Monday, August 22, 2016

Do Not Disturb!


Introduction:
A.   When we see a sign "Do Not Disturb," what does it mean?

B.   The people inside don't want to be bothered!

C.   I want to look at a story this morning about some people      who didn't want to be bothered.

D.   I want us to ask ourselves two questions:
1.   Can we hang a "Do Not Disturb" sign out on our                 lives?
2.   Can we hang a "Do Not Disturb" sign out on our                 church?

                            Prayer
                          Mark 5:1-17

I.   Let's look at our story.  Watch this clip: how it could have happened!


A.   Here we have a man who lived among the tombs and was               demon possessed!
1.   In Jesus' day, anyone who was sick mentally or                 physically might be considered demon possessed.
2.   Apparently though, this man was demon possessed                     based on the conversation between the demons and                   Christ and the fact that Christ ordered them out.             Also, the people who knew of him and this man                   himself were convinced that he was demon possessed.
3.   He definitely needed the touch of Jesus on his life!
4.   When Jesus touched him, it was a miracle; his life             was Changed!

B.   But notice the reaction of the people.
1.   The man with the need was glad Jesus had come along            (vs. 18-20).
2.   When the people found him,
a.   he was sitting beside Jesus, clothed, and in                   his right mind.
b.   but the pigs were gone!  They knew what had                         happened because some had seen it!
3.   They should have been happy and rejoicing because              this man's life had been straightened out!
4.   Instead, they were disturbed and upset!  They didn't                want things disturbed; they wanted things left like            they were! Jesus had cost them something!
5.   Many times, in the comfortable world we live in, we            would like things to be left like they are!                    Sometimes, we don't like to sacrifice to see things            made better around us!
6.   So in a since, we hang a "Do Not Disturb" sign out             to God.

II.  Can we hang a "Do Not Disturb" sign out on our lives?

A.   We all want to serve God; right?  But are there areas              that we don't want disturbed?



1.   What about finances or possessions?  That was the              problem in our text today.
a.   We feel pretty good as long as it's our money
and a certain % is the Lord's; we can live with
that!
1)   We can pay our part and feel good!
2)   If the church doesn't have enough money,
it isn't our fault!
b.   But when someone starts teaching total
commitment, that we are accountable for how we
spend everything, and it's all the Lord's and
we are only using it, we start getting
defensive.
1)   We realize that we might ought to be giving
more than the percentage that we're
giving!
2)   We can no longer feel good when we pay
"our part" and spend the rest . . . .
c.   Sometimes we say, "That's my business Lord!
I'm giving you my part!  Do Not Disturb!"

2.   What about our Religion?
a.   We feel pretty good about it.
1)   We are pretty comfortable with it!
2)   It doesn't require much!
3)   Just check in on Sunday Morning and that                      takes care of it!
b.   But when someone starts saying that isn't                      enough and it matters what we do the rest of                   the week, we start to get defensive!
c.   "Wait a minute Lord!  I'm doing my part!  Do                   Not Disturb!"

3.   What about our time?
a.   We give the Lord a couple minutes a day, and we                    give the Lord an hour or two a week in church.                      We're happy with that!
b.   When someone starts talking about all the time                 we waste and how we could be using our time                        more effectively,  it's none of their business!
c.   "Wait a minute Lord!  I'm there every Sunday                   for worship!  Well at least once a month                       anyway!  I like it that way!  How I spend my                  time is my business!  Do Not Disturb!"

4.   What about our lifestyles?
a.   We like how we live; we like what we do!
b.   Don't ask me to change how I am living so that            I can be a better witness!
1)   Don’t ask me to be more accepting of others!
2)   Don’t ask me to not do something I like to   do!
c.   Don't ask me to sacrifice any of my lifestyle                  to help others or to spend more time with my                   family!
d.   Once and for all, "Do Not Disturb!"



III. What about our church?  Can we hang a "Do Not Disturb" sign   out on our church?

A.   You know?  I like my church just like it is!  I like the      people!  I know everybody!  I like how things are done!

B.   Don't bring anybody new in; that might change things!
     1.   They might sit in my seat!
     2.   They might want to do things differently!

