Dear Church Superior:
RE: My Supplement to the Year-End Report for My Church
First, if you will permit a bit of self-pontificating, I'd like to point out that I, he who am retired and does not have to fear retribution, got my report in well ahead of schedule. In fact, after talking with the person you appointed to oversee the compilation of these reports, I turned my report in when over seventy percent of the other clergy, (Shall we classify them as “non-company” clergy?) had yet to submit their report.
Secondly, an observation: I have been a United Methodist pastor for forty-five years. For the first time in my experience the report asked for my church's “GCFA Church Number.” Okay, I have no idea what GCFA stands for much less what the number is. Luckily, being the experienced parson that I am, I called the person you appointed to oversee the efforts of the clergy to compile these useless statistics and asked him what my GCFA number was. He told me; I proceeded to input such. But I did proceed with the question of why my GCFA number (whatever it stands for) would be any different than the usual number assigned to my church. But I realize I could be just a grumpy old man.
Third, I regret that for the first time in ten years I was unable to report there were not “professions of faith” to report. I know that would endanger my advancement up the clergy ladder in normal circumstances, but, in my case, I'm retired. And, see below, there are more important things that professions of faith.
Fourth, please note that we have upgraded the value of our property from $400,000 to $1,500,000. I'd be grateful if this could be placed in my permanent personnel file, even though the upgrade was entirely the decision of our insurance company. Despite who may have initiated this upgrade, I was the pastor when it took place and therefore ….
Fifth, there are some data fields, as usual missing, from the annual report.
There is no line on which I can report that my little country church in 2010 contacted the Family Advocates of the schools in our county to ask them which children are considered indigent. The family advocates then sent out a letter to those children's parents informing them that on the Saturday before school started in 2011 my little church would supply their kids with new clothes, back packs, all grade and school appropriate school supplies, as well as a hair cut for the boys and a visit to a beauty parlor for the girls.
There was no line on which I could report that two of my church members made their way down, in a dugout canoe, the Amazon River and then hiked with heavy back packs fifteen miles into the jungle, in order to deliver needed medical supplies to an isolated village in the jungles of Peru, nor could I report on all the children those nurses from my little country church provided medical care.
Again, there was no line to report that every Monday night at my church the doors open to Ms. Parson's Soup Kitchen where rich people and poor people sit down together to enjoy a meal together. There was no way to report how many of those poor, unemployed, people obtained jobs because they interacted with managers of industry while sharing a pot of soup.
There was no line on which to input data on the number of times members of my church took deserving rising high school seniors to visit colleges affiliated with our denomination in an effort to lift them above their present status and to see the possibilities for their future.
I'm not sure if you're aware, but in our county there are a considerable number of elderly who are semi-shut-in. It's really unfortunate that there was no line on which to report that teenagers from my church deliver weekly meals to many of those folks, and, in the delivery, sit down with those seniors and talk, and laugh, and share secrets and desires, and different generations find inspiration from each other.
Look, Church Superior, I don't want to prolong this lament of the deficiencies of the reporting system, but …..
There was no place to report the three houses, each brick with three bedrooms and located in middle class neighborhoods, that are our “transitional houses” whose operational expenses are provided through the bean suppers and the pancake breakfast events of this little church. In each of these houses resides a single mother with her children who were homeless before our church took them into this program. There was no place to report the works of the social worker hired to work with these women, assisting them to set goals, to become financially independent. There was no place to report that three families, after two years of effort, have graduated from our transitional program, that five, formerly homeless, teens are now in college. That those three families have moved out of our transitional houses and into their own abodes with hope for and skills to meet the future. Nor was there any line on which to report that as each family graduates to a new possibility another family moved into the houses,
I could go on. There's more this little country church does. But, well, you get the message. To be perfectly candid, I'm just a little tired of reporting only how much and how many. What I'd like to report to you is: This little country church of less than a hundred folks, members of a denomination whose mission statement is: “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” have decided to not pay attention to that statement and to, instead, BE DISCIPLES FOR THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE WORLD.
I remain your loyal servant,