Pastor's Report for Pinehurst UMC (2005)

dorean elabote, dorean dote. Given Gifts – Give Gifts. (Matthew 10:8b).

I continue to offer this phrase, the motto of the Theological School of Drew University, as my personal mission statement. I am privileged to employ my gifts and talents for planning for the future, teaching, and preaching among the United Methodists of Pinehurst, North Carolina.
Our journey from small to larger membership church, from store-front to permanent facility, from predominantly retired persons to a diverse cross-section of ages, from charter visionaries to emerging leaders continues. Perhaps this past week’s Tenth Anniversary Celebration did more than anything to launch our second decade of ministry.

So far this year we have welcomed 50 persons into membership in the church (current membership is 484 persons). Our worship attendance is averaging 335 persons since Labor Day and we anticipate welcoming 10-15 persons into membership in November. In January and February of this year we read, taught, prayed and worshipped our way through Maxie Dunnam and Kimberly Reisman’s The Workbook on Virtues & the Fruit of the Spirit. From Ash Wednesday through Easter we prayed and studied through Mark’s Gospel. A sermon series on the Holy Spirit in the season after Easter has been followed by an extended teaching and preaching series based on Reuben Job’s A Wesleyan Spiritual Reader. We have launched new weekly Bible studies centered on the Ten Commandments and an Invitation to the New Testament (from DISCIPLE Bible Studies).

In our community we support Friend to Friend, the Sandhills Interfaith Hospitality Network, the Coalition for Human Care, Habitat for Humanity, and Moore Housing. With our hands we have mowed lawns, weeded and planted flower beds, replaced roofs, provided meals to the homeless with Community Presbyterian Church, and served countless hours in thrift stores. We have raised in excess of $40,000 for missions’ projects close at hand and at a distance. We are living into God’s promise to Abraham that we are blessed to be blessing.

I continue to challenge our church to remember with Paul that the work of a pastor is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry” (see Ephesians 4:11). I remain committed to setting each of us free for ministry in this place. Roger and Jean Hicks continue to invite God’s Spirit our worship life together. Todd Ferguson and Stacy Pell are a breath of fresh air for our children’s and youth programs. I give thanks for Ellen Hertlein and Roberta Culver who provided valuable assistance to the administrative life of our church. Their able handling of the details enables me to spend more time with the members of our church and in prayer with Jesus. I am also blessed to work with my colleagues Lovell Aills, Jean Arthur, Bruce Carlson, Emil Johnson, Betsy Kugel, and Ronda Torres. May we find strength in the willingness “to become all things to all people so that by all means some might be saved” (1 Corinthians 9:22).

As we look forward to our second decade of ministry with God in this place I would claim the following promises:
  • Our parking lot construction will enable us to focus more on welcoming others at special events rather than “telling them where to go” to find more parking.
  • In the coming year we will streamline our volunteer process to be more welcoming of individuals of various availabilities to support our children and youth ministries.
  • Finally, we will strive to provide the tools and methods to help persons see themselves as gifted, talented, available, called, and fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

Congregational Development Report to the 2005 NC Annual Conference

The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church 2004 states that the “mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ,” and that “local churches provide the most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs.” The North Carolina Conference has taken seriously this charge, leading most conferences in professions of faith, new membership, and worship attendance growth.

It is the function of the Commission on Congregational Development, and the associated Office of Congregational Development, to aid congregations and their lay and clergy leaders in creating strong and effective churches. Annually, new churches, and older churches of all sizes, are assisted with vision and mission planning, staff development, lay and clergy leadership development, building committee organization, and evangelism and outreach instruction. Each year about 100 churches are assisted, most of them small membership in size, and this was again the case in 2004.

In the past decade, 35 new churches have been started within the bounds of the North Carolina Conference. These churches have been started in city settings, growing suburban communities, and rural communities. Membership in these new churches includes persons who are affluent, middle class, and poor, Anglo, Hispanic, African-American, Korean, Native American, and Asian. Although not all of the new church projects initiated have been successful, the newest churches in the North Carolina Conference continue to lead the way in membership growth.

The Office of Congregational Development continues to provide through its annual contract with Percept Group, Inc., up-to-date community demographic data, accessible on-line and without cost, to all local churches ( In 2003-04, the Congregational Development Fund, Inc., with the support of Bishops Edwards and Gwinn, and an outstanding team of laity and clergy, launched A Time to Grow funding initiative. This quiet effort is aimed at identifying laity whose generosity with their wealth, combined with their belief in the value of strong churches and effective church leaders, will advance and strengthen local church ministry and new church planting ministry in the North Carolina Conference. To date, about $1 million has been committed by members of the initiative’s steering committee members. Initially, available funding will be used to create an outstanding new church leadership academy, and to purchase land for new churches.

The Ten Dollar Club, now in its 52nd year, is administered by the Office of Congregational Development. The Club’s loyal members continue to provide funding to underwrite grants to new churches for land purchase and first building construction. Each year, one grant is made to assist in the establishment of a new church outside of the U.S. In 2004, a grant was made to a new church in Moscow, Russia, and in 2005, a new church will be aided in Zimbabwe, in cooperation with ZOE Ministry.

Allen Bingham, Chairperson