C.   Don't change the way we are doing things!  Don't try               anything new, not even if it does have a good chance of        changing people's lives, we haven't done it that way               before!
D.   "Do Not Disturb!" 

E.   I hope we never do this!  There is so much we can              accomplish if we are receptive to Christ and will look at          the needs around us and be open to change if and when we      see that it is needed!

Conclusion:
A.   Are we saying "Don't Disturb Me Jesus?"  "I like things        how they are!"

B.   Are we asking Jesus to leave?

C.   Are we saying, "Don't challenge us with change?"

D.   Friends, from what I understand in the Bible,                  Christianity is change!


                         Closing Hymn

Thursday, August 18, 2016

September Newsletter Note from the Pastor


Friends,

Well, it has been a wonderful and busy summer!  Nice weather on the most part!  Not many storms, but plenty of rain!   Good fellowship!  Attendance has held pretty well, considering all the vacations and things that happen through the summer!  Our average before summer hit was about 10 above what it had been for the same period last year.  Our average until now for this year is 94.  That is still two above the 92 we had for the same period last year.  We are going into a part of the year where our attendance typically will come up, so let’s refocus our attention on getting our families present to worship and grow in God!  The Children’s Church program will start back the first Sunday of September.  Stacy and Alisha do a wonderful job with that!  EPIC meets each Wednesday night at 6 p.m., and the attendance numbers are growing for this as well! Jon does an excellent job with that as well!  JAMS should be starting back on Wednesday night at 6 p.m. as well; although, I do not have the details on that at this time.  Listen for an update on that!  We’ve added another Sunday School class between Jars of Clay and the Youth class.  All our Sunday School teachers do an excellent job of forming disciples as well!  We have people here who consider this their church home who were not here last year.  God is blessing us!  I just want to give God the Praise, and I want to commend “you” for inviting your friends and family!  You have been doing a great job at that!  That is where growth happens, as we invite one person at a time to come and see what God is doing!  I am excited to see what God will continue to do here at Marble Hill UMC! 

By the time you are reading this, Sue Brewer and Sue Binnie will have just finished a small group study on Colossians.  From what I hear it was well attended and went really well.  Small groups are one way we intentionally grow in our faith; small groups are a way that we grow closer to a particular segment of people.  Small groups can be for an indefinite  period of time such as Sunday School or Choir practice, but small groups can be very effective for short term, such as the Colossians study.  With busy schedules, the short  term small groups more and more meet a great need in our society in helping people to grow in their faith.  I envision several offerings of small groups happening at the same time; if leading a small group is a way that you feel you can contribute to what God is doing in the world, let me know.  Maybe you have a burden for a particular group of people.  We have lots of rooms available throughout the week for short-term small groups. 

I am making plans to again offer Methodist 101.  We have several people who were not here the last time I offered it.  Please look at the insert and fill it out if you are interested.  Sunday evening works well for me, but if it would make it possible for you to attend to meet shortly afternoon on Sunday or at another time, please note that on the insert as well, and I will see if others can meet at the time that works for you.  Also, if you need childcare in order to be able to attend, please note that as well.
                                                                                                            God Bless you!

                                                                                                            Pastor Mike

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Discerning The Time!



Introduction:
A.   Kids learn very early to react when they see the Golden Arches of
McDonald's. They react to signs!  Watch this clip of the first Ronald McDonald Commercial, kind a scary!


B.   In life, we learn to react in certain ways to warning signs that
we see:
1.   If we see a red-hot burner on a stove, we know not to touch it!
2.   If we see a red-light, we know that it means to stop!
3.   On the other hand, we know a green light means to go!

C.   Jesus noticed this about people, but he also noticed they had trouble "Discerning the Time!"

D.   Read Luke 12:54-56.

E.   They saw the clouds, and they expected rain!

F.   Jesus seemed to suggest that there were warning signs that they had missed in discerning the time.

Trans.
Let's look at some warning signs that we could be missing today!

