Pastor’s Report: 2014 Charge Conference

 
WE ARE PLOWING NEW GROUND
Truly can I say that never before have I enjoyed a Charge Conference, but the one we hosted at Good Shepherd UMC last week was delightful.  I was proud to present to the three churches gathered in our sanctuary an overview of what we have been doing this past year.  It is really quite remarkable.  I’d like to share with you our church’s report to our District Superintendent, Rev. Dr. Ron Henderson.

 

This past year has been a time of plowing new ground at Good Shepherd UMC. Starting with the Mission Book Talk in the fall of 2013 we began looking upward and outward. People from FUMC Plano, Creekwood UMC, and Christ UMC Plano joined with us on four Sunday afternoons to study The Wealth of the Poor, by Rev. Larry James. As we learned the principles of community development we began to comprehend why Christians need to establish long-term relationships with people rather than figure out ways to meet their needs. No longer did we want to adopt a service project and call it mission.

 

Harper Elementary

After surveying the area within a five mile radius from our church, we decided that we would start by getting to know people at Harper Elementary in the Princeton ISD. In November, when we learned that many students were unable to purchase even one book from their school’s Book Fair, church members donated $410 to the school for books. In December we dedicated one-half of our Christmas Eve offering to Harper. Then in January, 2014, ninepeople committed themselves to serve as a mentor/tutor each week until the end of May. During the spring we connected with members of Creekwood UMC sharing our experiences at Harper. The result is that starting in September 40 members of Creekwood UMC are joining with us as Harper’s Helpers.  

 

To our surprise we are discovering that even a small membership church can have a genuine impact doing kingdom work. We are realizing that God is using us as instigators of new ministries – plowing new ground. With the mentoring program up and running, three of us are shifting our focus at Harper to developing a morning ESL class for moms. We have gone through the necessary training, and now we are starting to recruit Spanish speaking adult students. Our hope is that they will learn English, and through them we will have an opportunity to cultivate friendships with them and their neighbors. Then we will see what God has in store for all of us. We are taking small steps but we feel we are on the right road into God’s future.

 

Connecting With Churches

An important component of our strategy is developing collaborative relationships with our sister churches. We feel a real connection with Creekwood UMC through our mutual commitment at Harper Elementary and with FUMC Wylie through collaborating with Project Transformation this summer at Waples UMC in Denison. We are excited to be supporters of Christ UMC, Princeton, a new church start. We dedicated one half of our Christmas Eve offering to CUMC Princeton. Their pastor, Rev. Clay Horton, participated in our  Book Talk discussions. And we provided donations of notebook paper and index cards as well as volunteers to their First Annual Back-to-School Bash in August.

 

Now that we are discovering how much fun it is to be initiators and collaborators, our Mission Team is developing a Partner Church connection with the Hispanic new church start at Cockrell Hill UMC. The MissCockrell HIll UMCion Team is recommending that we include in our 2015 budget a monthly financial gift to this church led by  Rev. Pablo Guardiola. We anticipate that many more opportunities to connect our two congregations will emerge in the coming year.

Mission

For the second year a major part of our mission and communFamily Promiseity outreach is our relationship with Family Promise of Collin County. We provide our Activities Center for their Day Center and also provide electricity and water at no charge to them.

 

In 2014 we became a full

Partner Church with ProjectTransformation. It was good to get to know our PT intern and to  provide volunteers one week in July as reading helpers. 

 

 

 

Our Mission Team is hosting an “Evening with the Ceballos” on Wednesday, November 12, to which we will be inviting our sister churches. We are pursuing the possibility of becoming an official Partner Church for these United Methodist missionaries in Panama.

 

Responding to the crisis of Unaccompanied Children at the Texas/Mexico border, we looked for a way to have a longer-term impact rather than sending emergency food and clothing. Through contacts with leaders in the SW Texas Conference the Mission Team decided to dedicate the month of September for collecting financial donations to RAICIES, the Refugee and Immigration Center for   Education and Legal Services. The focus of RAICIES is assisting vulnerable members of the immigrant community, including asylum seekers, 

unaccompanied minors, immigration detainees, and survivors of crime

 

Literally Plowing New Ground

The MissionInsite report for our area lists environmental issues as the primary concern of our neighbors. In response to that information as well as to severe drought conditions at nearby Lake Lavon, we decided to establish a water-thrifty, drought-tolerant Demonstration Garden, which would be strategically visible from the major road that passes our church. In collaboration with the Texas Agri-Life Extension Service and the Master Gardeners of Collin County we began researching types of hardy plants and preparing and amending the soil for our garden. We have already purchased the plants and will get them in the ground by mid-October. Next we will install an attractive sign proclaiming how many days since the last time we had to water the garden. We anticipate that with the high number of cars that pass our church each day we will become known as “The church with the beautiful flowers, and they never have to water them!”

 

An advantageous by-product of developing our garden is the warm relationships that are developing between many of the master gardeners and our church members. We now provide space for their meetings, and they will be scheduling gardening classes for our community here. We are raising our church’s profile in our community.

  

 Jerry using trencher

 

 

  

Members of Good Shepherd UMC look to the future with anticipation and a deepening awareness of the unique role God is calling us to live out in our community. We had never dreamed that God could use us as a Vanguard Church plowing new ground and planting seeds of transformation in our own hearts and in the hearts of our new friends.

 

I thank God for you and for the ministries of Good Shepherd UMC.  And I look forward to what God has in store for us in 2015.

 

Blessings,  

Diane 

  Rev. Diane Presley