Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ,
In 2018 God was indeed good and faithful to Gardens Presbyterian Church. In every major metric GPC grew. Membership increased, worship attendance increased, and giving increased. We saw more volunteers involved in ministry opportunities within the church and in mission opportunities outside of the church. Our focus on missional partnerships continued to grow as we welcomed new mission partners like Habitat for Humanity and participated in new mission opportunities like gleaning with CROS ministries. For the first time in a decade Gardens now has a youth ministry, and I want to give a special thanks to Tracey Eller and Victoria Truman-Dooley for their amazing work organizing and facilitating our youth ministry and ministering to our middle and high school students. In addition, because of the enthusiasm and commitment of Kathy and John Williams and Patti and Steve Fischer, a Stephen Ministry has been launched, and new Stephen Ministers are this very moment being recruited to serve.
As we look towards 2019, our focus continues to be on implementing the strategic plan created through our partnership with Ministry Architects. We remain focused and committed to Vision 2020; One Familyand the goal of growing as a united, spiritual family. As such, our priorities remain: spiritual caregiving for older adults; growth in in our family and children’s ministries; deeper community through home fellowship groups; enhanced service within the church and outside the church; and increased outreach through New Worshiping Communities. As we pursue Vision 2020; One Family,we remain guided by the scripture Joel 2:28, “I will pour out my spirit upon everyone; your sons and your daughters will prophecy, your old men [and women] will dream dreams, and your young men [and women] will see visions.” May this kind of spiritual renewal be evident here at Gardens Presbyterian Church.
As you recall, an important piece of Vision 2020 is identifying and hiring an additional Parish Associate for spiritual caregiving. This Parish Associate would be tasked with developing our outreach and service to Harbor Chase and additional Assisted Living Communities in our area, joining with the pastoral staff, deacons, and (forthcoming) Stephen Ministers in providing pastoral care to our congregation, and providing leadership to our Deacons and Stephen Ministers. While we have not yet identified this Parish Associate, your personnel committee was hard at work throughout 2018 pursuing this goal. Candidates were interviewed, but no fit was found. In 2019 a high priority remains finding the person whom God is calling to help fulfill our vision; please be in prayer for this search.
In closing, I want to recognize and give thanks for our amazing staff here at GPC. Cindy Woodrow is an amazing Director of Family Ministry. She provides excellent teaching to our children, exceptional leadership to our volunteers and administration to our committee, and compassionate nurture to our families. She works tirelessly. Linda Lader has blessed all of us as our Parish Associate. She has used her unique gifts and experience to enliven our worship services, bless all of us with her friendship, and has exercised her gift of leadership to help direct GPC onwards in faithfulness. What can be said about Lynda Hart? She is the backbone and the heart of soul of GPC! Lynda does everything, and she does it with kindness, joy, compassion, and excellence. She ensures that GPC is running smoothly from an administrative and financial perspective, but more importantly she cares for all our members with a pastoral and relational touch. Pam continues to lead our music ministries. She uses her gifts and personality to bless the choirs with fun, fellowship, and friendship as well as through music. Emma has done an amazing job providing responsible, dependable, and loving care to our children in the nursery. She continues to dynamically exude maturity and compassion as she tends to our youngest and puts parents at ease knowing their children are in good hands. I want to extend a sincere thank you to Lynda, Cindy, Pam, Linda, and Emma for serving this congregation.
Finally, let me say thank you to you! Gardens Presbyterian Church wouldn’t be GPC without you! We are blessed to be together. To God be the glory.