                    Prayer

I.   Warning signs:

A.   A Grave yard!
1.   I probably notice this more than the average person, since
I frequent grave yards more often than most.
2.   Grave yards are vivid proof that what the Bible says is
true!  "It is appointed unto [people] once to die and after
this the judgement."   (Heb. 9:27)
2.   The grave yard stands as a constant reminder that nobody
has lived to prove the Bible wrong!  It is our first warning
sign.

B.   Conviction of the Holy Spirit!  This is God=s Prevenient Grace.
1.   How many times have we done something wrong and felt guilt
for it?  Where does this guilt come from?
2.   How many times have we heard the Gospel and our heart speeds up? Why?
3.   It is God=s grace drawing us to God through the conviction of the Holy Spirit!  The Spirit is our second warning sign of the time.

C.   The Bible!
1.   The Bible holds many warning signs, but it is in itself a
warning sign too.
2.   How many times has doubt come into our minds about the
validity of the Bible?
a.   Who put that doubt there?
b.   If the Bible is not true and there is no God or Satan, then, why is there such a struggle in our minds concerning the Bible?
c.   The doubt that Satan places in our hearts about                         the validity of the Bible is proof itself that the
Bible is true and contains the key to eternal life!

D.   Sickness!
1.   When we have health, we may think we have the world by the
tail, but when we lose our health, we realize that "we"
aren't in control.  We aren't God!  We can begin to see
things in perspective!!
2.   When we see a loved one who has lost their health, we are made
to realize that next time it could be us.  Life is really
very fragile!  Sickness also is a warning sign.

II.  What do these warning signs tell us?

A.   Today is the Day of Salvation!
II Cor. 6:2b  "Behold now is the accepted time; behold,                          now is the day of Salvation."
1.   We really have no promise of tomorrow, so today is the day
we should come to God through Christ!
2.   Today is the day we should live like we have always planned to live someday!
3.   Life is short at best, and we really need to get our                priorities straight!

B.   As we discern the time, we learn that it is time to really get serious about our relationships with God!
1.   It is time to be praying and working on our communication
with God.
2.   It is time we listen to God in prayer and through the Bible.
3.   It is time we learn what God would have us be doing, time to
find our place in the kingdom!

Conclusion:
A.   Re-read Luke 12:54-56.
B.   Are we Discerning the Time?
C.   What time is it for us?
1.   Is it time for us to hear another message and leave
unchanged?
2.   Or is it time for us to begin or renew our relationship with God through God's grace shown to us in Christ?
3.   It is our decision.


              Invitational Hymn

Monday, August 8, 2016

Why Samaria?


John 4:3-30 & 39-42

Introduction:  John 4:3,4
A.   Just following is the woman at the well.

B.   Why did he "[have] to go" through Samaria?

C.   Why did he feel this necessity to go through Samaria?
None of the other Jews did!

                    Prayer
I.   Why Samaria?
A.   Closest route?  Easiest?
1.   There were 2 routes from Judea to Galilee (Bible Knowledge
Commentary).
a.   One straight through.
b.   The other around Samaria and up through Peria.  This
one was most used by the Jews!
2.   "Samaritans were a mixed race descended partly from the ten
tribes, partly from heathen immigrants (Assyrians).  Their
faith and practice was founded on the Pentateuch (pen' ta tuk)
(1st five O.T. books) alone, and they rejected the whole of the other Jewish books" (Young's Concordance).

B.   If this way wasn't the easiest then why did he go?
1.   He wanted to seek out these despised Samaritans, and
perhaps, he even planned to meet this woman at the well.
2.   Barrier to overcome!  In the normal routine for most Jews, he wouldn't have a chance to talk to this woman.  So he planned a meeting where he would have this opportunity!
3.   By speaking to the woman, he created an interest by showing
an interest!

II.  How does this apply to us today?
A.   As individuals we may have to plan to spend some time with someone in order to ever really have a chance to talk with them!
1.   If we don't then we are letting Barriers keep us from doing
that.
a.   Not enough time on the job.
b.   Not the proper place.
2.   We can overcome these barriers just like Christ! Plan a
meeting!
a.   Ask them to your house for supper and games!
b.   Help them paint their house!
c.   Go shopping with them!
d.   Common interest?  Share it together!
e.   Help them in a time of need!
3.   Don't be pushy, but look for an opportunity to share!
4.   By doing this we will have broken down the Barriers of the
proper time and place, and you will have created an interest by caring!

