Friends & Supporters,
Ecclesiastes 3 is a passage many of us recognize, if not from reading Scripture, then from the 1965 hit “Turn! Turn! Turn!” sung by The Byrds. They matched verses 1-8 of the King James Version of the passage, almost exactly (they rearranged a bit for rhyming), and only two lines were written by the songwriter, Pete Seeger. If you’re curious, the lines he wrote were “Turn! Turn! Turn!” and the last line, “a time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.”
Ecclesiastes tells me there is a season and purpose for everything. Building up and breaking down, laughing and weeping, dancing and mourning, planting and reaping – each have their own season and purpose. Here at Urban Connections, we are in our 20th year! We have seen times of planting, growing, and stability as an organization. Now, 20 years in, we find ourselves in a season of change. Our community is changing. Our support base has changed. Our Director, Doug Hartman, is leaving Urban Connections to pursue new opportunities. We are immeasurably grateful to Doug for his years of selfless dedication to learning, serving, and connecting with our neighborhood out of love, while following God’s call and leading. We wish him all the best on new adventures. You can look forward to a letter from him soon.
I have mixed feelings about change. It is uncomfortable and painful, but I know it’s necessary. As development comes, neighborhood demographics are shifting, businesses are opening, and houses are selling. I hope this is a time of breaking down assumptions, developing partnerships, building bridges, and walking alongside our neighborhood toward growth and healing. Unfortunately, we live in a world where we’d often rather see differences than unity and make decisions based on fear instead of faith. At Urban Connections, we will continue to choose faith over fear, unity over division, and bridges over walls.
How do we do that? Our path is full of opportunities. We will look for ways to engage whole families, serve well, advocate for the marginalized, and share the love of Christ. A senior housing facility is opening up across the street, which will hopefully bring new possibilities for ministry and service. First, our team will seek God’s guidance, and then listen to dozens of neighbors about how their needs are changing. We will be taking an active role in neighborhood civic groups and block watches to listen and gain perspective. By spring 2019, it will be time to act, which might include some new kinds of programs or volunteer opportunities. You’ll hear more about these as they become available.
As I mentioned, our support base has changed. UC is seeking sustainability that does not rely exclusively on donations. We are establishing new ways to use the ministry house that will lead us that direction, and we’re excited about the possibilities. However, it is going to take time. In the meantime, our donations are low. Everyone’s finances are tight; I get it. UC isn’t at the forefront of your mind; I get that, too. But, in this season of change, I’m asking for something new. I’m asking for grace to keep going. I’m asking for support as we adapt and plan. Instead of a one-time Christmas gift, would you consider committing to a monthly gift of any size for the next year? You can set up a recurring gift through Paypal by going to our support page, or just email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up auto-giving. Every gift helps, but monthly support would help us budget well, and allow us the ability to keep Bible clubs, tutoring, youth groups, and summer camp going in the meantime.
All this talk of change… I am thankful that some things will remain the same. Our commitment to evangelism and discipleship is unchanging. Our commitment to the neighborhood’s young people is also unchanging. We remain committed to our mission of “connecting with Christ, connecting with people, and developing our community together.” To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven, and I look forward to facing this new season with you.
Peace & Love,
P.S. We’ve had a great 2018 and we hope you enjoy some pictures of all that we’ve seen God do. Here are some highlights:
We packaged 150 care packages for neighborhood schools to use during 3rd grade reading tests!
In the spring, the kids learned about prayer, including how to write out some of their own prayers to God.
There were a lot of summer adventures to metro parks around Columbus, and a beautiful week of camp supported by Dover Alliance Church. Campers learned about growing up in Christ!
And this fall we had beautiful weather and lots of fun at our Cupcake 5k!