Our church was part of the Celebrate Sanford weekend of services led by Evangelist Chris Franz held at the local baseball stadium in January 2015. David Charlton was ordained as an Elder in Full Connection in June and we received a new pastor, Matthew Kern, and his wife in July. The birth of their child that Fall was the first child born to a Senior Pastor in at least 50 years, if ever, and presented FUMC with a new experience, paternity leave. Matt returned to the pulpit for a brief homily on Laity Sunday, October 25, 2015, to participate in our observance of 100 years worship in our sanctuary.
Even though we had a large attendance anniversary Sunday, our attendance had declined over the past several years. The announcement made to Leadership Council at their retreat on Saturday, August 20, 2016, and announced during Sunday worship on the 21st, shocked the church! Matt shared with us that the Conference did not feel that we were fulfilling our mission as a church and had placed FUMC Sanford on a list of “possible closures”. We lost more members due to this, but those remaining were encouraged to participate in an 11-week study/self-evaluation program titled Choosing the Faithful Path. After Sunday service a light lunch was served followed by Matt leading the study.
We actually had three options: 1) Merge with another congregation, 2) Close as FUMC Sanford, or 3) Commit to re-directing our focus outward to share the love of Jesus with our neighbors and community.
In November, we were asked to choose an option. When the secret ballots were counted, it was aunanimous decision: We committed to do whatever necessary to continue as a church.
We, along with five other churches, were invited by the District, to be a part of the two years Nehemiah Project. We were assigned a mentor who with the Pastor and two lay people attended a series of workshops and were given assignments to assist in the rethinking process and suggest actions such as updating/expanding our website and social media presence.
At our Charge Conference in October, a change in the structure of our Leadership Council was proposed, voted on, and passed: eliminating all council committee members’ positions, retaining only the chair positions of Trustees, Finance, Staff Parish Relations, the Lay Leader and Pastor. These persons would become a member of each of these committees.
Happening in Sanford
In 2014, SunRail, a commuter rail system, begins service operating a commuter rail line that runs from Osceola to Volusia county. Since its beginning in 2014, expansions to new destinations have been added as well as supplemental transportation options (trolley, bus link, etc) to expand and enhance public transportation in our area.
On June 12, 2016, a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a mass shooting inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. It is the deadliest incident in the history of violence against LGBT people in the United States. At the time, it was the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history, being surpassed a year later by the Las Vegas shooting. Many vigils and memorials were held all over the country, and especially here in Central Florida, to remember and honor the victims. Events are held every year on the anniversary to commemorate the victims and their families.
In 2018, UCF’s Shaquem Griffin became the first one-handed athlete in NFL history. At age 4, Shaquem Griffin’s left hand was amputated due to complications from a rare birth defect called amniotic band syndrome. But his father pushed Griffin and his twin Shaquill Griffin to compete alongside each other, never allowing Shaquem’s physical hindrance to act as a drawback – and it paid off. The 22-year-old former outside linebacker at the University of Central Florida was selected in the fifth round of the NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks, making him the first one-handed athlete in the league’s history. ¹
Happening in the World
2014-Alan Eustace, an American computer scientist, sets a world record highest and longest free fall jump from 135,908 feet (41.425 km) over Roswell, New Mexico. His descent to Earth lasts 4 minutes 27 seconds and stretches nearly 26 miles (42 km) with peak speeds exceeding 822 miles per hour
2015- Cuba and the United Statesreestablish full diplomatic relations, ending a 54-year stretch of hostility between the nations.
2016- The United Kingdom votes in a referendum to leave the European Union. This referendum and the resulting plan to leave the E.U. becomes know as “Brexit”
2017- Fifty-nine people are killed and 868 injured when a gunman opens fire on a crowd in Las Vegas, surpassing the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting as the deadliest mass shooting perpetrated by a lone gunman in U.S. history.
2018- After three consecutive years with zero cases transmitted within its borders, Paraguay became the first country in the Americas in nearly 50 years to be declared free of malaria.