A Year Like No Other
College football is in full swing. The teams that rise to the top each year after year are the ones that can adapt. While each team has a game plan, good coaches adapt their strategy throughout the game and the best ones adapt after the first drive. Similarly, the best quarterbacks can call audibles to adjust to the defense. If your eyes have glossed over, forgive me, I’m typically worn out and frustrated with the Aggies by this point in the season. But this year is different. The way they adapt their strategy with each new opponent has been exciting to watch and that’s why they are having a great season.
As much as I love college football, Vista Ridge UMC has adapted far better than any overpaid college football coach this year (sorry, Coach Fisher). Our mission is “building life-giving relationships with God, with each other, and with our community.” Our strategy has had to change multiple times throughout 2020 and we’ve called more audibles than we can count. But, as the clock is winding down for 2020, it’s clear that we have stuck to our mission and that leaves us in a position to finish the year strong.
I want to take a moment and thank you for the many ways you’ve helped our church adapt this year. In January, we were attacked by a computer virus and we adapted the way we gave and updated our digital security. Then, the virus that changed our world hit us. But, the staff and members at Vista Ridge UMC know our mission and so we adapted our strategy. Take a moment to look back at the many ways we’ve lived into our mission this past year.
In March, we immediately adapted from in-person worship to at-home worship through the YouTube playlist. Many of you helped with these services by recording prayers, calls to worship, ministry moments, and musical elements. The congregational care team was mobilized and our members began receiving phone calls and cards on a regular basis. Lent devotions transitioned to Facebook Live and we walked through Holy Week together with Zoom meals, a self-paced Good Friday service, and an online Easter service that celebrated the power of Christ’s resurrection. In the fall, while still providing online worship services, we participated in outdoor worship services, creating a space where we could gather and praise together. As the cold weather has blown in, we’ve adapted to a combination of worshiping together in the building and livestreaming. With a newly designed website, and improved Facebook presence, our church is positioned to help welcome new people into a life-giving relationship with God.
Our children’s and youth ministries have adapted as have our adult small groups. The children found ways to do a virtual Vacation Bible Camp and that was so successful that they are now doing Advent Bible Camp through Zoom. Kids who have never stepped foot in our church are connecting with Christ and Vista Ridge UMC. The youth continue to adapt by meeting outside and finding ways to serve our community and support one another. Our adult small groups and Sunday school classes continue to dive deeper in their faith through online studies and Zoom calls.
Our live-giving relationships with our community have only gotten stronger. We’ve adapted our serving and giving at Christian Community Action, The Salvation Army, and Rockbrook Elementary to meet their increased needs. Despite our own personal hardships, you have rallied to ensure that nobody in our community falls too far behind in this pandemic. As we’ve met physical needs, our church has also risen to the challenge of addressing racism and creating a more just and equitable world. As racial tensions rose in our country, Vista Ridge UMC rose to create United Against Racism and has gathered nearly every week since June to take steps toward racial justice and healing.
If you think I can go on and on about college football, I assure you I can talk about Vista Ridge UMC and your faithfulness to our mission much longer. Although this year has been crazy, I’m grateful for the ways you’ve supported the church with your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.
We recognize that for some, you’ve given all you can give and possibly more. Jobs have been lost, salaries reduced, and you’re mentally, emotionally, and financially stretched. Know that we are here to support you in any way possible. For others, you might be considering how you might bless others with your year-end giving. If that is you, we invite you to please consider giving above and beyond your pledge. Our pledged giving is right on target this year, but as you’d expect, our general offering (money from “passing the plate”) is down by nearly half of what we anticipated. We’ve adapted our budget to reduce expenses, but your end-of-year giving is crucial to helping us finish out this year.
I’m grateful for you and your faithfulness to our mission.