Grace and peace everyone,

In a recent letter, I laid out four goals for myself in 2024. I’ve been hard at work on them, but as we begin the  new year, I want to report that this work has already begun to produce fruit, in the form of opportunities, two in particular, that have the potential to profoundly impact the church in a significantly positive way, in both the short and long term. The entities involved are those with whom we’ve partnered previously; one is well known; the other is still fairly new.

The first is the Presbytery of Tropical Florida with their creation of the Vibrant Together Development Corp., whose stated mission is to “platform the incubation of expanded ministry through innovatively repurposing church property for vibrant, sustainable ministries.” It has been successfully done in other parts of the country, and what is most striking to me is how it looks beyond the survival of churches, faithfully investing in contextual ministry, maximizing church assets for their highest and best use to glorify God.   

I have had several conversations about this with the Presbytery already, and believe me, we are definitely on their radar. As I deepen my commitment to the Presbytery (I’ve accepted an invitation to join the Committee on Preparation for Ministry), I will be in a better position to be a strong advocate for our church, and a catalyst in helping us move forward in developing the property with which we’ve been blessed. We will have a voice in this process, and so we must—and will—begin to discuss what we can and should be doing to help the process along.

The second is The Gathering Place. Those in attendance Christmas Eve service were part of a giant first step in the development of a partnership that can be a incredible blessing for both churches. Pastor Mike Zdorow and I strongly believe that we are stronger together and that a partnership can help us respond more effectively to the challenges we face and help both congregations grow.

While a merger is not feasible now (our two denominations are not yet full communion partners) we are still able to work together, pool our resources, and help make the Kingdom of God a reality in our community. Our conversation about specific opportunities for mutual worship, mission and ministry, including ministry involving our young people, is on-going.    

As things continue to unfold, I will keep you all informed. What I ask is a) that you continue to pray for our church, for me and for our leadership, b) fully trust that God indeed has a plan for us—a plan for our welfare and not for harm, to give us a future with hope, c) prayerfully consider how you might be an active participant in the things that are happening—this new thing that God has already begun—and d) remember that it is about faithfulness, not success.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Jeff