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Celebrating Friendship

Monday, January 23, 2012

5th Sunday Friendship Sundays in 2012!

One of the great things we do as the church of Jesus Christ is actually a very apostolic and scriptural practice: we worship, pray, and eat together! I’m so glad that on the 5th Sundays of this year we’re going to celebrate “Friendship Sundays!” If you did not know about today’s celebration, and the covered dish lunch that immediately follows worship, I sure hope you will stay and eat with us anyway. Whether you’re visiting with us today for the first time or you just “missed the news about today,” please stay and have lunch in the fellowship hall. You are expected and welcomed. There’s always plenty!

Our theme on Friendship Sundays is Friendship! Today we begin a message series titled, “Meet the Master’s Men,” and today’s disciple is James. In our exploring of James’ life, I hope we all find qualities within him that will inspire us to be better friends of Jesus and better friends with the people in our lives.

Friends are Good for Your Health!

Celebrating Friendship today is a very good, even healthy, thing! According to one Yale University study, having fewer friends leads to higher stress and a shorter life. In a study of 2,800 men and women over the age of 65, those with more friends had a lower risk of health problems, and they recovered faster when they did develop them. Another study of 10,000 seniors showed that having friends reduced the risk of death by about 50 percent over a five-year period. The study concludes: “Friends can help you reduce stress, improve the quality of your life, live longer, get a better job, expand your business, improve your marriage and derive more joy from your life.”

There you have it. The jury is back! It’s GOOD to have a friend and to be a friend! It’s also true that a church that has a warm, prevailing spirit of authentic friendship is a church that people want to be a part of. I’m so glad we’re being intentional in 2012 about celebrating Friendship! Everybody, we all, need friends!

Here are some true and touching insights about friendship:

Cicero: Our nature has no love for solitude, and always leans, as it were, on some support; and the sweetest support is found in the most intimate friendship.

Euripides: One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives.

Mark Twain: Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of joy you must have somebody to divide it with.

Unknown: A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.

Anonymous: You may be one person to the world but you may be the world to one person.

God bless our time together today as friends!

Your Pastor and Friend, Mark


Monday, January 23, 2012

An Olive Branch in the Giving Department!

As we all know, the effects of the economic downturn four years or so ago have reached into every sector of our society. Churches, like businesses, government, and homes, have felt the financial crunch and pinch of tighter credit, loss of jobs, and tragically for many, loss of homes. Redwine UMC has been no exception, of course. But today there are some key indicators that show that Redwine UMC is stabilizing financially and beginning its movement back upward! I know this is something everyone in the church family is interested in and wants to see! Let me share two financial indicators with you.

Giving to General Budget and Apportionments

At the close of last year (2011) our Giving to General Budget (which supports all the mission and ministry we do as a local United Methodist Church) was $273,212 toward an overall annual Budget for 2011 of $289,351. Obviously, giving was below what we had projected and budgeted for mission and ministry in 2011. My word of challenge to you, the church, is to remember your giving to the Lord here at Redwine United Methodist Church. As we all faithfully fulfill our giving commitment to the Lord through the church, we a) live true to God’s call and command of us to give a tithe to Him, and b) we support the mission and ministry that takes place at and through Redwine UMC. So, a word to us all: let us be faithful, diligent, committed to fulfilling our giving mandate that God gives to every single person who would be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

With that said, let me also point to an exciting word of encouragement. In the flood story in Genesis, after weeks of waiting for the waters to recede, Noah and his family must have hit the roof in excitement when that dove came to a fluttering stop on the window sill holding an olive branch in its beak! I felt the same way when I read the giving figures for 2011 compared to 2010. Let me show you a little olive branch!

In 2010, our Giving to General Budget was $268,766. In 2011, our Giving was $273,480. I know that’s not much of an increase, but the fact is, it IS an increase! Also, since 2009, for the first time, probably in the life of the church, Redwine has not been able to pay 100% of its denominational apportionments. (Apportionments are an amount of money allocated to every United Methodist Church to give to fund conference, continental, and global mission and ministry. Apportionments make us a global family, connected in shared mission and ministry!)

In 2009, Redwine UMC paid only 33% of its apportionments. In 2010, we paid 44%. At last year’s end, we paid 60%! Our goal for 2012 is 100%. I hope you celebrate this olive branch with me!

I want to thank you, the church of Jesus Christ, for being tough in tough times and for being resilient and optimistic today. An olive branch is in our window sill! The future of our Kingdom Building is out there before us and it’s promising! God bless us all in our new ventures of ministry in 2012 as well as our tried and true ongoing ministries in this place!

