God Blesses Former UM Church After Separation
I just finished a draft of a follow-up article on Kingsburg Community Church that the Central Valley Christian Times wanted to do. I thought it would be good to update friends on my personal e-mail list as well. This may be old news to some, but perhaps it will be encouraging to others.
You have the background: On June 28, 1998, the Kingsburg UM church members voted unanimously to leave the United Methodist Church because we felt that the California-Nevada leadership had abandoned scriptural Christianity. Because the UM structure provides that the local church holds title to church property in trust for the UMC, there was an immediate entrance into negotiations for our buildings. Because the UMC never contributed anything to build or maintain the buildings and their leadership had betrayed the foundational faith of John Wesley's Methodism, we felt we had a moral, if not legal, claim to the buildings.
Negotiations proceeded slowly over the course of almost a year until, quite suddenly, the UMC leadership seemed eager to settle. The settlement gave KCC clear title to the buildings, including a parsonage, while the UMC got approximately $225,000. We believe that the willingness to settle was greatly enhanced by the support of all of the churches in the Kingsburg Ministerial Union who pledged in a letter to the UMC never to buy our buildings and to oppose sale to any other party. Additional support from others including the City of Kingsburg helped make our case. For our part, we were willing to make such a payment, remembering the example of David who said, "I will not sacrifice to the Lord offerings that cost me nothing." We closed escrow on May 13, 1999, borrowing $160,000 from members to make the payment.
Since May, God has brought abundant growth to our church. Our 1999 average worship attendance was 293, almost 100 more than when we left the UMC 18 months ago. And God has been faithful to us financially, allowing us to pay off our building debt completely as of January 1, 2000! We couldn't have reached this goal in 8 months without generous gifts from those outside our local church family. Meanwhile, our mission giving has increase threefold and membership classes are filled. We have added classes for college and under-35's. The nursery is booming (and in dire need of a facelift). Our next venture of faith is to hire a full-time music director. I share this not to gloat, but to testify to God's faithfulness after a season of struggle.
My reflection as I look back on a difficult and conflict-filled period of time is that God never leaves you to go it alone. God is always going to make a way for those who honor Him. And whenever you take a big risk for Him, you end up receiving much more than you risked. Proverbs 3:5,6 has always been my favorite, and once again, it's true. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight."
Thanks for the opportunity to share the good news here at KCC.
Blessings on you,
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