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  • Writer's picturePastor Paul Harris

Prayers, Presence, Gifts, Service, and Witness

What a joy we experienced in welcoming a large group of new members to Manchaca United Methodist Church on Sunday October 1, 2023. We will be providing photos soon (from those who grant permission). We hope you will be on the lookout for these new members and welcome them personally when you see them.

Our new members were joined by those in worship at both services last week in stating or re-stating a commitment to Christ, to the UMC, and to this local church as we participate in the ministry and mission of Jesus in this community. We stated that we would support this church and its ministries with our Prayers, our Presence, our Gifts, our Service, and our Witness. Pastor Chansin Esparza explained these commitments to most of our new members in a three week Discipleship Pathways Class, which we now hold three times a year. I thought it would be beneficial for me to say something for the rest of our congregation as a reminder to our stewardship commitments.


So many of you are already connected in the prayer life of this church through formal and informal connections. The prayers of the community which are gathered on Sundays are shared with an email group of Prayer Warriors. Their faithful commitment to pray daily for persons lifted by name adds so much to the care of our community and its neighbors. We also have a group of card writers who regularly send out cards to persons at home, those who are ill and experiencing isolation or loneliness, and to those grieving loss.


Gathering in a worship community has an impact on our personal and corporate spiritual life. Singing and praying together. Seeing each other and sharing in the experience of the Holy Spirit's movement through our congregation transforms our lives. And with the adaptation of online worship, we can be a part of the worship experience when we are away or needing to be at home. Being present in Christ is a gift to others. Worship Design guru Marcia McFee suggests that "when we realize we are not alone, spiritual transformation is possible." She adds, "discovering our own presence (in Christ) is a gift to others." We will be sharing more of the concept of presence in our Advent worship this year.


Time, talent, treasure... sharing our offerings through this church is a great way for each of us to respond to God's active love in us and through us. When we share our gifts we practice what the early church did in Acts 2. They came together sharing resources and "devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship and to the breaking of bread and prayers."

On a very practical note: the ministry budget for this local church is roughly $750,000 annually. That equates to $14,425 per week. Our tithes and offerings support a ministry staff and provide for a church campus with all of the expenses related to bricks and mortar. Allow me to say here that our giving together also includes designated giving to special causes in our community and in our connection. Food Ministries, Habitat for Humanity, and so many other missional outreach ministries of this church are a big part of what identifies us in the community. Our regular attention to a pattern of giving helps the church plan and manage your gifts with the best stewardship possible. The summer is typically a lower than average period of giving. WE NEED ALL OF US to stay regular in our giving commitment to the church and its ministries.


When we understand and grow into our spiritual gifts, we often are called to serve the church in its ministries. Some are called into the leadership of the laity while many serve quietly behind-the-scenes without much fanfare. Please know that we appreciate your service to Christ through this church. Office volunteers, communion stewards, ministry team members for Children and Youth, Sunday School and small group leaders, choir and praise team members, worship volunteers, mission team members, and the list goes on... Thank you!


This commitment was recently added (officially) to the vows we make as church members in the UMC. By this we mean that each of us are called to be present in the world as people who follow Jesus and his prime commandment to Love God and Love others. We each have a place in the Body of Christ and an opportunity to be responsible in the grace we receive in Christ. Use words when necessary and when appropriate. Otherwise, let your actions reflect the love we know together in Christian community.

That was a very quick recap! So much more will be said in November over several weeks of preaching and teaching in our Annual Stewardship Season. As for now, let us celebrate with our newest church members and make sure they are welcomed.

In Christ

Along the Way

Pastor Paul

A photo of a wooden plank pathway going through a forest. On top of the photo in a box with slightly more opacity reads the words "Discipleship Pathways Class," and "A three week class to better know our church and your own unique giving."

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