Recently, Kathy and I participated in an in-depth ministry audit of another congregation in our synod. One of the most telling questions was, "What would be lost if this congregation ceased to exist?" A large cadre of members from within the congregation and an equally large number of community leaders from outside the church paused and reflected. As we listened to one heartfelt response after another, we observed that no one (including the pastors) fully grasped how significant, broad, and profoundly important was this congregation's work and service. Kathy and I are certain that we too do not fully comprehend the extent of the good that Messiah is accomplishing week after week, month after month. Below are only snapshots.
- Pastoral Intern Joe recently remarked, "This has to be the best internship site anywhere." Messiah is making a lasting investment in the future of the church.
- Messiah's preschool is operating at 100% capacity. The ministry will expand next year with a new pre-K class. The plan includes renovating two classrooms in the main building as the preschool outgrows the Dorothy Link Building. Our goal will be to attract, teach, and share Jesus with 116 children and their families in the faith-filled community that is Messiah.
- Just 24 months ago we celebrated the conclusion of a major renovation at the Hazel Dell campus. Last summer a majority of Messiah households completed the second of two 3-year capital campaign pledges—raising more than $2,000,000 in 72 months. Some extended their capital pledge for a 4th year to assist with debt retirement and are faithfully completing those commitments now. During the same time, the Church House—now the intern parsonage—was purchased with gifts and financing outside the capital campaigns.
- This fall Messiah experienced a much prayed over breakthrough in its relationship with Columbia River High School. Administrators invited us to partner with them to provide much needed services to students. We will soon be working on a food and clothing closet located within the school. We are also paying the fees for students who otherwise could not afford the cost of standardized college entrance exams. And, for the first time, CRHS administrators have been our guests at Messiah's Tuesday Morning High School Breakfast Club.
- More and more people from outside the congregation are observing what we are doing and are giving money and in-kind support to specific ministries without solicitation on our part. Examples include financial support of Messiah's pre-game tailgate parties for CRHS students held in the church's parking lot and filled with healthy revelry and positive community spirit; support of the High School Breakfast Club; and in kind local support of FL!P dinners.
- Worship and Sunday School attendance have significantly grown this school year. Wednesday Faith Life in Progress (FL!P) participation has, in the words of Alyson Schumacher (Dir. of Children's and Family Ministries), "grown ridiculously." More people are enjoying Wednesday supper at church than ever before ... just ask the kitchen crew.
- This fall Messiah small groups requested and received no less than 25 Seeds of Faith value-added benevolence grants to accomplish good in the community and the world. The total in grants was more than $15,000. With the value-add investment of money and time provided by the small groups, the impact of this giving was multiplied by factors immeasurable.
- Messiah's North County Campus grew by 20% this year. Worship happens every Sunday at the TriMountain Golf Course. This outreach continues to be the foothold that our congregation and the ELCA need to plant another full service ministry site.
We are blessed, so blessed, to have the resources to extend ministries beyond ourselves which are so impactful and create such goodwill. In this season of gift giving, Kathy and I invite you to keep this momentum going and to insure new outreach ministry initiatives in 2014 by making a special end-of-year financial gift in addition to your regular giving.
This week many Messiah members and friends received a USPS mailing from the church with an enclosed envelope for a special end-of-the-year gift. As an alternate method, you can make a similar gift at Messiah's website. Just go to the homepage and click on the "donate here" button. The online method is easy, safe and secure and will appear on your annual giving statement so long as you make the gift before midnight on December 31.
Kathy and I thank you for your prayers of support and for all you do to make this congregation and its ministries so amazing, important, and life giving all year long.