Lent Update from the Executive Pastor
As we head into March, with two months of 2017 under our belts, I thought you would appreciate an update on how our ministry and mission is tracking thus far.
Our Prayer School with Brian Zahnd was a tremendous success with participants, both clergy and lay people, joining us from all over Virginia. In January we had 3 baptisms and 7 new members joined the church. We anticipate that in 2017 we will break Aldersgate’s previous new member record. We have trained a 11 new volunteers for the CHEER Team. Karla’s new creativity class kicked-off with over 20 participants, and our very own Journeys Band (aka Seven Mile Walk) released their album “He Knows Me.” Meanwhile, Aldersgate member, Juanita Csontos, Chair of the Cambodia Mission Initiative for the Virginia Conference, served on mission in Cambodia this winter.
Staff Parish Relations Committee welcomed Dawn Hower, who was previously a contract employee, on staff as our Bookkeeper. In addition, SPRC has formed a search committee to assess the needs of our youth program, survey youth and parents, and conduct a search for a new youth director.
Looking ahead, during Lent we will invite you to continue our mission partnership with Highland Support Project by giving to our Lenten Collection. Look for the AIM HIGH envelopes in the pew racks or, to give online, click here. Under the Select a Fund drop-down menu, choose Lent Offering 2017. The money you give will go towards our projects in Guatemala and on the White Mountain Apache Reservation.
After Easter, we will offer another Church Wide Service Day on Sunday, April 23, with a single worship service offered at 10:00 a.m. At that service our special guest preacher will be Rev. Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest, chaplain at Vanderbilt University, and CEO of Thistle Farms, which trains and transitions women who have been victims of sex trafficking into gainful employment. Becca Stevens was recently named among CNN’s Top Ten Heroes and is the author of Snake Oil, The Way of Tea and Justice, Letters from the Farm, and other books.
Financially, in January and February we received $215,279 in contributions. This is 98% of the amount we had received during the same period in 2016 and in line with the average of the last 5 years. However, because of increased expenses thus far in 2017 we’re -$96,279 for the year compared -$19,796 last year. With your lay leaders, we will be watching this trend closely through the remainder of the first quarter.
Speaking of trends, I thought I would share the image below. Pictures tell better stories. You will see how remarkably consistent and stable Aldersgate has been over the last 10 years both in worship attendance and in giving. Indeed giving has increased in recent years. Attendance has shifted in those years. Where 11:15 was our largest service when I arrived at Aldersgate, by now the 9:45 is easily our largest service. Attendance trends have shifted too. Fewer people attend every Sunday now than they did 10 years ago; thus, while the overall attendance number has remained stable more people overall are attending worship in a given month.
This picture, then, shows how positive and healthy Aldersgate’s ministry is.
Keep it that way!