We have been supporting the Harbor financially for several years, but recently took our support to a new level. We have been sending teams to serve there and so far 24 people have went over the first two trips. We have put together hundreds of crafts for the kids at the various sites. Between 50-70 people came together to help with that initiative. This weekend our folks are bringing in 20 9x13 meals, several desserts, and a handful of gift cards to purchase fresh supplies as needed for salads. Our people have been so eager to partner with our brothers and sisters in the SMC to reach Detroit. We are even having to add more opportunities to give for people who didn’t grab a 9x13 quick enough. An increased focus outside our walls is bringing a lot of enthusiasm and passion inside. We're excited to see what God is doing as we work together to reach Detroit!
Because of the location we are in we have done ministry to people with addictions for years, but over the past several months we have had several reports of people who have been clean for over 60 days. These people are becoming active in our church and are following Jesus. Also, our weekly AA meeting is giving 30-50 people a place to grow in their recovery journey.
Some months ago, Pastor Ray Babcock accepted a position at the World Ministries Center in Indianapolis but continued to work bi-vocationally under his appointment at Three Oaks. When the Superintendent met with the Board on two occasions, it became clear to them that they no longer had the financial resources nor the community ministry that was needed to reach out to their community.
A few weeks ago, the delegate and Pastor contacted Superintendent Bruce with news that the church had convened a Society meeting and voted to close itself. The following excerpt from their Society meeting is recorded below;
Moved to discontinue worship services. The last service to be 5/27/2018. The conference is to be notified for the next step in dissolving the society. The motion was supported by Bernie Abendshien. Voting was done through paper ballots. All 15 votes cast were in support of the motion; motion carried unanimously.
We are grateful for the rich legacy of the Three Oaks church across its 109 year history. Countless lives were changed forever, ministries across the globe were supported, children and young people were discipled and new leaders were developed and deployed. Only heaven knows the combined weight of Kingdom advancement that took place through our Three Oaks Church. The members of the congregation will be encouraged to affiliate with the closest Free Methodist Church in Niles Michigan to continue in that same Kingdom work in the days ahead.
Freedom Sunday has been a powerful movement of God over the past 8 years and lands on September 30th of this year. We encourage you to invite the leaders under your care to participate. You can download a letter detailing Set Free's projects this year and promotional materials for you to use. Once a leader registers they will be in contact and provide all that is needed to make this Freedom Sunday a powerful event.
This past year of ministry has been so exciting for the entire Van Tifflin family! A year ago now, we were still actively partnership building/fund raising with Free Methodist World Missions in order to relocate to Chiang Mai, Thailand. Last summer was filled with many church visits and several different family camps to attend. By July 2017 we knew our plans to move to Thailand were becoming more realistic. Funding came in and our missionary support account was fully committed for the year ahead, we were now ready to purchase one-way air tickets for our family of four. We departed Flint Bishop airport on August 9th, 2017.
Settling into a new country, culture, house, ministry role, etc… with two children under the age of three was a big undertaking! A couple months into this big move to our mission field, we all came down with a severe strain of the flu. Having to figure out the medical procedures in a foreign country was also a new experience for us! Thankfully we received good care and were all healed, praise the Lord!
We have been so proud of Jason this past school year, he was enrolled in an all Thai kindergarten school just around the corner from our house. He told me after a couple days of school “Daddy, they all speak Thai and I don’t know anything they are saying!” After just a month or so, Jason began understanding more and more of the language and conversations at school. Jason is now beginning to identify and write the Thai manuscript. They say that full immersion into the language and culture is the best way to learn a new language. He mentioned to me just the other day that he enjoys attending his school. Jason also has been studying the piano, attending lessons one day per week. He has really enjoyed learning this new skill.
Hlawn Hlawn has just completed a sixth month course of speaking, reading and writing Thai language. She will continue this course work for the next year or two. She’s doing an amazing job!
Seth has been traveling for ministry work quite often throughout several S.E. Asia nations (Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia). Seth is serving as the Asia Area Administrator for Free Methodist World Missions. Seth is also the Executive Director of In Better Hands. In Better Hands is now an Affiliate Ministry Partner of FMC-USA/FMWM. Please visit the website to see the Kingdom work that is being done in S.E. Asia through In Better Hands.
Seth and Hlawn Hlawn have both really enjoyed creating new friendships in Chiang Mai. Hlawn Hlawn has had the opportunity several times to share her faith and relationship with Jesus to international classmates. We’ve invited friends over to our house and have even shown the Jesus Film. Please pray for the Van Tifflin family as they continue their work in S.E. Asia, drawing people to Jesus through their ministry work and everyday living.
