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The Year in Review: From Pastor Bryan

EXPERIENCING GRACE

Our theme for this ministry year has been “Experiencing Grace.”  When we introduced that phrase back in September, we had no idea how desperately we would need that grace, as the coronavirus turned our world - and our ministry - upside down. 

But the Lord has been more than faithful, and we have experienced his undeserved goodness in so many ways: financial provision, spiritual vitality, congregational unity, and ministry impact. This year’s Annual Report provides an overview of God’s work in and through the Grace Chapel congregation. 

TEACHING JOURNEY

  • Humans of the Bible (June-July 2019): A closer look at some of the overlooked and underestimated people in the Bible.
  • Clean Slate (August 2019): Preparing our homes, work, and church for the new year
  • Experiencing Grace (Fall 2019): Exploring the meaning and impact of God’s grace in our lives, church, and world through a study of Paul’s letters. 
  • Grace Under Pressure (Global Awareness Week): How do we live grace-filled lives in the midst of challenging circumstances?
  • Follow the Wonder (Advent 2019): Regaining our sense of wonder in a time when it’s hard to be amazed by anything.
  • Googling God (Winter 2020): Confronting our culture’s toughest questions about God and faith
  • BLESS (Lent 2020): Learning from Jesus how to bless the people in our everyday world
  • Overcome (Easter 2020): Overcoming sin, death, and the coronavirus
  • What Now? (Spring 2020): Guidance from the letters of 1 and 2 Peter for these challenging times

OUR THREE CORE MINISTRIES: SUNDAYS, GROUPS, NEXT GENERATION

This was our first year to align our ministry to all generations around three Core Ministries: Sunday experiences, group life, and ministry for kids and teens. Prior to the pandemic, we were beginning to see the fruit of that alignment in a variety of ways:  greater creativity and synergy in our Sunday experiences; new groups and new leaders; and more kids and volunteers in our Children’s and Student Ministries. 

Little did we know that this streamlined approach to ministry would serve us so well when we found ourselves quickly pivoting to online-only ministry! Our strategic focus on these three Core Ministries enabled us to quickly find new ways to serve our congregation well, and to connect with new people in the digital space. We’re now launching some new fully-online groups!

OUR PROMISE: YOU WILL EXPERIENCE GRACE HERE

In the fall we introduced our new Grace Chapel brand. A brand is more than just a logo; it’s a promise: “You will experience grace here.” It’s a promise that wherever and whenever anyone encounters a Grace Chapel campus, ministry, or person, they will have a life-changing encounter with the surprising goodness of God. 

Our new brand has been well-received by the congregation and the broader community, and has provided continuity that makes us more recognizable in the many digital spaces we now find ourselves ministering through, from our website to YouTube to social media to our app. 

THE CHURCH HAS LEFT THE BUILDING

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic prompted an immediate and radical shift to fully-online ministry. Thankfully our multi-site ministry platform and weekly sermon live stream and our presence on other online platforms meant we already had the technology and team in place to make that shift quickly and effectively. In one week’s time our Sunday experience was online, and soon after we were able to offer midweek ministry to children, students, and adults through our Grace at Home landing page on grace.org. Many of our groups are now actively meeting online, including our care and support groups!             

The most exciting shift has been an outward one, as Grace Chapel people, ministries, and resources are now focused on being the church in their neighborhoods and communities. Through the #ThisIsGrace initiative and the COVID-19 Response Fund, our people and campuses are actively engaged with local agencies and needs.     

However long the quarantine lasts, we believe this emerging online ministry platform and outward-focus will continue to be shape our ministry. As we say in our Sunday services, we’re no longer one church in five locations - we’re one church in thousands of locations.

A TEAM EFFORT

Ministry has always been a team sport, but responding to the coronavirus shutdown has brought out the best in our staff and elders. I am blessed by their creativity, their adaptability, and their pastoral heart to connect with and serve all of you.           

It was just a year ago that Mark MacDonald accepted the call to serve as our Executive Pastor. What a year to get started! Mark has quickly won the confidence and affection of the staff and elders, and his executive skills combined with his pastoral heart have made a strong contribution to the ministry, and on a personal level I am deeply grateful for his partnership.    

I’m also grateful for the thoughtful and steady leadership that Jimmy Su has brought to the elders during this tumultuous season. 

In this 20th year of ministry at Grace, and in the midst of an unprecedented challenge, I continue to thank God for the vitality and responsiveness of this congregation, and for the freedom to learn and grow and experience grace in new and wonderful ways with all of you! May God continue to lead us in finding new ways to help more people discover life with God, for the good of the world.

