If you have ever received an email or a card from me, you have seen my signature is always the same – In God’s Love, Pastor Monica. For over two decades, I have used my same blessing as I closed out letters and emails, cards, and notes, in God’s Love. In fact, I have been so consistent that recently an internet scammer attempted to impersonate me via email but closed the email by using the phrase: Blessings, instead. My regular correspondents were alerted right away, that it was not me. I always sign, In God’s Love. And that is my prayer, may we remain together in God’s Love.
That has been my prayer for each of you for the last six year – may we remain together in God’s love. I give thanks to God for our time of ministry together. We have grown and changed together. Some of us have gotten old, the rest may not admit it. Look at what God has done it our midst!
We have baptized 20 infants, children, youth, and adults, who we have welcome and integrated into the life of our faith community. I have been so proud to be your pastor as we have minister to our community in this way.
In three classes, we have confirmed 26 young people. Discipleship and faith have been the language of our young people in action and service. In our time together, we solidified a youth program and built a children’s program with a full time, Director of Children and Youth Ministries. 54 people have joined in membership. We increased our average worship attendance by 25%, since 2014 together.
And we have faithfully buried 26 members and more from our community. We remember with tenderness the love and faith that were given, even as we miss them.
I give thanks to God for what God has done through us. Our facility has changed during our time together. We restructured and blessed a playground that brought renewed life and energy to the preschool, Children’s Ministries, and other community ministries.
We discerned the vision, broke ground, and consecrate the prayer bead garden. The full possibilities for this space are potential as you look towards the future.
And that just glimpses some of upgrades and expansions to our outdoor facilities. God has been growing the interior spirit of our community as well through teaching opportunities like Vacation Bible School. Our mission statement: Open, Grown, Serve captures the movement of a disciple. You start by opening up your heart to Jesus, you grow in faith, and then you serve God and God’s world.
Together, we have served God and God’s world. We have gone to Crisfield, Maryland and West Virginia, Mission Central, and the Ronald McDonald House. We grew our food pantry into a Tier 2 Food Pantry respond to our community’s needs, become a Family Promise Host congregation, developed multiple benefits for our community’s needs including Southern Chester County Opportunity Network.
God called us out of our comfort zone to take risks. And we responded. For the sake of the gospel and the care of God’s people, we together experimented with new ideas and sought where God might be calling us for such a time as time. May you continue to do that.
For God has been faithful! With God’s dependence on God ways, the example of Christ, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the way forward may not always be visible, but steps of the path are guided.
God’s timing guided us as we dedicated a prayer room, transitioned and expanded our preschool program and wing, begun and sustained Chapel Time, grew Bible studies and small groups.
We have developed a strong foundation upon which the next steps will be taken by implementing financial growth strategies including refinancing and intentional stewardship. We have accumulated stability in financial and administration.
Even in the midst of these most unusual circumstances, we have adapted to online worship and grown together in our technological evangelism. More people are hearing the word of God here on livestreaming, than did on the average week in the sanctuary. We blossomed our technology in worship, pastoral care, and studies with the advent of a technology team over five years ago!
Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, that must have been Methodist, long before John Wesley developed the Methodist movement, I planted, Apollos, by God gives the growth. The apostle Paul preached and taught from place to place – the very definition of itinerant, a traveling preacher. Apollos followed him in Corinth in ministry and mission. The communities were blessed by the gifts of multiple spiritual leaders. Today, we lean on the wisdom of biblical example in the United Methodist Church.
And I look forward to what God is doing next! You continue to be the people God, opening your hearts to Jesus, growing in God’s ways, and serving God and God’s people. Behold, God is making all things new, here at West Grove UMC, in our community, and in the wider world. I give thanks to God for the gifts of Rev. Tim Anderman and his spouse, Julie. I look forward to their ministry among you. In communicating with Rev. Tim, he is excited about coming to West Grove UMC, the move of his home at Avondale, and beginning to get to know all of you.
Our family prepares to transition to Stroudsburg. This day is bittersweet as we over blessing our friends and church family here in at West Grove UMC and anticipate with excitement our new church family and friends we have yet to meet in Stroudsburg. How unusual to be doing this while we are physically distancing. Thank you to each of you who has sought to make this special while keeping yourself and others safe and healthy.
When we came to West Grove, we were a family of four. We announced to the world the coming of little three on our first Sunday here. We depart as a family of five having weathered many health storms through the power of prayer, for which we give thanks to God.
Many of you will know that my father spoke French as a child and taught me pieces of the language, when I was a child. One of the tenderest blessings, I recollect was “Adieu.” This leave taking blessing literally means “to God,” as in “as we part, I offer you to God.” In a similar way, my concluding signature – In God’s Love – is a prayer and benediction. Even as we close this email exchange, let us stay connected in God’s love. As I conclude this birthday greeting, may we remain together in God’s Love. A prayer for love and a blessing.
So, Adieu! I offer the blessing I learned as a child— “As we part, I offer you to God.”
My dear friends, this is the Gospel, the Good news of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, thanks be to God, Amen.
New Testament Lesson: 1 Corinthians 3: 5-11
What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.
Old Testament Lesson: Numbers 6: 22-27
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the Israelites: You shall say to them,
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.
Meditations For Your Week
Sunday, June 14 ~ Saturday, June 20, 2020
Sunday: “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each.” 1 Corinthians 3: 5. Today is Pastor Monica’s last Sunday in worship. We give thanks to God for her and her family and their leadership here at West Grove. We offer them blessings as they prepare to transition to Stroudsburg UMC.
Monday: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” 1 Corinthians 3:6. Consider God may be using your witness as a part of a larger witness. Listen to the movement of the Spirit within you as you feel called to share the stories of God’s goodness. You are being called to plant and water. God will give the growth!
Tuesday: “So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” 1 Corinthians 3: 7. As you spend time in meditation and prayer today, what can you give thanks to God for that God is growing? Is God growing a relationship with a friend or spouse? Is God planting new seeds of discontent for a ministry of advocacy?
Wednesday: “The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each.” 1 Corinthians 3:8. Consider that God is already at work, even when you can not see it. That which is nagging at you and causing anxiety is already in God’s hands. Now, look around for those who are planting and watering hope, faith, and love on behalf of God who will bring the increase and resolution.
Thursday: “For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:9. Pray for the global church. All of the world is my parish, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, said. Together, around the world, we work together for the upbuilding of the kingdom. Pray for the global church.
Friday: “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. “ 1 Corinthians 3: 10. What are you being called to build in these unusual times? Are you building new habits? Are you whistling hope in the dark? Take care to build upon the foundation of Jesus Christ!
Saturday: “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:11. Praise be to Jesus Christ, the foundation of our faith. You can depend and rest upon him, all you who are weary.