In 2018 our five-year concentration on each of the core visions of First Church continues with an in-depth look at missions and outreach. At First Church we strive be the hands and feet of Christ through missions and outreach. Through acts of compassion, volunteering, and missional giving, we strive to make a positive difference in our community and around the world. Each month of 2018 will have its own missions focus that weâ€™ll discuss in worship, classes, and special media. Each focus will also include its own calls to action. Come be a part of what God is doing here at First Church, and letâ€™s worship God in the new year by loving our neighbors through missions.
MONTHLY MISSION FOCUS
First United Methodist Church is a church that understands the importance of missions and outreach. First Church began as a mission of the Mississippi Conference of the Methodist Church when the Rev. Alexander Talley was appointed as a missionary to Pensacola. Almost 200 years later First Church strives to share the love of God with our neighbors through Christian service and charitable giving.
Missions through Connectional Giving | Apportionments
Through the connectional structure of the United Methodist Church, we are able to do far more than any one local church could do. Together our institutions, colleges, hospitals, seminaries, missionaries, and ministers throughout the world are having a huge impact for good. The impact of 12.7 million United Methodists, in 136 countries is making a difference for good as together we witness to the love of Jesus Christ for a hurting world. Last year, United Methodists gave more than $138,000,000 to support various missions of the denomination. Connectional Giving is divided in to 10 funds which include Africa University Fund, Black College Fund, Conference Benevolence Fund, District Administration Fund, District Missions Fund, Episcopal Fund, General Administration Fund, Jurisdictional Administration Fund, Ministerial Education Fund, and World Service Fund. Apportionments are paid out of our local church general budget which is funded by your tithe.
The Bible reveals that, from the earliest times, Godâ€™s faithful community has been concerned about hunger and poverty. Helping those in need was not simply a matter of charity, but of responsibility, righteousness, and justice (Isaiah 58:6-8; Jeremiah 22:3; Matthew 25:31-46). The Israelites were commanded to leave the corners of their fields and the gleanings of harvests for the poor and aliens (Leviticus 19:9-10). Jesus taught that whatever people do to â€œthe least of these,â€ they also do him (Matthew 25:31-46). First Church runs or supports multiple missions which provide food for those in need. These missions include the Kids Feeding Program, Serving the Hungry Ministry, Ruthâ€™s Kitchen, Pastoral Care Ministries, Pensacola United Methodist Community Ministries, Loaves and Fishes, and Manna Food Pantries.
United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is the humanitarian relief and development arm of The United Methodist Church. UMCOR exists to assist United Methodists and churches to become involved globally in direct ministry to persons in need through programs of relief, rehabilitation, and service, including issues of displaced persons, hunger and poverty, and disaster response. UMCOR is often one of the first relief agencies to respond and the last to leave when disaster strikes. The Fourth Sunday of Lent (March 11, 2018) is designated as UMCOR Sunday. Donations UMCOR receives on this day, along with other undesignated gifts made throughout the year, cover the costs of doing business. This allows 100% of all other specified relief contributions throughout the rest of the year to go directly where they are needed most. UMCOR does not receive any apportionment funds, so without your offerings, UMCOR would not exist. Donations on UMCOR Sunday, along with specified gifts throughout the year are encouraged. In addition to financial contributions, UMCOR also collects Cleaning Kits (Flood Relief Buckets), Health Kits, and School Supply Kits. These kits help sustain everyday life for people who lack ready access to essential supplies when a disaster strikes.
Missions Focused on Helping Senior Adults
One of our responsibilities as followers of Christ is to love and care for the elderly and widows. James 1:27 reminds us that religion that is pure before God is to care for widows and orphans and 1 Timothy instructs us to treat all senior adults like they are our fathers and mothers. As a church we provide missions which serve senior adults and mission opportunities for senior adults to participate. We strive to involve older adults intergenerationally and in ways that empower and encourage them to use resources for skills, knowledge, experience, and spiritual insight. First Church has developed many ministries and missions that focus on senior adults. Our Pastoral Care Team and Good Shepherds visits and brings comfort to our homebound. The church works alongside organizations such as the Council on Aging to provide help for seniors in our community. Our medical closet furnishes equipment to senior adults in need of medical supplies. Through these various missions, and others, First Church lives into the mandate that is set by the Bible to assist our senior adults, the elderly, and widows.
Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference Mission Projects
In addition to the internal missions of our conference, the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference is in partnership with nine mission agencies across the Alabama-West Florida area. As a local church, we have the responsibility to support these agencies. Two of these ministries, Milk and Honey Outreach Ministries and Pensacola United Methodist Community Ministries impact our area directly and are located close to home. While all of these ministries could use financial support, there are many ways to be involved. The nine mission agencies include Alabama Rural Ministry (Lee, Sumter, Macon Counties), The Ark (Panama City), Communities of Transformation (multiple locations), Dumas Wesley Community Center (Mobile), Inner City Mission (Mobile), Mary Ellenâ€™s Hearth (Montgomery), Milk and Honey Outreach Ministries (Pensacola), Pensacola United Methodist Community Ministries (Pensacola), and QuadW Missional Internship (multiple locations).
