December 3, 2013

2015 Guide to Generous Giving & Estimate of Giving Card

John Street Church produces a giving guide for our members and friends every year. Here's the 2015 edition, which is based on Enough, a stewardship resource by Adam Hamilton.

Why is giving important?

The Bible has much to say about wisdom and finances, with 2,300 verses that tell us to be generous and good stewards of our resources. Jesus taught generosity and sacrifice. He demanded that his followers serve not wealth but God, and in the parable of the talents he taught that God will hold us each accountable for what we do with all our earthly possessions.

What is expected of me?

A biblical principle teaches us to give a tithe, or the first 10 percent of what we earn, to God and the church’s work. For some, giving one tenth is a very difficult goal. For others, it is the starting point, and their giving far exceeds 10 percent. The important thing is that you start somewhere, that your giving be in proportion to your income, that your giving reflects an appropriate offering to God given your means, and that your offerings express both your desire to serve the Lord and your investment in God’s work.

Begin by determining what percentage of your income you are giving to God. If you are not yet tithing, consider taking a step toward tithing this year. For example, if you now give 3 percent of your income, consider increasing your gift to 4 percent, and add 1 percent each year until you reach the tithing goal.

Our prayer is that everyone will grow in his or her faith through giving financially to the ministries of the church and experience the joy and blessings that come from financial generosity.

Why should I return an estimate of giving card to the church?

There are two reasons why it is important that every member of our church family return an estimate of giving card. First, the process of prayerfully asking God to guide your decision and then making a commitment to serve the Lord with your financial gifts is an act of worship, an expression of gratitude and praise to God. Second, on a more practical note, your commitment allows our church to budget and better plan for our ministries, key objectives, and mission outreach programs.

“The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” 2 Corinthians 9:6 (NRSV)
What if financial hardship prohibits me from making a commitment this year?

Don’t let your inability to give at this time keep you from worship. Remember that God honors your faithfulness and that your acceptance at John Street Church is not based upon your capacity to give.

We ask that everyone return an estimate of giving card even if it is a limited financial commitment at this time. You can always increase or decrease your commitment by calling the church if your situation changes. Also, be sure to let our pastor know if you’re facing a hardship so that he can pray for and support you during any difficulty.

“All tithes from the land, whether the seed from the ground or the fruit from the tree, are the LORD’s; they are holy to the LORD.” Leviticus 27:30 (NRSV)
What about budgeting and saving?

Our church’s leaders have access to a variety of resources to assist members to become better stewards of all that God gives them. For information, call Rev. Jason Radmacher at 212-269-0014 or email jason@johnstreetchurch.org.

Why do I need to turn in a new commitment card each year?

Financial situations change from year to year, and if we are growing in our faith, our annual commitment should likewise reflect that giving growth. Each year, our church budget is based upon the growing commitments of our congregation.

Should I use E-Giving?

Online giving is a convenient way to track and keep your commitment to support the ministries of John Street Church financially.

Our congregation offers online giving through our site at E-Giving.org.

After registering with E-Giving, you'll be able to make one-time or recurring donations, keep a record of your gifts, and explore additional functions the service offers. For more information contact us at 212-269-0014.

“From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.” Luke 12:48 (NRSV)
Beyond the Offering Plate

There are several ways to practice financial generosity at John Street Church in addition to completing your Estimate of Giving Card and meeting your annual giving goal.

Please contact the church office for information about any of these giving options:

Give a gift to support John Street Church’s missionaries and their work in Appalachia.

Give a gift to John Street Church’s Capital Improvement Fund.

Give a gift to the United Methodist Church’s humanitarian relief organization, UMCOR.

Give a gift to John Street Church of long-term appreciated securities (i.e. stocks, bonds, and/or mutual funds).

Include John Street Church in your will and estate planning.

Estimate of Giving Card

Estimate of Giving Cards are available at the church. You may also simply email your commitment to the church at johnstreetchurch@gmail.com.

Image: A photo of Times Square by Samantha Reid

July 15, 2013

John Street UMC Statement of Welcome

On October 28, 2013, the John Street Church Conference unanimously approved this Statement of Welcome.

Learning from 250 years of ministry, and following Jesus Christ today, John Street United Methodist Church invites into its fellowship all persons seeking to live in the Christian environment of the Church, and to receive its nurture and assistance throughout the course of their lives. This invitation is extended without regard to one's economic status, education, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, political beliefs, ethnic origin, or the present state of their spiritual journey.

We publicly affirm that we welcome all persons to participate fully in the worship, fellowship, educational, and service life of our church.

April 17, 2013

The Basics of Church Membership at John Street Church

On any given Sunday, worship at John Street Church brings together an interesting group of people. Every week, lifelong New Yorkers, longtime residents, newcomers, and visitors from across the country and around the world hear the Good News of Jesus Christ and receive his invitation to grow in grace and love through the ministry of America’s oldest Methodist congregation. Becoming a professing member of John Street Church is one way of responding to this invitation.

Prepared with persons who are considering church membership in mind, this document reviews some of the practical questions and concerns—“The Basics” if you will—commonly raised when one comes to this important point in their faith journey.

1. Baptism and Reaffirmation of Faith

2. New Members Class

3. Finances

4. Local Church Government and Decision Making Structures

5. United Methodist Structure

6. History

The information presented here should answer many questions. Of course, you may also take questions about these or any topics to the pastor, Jason Radmacher.

