Thursday, December 31, 2009

Good Shepherd Update Thursday December 31st, 2009

Dear Good Shepherd,

Well we're finally shoveling out of the many and various home-like things that we had piling up during the year. We were supposed to take vacation time in the summer to deal with these things but instead I went to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church to cover it for Stand Firm and then at the beginning of the fall we were supposed to take another break but something came up and we couldn' we've taken this whole week and we took a week in November and now that overtowering, ominous cloud of stuff to do is much smaller--and we feel a lot more rested than we have for about two years. It's back to work on Sunday for a new year.

Reading the Bible in a Year--New Years Resolutions: I'm not too good at actually keeping New Year's resolutions but I do have a suggestion for those who may be casting about for something to resolve...especially for those of you who have never read the entire bible. There are some excellent resources for reading through the bible in a year that you might be interested in. It's important to both closely study various books and texts of scripture and to get a general and broad view of the whole scope of it. It's just really hard to do both at the same time. Reading the bible in a year helps with the latter...and, in fact, having the broad outline of the bible in your head is really important when closely studying a given text. Every word that proceeds from the mouth of God is true and good and powerful. The bible the primary means God uses to change your heart, mind, and soul so that your will--your desires--become more and more like his. Daily bible study is the spiritual discipline that will have the most permanent and dramatic effect on your life. So, again, if you've never read the bible through, I encourage you to make that your New Year's resolution. Here are some good plans--my favorite is the one book at a time plan because it gives you a good sense of the continuity of each book.

Reminder: There is no Systematic Theology, Men's Bible Study and Breakfast, or Office Hours this weekend.

Womens' Bible Study NEWS: With the arrival of our fifth baby, Anne and I have recognized that--especially since we homeschool, she will need to take a step back from some of her ministries. We are so pleased that God has blessed Good Shepherd with so many gifted believers through whom he can build up the church. It's nice not to be needed. Carmen Swoffer-Penna, is a gifted teacher and communicator and very well versed in scripture. Most of you know her. She will be taking over the Womens' Bible Study beginning this January. Thank you to Carmen for agreeing to serve in this way.

Annual Meeting and Vestry Elections
: The annual meeting will take place on Sunday January 17th. So far we have one new candidate for vestry. Eligible candidates will conform to the standards articulated in Titus 1:5-8, assent by signature to the principles articulated in Good Shepherd's summary of faith and the Jerusalem Declaration, be regular attenders and members (attending every Sunday you are in town), participants in at least one bible study or class per week, committed to one ministry or service in the church, and tithing or working toward a tithe. We'll post profiles of candidates in next week's bulletin.

From the ACW: Happy New Year! I received an email from Cookie and she is planning to be in Florida from January to April.  Cookie has always helped ACW with our media/ads.  She is willing to prepare some for anything that may be coming up before she leaves.   NOW, we need to make some decisions about(1.) Clam Chowder/ Bake Sale around Easter.  What outreach(2.)?  Keep for ACK or...?  I think it would be good to continue to help ACK!   Last year (3.), we had a No-Bake Sale and we did raise about $300.  That would be the easiest!   Finally, (4.)  if someone would like to volunteer to learn how to prepare the media/ads from Cookie, then we could make the decisions Jan?Feb!

Our next meeting is Jan. 9. 


Thank you: As a family, we are so very grateful for your cards, gifts, and generous collection for an end of year bonus. Thank you all so very much. This has been a difficult year for Good Shepherd and we've all felt it, but God's grace has been more than sufficient to provide abundantly for all of our needs. Thanks be to God and thank you.

Three notes from Cookie:
Pledge Envelopes: There are several books of envelopes left to be picked up. I would like to remind everyone to look for one with their name on it and put it to good use.

Financial giving reports for tax filing: All financial reports or "Statements of Contributions" for Income Tax purposes are at the church ready to be picked up. Please find yours in the front of the church on the table.

Duty Rosters: Also on the table near the Altar is the new Duty Roster for January and February. There is one there with your name on it. Please remember that if you are unable to fulfill your obligation to serve, it is your responsibility to find someone who can fill in for you.

Mission: We do not plan to sit about on our laurels this year. God did not put us here and give us all this stuff so that we could be comfy and cozy. There is a lot to do...lost people and people in great need around us. I will be appointing a Community outreach team to help us plan and direct our mission and ministry in this neighborhood. I have emailed a number of people and will continue to do so until the team is assembled. You'll hear more about this.

With that in mind, don't forget that Good Shepherd also has been working through some Yearly resolutions--goals that we articulated in the Fall. Many of them have already been met, but here they are:

One year goals:

1. Attendance of 200 by next Pentecost: We're getting about 115-120 regularly (which is a huge blessing considering that we were at 80-90 this time last year) but if everyone who comes to GS on a regular basis were to attend all at the same time, we'd have about 130-135. This is great, and we are still growing, but by God's grace we can do better. God uses his Church to bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, just inviting a non-believing friend is an act of evangelism. But beyond that we are not just called to trust in Jesus, but to live lives that are shaped by him--to be his disciples. God not only uses the church to give sinners new birth, he also uses it to train them, to make them like himself. So just being in church, hearing the word of God read and preached, receiving the nourishment that comes through Communion and fellowship is an indispensable part of being a follower of Jesus Christ which is why we are commanded in Hebrews 10:32 not to neglect the gathering of believers.

