“A child is born to us, a son is given to us, and authority will be on his shoulders. He will be
named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (CEB)
Christmas brings both celebrations and challenges…
The birth of the Christ child is cause for rejoicing! The arrival of the long awaited Messiah!
God with us – a time of great celebration! Many had waited with eager anticipation the arrival
of God’s Kingdom. The weight of the world would be on the shoulders of the newborn King!
The arrival of the Christ child, meant that the World would never be the same – and that would
mean many challenges. The earthly rulers, kings and potentates would not easily surrender their authority and submit to the Kingdom of God. The paradox of the celebration and the
challenge of Christmas are still evident in our world today.
We are preparing to celebrate the birth of the Christ child with great celebration and much
rejoicing and yet we are facing the challenges of helping to prepare the way for the Kingdom of God to inhabit the hearts of all people. The challenges of poverty, indifference, hatred, strife, war are just a few of the challenges that separate us from realizing the fullness of God’s
We have much to celebrate as a Christian Community at Rome First. The faithfulness and generosity of the people of Rome First have made it possible to support the mission of the Church through the payment of 100% of the Mission Apportionments for Rome First. This is not a new thing for Rome First; you have historically paid 100% of your Mission
Apportionments every year, but this year they were paid in full by October 31!
Another celebration of the faithfulness and generosity of Rome First is that the local Mission
Partners that we help support every year (Community Kitchen, The Free Clinic of Rome, Good
Neighbor, Rome Action Ministry, Action Ministry Transitional Home) all were funded at
100% and all the funding was sent to the those vital missions in our community by October 31!
All of the support for the two missionary families Rome First supports, the Bartes and the
Greathouses, was sent by October 31! Yet another celebration for the Mission of Rome First!
By the end of the year, we will have met for worship over 104 times! We have celebrated the
Sacrament of The Lord’s Supper more than 30 times and the Sacrament of Baptism 12 times
this year. We will have assembled for classes, small groups and Bible studies every week of the year! We celebrate the addition of new faces and families in the fellowship of believers.
This year saw the initiation of the 3-year “It’s in Your Hands – A Campaign of the Future”
Capital Campaign. The campaign sought funding for many needed repairs, renovations and
some innovative new approaches to ministry. We celebrate that as of November 17, you had
made commitments for $623,047.00 in support of the three year campaign.
We celebrate that the replacement of the plumbing in the Education Building the
Administration building and the Sanctuary have been completed and paid for along with new
tile in all the bathrooms! We celebrate that the Sanctuary has New Air Conditioning Systems in
place and that the installation is completed and the project is paid in full! All the completed
projects have been paid for totaling payments of $226,839.00 and the Capital Campaign Fund
has a cash balance on hand of $74,559.40. Some of the other “projects” and ministries that will benefit and receive funding from the “It’s in Your Hands – A Campaign for the Future” include a refurbishment of the Pipe Organ in the Sanctuary, Upgrades for the Sound and Lights in the Wilder Center, Handicap Accessibility Improvements across the campus, new signage on Second Avenue and additional funding for the Rome First Endowment. The Broad Street Ministry Initiative is suspended in the search for space on Broad Street. In the meantime a Vision/Pathway Team has been appointed by the Church Council to explore pathways to the
future for Rome First. The Vision/Pathway Team is comprised of the following individuals –
Cindy McGehee, Tom Brown, Kirsten Taylor, Renee Webb, Jason Dunn, Lisa Schlenk, Bill
Steinhauer, Gaines Dempsey, Susi Edwards and Brett Horton. Please keep these folks in your
prayers as they meet to pray, study and discern -What the future holds for Rome First. So Much to celebrate!
Another celebration for the fiscal management of the resources that have been entrusted to our care finds that the Rome First Endowment that is managed and invested at the Georgia United Methodist Foundation performed better than expected and the yield has afforded the Trustees the option of receiving almost $22,500 for repairs. (The Capital Campaign provided the needed funds and the available percentage from the endowment will not be needed this year!)
