I pray that your holiday has been blessed and filled with peace. I know Christmas is a busy time of year, but it is also a time to be still in God’s presence and soak in our many blessings.
God has done so many wonderful things this year at Christ Church. Truly, it is difficult to name just a small portion of them.
In every one of our Five Values we see the Lord’s handiwork, molding and shaping our congregation in His image. Thank you for being sensitive to His work among you and to hearing and following God’s voice as we Love Jesus and Love Like Jesus in the world.
- During 2014, we watched new worship services launch and grow as our average worship attendance increased nearly six percent during the course of the year. However, the past three Sundays, we have averaged more than 2,000 in worship for three weeks in a row for the first time in nearly 10 years. Our Christmas attendance was up 22 percent compared to this time last year.
- We have received more than 200 new members into full fellowship in our congregation, beating our goal of 150. This included nearly 70 professions of faith. Who could forget just last week when 51 people on that Sunday alone reaffirmed their baptisms!
- Christ Church has not only maintained a balanced budget throughout the entire year but we have also supported outside Second Mile projects with more than $500,000 in additional funds. Your tithes and gifts above and beyond have supported the work of preschool education and afterschool programming in the Binghampton community, leadership training for SOS interns who live in Memphis and for preparing the way for new economic possibilities through the BDC’s family center. The Second Mile gifts provided supplies and programs for nearly 7,000 students throughout the Shelby County School District, appropriate housing and supplies for at-risk senior adults and first aid training for those responding to the most severe of cases struggling with mental illness.
And, truly, the projects and support list go on and on and on…
Christ Church responded to the needs of an aging and ailing facility for both ministry to the congregation and to the Day School populations by restoring needed infrastructure issues that had been neglected for more than 15 years. Though certainly not the most attractive way to spend our resources, maintaining a safe and secure campus is one of our legacy commitments from the moment past generations built the buildings. We committed ourselves to honor that legacy by making sure another season of faithful ministry would exist in this place and at this location for years to come.
Your out-of-the-box commitment to Christ Church Global has turned this little resource ministry into an important partner for shaping not only our congregation but also the entire body of Christ around the world.
- Asbury-Memphis is now a full-functioning theological seminary campus, training more than 25 of the very best leaders for tomorrow.
- Our media outreach division offers media programming that shares the Gospel of Jesus Christ and addresses the most important issues of our community in more than 10 venues per week (We Believe in Memphis and You Matter).
- And, our CC Global online campus provides worship and study for those anywhere in the world who want a place to call their church home. Our little online campus is larger than 85 percent of all UMC churches.
And, what can I say about a Serving & Outreach Ministry that provided support for nearly $1.5 million to affiliated and assisted partnerships literally across the street and around the world. Christ Church remains one of the largest ‘granting assistance providers’ in Memphis, offering grants totaling just under the amounts of such legendary local foundations as the Kemmons Wilson Foundation. Our Serving and Outreach grants provide support for projects working in locales from Binghampton to Brazil to Liberia to Zambia.
I share all of this for several reasons:
First, to say thank you for your continued prayers and support.
Second, to highlight the very real ways the Holy Spirit has worked through you and your brothers and sisters this past year.
But, also, third, to encourage you to not let up in your ‘zeal for doing good.’ We must finish this year strong in our attendance, our study, our fellowship, our care for others and, yes, in our generosity.
If you have not completed your pledge card for 2015, we need you to do so ASAP. We do not develop our final budget for 2015 unless we have everyone’s support. But, finally, please be generous in finishing the year. We would not want to work so hard to win the race, only to let up in the final leg.
Again, you have accomplished much through perseverance and grace.
Be Salt and Light, dear friends… You Matter!
Shane Stanford, Matthew 5:13-16