Sisters and Brothers of Centre UMC,

Grace and peace to you from Christ our Savior! In just a few days we will gather to celebrate the fourth Sunday of Advent and the nativity of our Lord: all in one day! On Sunday, December 24, we will have our regular worship service at 9:30 a.m. for Advent. That evening we will return for services at 7:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. for Christmas Eve worship.

One of our Christmas Eve traditions is to dedicate our offering to the needs of a specific mission. This year the offering from Sunday's evening services will go to support New Hope Fellowship, a United Methodist outreach mission in Edgewood for people experiencing homelessness.

This past Monday the Church Council met for the final time this year. We reviewed the last twelve months, which have had their challenges. Six months ago the decision was made for Centre to go to a half-time appointment status, because of financial issues. Your congregational leaders took this decision very seriously, and they have done their best to cut costs and to keep Centre faithful as a congregation in mission for the sake of Jesus Christ.

I am proud to report to you that they have been quite successful in this effort. By the grace of God, and by your fulfillment of your vows to support this congregation by your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness, we have continued to be active in sharing God's love in Jesus Christ. Our involvement with the New Hope Fellowship is one example of our ongoing faithfulness.

Another is the current state of our finances. Not only have we met our financial obligations for this year; we have enough funds on hand to set aside some reserves for next year, which the Church Council did on Monday. The Council also was able to give additional support to several of Centre's mission emphases, including Kairos Prison Ministry, Harford Family House, It Is Well, and Welcome One Shelter.

As part of giving such support, the Council decided to match all giving from the 7:00 and 11:00 Christmas Eve services for New Hope Fellowship, up to $1000. Your faithful giving throughout 2017 has made this possible. Your generosity on Christmas Eve will allow Centre to bless New Hope Fellowship in its work among the neediest of our community.

I am honored to serve as your pastor. I look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus with you soon, and I await with joy what God has in store for us in the new year to come.

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Mark
Copyright © 2017 Centre United Methodist Church, All rights reserved.

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