God provided a miracle for Faith Journey UMC
Twenty-twenty was a tough year financially for many churches not only in the Upper New York Conference, but also, around the world. Still, churches became creative in making ends meet so that they could at least pay their Direct Bills, expenses such as health benefits and pension.The pandemic could have especially financially exacerbated churches who were already behind in Direct Bills. Faith Journey UMC in Liverpool, NY is one of them.The Rev. Nola Anderson, District Superintendent of the Crossroads District, said, “Faith Journey’s several years of outstanding Direct Bills were significant and weighed heavily on them.”
Rev. Anderson reassured Faith Journey at the beginning of the pandemic, telling them to try to make sure they can pay Direct Bills; don’t worry about Ministry Shares.
Faith Journey was able to not only meet their Direct Bills, but also is prepared to begin paying ministries shares with a goal of $5,000 a year to start.
How did they accomplish this?
Pastor of Faith Journey, Daniel Bradley, said “Come December, we thought we were in trouble, but within a couple of weeks of reporting to the congregation that they may not be able to meet direct bills, their faith of the people came to the (offering) plate.”
Faith Journey has not only enough to complete their Direct Bill payment for 2020, but also had enough for their January 2021 bills.
Pastor of Faith Journey, Daniel Bradley, said, “The accomplishment is truly because of the dedication of the congregation.”
Beth Jordan, a lay member, who leads the Cradle and Beyond ministry added, “The faith of the people here is amazing.”
Rev. Anderson agreeing with Pastor Bradley and Beth’s statements, said “Faith Journey’s story is such an inspiration…Their first step to health was to right size the congregation. It’s so encouraging that in the midst of this pandemic, they are determined to find creative ways to serve the community, in a safe way, while being faithful to Jesus the Christ.”
Throughout the pandemic, Faith Journey leadership remained very connected to the church and their community. They held summer worship in their parking lot and would have 40-50 cars every week.
Beth shared, “For the summer, to have that many people was a huge blessing. People were so desperate to be able to attend a church service safely and their gratitude was expressed with many donations placed in a basket as they left the parking lot.”
The church also creatively served their two most popular fundraising dinners, roast beef and chicken barbeque, drive-through style. The chicken barbeque sold out in less than an hour.
Faith Journey’s Cradle & Beyond ministry, a store that sells clothing and household goods, thrived during the pandemic as well. They had to close only for the first couple months of the pandemic and with safety protocols in place, they resumed their schedule of Tuesdays 4-7 p.m., Wednesdays and Thursdays 10 a.m.-4 pm, and Saturdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Now that giving is up at Faith Journey, they are creatively working toward meeting not only their Direct Bills in 2021, but also their goal of $5,000 in Ministries Shares. One way that they are doing this is by having Cradle & Beyond tithe.
Beth said, Cradle & Beyond tithes 10 percent of their earnings to the church and asks the congregation to match it.” At the time of this writing, for 2021, the store has given $147 and so far, the congregation has given $60.
Pastor Bradley is confident that Faith Journey is moving in a positive direction; he said, “We are not a dead church…we are very much alive; we are a church on the move!”
Editor’s note: Faith Journey’s story is representative of many such stories across the Upper New York Conference and the United Methodist Church. Does your church have a story like this to share? If so, we’d love to hear it! Please send your stories to News@unyumc.org.