Dear Salem Family,
Well, another Annual Conference has come and gone, and it was an exciting, interesting time to conduct the “business” of the statewide church, learn from guest speakers and one another, and enjoy fellowship with clergy and laity from throughout the state. There’s so much to talk about, and so little space, so I want to start with the most important thing first.
Just below is a picture of the certificate Salem received for faithfully fulfilling our apportionment covenant in 2016. These were given out after Sunday’s Plenary session, to those churches that had met or exceeded their apportionment.
What’s so important about apportionments? You may not realize it, but a full 30% of apportionments received by the Conference are allocated to church revitalization, new ministries, and mission churches. That means nearly a third of the budget is used directly to restore and maintain the health of local churches, establish and support new ministries, and support mission churches.
In addition, some 49% of apportionment dollars go toward connectional ministries both in the state and in the world around us. Connectional ministries are those ministries that happen when the many individual congregations of the church pool their resources with other congregations in order to accomplish more good. (These include our camping and campus ministries, health and welfare ministries, etc.)
I won’t bore you with a complete budget breakdown, but one last item I want to share is this: only about 5% of apportionment dollars go toward administrative costs in the Conference. The focus of the budget, by far, is on providing for our local congregations, and for our neighbors in need both locally and around the world. By faithfully paying our apportionments, we are keeping covenant with all of the other churches in the conference, and nationwide, because we are far stronger together, than we are separately.
What else? Let’s see…while hearing from Adam Hamilton—Senior Pastor at the Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City, author, and speaker—was interesting, the high point for me was the presentation by the Youth Panel on Saturday night. Made up of about a dozen young women from throughout the Conference, the panel provided a lot of insight into how they thought the church should be reaching out to, and interacting with, young people. They see mental health issues—suicide, depression, and I’ll lump in bullying here—as key issues for their generation. In view of that, they suggested that mental health become a focus for churches wishing to speak to youth. One of the ways to do that was to address mental health in worship, or by other means, during Mental Health Awareness Month in May.
There were other insights from the panel—not surprisingly, use of social media was highly thought of as a tool for reaching out, and other suggestions to help keep the interest of young people during worship (particularly the boring sermon part!) were presented. There were so many good ideas, thoughtfully presented, that I just came away from that presentation with a feeling of optimism…and a determination to use what I’d heard.
I’m running out of space, so I’m just going to cap this report at those two items, and I think that’s fitting. The first speaks to the faithfulness of all who support Salem financially, so that Salem can engage in its ministries as well as help support so many others; the second speaks to the future, which will be very interesting, indeed, if the church will heed the words of its young people. We are truly blessed!
See you in church!
(Earlier A Word from the Pastor messages may be found in Newsletters.)