Your Pastor and Friend, Mark

Friendship Sundays

Monday, January 23, 2012

Quarterly Friendship Sundays in 2012!

Just the other day in the office I said to Celeste, “We haven’t been doing many covered dish lunches. Why not? Have I been dropping the ball on this?” It was with a rather playful spirit, I admit, but a serious question nonetheless! After talking it over with some staff members, we feel the church family needs to celebrate fellowship and food and friendship on a more “Methodical” basis! Hey, we HAVE to be true to who we are, right?

So, in the months in 2012 that have five Sundays (there’s one every quarter) we will have what we’re calling, “Friendship Sunday.” On Friendship Sunday we will have our regular Sunday School hour, but just one Worship Service at 11AM so our 9AM Worshippers will not have to make an additional trip back to the church for lunch!

I sure hope you enjoy this plan for sharing time together, good food together, and of course, lots of conversation and laughter, too. So, get out those recipe and cook books! It’s covered dish time at Redwine!

The first 5th Sunday is THIS month: two weeks from today, January 29. The church will provide the drinks. The church family brings meats, vegetables, breads, desserts, etc. for sharing! Come Sunday, January 29th ready to share Friendship and Food and Faith right after the 11AM Worship Hour! Personally, I can’t wait. Would anyone notice if I’m first in line?

Christmas Eve’s Generous Offering to Action Ministries

If you came to church on Christmas Eve, you know the sanctuary was packed and that we had a blessed and joyous time of worship celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. You also know that our evening offering was designated for Action Ministries. You gave $450 on Christmas Eve! I cannot express how touched my heart is that the church family and friends gave so generously for Action Ministries.

You may not know that Action Ministries began almost fifty years ago partnering largely with the Methodist Church to serve the hunger, housing, and education needs of people in North Georgia. Today, there are AM offices located in Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Gainesville, and Rome. Thousands of volunteers from congregations, businesses and community organizations help support the programs that make it possible for those in need to rebuild their lives and thrive.

I praise the Lord for your generosity. I just have a feeling 2012 is truly going to be a great Year to Remember in the life of Redwine United Methodist Church. God bless us as we follow the steps and serving spirit of Jesus.

Your Pastor and Friend, Mark

Installation Service

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Today We Install and Pray for Our Church Officers and Ministry Teams for 2012

What a privilege it is to serve the Lord through his Church! Today, we’re going to take time in Worship to recognize those persons who have made a commitment to serve the Lord in ministry at Redwine UMC in 2012. Each person has stepped forward to be a part of the moving force of mission and ministry at Redwine this year. Today we recognize them. Let us all thank them, pray for them, and pledge to offer ourselves in support of their ministry leadership, their inspirations, their aspirations, and all of their efforts to faithfully go where the Holy Spirit leads them this year.

We thank and appreciate every person on every ministry team. Here is a list of ministry leaders and officers for 2012:

Administrative Council Chair …….. Steve Barber

Council Secretary ……………….. Celeste Sayre

Lay Leader ……………………….. Bruce Townsend

SPRC Chair ………………………. Joyce Anne Skinnner

Finance Chair ……………………. Will Patrick

UMW Chair …………………….. Barbara Dysart

UMM Chair ………………………. Will Patrick

Education Chair ………………….. Danny Reed

Worship Team Chair …………….. Erin Woodsmall

Youth Representative ……………. Tori Glover

Missions Chair …………………… Debbie Flanagan

Scouting Representative …………. Anita Glover

Congregational Care Co-Chairs …. Connie Douglas, Amber Ericson

Of course, we also want to recognize and thank our dedicated, creative, and hard-working staff. We want to ask the Lord’s blessing and anointing on them as they lead us in their respective ministries. Here are our staff members we lift up today in prayer:

Pastor ……………………………… Mark Outlaw

Youth Minister ……………………. Alex Gailey

Children’s Minister (and PMO Dir.)... Denise Frier

Music Minister …………………….. Erin Woodsmall

Financial Secretary ………………… Rena’ Townsend

Nursery Director…………………….. Janine Cline

Worship Musicians………………….. Janet and Russ Rainwater,

Chuck Dubose

Custodian …………………………… Tony Spain

We have a lot to be thankful for at Redwine UMC! As we all work together for the Lord in 2012, I know God has big plans of ministry, outreach, and Kingdom Building in store for us! So, blow Holy Spirit, blow on our ministry leaders, our ministry teams, and our staff and we WILL live and love and serve with fresh vision and zeal and success in 2012!

Your Pastor and Friend, Mark