A reading from Jeremiah 29:11
A reading from “Lance Armstrong’s War”, a 2005 book written by Daniel Coyle:
In 1957, Dr. C. P. Richter of the Psychobiological Laboratory of Johns Hopkins Medical School carried out an experiment that attempted to measure the motivational effect of hope. The experiments involved placing rats into cylinders of water thirty inches deep and eight inches wide. After a short time, half of the rats were momentarily rescued — lifted out of the cylinder for a few seconds, then put back into the water. The other half were not. The group that was given hope swam for more than three days. The other rats drowned almost immediately.
I have to be honest. I find myself struggling more and more to maintain hope. What will happen to the denomination after the February Special General Conference? Why is one social issue so divisive? What will the future be for so many of our congregations that are declining and struggling to survive? Why is the stock market in such a volatile and downward spiral right now? How much longer can I hang on being the primary caregiver for my mom? Why is my physical body so much less capable than it seemed to be just a few short years ago? What will I do with my life after retirement?
If I think too much or too deeply about these things, I can quickly get depressed. But I find that if I just take one thing at a time, one day at a time, I can make it through. And you know what. Something positive always seems to come around. I am rescued by Jesus. Sometimes He rescues me in a big way. More often He rescues me in a bunch of little ways. A tasty meal. A hug from my granddaughter. A run where my knee doesn’t hurt and I feel almost young again. All gifts that I really don’t deserve. But they are gifts that give me hope. And I swim. And I swim. And I swim.
Now on to our year-end apportionment numbers for 2018, which are shown in the following graph:
For 2018, our churches contributed 86.0% of their apportionments. As you can see from the detailed report, this was 0.7% above last year but 1.5% below our average apportionment contributions for the last ten years. A summary of percentages contributed by district is as follows:
|2018 % Paid||2017 % Paid||Change|
We appreciate the sacrifices made by all of our churches and congratulate the 68% of them that were able to contribute 100% or more of their apportionments in 2018. This was down from 71% in 2017.
Remember that apportionments are a way to look and give beyond just ourselves. We hope that all churches are able to contribute apportionments as fully as possible in 2019. Thank you all for your commitment; it truly provides the financial stability for our connectional programs to work.