Dear Floris Family,

Believe it or not, this week I am working on a church-wide Lenten series that I hope will be a real blessing to you this Spring. The working title is Six Decisions that will Change Your Life and it will include a small group study that will complement the sermon series. But now I want to share some of the things happening at Floris as we get ready for Christmas. The season of Advent begins Sunday and Floris has a number of special opportunities and events to bring more meaning to your preparations:

  • Special Advent Communications: If you have a desire to focus on the things that make Advent authentic and meaningful this year, I want to invite you to be a part of social media at Floris. Be sure to follow us on twitter and Facebook. Look for daily tweets, weekly Facebook updates and blog posts that will complement our sermon series, Come Home for Christmas.
  • Advent Gift Return: If you took a gift tag from one of our Advent Giving trees, be sure to return your gift this Sunday by noon in the Fellowship Hall. If you have questions, please contact Jake McGlothin.
  • Celebrate the Season Advent Log Project, Service and Soup Supper: Join us Sunday as we Celebrate the Season. Arrive at 4 PM to create your own family Advent Log. We will have all the supplies and devotional booklets for you. Please RSVP for the Advent Log project so we have enough supplies. Then join us at the 5 PM service with your families and be sure to invite friends. We will sing carols and worship together. There will be a soup supper immediately following the service in the Fellowship Hall. Stay for delicious homemade soup and dessert. Come join us Sunday for what I think is going to be a really great way to begin Advent.
  • Alternative Giving 2012: Many of you have shared your appreciation for our Alternative Giving Ministry. You can make a donation on behalf of your friends and family and bless people in need in a variety of ways. Visit the Gathering Space beginning this Sunday to pick up a brochure. Match your gift to the interests of those who will receive it, or share with them something you think is a blessing. If you have questions please contact Jake McGlothin.
  • An Evening in December: Tickets are still available for An Evening in December on Monday, December 3 or Tuesday December 4. This is an evening for the ladies of our church and community. Invite your friends and take time from your busy schedules to enjoy a special evening with Kathy Troccoli and Ellie Lofaro. Learn more or purchase tickets to An Evening in December.
  • Save the date – December 16: Our annual Christmas Cantata will be presented by the Floris UMC Choirs and Symphonic Orchestra on Sunday morning, December 16 at all 3 services. More information about the Christmas Cantata.

For more information about Christmas at Floris.

General Fund and Year-End Giving Update
Let me share information about our general fund. This past January, the Church Council approved a budget of $3,773,597. Currently, we believe the total expense budget for 2012 will be significantly less than this amount. While excellent stewardship of resources has resulted in a lower expense budget projection, we are projecting an unplanned revenue shortfall this year of approximately $80,000-$100,000 due to lower than expected contributions. We currently have $770,000 in estimated giving that has not yet been received. The good news is that last December we received $454,000. The bad news is that this would leave a $316,000 shortfall. This means that every donation made to Floris UMC at this time is very important.

A significant portion of our annual ministry was planned on the assumption that we would receive over 90% of what was indicated on the estimate of giving cards. There is a possibility that we will experience unplanned deficit spending this year, which will have an effect on the 2013 budget process. We can manage a deficit through good cash flow management practices and drawing on reserves, however, unplanned deficit spending creates some challenges for our congregation. By bringing our giving current in December, we can shore up reserves for new ministry programming and reduce our indebtedness. Many thanks for your faithful giving. Your generosity feeds hungry families, provides summer enrichment for children in poverty, supports local, national and international outreach, fosters spiritual formation for children, students and adults and has reduced our indebtedness by millions of dollars in the last two years. Please understand how important this resource is to your church and the people who depend on the programs and services we provide.

Early next week, you should receive a year-to-date financial statement through the month of November that will assist you in your plans for giving prior to the end of the year. Please take a moment to check your records to confirm that the information is correct and check to see if you are up to date in your giving. If you find that our records are not consistent with yours, please contact Beverly Fifein the church office. If you find that you are behind in your giving through November, please prayerfully consider taking this opportunity to bring your giving current.

Charge Conference
As I mentioned last week, you are invited to join Floris’ church leadership and our Interim District Superintendent, Rev. Tony Layman, for our annual Charge Conference on Wednesday, December 5 at 7:30 PM. This is a chance for you to hear a recap of the highlights of 2012 and the focus for 2013 including the 2013 budget. All are welcome and I hope to see you there.

This Week in Worship
Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent and we will begin a new sermon series, Come Home for Christmas. Come Home for Christmas is an invitation that can mean many things to many people, but what if it was an invitation issued to us by God? What if God was inviting you not only to a stable in Bethlehem, but to a spiritual place of love, joy, hope and peace? Join us this week as we look at 1 John and the contrast between the light of Christ and the darkness of the world. Come hear the sermon “Find Hope.” Scripture: 1 John 1:1-7, John 1:1-5.

At the 5 PM service we’ll prepare our hearts for Advent with a service of Christmas carols and the Soup Supper immediately following in Fellowship Hall.

In Christ,
– Tom

The post eNote from Rev. Tom Berlin – November 29, 2012 appeared first on Today I Saw God.