Another year is coming to a close and I am so happy to have the opportunity to share with you all the incredible things that God is doing through the ministries of New Philadelphia Nazarene.
2017 has brought incredible growth to our fellowship. From children to senior adults, each of our ministries has experienced growth on a variety of levels. Children, youth, and adults have made decisions to follow Jesus and responded with baptism. We have grown in membership as God continues to bring new people to our fellowship. Our average attendance has surpassed where we were just a year ago, with a weekly average above 325 each week. Your faithful giving has kept us on track with our Faith Promise commitment and allowed us to stay on track with our overall operating budget. To date, we remain under budget for expenditures and on budget for giving.
Through several efforts this year, we were able to connect in meaningful ways with our community. Our Upward Ministry saw record breaking numbers of players with over 450 children playing or cheering. We partnered with First United Methodist and New Pointe, offering a greater variety of venues and expanding our reach even further. The call to "Make Much of Jesus" was the backdrop of our engagement with First Town Days, where we reached thousands from our area with something as simple as a popsicle and a smile. Our 2nd Annual Trunk or Treat set a new bar of excellence and outreach. Hundreds of new faces stepped foot on our campus for a fun night of family friendly entertainment and fellowship. Our annual Thanksgiving meal outreach impacted nearly 100 families in our area and has produced many wonderful stories of Jesus' love reaching into people's lives. Our first Picnic on the Grounds was a wonderful night of fellowship, food, baptisms, and worship - all viewed by our community as we went outside our doors.
The Heritage Project has continued to move forward with great success. In the past few months, we have replaced the seating in the sanctuary, completed the gymnasium, installed new counters, cabinets, and appliances, completed the new entrance on Fair, installed the new sign on Fair, and begun work in the children's wing. Remaining to be done includes additional work in the kitchen, completion of the children's wing, the playground expansion and improvement, and a few other finishing touches around the campus. Many volunteers have come together to provide the expertise and the skills needed to see this through. We couldn't have done it without them.
The other part of the Heritage Project includes the purchase of additional properties located within our block. We completed one purchase and have torn down the house, and are continuing to pursue the purchase of several other properties. Pray that God will open doors of opportunity for us to complete these purchases, as well.
God is doing some amazing things through the people and ministries of New Philadelphia Nazarene.
2018 holds great promise for us, as well. With a recent renewed emphasis on prayer in our weekly prayer meetings, we have seen God answering prayers that are carrying into 2018. God is continuing to heal and restore, while opening doors of ministry opportunity to us within our community. I am eagerly anticipating what God will do through our fellowship.
In the Spring, we will be having our first Sunday of Service, literally taking the church outside our doors and into the neighborhoods. We look forward to engaging at First Town Days again, and another year of Thanksgiving meals. Our UpWard 2018 season is already beginning and we are, once again, seeing an incredible registration of children from all across our community. As we anticipate the purchase of additional properties, we see more green space being added to our campus and creating opportunities for further expansion.
From my perspective, 2018 holds great promise. At the same time, 2018 will hold great challenges. As we continue to be faithful in the task that God has given us, we can be assured that the Enemy will continue to attack. As we continue to reach into our community and change people's lives with the touch of Jesus, we can be assured that the Enemy will attempt to thwart our efforts. We must remain vigilant in prayer and in our commitment to the fellowship of believers.
I encourage you to make prayer a priority in 2018. We have made the commitment to meet each week and you are invited to be part of this every Wednesday at 6pm. I encourage you to make faithful attendance a priority in 2018. Our times of corporate worship, fellowship, and teaching are vital to the health of our fellowship. We offer services at 9 and 11 AM, identical in format and services for children.
As we close the year, I also want to remind you that your end-of-year giving must be received no later than Sunday, December 31. In the case of Online Giving, if the gift is not processed by December 31, it will not count on your 2017 charitable giving. We have a variety of areas that would benefit from your end-of-year giving specials, especially our Heritage Project. The Heritage Project has been an all-encompassing campus-wide improvement and upgrade project. Your gift toward this project will go directly to paying off this debt.
Thank you for your part in making 2017 a year full of incredible things. God has and continues to bless the ministries of our fellowship and I can't wait to see what He will do in 2018.
May God richly bless you as you close 2017 and open the door to 2018. Happy New Year!