Bishops Notes – November 3, 2008

November 3, 2008

Dear Colleagues,

I want to thank you for your prayers for the Board of Administration meetings. This was the first time that the board met since General Conference and the Lord has given us a group of godly and capable leaders to serve the FMCiC in this way. We have many reasons to be encouraged – especially in the church development area. We learned that there are presently 20 church plants being tracked and an additional 30 ideas that are being considered. In the area of Global Ministries, six gateway city initiatives continue to develop in healthy ways.

Of course, you have been aware from the monthly statements that the support for Core and the Giving Streams is very strong. This is a real blessing, first, because it is a symbol of confidence in the FMCiC on the part of local church leaders and, secondly, the additional funds are helping to offset the investment income that will not be coming from endowments these days.

I’m particularly amazed by what is happening in the Church Development Giving Stream. Last year the goal was doubled from $50,000 to $100,000. The Church Development Committee felt like it was a crazy goal but they knew that we needed more resources to fulfill the mission that God has given us to reach communities in Canada. With the help of the General Conference offering and a designated bequest that has come in, this goal has been met and exceeded. In addition a growing number of churches are taking on the $300 per month challenge that was given at General Conference. With the current economic conditions it is clear that we cannot rely on investment income as we have in the past.

You may remember that in 2005, we entered the Minister’s Pension Fund deficit crisis and had to assume an unexpected additional burden of $300,000/year. Preliminary estimates are that this may grow by over 2½ times for 2009. We’ll know once the actuary has done his work. Thankfully, a strategy is in place to handle this in 2009 through the use of reserve funds and cuts to the 2009 operating budget. Randy Miller, our BOA chair, asked me to assure the pastors that their pensions are not in jeopardy. Please pray for the Management Committee that is working very hard on this these days.

As you can imagine, these are very challenging times but we have the assurance that the Lord Jesus is in the midst of all of this as he was on the day that he asked the disciples to feed the five thousand in John six. It was a huge and impossible thing he was asking them to do but you may recall John’s comment that Jesus said this “to test them for he himself knew what he was going to do.” (John 6:6)

A Task Force has been formed to begin the process of system analysis as reported at General Conference. The new Generosity Core Value requested by General Conference has been drafted and approved. I will be sending that out later this week along with 2009 dates for the Regional Gatherings and Ministers Conferences.

We offer congratulations to Kathy Doornekamp (Westport FMC) on being approved as a Ministerial Candidate.

Madoc FM/Wesleyan, Madoc, ON and Lakeside Community Church, Salmon Arm, BC, churches went into transition this week.

Have a great week serving Jesus.

Blessings,
Bishop Keith