We had a wonderful Church Council meeting at the end of January with 52 in attendance. Alison Wright, our new Council Chair, led us in a process through prayer, listening and learning from each other. There was a wonderful spirit in the room. Our leaders are engaged and excited about the church.

One of the main things we did was to adopt a word for the focus in 2017. The word is “LISTEN.”

We are to listen to God, to each other, and to the needs of the community and the world. Listening is a great way to love others. You will be seeing this word around, and you will be hearing it in prayers and sermons. Hopefully, we all will listen more fully to God and listen not just with our ears but with our hearts. And, in listening, our hands will be ready and willing to do God’s work.

We spent some time talking about Envisioning, Planning, and Implementing ministry, which is part of the purpose of the Church Council. We were reminded about the Mission statement of the United Methodist Church: “to make disciples for the transformation of the world.”

We broke into 3 groups to discuss hospitality, service opportunities, and connecting in small groups. If we can accent these areas within the congregation, we feel like we may better meet our objectives to be the church.

Our Staff Parish Committee, in conjunction with the Trustees, are working to secure a part-time Facilities Manager to help us take better care of an aging facility. Our Finance, Worship, Outreach, and program teams are moving forward with new ideas. We learned that we have 71 active members of our choirs and are reaching out to 50 families through Kindermusik and homeschool music classes. And Concerts with a Cause has brought in over $175,000 to date to local charities!

Exciting things are happening in Sunday worship as well. Once a month we will have a time to share a message with the children, and once a month we hope to highlight one of the outreach ministries in which our church is involved.

Your Church leaders and staff are working together to make this place the most hospitable in town, to make it a place where people can connect with others for a common good and grow in their spiritual lives. And we are also seeking places where people can have hands-on opportunities to serve others.

These are exciting times for our church and especially for the community. We know that there are plans for building 2 new hotels in downtown Augusta. There is also going to be a Cyber Center built hopefully within the next 22 months. And just across the street in the old UM Children’s home facilities a Wesley Foundation space is being created, so that students from Augusta University will have a place for programs, worship, and activities.

These are exciting times, and we as the church are working to be ready, especially for upcoming developments in the growth of downtown Augusta.

Pray, listen, and let’s “get with it” -as an old friend used to tell me.

Blessings all around.

Jody Alderman