2. 30 New believers by Pentecost: This is, of course, dependent upon God's grace--he alone makes the seeds of faith grow...but we are called to plant the seeds (1 Cor 3). We're not quite where we need to be on this score...there have been conversions and most likely some that we do not know about but not 30. It could be that we have not been as faithful in evangelism as we ought. We will need to redouble our efforts this Spring. Goals 1 and 2 both seek the same end...bringing people to faith in Jesus Christ and making disciples. 

3. Shepherd's Bowl at Good Shepherd and Conklin Avenue: This is a met goal. Thanks be to God,  we've finally succeeded in reopening the Shepherd's Bowl at Good Shepherd. Think about it. A year ago, the Shepherd's Bowl was completely shut down due to our loss in the lawsuit. This year, the program has doubled to include not only a soup kitchen that runs out of our church, but also one that runs on Monday's out of Conklin Avenue Baptist. And instead of four teams of volunteers rotating each week, we now have five teams. Thanks be to God.

The Shepherd's Bowl is only one way that we can serve this community. With our new facilities and all the abundance that God has given us there are many many more ways...after school programs, clothing give-aways, a food pantry, financial aid programs...there are so many things we could do, so many ways that God can use us to serve this city and this neighborhood.

4. Prayer team established: we did have a prayer meeting every week but it does not seem to be taking off. Prayer is something that we really need to work on as a community...

5. Hospitality Ministry and New Member Program established:
A number of people have taken on the ministry of hospitality this year. Every visitor generally (if no one falls through the cracks) receives a warm greeting, an invitation for coffee downstairs after the service, a guest bag containing various goodies, information about Jesus and about Good Shepherd, and a follow up letter during the week. The biggest concern at this point is not hospitality, but integration. We've welcomed close to 50 new people this year and with all of the confusion and chaos that comes with moving locations we've not yet had a new members class or really helped new people to become oriented to the church and the programs Good Shepherd offers...

6. Music Director hired with both skill and vision for Good Shepherd's Music ministry: Thanks be to God who through the the hard work of the worship committee, has called Tim Wetherbee to be our new Music Director. Tim will start on January 17th.

7. Youth and children Christian ed director (non-paid):
We have a youth minister and lots of Sunday School teachers, but we do not have one person who's task it is to think through the children-yourh education program in a cohesive and holistic way. We do not yet have a vision for the entire program. Our goal is to find a person with just such a call.

8. Start identifying and discipling church leaders and planters: This year we've begun to give a number of young people with a call to ministry the opportunity to preach and lead in other ways at Good Shepherd. Ife Ojetayo, Katy McFadden, Matt Tuttle and others have and or will continue to test their call here.  God has trusted Good Shepherd with these young men and women and we must do our best to help them discern the direction in which God is calling them and give them the opportunity to hone and sharpen their gifts. We do this with at least a partial eye to raising up future church planters who can, in the next five years, plant another Anglican congregation in the Binghamton area.

9. Commit to help an impoverished church: this year we've raised over $1400.00--more than one year's rent--for the Anglican church in the Kwenda slum. Your support for these people has been overwhelming and generous. God protected and provided for us when we had no home. It is, I think, incumbent upon us to pass this graciousness on to other churches in need. Thank you.

10. Pay our tithe: Good Shepherd is a member church of the Anglican Church in North America and of the Missionary Diocese of New England. As a body we are called to tithe to the diocese. We have not yet done this but we are working toward it. The budget for 2010, sets aside 10 percent of our gross income for both a pledge to the diocese and mission outreach. At some point we should establish the 10% to go directly to the diocese and another percentage on top of that, at least 5%, for missionary fact, that--tithing to your local church and five percent for mission giving--is the biblical model for our personal finances as well.

Those are the goals for the year ending at you can see some of them have already been met. Others will require a great deal of work...but by God's grace we can do it.

Last Week's sermon: If you missed Anne's sermon on Galatians 4 from last week, you can watch it here.

This week's Sermon: we're going to return to our series on 1st Thessalonians. We're in chapter 5:5-11. Paul calls believers "sons of light" and "sons of the day". What does that mean and how does that look? We'll talk about it on Sunday

5You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. 7For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:5-11)

Christian Education: The Incarnation: We'll wrap up our series on the Incarnation this Sunday and introduce our next series. 

Good Shepherd in the News: The Pageant and Christmas Eve was a great success this was a beautiful service all round and more people came than have attended in the last decade or so. Two local television stations also came. WBNG posted this report:

read the full text of the report here...
And WCIZ also filed this report.
Thanks be to God for all the positive news coverage...

Well, that's all for now. May God bless you all and give each of you a blessed new year.

In Christ

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