teams to support two services and refreshments. We will continue to elevate our live streaming ministry during the 11:00 am service. The Worship Design Team crafts meaningful worship themes for worship to help us stay focused on Christ, connect with God, to give thanks for our blessings, and to allow scripture to be shared in ways that touch our lives.
Sunday School for all ages continues to be a priority. In-person Sunday school options are offered for children and youth. This fall we are offering 4 different adult classes on Sunday mornings and one is offered hybrid. During the week there are different prayer groups, Bible studies, and book study options offered during the day and night times.
Ministry Shares are important for South Lyon First UMC. There is a long history of 100% giving, but that dipped a few years ago. Our Finance Team and Church Council have worked hard to increase our giving by 10% each year as a goal to getting back to 100%. Our mission team continues to lead us well. They create hands-on opportunities throughout the year. Each month there is a learning and giving focus on different missions local or abroad. We continue a strong relationship with John Dean Towne in Liberia with our sponsorship of education opportunities for children and a few High School students.
Our local partnerships in South Lyon are strong with Capernaum Health Clinic and Active Faith. Our relationship with Cass Community Social Services continues to expand with the sending of our youth on a Mission Experience there this year as well as listening to nudges from the Holy Spirit to start thinking about being part of a Tiny House. South Lyon First sent three mission teams to the UP to work alongside God’s Community Cooperative Parrish; we have sent teams for over 20 years. We just announced that in 2023 we will be offering a long weekend Family/Intergenerational Mission Trip to GCCP!!!! Every other year we have a Mission Auction to help raise money for our second mile mission support that has been part of our ministries for years. This year they created an EPIC event, and our congregation generously donated just over $25,000. This church truly is Mission Driven.
Our Generosity Team, Finance Team and Church Council took a huge leap of faith by naming that we need to evaluate and work on our patterns of giving. We entered into a relationship with Horizons Stewardship and were assigned a consultant. She identified key areas for us to take to the next level so that we can begin to elevate our Generosity culture. The Generosity Team is growing, learning, and leading us through this process.
South Lyon First UMC continues to re-engage with membership post pandemic while welcoming our guests. We are living out our Welcoming Statement "We welcome, embrace, and celebrate that all persons are created in God’s image. As a church we honor and worship God, while ministering to and cherishing all ages, races, ethnicities, socioeconomic situations, marital statuses, gender identities, sexual orientations, abilities, and religious backgrounds or any other label placed upon people. We are united through Jesus Christ. We aspire to be a place where all people, through the transforming power of God in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, come together - to care, to pray, and to love God and each other unconditionally." This Sunday we will welcome 8 new members into our church family.
The Holy Spirit continues to move, nudge, and encourage us towards the future. This is a United Methodist Church, even though we do not fully understand what that will look like in the years to come as our denomination grows and changes. I believe this church has in the past and will in the future be a place for people to worship, serve, and grow together even if we think differently from our brothers and sisters in the pew. South Lyon First UMC continues to navigate through the joys and difficult moments that life sends our way. This takes hard work and can be uncomfortable at times, but we are trusting in God all along the way.
Love and Peace in Christ, Rev. Mary
(Honored and humbled to be the pastor of South Lyon First UMC)