July 2, 2015

Dear Friends in Christ,

Approximately 80 members of Sudbury UMC stayed after worship on Sunday, June 28, to participate in what will be remembered, I believe, as a historic, two-hour Church Conference. Under the care and guidance of the Rev. Rene Perez, our District Superintendent, at least 80% of those who voted decided to support an ambitious vision for our congregation’s future on the Old Sudbury Road. To update our facilities for the 21st century alone will cost a little more than $3 million. Adding a multi-purpose chapelfor fellowship and worship on the south side of the present narthex and a first floor child care room plus a men’s room and a women’s room on the north side will add another $2 million. “How can this be?” we may well ask with Mary, Jesus’ unwed mother. “With God,” the angel Gabriel assures us, “nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37).

How can I describe how grateful I feel to all who participated in last Sunday’s Church Conference? Since the 2007 Strategic Plan identified negotiating conflict in a uniquely Christian way as a goal to be pursued by Sudbury UMC, we have come a long way as practitioners of Holy Conferencing. Even when disagreeing, and do so strongly, we were able at the end of our debate and vote to join hands and sing “Blest Be the Tie That Binds.” We were able, I believe, to honor and respect those who felt led to vote no, those compelled to abstain, and those who supported a vision that feels well-nigh “impossible.” We are a better church because of the rigor of our debate. And the decision we reached on June 28 is far better than it would have been without the candid questions and challenging observations many have raised along the way. Thanks to those who carried the vision. Thanks to those who raised important concerns. And thanks to all who held hands and affirmed that are hearts are joined in Christian love.

Now, to state the obvious, the real work begins. Throughout the summer, a team of Sudbury UMC’s leaders will work with the Rev. Dr. Tom Melzoni of Generis to create a fall stewardship emphasis that will combine our annual pledges of support for the mission and ministry of our church with a capital campaign striving to reach a $5 million goal. None of us wants to spend all of the coming year in fundraising mode. That’s why Dr. Melzoni is urging us to conduct – and why I support conducting – a combined campaign. Please begin praying now for a faith-filled and generous response.

Since United Methodists are a connectional people, the plans we have made, the decisions we have reached, and the roadmap for implementing them must also be considered and approved by the District Committee on Locations and Buildings. Stay tuned for the report that will follow that presentation and the results it will produce.

Finally, please join me in giving thanks to God for the visionary work of the Facility Study Committee. Richard Morris (chair), Karen Bowler, Trey Burns, Bill Cooper, Jenny Eaddy, George Gorman, Todj Gozdeck, Patrick Helsingius, Nancy Hammerton (lay leader), Ernie Stonebraker, and architect Doug Sacra have given countless hours to their task. Our debt to them is enormous. With you, I praise God for their faithfulness.

See you in church,

Pastor Joel

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