Top 5 @ SPUMC

On a day when our youth were collecting for the annual Souper Bowl of Caring Sunday and we were preparing to receive our Winter Relief guests into our “home” for a week on Monday, it was quite fitting that our final Star Word in our worship series was EMPATHY. In her sermon, Rev. Narae explored what it means to see others with the eyes of compassion and to try as best as we can to see the world through their eyes. She invited us to consider an exercise our youth had done on ASP this past summer in which they were challenged to see the world and the hard decisions people had to make about their own lives through the eyes of residents living in poverty with many limiting factors. To have empathy does not mean that we feel sorry for other people as much as we feel their pain and try to respond in love whenever possible. Thanks to the congregation for their generosity as the youth raised over $2,000 to be help alleviate hunger in our own county through the work of SPAN and Heaven’s Kitchen.

MEETING JESUS AT THE TABLE is our theme for Lent this year and copies of the book are available at the Welcome Desk for just $12. This will serve as our guide for both our Sunday morning worship and three of our five small groups. You are welcome to purchase even if you do not join a group.

MONDAYS at 8pm on ZOOM: Women’s Book Study, “Have a Beautiful, Terrible Day,” by Kate Bowler. Contact Contact Brenda Shields for more information.
TUESDAYS at 7:30pm on ZOOM: “It Is Finished,”a Gospel study of the last few days of Jesus’ earthly life, taught by Pastor Byron. February 13 through March 19. For more info or questions contact Rev. Byron.
WEDNESDAYS at 6:30pm in Room 301: “Meeting Jesus at the Table,” led by Chip Linehan. Copies of the book are available at the Welcome Desk for $12.
WEDNESDAYS at 6:30pm in the Parlor: “Give Up Clutter for Lent!” We invite you to join us in a Lenten challenge to simplify our physical and spiritual lives by decluttering and organizing our homes. February 21 through March 20. Contact Rev. Narae for more info.
FRIDAYS at 7am in Fellowship Hall: Men’s Lent Study with Rev. Ron on our guiding book for the season, “Meeting Jesus at the Table.” Contact Rev. Ron for more info.

For signup information, see our Lent page.

We’ll be welcoming our Winter Relief guests who have been staying with us this past week in worship this coming Sunday. We are grateful for all of them, consider it a privilege to have gotten to know their stories and will continue to pray for them after they move on from our church. Many thanks to all the volunteers who served our guests in any way (food, laundry, hosting, Bingo, love & more!). It was so much fun to see our families, kids, music folks, regulars and newcomers come together to offer such radical hospitality in the name of Christ. Special thanks to Carolyn Heim & Pam Sherman and the whole leadership team.

GETTING TO KNOW YOU (& VICE-VERSA) is our ongoing theme for the next :Connections Class which will take place on Sunday, March 3 at 10:15am in the Parlor. You’re invited to join us if you’re just curious, ready to join our church or anywhere in between. You’ll have a chance to learn more about the mission and ministries of SPUMC and where you might find your place here.

On “State of the Church Sunday” (January 28), Rev. Ron preached on the word that he thought best captured the spirit and tangible signs of hope and progress we experienced last year as a congregation: RESILIENCE. Drawing on the story of Nehemiah and the returning exiles rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem gate by gate and stone by stone (Neh. 2 & 3), Rev. Ron pointed to the many markers of resilience we experienced in 2023. We experienced significant growth in our small group ministries (new and returning), welcomed 29 new members, came back to “full strength” in our missional outreach sending a team back to Costa Rica, holding 2 Garage Sales, hosting 2 Winter Relief weeks and more. Children are returning to Sunday School and both UMYF and ASP saw increased participation.

We re-established a partnership with Asbury Town Neck UMC (the joint Thanksgiving Service was truly a highlight!), saw consistent growth in worship attendance and experienced moments that felt like a return to our pre-Covid days (the Family Christmas Eve Service overflowing with 500 people, Easter Extravaganza, S’Music & S’Mores). On the financial front, we made great strides, too. We knew it was going to be a “transitional year” with a “$156,000 Hole” to fill in our budget (no more PPP funds) so we developed a conservative spending plan and projected that we would need to use $70,000 in reserve funds. The good news is that our giving went up by $70,000 and we only ended up draw on less than $10,000 of our reserves. So many reasons to be grateful, so much to look forward to as we enter 2024.