It has been our practice to assemble a brief account of the activities of the Napa Methodist Church at the close of each year. The following narrative covers the entire calendar year 2015. The source of material for this account is the Grapevine, the more or less bi-monthly newsletter of the Napa church. Many things happen that are not reported in the Grapevine, but what follows will give a feeling for what has transpired during this our 163rd year of ministry.
Worship services were held at the Napa Community Seventh-day Adventist Church, as they have been since the Sunday after the August 2014 earthquake. We are truly grateful to the Adventist congregation for their generosity. The year began with the sermon series based on the Adam Hamilton book, Making Sense of the Bible. Small groups followed the six-week series up to the beginning of Lent. Director of Student Ministries, Curtis Tinloy, was introduced to the congregation. The 2015 financial stewardship campaign was brought to a close and results were announced. There were 23 new pledges helping to bring the total to $253,518, a 9% increase over the previous year. A report on the repair of earthquake damage included the announcement that the California-Nevada Conference would support the work with a payment of $1,552,500. The Meditation group announced the study of the Jack Kornfield book, The Meditative Path. Youth began the year with a pizza party and plans for the Sierra Service Project. On-line giving capability was announced and a tutorial offered. The United Methodist Women put out a call for sewers, pattern cutters, and ironers for a Cuba/Nicaragua children’s clothing project. GRAPE Express Children’s Worship is following the life and teaching of John Wesley. The knitters, Chicks with Sticks, announced that they donated scarves, hats, and mittens to Molly’s Angels.
A letter was received from Vallejo First UMC, one of the Vineyard Circuit churches, thanking Napa FUMC for continuing pulpit supply and administrative mentoring. Walk to Emmaus opportunity announced — February and March in Vallejo. Ash Wednesday service with imposition of ashes. The Lenten sermon series is the Final Words from the Cross. An announcement of the successful Christmas party attended by 100 HOPE Center clients. Ninety cold-weather backpacks were distributed. A new congregation directory is being assembled for distribution in April. The Grapevine distribution is changing to electronic delivery. Hardcopy is still available, but the default is electronic. The Bridges District Revival was held at Fairfield Community UMC featuring Bishop Warner Brown and Rev Staci Current. The United Methodist Women’s thrift shop reopened for the year. The Builders’ fellowship February meeting will feature Jessica Rugiero speaking about her Peace Corps mission experiences in Botswana. The spiritual Development Group was officially begun with a mandate to help the congregation connect with small groups and develop their spirituality.
The 6th annual Chili Cook Off was announced — with an opportunity to win possession of the perpetual trophy. The congregation was challenged to read the entire Gospel of Matthew during 2015. At least one small group has taken up the task. The “Final Words… “ sermon series continues. Youth activities continue and the location of this year’s Sierra Service Project was announced to be Smith River. The Napa Circles Initiative has begun regular meetings and is seeking funding. Circles reason for being is to assist families to lift themselves out of poverty. A meeting for those exploring membership in Napa FUMC was held in the parsonage.
Holy Week services began with a Maundy Thursday shared meal, an Egg-Stravaganza for the children, Easter Sunrise at Tulocay Cemetery, Traditional Easter sanctuary service, and Easter Fusion. Earthquake repair and seismic upgrade work continues with scaffolding surrounding the tower. Additional funding is being sought from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, United Methodist Committee on Relief, and others. Building permits have been granted by the City of Napa for all the anticipated work. Project completion is unknown, but is hoped for before the end of the year. Town Hall meetings concerning the HOPE Center and the triangle park with regard to interaction with the neighborhood. The United Methodist Women’s Unit Meeting program speaker’s topic was “Human Trafficking in the SF Bay Area.” The April/May sermon series is based on Revival, Faith as Wesley Lived it.
The Annual Fun & Fellowship Pancake Breakfast was announced. The ways in which we are the hands and feet of Christ were examined: The Table, the mini-thrift shop, Napa Circles Initiative, Earthquake Recovery Group, HOPE Center, and others. The Bridges District is presenting an all-day revival at Vallejo FUMC. The Builders Fellowship honors mothers at their May meeting. Children are invited to come to the Chicks with Sticks meeting to learn to knit. A call for volunteers for many positions was sent out: ushers, visitors, Communion preparers, teachers, hosts and greeters, van drivers, Circles allies, etc. Our UM missionary in Nepal asks for our support after a serious earthquake in that country. The Catch Team was recognized for their efforts at keeping our focus outward, inviting and making visitors welcome, and the important step of following up with visitors. Six new members joined the church in May.
We honor graduates. The Gasser Foundation has committed to significant financial support for our earthquake repair and retrofit work. A new sermon series on forgiveness will be presented the four Sundays in June. An introduction to meditation is offered by the Monday Meditation Group. The United Methodist Women are assembling Health Kits to be sent to Nepal in aid of the victims of an earthquake in that country. Actions at Annual Conference Session included returning Lee Neish as our pastor for the next year and a less than full time appointment to Petaluma UMC for our field placement seminary student, Burke Owens. The month was closed out with the Cathedral Choir’s Sermon in Word and Song, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Pastor Lee Neish and other community leaders urged the County Board of Supervisors to adopt the Charter for Compassion with the goal of becoming a kinder, gentler Napa. July sermons will include Reflections on Capitalism and Democracy, Wesley’s Top Ten Countdown of All-Time Favorite Hymns, and Sierra Service Project Sunday with Youth Testimonies. The South Napa Earthquake Recovery Group reported that it is beginning to address unmet needs with resident case managers provided through a $100,000 grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief. The Executive Committee on Construction reported that a bank loan for $550,000 has been secured to cover rebuilding and retrofitting the sanctuary over and above the monies available from the Cal/Nev Conference and the Gasser Foundation. The sermon series, Speaking of God… Part Two, began at the end of July. Essays written by congregation members on six “troubling” words like Redemption and Sacrament were collected into a devotional guide for general use. Small groups also used the guide to focus their weekly discussion. Vacation Bible School scaled God’s mountain with the help of 28 children, youth guides, parents, grandparents, and volunteer story-tellers.
