Marching Forward in Faith

Daylight Savings Time officially ends on Sunday, November 5, 2017 , at 2:00 AM. So, when you go to bed on Saturday night, you can “Fall Back” an hour to save daylight and get an extra hour of sleep that you “lost” on March 12, 2017.  The idea of saving daylight is not a new idea; it actually was instituted in 1918 when Congress enacted the STANDARD TIME ACT, and the time zones were set and regulated by the Interstate Commerce Commission.  

Time is the universal “equalizer” – everyone gets exactly 24 hours in a day.  No one gets more and no one gets less.   Many people are overwhelmed by the “demands of time” and commitments that all are vying for the same “slice” of time in a day.  It can be daunting to consider the competing deadlines, and seemingly incessant, unrelenting march of time.  Time is a non-renewable resource.  Once a second is gone it becomes a memory and cannot be revived.  Time is considered precious and no amount of money or riches can adequately equal the value of time. WHEN JESUS FED THE 4,000, the disciples were concerned because they could not see how to meet the needs at hand.  Jesus said to them, “What do you have?”  Jesus showed them it was enough.  After all were fed, there was an abundance left over.” (Matthew 15:34-38)  God has given us all we need and more if we each share what we have…it’s in our hands. 

It is in our hands to let the people who walk through the doors of Rome First know that we are all held in God’s hands!  For those individuals who have yet to walk through the doors at Rome First, we seek to bring hope for the future as we reach out our hands to the people of Rome who are seeking a community of grace and a safe, welcoming place to connect with the Body of Christ.  It is in our hands to use the gifts, talents, skills, and Grace that God has given to each of us to make a difference right where we are. The Time is Now - It is in our hands to let the people who walk through the doors know that we are all held in God’s hands!  For those individuals who have not even been born yet, we look to the future and seek to grow the reach of the ministry and mission of Rome First.  The doors that have yet to open in the future are made possible because we remember to use what is in our hands today, and we remember that we are all held in God’s faithful and loving hands.  Even though we cannot see into the future to know what it holds, we practice a forward-looking, faithful generosity that is born out of the assurance that we are all in God’s hands. It is in our hands to let the people who will walk through the doors in the future know that we are all held in God’s hands!

Let me share with you some of the extraordinary opportunities of open doors that are before us at this TIME –

First – an update from the Building Committee appointed by One Board and the Special Called Church Conference.

As you may recall, we are exploring options and considering possibilities to open new doors of ministry through the possible purchase of the building formerly occupied by First Christian Church of Rome.  The Building Committee was appointed by One Board and elected by a special called Church Conference. 
The Building Committee was subdivided into three sub-teams to perform the necessary reviews and “due diligence” associated with gathering information and formulating a comprehensive list of possible uses for the space, a detailed list of “costs” associated with owning the building along with any necessary repairs and/or renovations, and finally, specific financing options and budget scenarios that consider the cost of acquisition, remodeling, repairs, and operation over and against the known and projected “revenue producing” uses of the building.  The Building Committee reported at the last regular One Board Meeting held on October 17 that their work was still “underway”.  It is anticipated that the “review phase” of the Building Committee will be complete by November 3 and a report from the Building Committee will follow soon thereafter. Stay tuned! Watch and listen for information on a called One Board meeting and Church Conference to receive the report and recommendation from the Building team.

Second – Also, at the One Board Meeting held on October 17, a report was received from the Hospitality Accessibility Team.  As you may recall, One Board at their August meeting, authorized an expenditure of up to $2,000 to “contract” with Mr. Robert Noble, the architect who designed the covered connector between the Education and Administration buildings.  At the same time he designed the Education and Administration connector bridge, he also designed a rooftop connector that would connect the Second Floor of the Wilder Center with the left front side of the Sanctuary.  The rooftop connector was included in the “Campaign Of Care” capital campaign that ended around 2014.  The Roof Top Connector did not proceed at that time due to unfulfilled pledges to the campaign and cost overruns on other project commitments associated with the campaign. 
                 Accessibility Improvements were included in the most recent “It’s In Your Hands” Capital Campaign which ends in 2018.  The Roof Top Connector was the number one item in the area of accessibility for the campaign.  The Hospitality Accessibility Team discovered that the cost of the Roof Top Connector would total $125,000.00.  One Board received the Hospitality Accessibility Team’s report and recommendation to proceed with the project.
               One Board authorized the expenditure of $125,000.00 for the construction of the Roof Top Prayer and Meditation Garden and Connector.  I had been in conversation with  Dr. “Sock” and Mrs. Barbara Sennett who had expressed a desire to make a gift to Rome First in memory of their son, Chuck.  At the time of the meeting on October 17, the Sennett’s had not had the opportunity to present the idea of the Roof Top Prayer and Meditation Garden and Connector to the other members of their Family.  So, One Board passed a motion authorizing $125,000 be allocated to fund the construction of the Roof Top Prayer Meditation and Prayer Garden Connector with the stipulation that if the Sennett Family Fund made a gift for the Roof Top Prayer and Meditation Garden and Connector, the funds they had authorized would be directed to the Rome First Endowment. On Monday, October 23, I received a call from Barbara Sennett informing me that Rome First would be the 2017 recipients of a $100,000 gift from the Chuck Sennett Memorial Fund for the purposes of building the Chuck Sennett Memorial Roof Top Prayer and Meditation Garden and Connector. 

Robert Noble will be the architect of record for the proposed Chuck Sennett Roof Top Prayer and Meditation Garden and Connector. The Trustees Focus Group of One Board consisting of Dr. Jerry Littlefield, Mr. Dave Shelton, and Mr. Larry Smith will oversee and supervise the construction of the much-awaited accessibility improvement to the physical plant at Rome First. 

The vision statement of Rome First serves as a “filter” or a lens by which every ministry and mission opportunity is evaluated – Serving Rome by Loving and Welcoming all as partners in transformation. If you “look back in time” and review the missional history of Rome First and examine the “DNA” of the congregation’s culture, you will see Rome First is at its best when meeting the need in the surrounding community, located resources to address /fill that need and then through strategic partnerships and alliances meet the need build a team/structure/entity to sustain the ministry and “give it back” to the community. (Good Neighbor Ministries, The Community Kitchen, The Faith and Deeds Community Free Clinic, Hospitality House are just a few of the functioning and ongoing ministries in Rome today that were born out of Rome First’s desire to meet a need and make disciples!)

I look forward to spending time with you making a difference in our community and in our world.  The investment of time, energy, finances, knowledge, skill and self, will in time yield an eternal reward.  I invite you to join me on our continued journey of Faith as we seek to Follow God’s Lead and Lead Others to Follow God by Loving God, Loving People and Serving the World from right here at Rome First.

Robert ><>