April 29, 2021

Dear New McKendree Family,

God is once again blessing us with a beautiful springtime. Not only is our world coming back to life after a long, cold winter, but I get the real sense that we’re finally emerging from our year-plus-long COVID winter. Although a miraculous blessing, we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, we serve the God of life, not death, the God of new beginnings, not eternally hopeless pandemics, the God of springtime new life, not the God of perpetual winter darkness. 

What’s more, after month upon month of loss, stress, and isolation, I genuinely feel that we’re coming out of the pandemic marathon stronger than we were going in. Our leap of faith to launch NMUMC’s Breaking Bonds Ministry during the pandemic is now bearing springtime fruit. The original four Breaking Bonds residents have grown to ten. On April 10, 122 worshipers helped us kick off our Tuesday evening worship service and celebrate our first two Breaking Bonds graduates, Gavin Musgrave and Arron Littlefield. I’ve also sensed a feeling of new life in our weekly worship services. As the number of vaccinated continues to climb, more and more of our church family members have returned to in-person worship. In March, our combined average worship attendance was 288. Excluding Easter Sunday (483), our April combined average was 387, a 34% increase in just one month! 

God blessed his New McKendree family with his abiding presence during the long pandemic marathon. As we emerge into this springtime season of new beginnings, we now have new opportunities to share our blessings. Some of those opportunities involve our life within our church family, and others push us to continue to reach out. One of the many opportunities within our church family consists of the stewardship and continuous improvement of our incredible church facilities. To that end, our Church Council is in the process of prioritizing our maintenance tasks and working with an architectural firm to vet contractors. To keep our entire church family informed, our team has put together a presentation on the status of our ministries, finances, and our facility stewardship plans. Whether it be “town hall” meetings after worship, Sunday school classes, at UMW meetings, or via Zoom, we’ll offer this presentation multiple times over the next month. Be on the lookout for times and dates. 

A new life initiative that’s only just beginning is our Family Discipleship Ministry. Spearheaded by our NextGen Ministries Team, family discipleship is all about equipping parents, grandparents, and even adult members without children to disciple our children and youth. As it relates to parents specifically, this new ministry is based on two truths: 1) parents have the potential to be the most influential person in a child’s life, and 2) God has commanded that the highest priority in parenting is leading children to know, trust, and follow God. Like our Breaking Bonds Ministry initiative, family discipleship is a ministry initiative that is new to us. As a way to introduce it, on the first weekend in May, we’re beginning a new three-week worship series entitled “Family Matters.” Throughout the series, we’ll explore together the biblical foundation of family discipleship and the role that each of us—parents, grandparents, and church family members alike—play in the spiritual development of our kids. 

As Paul wrote to his Philippian friends, “God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” God has begun a good work within his New McKendree family. He led us through the dark COVID season and will continue to lead us to new opportunities to bless others with his light and love. Remember, God’s got this, so keep on looking up and keep on loving and caring for one another!

Your brother in Christ, 

Pastor Bryan Wendling