The Speaking of God… sermons were presented in baseball style with a “starting pitcher” followed by several bullpen relievers bringing additional views on the word for the day. The baseball pitching style delivery did a very good job of exploring the terms we use when Speaking of God. Money raised in the course of Vacation Bible School was used to send ten Bible New Testaments to Thailand to help children there learn the stories of Jesus in their own language. Fun & Fellowship organized an all-church picnic the last Sunday in the month. The United Methodist Women proudly announced their recent accomplishments: 65 health kits to Nepal, 50 flood buckets for UMCOR, 75 sun dresses to Haiti, supporting the Teacher Resource Center, and wide participation in the reading program with its many important topics. Keith Calara, summer intern, reported on the results of the recent spiritual needs survey he distributed amongst the congregation. short answer regarding the results of the survey is that we have a desire for greater sense of community and spiritual growth.
September sermon series is on the Book of Revelation. Repair and retrofitting work on the sanctuary building reached a sufficient degree of completion to allow congregational work parties to get started on general clean-up, reinstallation of pews, tidying the kitchen, the library, the choir rehearsal room, etc. Work parties planned for September and into October. Boy Scout Troop 2 will help with the heavy-lifting. Recognition of the senior acolytes retiring and invitation to the next class for training. Brooke Eikenberry has been hired as the part-time Communications/Membership Specialist. She will co-ordinate all aspects of communication and improve our utilization of the Church Management System. We were invited by the Unitarian Universalists to participate in the Social Justice Film Series. The Congregational Care Ministry Team presented advice on turning fear, worry, and sadness into joy. The UMW 2016 reading program includes a book by Sally Armstrong, Uprising. The author will appear at Lincoln Theater and speak on empowerment for women all over the world. The UMW Thrift Shop is featuring Hallowe’en and Thanksgiving items. Youth Group/SSP Reunion picnic is held.
November 22 has been announced as the day we will return to 5th and Randolph for worship. Sermons for October explore our new key compass statement words: Invite, Grow, and Serve. A “Sneak Peek Potluck” was held to give the congregation a look at the rebuilt sanctuary and to hear a presentation detailing the work done by the Pullman Contracting Group and Kaufman Engineering. Members of the Fusion Worship Team attended the National Worship Leader Conference in San Jose. World Communion Sunday was celebrated. A new member class was held at the parsonage. A special offering, as encouraged by Bishop Brown, was taken for Northern California Fire Disaster Relief and raised $5200. Revised church directories are available. A new hospitality team: Liz Kirkaldie, Karen Brothers, and Leigh Anderson, are serving up refreshments after the 9:30 worship service. The Gospel of Mary by Karen L King is the focus of the Sunday evening book study. An Elected Leader Guide was published to outline the responsibilities of the various administrative committees.
The Earth Rocked — We Rolled — We’re Home, for a grand and glorious return to 5th and Randolph after 15 months in comfortable exile at the Seventh-day Adventist church. We are grateful for their hospitality — but very happy to be worshiping under our own roof once again. Over 400 persons were present for that grand event. The Napa FUMC Cathedral Choir participated in the Community Thanksgiving Service at Congregation Beth Shalom. A new children’s choir is forming under the leadership of Patty Bilhartz. Members of the congregation participate in the Prayer and Study Group in Response to Pope Francis’ New Encyclical on Ecology, which meets monthly at St John the Baptist Parish Hall. Estimate of Giving cards were made available as part of the financial stewardship campaign. Third-graders were presented with their very own Bibles. The Fusion Worship Team participated with a float in the Holiday Parade. Youth and their parents are invited to participate in a Sierra Service Project planning meeting — followed by an ice-skating outing.
Members of the Cathedral Choir joined with Community Seventh-day Adventist singers and instrumentalists in Stars of Glory: A Celtic Christmas Celebration, presented twice at the Adventist Church and once at Napa Methodist. Also there were: The Longest Night Service, Christmas Eve Eve, and three Christmas Eve services. Three new evening class opportunities beginning in January are announced: Tuesday Covenant Bible Study, Wednesday Faith-Link contemporary social issues, and Thursday Disciple’s Path.
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Another year behind us. It was begun in uncertainty with regard to the financing of the necessary rebuilding and retrofitting work on our sanctuary building. A year later most of the earthquake work is done. The organ has yet to be rebuilt and there are loose ends to be tied up in the historic sanctuary building. Ahead lies the important business of securing funds through a capital campaign to make necessary improvements to classroom and worship facilities in the Bonner Building.
Our physical presence has been restored and our foundation made more firm during this year of rebuilding and planning. We are prepared to build on that firm foundation to invite others into Christian fellowship, to develop spiritually, to grow in faith, and to act as disciples in serving the world.
INVITE. GROW. SERVE.