June newsletter

Dear New McKendree Family,

My portion of this month’s newsletter is a two-parter. First, I want to highlight a few of the amazing ways God has blessed his New McKendree family in just the past month and how we’re investing God’s blessings in kingdom-building ministry. And then, in part two, I want to share the incredible ministry that a couple of our folks are doing not just here at New McKendree but beyond. 

With June rapidly approaching, I can say without a doubt that God blessed his New McKendree family with a fantastic month of May. All four of our worship services are Spirit-filled and growing in attendance. We have a steady stream of visitors worshiping with us weekly, and many are becoming new members. Our ministries are also flourishing. In addition to our longstanding partnership with Jackson Junior High, we now partner with South Elementary…our South Campus neighbors. Our Breaking Bonds Ministry has emerged from its early 2023 “wilderness detour” and is thriving like never before. In June, we’ll roll out Breaking Bonds University, an addiction recovery-centric Christian education curriculum, and on its heels, a mentorship program for our residents. Finally, with Paige Turner coming on board as our new Family Ministries Director in June, we can expect new and exciting children’s ministry opportunities coming soon. 

Also, we celebrated the halfway point of our two-year MOVE capital Campaign initiative in May. Over the first two weeks of the month, we thanked God for all we were blessed to accomplish and for the work yet to be done. Then, as an act of worship, we were invited to renew our pledge to follow through on our MOVE commitments and finish strong. Over the course of that two-week mid-MOVE celebration, eight families increased their MOVE pledge, and five families pledged for the first time. As a result, our new pledge total is $1,003,000. Best of all, 70% of the pledged total has already been fulfilled. God has blessed us with a faithful, generous family committed to participating in God’s good work in and through us.   

Having been blessed with the funds, it’s time to put them to work. Sides Construction and its subcontractors will begin the High Street kitchen and Fellowship Hall renovations this summer. In addition, at our recent Church Council meeting, the Council gave the go-ahead for a new High Street church marquee that complements the traditional beauty of our sanctuary’s exterior. Also, this summer, Fronabarger Concreters will replace South Campus’ gravel parking lot with poured concrete. Those are just the most immediate improvements on this summer’s docket.

And now, part two: Although Julie Boswell, our church’s Worship Ministry Director, and Ryan Boswell, our Breaking Bonds Ministry Director, are relatively new to our church family, in the short time they’ve been here, their contagious, passionate love of God and love for God’s people have made us a better church.

But the Boswells’ ministry isn’t limited to their work here at New McKendree. In May 2020, Ryan and Julie launched New Life Recovery, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping others recover from all addictions and criminal behaviors. What began as a small weekly support group meeting in Madison County has since become a central resource hub for all recovery needs throughout southeast Missouri. Many of our Breaking Bonds residents have come to us through New Life Recovery. 

New Life Recovery’s ministries include weekly support group meetings, long-term treatment coordination, transitional living, and after-care programs. On average, New Life serves 165 people per month with placement into long-term addiction recovery treatment and certified peer support services. In addition, new Life Recovery serves a meal to 75 to 100 people every Thursday evening as part of their community outreach. 

Each month, the demand for Christian-based addiction recovery increases, and with the increased demand, there is an ever-increasing need for support. One of New Life’s primary means of support is an annual RISE UP RALLY fundraiser event. This year’s RISE UP RALLY will be held at Faith Family Worship (600 Sargent Dr., Fredericktown, MO) on Saturday, June 3. RISE UP will begin with a catered BBQ dinner at 4 pm and an auction and silent auction at 5 pm. The $10 admission and proceeds from the auction will go to support this vital, fruit-bearing ministry.

I thank God for the great ministry the Boswells do within our New McKendree family and their amazing kingdom-building work throughout southeast Missouri and beyond. As their church family, please join me in supporting them with your prayers, encouragement, and, if led to do so, with your financial support and participation in New Life’s June 3 RISE UP Rally. 

May God continue to bless our New McKendree Church family and New Life Recovery so we may continue serving as beacons of Christ’s light and love. 

Your brother in Christ, 

Pastor Bryan

Breaking Bonds Update

Dear Church Family,

It seems like yesterday, but it’s been over two years since the launch of our Breaking Bonds Ministry. Two years and two months ago, in the middle of a pandemic, we began with three staff members and four residents, all transfers to Jackson from Breaking Bonds’ parent organization in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Since day one, we’ve embraced this unique ministry even though most in our church family (me included) knew little about the dark world of addiction. Although we’ve experienced many ups and downs over the past two-plus years, Breaking Bonds Ministry has grown to become a fruitful, transformational ministry in the life of our church. With God’s help, it will continue to be a vital part of our church family’s DNA for years to come.

As a reminder of how far we’ve come in just two-plus years, here are some of the highlights:

- As of April 25, we’re blessed with 21 residents.

- Since our February 2021 launch, we’ve celebrated 37 graduations.

- Our Tuesday night Breaking Bonds worship service has grown to an average attendance of 130. Not only are our weekly services attended by our residents, our residents’ families, and other SE Missouri addiction recovery ministries, but a growing number of our New McKendree family members have become regular attendees.

- Over 40 church family members are actively serving our Breaking Bonds ministry as teachers, mentors, ministry steering committee members, and, most recently, board members.

From the beginning, our role was to serve as the ministry’s “host church.” Meaning, we welcome Breaking Bonds’ seven-month residents and their families into our church family and serve as their church home during their stay with us. As a spin-off branch of the original Breaking Bonds, Jonesboro’s Board of Directors provided our ministry’s governance and financial support. While that ministry model served us well initially, it has become evident to our church leadership and lay members involved in the ministry that we've outgrown that model.

Therefore, as many of you may already know, we have made, and are making, significant changes to our ever-growing Breaking Bonds Ministry. While our church’s role of “hosting” the ministry hasn’t changed, in March, we began the process of standing up an independent Breaking Bonds Jackson non-profit corporation under a Board of Directors comprised of our church members. Also, in March, Ryan Boswell was hired as the Director of Breaking Bonds Jackson Ministry, and Betty Brown joined the staff as the part-time office administrator. I’m grateful that God blessed us with three incredible ministry facilitators, Cody Ezell, Jeremy Fishbeck, and Shawn Embrey, who have faithfully provided much-needed leadership continuity throughout our ongoing transition. These three gentlemen have been and continue to be the backbone of our ministry!

In addition to these significant improvements to our Breaking Bonds leadership and governance, we’re also leveraging our two years of experience to create “Breaking Bonds University,” a revamped Bible study and life skills training curriculum facilitated by a cadre of church volunteers. In parallel with that initiative, another group of our church family members is developing a mentor program for residents entering the fourth month of their seven-month stay with us.

I am so thankful that, in the early months of 2021, God blessed us with the privilege of serving this unique, transformational ministry. And I’m grateful that we’re a church family that, from the very beginning, has enthusiastically embraced the challenge of shining the light of God’s love into the dark world of addiction. May God continue to bless our New McKendree family so that we may continue to be a blessing to others in Christ’s name.

Your brother in Christ,

Pastor Bryan Wendling