Report of Pastor – December 3, 2007 This year at St. Stephen has been a rewarding and challenging year for us. It has been rewarding in that so many wonderful ministries have occurred, either as a continuation of ministries started previously, or ministries that were new and exciting. And the year has been challenging as we have adopted a new church structure, sought to begin a new capital campaign, and developed ministries. Some of the continued ministries include our Room in The Inn Ministries, whereby we organize approximately 300 members who provide shelter, food, and church hosts to men and women from the Urban Ministry Center of Charlotte. We perform this ministry for the three months of weekends during the winter. However, this year our church provided shelter for the Center of Hope Ministries for one entire week. It was a blessing to see how the leadership surfaced for this venture as well as how everyone took an active part in making this mission a reality. In my opinion, St. Stephen UMC was named correctly as it truly possesses a mission/service mindedness. Not only does St. Stephen support missions with their money, they actively engage themselves with the labor necessary to accomplish these missions. Missions such as building a Habitat for Humanity House (our 17 th house), mission trip to Moss Point, Mississippi to repair hurricane damaged homes, preparing food and serving it at the Center of Hope Shelter, and the Men’s Shelter, the youth raising more money for World Vision by their Hunger Fast than any church in the state, our sending over 150 youth and adults to ASP and Youth Works, are to only name a few of the missions of our church. Our church also presented checks in the amount of $50,000.00 to Urban Ministry Center and $100,000.00 to the Bethlehem Center this year as a tithe of our “We Are Called Campaign,” the capital campaign we had for our 2004 children and youth wing building program. Also, I am very appreciative for the partnering ministry that our church has with Spencer Memorial. One of our members plays the organ for Spencer on a regular basis for Sunday worship, and a Sunday School Classes created a college scholarship for a deserving student of Spencer. As the senior pastor, I continued to be inspired by both the leadership and ministry teams that our members have toward missions. Another major stride for us has been the development of our Spiritual Gifts Ministry. We are so grateful to Matthews UMC in assisting us in the development of our own MAGI program (Members Applying Gifts Intentionally). Under the leadership of Kathy Weaver, we have organized a MAGI Ministry Team, trained the staff in our spiritual gifts program, organized our ministry needs to correspond with the spiritual gifts of our members, and have recruited a pilot group who will be going through the first training at two different times in the winter of 2008. Prayerfully, MAGI will do what I believe…it will revolutionize our nominating process and ministry recruitment. I see nothing but a tremendous and positive impact of this new ministry. A major goal for St. Stephen this year has been to reduce our building debt as well as replace our 30-year-old roof on our older buildings. Since we carried over a 2.1 million indebtedness from our initial building program we want to reduce this indebtedness and replace the roofing. And, as in our previous capital campaign, we will tithe our income in order to fund a mission project that is to be decided by our Missions Committee. We officially began this year’s “Count Me In Campaign” on Launch Sunday on November 4. We had 585 people to gather under a large tent placed in our parking lot that brought all three worship services together for a 1-½ hour worship service. People liked it so much that they have asked for a repeat in some fashion. It is my belief that the finality “Count Me In Campaign” will do more for our church than just raise money. The spiritual impact has already been seen and we believe that it has also provided our church with some important statements about church unity. An exciting day preceded our CMI Campaign on November 3, by having a Mission Day as we had over 100 members who arrived early on Saturday morning to work at three different projects. I want to commend Brian Barger and Bill Cornett, along with a host of leaders and members who have inspired our church with this campaign. I might add that a direct evidence of this campaign as well as the emphasis we have made through our Stewardship Committee’s activities is seen in the increase of giving for 2007 compared 2006. We have received $97,873 more in 2007 than in 2006, accordingly, we have received 75% of our pledged amount by the end of October 2007. Prayerfully, when the figures are tallied for November and December, we will obtain the remaining 25% of our pledges for 2007. Another ministry that we have initiated is an emphasis on outreach. Laurie Knoespel and I co-taught an 8-week class on “Caring Evangelism” in order to begin assisting our members in understanding the significance our personal outreach. Studies have shown that more people become members of a church because members than invite them by any other means or message. "Caring Evangelism" will be offered again in the winter. Although I would love to say that all of our goals for 2008 have been achieved, and everything is perfect for us at St. Stephen, so… I would still like to say it but I can’t. Although we have grown some in the total average of worship attendance, from 455 in 2006 to 462 in 2007, comparing the exact same dates through November, and using raw data without any deduction for the dates, we have seen a slight decline in worship attendance in our 11 AM Traditional Worship Service. We will be addressing this need as we move into the new year. Also, although we received 45 new members in 2007, we had 39 members to be removed by our membership by death, transfers, and withdrawals. This brought our membership to 1325. However, in auditing our church rolls, we proposed and voted to remove 27 members by Charge Conference Action at our recent Charge Conference preparatory meeting, reducing our membership to 1298. This figure however, represents the current and accurate membership of St. Stephen UMC. Outreach will be a major emphasis for 2008 as a committee has been organized that will address this need. A new church structure bringing back the former Council on Ministries structure has been designed and approved by a former Charge Conference held in June of this year. Now that officers have been nominated and elected (officially tonight) we will initiate this new structure in January 2008. I expect the impact of this new structure will aid in our communication needs, our church unity, and our outreach. I am proud of the people called St. Stephen UMC. We have gifted leaders, working members and a talented staff. I am excited by our future as a church! Respectively yours, Richard D. Randolph “Count Me In” Video to be shown as part of my report.