Archive for January, 2012

Non-Christmas Eve service for kids worked well!

Posted: January 24, 2012 by efenster in Stories

Most of us in church work have already turned our attention to how we will observe the season of Lent.  Before we completely say good-bye to the Christmas season, take time to reflect on what seemed to work well for you this past year and what you would change. 

Share your thoughts here by posting to the bottom of this article.  Here’s a reflection from the pastor of a church that decided to hold its Christmas Eve service for children the week prior to Christmas…

I was frustrated with our schedule of Christmas eve (8:00 p.m.) and Christmas day (10 a.m.) services this [past] year, especially in regards to young families. Christmas eve is a busy night for families and whenever we offered the service it was going to be ‘wrong” for many young families. (i.e. in conflict with various family plans). Christmas day at 10:00? Not a good time with children. (Perhaps Suzanna Wesley could have gathered the family around but for the rest of us mere mortals… not gonna happen.)

 I expressed my frustration to a young father, Mike, who pretty bluntly said, he and his family would not be available for either service. My comment was “I think Christmas eve is probably the worst time for a Christmas eve service anyway for a young family.”

 We brainstormed. What about a family style, non-traditional Christmas eve service the Sunday before Christmas at 6:00 p.m.? Informal service, youth group kids singing solos, preschool kids sharing a brief Christmas carol, the Christmas story read to the children from a children’s picture book at the feet of “Grandpa Mike” in a rocking chair, a carol or two, a procession to the fellowship hall for birthday cake for Jesus and some carols as a group. AND everyone would be on their way by 7:00 p.m. since the next day was a school day.

 It as worth a try, right?

 The evening came. We had no clue who might come and how many. Not wanting to be depressed I didn’t really peek to see the “crowd” (20 or 30?) until a couple of minutes before 6:00. About 150 people, among them 30+ kids under 5 years old came up to sit with “Grandpa Mike” to hear the story! It actually felt a little “crowded”. Almost all of them stayed for cake and carols.

 — Rev. Chris Danielson, First United Methodist Church, LaGrange, IN

New Hispanic church plant launching

Posted: January 13, 2012 by efenster in Information

Last week I mentioned a new church planting effort in the City of Gary.  Nearby, the Indiana Conference–in partnership with First United Methodist Church in Hammond–is launching a new Hispanic United Methodist Church called Iglesia Torre Fuerte (Strong Tower Church).  The church is being planted by Esequiel & Suri Becerra and is now meeting in the chapel of First UMC. 

Last November, the Becerras and twenty others who are apart of the congregation became members of First UMC.  Eventually, however, the new Hispanic congregation may become a separate chartered United Methodist Church.  Within five miles of the church there are 50,000 Hispanic individuals!  This is the highest concentration of Hispanics in the entire Indiana Conference.

The project has received a $110,000 Church Development grant, which will be paid out over two years.  Rev. Sergio Reyes, from the conference Church Development staff, is serving as the Becerra’s coach.

PLEASE PRAY FOR THE BECERRAS!  Last week, Pastor Esequiel Becerra’s health mysteriously began to fail and he in now in a hospital in Chicago.  Pray for his complete healing.  Pray for Suri and their family too… 

— Ed Fenstermacher

New Indiana UM churches being launched

Posted: January 5, 2012 by efenster in Uncategorized

Exciting news!  The Indiana Conference is launching two new United Methodist churches.  

Gary UM Plant  —  One is being started in the City of Gary in the North District.  It is being led by Rev. David McLin, who had pastored Gary Fifth Ave. UMC a few years ago.  David is a full-time public school teacher and will be working the next six months on developing the foundation for the new church.  He is being coached by Rev. Candace Lewis, a UM church planter and consultant with our denomination’s Path One church-planting effort.

According to MissionInsite data, 86,000 people are living in the City of Gary.  On any given weekend last year, however, only 0.25% of the population (just over 200) people were worshiping in one of the four Gary United Methodist churches in the city.  In comparison, UMCs are reaching 4.0% of the population living in South Bend.  

The conference has talked about starting a new church in Gary since 1980.  In 2008, foundational work was begun.  In 2010, Lennie Hawkins–a laywoman from Gary Christ UMC–initiated a prayer effort to undergird the effort.  A meeting was held that same year with the area church pastors and laity.  This past year God led Rev. McLin to us.  An initial plan was developed, and the Conference Church Development Team agreed to provide a six-month $30,000 grant to fund the first phase of development. 

We know many have been praying for this effort.  Please continue!  Pray for Rev. McLin and the other Gary UM churches.  May God reach many unchurched persons with the Good News of Jesus Christ as a result of this new church plant and our other churches’ efforts.

Next week, I’ll be sharing an article about our other new-church plant that will be targeting Hispanics in the city of Hammond.  — Ed Fenstermacher