From the Pastor’s Desk: 

THIS IS THE PLACE OF NEW BEGINNINGS! 

“And Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.” (Matthew 2:52, NLT) 

Last month, our Vision Team prayerfully agreed on the direction our congregation will take in 2021. We knew it was the right direction when we all heard it. It was as if all the pieces we prayed for just came together. Saundra Little, our Vision Team chair wrote a wonderful article in the January newsletter and presented our new vision statement: 

“Mt. Carmel UMC is a place of new beginnings unified in the character of Jesus Christ.” 

While our mission never changes – to make disciples of Jesus Christ – our particular vision on how to carry out our mission in our present surroundings does change from time to time. As you well know, we are living in unprecedented times. This global pandemic that began last March is still with us creating challenges on how our church is to do ministry while we are a scattered body of Christ. Thus, our vision to how we will make disciples in 2021 is so vitally important to keep before us. In doing so we see three areas we want to grow this year. I like to think of it in three parts which I am calling our “UPC” code! 

First, we want to seek Unity in the Body of Christ. We hope everyone takes some time daily at 3:00pm to pray for your church, your community, and the world. If you want to know specifically who to pray for, consider joining in our Wednesday morning prayer group. We meet on Zoom conference and video call. We also have an email that goes out weekly with prayer concerns or on our mobile phone calling chain. If you would like to be added to one of these groups, please call the church office and we will help make that happen. 

Second, we are paying more attention to the Place where we live and focusing on the people living in our neighborhood. We see the future of Mt. Carmel to be a place of “new beginnings” for first time Christians to come to know Jesus Christ, as well as a place where others can find a home in the family of God. To this end, you will begin to notice things changing around the campus with new welcome signs and other updates inviting our neighbors to be a part of Mt. Carmel. On Monday nights at 6:30pm, two of our Sunday School classes are leading a book study called “Making Room for Neighbors” on a Zoom video conference call. This will continue through February. We will also be using that as the basis for our worship services on Facebook Live and our church website this month. Some of the current ways we are making room for neighbors which you can help with is donating to our Emergency Food Pantry, inviting persons to be a part of our Living With Loss support group that meets twice a month, helping supply our Sunday School to Go Kits for our Children’s Ministry, agreeing to be on the design team as we begin to launch a Celebrate Recovery Ministry after Easter for all people who want to be set free from “hurts, hang ups, and habits.” We hope to create other ministries in our space to alleviate suffering and welcome your ideas! 

Third, we want to grow in the Character of Jesus Christ. In Luke 2:52, we read about the holy family moving to a small village of Nazareth where Jesus grew in “wisdom and stature.” As we move into the season of Lent which begins with Ash Wednesday on February 17, we will be discussing more of how we can let go of the things that hinder us and strive for maturity to look more like Christ. How wonderful if our whole church embarks in this endeavor! I look forward to walking with you in this great year of new beginnings, which Jesus Christ has prepared the way for us. 

Growing With You in the Wisdom and Stature of Christ, 

Pastor Mary

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