Thankfulness Sunday, which included our Annual Church Meeting, was a fortnight ago, and I for one did find it really encouraging. (I hope you did too.)  It wasn’t just the fact that all those reports and accounts were at last finished for another year… though there was a big sigh of relief in the office when they were done.  (Thank you to all who worked so hard on them.)  It wasn’t even making sure that Stephanie and Roger were willing to be church wardens for another year (and a big, big thank you to them).  No, some of the other things we heard about were actually really encouraging.   

Ruth reminded us of the thankfulness for the completed walls in Nehemiah’s day (Nehemiah ch.12) - how through Nehemiah’s organisational skills many (priests, musicians, officials, etc… and the people) were involved in the celebration - that could be heard from miles away.  Then their thanksgiving led them to do something practical - they gave generously to God’s work (v.44-47).

We also heard how we had many things to be thankful for as a church.  We saw God has been at work in recent months.  As snapshots of this Steph, Phill and Hannah told us how Wednesday Worshippers (and especially the First Wednesdays) were flourishing, how we were now doing more flexible  evangelistic courses so more people could join, and how many children and families had heard the Easter message at church and schools this year.    

And then Joan reminded us of God’s faithfulness in enabling us to pay for all of this.  (Money and thankfulness are often connected in God’s plans!) In her Finance Report she said, “2017 was quite a challenge in the Church Accounts Department, in more ways than one… For the first time in many years, our direct giving is down by just under £4000.  During the year we have said farewell to some very long serving church family members and this has had an effect. In the middle of the year we had to use just over £5000 from Reserves.  However, towards the end of the year, just when we needed it most, God provided us with a legacy and two very generous donations, one for the general fund and one for the New Church Hall Fund.  So by December we were able to meet all our financial commitments and show a surplus of £9181 to carry over to help support our finances in 2018….  God has once again guided and provided and we pray that He will continue to do so. We are thankful to have such a generous, loving and supportive church family.  May you continue to be faithful in your giving.  We will strive to be prudent stewards of the financial resources entrusted into our care.” 

We have indeed much to be thankful for and encouraged by!!!       Mark