Advent 2019: remembering, anticipating and giving!
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV
At Incarnation we remind ourselves weekly that we are a community which delights to worship, welcome and wonder. And in this season our focus is fully on the coming of this child of whom Isaiah spoke - whose names include Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. What a joy it is to remember this wonderful truth with you all week by week.
As we begin a new liturgical calendar in Advent we also conclude a calendar year; and this is a good time to reflect on the journey we have been on together this year.
There is so much to be grateful for as we come to the end of 2019:
We remember our small groups - starting with Alpha in January and testimonies to God’s work in the lives of many individuals. And then so many more shepherded with care by committed leaders.
We remember membership Sundays - with people signing the parish register and affirming their commitment to our community and ringing their bells.
We remember baptisms - babies as well as our first adult baptism.
We remember our Bishop coming to install the Rector, and welcoming individuals to confess their faith with confirmation, reaffirmation and reception into the Anglican Church. Also the delight of +John teaching us about the new 2019 Book of Common Prayer - and highlighting the new Anglican Catechism.
We remember hours of painting, decorating, scrubbing and organising as we transitioned from the welcoming ‘seedbed' of Greenbrier Baptist Church to a ‘home of our own’ within the AUMC complex.
We remember feasting and laughter: many opportunities for good food (and wine) all together or at men or women’s gatherings.
We remember times of sung worship led by Beth and her extraordinary team of musicians including KT, Eva-Elizabeth, Jamie and Cory and so many more…. Also delighting in our occasional choir led by Grant, preludes played with delight by Weber and music jams, carolling and yet more bells.
We remember sending our first team overseas to love and pray with our friends in West Asia
We remember EVERYONE serving in so many ways, admirably organised by Morgan as he also manages our database, AV and so many details.
We remember the things that we often take for granted - beautiful keynotes, seamless giving systems, worship-inspiring space, website, fliers and so much more: always Amy somewhere in the background making things beautiful.
We remember our servant team becoming a transition team and then electing our fist vestry; so thankful for Nancy and Eric our wardens, and Ben, our treasurer, Emily, our secretary and Clayton and Jeff who fill so many roles.
We remember faithful giving that has enabled us to employ staff, rent space, give away to outreach partners, and function as a church body.
And even as we look back, we then look forward to the year ahead. Where will you grow in your walk with Jesus in 2020?
Will you deepen your prayer life? Or read through the Bible in a year?
Will you invite someone to church in 2020? A friend? A neighbor? A colleague? Someone you meet in a coffee shop or when you are out and about.
Will you join a prayer walk and pray for our neighborhood?
Will you get involved in our outreach efforts? Looking for where the Holy Spirit is at work and joining in?
Will you look out for the poor and marginalised?
Will you pay attention to people who are lonely, sad or confused?
Will you serve in a new way? Perhaps offering to help in the nursery? Or play your instrument? Or be an usher? or ….
Will you give generously to the work God is doing through our community? Perhaps setting up a regular on-line gift - but perhaps also give a one-time additional gift this season? (See below for a message from our treasurer!)
Will you pray faithfully for our community? And for those who sit around you in the pews?
Will you pray for the staff and all who lead teams?
Will you be accountable in your daily life to others and grow in your faithful obedience to God who loves you so very, very deeply?
As we head towards 2020 can I also encourage you to make sure that you are connecting into our community? Do you get the Friday email? Do you read our occasional blogs? Do you check in our the church calendar? or facebook? Or WhatsApp groups? Are you new and want to know how to connect and/or volunteer? Need help with any of these? Do ask!
I am so grateful for each of you. I am so grateful for this adventure we are on together. If at any point you would like to grab a coffee, or come for prayer or confession, or head out for a hike, please let me know. I am your pastor and I am available.
The following is a message that provides answers to frequently asked questions about year-end gifts to Incarnation.
My name is Ben Goebel and I serve as Incarnation's Treasurer. I am honored to lead our Finance Team and to steward your generous gifts to our church.
Many of us use the end of the year to complete our financial commitments, and many of us may be in a position to give an extra gift. Would you keep Incarnation in mind as you consider the allocation of your year-end giving?
Please note, Restoration Anglican is still handling our back office administration through the remainder of 2019 and the start of 2020. For this reason, many of you will receive a very similar year-end letter from Restoration’s Rector, Rev. David Hanke. Please read below for more details.
Here are a few FAQs about giving that may be helpful to you:
Can I give at the Christmas Eve service? Absolutely! However, none of the money collected during the Christmas Eve service will stay at Incarnation. We give all of it away. All offerings at the Christmas Eve service will support the Matthew 25 Gathering, an Anglican collective of churches, organizations, and individuals engaged in ministries of justice and mercy to the most vulnerable. We are proud of our relationship with Matthew 25 Gathering (Rev. Liz is on their steering team) and excited to support their excellent work. Please consider a special Christmas Eve gift to these partners! The last Sunday to give to the general operating fund of Incarnation through the offering basket is December 29, 2019.
How should I write checks to Incarnation? This is the final year in which Restoration will handle our financial gifts. For that reason, please continue to write checks to ‘Restoration Anglican Church’ and put ‘Incarnation’ in the memo line. This will change in early 2020, and we will tell you more then!
How can I make an online contribution to Incarnation? You may give a one-time year-end gift to Incarnation through CCB (no login required!). In the ‘Choose Designation’ dropdown box, select ‘Incarnation’. If you already have a CCB profile, you can also login to CCB and give a gift through your profile.
Can I set up an automatic withdrawal for my giving? Yes! However, if you have not already set up automatic withdrawal, we recommend that you wait to do so until January 2020, when Incarnation begins processing its own financial gifts. This will save you the hassle of setting up automatic withdrawal through Restoration, and then setting it up again through Incarnation in January. Instead, consider giving a one-time year-end gift (no login required!) through Restoration in December 2019, and then setting up automatic withdrawal through Incarnation in January 2020.
How will I receive my annual giving statement? You can download your giving statement directly from CCB at any time (you must login to do so). You will receive an email from Restoration at the end of January with details about how to get your giving statement from CCB. It will also have a small report from David Hanke, Restoration's Rector. If you've never logged into CCB, just contact Kat Downs (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she can help you get a login or a copy of your giving statement.
Where do I find my current giving total? From the Restoration website, log into CCB. Look at the upper right corner and find your name and picture. Click on your name and select 'Profile' from the drop-down menu that appears. Click on the ‘Involvement’ tab under your name, then scroll to find the 'Financial' section. Hover your mouse over the ‘Financial’ header and click on the ellipse (...) that appears. You will then see an option for ‘Giving Statement’ where you can choose your date range. Most giving is recorded by the 20th of the following month, so the statement may not reflect a payment you made within the past month.
What is Church Community Builder (CCB)? CCB is Restoration’s database and online giving platform. If you have never used Restoration’s CCB system, contact Kat Downs: email@example.com. She can help provide you with a username and password.
When does Incarnation have to receive my gift for it to be counted towards 2019? Your gift must be received or postmarked by December 31. December 29 is the last Sunday for giving in 2019. Remember, all of the gifts that are received on December 24 (Christmas Eve) will go to the Matthew 25 Gathering, not to Incarnation.
What can I look forward to in 2020?
We will begin processing our own donations through Planning Center Online (PCO) in January 2020, and we are excited to show you this simple, easy-to-use platform! Stay tuned...
Once again, thank you for your generous commitment to the work of Jesus Christ through Incarnation and your faithful support.
Blessed Advent and Merry Christmas!