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Notes from the Lay Leader

In Philippians 4: 8-9 (the Message), St Paul says: I’d say you’ll do best by… meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you

learned… what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

As you have heard, a team is exploring ideas about how Big Rapids First UMC, Third Avenue

UMC, and Paris UMC might combine to provide more fruitful ministries to our community. The team is working toward a plan that will be presented to each individual church in early April. If the plan is approved by each church, implementation will begin July 1, 2024.

Pastor Jeremy has met with congregations of each church to hear their ideas and concerns.

Town hall meetings, open to anyone who wants to ask questions or voice opinions, are being held. Anyone is welcome to speak to team members.

As with any change, people worry about what they might lose. These concerns must be

processed before they can move on to looking at the potential advantages. “Why do we have to change? Why can’t we go on as before?” “We at BR First just made a change to our official attitudes to LGBTQAI+ people last year. Why can’t we wait with this new idea?” “BRFUMC just made a change last year and we don’t like it. Why are they trying to take us over?” “Why can’t we wait?”

If this new structure goes forward, there may be less change than you expect. Worship will still go on at each church. AA meetings, community meals, and other ministries will continue.

Nobody will be required to befriend anyone with whom they are not comfortable. Everyone will still be loved.

Some things will change: bulletins may be printed in another building. When the telephone

rings, it may be answered in a different physical location. When you donate, your money may be counted somewhere other than where it will be counted this Sunday. This does not mean that all the money will go to another church! You will certainly be asked less often to serve on a committee, because there will no longer be multiple administrative councils/leadership teams, Staff Parish Committees, Finance Committees, Trustee Committees (hallelujah!)

As you contemplate how you will react to this proposal, please reflect on the words of Paul

quoted above. We can worship as we always have. We can do more ministry if we come out of our separate silos. We can be more effective at making disciples of Jesus Christ for the

transformation of the world.

One concrete thing you can do before you try to vote: make sure you are an actual MEMBER of your church. Don’t assume that just because you have worshiped in that location for decades and contributed to the offering, that you are a member. Each church is required to maintain a list of those who have jumped through the (easy to accomplish) hoops. If you’re not sure, ask. If there is no record of your membership, you’re not a member. If you need to, JOIN NOW.

In the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 19-20), Jesus says: "Go and make disciples…  

teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

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