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Pastor D’s Letter November 1, 2020
Each year in November we focus on STEWARDSHIP. Part of our stewardship campaign encourages you to make a pledge and tithe, to support the mission of the church. More than that, however, our campaign encourages you to be good stewards of all God’s blessings. That is because stewardship is part of our identity as Christians. Stewardship recognizes that all that we have belongs to God. Psalm 24:1 reminds us:
“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,
The world and those who dwell therein.”
Sometimes I hear, “We don’t have to tithe anymore, that’s part of the Old Testament law.” However, the “tithe” is part of the Moral Law given by God and is not abrogated (annulled revoked or repealed) by the New Testament. Tithing is actually the starting point for our stewardship and the New Testament actually expands the expectation by reminding us that everything is the Lord’s.
According to the Holman Bible Dictionary, “The call to absolute commitment to Christ is the central theme of the New Testament (Mark 8:34-36).” The Article ends with this statement, “Thus, the New Testament concept of stewardship centers in our commitment to Jesus Christ. When He becomes our Lord, He becomes Lord of our time, talents, finances, and everything. We realize that we are not our own, but we are bought with a price.” Holman’s definition echoes the teaching of Jesus and the truth of Psalm 24:1 which could be summarized as – EVERYTHING BELONGS TO THE LORD!
As part of its Stewardship campaign in 2015, the Session looked at how the church is a steward of God’s gifts and changed how we engage in Mission. Instead of giving to denominational agencies, the church now works through partnerships. The persons (and agencies) with which we partner who have a Christ centered focus are called Mission Partnerships. Those persons (and agencies) which have a good focus for our community that we want to support, and who are willing to work with our church in partnership, are called Community Partnerships.
My November 8th Pastor D’s Letter, will focus on our Mission Partnerships and the November 15th Pastor D’s Letter will highlight Community Partnerships. For the November 22nd, Pastor D’s Letter I will explain how we work with agencies and people who are not “partners”, which raises a question, “What defines Partnership for SVPC?”
“PARTNERSHIP” is a relational term. At SVPC it is intended that our Mission and Community Partners are people with whom we can work together, to further the purpose of the church – sharing Jesus with the world. In order to accomplish this: First our partners help us to engage the community and our world in ways that we might not be able to on our own. Therefore, preference is given to partners who ask us to do more than simply give financially. Second, as we work together, we are both encouraged and helped to accomplish the goal we share in common. Third, SVPC Mission and Community Partners are required to share with the church, what they are doing and how we are helping them. Every year Partners share in writing an update of how our relationship has helped them, and these reports are included in the Annual Report of SVPC as an appendix. Fourth, Some Partners may be invited to speak to the church in person. I am excited to share with you that two of our Mission Partners will speak to us in November. On November 8th, Jonathan Sanborn, the Director of Care Portal for Arizona, New Mexico, California and Hawaii will share with us the ministry of the Care Portal. And on November 15th, Barbara Rochester, the Director of Crossroads Mission will speak to us about their ministry. Fifth, our Partnerships are for a specific time frame, not to exceed one year. Sixth, these Partnership Agreements are renewable and flexible. Each year the focus of our partnership can change so that the partnership continues to be mutually beneficial and fit our Stewardship Commitments (more on this next week). Finally, every Partnership has a point of contact with a person (who may represent an agency) with whom we partner; and a church member (not necessarily a Session member) who oversees the Partnership for us during the Agreed upon time frame. If you have an idea for a Mission or Community Partnership and are willing to be the point person, you can contact the church office so that you can share that possible Partnership with the Session who oversees and approves all Mission and Community Partnerships.
I look forward to sharing with you next week more specifically about our Mission Partnerships and who are our current Mission Partners. Again, I hope you will join us on November 8th to hear Jonathan Sanborn from The Care Portal which is a Mission Partner of SVPC.
See you Sunday, in person or on Facebook,
Pastor D’s Letter November 8, 2020
Stewardship and Mission at Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church – Part 2
The mission of any organization is its reason for existing, its statement of purpose. God’s word reminds us that the Mission of the Church is to share Jesus with the world.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)
The Westminster Confession of Faith (Chapter X paragraph 4) states:
Since there is no other way of salvation than that revealed in the gospel, and since in the divinely established and ordinary method of grace faith cometh by hearing the Word of God, Christ hath commissioned his Church to go into all the world and to make disciples of all nations. All believers are, therefore, under obligation to sustain the ordinance of the Christian religion where they are already established, and to contribute by their prayers, gifts, and personal efforts to the extension of the Kingdom of Christ throughout the whole earth.
In other words, “The MISSION of the church is to make disciples by sharing Jesus with the world.” Being good stewards of the resources and finances entrusted to the church, Sierra Vista seeks to do mission in partnership with others. We call these our “Mission Partnerships.”
What is a Mission Partnership?
