Hello New Hope Family!
I trust the transition from school year to summer is well under way and that you are enjoying some of the great weather we have been having. As you wind your way through the next few weeks into full summer mode, I wanted to touch base and bring you into the loop on a couple of important items in the life of New Hope. I’ll warn you this is long (think newsletter), but A LOT of good stuff has happened!
New Hope Leadership Transitions
After many months of planning, praying and seeking the Lord’s direction for the leadership of New Hope, we received the official appointment at Annual Conference last week (May 30) that positions me as your new Lead Pastor. I am truly excited, but as most you know, I don’t come into this lightly, or without a great sense of calling and responsibility. I believe that the Lord has lead us as a church family on a journey of discovery to this point and I am honored to be stepping into this new role. New Hope is a great church to which I have now been committed for 10 years. I could not have imagined when our family planted ourselves here in May of 2004 that 10 years would go by so quickly, and ultimately culminate in this opportunity. I remain humbled by the process I’ve been through to get here, and I look forward to continuing our journey together.
I suspect that many of you will not notice much change (at least immediately), and that is how Pastors Mike and Amelia, I and the Administrative Council (AC) have largely planned it. For those of you that don’t know, I actually started part-time in May getting more involved in the Administrative duties and chairing the AC. Pastor Mike was already part time and remains that way through the end of June complementing my administrative role with his continued oversight and responsibility for the ministry oriented duties that were already in motion (e.g. Preaching and organizing the preaching schedule, leadership of other pastors, etc.). This transition plan has allowed us to proceed gradually and share responsibilities while I close out work at my current job and he ramps up at his new job. I want to assure you that Pastor Mike will remain involved and active in a variety of new and some existing roles as we move forward including preaching, teaching, leading behind the scenes and supporting the pastoral team. We are blessed to have he and Amelia continue with us, and they are committed to New Hope though both are looking forward to this new chapter in their ministry lives together.
Officially, my last day at CGR (my current employer) will be June 27. I will assume full-time status with New Hope as of July 1 while Pastor Mike will transition to fully volunteer status as of the same time. Pastor Amelia transitioned to a fully volunteer role in May but continues to be very active in pastoral care, worship and occasional preaching. Pastor Dave remains in a volunteer role, but will have some more time to devote to the life of the church with his recent accomplishments. Please congratulate Pastor Dave who completed Northeastern Seminary in May and was promptly ordained by the Conference. We now have three elders appointed to our church (Mike, Amelia, and Dave) which is a tremendous blessing.
Pastor Heritage remains part-time (paid about 18 time) and will continue in his paid role at least through the end of the year utilizing designated funds that have been given to support our African Church ministry. We’d like to do more for the salary we provide to Heritage (and Monique) and while we have been blessed with some Genesis Conference churches that have given donations directly for our African ministry, our overall budget does not allow us a lot of flexibility to do more. I would certainly ask for your prayers and generosity toward making provision for an expanded paid role for Heritage in the near future. He has many dreams, plans and gifts that will be best expressed in the context of full-time ministry and somehow we need to help that become a reality.
Pastor Karen remains in a voluntary role and will continue to shepherd the women’s ministry. She will oversee a team of women who are dedicated to enriching the lives of women both in our church and in our community. You will also hear her preach from time to time and many of you know her heart for prayer which will continue to be a source of great strength as we move forward.
For those who may not know, we also have two local ministerial candidates. Jake Baxter and Amanda Stiner are in the process of pursuing God’s call on their lives to serve the church in vocational ministry roles. Not only will you hear from them this summer as they preach on a couple of occasions, but I fully expect they will continue to become more involved in the service of the church as we identify more opportunities for them. Of course, Jake will continue to serve in worship as well and coach a phenomenal softball team this summer.
Leadership in the Broader Church
At Annual Conference last week we were privileged to have FIVE New Hopers selected to serve the broader Free Methodist Church in various leadership capacities. Pastor Amelia will continue to serve the church on the Genesis Conference Board of Administration (clergy appointment). Katrina Wilkins will continue to serve in her “lay” role as part of the local area 3 Ministerial Education and Guidance (MEG) Board (4 areas altogether) and on the full Conference MEG (as a rep from Area 3). Pastor Mike has been asked to participate in an Urban Ministry Task Force in preparation for General Conference in 2015.
All three of them (Mike, Amelia, Katrina) were also selected along with Keri Barnett and Eric Logan to serve as delegates of the Genesis Conference to the General Conference of the FMC in 2015. Mike is an alternate, but will be heavily involved in all the activities of all the delegates none-the-less. The presence of New Hopers in these positions of influence and authority with the broader church is a testament to their character and the respect that FMC leadership has for New Hope and these individuals. It is a special honor that comes with some added responsibility. They could use our prayers. Also, for anyone that wants to know more about General Conference you can go to this link http://fmcusa.org/gc15/ and learn more. It is scheduled for next summer (July 13-16, 2015) and we will be talking more about it in the future.
Missionaries of New Hope
At our most recent AC meeting (June 4), we made some important decisions that you will want to be aware of. We approved three new church members to be considered as “missionaries” of New Hope. I assure we don’t take the term lightly. All of us, in one sense, are called to be missionaries on a daily basis. We do, however, recognize when certain individuals have a unique calling on their lives and are being sent from us to serve in places that many of us would not necessarily go. Usually that involves serving from a distance and not being able to be in regular attendance at New Hope. It also occasionally involves some need for extra support through prayer and donations to help make their ministry successful.
