February 15, 2019
Dear friends of Liverpool First,
It was a great sadness for me to announce this past Sunday from the pulpit my reappointment to the First United Methodist Church of Newark, New York, effective July 1. Kathy and I have come to love this church, its people and the community. We had hoped I would retire from Liverpool, keep our home here and make the church our church home in our retirement. Upon receiving the news from our District Superintendent I immediately filed a formal request for reconsideration with the Bishop and Cabinet only to have my request declined.
As with most churches in our area, we have struggled with declining attendance and financial support for our ministries. This can be attributed to an aging population and the attrition of many long standing members through death or changes with where they choose to live in their retirement. Even though we have gained many new members, have enjoyed many new baptisms, the numbers are not sufficient to support the ministry as it has in the past.
In addition our culture has changed. Religious practice is deemed less important and theological struggles within the church itself have become a distraction from our primary mission of making disciples for Jesus Christ. I invite you to pray for the delegates who will attend the special session of General Conference meeting February 23 – 26 in St. Louis as we wrestle with the issues of “Moving Forward.”
We have attempted to address the challenges our church faces on our own but have found that we are not able to stem the tide of decline. On December 10 of 2018 we decided to enlist the resources of the Annual Conference to assist us and have begun an intentional process of assessment and planning to revitalize our witness and ministry. I introduced this past Sunday the members who have been elected to serve on the new task force we are calling the Futures Team who will work with Reverend Aaron Bouwens of the Vital Congregations Team on this process. Members include Charles McChesney, Pat Toukatly, Eric Holmes, Karen Gloyd, Bill Patton, Sharon Hartman, Miguel Patino, Robin Folk, and Pat Cupernall. It was believed by the Annual Conference that a new pastoral appointment would best facilitate the church’s process of revitalization.
Please be in prayer for your Futures Team as they work with your new pastor and the Reverend Aaron Bouwens to address the needs of our ministry. I wish to have been a partner in this process and will remain so from a distance through prayer. I look forward to hearing of the good things God will do here with my friends of Liverpool First.
Brian Homan, pastor