Dear Members & Friends of St. Matthew,
2020 promises to be a very momentous year for our church. St. Matthew will celebrate its 65th birthday at Easter next year. By that time, your new Building Committee may have developed their plans to the point where we could be voting to approve them as a congregation. This could mean we begin construction work by – just a guess at this point – January, 2021.
Even more significantly, your leadership has concluded – over many months of deliberation – that revitalizing the shape of our whole ministry in an “outreach” model is just as important as addressing our building needs. We have therefore asked the Conference to be considered for the appointment of an “Outreach” Pastor in 2020 to lead us in this effort at revitalization. We are also applying to the Conference Office of Congregational Development for special grant funds reserved for congregations who demonstrate the potential to make high-impact use of such funds in their community. If received, these funds can help us significantly in being able to afford an additional staff person. Your leadership is committed, and – I believe – our new District Superintendent is committed, to work to ensure that only someone who is genuinely the “right” fit for our needs would be considered for this position.
“Take a deep breath” of the Holy Spirit (John 20:22), and invite God by the Holy Spirit to translate your “sighs too deep for words” into prayers (Rom 8:26-27)
Also ahead for us in 2020, suddenly re-emerging this with a news release this past Friday, is the fiercely divisive issue of the full inclusion of non-heterosexual persons in the life of our denomination. The news release concerned a Plan of Separation drawn up a 16-member working group which they intend to present as legislation to the next meeting of the General Conference of our Church, May 5-15 in Minneapolis. Our bishop issued a statement over the weekend about this, and for the moment the best I can do as your pastor is refer you to his statement. I am thinking that when I and your leadership have had the opportunity to read and digest this group’s proposal we will want to organize one or more special meetings to attempt to have some conversation on this issue which will hopefully prove helpful to all. Until then, or until May’s meeting, or until any decisions taken by the General Conference are finalized, my best counsel to you, wherever you are on this issue, is to “take a deep breath” of the Holy Spirit (John 20:22), and invite God by the Holy Spirit to translate your “sighs too deep for words” into prayers (Rom 8:26-27).
All this is to say that, in the New Year, we will be making decisions and taking actions which will likely shape the life and ministry of St. Matthew for generations to come.
Randy Smith, Pastor