The challenges that we face include, continuing to expand a Ministry and Mission “menu of
options” that reflects the changing needs in our community and is faithful to the transformative Kingdom building work for which we are called. While the facilities at Rome First provide many opportunities for celebration, the reality of the age and condition of the facilities continues to be a challenge. For many years, maintenance was deferred or postponed and the cost of “catching up” is significant, but not impossible! One of the ways I am proposing that we seek to be faithful stewards for all the resources entrusted to us is to fund a “Sinking Fund” for future repairs. (a Sinking Fund is normally used as a fund set up to pay off the original amount of a debt when it falls due - but in this case we will establish a sinking fund to pre-fund the anticipated future expenditures, so as not to have to conduct another capital campaign or borrow money for the future needs. In effect we are saving for known future capital needs.) So here, we have both a celebration and a challenge – Because all of the “Mission Funding” for Rome First was paid in full by October 31 - that has “freed” up funding for other ministry opportunities. (i.e. – The Christmas Food Boxes that in the past you have been asked to fund, this year we were able to take advantage of an over purchase of non-perishables and canned goods from Rome Action Ministry and have enough funding to purchase Turkeys for 300 Families to receive 65 pounds of food and a Turkey!) (IF you would like to make an “over and above” contribution to Missions in support of future mission opportunities, please feel free to do so. Rome First continues to lead in our community in serving others across the street and across the world.
If the months of November and December are “typical” – it is expected that there could be at
least Thirty Thousand Dollars $30,000.00 to start a sinking fund. If the “income” or available
portion of the Endowment @ $22,500.00 is added to the available $30,000 from the Budget
“surplus” we could establish a separate sinking fund within the endowment fund that would be
set aside for Major Capital Repairs that we know are coming in the near future. (i.e. the Wilder
Center Roof and all the “flat roofs” on all the buildings are over 23 years old and will soon be in need of replacement, additionally the HVAC system in the Wilder Center is 23 years old and is in need of replacement)
Lots of reasons to celebrate and lots of challenges! Our celebrations are great and our
challenges can be met if we develop a plan and address the known challenges and expect that
there will be unexpected challenges.
As we prepare to Celebrate the Birth of the Christ Child we Rejoice in the Great Good News of
knowing that God is with us! I’d like to close by sharing with you from one of the Chicken
Soup for the Soul Books – “I Wish you Enough”
At an airport I overheard a father and daughter in their last moments together. They
had announced her plane's departure and standing near the door, he said to his
daughter, "I love you, I wish you enough."
She said, "Daddy, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I
ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Daddy." They kissed good-bye and she left.
He walked over toward the window where I was seated. Standing there, I could see
he wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but he welcomed
me in by asking, "Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be
forever?" "Yes, I have," I replied.
Saying that brought back memories I had of expressing my love and appreciation
for all my Dad had done for me. Recognizing that his days were limited, I took the
time to tell him face to face how much he meant to me. So, I knew what this man
"Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?" I asked.
"I am old and she lives much too far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality
is, her next trip back will be for my funeral," he said.
"When you were saying good-bye I heard you say, 'I wish you enough.' May I ask
what that means?"
He began to smile. "That's a wish that has been handed down from other
generations. My parents used to say it to everyone." He paused for a moment and
looking up, as if trying to remember it in detail, he smiled even more.
"When we said 'I wish you enough,' we were wanting the other person to have a life
filled with enough good things to sustain them," he continued and then turning
toward me he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory.
"I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright. I wish you enough rain to
appreciate the sun more. I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive. I
wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger. I wish
you enough gain to satisfy your wanting. I wish you enough loss to appreciate all
that you possess. I wish enough "Hello's" to get you through the final "Good-bye."
[Original story by Bob Perks, in Chicken Soup for the Grieving Soul]
I pray you are encouraged by the celebrations of the year about to end, and that you
will give prayerful consideration how we might face the challenges in the year
ahead! As we prepare to leave 2015 with all the Celebrations and Challenges, we
prepare to enter 2016 not knowing what the New Year will hold but certain that
God will be with His people and that God with us is Enough!
See you in worship this Sunday!
“A child is born to us, a son is given to us, and authority will be on his shoulders. He will be