At SVPC a “Mission Partnership” is two things. First, a Mission Partnership is missional. In other words, a Mission Partnership furthers the mission of the church, proclaiming Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Second, Mission Partnerships are partnerships. Mission Partners may receive financial support, but the main purpose of the partnership is to work together in our common goal of sharing the Gospel of Jesus in ways we would be unable to on our own. Mission Partnerships at SVPC are designed so that:
1) Partners help us engage our community and our world in sharing the Gospel.
2) Both the church and the Mission Partner are encouraged as we work together to share the Gospel.
3) Mission Partnerships are for a specific time frame, not to exceed one year.
4) Mission Partnerships are intentional. Expectations for the mission partners, both parties are put in writing. Though specific, partnerships are also flexible and renewable. The focus of a Mission Partnership can be changed each year so that both the church and the Mission Partner continue to mutually benefit by the Partnership.
5) Mission Partners share with the church what they are doing. Every year Mission Partners give a written update of how our relationship has helped them and these are included in the Appendix of the Annual Report of SVPC.
6) Mission Partners are also invited to speak to the church in person.
7) The partnership is relational. Mission Partnerships are made with people. The people may represent an agency but the relationship between the person and the church is the key. Therefore, every Mission Partnership has a point person, a church member (not necessarily a Session member) who oversees the Partnership for us during the agreed upon time frame.
Who are our Mission Partners?
The following is a list of the people/agencies who are our current Mission Partners.
- Africa Inland Mission: Crystal Echols – Crystal is from Yuma and working in Southern Sudan. She speaks to us anytime she is in town and also writes a monthly e-letter. We support Crystal financially and prayerfully and we encourage you to respond to her monthly e-mails. Crystal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Boy Scouts - CubScouts - Girl Scouts – Not only do we provide space for these groups, we invite them to be part of our church and its activities. We also offer “God and Country” as part of our commitment to share the Gospel with the youth involved. Church Members are both the lead and the point of contact for this partnership.
- Total Recovery – This is an “in house” Mission Partnership. Led by Brian and Tyler Claar “Total Recovery” reaches out to those with addictions presenting a place to come together and lean together on the “Higher Power” that is Jesus Christ the Lord.
- Care Portal – the Care Portal connects churches to local children and families in crises by partnering with local child welfare agencies. Child welfare workers uncover the needs. They share the need with the Care Portal. And the Care Portal makes local churches aware, giving them opportunity to respond. We will hear from Jonathan Sanborn, director of the Care Portal for Az. This Sunday Nov. 8th. We support the work of Care Portal financially in Yuma County and respond to requests to aid families.
- ABCS – Also known as Arizona Baptist Children’s Services. Our Contact is Don Vickers and we support this ministry by giving monthly donations of diapers and wipes for their ministry to young mothers and by adopting families each year for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
- Cocopah Church – Our Contact person is Esteban Escobar who is the Pastor of the church. We support them financially and continue to explore ways that we can partner with the church to share Jesus with the Cocopah Tribe. Esteban also serves as translator for Pastor Caesar.
- Jesu PanDavida Church – Pastor Caesar is our contact person for this church located in San Luis, Mexico. We support the church financially and they are the recipient of our “Baked Potato Bash” gifts each year.
- Crossroads Mission – The contact person for Crossroads in Barbara Rochester, who will speak to us on November 15, 2020. Crossroads shows how a Mission Partnership can change. We began with financial support, then added making sandwiches. When the contact person left we continued our financial support and now collect monthly items Crossroads needs for their ongoing ministry. Please send or drop off your donations this month for adult underwear.
Previous Mission Partnerships include: Yanice Rodriguez. Yanice Rodriguez was a mom involved with our scouting program who went on a Mission trip to the Holy Land to assist in outreach to the Jews. We received a love offering for Yanice and when she returned home she shared with the church about her trip, what she had done and how it had impacted her faith.
If you have an idea for a Mission Partnership that you would be willing to be the church point person for, please contact me and the Session will follow up in exploring and making new partnerships. Next week the focus will be on Community Partnerships.
See you Sunday, in person or on Facebook,
Pastor D’s Letter November 15, 2020
The Stewardship of Mission at Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church – Part 3
Not all partnerships are Mission Partnerships, (made with other Christian people whose ministry is focused on sharing the gospel). Some partnerships just make a positive impact on our community. These “Community Partnerships” focus on things that have a positive influence, make a positive difference in our local community, and are worthy of the support of the church. These partnerships are often focused on children or families, and may be viewed as Evangelistic, because they help the community to know that the church cares about people and their basic needs as well as their spiritual life.
What is a Community Partnership?
A Community Partnership is made with a person (or agency representative) that does not have a specific Christian Mission component but does something important that we can support financially, prayerfully and actively. Community Partnerships at SVPC are designed so that:
1) Partners help us engage our community and our world, in a way that shows and shares God’s love.
