Exodus 16:4 – Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction.
Union Grove Methodist Church has been a part of the Friendsville community and this has been Holy Land here since 1885; even longer if you count the camp meetings that were held here before the church was built. The day before I began my appointment at Union Grove (July 5, 2020), the church was under the threat of closure. God had other plans for Union Grove, and that threat was averted. However, I “walked into” a physical church that had been essentially abandoned by its active congregation.
The Smoky Mountain District Office stepped in and took on the responsibility of managing our finances for us (Methodist pastors don’t handle church funds), and for six long months, I prayed & pastored via a Samsung cellphone (as did all pastors in Holston Conference). Those prayers didn’t go unheard and in January things started to happen. By March, the work of deep-cleaning the church and preparing it for re-opening began, quietly, through the actions and support of an inactive member who was coming back.
In late March or early April, the church once again faced closure, this time from a decision of the Conference Cabinet. And, once again, God stepped in, changed hearts, and rescued His Church In the Grove so His plans could move forward. But this time, there were some conditions placed on us by Conference. It’s those conditions that were the impetus for this campaign.
I won’t mince words. The conditions placed on the church here at Union Grove are financial:
- Have a treasurer in place before July 1, 2021. A treasurer was elected on June 13, 2021.
- Be able to pay basic expenses and one-half the Pastor’s salary by December 31, 2021.
Basic expenses are those expenses that allow us to maintain our physical presence at 1151 Lane Drive. Our basic expenses are listed in the column to the right. The estimated annual expenses were determined by the District office based on what they paid out on our behalf from September 2020 through May 2021. The figure includes salary for the Pastoral position at Union Grove which is a part-time (quarter-time or, more accurately quarter-pay) position. The breakdown of that salary is:
- Pastor’s salary – $10,660.00 per year
- Reimbursable Expense allowance – $2,300.00*
*I did not claim any of the expense allowance in 2020-2021, and do not anticipate claiming more than approximately $400 of it in 2021-2022 (to cover the cost of a required class, and to purchase a small quantity of printed materials). There are no benefit expenses and no obligation for the church to contribute the employer’s share of social security or unemployment taxes.
The church currently rents the parsonage out at $800 per month. Without significant upgrades, this is the most we can reasonably charge at this time.
Estimated Annual Expenses:
|Income from parsonage rental:||
|Weekly Offerings May 2-August 1, 2021:||
|Budget shortfall:||$ 11,207.00|
Our goal is to obtain pledges totaling $15,000.00 (the budget shortfall plus a very small surplus). The current pledge total is reflected in the image above and will be updated as additional pledges are received. As of August 1, 2021, we are over 1/2 of the way to our goal.
Calculating a pledge is fairly easy:
What you would put in the offering plate x 52 weeks = your pledge. (Example: $5×52=$260)
This is where we need your help. Whether you’ve been worshiping with us online or in-person we’re asking you to make a financial commitment to Union Grove. We’re not asking for you to overextend yourself. We’re just asking that you pledge to give what you would give if you were sitting in church on Sunday morning. We’re asking for manna, not abundance. Please consider filling out the form below with your pledge so we can show Conference we will be able to sustain this church by meeting its basic needs.
If you are able, please consider making an offering or paying your tithes through the online service provided by Holston Conference. It’s safe. It’s free. It will help us continue ministry at Union Grove.
Just visit http://www.holston.org/churchoffering, and follow the instruction for making your offering. When asked, please choose Smoky Mountain District and Union Grove UMC Blount – Friendsville.
If you are not comfortable using a debit or credit card online, you can mail your offerings/tithes to:
Union Grove UMC
1151 Lane Drive
Friendsville, TN 37737
Please be sure to make your checks payable to Union Grove UMC Friendsville.