The United Methodist Church is a global church and we desire to serve in missions to equip and transform people and places for Godâ€™s mission around the world. The transforming power belongs to God and our mission is to serve and witness to what God has done and is doing, and to learn from what God is doing in every land where disciples gather in the name of Jesus Christ. We experiences and engage in Godâ€™s mission by serving others, ready to cross every boundary to call for true human dignity among all peoples, especially among those regarded as the least of Godâ€™s children, all the while making disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world. In addition to supporting international missions through connectional giving and United Methodist programs, such as UMCOR, the church also contributes and supports international missions organizations such as Future 4 Haiti and Bahamas Methodist Habitat, and organizes an annual international mission trip giving the congregation the opportunity to serve alongside our brothers and sisters around the world.
United Methodist Women Related Missions
Mission and Outreach is at the heart of the ministry of The United Methodist Women (UMW) at First Church. The United Methodist Women is a community of women whose purpose is to know God and to experience freedom as whole persons through Jesus Christ; to develop a creative, supportive fellowship; and to expand concepts of mission through participation in the global ministries of the church. Our chapter of the UMW was founded in 1890 and has grown to have a membership of over 160, with seven circles providing an opportunity for Bible study, mission emphasis and projects, and fellowship. Last year the UMW raised over $31,000 for local ministries and missions through various fundraising activities, including the annual events of Saturday Morning with Friends, Designing Womens Luncheon, and the Christmas Creations Arts and Crafts Show. In addition to raising money, and being actively involved in all mission areas of the church, the UMW also runs Suit Yourself, a clothes closet for women in need who are retuning to work.
AUGUST & SEPTEMBER
Overview of Missions and Outreach (The Growing Season)
In August and September we take time to focus on what it means to be a disciple of Christ through our annual discipleship program, The Growing Season. At First Church we have five core visions that guide our ministry: Worship, Education, Missions, Evangelism, and Stewardship. These five visions are based on our mission statement of our church and help us to grow as disciples of Christ by putting our faith into action. Our primary purpose at First Church is worship, and through worship we learn that creation is made whole as we come together to glorify God. Through Christian Education we discover who we are as followers of Christ and learn what it means to be a Christian. Service in missions and outreach challenges us to love our neighbor and love God, while evangelism encourage us to live out the Gospel in our interactions with everyone around us. And through stewardship we respond to God in love and devotion by sacrificially giving to God. Additionally, because of our extended focus on Missions and Outreach in 2018, we will view each of these five principles through the lens of Missions and Outreach.
Communities of Support
Church is not for perfect people. We all struggle and need communities of support to help us through the pitfalls of life. While communities of support can vary greatly, they all serve a common purpose. Through these groups we learn to serve one another through the shared carrying of burdens and are strengthened in the areas we struggle. Community Groups, the broadest of these communities of support, are intimate groups of 8-12 people that commit to meet and connect with each other. They encourage one another to grow in their understanding of the Gospel as they live out their faith. Community Groups are formed by demographic, interest, and stage of life. Other specific communities of support available at First Church also often include Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, GriefShare, Divorce Care, and healthy living classes.
We participate in ecumenical missions (missions not specifically affiliated with the United Methodist Church) with the theological understanding that through faith in Jesus Christ we are made members-in-common of the one body of Christ. We invest ourselves in ecumenical missions, laboring together with the help of God toward the salvation, health, and peace of all people. We participate and support a variety of local and global ecumenical mission organizations through individual and group contributions and volunteer support. Examples of ecumenical missions we support include (but are not limited to) Council on Aging, Future for Haiti Missions, Manna Food Pantries, Milk and Honey Outreach Ministries, and United Ministries.
Missions which Help Children and Youth
We are called to care for children. Isaiah 1:17 commands us to â€œLearn to do good! Seek justice! Help the oppressed! Defend the orphan! Fight for the rights of widows!â€ Scripture also tells us to teach children the words of God (Deuteronomy 4:10; 6:7) and not to prevent them from discovering Jesus (Matthew 19:14; Mark 10:14; Luke 18:16). When children are cared for, they learn to care for others and for their world. There are an estimated 153 million orphaned and vulnerable children around the world. In the United States there are nearly 400,000 children in the foster care system. As a denomination, The United Methodist Church houses, feeds, and clothes millions of children around the globe each year. The United Methodist Women at First Church set a great example, giving generously and supporting missions specifically focused on helping children and women. At First Church we teach our children and youth to serve in missions and to help their brothers and sisters in need. Children and youth are active participants in all aspects of the missions and outreach program. Additionally, as a local church, we participate in a variety of missions that focus on helping children. These missions include (but are not limited to) the United Methodist Childrenâ€™s Home, Kids Feeding Program, United Ministries, Angel Tree Program, Great Day of Giving, White Christmas Offering, and Milk and Honey Outreach Ministries.