Letter from Pastor Mark Stryker

December 15, 2016

Dear Friends,

SustainAbility: Year-End Giving 2016

Serving as a pastor at First Pres this year has been a challenge—and a deep blessing full of new discoveries and insights into the resiliency of our congregation and its determination to stay focused on our vision and mission. I have seen the strength of Christ in our community in ways I have never seen before.

In the fall, I saw individual staff and church leaders step forward to make key decisions, and provide crucial creative input and wisdom in problem solving. This blesses my heart and instills a confidence in our future. With a courageous faith, we look for ways to continue to give ourselves daily to God, one another, and to those in our community, as we give and receive God’s gifts in Christian community.

We are not a building, we are not a budget. We are a people—a beloved people called together by a holy belovedness. When we act creatively, faithfully, persistently offering up our lives, we discover the wisdom that in giving, we really do receive.

I write these words without hesitation, and I am reassured that we do not need to look elsewhere for resources to face the future. God's gifts to go forward are all here. We need only to seek them, be receptive of them, encourage them in one another, and risk stepping forward because God can be trusted here and now.

Yes, there is a great financial need in the remaining days of 2016. We still need to receive $1.2 million by December 31 (of the $1.65 million needed in November and December). I appeal simply to your generosity and encourage you to give as you have been given. Be honest with what God has given you, and do what you believe is right by God and in consideration of the worthiness of our church community’s commitment to its people, and the call which God has laid upon us. Join me in praying for your leaders, who—with prayers and at times tears—are seeking the holy will of God for us in these days. Several years from now, I want to look back to these crucial months and see a rich picture of generosity in action. A generosity not measured by what a person gives, or doesn't give, but by a measure of the heart. I want to remember a time when we discovered a generosity that we did not know we had.

"God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it,

He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon.
His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out.

This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God."
—2 Corinthians 9:8-11 (The Message)

It is a blessing to be your pastor and to be with you as we open our hearts and eyes to what God is doing among us.

Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year,

Mark Stryker
Associate Pastor
Acting Head of Staff

Click here to give online before December 31.
Click here for the Year End Giving update.