A Future with Hope:

There is an ancient proverb that says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” When I hear this quote, I am reminded about a story of the prophet Jeremiah. In the midst of issuing warnings and prophecies about the coming invasion of the Babylonians and the future exiling of the people of Israel, Jeremiah does something interesting, he buys land. In the midst of chaos, on the edge of war, Jeremiah invests in the future. He plants that proverbial tree so that in the future he can benefit from the shade it brings him and the fruit it bears.

While we as a church are not facing exile, either literal or figurative, we are in the midst of chaotic and uncertain times. We can also look at the harsh realities of our church and our culture and see worrying signs of decline as our congregation grows older and smaller and the world around us grows more secular and seemingly less interested in what we as a congregation have to offer. Yet I believe we are at a moment that calls for us to be “buying land” and “planting trees,” at least figuratively. I believe we have a future with hope and we are called to be investing in that future now.

What gives us reason to believe in a future with hope? First, many of the “trees” we have planted in the past are beginning to bear fruit. Thanks to our intentional outreach efforts through the years, we are becoming known in the community for the ways we reach out and help make a difference. Our partnership with Nourish 282 is helping to provide necessary food and other supplies to families at a time when inflation and rising costs have left more families than ever struggling to get by. Our partnership with the Korean congregation has given us a steady source of support to cover the costs of heating and maintaining our building for more than six years. The generosity of our members during the pandemic and help from the Annual Conference has allowed us to invest in technology to increase connections allowing our members to experience worship even when we cannot be in the building, expanding the reach of our worship services. All of these are signs of life that are giving us hope.

We continue to be planting trees for the future, sometimes even literal ones. We continue to invest in ways that we can reduce our environmental impact and provide a better world for the future. We are also investing in our children and grandchildren as well as those of the community. Scouts, homeschoolers, and Montessori children all use our space as they grow and learn. We offer events like “Parents’ Night Out” to nurture families in our community. Through Kids Connect, Rev. Cindy Yanchury, our minister of faith formation, is able to help our own kids to learn about God, grow in their faith, and have fun in the process. The energy these children bring and the love they have for God is contagious and again speaks of a future with hope.

All of this of course is not possible without your help. The gifts you give and the sacrifices you make for the church help leave a legacy for the future. Our congregation has benefited from careful “land-buying” in the past and we need to continue to invest in ourselves to have that future with the hope we all desire. Your gifts in the coming year will help make that future possible. Please prayerfully consider what you can do to support the church in 2023. Then, fill out the enclosed pledge card and return it by November 20th to the church. Together with your help, we can continue to live into God’s vision for this church and make a difference in the world.

Pastor Jeff

Stewardship Letter