Finding Hope for the Church

A Message from the Moderator

“God doesn’t want us to be shy with God’s gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.” (II Timothy 1:7, The Message)

This is the time of year when organizations talk a lot about commitment and stewardship for the next year. We at the Southeast Conference are no different. At our 2018 Annual Meeting in June we changed our fiscal year to run from October 1 through September 30. This change affords the Conference Board and staff the opportunity to provide more effective oversight of finances, ensuring better stewardship of the resources with which we are entrusted.

Often leaders in a spiritual capacities are too reticent to talk openly about commitment and stewardship because the tools to do so were learned in a command and control environment rather than one from a position of love, appreciation and trust. At Covenant Community Church (where I serve) I recently heard one of the best Stewardship appeals, ever! The person speaking said nothing about bills, salaries and expenses. Rather, she emphasized the great plans we have for 2019, the hope fulfilling those plans will offer to others and the ways our stewardship will make a difference in the lives of others in 2019. That day we received as many commitment cards as the previous two weeks combined.

Your SEC Board has great plans for 2019! For instance, two of the ideas coming from our recent Board Orientation Retreat are (1) we developed a plan for our board members to have on-going relationships with the communities of faith within our Conference, and (2) we’re working on strategies to promote “connect-ability” among congregations on the eastern side of the Conference.

Your help is needed. Therefore, we appeal to our Southeast Conference congregations to share in the stewardship of your resources to help make fiscal year 2019 a year of renewed hope for our Southeast Conference. Remember, “God doesn’t want us to be shy with God’s gifts but bold and loving and sensible” in “Transforming Churches and Transforming Lives.”

Rev. J R Finney II

Finding Hope for the Church

A message from one of our Consulting Conference Ministers

I recently asked a colleague, ‘where do you find hope for the church these days?’ Having asked it, I found myself pondering my own answer. You see, I witness plenty of brokenness in the church, plenty of dysfunction, plenty of despair over falling attendance and unmet budgets. I still have hope for the church! And I know you do, too. And that also gives me hope.

My primary source though, for the living of these days is not a finance workshop or a seminar on growing the church. It is not another deep dive into systems theory or a therapy session where I can release my pain into some ethereal space. All of these things are good; don’t get me wrong. But we are the church, and our hope is born of a source more central to who’s we claim to be. That’s where the words of the old hymn come reverberating into my spirit once again:

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

Friends, with Jesus as our first hope, let’s use all the other tools at our disposal to build the beloved community he envisioned when first he called upon twelve to follow him. For we do not grieve as do others who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13) Indeed, we rejoice in the new thing God is doing in our midst. Your consulting Conference Ministers are humbled to stand with you for a short time as we await the rebirth that God has promised and is working even now, in Jesus’ name.

Be at peace, and be in touch, won’t you.

John Vertigan
Conference Minister
South Central, UCC