First Church is a wonderful place, a faithful and friendly group of people in the heart of a growing and vibrant city. There are several features of First Church that set us apart. First, there is a social justice legacy here with a meaningful history and a hopeful future. Second, people come to First Church for the beautiful music and worship space. Finally, many people come to First Church because it is an open and affirming congregation, welcoming anyone and everyone. These things and more make First Church a light of God’s love in Columbus and beyond.
Thank you for being a vital part of the worship, life, and mission of First Church. Without your presence, your prayers, your gifts, and your resources, First Church would be less. But because you are part of this community of love, First Church is more. It is with gratitude that we move together into 2015 and beyond as stewards of God’s good gifts among us.
Now I want to ask you to do something…
Rediscover childlike faith, wonder, and awe. Cultivate your hopes and dreams for our life together. Plant seeds of faith and see what grows. Imagine more…
Imagine more for children. Imagine more for adults. Imagine more in worship. Imagine more social justice. Imagine more openness and hospitality. Imagine more beauty. Imagine more for our members and visitors. Imagine more for the neighborhood. Imagine more for Columbus and all of Central Ohio. Imagine more for the state, the nation, and the world. Imagine more in your own spiritual journey – whoever you are and wherever you are. Imagine more…
In St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, there is a beautiful doxology: “Now to God who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21 NRSV)
Whatever you have imagined…. Whatever your childlike faith, wonder, and awe can stir up… God has more. God’s ideas for First Church are bigger than our own. God’s dreams for mercy and justice, beauty and worship, openness and hospitality, stewardship and generosity outshine ours. Let’s imagine together what God has in store for First Church.
Here are a few things for us to think about together during this season of stewardship:
· Our church is growing. Fifteen years ago, there were 11 downtown churches. Five have closed. Four are declining. One is holding its own. Only First Church has grown, from 600 members in the year 2000 to 1,036 members currently. By following that growth with investment, we could see exciting things ahead for our church and our city.
· Two-thirds of our revenue comes from your pledges. The other third comes from other sources, such as trustee funds, property rental, weddings and events. Your giving is crucial to both the spiritual and practical work of our congregation.
· TThe majority of First Church’s expenses are related to the people that serve this congregation with their skills and talents, gifts and abilities. Our stewardship provides First Church with a Senior Minister, an Associate Minister, a Minister of Music, a Director of Christian Education, a Business Administrator, a Program Manager, a Building Manager, and an Office Manager. When we invest in people, the return is remarkable.
To realize our dreams together in 2015 and beyond, please consider a generous pledge toward our goal of $770,000 in 2015. How much can you give monthly, quarterly, or annually to our life, worship, and mission together? There are five ways to pledge:
a) complete a pledge card and place it in the offering plates in Sunday worship,
b) complete a pledge card and bring it to the office in person,
c) complete a pledge card and mail it to First Congregational Church, 444 E. Broad St., Columbus OH 43215,
d) make your pledge online at first-church.org, select GIVE, then select ANNUAL GIVING (www.first-church.org/AnnualGivingForm.aspx), or
e) call or email Sharon Leidheiser, Business Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-228-1741 xt. 11.
Finally, for the first time you can give online through a service provided by FaithStreet which allows for one-time and recurring gifts using the web, mobile devices, or text. To set up your online giving, please go to www.faithstreet.com/church/first-congregational-church-of-columbus-columbus-oh/giving. All members of First Church are encouraged to use this new service. It is a ‘green’ and cost-saving solution for all that provides better information and more consistency in budget planning both for you as the donor and for First Church as the grateful recipient of your generous stewardship.
Keep imagining. Imagine what more First Church will become!