|Review, Reassess, and Renew: preparing for a Different Future for WUMC|
On May 21 the congregation is invited on a one day journey filled with opportunities to listen to each other and God. Life at the Williamsville United Methodist Church is not what it once was, and that might feel like a challenge. The good news is that the church is not what it can be through the transforming grace and Jesus Christ.
Our day together will start with a time to listen to each other, followed by a taking a look at the life of the congregation through the years. Before the day is done, there will be a clear identification of the “tipping points” that changed the congregation’s trajectory. In other words, we explore what happened in the life of the congregation that initiated a slow decline that has lasted for the past decade.
Additionally, next faithful steps will be identified so that the congregation can begin the work of being a vital mission outpost with the people in Williamsville and the surrounding communities.
Watch future issues of the Messenger for beginning and ending times of the gathering and for additional information.
|New Church Administrator Named|
Brenda J. Barton has been named new church administrator at Williamsville UMC, according to an announcement by the Staff-Parish Relations Committee.
Originally from this area, Brenda returned to WNY in 2014 and most recently has been employed at Ed Young’s True Value Hardware. A graduate of Wesley Theological Seminary and a certified church business administrator, Brenda has wanted to return to church work. She has served as executive administrator at Christ United Methodist Church in Fairfax Station, Va., and as director of administrative services and conference treasurer in Springfield, Ill.
During her 17 years of active duty with the U.S. Army, Brenda became the first woman commissioned in a combat arms branch. She was the president and founder of Forever Home Feline Ranch, a feline sanctuary and animal support organization in Central Ill., and has six cats of her own.
Brenda will begin her duties Apr. 18 after returning from her wedding and honeymoon with a high school classmate, Bill Everett, with whom she reconnected at a class reunion. Brenda has two sons, one living in Springfield, Va., with his wife and son; the other in Springfield, Ill. Please extend Brenda a warm WUMC welcome as you meet and interact with her.
|Elevator is Now in Operation|
Ann Killian, chairperson of the Building Committee for our new elevator, reports that the new elevator is now in operation. More details, including plans for formal dedication of the elevator, will be forthcoming.
|Move Announced for Pastor Rich Neal|
Bishop Mark Webb, in an announcement shared with the congregation last Sunday, Mar. 13, has indicated his intention to appoint Pastor Rich Neal to serve as an intentional interim ministry specialist at the North Rose United Methodist Church, effective July 1. In returning to this specialized ministry, in which he worked several years ago, Rich will help the North Rose congregation make a successful transition from a long-term pastor to new pastoral leadership.
Our district superintendent, the Rev. Wayne Butler, is working with Bishop Webb and our Staff-Parish Relations Committee to name a new pastor for our congregation. The SPRC will keep you informed about the selection process. Meanwhile, please keep Pastor Neal and the Williamsville and North Rose congregations in your prayers during this transition.
|Nominations Sought for Evangelism Award|Nominations are open for the 2016 Harry Denman Evangelism Awards. The awards honor United Methodists in each conference whose exceptional evangelism brings people into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. Each year, annual conferences join the Foundation for Evangelism in recognizing one youth, one clergy member and one layperson in their conference. The 2015 recipients in the Upper New York Conference were lay member Virgia Phoenix and the Rev. David Martin. For details, visit http://foundationforevangelism.org/grants/harry-denman-evangelism-award/ .
|Budget Up, or Budget Down|— A proposed modest increase to the General Church budget is heading to the 2016 General Conference session, when the lawmaking assembly meets May 10-20 in Portland, Ore. However, a number of United Methodists say that in the wake of continuing declines in United States worship attendance, the General Church needs to tighten its belt. Read more about this at www.umc.org/news-and-media/gc2016-should-the-general-church-budget-go-up.
|Welcome Ministry Ready to Launch|
The project to welcome new Amherst residents with a postcard inviting them to worship at Williamsville United Methodist Church is about to get into operation. Our website is almost ready, the postcard design is close to finalized, and we’ll soon start mailing them out.
Now the project needs your financial support because we need to purchase the postcards and the postage to mail them. The U.S. Postal Service charges 35 cents to deliver a standard postcard so we're asking if you would make a contribution – either with a check made out to Williamsville United Methodist Church with a notation "Postcards," or if you are at the Post Office, buy a sheet of 35 cent stamps. Put your contribution in the weekly offering plate, and it will get to the right place. Thank you for your help!
|Telling Our Story at WUMC|
Approximately 35 members of WUMC gathered Jan. 31 to begin telling the story of our congregation. Participants, who gathered in the parlor over coffee and light refreshments, started by pouring over more than six decades of photographs from the congregation’s collection and sharing stories about their memories from those years.
