By Brandon Lemons
Each year, the annual report is my favorite document that Friedens produces. Its purpose is not merely to chronicle what happened during the year; it provides a visionary snapshot of what Friedens Church is all about, and it intends to inspire praise and gratitude for God’s work in our midst. Plus, with all of the photos and quotes, and with an engaging and concise format, it is certainly not dry or boring! (If you’re keeping track, there are 57 photos in this year’s report.)
2020 was a strange year. Just like everything and everyone else, Friedens had our plans derailed. But as I read through the annual report, I am deeply encouraged. Let me highlight a few reasons.
First, I’m encouraged by God’s faithfulness and provision for Friedens in 2020. I love being intentional about what we’re doing, but I can testify that Friedens’ leaders were not spending months in preparation for a shutdown of all in-person ministry. However, even though we weren’t planning for this change, God prepared us well. His provision and guidance were apparent throughout the year.
Second, I’m encouraged by the commitment of the Friedens Family. We are a highly relational church, and the “relational glue” that holds the church family together was strained by COVID in 2020. However, the Friedens Family persevered well by caring for one another in meaningful ways, by working to stay connected to the church’s ministry, and by continuing to provide generously for Friedens’ financial needs.
Third, I’m encouraged by God’s work in and through Friedens. I grieve that overall, Friedens’ discipleship wasn’t as deep and outreach wasn’t as broad as we had hoped heading into 2020. At the same time, God was still deepening many people’s faith in transformational ways; people were still coming to faith in Christ through Friedens’ ministry; and guests were still getting connected with Friedens. The annual report contains several examples, and there are many more instances of life-change that aren’t recorded in the report.
Finally, I’m encouraged as we look ahead. In the latter months of 2020, we were able to regain glimpses of normalcy and established a routine of ministry on which we can build. COVID catalyzed a number of changes, including live-streaming our worship services, that will pay major dividends in the future. In addition, we are being intentional to identify and make the most of the opportunities God places in front of us for discipleship and outreach.
In strongly encourage you to read Friedens’ annual report and to share it with others who might be interested in Friedens. If you are actively involved in Friedens Church and you haven’t yet received the 2020 annual report, it should arrive in your mailbox this week. If you don’t receive a copy, please contact the church office or stop by to pick one up. Even amid the challenges, there were many blessings in 2020!