C’mon out of the cold and join with the SMC team in Frankenmuth for the 2018 Pastor/Spouse Retreat Feb. 5-7 at the Bavarian Inn Lodge. Doug & Margie Newton will help warm up your relationship with your spouse and with the Lord as they share how “Love Can Deepen During Life’s Demands.” Many couples find the challenges, expectations, workloads & changing seasons of life pulling them apart and into separate worlds. The Newtons will share form their own experiences how, by God’s grace and their very specific commitments and patterns, their love relationship has become more and more fulfilling. They will share key factors that apply to any couple or person in ministry.
Now is the time for churches to submit their 2018 FMWM commitments. It is quick and easy and requires no login. Just click here to enter your information!
You can adjust these at any time after submitting them by calling 800.342.5531 or by emailing Debra Hancock.
The 2017 SMC Global Partnership Book distributed at Annual Conference contains a description of our SMC Global Partners and counties (except some creative access places). This can be found in the Conference Resource Google Drive.
The church gathered together to baptize 7 of our youth at Lime Lake this past summer. It was a wonderful time full of celebration, food, and play. We also had two families come up to us recently who were desperate to take care of some bills or face eviction or other problems. I briefly shared their need during service, set an offering plate on the stage, and hundreds of dollars came in to take care of them, even in a time where we’ve had to push people to donate towards buying our building.
-Pastor Jamin Bradley
I think of John and Tamara Skultety. We've ministered to them for one year, first meeting them through the suicide of their son. John let me know he wasn't a church guy and not to expect to see him here. Over time God touched both of them in a deep way. The church has ministered to their entire family, and now they are an active part of our life and will begin serving as greeters and possibly on our worship team next month. Both express their faith in Jesus, their love for the church, and their commitment to continue to grow as a follower of Christ.
We also had a Family Festival in September. We wanted to have an event for the community to bridge our summer children's programming to fall programs. We had about 300 people come from the neighborhood and many of these have connected with our children's ministry.
-Pastor Scott Gentry
We were a well-organized army at our Tractor Show the second Sunday of August. It is a big event where we invite the community. Farmers brought their tractors, we had church out of doors, we had a great music group, free food, and I was told this is the first year there was great interaction with the farmers and they even came inside to the luncheon we provided. We pray they will come to church as we keep them informed. Rick Jewett began this event and it is a big draw from the community.
-Pastor Bill Fix
During our ESL camp we had a 75-year-old volunteer tell us at the end of the camp that this was the most meaningful thing she had ever done in her life!
-Pastor Erick Ewaskowitz
Joyce admitted that, after a lifetime in church, she was not sure she was heaven-bound. After a teaching series on this subject and corresponding small group study, Joyce and eight others recently testified at a Sunday gathering that they were now certain of their eternal destination (10 other people also came forward and publicly affirmed their faith).
-Pastor Greg Nitchman
Spring Arbor Free Methodist Church is leading a VISA trip to Jordan to help with refugees through Pastor Haythem's church in Amman, March 12-22. Currently 5 people are planning to go, including a physical therapist and a registered nurse. If you have interest in joining this group, please contact Pastor Dottie Miller for further details at email@example.com.
On September 14th we held a hip-hop concert with the professional crew, Tell The Truth Ministries. We had 30 people in attendance and 5 new teens who had never been to the church before came to see it! We played games, ate great food, and then had an awesome experience from our 3 performers! Our teens loved the energy and message of TTT ministries, and one of the things we heard them say over and over again that night was, “I didn't know Christian rap could be this good!” TTT ministries is excited to come back again after the first of the year!
A recent sermon was centered on how to keep our torch burning. At the conclusion of the sermon, I asked those who were in need of forgiveness from a sin in their lives to write out the sin on paper, bring it to the Lord in prayer at the altar and then place their paper in a basket up front as I prayed. When I had concluded the prayer our altar was full with the need for forgiveness. Forgiveness is so grand!
-Pastor Bob Bolton
Journey of Faith Community is growing! They now have 2 groups meeting and their Facebook page is getting lots of weekly responses. They are currently in the process of waiting for other spaces for groups to open up, as well as preparing for their first Celebration event in January.
Harbor Dinner Church is making great strides forward as well. This week they served dinner to 65 people. They are encouraged that even some of their attendees are actually helping them with serving, setting up and taking down and partnering together. Those who come are really open to God working in their lives and 12 have been baptized.
Earlier this year, the Conference Executive Team brought a proposal to the Conference Leadership Board to consider leasing the former Family Life Radio station building located just west of Spring Arbor on I-94. This facility has been for sale and vacant for four years. The proposal contained a rationale for the need of new space as well as a financial due diligence analysis. During our fall meeting, the CLB toured the building and examined the proposal in detail. Subsequently, the CLB unanimously authorized Mark Dowley to execute the lease which we have recently signed. We expect to take possession of the facility sometime after the first of the year.
WHY NEW SPACE?
Our staff team has grown. Since making our strategic hire last year with the addition of Assistant Superintendent Michael Forney the need for more space has been evident.