Pastor Rich then led discussion about five key markers in our recent history: significant transitions or changes in the congregation; challenges the congregation faced; significant ministries outside the congregation; what made me feel most spiritually alive; and what made me feel most connected with the congregation.
More than 120 responses have been catalogued under these headings, by decade (1960s, 70s, 80s, etc.). The largest number of responses were about “What made me feel most connected with the congregation.” To obtain a complete list of responses, send an email to Pastor Rich Neal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Looking to Filter Lead-Contaminated Waters in Flint Michigian|
(By Susan Kim, UMCOR) — When the water in Flint, Mich., became contaminated with lead, the community of 99,000 residents faced a crisis that left many vulnerable to health problems, stress, and financial strain. As the Federal Emergency Management Agency, state government, and National Guard respond, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is also assisting some of the most vulnerable people in Flint.
Supported with a $10,000 emergency grant from UMCOR, United Methodists are working with government agencies and relief groups to provide filtration pitchers, replacement filters, and bottled water to people in Flint.
Upper New York Conference’s Crossroads District first contacted UMCOR about the water situation in Flint in October 2015. “Together, we took a pro-active ecumenical approach to the crisis months before it became national news,” said Greg Forrester, who leads UMCOR’s U.S. Disaster Response work.
“We have eight United Methodist churches that serve Flint,” explained Peter Plum, emergency water crisis coordinator. Pastors of the churches met to discuss how to respond to the water crisis, and they agreed the best way to coordinate a church-wide response was to hire a coordinator. Now Plum is helping to reach some of the most vulnerable people in Flint. “The county and the city are offering everything that we are offering in terms of filters,” Plum explained, “so we decided to get involved with constituents and neighbors that don’t necessarily trust the government.”
Funds became tighter for both government and non-government organizations when the water filters lasted less than the expected time. “When this first happened, the water was so bad that a 90-day filter was lasting 30 days,” said Plum.
When will water in Flint be safe? It’s difficult to tell, agreed Plum and others. “We’re worried about long-term effects,” he said. The contamination began in April 2014, when the city discontinued purchasing water from Detroit. The new source was water drawn from the Flint River and treated in Flint. Several months after this conversion, unsafe contaminates and lead began to appear in the water.
In October 2015, Flint resumed its agreement to purchase water from Detroit, but there are still unsafe levels of contamination and risks of chemicals and lead in the water. Because of the corrosiveness of the water supplied from the Flint River for several months, there are outdated pipes throughout the water distribution system that are failing and releasing contaminates.
Plum is now working toward expanding the response by working with ecumenical partners, as well as looking into which churches in Flint could serve as “safe water stations” for the community. “We need both an ecumenical and a long-term strategy,” said Plum.
Your gift, designated Flint Response, Advance #901670, helps us participate through UMCOR with congregations nationally and world-wide to respond to this crisis immediately and over the long haul.
|Inviting New Area Residents to WUMC|
Ed Howard is starting a project that will invite new area residents to worship with us at Williamsville UMC, and he needs your help! Using the real estate listings from The Buffalo News, Ed will send postcards to new residents inviting them to view a special WUMC website to learn more about our church (when are your services, where do I park, is WUMC handicapped accessible, and more). He would like to include a video montage of our members answering the question, “What do you like best about WUMC?” Ed needs people who are willing to be in the video – no names or other identification, just you saying what you like best in one or two sentences. If you are willing to help, Ed will be available after the 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. worship celebrations for the next two weeks. Please volunteer!
|Forum on Church’s Worldwide Nature|
The Connectional Table, a coordinating body in The United Methodist Church, is launching the newest topic in the #CTTalks online forum. The forum is a series of videos and social media conversations around key topics related to the 2016 General Conference, to be held May 10-20 in Portland, Ore. January features a month-long series on the worldwide nature of The United Methodist Church. The videos and the handout will be available on the Connectional Table website at www.umc.org/cttalks-worldwide-nature-theology .
|More Announcements and Events|Click this icon to see additional Announcements about upcoming services, meetings, and events at WUMC. Announcements are grouped by ministry area such as Family Life, Missions, and Worship.