December was a busy month for the Trustees. Thanks to all who helped setup and reset the Sanctuary for the Red Candle Tea, the Family Christmas Dinner and other events.

A new form is available from the office for requests to the Trustees for layout and specifics needed for events in the Sanctuary. The specifics include the pilots and preheating of the oven and microphone setup.

Since our recent moisture, you may have noticed we could use more gravel in the parking lot. Something to be thinking about.

Happy New Year to all!
Dave West

The church season of Epiphany begins on January 6 each year. The name comes from the Greek word epiphaneia, meaning “to appear, to show or to manifest.” The ending date of the Epiphany season is determined by Ash Wednesday, which is determined by the date of Easter.

Traditionally, Epiphany Day marks the arrival of the Magi, or wise men, to worship the infant Jesus. The significance of Epiphany for Christians is that it symbolizes the first recognition of Christ by Gentiles, or non-Jews.

The season of Epiphany emphasizes the divine nature of Jesus, the light of the world. Symbols for the season include light, a star and the color green, which represents life, growth, hope and eternity.

The Finance Committee and the Administrative Council of the church have decided not to purchase boxed offering envelopes for 2015.

“Generic” envelopes are available every Sunday next to the Sunday bulletins. Please be sure to write your name and the date on any envelopes you use. On the side of each envelope is a place to specify where the offering is to go. This is especially important if your offering is designated for any purpose other than the general fund of the church.

If you would like to have several envelopes to take home, please contact the church office, 636-2969.

In the past, the UMW has been the “go-to” group to obtain cookies and other refreshments for church events. The UMW, however, has grown smaller over the years and is no longer able to be as much help as in the past.

While each committee planning an event is the primary group responsible for its planning and execution, if you need things such as food or cookies for an event please call the office. Sue will be happy to let you know what church committee chair you should contact to give you any needed assistance.

The church has met its financial obligations for 2014, with most months in the black. 2015 looks promising too, with the continued support of the members of the congregation.
A good achievement for the church – we have met our annual church apportionments to the Conference (about $1000 each month). Apportionments are our contribution in support of the larger ministry of the United Methodist Church in the U.S. and the world.

Through our apportionments, we are able to support outreach programs that we could not do on our own, such as the United Methodist University in Africa, and “Imagine No Malaria.” In this way we are connected to the Conference and the UMC worldwide.

A recent benefit of apportionments for our church (and all the churches in the Conference) was a gift of $2000 to use in developing or expanding the outreach of the local congregation. With this money, we are starting (1) the “Open Table” program, in conjunction with other churches in the community, to support individuals and families by educating them on financial matters; (2) “Laundromat Ministries;” and (3) support for the “Final Harvest Trio” a performing group that will be here in March. The community will be invited to their performance. You will be hearing more on these later.

The Finance Committee thanks the congregation for its support throughout the year. We wish the best to you, your family and the church for the New Year.

Thanks be to God!
Ray Benny, Finance Chair

The church will hold a short stewardship drive, ending on January 18th. On January 4th and 11th, several church members will make presentations describing what the stewardship drive is about and why we need one. They will also describe where your giving goes. About the first week of January you will receive a letter and pledge card in the mail. We are asking that your pledge card be turned in on January 18th, but we will accept them until the end of the month if you are unable to be present.

One of the main reasons for a stewardship drive is to allow the Finance Committee to build a realistic church budget. With this budget, we can plan to meet our financial obligations, as well as plan for future projects and programs. About 80% of our church expenses go for the essentials that keep the church running: salaries, utilities, office supplies and facility maintenance. We try to maintain a reserve fund to cover emergency expenses, but this fund usually exists on paper only. Pledges account for approximately 50% of the budget; the remainder comes from those who give, but do not pledge an annual giving.

In the near future, Chino Valley UMC will be developing methods of accepting pledges and donations by credit card and other electronic means. Also, through the United Methodist Federal Credit Union, we will be setting up a system where your pledge can be taken out of your bank account automatically at regular intervals. This way you will not have to remember if you gave last week or last month. To verify your giving, the Finance Committee will provide giving statements on a regular basis throughout the year.

We hope you all will consider an annual pledge.

Happy New Year!
Ray Benny
Finance Chairperson

Beginning this month, we are running a short column on how the Christian church came to be and how it split into the denominations we see today.

As the apostles of Jesus Christ spread the gospel, they provided the beginning structure for the early Christian Church. It is impossible to separate the initial stages of the Roman Catholic church from that of the early Christian church.

After Jesus died, Simon Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, became a strong leader in the Jewish Christian movement. Later James, most likely Jesus’ brother, took over leadership.
These followers of Christ viewed themselves as a reform movement within Judaism yet they continued to follow many of the Jewish laws.
At this time Saul, originally one of the strongest persecutors of the early Jewish Christians, had a blinding vision of Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, and became a Christian. Adopting the name Paul, he became the greatest evangelist of the early Christian church. Paul’s ministry, also called Pauline Christianity, was directed mainly to Gentiles rather than Jews. In subtle ways, the early church was already becoming divided.

Another belief system at this time was Gnostic Christianity, which taught that Jesus was a spirit being, sent by God to impart knowledge to humans so that they could escape the miseries of life on earth.

In addition to Gnostic, Jewish, and Pauline Christianity, there were already many other versions of Christianity being taught. After the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the Jewish Christian movement was scattered. Pauline and Gnostic Christianity were left as the dominant groups.

The Roman Empire legally recognized Pauline Christianity as a valid religion in 313 AD. Later in that century, in 380 AD, Roman Catholicism became the official religion of the Roman Empire. During the following 1000 years, Catholics were the only people recognized as Christians.