B.   As a church we may need to plan ways to reach people!
1.   If we do not, then we may be letting barriers keep us from
doing that!
Barriers:
a.   Distance to church!
Parents may not drop kids off for church -Adults
may not have transportation
b.   Not being able to draw people in through our   
regular church services!
People aren't just knocking our doors down to
come to church any more!
2.   As a church, we too can overcome these barriers like Christ  by planning!
a.   Distance to church?
People may not have a way to church, but through
planning we might. . .
1)   find people who would be willing to make one
stop on their way to church in order to
pick someone up!
2)   Find someone who would be willing to drive the van out here to pick people up!
3)   find people who would be willing to visit in order to find these people to pick up! 
b.   Not being able to draw people in through our   
regular church services?
1)   People are drawn to a church when that    
church meets their needs.
2)   Young people, for example, have social
needs as well as spiritual needs!
3)   So we need to plan ways that young people
can have these needs met also, which is what EPIC  all about!

     People, example, in the community, who are not being reached by a church.  Casual worship! Bridge activities!

3.   Once we have broken down these barriers we can reach people!

Conclusion:
A. Christ's life was a ministry day by day planning to meet with people and meeting their needs!  Christ had the Living Water!  Christ was the Living Water, but he still had to plan His ministry.

Watch this clip: (a modern day take on the story)


B.  We have the Living Water!  We have what people need!  Our life
   should be a ministry also.

C.  For our life to be a ministry, we must do some planning!

D. For our church to minister, we must do some planning!
                      
E. Are you planning your ministry??  As we encounter Christ at the
          table this morning, let’s commit to being more intentional about
          planning our ministry.

             Prayer of Confession

               Holy Communion!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

To Be a Blessing!


Introduction:
A. As I reflect on my life, I can think of several people who have been blessings to me, but I want to share about one in particular this morning. His name is Pastor Don. I have told you before how the church I attended as a teenager split very sadly (it was in a tradition where the pastor could pretty well do what he wanted and had nobody to really be accountable to, and he split the church); how the church wouldn=t let it go, and how we eventually went to another church to find healing. Well, Pastor Don was the pastor of the church where we went to find healing. He was only a couple years older than me at the time, probably in his early twenties. I can remember, not too long after we started attending the church where he pastored, he preached on giving. I stayed after and talked to him; some of the things he said upset me. He listened very intently and said he hadn=t thought of it that way. He gave me a hearing. I can remember one time while painting a house with my dad for hire Pastor Don came by and offered to help. He built a relationship with us that day. He was a people person. His messages were ones of hope and growth/change in Christ (that we can make a difference); he preached with so much grace; I had never heard that before that I remembered. Most of what I had heard before was repent before you burn theology. God used Pastor Don to put my life back together after the split and disappointments that we had experienced. Pastor Don greatly influenced my willingness to later answer the call into the ministry. Pastor Don=s influence can still be seen in my ministry and preaching today. Pastor Don has really been a blessing to me!

B. We are all given ways to be blessings, and that is what I want to look at today!

Trans.
First, let's look in our Bibles at a man who was a blessing to many, and then, we'll answer some questions about "Being a Blessing."

Prayer
Gen. 12:1-3

I. A Look at the Scripture.
A. Here we have a passage where God promised Abraham that he'd be
blessed and he'd be a blessing.

B. Before we go on to our questions, it would be good to notice two things from this passage.
1. God is the source of our ability to be a blessing!
2. For us to be a blessing, it takes obedience to God on our part.

II. What is a blessing?
A. Webster's def. = an invocation of happiness.
Watch this clip: “How to be a blessing Happiness is Contagious”

B. Many things can be used to cause happiness. Most of them, we all
have.
C. We will list three. We can use these to be blessings, bring happiness, to others, but these can also bring us some happiness when used right, being a blessing to us as well.
1. Time = The way we use our time can be a blessing to others! We are all given the same amount of time.
a. Helping shut-ins.
b. Visiting in the Nursing homes.
c. Helping others do something that we do well.
d. Working in SERVE or on Mission trips.
  1. Inviting unchurched to worship!

