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There is so much to report that I am not sure we can fit it all into this issue! We recently met together at Connect23, and there are many things that will look different as we move forward. I need to decide where to start.
First, Connect23: We had an amazing time together. Our hosts in Grunthal, MB, were well-prepared and very gracious, and our keynote speaker, Dr. Paul Nyquist, challenged us. The outings, meals, breakout sessions, and so much more were thoroughly enjoyable and deeply meaningful. We connected.
But I entered the event with a mixture of excitement and sadness. To make a long story as short as I can, our financial plan that began in 2019 has suffered setbacks recently due to several factors, including COVID and the recent economic downturn. Our funds have been depleted more quickly than anticipated.
So, before Connect, we announced that we would be making significant adjustments to the budget. These changes will take effect this year to deplete less of the reserves, and result in a budget for next year that relies on actual income rather than reserves. The most significant change planned was the suspension of the Ministries Coordinator position.
However, at Connect, something amazing happened. One by one, delegates stood to state their appreciation for the work that has been done by our Ministries Coordinator, Gary Krehbiel, and a desire to retain him if we can. The conversation turned to how we might be able to accomplish this, and a support model was suggested – similar to the way we support overseas missionaries. After prayer and discussion, the delegates approved the reduced budget, but also instructed the directors to set up a support model to retain our Ministries Coordinator. I cannot adequately describe what happened at Grunthal, but we saw the Holy Spirit move among us at a business meeting. Praise God for his faithfulness. Learn more about how you can get involved on page 22.
But that brings me to less joyful news. There were other important cuts that needed to be made to bring our budget down to the required level. Other than the staff who directly support your churches, our single biggest non-restricted expense is the printing of the Fellowship Focus. And so, the directors have made the decision to end the paper editions of the magazine. This issue will be the final printed Focus. We hope that you will continue to enjoy our magazine in its new format, which will be entirely online. While we are sad to discontinue this resource that so many of us have appreciated for many years, we are also excited at the new possibilities that an online publication will bring. See Rebecca’s article on page 4 for more about that.
In a way, I feel like I am saying “farewell,” but I hope you’ll join us online, so this is just “see you later.” I am so appreciative of the work of the Fellowship Focus staff since I joined the FEBC: Our Publications Specialist, Kaileen Jones, who has done marvelous work improving our layout and imagery, and our editors: Paul Boeker, Jennifer Guthrie, Jennifer Kopsa, and Rebecca Boyd. Each of them has brought a unique flavor to the Focus, and I believe each has left some mark that has improved every subsequent issue. I believe God provided Rebecca at just the right time, as she is uniquely gifted and qualified for the work of transitioning to a new online format. I look forward to seeing where she takes us.
I also look forward to what God has in store for our Fellowship. At Connect23, there was a definite sense that the folks understand and appreciate the value of our connection, especially in our decaying society. The delegates immediately began pledging to support the Ministries Coordinator, and some churches have since contacted me to indicate that they are increasing their general giving to the Fellowship.
I ended my State of the Fellowship address by saying that at Connect24, I want to be able to say, “Only God could do that!” I think I can already.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.“ (Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)
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The Fellowship Focus is online publication focused on spreading the Good News and keeping our fellowship informed, connected and encouraged.