Happy New Year! By now you have most likely heard and used that phrase way too much! But why not, don’t we all hope for more happiness in the new year? In that respect, we cannot possibly wish each other a happy new year enough. My guess is that the new year will hold a good amount of happiness and that it will also bring a fair amount of challenges as well. This is simply the nature of life that happiness and hope run concurrently with struggle and challenge. So as we begin the new year we do so with eyes wide open, full of optimism but also aware that not every one of the days ahead will be easy. Regardless of whether we find ourselves doing well or working hard to keep our heads above water, we can be assured that God is most certainly the God of all that lies in our future. God goes with us through our greatest joys and our deepest sorrows, what matters most is that God is always along on the journey.
As we journey together as a congregation through 2019, we will go through blessed times and we will go through challenging times. We have so much to be thankful for as a congregation, for example, we once again exceeded our budget askings in 2018. We needed $1,183,884 and we received $1,211,364. In addition to these resources we also received special designated gifts to Helping Hands, UMCOR, and capital needs well in excess of $100,000. We are a blessed congregation and your generous gifts underwrite the ministries of the church that directly benefit our community for the sake of Jesus Christ. Thank you all for your faithfulness and for the blessings you help share and there are more blessings ahead for 2019.
There are also challenges. Principally the largest challenge on the horizon for us is our denominational identity as a United Methodist Church. On February 23-26, General Conference Delegates will meet in St. Louis to set a denominational policy regarding ministry to the LGBTQ community (specifically around the issue of same-sex unions and the ordination of practicing homosexual persons). Currently, UMC polity prohibits same-sex marriage and the ordination of self-avowed practicing homosexuals. The debate centers on whether these restrictions should continue or not. As you can imagine there is quite a bit of division and deeply divided opinion on the subject.
This Sunday I will be preaching on this subject and this upcoming challenge. I will be sharing what I have learned from the people of DUMC over the last two and half years as you all have been sharing your opinions with me, and I will share my thoughts with you. Most importantly, we will seek together the guidance of Christ and the leading of God’s Word as given to us in the Bible. Yes, this is a challenge, but don’t forget that God is with us on this journey, and a steadfast faithfulness to what God wants will always result in blessing, even if we must go through a challenge to get there.
Hope to see you Sunday as we start the New Year together.
Blessings for 2019,