In short, "Taking time to do for others." These are ways we
can use our time to be blessings!

2. Talents or abilities = We are all given talents or abilities. If we use them right, we can also be a blessing!
a. Singing.
b. Playing an instrument.
c. Teaching.
d. Preaching.
e. Leading.
f. Following.
g. Talking on the phone.
h. Mechanics.
i. Green thumb.
j. Cooking.
k. Keeping books.
l. Creativity.
M. Making blankets.

You name it; there is a way your talent can be used as a blessing!

3. Material resources = The use of our money or material
possessions can be a blessing to others.

III. What is their Purpose? (Purpose of blessings?)
A. Blessings are not provided just for our personal satisfaction. Read Luke 12:16-21 & 31-34.

B. There are two reasons for God's blessings upon our lives!
1. They should cause us to glorify and praise God.
2. God's blessings upon our lives allows us to be a blessing to
others, thereby pointing others to God and bringing glory to
God (Matt. 5:13-16).

IV. How can we more effectively use our blessings so that they will accomplish their purposes?
A. Strive for a closer relationship with God, and God will guide us in the use of our blessings.

B. Serve through the local church; use our abilities there.

C. Plan or budget out time, so we can minister to the poor, the hurting,
and those out of relationship with God.

D. Budget and plan the use of our material possessions so we will use
them wisely and not wasteful, thereby, being able to meet more
needs.

Conclusion:
A. We can all be blessings!

B. Do we need to renew our commitment to the proper use of the resources
that God has given us today as we have a time of prayer?

Prayer


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Newsletter Note from the Pastor for August, 2016


Friends,

Happy Summer!  As you receive this Newsletter, Summer continues and all that comes with it here in Marble Hill.  Some are enjoying the heat and others wish it were cooler. We tried something new this year with our Summer Picnic/V.B.S.  It turned out to be a very good event!  Thanks to all who made it happen!  The youth and several adults are leaving next week on a mission trip to the Henderson Settlement in Kentucky!  Thanks to all who have donated to that.  We have one of our largest mission trips going out as a result of your willingness, work, and devotion. We are getting ready for our annual Ice Cream Social sponsored by the United Methodist Men.  That should be a great event as well!  God is doing some great things here at Marble Hill UMC!  God is good all the time!

A Colossians Bible study led by Sue Brewer and Sue Binnie is just getting started and will continue through August 24th.  They are meeting on Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m.  You can still get involved in this, if you are wanting to get involved in a small group study!  Small groups (which includes Sunday School but is not limited to Sunday School) are a good way for individuals to grow in their faith and they are a good way to help grow the church.  I envision having several of these small group offerings throughout the year.  Small groups work best when they are offered for a set length of time; in our busy society, people are hesitant to commit to coming to something indefinitely, but they will commit to coming for short periods of time.  That isn’t really bad; it is just the reality in which we live.  Maybe the small group will be to look at and study a book together?  Maybe it will be for a Bible Study?   Maybe it will be to gather and exercise together?  Maybe it will be for Choir practice?  Small groups come in many forms.  As you grow in your faith, if you would be interested in leading a small group, please let me know.

Well, here is hoping you have a great August!  Since it is the growing season in the Christian year, I hope you will plan to be in worship and will take all the opportunities you can to grow in your faith this month, and I hope you will invite someone that you know to join you on the journey and to come to church with you!  You have been doing great at this, this is one key to a growing church!  We have been experiencing new people quite frequently, and I commend you for that.  Invitation is the first step toward disciple making, and it happens one person at a time, one on one!