The three new missionaries are Angel Sackett, Ivanna and Ruben Figueroa. Angel has been transferred in her work to serve in a maximum security prison further away from Rochester. She has been doing similar work for a couple of years now and considers it her calling and ministry to shine a light in what is otherwise a very dark place. We’d like to encourage her with prayer, and support her with friendship and fellowship whenever we can. She has not asked for monetary support as she is working full-time. But as she enters into some dark territory with some strongholds and spiritual forces that will be fighting against her, we need to uphold her in prayer. Please also consider sending her a card, email, phone call or something else occasionally. We’ll make her new address available once she has found her place and settled in. Ivanna and Ruben will be leaving in August of this year to sail on Mercy Ships for the better part of the next year. As most of you know, this is a wonderful complement of their gifts and calling with an RN and a former member of the Coast Guard offering to minister in some difficult places around the world through Mercy Ships. I’m sure they would love to tell you and all of us more, and we decided as an AC to proactively make an official endorsement of their ministry to support them in whatever way we can. Whether it be financial, prayer or other resources, I trust you will all embrace the opportunity to help prepare them for service in God’s greater Kingdom.
Our current missionaries must not be overlooked or forgotten. We do a pretty good job of keeping up with all of them, but I encourage you to remember the sacrifice of Jake and Chrissy Baxter (Chrissy is due on 6/20 with #3), Mabel Hope (soon to be married on 6/28), Michelle Ford (traveling the world) and Elizabeth Primus (GoClean). Of immediate concern is the desire and opportunity for Elizabeth to go back to Rwanda to continue her ministry through GoClean. Please consider ways that you can support her and be sure to learn more about what she does. She has made a tremendous impact! You can learn more by visiting http://www.newhopefree.org/#/serving-others/mission-rwanda.
It might matter to only a few of you, but I thought I would start with being fully transparent about my status with you. My credentials with the Genesis Conference are actually as a Conference Ministerial Candidate. I have about 17 more credits and some time to serve before I can be considered for ordination. As an appointed Lead Pastor, there are no restrictions placed on me for fulfilling the roles and responsibilities of leading the church as a CMC. With my new full-time status, I intend to put a full court press on finishing those remaining credits and working towards ordination within the next year if possible. Pastors Heritage and Karen also are in the same ministerial candidacy status as CMC’s with me. We will keep you updated as each of us draws close to completion of our credits and ordination eligibility.
Key Dates for Planning
For planning purposes, we want you to be aware of a few key dates. Some of you will be excited to know that Pastor Linda Adams will be joining us in morning worship on June 29. She will be in town for Mabel and Andre’s wedding and will be speaking to the congregation on Sunday morning. I mention it also to prepare your heart for the possibility of sponsoring a child through ICCM (International Child Care Ministries). If you have ever considered it, and the Lord is preparing you for such a commitment, please plan to talk to Linda on June 29. She will have children that can be sponsored and we would certainly encourage you to consider being part of that special ministry.
My family has been planning an extended vacation coupled with Nationals for the bible quizzers. On June 28 (right after the wedding), our family and the bible quizzers (along with Tanya Perkins and Bob Wilkins) will be heading to Nationals in Greenville, IL. I have much I could say about our quizzers, but I’ll spare you that for now (maybe Sunday). Suffice it to say, we are well positioned for a great national tournament this year. From there, our family will be continuing westward for a trip through the Black Hills of South Dakota and ultimately into Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. We won’t return until July 18. It has been in the works for a while and the AC has graciously allowed us to carry out our plans. In part, it is a family celebration for Kaela who will be graduating this Saturday. In my absence, Katrina and the pastoral team will be available and will handle matters as they arise.
I would also like to acknowledge our graduating seniors this year. Monica and Bob Hope and Kaela Sittig will all be moving on from high school as of this month. If you see any of them over the next couple of weeks, please congratulate them, ask them what they are doing, and remind them of the love and support they have at New Hope from their church family. Many of you know the challenges they will be facing as they launch into young adulthood and college and knowing they have a firm church foundation will be crucial to them as they move forward.
There are many more things I could share with you, and I plan to do that more in the near future. Though we are winding down on some activities for the summer, we are excited to also be planning for the fall and beyond. You will notice some changes around the building start to happen over the next few months. We also have some fun things planned for the summer including some outdoor worship ideas. We will share more as some of these ideas become reality. I know this is long (it could be longer), but I hope that it helps bring everyone up to speed on the transitions in the life of the church. We have prayed and fasted and sought God’s presence and direction and it has all lead us to this point. He is with us, He has been faithful and we will only move forward with Him as our guide. I want to thank the spirit-filled leadership of Mike and Amelia, our AC, the pastoral team and the dozens of committed volunteers that support our ministries. Because of all of you we are a very healthy body of believers. I pray that we will grow in love for each other, depth of knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and that you all continue to find ways to serve both in and out of the church as you work out your salvation with fear and trembling. I’m looking forward to continuing the journey together!
Traveling with you!