July 10, 2018
Rev. William C. Bills
On Sunday, June 10, I spoke to the congregation about the history of our church and about the future of our church. Kim is working on uploading that sermon to the website so you may be able to go to the website and hear the sermon.
There is a plaque in the Gathering Space that notes that our church was built in 1962. Prior to that, worship was held in a school and in a movie theater. The United Methodist Men of the Detroit Conference and the United Methodist Men of the West Michigan Conference joined with the District Superintendents in Michigan to raise money for the building of our church. Those three groups, along with others across the country and in other countries, gave us $250,000.00 for the building of University United Methodist Church. Converted to present day dollars that is the equivalent of slightly more than $2,000,000.00. Other people had a vision for our church in East Lansing to the extent that they gave a lot to insure a vital and continuous ministry here. They greatly blessed us all.
I pointed out to the congregation that in the last ten years in particular we have gotten smaller and we have gotten older. As we have aged we have gone from 660 members in 2008 to 450 members in 2018. If that trend is allowed to continue we will be at 230 members in ten more years. As time passes our building also ages. It will take more to maintain our building, as evidenced by the repairs to the wall and the roof in Asbury Hall which will begin in a couple of weeks.
I appealed on June 10, especially to the longer tenured members of our church, to do three things to help insure the future of vital ministry at our church. These three things are:
1. Become more child and youth family. This helps connect families to the church.
2. Support adding screens and a second service to help us reach younger worshipers.
3. Consider the church in estate planning so that we can grow our endowment fund.
I also explained to the congregation on Sunday that I give $100.00 to the church each week. This Sunday, though, I brought an extra check for $1,000.00 and designated it for sanctuary screens. We can put flat panel monitors on the brick walls at the front of the sanctuary, in the gathering space, the welcome center, two smaller ones for the choir and one on the façade of the balcony for a little over $70,000.00. The cost also includes creating a media station near the current sound board, a computer and the necessary software.
I have received a number of gifts from of our older members. They range from $500.00 to $10,000.00. I am very grateful for the support that has been shown thus far. I hope that others will contribute to the extent that they are able.
I told the congregation on June 10 that I am 59 years old now. I could probably coast for a few years and retire but I have always tried to make the churches I have served better in my time as pastor. I think it is important for us to be proactive now and make our church viable for the next generation. We might grow older and smaller together very gracefully. Or we might make it our mission to grow younger and bigger for the future.