1. Baptism and Reaffirmation of Faith

Baptism with water is the Christian sacrament of initiation. Baptism is a celebration of forgiven sin, new life in the Holy Spirit, and of the place reserved for all in the household of faith through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Persons joining John Street Church who have never been baptized will receive the sacrament during a worship service.

Persons becoming members of the church who have been baptized, will reaffirm the vows made at their baptism or confirmation.

Since the Christian faith is greater than any one denomination, John Street Church recognizes the validity and efficacy of baptisms held in other Christian churches and will not “rebaptize” individuals.

Persons who want to bring their children for baptism at John Street Church should speak to Jason.

2. New Members Class

The most effective “class” for persons interested in joining John Street Church is regular participation in worship and Sunday morning activities. In these activities one sees first hand the nature of our theological convictions and how we express those convictions in practical ways. In short, rather than tell you what kind of church we are, we’d rather show you.

There are important aspects of our life together, however, that we seldom discuss in depth during worship. We discuss these in classes and workshops which are open to all participants in our community.

Jason is also happy to meet with individuals to discuss their specific concerns and questions.

3. Finances

The members of John Street Church approve a budget annually. Our budgeted expenses include employees’ wages and benefits, congregation ministries, office and building supplies and upkeep, and our congregation’s share or “apportionment” of expenses related to the ministry of the United Methodist Church in our area and around the world. While John Street Church receives generous support from the John Street Church Trust Fund Society, an organization dedicated to funding our congregation’s ministry, the tithes and offerings of our friends and members is our greatest source of budgeted income.

There are no secrets in our budget and copies are available upon request.

4. Local Church Government and Decision Making Structures

Several committees made up of church members and the pastor meet throughout the year to discuss, shape, and lead various aspects of John Street Church’s ministry and life together.

a. Administrative or Church Council

The Administrative or Church Council’s chief concern is visioning, establishing, and pursuing our congregation’s goals for ministry. All members of John Street Church have voice and vote on the Council.

Once a year, our District Superintendent (see United Methodist Structure) participates in a Council meeting called the Church Conference. The Church Conference is the highest ranking decision body within our congregation.

b. Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees’ chief concern is the stewardship of our historic building.

c. Finance Committee

The Finance Committee’s chief concern is seeing that our income and expenses reflect our values and goals for ministry.

d. Staff-Parish Relations Committee

The Staff-Parish Relations Committee serves as a liaison between the congregation and our paid employees (including the pastor).

e. Lay Leadership and Nominations Committee

The Lay Leadership and Nominations Committee identifies and nominates lay members of the congregation to serve in various leadership positions.

5. United Methodist Structure

John Street Church is a member congregation of the United Methodist Church, a global Christian communion of 12.1 million individuals. The General Conference, a gathering of lay and clergy delegates which meets every four years, is the highest ranking decision body in the United Methodist Church. No single person sets policy or speaks for the denomination.

Closer to home, John Street Church is a member congregation of the New York Annual Conference, a regional unit within the UMC consisting of nearly 500 congregations and 138,000 members. The conference includes all of Long Island, New York City, Connecticut west of the Connecticut River and an area on both sides of the Hudson River as far west as Walton and as far north as Chatham and North Blenheim.

Clergy and lay delegates from the conference meet in session over four days every June to discuss temporal and spiritual matters affecting ministry in the area.

Bishop Martin McLee oversees the church’s ministry within the conference. Appointing or assigning clergy to serve as pastors of local churches, including John Street, is one of the bishop’s greatest responsibilities.

Still closer to home, John Street Church is a member church of the Metropolitan District of the New York Annual Conference. The Metropolitan District, one of six districts in the conference, includes the 74 United Methodist congregations on Staten Island and in Manhattan, the Bronx, and southern Westchester County.

Rev. Denise Smartt Sears currently serves as the District Superintendent. Leading Church Conferences is one of the District Superintendent’s greatest responsibilities.

One may learn more about the United Methodist Church and the New York Annual Conference at www.umc.org and www.nyac.com.

6. History

From weekday visitors and weekend worshippers, persons usually sense that they’ve entered a historic place as soon as they walk through John Street Church’s front door.

The members of John Street Church humbly take their place among the “great cloud of witnesses” who have borne witness to the Gospel in Lower Manhattan since 1766. The oldest Methodist congregation in America, our ancestors built the first chapel on John Street in 1768, and built our current facility, the third on the site, in 1841.

Each year, John Street Church celebrates “Heritage Sunday” on the last Sunday of October. Services and sermons throughout the year regularly contain references to events and individuals from our history, too. Wesley Chapel Museum on the church’s lower level is open year round.

John Street Church regularly presents a 60 minute program about our congregation’s history to visitors to church groups. Members and friends of the congregation are always welcome to join these groups.

An Invitation

When an individual steps forward to be baptized or to join John Street Church, the pastor asks this important question.

Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in this grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races?
If the Spirit is leading you to answer this question by saying “Yes, I do,” then the people of John Street Church are willing to receive you as a member of America’s oldest Methodist congregation.

Contact Jason Radmacher at 212-269-0014 or jason@johnstreetchurch.org to take the final steps toward membership at John Street Church.