2016 End of the Year Giving Appeal

You can access a PDF version of the following letter here.

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God with us!

As this year draws to a close, I am reminded of the ways each of you has been part of the work God is doing in our community and world to bring healing and wholeness. You have given generously of your time and resources. You have cared for family and neighbors, served our local schools, and found ways to support outreach both in our community and beyond.

I also give thanks for how you have been part of the growth and discipleship which have been happening at Arden in 2016. Our worship attendance has continued to grow, and we have received more new members than we have in many years. Since our last charge conference, we have received 13 new members (including 3 adult baptisms) and we have celebrated the baptisms of 5 children!11218856_10153459469456888_805788482928751785_n

We have also continued to expand our vibrant ministries to persons of all ages. Our Vacation Bible School program once again welcomed children and youth, and we saw the return of the VBS class for older adults. Our Agape Village Children’s Church program continued throughout the summer this year, as did our children’s Sunday School program.

Our congregation’s outreach to the community and our culture of serving also continues to develop. This year, in addition to our annual summer mission trip, we added a Family Mission Trip as well as sent a team to help in WV flood relief. Earlier this fall, our congregation hosted a reception for the first graduate of the Berkeley County Day Recovery Program—an alternate drug sentencing program geared to create lasting change and health for participants and our community.

All of this was made possible through the generous and regular financial support of our congregation.

Even while all of these ministries were ongoing, our church leaders worked tirelessly to finalize the sale of the Whitford Property, meet the ongoing needs of our facility, and work to aggressively pay down the remaining mortgage on the Family Life Center.

I am writing to invite you to consider making a special end of the year gift to help us continue making rapid progress on paying off our remaining mortgage. In that letter, we covenanted to you that we would begin an earnest effort in 2016 to pay off the remaining debt. I am honored to be able to share with you that we have done just that.
Last year, you responded generously to our end of the year letter and you have continued to give to the mortgage throughout the year. Further helping our debt-reduction efforts was the sale of the Whitford property and the Trustees’ decision to use a large portion of the proceeds to reduce the mortgage as well.

Our original balance on the mortgage was $245,416.92. At the beginning of 2016, we had paid that amount down to $219,689.59. As of today, that mortgage stands at $157,085.26. That is a reduction of the balance by $62,604.33, or over 28%!

I give thanks for your generosity and the careful work of our Trustees and Finance committees. Your congregational leaders remain committed to aggressively working to pay off out current mortgage. We believe this is important not just as a matter of good stewardship, but also because as God continues to bless our congregation and community with growth, we want to be poised to consider new projects which may be needed to expand our ministries.

One of the areas we can begin to explore once we have paid off our existing mortgage is new options for Christian education programs. When we re-started Sunday School a year and a half ago, we were so blessed to have the basement classrooms available. We continue to give thanks for that space and the rich legacy and memories which fill it and now bless a new generation of children. Already several of our classes and programs have outgrown their space! Children’s Church has transitioned to meeting in the Family Life Center, and one of our Sunday School classes now meetings in its space. As you know, and as you invested in the vision of the Family Life Center, our basement spaces are not accessible for children, youth and adults with mobility issues. In addition, as we have also begun adding more classes for adults, we are also considering when we will hit capacity for available classrooms.

As we pay off the debt from the Family Life Center, then, we look forward to casting a vision about creative uses and updates to our current space as well as possible new projects to expand our facility. This also includes a careful consideration of parking availability.

Your special, second-mile gifts to the building fund for this purpose should be marked “MORTGAGE” and placed in the offering or given to Willia McDonald, our Treasurer. All funds received in the Sunday offering by December 25, or received directly by Willie by December 31 will be credited to your giving for 2016. You can receive a full giving statement for tax purposes (since all donations to Arden UMC are tax exempt) by requesting the statement from Willia.

Thank you for your continued generous support for the ministries of Arden UMC, and for your special financial support of the Building Fund!

Grace and Peace.

Rev. Sarah Andrews Schlieckert