It is an exciting time to be part of the St. Pete First United Methodist Church family! I am beginning the first of many communiques to have you be part of an important process that has begun in our church. Last fall, our Church Council approved the formation of a Vision Team whose goal is to prayerfully seek God’s voice and direction for the next seasons in our church’s life. The folks on the vision team are: Bob Ulrich, Jim Rowe, Mark Engelen, Matthew Abbey, Kristie Pilliod, Betty Sullivan, Jeff Jones, Kerry O’Reilly, Pastor Margaret Rountree and Pastor Bob Martin.
We know we are called to be the heart of St. Petersburg and that our church is to be an anchor church and serve as the hub of faith and outreach for our community. With this focus, we have adopted the following statements to identify who we are and the work we are called to do as a church.
Our Mission Statement: “Love. St. Pete.” John 15:12. Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Our mission is our purpose and we reflect that purpose in the ways we “Love. St. Pete.” Our mission has been painted onto our administration building so as to let the community know who we are. The Scriptures teach us to begin influencing the area where you live and when you are a light at home, that light will also shine brightly in other places. This leads to identifying what we are all about and that is, “We are the heart of the city.”
Our Vision Statement: Our vision is to be the heart of the city of St. Petersburg, where people are transformed into disciples by the love and grace of Jesus Christ and empowered to solve the unmet needs in our community and beyond. We believe our calling as a church is to focus on the community in which we live and serve. Like a pebble dropped into the water, we believe by facilitating and nurturing the love of Jesus locally, our ability to share God’s love will have a “rippling effect” bringing hope and life to others. We also believe we have been created for such a time as this to help provide solutions to the unmet needs that weigh on our heart.
Over the last couple of months that the vision team has been meeting, we have felt God continue to lead our church into opportunities to be Jesus in places needed most. With that, we have begun working on ways to seek and provide healthy solutions to the following areas: Poverty (physical and spiritual), Child illiteracy, and Housing solutions for working individuals so they may find housing in and around our community of St. Petersburg in which to reside. The team is also aware of seeking ways to grow our church by making new disciples of Jesus, developing future leaders, expanding the outreach of our preschool and finding ways to raise financial resources to meet the needs of our ministry plan and the upkeep of our historical building for generations to come.
The realization of this bold mission and vision requires resources and thoughtful detailed strategic planning. As a result, the vision team will begin having exploratory conversations with city officials, other churches, campus planners and developers to understand what possibilities and partnerships may be advantageous as we explore moving forward. The entire vision team and I are committed to keeping you informed in the weeks and months ahead. As the strategic planning exercise matures and bears fruit, we will ensure that these conversations are transparent to our church family. Remember, as United Methodists, decisions on campus expansion, funding, etc. require the approval of the church membership through a called church conference. This is what ensures the church membership as a whole has a voice in the future of the church. To that end we invite you to share your vision with us. We will be offering a preaching series beginning after Easter to offer more insight. If you have any questions, concerns or comments, my door is always open, as are those of the vision team members.
As the vision team continues its work, I want to reiterate how important each one who calls St. Pete First United Methodist Church their home is to this process. You will be the recipient of the fruit that comes from these meetings and have a voice in our direction ahead. We are all in this together and together we will establish a strong ministry that will bring hope for our future. I can’t wait to see what God has planned for us!
Grace and peace,