God Bless you!
Pastor Mike

Monday, November 30, 2015

Pastor's Report


PASTOR’S REPORT TO THE CHARGE CONFERENCE

For
Marble Hill UMC
Meeting at New McKendree UMC (South Campus) at 2 p.m.
With
South East District Superintendent Rev. Fred Leist

Nov. 15, 2015

By

Mike Hargraves

We are still enjoying being here at Marble Hill UMC! Marble Hill UMC is a good church. Marble Hill has a history of paying their district and Conference apportionments in full, and we are on track to do it again this year. This is in part because Marble Hill is a missional church who sees the importance of paying their apportionments as a way of fulfilling Christ’s commission to go into all the world with the gospel. By paying their apportionments, they take part in the connectional ministry of the church in fulfilling the great commission. This missional identity continues in the way that Marble Hill ministers to the community. They see themselves as existing to serve their community, so at the Marble Hill church, many community things happen throughout the week: PEPP (Positive Education Parenting Program), Relay for Life meetings, Red Cross Blood Drives, County Extension Office meetings, Fire Department training, City Meeting for Missouri Rural Waste Water, Hunter Education Classes, Optimist Club meetings, many community baby and wedding showers, and funeral bereavement dinners for people inside and outside of the church. The Marble Hill church sees all of these things as ways to be in the community and offer Christ!

We continue to work on our “Marble Hill Growth plans for 2013 and forward.” This plan provides us with a vision and a goal to shoot for. Some of the highlights of what we have done this year toward these goals are as follows. We continue to work on our hospitality. We have had several first time visitors continue to come and make Marble Hill their church home. One of our members has recently taken on the hospitality/refreshment table as her personal ministry and is doing some great things with it. Our Nursery and Children’s Church ministries have undergone some changes. A couple ladies have taken on the ministry of the Children’s Church, one takes a month then the other takes a month. They are trying to make it more like a Children’s worship time, and they are trying to bring some continuity to this ministry. The Nursery continues to be served by volunteers. We have had a couple more people Safe Sanctuary certified this year to help with these Children’s ministries! A Care Team has been developed to help care for our shut-ins; several folks are calling or visiting our shut-ins, one of which is a retired pastor who has made Marble Hill his home church. It is good to have these resources in the church. The youth went on a mission trip to Sikeston to box up food at the Sikeston Food Bank this year. A trailer has been donated by one of our members to use for emergency response and some work has been done toward stocking it. Some work has been done toward developing a new directory, but this has been put on hold since our county is in the process of getting new 911 addresses. We have three young people who have started leading our Contemporary Song of Praise at the beginning of the service. This has really helped to enrich our worship and help people to participate in this song of praise, making the worship of our awesome God more passionate. There has even been some work toward looking into building the new addition mentioned in Phase IV of our growth plan, but for now that has been tabled until we can grow some more. The people of Marble Hill are eagerly working toward the mission of the church and God’s Kingdom! They are a good group of people! That growth plan is attached to this report!

Marble Hill has a website that one of our young people helped to set up, www.marblehillumc.com. We have been doing some work to keep it updated and information posted on it about upcoming activities. During this year, someone logged unto it in Utah who used to live in the Marble Hill area. She saw what we were doing with youth in the area and contacted us by an email she found on the site. Since then, she has significantly been supporting our youth ministry on a monthly basis.
Marble Hill’s worship takes place at 10:30 a.m. each Sunday morning. Marble Hill has blended worship with elements of contemporary as well as traditional to meet the needs of all people in our geographic area. The people really begin to gather at about 9 a.m. for a time of fellowship around the hospitality table before Sunday School. The laity take an active part in worship: Marble Hill has a choir that leads us in traditional music with excellence. The choir has experienced some growth; we’ve had one lady move back and join the choir who sings and helps out with the organ as needed. Our Tech team includes a couple of very committed youth! Marble Hill is blessed with musical talent and several people share specials during worship; we have even discovered some new talent this past year! Praise God! Laity lead the Children’s time each week; after which, the children are dismissed to the nursery or Children’s Church which is also served by our laity. Marble Hill endeavors to offer passionate worship where people can encounter God and find their place in the Kingdom of God.