2) Both the church and the Community Partner are encouraged as we work together to impact children and families in a positive way.
3) Through our “Community Partnerships” Yuma becomes aware that SVPC is here and cares about the people of our community.
4) Community Partners may be asked to speak to the church to share their vision of why this partnership is important.
5) Like Mission Partners, “Community Partners” are required to give a written update of how our relationship has helped them and these are included in the Appendix of the Annual Report of SVPC.
6) Community Partnerships are for a specific time frame, not to exceed one year and they are renewable.
7) Community Partnerships are relational. Community Partnerships are made with people. The people may represent an agency but the relationship between the person and the church is the key. Therefore, every Community Partnership has a point person, a church member (not necessarily a Session member) who oversees the Partnership for us during the Agreed upon time frame.
Who are our Community Partners?
- REACH OUT AND READ – During Lent our church collects children’s books (new and slightly used) and takes up a special offering for the purchase of children’s books to be given to Yuma County Reach Out and Read. Reach Out and Read provides books for children given by pediatricians at well visits. SVPC has been named by Yuma County Pediatricians as one of the primary sources for books they give out at these well visits.
If you have an idea for a Community Partnership for which you would be willing to be the church point person, please contact me, and the Session will follow up in exploring the possibility of making a new Community Partnership. Next week the focus will be on Mission Projects. A Mission Project is a one-time mission activity that does not require a Partnership.
See you Sunday, in person or on Facebook,
Pastor D’s Letter November 22, 2020
Stewardship and Mission at Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church – Part 4
The Bible has different categories of giving. There are: Tithes; Offerings; and Alms Giving (Charity). All are based in stewardship of God’s blessings.
The Tithe is the starting point for giving to God. A tithe is literally 10% of what God has given. Like taxes, all income (actually increase of any kind) that comes to you, you give a tithe to God. Biblically, the tithe was used to maintain worship, upkeep of the Temple and to care for Priests and Levites needs. Today the tithe is used the same way in the church, to maintain worship, upkeep of church property and to pay staff. Additionally, a portion of what you give goes to our “Mission Budget” and supports Mission Partnerships.
In the Bible, “Offerings” are often tied to sacrifice but they also include the offering of fruit, water, grain, etc. that are the lifeblood of an agricultural economy. Offerings were given in additions to the tithe, each time people came to worship. These offerings were usually one of five varieties: Burnt Offerings, as atonement for sin; Grain Offerings, an expression of devotion to God; Peace or Freewill Offerings, given out of Thanksgiving to God; Sin Offerings, given for unintentional sin; and Guilt Offerings, to cover any trespass or reparation not covered by burnt offerings or sin offerings. In the New Testament we learn that Jesus himself became the ultimate Sacrificial Offering when he gave himself on the cross to enable those who trust in Him to stand in God’s presence. How can we who know Jesus fail to offer any more than our whole selves to God in response? In the words of the Apostle Paul, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)
Finally, what we think of today as “Charitable Gifts” the Bible calls Alms Giving. These are occasional above and beyond gifts shared with those in need, like giving to a hungry beggar on the street. As the basic needs of these people are met, the hope is that they will be enabled to receive also God’s grace in Jesus Christ, for it is in Jesus’ name we give them alms.
At SVPC, part of our Tithes, Offerings and Alms Giving support our Mission Partnerships, Community Partnerships and Mission Projects. As God enables us, we share. God receives glory and people’s basic needs are met with the result that they are hopefully able to hear and receive the good News of God’s love in Jesus Christ.
What is a Mission Project?
At SVPC Mission Projects are like Alms Giving. They are a one-time project accomplished without creating an ongoing partnership. Projects are approved each time they are done and intended to be accomplished through a special gift or special offering given by the church and its members. The fact that these projects have been done does not mean that they will always continue to be a focus of the church. They must be approved each time they are undertaken.
Examples of Mission Projects SVPC has done include:
- The purchase of a new heating unit for, Tseyi Bidáá Presbyterian Church at Chinle AZ. In 2016 our Session using undesignated budgeted mission dollars, purchased a new heating unit for the church building. Prior to our gift, the congregations had no heat in their facility. The congregation now worships year round in comfort.
- Undie Sunday. Started by Dr. Bob Cannell years ago, every September the Session has approved taking a special offering for and receiving new children’s underwear for Sunset Community Health Clinics in September. This drives helps children who need undergarments.
- Christmas gifts for the Tohono O’odham tribe. (Placed on hold this year due to Covid.)
- Giving to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) when special needs arise such as hurricane relief. PDA is a first responder like Red Cross or FEMA but with a distinctive Christian focus coming from our denomination.
If you have an idea for a Mission Project and are willing to lead the congregation in doing that project, please contact the church office and the Session will follow up and consider approval of that project on a one-time basis.
See you Sunday, in person or on Facebook,