November 2020

State of the Church Report for Charge Conference 2020
at Glossbrenner U. M. Church, West District
Brian Albert, Pastor
This year has been the most unusual year in the memory of, I would say, almost anyone in our congregation. Since last year’s report, we have seen changes that would have been thought impossible to the average person. From a chronic decline in attendance, the end of 2019 saw a significant average increase in attendance. Financially, the anticipated $50,000 deficit was reduced to about $16,000. Going into the new year brought hope instead of anxiety and anticipation of continued blessings instead of continual concern. The first quarter of 2020 appeared to be a continuation and expansion of the bless-ing which God was sending to Glossbrenner. When the COVID Virus impacted the world, no one was really sure what would happen.
Initially Glossbrenner shut down like everyone else. The first Sunday after the “curfew”, there was only a sermon from the preacher and an impromptu a cappella benediction at the end. This was seen to be woefully inadequate for a worship service. The following Sunday consisted of an entire worship service, albeit accompanied by only a guitar and a bass, and offered to an empty sanctuary. Fast forward seven months later, and we have an average of about seventy-five in live Sunday morning worship, up to twenty livestreaming the service, and another one hundred or more watch-ing in the unfolding days and weeks after that. The worship service is continually being assessed for improvements and innovations that will improve its quality for our home folks and the people watching from around the country and from the world. Unfortunately, I do not have room to address the technological advances that were required to make these changes happen. While the worship service is perhaps the most visible, observable adaptive response this year, it is essential to recognize that it is only the tip of the iceberg.

Technological advances have been forced on us and the church has responded beautifully. In-stead of waiting out the virus, which most thought would be contained in a few months, Glossbrenner used the time to our advantage. For the first time in over a decade, the kitchen and Fellowship Hall floors were stripped and coated with sealer. Improvements were made in the audio-visual ability there, resulting in an eighteen by seven-foot retractable screen, a projector mounted permanently overhead, wall speakers mounted permanently, and a portable control console with con-nections wired in the walls, all due to the generosity of donors and the ingenuity and craftsmanship of our Trustees and others. The timing allowed for us to host two showings of the Sight and Sound production of Queen Esther. Following that, we intend to offer at least one movie a month for the blessing of our family and friends.
Additionally, our Bible studies had to go virtual. Recognizing a lack of understanding of core theological training, a thirty-week long Bible Study was initiated to review the Short Catechism of the church. While this endeavor is still in process, it will be archived for posterity on our website. Technology also advanced in our other Bible study, which now includes live participants in house, live participation via the GoToMeeting format, passive livestreamed attendance, and viewing available later, as it is archived on our website.
The entire church building, including Fellowship hall, and all classrooms, have been wired for internet access. This enabled us to Livestream the Esther production from Sight and Sound and allows for internet interaction in all our classrooms.
One of our Adult Sunday School classes resumed meeting in the fall, and now we have two of the three classes meeting regularly and we have resumed our Sunday school classes for elementary and middle school. We are careful about safety for our children, but excited that we now offer a Biblically based, professional curriculum that may bless our children for years to come.
Groups and committees have mostly resumed, initially via the GoToMeeting virtual format, but now often as a combination of virtual and live meetings. This allows us to continue planning and working to improve the life of our church as it impacts ourselves and our community. Currently, we are in the process of upgrading our audio-visual capabilities in the sanctuary.
These changes have allowed us to reach out into our community in new ways. Because we now have the internet capability, we are in conversation with our school district to offer our classrooms as internet “cafés” for students with poor reception at home. This is a new initiative which is still in the process of being organized. Additionally, we are looking to make the Fellowship Hall available to the public in ways beyond movies, to bring our community together.
Beyond the technology, Glossbrenner continues to make the apportionment payments to conference and the district, but intends to expand it’s missionary connections by supporting a missionary in Romania. We are considering an alternative REACH project if our annual summer mission trip is not available. We further intend to be a host sight for other mission oriented, community good projects, like New Life for Girls.
This has been an unprecedented year for us and the entire world. While we hear of many churches who have curtailed activities, many of us have been much busier than usual at Glossbrenner. Changes keep coming, new opportunities present themselves, and our people continue to rise to the challenge. If God continues to bless us as He has in the last eighteen months, there is certain to be better and brighter days ahead. In the spiritual life, the physical plant of the building, the financial stability of our budget, virtual and live attendance to worship and Bible study, and concern for our community, Glossbrenner continues to maintain or expand its presence. We all pray for an end to the threat of the Corona Virus, but we continue to praise God and actually thrive under these restrictive circumstances due to the steady outpouring of blessings from the Holy Spirit. Praise God.

