A Few Mid-Year Observations and Hopes for Rest of Year (Part One Mid Year Report)

Believe it or not, the calendar says we have begun the second half of 2021! What are some observations about the first six months? What are hopes for the rest of this year? Let me share with you some of the thoughts on my mind today, about the first half of the year. Next week, I'll share my hopes for the rest of the year.

The first half of the year was a mix of COVID-19 precautions and loosening our restrictions. It sure was good to see faces again in two ways. First, to see members and friends we have not seen in over a year.  Second, to see people's faces with masks off. In recent months, we have had a steady influx of people back for in-person worship. This has been one of the highlights of the first six months of the year. More people returning to in-person worship will likely continue for the rest of 2021. It sure is nice to see folks again!

Our church launched an online campus back in April. These opportunities have included weekly prayer, sermon talkback, and ministry highlights. The online presence for our four worship services has also remained strong and impacts people in many states and locations out of our geographical area. We are continuing to expand the reach of Shalimar UMC online! Livestream has also been such a blessing for those who are homebound and still exercising precaution by staying home.
It is great to have the sounds of children and youth on our campus again! As I am writing, we have 25 youth at Oakwood at Blue Lake Camp. This Friday, July 16, our children will leave for camp at Shocco Springs in Talladega, Alabama. On our campus each day, we see and hear the beautiful sounds of children participating in Summer Camp. Last month, Vacation Bible School was a success concluding with an exciting Carnival atmosphere. We had both Pre-School and After School programs for the first six months of the year in the school cycle.

God is good. Our finances, through the challenges of COVID, have been surprisingly good! Earlier this year, our Finance Committee approved two plans to retire the debt. First, the Finance Committee organized a plan to repay the internal loan to purchase Cross Corner. We'll repay this internal loan by the end of this year. Second, they adopted a plan to pay off the Haverty's loan before the end of the lease. We've already retired over a quarter of million dollars of the principal in the last twelve months!  Your generosity and these two actions mean Shalimar UMC will reduce the overall church debt by 47% by December 2021.

Our worship has been purposeful and inspiring this year. We have focused on "being a disciple" with messages like SIMPLE, GO, and are currently Faith>Fear. Our special services such as Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Easter, and Patriotic, have been powerful and uplifting. Most of our Sunday School classes are back in person on campus. Hopefully, new classes are ahead.
Bread House continues to do fantastic ministry each week! This mission of giving out food to our community is now over a year old and still picking up steam. Blessings for Children likewise has been an incredible help with families and children. Reboot has made a significant impact on those with stress and traumatic experiences from military service. What a difference these kinds of ministries continue to create!

We are making some physical improvements. Cross Corner continues renovation, and some of the work is done by volunteers. We appreciate all who have volunteered their labor for renovation projects and financial gifts to make improvements possible. We're installing a new sign digital sign at Cross Corner in the coming weeks. Also, after 48 years, our sanctuary is getting a restroom! We are grateful for a donor with both the sign and the new restroom. The work is being done now.

Next week, I will continue this article with hopes for the next six months. Stay tuned!

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Philip McVay

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