Greetings McFarland! Pastor Wayne here!
It’s hard to believe that we are already in December, the last month of the year. As we approach the rest of this month in the Season of Advent, we are focusing on the idea of “being the present” of hope, peace, joy, and love throughout the season.
** Christmas Eve **
This year, Christmas Eve falls on Sunday. I sent a survey out to all of you asking your opinion, “should we have one service in the morning of Christmas Eve, one service in the evening of Christmas Eve, or both a service on Christmas Eve morning and a service in the evening.” Out of the 40 surveys sent out to regular worship attenders over the past year, 18 of you responded to the survey. Of that group, 64.71% (11) stated that they were very likely or likely to attend a service on December 24. The others stated that they would probably not attend a service on December 24. Of the folks who indicated that they would likely attend a service on December 24, 74% said that they would prefer that there only be one service at 11:00 am with Communion. The majority has spoken. Therefore, we will only have the 11:00 a.m. service on Christmas Eve morning. We will share in Holy Communion, and we will include all the elements of our traditional Christmas Eve service. Please plan to be present with us on Christmas Eve at 11:00 a.m.
** Christmas Free Store **
Our annual Christmas Free Store was held this past Saturday from 9:00 am – 11:30 am. It was an amazing success. We had 77 people register to shop for 243 persons. We had 18 volunteers to serve the clients. It was a good day in so many ways. Thank you, McFarland, for donating, for volunteering, and for praying that our Free Store would meet the needs of the underprivileged folks in our community.
** Pledge for 2024 **
By now, you should have received your commitment card for 2024. Your pledge to our operating budget helps us to plan for financially supporting the mission and ministry of the church in the coming year. We will collect your commitment cards beginning this Sunday, December 10th in worship. Please prayerfully consider your support of McFarland UMC in the coming year.
** Prime Timers Christmas Luncheon **
The Prime Timers Christmas Luncheon will be held on Monday, December 18, at 12:30 pm at the Park Place Restaurant in Fort Oglethorpe. Everyone is welcome to attend.
** AA Group Meeting **
Did you know that an AA group is meeting on Friday evening in our Fellowship Hall? The group is called AA Rossville Serenity Group, and they meet on Friday from 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. and it is open to anyone in need of an addiction support group. Access the Fellowship Hall from the rear parking lot. Please pray for this group that our community so desperately needs.
** New Voices **
At our last Annual Conference in June of 2023 at Lake Junaluska, Bishop Wallace-Padgett challenged the Holston Annual Conference to raise $1.5 Million Dollars this year for the New Voices Initiative. New Voices will focus on identifying and building a new generation of leaders from within our Collegiate Ministries, Conference Colleges, and Conference Camps. This is a tremendous goal for us to achieve. However, when broken down, if each active member of the Holston Annual Conference would donate a total of $30 dollars to this initiative between now and the end of May, this goal can be reached. Thank you to everyone who has donated to the New Voices Initiative so far. If you have not donated to the New Voices Initiative, please consider donating. If you have donated, thank you. Please prayerfully consider a second-mile donation to help this initiative to succeed.
** Read Together Plan for 2024 **
Each year for the past few years, Bishop Wallace-Padgett has invited the members of the Holston Annual Conference to read through the Bible together in a year. It has been helpful to me to follow these yearly plans in my daily devotional. The plan for 2024 can be found at this link https://bit.ly/486fxEW
** A Word of Thanks **
If you haven’t already heard, I have announced that I plan to retire at the Annual Conference meeting in June 2024. I have been blessed to serve McFarland through good times and bad during the past 6 years. I have also been blessed to serve the Scenic South District as a member of the Board of Buildings and Locations and as Chair of the Finance Committee and the Annual Conference as Co-Chair of the Fellowship of Associate Members and Local Pastors and the Board of Ordained Ministry over the past 18 years of my ministry. I am looking forward to retirement. It has been a good ride as I have sought to follow the calling that God placed upon my life. I will share more in our moments together in the months between now and June 30, 2024.
What does my retirement mean for McFarland? That is the question that our SPRC under the leadership of Jan Davis and possibly our Council under the leadership of Vicki Riddle will seek to determine along with our District Superintendent, Mickey Rainwater. When I discussed my plan for retirement with Mickey, I expressed my concerns for a comprehensive approach to our United Methodist presence and ministry to include our four Holston Conference United Methodist Churches in Walker (and Catoosa) County: McFarland, Simpson, Flintstone, and Ft Oglethorpe. Please be in prayer for what this will look like going forward as the Holy Spirit guides and directs the cabinet and the Bishop in the months ahead.
** Final Word **
As always, I am blessed to be your pastor. You inspire me with your desire to reach out to the community around us. You encourage me with your enthusiasm, and you uplift me with your prayers and your support. I truly love you and I look forward to ending our time together on a positive note. I can’t wait to see the future that God has in store for McFarland and the other United Methodist Churches in our area.
Happy Advent, y’all!