October 2020

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Je-sus Christ, who gave himself up for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Galatians 1:3-5 NIV)
Paul wrote to the churches in the region of Galatia, but I extend that same greeting to you now. It was a prayer for grace and peace in “their evil age”. They were in theirs, and we are in our “evil age”. We live in a culture that rewards “wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, science without humanity, knowledge without character, politics without principle, com-merce without morality, and worship without sacrifice”. Some of you may know this quote from Mahatma Ghandi as the Seven Deadly Social Sins. What you may not know is that he made that statement in 1925. 1925! How far have we fallen since 1925? Pon-der that for a moment.
That begs the question “What can we do?” Paul had an answer that is still sage wisdom for today! We absolutely must remember who is in charge. Galatians 6, starting at verse 7 states “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man (or woman) reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to pleasure their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary of doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believ-ers.” (Italics added for emphasis.) Note the family of believers.
In his letter to the church in Thessalonica, he wrote “Therefore en-courage one another and build each other up, …” (1 Thessaloni-ans 5:11)

You see, the key to not just surviving but thriving in this present evil age is to stay together! The key is to lift each other up! We must meet to-gether and share together and support each other in our evil age. The church had always been the glue that held community together. She is still the glue that will hold us together. The body of Christ is defined by the parts of the body working together! Seldom has Satan had the opportunity to separate the church in America as during this present time. We must come together. We must support each other. I beg you to be engaged in the building up of one another. We have come too far to stop now. Worship, movie nights, Bible study, Sunday school; let us continue to support each other. Engage once more! We have a great work to do. We need all hands (and feet, and nose and toes). We need the body. We need you. Come and fellowship as soon as you feel safe. In the meantime, Stay connected! Grace and peace to you.
In His service,

Pastor Brian

September 2020

Once more, I greet you in the name of our Savior and Lord, Jesus the Christ! May God in all his mercy and grace flood your life with blessings overflowing! Praise be to God!
As I prepare this letter, my ponderings go to all the “new stuff” that has been forced on us this year. Truth be told, some of it we brought on ourselves here at Glossbrenner. I’m not bragging or complaining…well, maybe I am bragging a little bit, but it’s not about myself! These last five months have pushed us to do creative, innovative ministry. We’ve been posting two Bible studies a week on our website and Facebook, plus something for the children. Our interactive Bible studies on Wednesdays gives people a chance to be there in person, on the internet, or to watch it at their convenience. We have “GoTo” Meetings! The Fellowship Hall has seen amazing changes. That took a bit of innovation! Since March, we have been coming in on Saturday mornings to record our worship service. This gave us time to prep it for a Sunday morning worship time. By the time you read this, we will have gone live on Sundays, so we are available (1) in person in the sanctuary and (2) live with us at home if you can’t come in person, or (3) at home at your convenience at any time in the future! I don’t have the room in this letter to tell you about all the creative work that the tech guys have been working through to get to this point, but please send up a prayer of gratitude for all the hours they invested in us. But, for all this at Glossbrenner, I ask you to step back and look at the bigger picture, the balcony view. There is more!
Beyond Glossbrenner, the Methodist Church has been going through monu-mental creative innovations. The General Conference, that would have hap-pened this Spring, has undergone major reconfiguration. Tons of innovation and creative problem solving is going on to make this work. Methodism will have a whole new look. One pastor has expressed this hope for the “New Methodism” like this: “…engaging people in lifelong, intentional formation as disciples, through spiritual disciplines and communion and accountability with one another in the Body of Christ. A church deeply committed to prayer and dependence on the Holy Spirit that would reach out to the world at its points of deepest need through ministries of mercy and justice.” Amen!
We have been through a great deal of changes in the year 2020. The year 2021 will force more “new stuff” on us. Some of it we will make on our own, as we read between the lines from all info and prayerfully make our way into the future. Church splits, presidential elections, viral outbreaks, social structure changing before our eyes. Overwhelming? Not even close. God’s got this! No worries. He is always in control. The constant is: “God is in control”. Keep your eyes on the prize and we will all have a radiant future. That’s a promise from God’s lips to your ears.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way… You know the rest.
In His Service, Pastor Brian