Our staff team is changing. The reality is that our conference has changed dramatically since we created the Conference Administrator position almost a decade ago. Mark’s departure gives us the ability to realign our Conference staff team according to new realities and our current priorities. We believe that it makes sense to redesign his position to that of a Conference business team consisting of part-time personnel.
Our current office space is inadequate. We have virtually no collaborative/creative space for our current staff team to work. This creates built-in inefficiencies in our daily operations. We are also not able to have an office “work room” in order to produce and assemble larger scale projects.
WHY THIS SPACE?
The size of the facility is adequate. It will offer needed space for the new part-time business team we are hiring to replace Conference Administrator Mark Dowley. We will have space for a conference room for committee meetings, work room for projects and collaborative/creative space for our staff team.
The value of the facility is a bargain. Leased office space in the Jackson area averages $12 per square foot. The lease we have negotiated on this building is $5.46 per square foot. This makes this lease an exceptional value for us. Not only are our square foot costs much lower, but we also benefit from the additional space we need. In addition, we have negotiated an option to purchase this building with a fixed sale price. If we were to exercise our option our square foot cost would drop down to $2.36 per square foot making the long-term impact of owning this facility advantageous to our operations budget by driving down costs. In the short run, we will expend funds from our current cash reserves in order to get the building “move in ready”. Despite these initial costs, our long-term operational costs will be reduced in the days ahead.
The condition of the facility is very good. We have had the building professionally inspected and it is in great condition.
The location of the facility is excellent. This building is conveniently located just west of Spring Arbor on the I-94 corridor at Exit #127. I-94 serves as a major artery of the Conference. It also gives our Conference more visibility and establishes our commitment to be in the geographic center of the SMC.
Does this align with our Mission as a Conference?
The mission of the SMC is to multiply disciples, leaders, groups and churches. To accomplish this mission, we must have all of the tools at our disposal which we need in order to fulfill our mission of serving, resourcing and multiplying leaders and churches. Adequate and functional office space can’t be underestimated concerning its impact on our mission.
How will this impact our current commitments to our 10/36 Multiplication Initiative?
This lease will not impact our current commitments toward multiplication! Our Conference has “two buckets” of money. The first “bucket” is our Conference operations budget which includes our current cash reserves. The costs associated with this lease will be paid for out of this “bucket”. Any giving that we have or will receive for the 10/36 Multiplication initiative funds goes into an entirely different “bucket” that cannot be used for Conference operations.
Won’t this move cost the Conference churches more money to support Conference operations?
None of the short term costs to move in are coming from local church “ministry share” giving to the Conference. The initial move in costs are coming from cash reserves from the sale of previous assets in the past few years. Our due diligence report indicates that ongoing maintenance & operational costs to this new building are budget neutral for our Conference operations budget. We have forecast that in the long-run, we will drive down our operations portion of our Conference budget.
Do we have a part-time business team in place for this transition?
Craig Simonds is a consecrated deacon and lay leader from our Dearborn Church. Craig has accepted the Part-time Business Manager position. In addition, Anna Goodsell, wife of ordained elder Gary Goodsell of our Kalamazoo Church, has accepted the position as our Conference bookkeeper. Both Craig and Anna are being trained by Mark Dowley so as to provide a seamless transition and to ensure that the historical and institutional knowledge is not lost in this transition. Both will begin their new duties after the first of the year. An additional part-time business team person will be added once the “operational gaps” become clearer to us after the first of the year.
Derik and Kim Heumann will be making a prayer and vision trip this month to Ann Arbor where they will begin church planting work in the fall of 2018. Pray for them as they join the Mission Igniter team for three days of intensive prayer, planning and dreaming on site in Ann Arbor.
Journey of Faith Community is on the move and is excited to see God answering your prayers for the 10/36 initiative. God is opening doors for Journey of Faith Community to begin their first groups. In just the last week, the door has opened for them to start multiple groups at the Lincoln Senior center, one for just seniors and several for adults of all ages. They’ve also received the go-ahead to start groups at the public library which will be open to families. As the number of groups increase, we look forward to their first monthly celebration service in January. This will be held in a local elementary school.
You can learn more about Journey of Faith on Facebook or their webpage. You can also give financially to Journey of Faith here.
God greatly blessed the relaunch at Kalamazoo Free Methodist Church. With over 150 in attendance (double the average attendance over the past two months) there was a highly energized atmosphere filling the church. The many new faces were a result of personal invitations, Facebook advertising, mailing campaign and yard signs throughout the community. Despite the monsoon-like weather conditions, people kept coming in and the umbrella brigade were kept very busy! The renovations to the church provided a welcoming atmosphere from the new Holy Grounds Café in the foyer to the completely renovated Kid’s Kingdom to the renovated sanctuary with new lighting, larger platform and new décor. Three individuals accepted Christ as their Lord during the service and nine people signed up for the next membership class coming up in three weeks! Please pray for KFM as they continue to move forward with the Recalibrate efforts.