Pastor's Report on the last twelve months by Faith Wilkerson
In the last twelve months, we have worked diligently to safely reconstruct ministry activities of our church that were disrupted by pandemic. Since the October 2020 Church Conference, we have returned to in-person worship. In July 2021, we started an intergenerational family-friendly worship service on Wednesday evenings. With upgrades to our audio-visual equipment our Sunday 10AM worship can be watched via ZOOM. Our community missed the fellowship and connection over the last months, so the restarting of choir, Sunday school, kids bible academy, after school programs and Wednesday meal have been welcomed and meaningful to all ages.
The pandemic may be disruptive at times, but it has not kept our church from growing. New persons have begun attending both worship services and 9 persons were received in to church membership in 2021. Children have been baptized and our children’s ministry programs have grown in number and attendance. Ninety-five children attended summer day camp programs led by our Family Ministry Director, Julie McGaughran and the Wesley School Staff with the assistance of youth and volunteers during the last two summers (2020 and 2021)
Baptized in 2021: Landon Carroll, Cole Hayden, Clark Hayden, Nora Hayden, Jack Leavitt (pictured below on left) Connor Schofield (pictured below on right), Kailey Upton, Paisley McDonald, Bristol Ann Tyrell.
In the fall of 2021, we launched a new academic outreach for children grades 3rd - 8th called The Project Approach Ministry which is an innovative learning community that supports homeschool parents. (Pictured left is Dot Tyrrell, project educator for Math and Social Studies, teaching kids at Jefferson Patterson Park while holding a turtle.) The Wesley School is at capacity and is known in the community as an inclusive and welcoming school, where the whole child is valued, relationships cultivated, and neuro-diversity is recognized and respected.
We continue to grow opportunities for adults to engage in bible study. In order to encourage daily scripture reading, I wrote a Daily Devotional Booklet for the season of Lent which offered a reading and personal reflection for each day, which then tied to the Sunday message. It was meant to connect persons to each other as well as to a discipline of daily bible reading. I found that it probably was more of a blessing to me, as I got so much out of prayerfully preparing it. I also enjoyed the prayerful study that went into the creation of the Back to Basics Series on the early church. This series was in partnership with Jackie Waymire who wrote a dramatic retelling of the scripture each week. The cast and I prayed together before worship each week, sharing a deep connection to the scripture message for several Sundays.
A small group study led by Jerry Jones has faithfully continued to be a place of spiritual growth as well as connection during the pandemic. In fall of 2021, I began holding one bible study per month after church. I have arranged so that each month there is one Sunday that I do not have to preach at Centenary. Teaching bible study is something that has been on my wish list but has been difficult to schedule because our Sunday school hour was previously held while I was at Lower Marlboro.
The mission of feeding our neighbors was at first challenged by the pandemic. But as we entered in to 2021, we found ways to return to serving dinners. In October 2021, we held a carry-out only Ham & Oyster Dinner.
Pictured above, volunteers oyster-patters assembled in the fellowship hall. More peoples desired to serve and feed others so they jumped into the Good Neighbor Food Delivery Ministry which was happening bi-weekly. As we near the end of 2021, we continue to be active in serving at the Calvert Community Churches food pantry as well as partnering with West River Area Churches.
Mt Harmony is known for openness to support and civic groups seeking space. The leaders of the AA, Alanon and Alateen programs have all thanked me for providing hospitality as the number of new attendees to each is growing. The girl scout leaders continue to use our space for their planning meetings, as does the Yoga group.
This year, the Trustees did much to keep our buildings and property in check. They conducted a survey of the property lines, installed a fence along the south side for the children to play more safely and took a step toward becoming more energy-efficient by replacing all the fluorescent lights with LED lights.
I give thanks that the Lord has given me the grace to meet the challenges of leading during unprecedented times. I look back at the year in awe at how we have faithfully have upheld our collective responsibility to grow disciples, connect to Christ (both on-line and in person) and witness to others.