News and Announcements for the Week of July 20

We celebrate a terrific week of Vacation Bible School, led by Judy Finney as chair of our Children’s Ministry Team.  What a joy to have so many children in our midst!  Jesus always welcomed children, blessed them, and said that the Kingdom of God belongs to them (Luke 18:16).  We appreciate each person who played some role in making this ministry come to life so that we could be the Body of Christ and love the children as Jesus does, and that the children could experience God’s love.  Thank you!!!

We welcome David K. Estep as our guest organist in worship.  David serves as the organist at Central Baptist Church in Johnson City. David is a long-time friend of ours and we are delighted to have him help lead us in worship.

Today in worship we invite you to give to a special offering for our district shared ministry of having missionaries serving the English-speaking United Methodist Church in Prague, Czech Republic.  John and Denise Redmond and their children Eli and Ada are moving there in August to serve in this role.  Your generous contribution will help share the good news of Jesus Christ in the national capital that is estimated by some to be 95% atheist.  Make checks payable to Bluff City UMC and mark “Prague Church” in the memo line.

Church Council meets at 4:00 pm, today, Sunday, July 20, in the Fellowship Hall.  Beverly Smith is our Church Council Chair.

The Cowan Property Ad Hoc Team meets TODAY at 2:30 pm in the Willing Worker Classroom.  Team members are Jack Hurlbert, Beverly Smith, Nancy Forrester, Tony Lundin, Mike Miller and Dan Gray.

Traditional Worship Planning Team meets Thursday, July 24, at 3:00 pm in the Church Library.  Team members are Priscilla Keene, Jane Bellamy, Betsy Carrier, Kim Lundin, and Dan Gray.

Rockhold United Methodist Church will be holding their Bible School on Saturday, July 26, 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Life Groups have launched!  There are currently three groups:  D3 Women’s Health group led by Samantha Gray and Jane Bellamy; Sisters of Strength Women’s group led by Jin Lane and Joan Williams; and a men’s group led by Mike Miller and Tony Lunden.  Please use the blue Connection Card to sign up for one of the groups by listing in the “My Next Steps” section the names of group leaders for the group you are interested in, and place the card in the offering plate during worship.  If you have an idea for another type of Life Group not listed, please indicate it in that section on the Connection Card.  Please see the bulletin insert for more info.

The 3D Life Group, led by Samantha Gray and Jane Bellamy, will meet the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month at 5:30 pm in the Wesley Center.  The next meeting will be Wednesday, July 23.

The Sisters of Strength Life Group Meeting will be held the 3rd Thursday of each month in the Fellowship Hall from 11:00 AM—1:00 PM.  The next meeting will be August 21, 2014.

Men’s Breakfast and Life Group Meeting—Next meeting is Saturday, August 2, at 8:00 A.M. in the Fellowship Hall – All men are invited to a wonderful breakfast provided by our UMW Circle. A donation of $7.00 would be helpful to them for funding their many  ministries. Our meeting will include a time for getting to better know each other, a devotion, and planning for inward and outward mission projects. Please notify Tony Lundin or Mike Miller at least by Thursday, July 31,  if you plan to attend.

Stewardship Update:  It is common for us to fall behind in our financial giving during the summer months, with vacations and other activities decreasing regular  attendance.  Unfortunately, this is a typical church pattern.  Our ministries often increase in the summer, though, especially with children’s and youth ministries such as our wonderful Vacation Bible School.  Concerning our finances, we have some good news and some opportunities to do better.  Your tithes and offerings to the General Fund, which support our general budgeted ministries, is ahead of last year at this time by about $4800, an increase of over 8%.  With our $10,000 budget increase from last year, however, we are about $15,000 behind where we hope to be in giving toward the General Fund.  Our general fund total income, as of July 17, is $63,808.  Our general fund total expenses are $71,856, leaving us with about $8000 more in expenses than income.  We have seen increases in expenses in many of our budgeted categories, amounting to about $2900 more spent than last year at this time.  The good news concerning expenses is that we have spent about $7000 less than the amount budgeted.  Nonetheless, our General Fund is about $10,600 in the negative.  Compared to last year at this time, our General Fund was $7200 in the negative, so we have increased our General Fund debt by $3440.  We encourage our ministry teams to “think twice” about spending and make sure the expense is something our church really needs.  We also want to celebrate that you have also been very generous with special offerings and designated giving, sharing over $5500.  Thank you so much for your faithful giving!  We encourage you to consider whether you need to “catch up” in your tithes and contributions to the General Fund, or perhaps you can give more, so that our ministries may continue strong and growing.  Our desire is not that we will get something from you, but what we hope for you — that you will experience the joy of generosity in supporting the work and ministries of God.  There is nothing more important that you can give to.

2015 Budget requests are due in the church office by September 1, using the budget request form.  Ministry team chairs— please plan a budget meeting for your team in August.

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