Grace United Methodist Church
Thursday, January 23, 2020
Reaching people with the love and teachings of Jesus Christ

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Hello Friends!
As 2019 comes to a close, I would like to recap some Ministry Team highlights from this past year. We’ve had significant construction projects here at Grace. It first began by moving the pastor’s office next to the main office. We made the move so the nursery could be in a space with a bathroom and a  partition between crawling infants and energetic walkers. The old nursery is being converting into a space for the youth  ministry. Finally, the youth building across the parking lot is the new home for South Lansing Ministries. I can’t begin to count the number of volunteer hours that went into such an extensive project. I do know our Trustees deserve recognition because this was not a simple endeavor. Most importantly, these moves weren’t made because we felt like remodeling, we did it to address the ever shifting needs of the ministry.  We’ve had a number of new staff members here at Grace, which I highlighted several issues ago. The process of interviewing, hiring, and on-boarding requires significant time and attention to detail. The SPRC (Staff Parish Relations  Committee) works tirelessly to evaluate and support our staff, including myself. I’m thankful to work with such a great team and group of colleagues. Last year our Mission Team decided to organize four  community fundraiser meals: chili dinner, pancake supper, taco dinner, and spaghetti dinner. (Which begs the questions, why isn’t it called pancake dinner? Maybe supper sounds  better.) Each of these meals were served by members of the team and church volunteers to raise money for mission trips, youth conferences, and supporting local ministries. The team also worked to host the Alternative Holiday Gift Fair in the Fall, and it was one of the largest yet.
 This past Summer the Worship Team, in concert with our Administrative Council, decided to have a joint worship series. None of us knew how that would turn out. Overall it was a positive experience for the congregation. There was so much new interaction, shared prayers, and energy during worship; it served as a powerful reminder that, although we have two services, we are indeed one church. This was just one  example of the continual work the Worship Team does to evaluate what has been done, how we can make necessary adjustments, and what new creative things we can do facilitate meaningful worship.  The Education Team has the never-ending responsibility of working to recruit, resource, create, and organize programming for our church members from nursery age to the oldest.  This past Fall the team  organized a Mid-week study using the book “Dialogues on Sexuality.” Regardless of where people stood on the issues of human sexuality, this was an important faith-based information series that our church  needed. I’m incredibly thankful that we have a church that is openminded and unafraid to tackle difficult subjects with such love and  respect. This is not something I take for granted and neither should  anyone in this church. We also completed another winter vacation  bible school. I want to recognize that this was Bailey’s, our Children’s and Youth Coordinator, first time organizing a VBS and she even wrote the curriculum herself! Now if any of my clergy colleagues heard me say that I enjoy our  Finance Team meetings, they would think I’m crazy; but I do! This is an incredible group of women and men who faithfully manage the monies of the church. This requires incredible attention to detail,  organization, and faith that our God will continue to provide for all our members and the church. Mostly, I enjoy Finance Team because they do all of the above with humor and grace. 
Lastly I want to recognize a team of one, our Lay Leader Carol  Simmons. Not only was she our lay delegate to Annual Conference but she has attended the majority of team meetings mentioned above,  offering wisdom and insight. Carol also served as the board president of South Lansing Ministries this year and has been an important  liaison in connecting SLM with Grace over the years.  I would be remiss to say those serving on ministry teams are the only ones serving the church. Sometimes the most faithful are the least  recognized. Jesus says, “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their  reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. I feel so much gratitude and feel humbled to serve alongside everyone at Grace United Methodist Church; you all inspire and push me to work harder and be more faithful as your pastor. As we move into the new year, I’m excited for what’s ahead.
Grace and peace, Pastor Paul