What A Year
I had hoped this year would look different. I shared during Christmas Eve that when I sat down in the empty sanctuary on March 15, 2020, I really thought that the "pandemic" (new buzz word at the time) would last a few weeks, maybe a couple months. I thought that by summer 2020, the whole thing would be behind us.
The pandemic forced businesses, nonprofits, and churches to get creative or die. In a time when it would have been much easier for us to close up or shut down, we stepped up. In 2021, we kept stepping up.
Community Relief Program
The Church in Aurora continued their commitment to helping the hurting through our Community Relief Program. In 2021, we are set to help more than 8,000 people (nearly 160 each week). We've helped with housing, utilities, food, clothes, school supplies, and much more. Liz and her team of volunteers have been shining the light of Christ to thousands in our community.
During a time when we couldn't even meet in person or host events in person, the Long-Range Planning Committee (LRPC) kept going. Led by Mike Esposito and the contracted consultant, the LRPC developed a purpose statement, goals, and timelines. They helped get us pointed in the right direction to move into the future that we believe God is calling us to.
One of the goals was to grow our small group ministry, and you all helped us do that beyond our imagination. We set out to start a few new groups, and because of the excitement, we started 9 new groups that attracted over 70 participants and leaders. All of the reviews were positive, leaving us with hope for future small group offerings. Special thanks to Reed Fuller, who helped put the whole program together, including recruiting and training new leaders.
What a group of Trustees! Together they helped make proactive decisions that kept our building in good shape, and they oversaw a MAJOR exterior renovation that restored the steeple and the stained glass window in the North Chapel. And, they did it without having to raise money!
With the pandemic forcing us into live streaming, we had to get ready. The IT Committee and Paula Messner researched equipment and providers and made what you see, happen.
Lance Bell and the Stewardship Committee raised awareness of our volatile giving base (having so many heavy hitters). As a result, they set a lofty goal to raise $525,000 by 225 giving units. While we didn't hit the target, the effort was amazing. We increased our giving over 2020 by $35,000. Nearly 100 families chose to increase their giving by more than $80,000! That is amazing! Thanks to the committee, to Lance Bell, and to all of those who stepped out in faith and stepped up their donations.
And So Much More
Of course these things don't even take into account the 13 new members we received, the youth ministry program, the CE events (in cooperation with the Fellowship Committee), the 40 people who came to hang Christmas decorations, and so much more that I probably don't even know about.
I list all of these things, not to toot our horn, but to point out the great things we have been able to accomplish, IN SPITE OF A PANDEMIC! It is so easy to focus on what's wrong that we don't see what's going right.
It's my prayer that we keep up; that we keep finding ways to allow God to show up in and through us; that we keep shining light into the world; that we keep taking the next right step into God's desired future for our church.
With Grace and Joy,