Pastor Bryan

MEMBERS WHO HAVE GONE HOME TO BE WITH THE LORD:

NEW MEMBERS ADDED:

Partner Spotlight: World Relief Malawi

Grace Chapel Missions Partner, World Relief Malawi, is led by Gibson Nkanaunena. In their work of empowering the local church to serve the most vulnerable, this ministry has reached 1.7 million total beneficiaries in Malawi, which is almost 10% of the entire population of this small, landlocked nation in southern Africa! Church leaders are  recognized as opinion leaders in their communities. World Relief’s strategy is to train and empower the local church as it reaches out to their urban and rural neighbors in areas of education, food security, sanitation, family finances etc. Last year, World Relief Malawi partnered with 1,147 local churches and 30,400 volunteers!

In light of the global pandemic, church leaders have been trained in proper hand-washing techniques. Food security is also a huge concern. It is estimated that 1.8 million Malawians will not have enough food until the next harvest.

May the Lord continue to bless the work of Gibson and his team as they share the love of Christ with their countrymen in Malawi.

World Relief Malawi is one of 46 active mission partners, in addition to 7 retirees. We've distributed $823,899 to these partners this year. 

Experiencing grace firsthand through our finances

Fiscal Year 2020 was yet another remarkable year of generous and faithful giving on the part of the Grace Chapel congregation. With the help of 375 new first-time givers, contributions totaled just over $9.5 million. This includes gifts to support our regular church ministries and staff at all five campuses, and to fund our global and regional mission partners.

We have seen a record number of people making their gifts online.  In fact, since the first week of March when the pandemic changed the way we do church, 325 new donors gave online including 99 of whom set up recurring online giving for the first time. We are so grateful to God that we had the right tools in place to make the shift to online giving so quickly and seamlessly for so many folks in the church. 

It should also be noted that in the same time frame over 550 households continued to give and sent in one or more gifts to the church offices. This continued and generous giving is an incredible testimony to the faithfulness of the people of Grace Chapel.      

So, it is with gratitude to our great God and to you, our congregation, that we can report that we are ending the fiscal year in the black with all our expenses met and giving right on budget.  This is the direct result of the congregation’s generous year-end giving and effective cost management on the part of the staff.

In addition, the congregation also provided almost $230 thousand in special gifts and Benevolence Fund offerings to help meet the critical needs of folks in our congregation, our local neighbors, and people serving Christ around the world. Specifically, your generosity provided: 

  • $101,291 in Benevolence Fund gifts to meet the local needs of our congregation and community
  • $43,503 for World Relief (border crisis) received from the Global Awareness Week Offering
  • $85,145 for World Relief (border crisis) received from the Christmas Eve Special Offering

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  – Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)

LOOKING AHEAD TO THE NEW FISCAL YEAR

As we look to the new fiscal year, we continue to trust God and the faithful and generous commitment of you, our congregation. That being said, we do believe that many of our people will be facing financial hardship in the weeks and months to come. And we sense that the absence of our live services may have a significant impact on weekly giving. Please know that we are being extra sensitive and responsive to those in need in our church and in our communities. This significant commitment will take a sustained and perhaps even increased level of giving to meet these needs. 

We will address these challenges by:

  • Continuing to encourage more people to give electronically
  • Hosting financial webinars to help people navigate these challenging financial times
  • Monitoring expenses to keep them in line with giving
  • Communicating well with the congregation and our giving base

As a result of the pandemic and our move to online services, many people have been worshipping with us and some for the very first time. We have said previously that we were well positioned for growth at every one of our five campuses and that remains true, but now we believe that is also true for our online services. There is tremendous growth potential at a time when folks seem to be more receptive to the gospel and we are working through what all this means for us as a church. 

In light of that, the board of elders is proposing an FY21 operations budget based on $8,100,000 in general contributions. Although contributions are expected to be lower for the coming year, we are managing our expenses accordingly and are prayerfully anticipating a return to pre-pandemic giving levels once the church has fully returned to normal operations."

We are always praying that more and more people would come to discover life with God for the good of greater Boston and the world. This pandemic did not take our great God by surprise, and He may very well be using it to make us a more mobilized church – to serve in ways we never thought we could serve before and reaching more people than we ever could have hoped or even imagined. It is our most earnest prayer that God continues to show favor on us as a church committed and called to serve greater Boston and beyond for His Kingdom purposes and for His glory alone!

Please note that our final and fully audited financial statements for the fiscal year ending on April 30, 2020 will be published and available later this summer. Download the PDF of the Financial Report here

Nominees for Grace Chapel Offices

Ministry Year 2020-2021

New proposed Elders:
Keith Cerci
Matt Doremus

Nomination Committee Members:
Cynthia Fantasia – Co-Chair
Priscilla Seuss- Co-Chair
Susan Maina
Kent Morsch
Don Vinh
Victor Roman- Elder in training

Audit Committee:
Russ Ayan- proposed Chair- 3rd year
Lucy Marchese- 2nd year
Jim Citro- proposed 3rd member

Moderator:
Amy Warfield: 2nd year

Clerk:
Sandy Smith: 2nd year

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