July 21, 2020
Dear Church Family,
What a year 2020 has been so far! We have faced so many new and difficult things this year, and I am grateful for your support of your church and the ways you are staying engaged with your faith. This is not an easy time. We are asking many questions right now: when will it be safe to open our building again and re-gather for worship, serving opportunities, and spiritual growth? Will it be safe for us as individuals and families to come back together when the building can re-open? When will COVID-19 be under control? When will the world get “back to normal?”
I remain certain of one thing: God’s love for us in Jesus Christ is deeper than we can imagine, and we will make it through this difficult time together, trusting in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Regardless of your age, stage of life, household make-up, or how long you’ve been a part of Embry Hills UMC, you matter, and you are loved. We will make it through together.
The Committee on Finance is keeping a close watch on our income and expenses, doing their best to make sure we keep our financial position as strong as possible. There are some important things to note:
· Giving for the first 5 months of 2020 was the strongest it has been in five years. That is significant, and THANK YOU for giving above and beyond in the second quarter of the year as sheltering-in-place began to significantly change our ministry.
· Our year-to-date expenses are significantly lower than we expected. This is due mostly to the closure of our building but also to careful and creative planning on the part of our staff. Example: we offered Vacation Bible School and 2 opportunities to serve our local community in June with little to no cost to the church. Thanks to all who participated, and thanks to our staff who made it happen!
· On-line giving has increased. This helps us tremendously because it guarantees support of the church when it is not possible to give in the offering plate on Sunday morning.
We have experienced a downward trend in giving into the summer, however. This is typical for summer months: people go away on vacation and aren’t physically present to put their offering in the plate. When you add in the challenge of not having an offering plate to pass this summer and the lack of any rental income from outside groups using our space, the trend is more concerning. So, we want to ask you to consider a few options for getting our income levels back up so we can sustain the ministries of the church:
1. If you are not already doing so, please consider setting up a recurring gift to the church. This can be done through your bank account or through the online giving tool on our church website/database. If you need help getting this set up, please contact Lori Cora: firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-337-3646.
2. If you give by check, and you are not comfortable mailing your check to the church, please consider driving by during “Office Hours” to give your check to a staff member. We have set up these times to be able to see you and talk or pray with you, but we can also receive your checks there if you are more comfortable putting them into the hands of a staff member.
We all miss being in worship and Sunday school and other groups together. We are all missing the deep connection we feel to God through being together, and we are missing the connection we make with our giving because we were used to doing it in connection with in-person worship. We know that on-line worship, as good as it is thanks to our talented staff, is not the same as being together. Yet, we find ourselves in new circumstances, and we are working hard to adapt and find ways to stay connected with each other and engaged in the life of the church, even from a physical distance.
I have faith in God to guide and support us through this difficult time. The Gospel of Jesus Christ promises us that there is no dark place and no hard time that we can experience which Jesus hasn’t already experienced and already overcome. Together, we will get through this hard time. Together, we will get our church through this hard time. And I believe we will be even stronger as we come out on the other side of this national crisis.
Please let me know how I and the church can serve you during this hard time. It’s what we are all here for — to welcome, nurture, serve, and grow together. Thank you for being so faithful.