Looking ahead, Moving forward

 “The future demands that we look forward, not backward. When we refuse to orient ourselves forward, we create an idol out of the past and that is spiritually deadly because it prevents God’s in-breaking and prevents any substantive future progress.”
These words were written by Rev. Dr. Marvin A. McMickle, president of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. He offered them in a recent alumni magazine to explain the rationale of moving the seminary from its current location to a new campus setting.
Relocating a school can be a daunting and emotional task. McMickle acknowledged the sentimental attachment to the current location and hesitancy of some to support the move. But, he felt it necessary to remain a viable part of 21st century theological education: “I am reminded that no institution can survive, much less thrive, without adapting to the time and the people it serves.”
UHBC is NOT relocating and embraces our university connection with its “town and gown” culture. We have, however, gone through changes in order to remain relevant in a 21st century context.
Last Wednesday night, our church approved adjustments to the missions portion of the budget. We have made minor changes in order to give more dollars to address local needs. We will now have ongoing support for Rare Breed (homeless shelter for teenagers) and Safe to Sleep. We have also increased support to the Council of Churches and Greene County Baptist Association, with particular attention to Crosslines and Grand Oak Mission.
I am grateful for your support of these changes, as our church seeks to respond to the growing needs right here in Springfield and Greene County. We will also continue regional, national, and international connections and support.
On a related note, I wanted to urge you to read the September issue of the Word & Way magazine. There is an article on “Safe to Sleep”, a ministry that our own Romona Baker has helped create and sustain. I’m proud of this wonderful ministry, grateful for our church’s support of it, and express thanks for Romona’s life and work.
One of the key features of our missions support relates to support of the operating (unified) budget. Although having a budget goal, what actually goes to missions causes is 10% of actual financial gifts. So, the actual dollar amount going to missions increases or decreases depending on our giving to the operating budget.
As we reach the halfway mark of the fiscal year, we are running 83% of budget along with not meeting current expenses. Our Finance Board will be meeting this Sunday afternoon to assess things and will be bringing some thoughts about that to us soon.
Our church is not alone is dealing with situations like this. Other churches are facing decisions relating to their giving, expenses, and budgets. While mindful of this, I wanted to express my concern about our own reality and inform you about it.
Interestingly, the Preparing For the Future Campaign is going very well and is on target to meet and exceed the $100,000 mark by June 2017. This has proven to be a wise and useful investment in handling many of the more expensive building related costs. And, remember that 10% of what is given is used for local missions causes.
Recently, I have been going through some pictures of different events in our church and came across one in which Steve Stepp, Wyman Grindstaff, and I were at Commerce Bank to make the final payment on the loan. It reminded me of my arrival almost 10 years ago when I was given a tour of this building. I was impressed with the beautiful, new covered entrance, entryway, elevator, and other renovations on the upper floors.
New members don’t realize and maybe others have forgotten that there was an existing $1.3 million debt which the church still owed for doing these renovations. Together, we followed the leadership of the Capital Campaign Steering Committee who led us in paying off this amount in four years. We are debt-free because of this church’s generosity and focus.
While we face some challenges as a church, paying off a loan is not one of them (many churches would LOVE that). We don’t have to think about relocating our church campus. We do, however, need to pray and be sensitive to what the Holy Spirit is doing among us.
The theme of the capital campaign were the words of Jesus: “with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19.26 NIV). Jesus didn’t say “With God, all things are easy.” There is a difference.
God is doing great things through UHBC. I’m encouraged by new people, ministries, and missions support. God has blessed us in amazing ways. I’m focused on moving us ahead and being open to what God has for us. Indeed, “the future demands that we look forward, not behind.”
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