January Message from Rev. Coplin & Newsletter
First and foremost, I pray God’s grace and peace upon you and yours from the first day of this new year until its last!
For those who have set new year’s resolutions, this is the one week of the year in which almost all can celebrate success. If you count yourself among these folks, then good job! Keep it up! I admit that I am not one for resolutions. The last few weeks of the year are a bit too rambunctious for me to give careful attention to planning and establishing any lasting change to daily life. If you can relate, then maybe you find this week to be fitting for remembering the good from the year past and identifying priorities for the year ahead.
Looking back on 2022, I have to give thanks to God for the opportunity to be with you at this critical time in our history. It has not always been fun or easy, as you well know. Yet I believe it has all been with meaning and purpose, thanks only to God’s faithfulness. From our earliest days together, I have said that these years will be remembered as a time of great transition for our local congregation, our Church, and our world. Such times have always come with deep discomfort and disruption, but they have also served as “wilderness” spaces in which God forms and strengthens his people to be the Church in the time to come. We might not understand what God is up to until we arrive to the other side of this wilderness. As Oswald Chambers writes, “God does not tell you what He is going to do; He reveals to you who He is.” The truth of the matter is that we may never really know why we are called to be the Church at such a time as this. But I am glad that we have been called together so that together, we may learn more of who God is. Thank you for your friendship, generosity, kindness, and openness along the way.
Looking forward to the first quarter of 2023, I anticipate significant disruption as we complete our discernment process and decide for or against disaffiliation. As this time draws near, I ask you to join me in the following:
- As we consider priorities for the new year, I ask first that you join me in consistent prayer for our church. I 100% believe that positive things happen when we give matters over to prayer.
- Second, please consider prioritizing regular presence among the body of Christ. Of the 144 people who attended worship last year, 62 attended 50% of the time or more. In this season of debating which path is most beneficial for our church, I can think of nothing more beneficial for our church than our people being present.
- Third, I respectfully ask for continued giving throughout this discernment process. I sympathize with grievance against authorities who do not uphold their commitments. However, a disruption in giving to our local congregation has zero effect on them while it negatively impacts the mission of our church.
If you have identified these three requests as the first three vows of membership to a local Methodist congregation, then move to the head of the class1 During these unprecedented times, I understand that there is no great, simple answer to our present dilemma. But so long as we remain UMC, I urge you to remain faithful to our commitment to prayers, presence, and gifts in the year to come. Our faithfulness is made possible only by God’s faithfulness.
So, I cannot claim any resolutions, but I offer the above as a few of my priorities for the coming year and a sign of faith in the goodness of our God. I look forward to our time together while hoping to remember that while it will not always be fun or easy, it will be with meaning and purpose. In one year’s time, may we look back with gratitude and wonder at what God has done.
Happy new year,