First United Methodist Church - Wausau Wisconsin
Sunday, October 20, 2019
Live and Share God's Love

From the Pastor

Jayneann McIntosh



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October 2019

From Pastor Jayneann's Pen

What are your grandest hopes and dreams for First Church? In recent years, have you begun to wonder if our best years are behind us? It’s easy to feel discouraged under such circumstances.

Nehemiah was a high-ranking officer in the Persian king’s court when he learned that the people in Judah were suffering. He asked King Artaxerxes for permission to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city. The king sent him as governor to Judah to lead a rebuilding effort—with letters explaining his (Artaxerxes’) support and timber from the king's forest for the reconstruction. Back in Jerusalem, Nehemiah found the people very discouraged. To help them realize what they could accomplish together, Nehemiah led them to rebuild the city’s walls in only 52 days!

Nehemiah was a 5th century B.C.E. change-agent. When folks no longer believed in themselves, when they might have just given up, he faced his opponents and got everyone busy rebuilding their beloved Jerusalem. Resurrection.

During August’s combined leadership meeting (staff, MCCI Implementation team & Ministries Council) we used our self-study to talk about our church—past, present, future. (You can ask us to email you a copy of the study.) We asked ourselves, who are we and what does God have in store for us next? During the meeting, Mike Zahn referred to me as a change-agent. Last week, he reminded me of this. We agreed that being a change-agent is not a bad thing—it can be done well or poorly—but it is often necessary for any group or organization to move forward. In the 27 months I’ve been here, I’ve come to love each and every one of you. I want the best for this faith community. I want First Church to be the first church in Wausau.

This is the reason I’m so excited about our opportunities for growing deeper and broader into God’s plan for us through the MCCI. Not some top-down program, this initiative is an invitation to examine what truly matters to us and what God is calling us to be.

And talk about successful! Church attendance, baptisms, affirmations of faith, vitality of the present membership, you name it—it’s all impacted. Last week, Pastor Jason from People’s UMC, just beyond Madison, reported that having accepted the MCCI prescriptions, they are moving forward in exciting ways. During their weeknight fall kickoff, they had a 50% surge in attendance!

What will happen after November 17th when we vote to accept the prescriptions that the MCCI visiting team will put together for us (after listening to all of you on October 9th)? God only knows! But there are exciting times ahead. If you’ve been standing on the sidelines, waiting to see what’ll happen, it’s time to get in the game. First Church is on the move and it will only get better from here.

And, yes, I’m a change-agent. Thanks, Mike :-) Until next time, Shalom.