As of the writing of this report, the average attendance since this time last year at Marble Hill is 96 which is down from the 104 reported last year, but we have had some severe sickness in the church this year, and when you look at those who are missing with that consideration and add back those affected by that, you realize we have still grown. There are still people here who were not here last year. I believe that average may increase before the end of the year since many of those folks are back with us. The average attendance for 2013 was 85. We have had a total of 2 professions of faith who joined the church since the first of the year! Praise God! Marble Hill is alive and well, and moving forward for Christ, striving to make a positive difference in our community and the world. Marble Hill participated in Serve again this year with around 50 something taking part in doing service for our community in such ways as a mobile food pantry on our church parking lot, soup and food taken to the elderly and less fortunate, visits in the nursing home by our children’s group, highway and community clean up, and other work projects in the community. Marble Hill is a working church who takes seriously the Wesleyan emphasis on doing something because of your faith! Marble Hill is made up of people of just about any age, from many faith traditions. Marble Hill is really a regional church, having people come as far as Jackson, Patton, and the surrounding areas to worship here!

Marble Hill actively supports many local mission projects. Marble Hill actively supports The Amen Center, a local shelter with the mission of providing a place for people who are trying to help themselves get back on their feet. The Amen Center is housed in an old school building near a neighboring town. Besides supporting the Amen Center financially, folks from Marble Hill went to the Amen center to help paint and fix the property up at its beginning. Marble Hill also supports the local food pantry. Marble Hill sent an increase in food boxes, Hygiene kits, Dental kits, and cash donations to the Festival of Sharing this year! Again, Marble Hill has a heart for mission! Marble Hill UMC is one of the main churches people turn to for help in times of need because Marble Hill has a Benevolence fund and is known as a church who cares and who will help! That is not a bad way to be known!

The United Methodist Men at Marble Hill are preparing for their Annual Fish Supper. It is a big deal and many participate to make it happen. It is a time when I get to meet and invite several people to come and be a part of the church. It is a real good opportunity to get the church into the community! We are again planning for our annual Trunk or Treat. Again, it is a great opportunity to invite people to church and for people to receive information about the church in their treat bags! Marble Hill church had an Advent walk-through and for the first time in several years the Easter Passion Play production on the church grounds. Marble Hill uses all of these events as bridge events between the community and the church. For many, this may be their first exposure to the church. It is my job to work the crowd and meet people. This is another example of how the Marble Hill church is in the community and the community is in the church. There are many other ways, some of which I have surely missed, that Marble Hill is in the community, but hopefully, this is enough to convey the idea of just how vital a ministry the Marble Hill church offers in the Southeast district of Missouri.

Besides being in the community, Marble Hill also supports several missions beyond our community. Marble Hill church is in mission in Africa. Marble Hill has a long history of supporting “Heart of Africa.” Marble Hill supports this mission financially but has also sent people personally to be a part of this mission work in Africa. Marble Hill has supported Gideons International, Mozambique flooding, the PET project, Ferguson Church, Haiti Clean Water Project, Operation Christmas Child, and Heifer international this year. Marble Hill regularly sends out mission teams; one of the plans on the above mentioned growth plan is to prepare an emergency response trailer. Keep up the good work Marble Hill Church as you continue to make disciples in the uttermost parts of the world!

Marble Hill offers several faith building opportunities as well. Marble Hill offers Sunday School classes for all ages. We have four adult Sunday School classes and 4 children’s and youth classes. There are small group Bible Studies that take place from time to time. We have a youth group that meets each Wednesday night called “EPIC” to offer a short lesson, food, and fellowship. We also have a younger children’s group that meets on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday evenings called “JAMS” to offer the same to our children. JAMS has just undergone some changes with new people stepping up to lead this ministry. We have a good group of very creative children and youth leaders! We have a few laity who lead small group Bible Studies from time to time, and I lead Methodist 101 as needed.

My hope in providing this report is that those who read it will get a better sense of the vital ministry of the Marble United Methodist Church in a way that cannot always be detected when looking at stats. This is not a complete report of all the ways Marble has done ministry this year but is meant to celebrate some of the highlights of the year and to give the reader a flavor of the Marble Hill church. Marble Hill is one of a few congregations who are really making a difference in our world today, and I think that is worth celebrating! May God Bless you as we serve together!