From Our Pastor

Lenten Studies

Posted 9 March, 2017 by Pastor Keith Ritchie

As we worship this week, we listen in on another conversation found in the gospel of John. This week, the conversation is between Jesus and a Samaritan woman who has come to draw water from a well (John 4:7-39). This is the longest conversation between Jesus and any person in any of the four gospels. This encounter between Jesus and the woman at the well is captured well by Betty Shropshire in the Lenten devotional we have produced for this season. If you have not yet received one of these wonderful devotionals, be sure to do so this Sunday.

Along with use of the Lenten devotional, I encourage you to take part in other practices of faith this season. "Creed," the study of The Apostles' Creed, takes place each Tuesday at noon and at 6:30pm. The church sanctuary is open to all for prayer each Wednesday from 12:00-1:00pm. The worship experience known as "Closer," takes place in the Uptown Ministry Center each Thursday from 7:00-8:00pm. This service begins with scripture, then offers opportunities for prayer, meditation, and reflecting on the word of God. This service provides opportunity to enjoy God's presence in quiet reflection, including some much needed renewal and refreshment for all. I look forward to taking part in this service tomorrow night and hope you will do the same.

This past Monday night, many of us in the church met in the fellowship hall for conversation about how we can faithfully respond to financial challenges before First UMC. This meeting was initiated by the Finance and Stewardship Committees. Looking at a trend of expenses surpassing revenues over the past several years - and a projected budget shortfall of $100,000 this year - we wanted to have conversation and begin to craft a plan to operate within a balanced budget in the next 2-3 years.

As this meeting concluded, three work areas were identified to help us arrive at this balanced budget: increasing revenue, cost containment, and communication. Those of us present were asked to volunteer to serve in one or more of these work areas.

Yes, we had a strong Stewardship Campaign in 2016. Still, we see a trend over the past few years in which we have spent more than we have received. As such a practice would be of concern in any of our homes, so it is of concern at church.

The leadership of Finance and Stewardship wisely initiated this meeting; there likely will be more. We are blessed with great and committed leadership at First Church. It was evident at this meeting there are also great and committed members of this church. We are also aware of the many lives touched by the ministries provided by all within this church. It is my hope you are aware of and excited about these ministries. It is my hope you share with others about the ministries of First Church. I hope, as well, you invest in these ministries with your gifts so as to serve God and bless others by your gifts.