December 2020
THE JOY OF THE LORD IS MY STRENGTH
By Superintendent Amelia Cleveland-Traylor
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace
as you trust in him, so that you may overflow
with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
(Rom. 15:13)
The Bible teaches that the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were God’s chosen people here on earth. There are countless stories that demonstrate the love and favor that God graciously laid upon them. His presence led them through the desert by day and night. He supernaturally provided food for them, gave them victory over their enemies, and gave them land flowing with milk and honey. Others learned to respect the mighty hand of God in the lives of His people. Unfortunately, there are also many stories demonstrating the tendency of the Children of Israel to turn away from God in pursuit of idols and sin. Chapters are written with warning after warning that there would be suffer judgment for their unwillingness to turn away from sin and return to the ways of the Lord. The warnings were not heard so the Children of Israel spent seventy (70) years in exile to Babylon. The beloved city of Jerusalem was literally left in shambles after walls and homes were torn down and many structures burned. Only a small frail remnant of Israelites was left behind. Others were taken to foreign lands where they were stripped of their culture and security. Darkness overtook them and life was harsh. Thankfully, that was not the end of the story.

One day Nehemiah, the cup bearer to King Artaxerxes, received a report about the conditions of the beloved city of Jerusalem. It broke his heart to learn that the remnant that survived the exile were in “great trouble and disgrace.” Nehemiah spent a time in earnest prayer and fasting. He confessed the sins of himself and the people of Israel. He asked God to remember his promise to return his people from exile if they would obey his commands. He also asked the Lord to grant him favor with King Artaxerxes when he returned to his service. The king noticed Nehemiah’s downtrodden condition, listened to Nehemiah’s pleas to return to Jerusalem, and granted him favor and resources for his journey.

Ultimately, Nehemiah reaches Jerusalem and leads the people to rebuild the wall in just 52 days despite tremendous opposition. When the wall was completed, Nehemiah erected a platform on which Ezra (the priest) could stand to read the Book of the Law of Moses. A large assembly of the people stood before the platform and listened attentively as the Word of the Lord was read to them. Ezra led the people with praise to the Lord. This experience led the people to worship the Lord and brought them to tears as they remembered their sin, their suffering, and the goodness of the Lord to redeem them. Nehemiah, Ezra, and Levites said to the people
“This day is sacred to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep….
Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks and send some
to those who have nothing prepared.
This day is sacred to our Lord.
Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."
(Neh. 8:9-10)
We are currently in the middle of Advent. We will celebrate Christmas in less than two weeks. Most years, the holiday is approached with great anticipation of time spent with family and friends as we remember that God loved us so much that he sent his son Jesus to earth to redeem us. Many enjoy special services on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Many exchange gifts big and small in an effort to spread Christmas cheer. There may be as many traditions as there are families. We remember them well but may be experiencing a little dissonance towards these memories as we approach Christmas 2020.

Clearly, this has been a year like no other. How are things with your soul right now? Are you navigating the loss of a friend or family member? Are you experiencing economic struggles? Are you wrestling with anxiety or depression? Are you overcome by isolation and loneliness? Is there joy in your heart?

Will you take time to meditate upon these words in Psalms 16:8-11?

I have set the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore, my heart is glad, and my tongue rejoices.
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
You have made known to me the path of life.
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
NIV

Today it is more crucial than ever that we seek to dwell in the presence of the Lord. Fix your eyes upon Jesus. In His presence, we are filled joy. In His presence, we have hope. In His presence, we find peace. Seek the Lord with all of your heart and He will be found. Meditate upon His word and He will reveal Himself. He has shown us the way to life everlasting. If you do this, you will experience transformative worship and your heart will be filled with joy for the Lord has come.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.
Psalm 28:7

Indeed, the joy of the Lord is our strength.
Holiday blessings to you all!
THE NEIGHBORING CHALLENGE
We updated TRC's website with the resources for our

Neighboring Challenge

These resources are provided by the authors and include:
  • 3-Week Sermon Series
  • 6-Week Interactive Small Group Study
  • COVID-10 Neighboring Tool Kit
  • and more.

CLICK HERE TO VISIT THIS PAGE
The best time for neighboring is today. Everyone has the assignment...to go and make. I was talking to Patti, my wife, last night and she was telling me that she felt burdened for our new neighbor. She has been praying for her and had yet to meet Debbie. She said she had an assignment from God for this new person. Wait, how do we know her name you ask? Here is a piece of the thread text from Patti's phone last night..

Several texts later we learned much more. It is always appropriate to love people when the Holy Spirit leads. It is never appropriate to ignore the prompting to act on Christ's behalf.

I have more stories to tell you but I am asking you to email me yours. This is what we need to celebrate, and celebrate we will.

