Pastor's Page

September 2022 

“BE THE CHANGE” YOU WISH TO SEE IN YOUR CHURCH!  (Mahatma Ghandi-adapted/ paraphrased)

 

”But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you... (1Peter 2:9-10- The MSG)

 

Dear God’s Chosen ones at Racine 1st UMC,

 

My prayerful and heartfelt greetings to you and your family in the name of Jesus Christ, the One who calls, empowers  and sends us to be witnesses to his love and saving grace to all who have not yet come to know and accept him as their Savior and Lord. I also hope and pray that your summer is going well in His Mighty Name!

 

Please permit me to draw our attention to the following reflection question and statements as they relate to our “Church.” Have you ever thought and said to yourself:

-       What my church needs is…

-       I wish somebody would do something about…….

-       I would love to see  Racine 1st UMC start……

-       Our church/ congregation just doesn’t have enough….

-       Why hasn’t anyone in our church ever..…..

 

I hope you are able to honestly complete those statements.  Alongside those statements is a very interesting sinking ship and the passenger analogy question:

“Are you more of a passenger than a captain at church?” by Sierra Wendt.

Apparently, a friend of Sierra from a different church that was faced with decline in membership approached and told her: “I just don’t want to stay on a ship that’s sinking!”  Sierra responded, “Maybe it’s time for you to step up and take actions!”

 

My friends in the faith and members of Racine 1st UMC, does Sierra’s analogy and comment to her friend ring a bell? I believe they do!  I’ve heard the “sinking ship” analogy in reference to a congregation experiencing decline in membership!

 

We are constantly reminded of the true definition and meaning of what the word “Church” is from the Holy Bible, the Hymns and Spiritual choruses we often sing. The Apostle Peter’s letter, (1 Peter 2:9) tells us that the “Church is God’s Chosen people, set apart as His instruments to do His work and speak on his behalf, telling others about His love, mercy, grace and salvation, all of which are freely available to all who may come to believe and accept his Son Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior.

 

Similarly, in their hymn “We Are the Church,” Richard K. Avery and Donald S. Marsh clearly tell us the meaning and nature of the Church. They remind us that “Church” is not the buildings, steeples or any material thing, but God’s created and chosen people! Reflecting on the tasks and challenges involved with being “The Church,” Avery and Marsh further remind us that at times the Church blossoms, is vibrant, thrives and marches on, but other times the “Church” becomes, weary, overwhelmed and even burns out, thus  leading to declines in spiritual vibrancy and growth in  membership!  Lest we forget, those ups and down seasons are as old as the Church’s existence.

 

While it is easy to envision and visualize an “Ideal Church /Congregation”  one cannot afford to ignore the fact that throughout the ages the Church has gone through times of bliss and challenges just like in our generation! However, just as the courageous passengers on the “sinking ship” joined the lone captain to rescue their ship,  so has the Church always prevailed in troubled times. The faithful, available and willing members allowed the Holy Spirit to use them as instruments for the revival of  the struggling Church/Congregations.  Our God is always in the business of seeking out and using  believers with unshakable faith to make a difference, especially so when His Church is going through the waves and storms that seem to  hinder the free flow of His Ministry and Mission. You could possibly be that person!  As God’s chosen people, the Church is us, and our identity!

 

Therefore, it is our individual and collective responsibility to bring into real life the Church we continue to envision and visualize. Each of us must take the courage to “Be the Change we want see in Racine First United Methodist Church.” If you are wondering how to do that, here’s an opportunity for you to share your wonderful thoughts and vision of the “Ideal Church/Congregationyou would love to see our Local Church become. Plan to join us in the Sanctuary on Tuesday 6th September 2022 @ 6:p.m-8:p.m for “Vital Conversations” concerning the future of our congregation. Pray and allow God’s Spirit to use your time, talent, gift and grace so that you would become one of His Agents of Church Changers for the transformation of lives in the name and to the glory of His Son Jesus Christ.

 

Until then, you and your family have a very pleasant summer, staying cool and safe.

Blessings,

Rev. Jakes    

 

“The locusts came upon all the land of Egypt and settled on the whole country of Egypt, such a dense swarm of locusts as had never been before….(Exodus10:14NRSV).

RECLAIMING THE YEARS THE LOCUSTS HAVE STOLEN.                    ( Joel 2: 25-)

Dear Members  and Friends of Racine 1st Um Congregation,

Greetings in the name of our Redeemer, Lord and Friend, Jesus Christ. As usual, in these very busy seasons, yet, troubled and uncertain times in our lives, nation and world, rest assured of my constant prayers for your spiritual and physical health as well as your safety. Lest we forget, tough times may come and seem insurmountable, but only for a while (Psalm 30:5). God has always proven to be greater and victorious at all times in all circumstances of life. He’s always made a way where there seems to be no way!     

In view of the above premise, I write to prayerfully CALL UPON you, your family and other acquaintances to rise up and join our efforts at “RECLAIMING THE  YEARS THE LOCUSTS  HAVE STOLEN” from our personal, ministry  and missional lives!

We’ve all read and heard stories of swarm of locusts invading and destroying crops and other livelihood of people  either in the Bible, other writings or  verbally told in today’s

 

world. In all those stories of locusts’ infestations, God has always intervened by revealing possible solutions that, when heeded, have rescued and saved some, if not all, of the affected people and their communities. The people have always been the willing and available instruments that God used to overcome their own adversities.

I need not tell you, like destructive locust plagues, over the last three or more  years, Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its numerous variants, have held our lives captives, infested our communities, nations and the world. It has taken away our loved ones and even deprived us of attending any form of gathering including funerals for our deceased, our social and religious events. For examples, attendance at our “In-person” Ministry/Mission activities including, but not limited to our Sunday worship services, Sunday School classes for all ages, FFRANC  Sunday  have drastically declined!  In the past, this is the time of year when our congregation would be involved with planning for our Mission/ Outreach events such as the famous July 4th, FUN-FEST, Vacation Bible School, Young Adults Discipleship Farm Events, Saturday Lunches and Hot Meals for the Homeless. Unfortunately, all those mission-oriented programs are still on hold!

The worst of all, while our pews are practically empty each Sunday morning, we continue to pay huge monthly utilities and facility/building maintenance bills!  

My fellow Believers and members of Racine 1st UM Congregation, we cannot afford to continue with such depressing trends in our personal and congregational lives as Christian Disciples! If we and our congregation ever needed each other, this is the most opportune time! The need for our collective prayers for each of us  to take the courage to put our faith in to action is NOW!  

We must rise above our fears and any sort of skepticism in order to RECLAIM THE MINISTRY/MISSIONAL YEARS THAT THE COVID-19 LOCUST PLAGUES HAVE STOLEN from us. The harvest is plentiful, ripe and ready, but requires all willing and available hearts and hands to reap!  If you are wondering how you can participate, the following are the four suggested areas of focus to help us in the process:

1.    Mission of Church – revisit the existing mission and vision of our congregation and make suggestion.

 

2.    Building Use – Giving the current of legal issues facing the Annual conferences and some local congregations, we need to be proactive in protecting our congregation.

 

3.    Finances – Effective financial policies are very key to the life of any organization, including our Congregation.

 

4.     Music Ministry – Live and vibrant music has been an essential part public worship.

 

Again, we are appealing to all members and friends of our congregation to prayerfully consider joining any of the above listed Teams/Committees to help Reclaim the years the COVID-19 Locust has Stolen from our congregation.

DON’T  SIT THERE! DO SOMETHING FOR CHRIST!

Until then, you all have a blessed Summer- stay cool and safe in Jesus’ name.

Blessings,

            Rev. Jakes