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Dear Ones in Christ,
Stories matter. They captivate and transform us; they shape us and change how we live. Many stories will be told about 2020. Stories about fires and hurricanes, a world at a stand-still, people coming together in the midst of lockdown, and deep divisiveness and violence. I’ve been thinking about the church’s story for 2020, how I would write it and title it. In the midst of so many headlines, learning to be together apart, and much grief in our own community, I still can’t help but tell a story of generosity and gratitude.
When the pandemic first started and we made the decision to stop all in-person activities, the Session worried about the financial impact. If we don’t pass the offering plate will people keep giving? How much of our reserves will we have to use to get by? It turns out we didn’t need to worry, because not only have our pledges remained steady, we have had an increase in plate offerings (unpledged gifts). The story of Eastminster is one of generosity and the pandemic didn’t change that. The story of our faith is one of remembering God’s faithfulness, and the pandemic didn’t change that.
Most importantly, I want to say thank you. Thank you for your continued financial support of Eastminster. Thank you for engaging in community in new ways; for tuning into virtual worship and submitting videos, for showing up on Zoom and for church picnics, for calling to check in on each other. Thank you for your financial support, which has allowed the church to be generous in giving mission dollars to organizations like Advent House, Haven House, Greater Lansing Food Bank and others. Thank you for your encouraging emails, letters, and calls as we, the church leadership, have adjusted to a new way of being. I am so grateful to be your pastor.
As we look to 2021, we know there is no getting back to normal. Our church, community, and world has changed. Our stewardship sermon series is called “Our Money Story” and we will be looking at the narratives that shape us. We will remember God’s steadfast love for us throughout time and trials. We will release shame, anxiety,
guilt, greed, and anything that keeps us from wholeness. We will reimagine our own money stories and conclude by focusing on restoration and how practicing faithful stewardship heals us. As we move through this process of releasing, reclaiming, restoring, and renewing, I’d invite you to prayerfully commit to pledging to the church for the 2021 year.
We all have gifts to give. Our community is stronger when we all share what we have, no matter how small or large the gift. The year has taught us how much we need each other. Let us celebrate and give thanks for our church community, for our story of generosity, as we reimagine how we can be God’s church, sharing in ministry and mission together in the next year. Let’s recommit ourselves to support the church not only financially, but with our time and our talents. A pledge card is included with this letter. You can mail it back to the church or fill it out online. Please complete it by November 22nd.