Please join us in welcoming Pastors Howie and Nicole Snyder who are now serving River Church in Lakewood, Colorado.

Howie and Nicole have been Elders with the Free Methodist Church since 2007 and are transferring from North Central Conference.

Howie brings a lot of experience with Worship and Youth Ministries where he developed training of volunteers for youth small group network, developed student leadership training course, designed and developed church’s Contemporary Worship Ministry, and
presented at Real World Parents.

Nicole is a compassionate Pastor, teacher, and speaker specializing in mindfulness leadership development, formative spirituality, Old Testament theology (Amos), and counseling. She has a diverse background in leadership, counseling, teaching and missionary work. Nicole has a Doctor of Ministry, an advanced certification in Formative Spiritual Counseling, as well as, a Licensed Professional Counselor, podcaster, and author.

We are very excited to have these phenomenal leaders join us in our mission to MULTIPY CHURCHES, MOBILIZE LEADERS, MEET HUMANITARIAN NEEDS, AND MAKE DISCIPLES.
Kent Replogle Retirement
Amazing Grace Community Church in Thornton, Colorado is celebrating Pastor Kent's retirement on December 31, 2020. Kent is the founding pastor and has lead this congregation for over 10 years. They will miss him dearly.

We send Kent and Tammy our best wishes for a peaceful and fruitful retirement. Thank you for all you have done for TRC, FMC, and the Kingdom.
RIVER INSTITUTE UPDATE
REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN

Vision
An organization devoted to equipping the leaders of TRC through educational offerings, training opportunities, and ordination coursework to the Glory of God.

Mission
  1. Educating Leaders through conference, resource materials, and coaching
  2. Equipping Leaders through specific trainings including church planting training, revitalization programs, and multiplication coaching.
  3. Empowering Leaders who desire ordination in the Free Methodist Church through providing essential courses, ministry assessments, and coaching. 

CLICK HERE TO VISIT THIS PAGE
YEAR-END GIVING DEADLINES
2020 is FINALLY almost over. It has been a challenging year to say the least. As this year draws to an end, we march forward with the business of doing church. Below is a memo from Mark Dowley who is the CFO of FMCUSA. Please make your treasurers, administrators, and congregations aware of these deadlines.

From Mark Dowley, FMC CFO

The cutoff dates for receiving donations for 2020 are described below.

For Individual donors, to be included as a 2020 gift the check must be dated in 2020 and postmarked no later than December 31, 2020. Online gifts must be made no later than December 31st, 2020.

Church checks for giving that qualifies as a deduction from income for the EPP calculation must be dated in 2020 and postmarked no later than January 8, 2020 to be counted as 2020 gifts. Online gifts must be made no later than December 31st, 2020.
TRC signed up to take advantage of Amazon.com's "give back" campaign. Amazon Smile is a program where you can designate a charity to receive a percentage of any purchase made on Amazon.com.

If you buy things off Amazon, please consider designating TRC as your charity. How to get started:
www.smile.amazon.com - find The River Conference of the Free Methodist Church, Lakewood, CO on the charity list, select it. Now every time you order something from Amazon, you must enter through the smile.amazon.com website, you'll see what charity you're supporting in red letters. Then start shopping. Amazon will automatically deposit donations into our checking account.

If you buy things off Amazon, please consider designating TRC as your charity.
Around the Conference
TRC COVID-19 State Resources
Below are the websites for all the states in The River Conference that have current information on COVID-19. Stay informed. These websites have the most current information for each state. Simply click on the state and it will take you to the corresponding website.
TRC DISTRICT LEADERS

ARIZONA
Ben Forsberg (Phoenix, Citizen's Church) ben@citizensofphoenix.org

BOISE
Ryan Stoops (Caldwell, Deer Flat Church) ryanstoops@deerflat.org

COLORADO/NEW MEXICO
Mark Douglas (Pueblo, Light & Life) pastor@pueblolightandlife.com

NORTH TEXAS
Ali Mitachi (Abilene, Portland Avenue) mitachilw@yahoo.com

SOUTH TEXAS
James Ford (Corpus Christi CPP) jesusandjames@yahoo.com

SPOKANE
James Leman (Spokane, First) james.leman@ffmwired.com
Upcoming Committee Meetings

TRC's office will be closed the week between
Christmas and New Years
December 28-31

Tuesday, January 5, 2021
MAC Monthly Video Conference

Thursday, January 7, 2021
MEG Monthly Video Conference

Tuesday, January 12, 2021
Finance Team Video Conference

Thursday, January 14, 2021
Property Team Monthly Video Conference

Thursday, January 21, 2021
Board of Directors Monthly Video Conference

Tuesday, January 26, 2021
District Leaders Video Conference

Find out what is happening around the Free Methodist Church. Click below to view the respective newsletters
The River Conference | theriverconference.org