Congratulations to Rev. Dr. James Brooks as he celebrates 15 years with First Christian Church in Edwardsville, Illinois. Here is his letter to the congregation reflecting on their ministry together.
On June 12th, 2016, I celebrated 15 years of ministry with you. I am reminded of this by my son who was born 3 days after my first sermon at FCCE. I am inspired by the ministry we share together.
In 2001, our budget was $110,000.00 & now it is $330,000.00. In 2001, we had a staff of 3 & today we have a staff of 10. In 2001, insurance cost us $4,500.00 & now it costs over $12,000.00. We have invested over $500,000.00 in our facility and land to provide for present and future generations. We have given our staff at least a cost of living increase every year, including those years of the latest recession. We have tithed to needs beyond our threshold.
We birthed a contemporary worship service. As a congregation we took the risk to raise money over and above the budget to fund a new worship service, to remodel our fellowship hall, and to change our Sunday morning schedule. This leap of faith lead to passing the faith to another generation, just as we prayed.
Our traditional worshipping community has continued to be a rich liturgical experience. This worship opportunity continues to serve a valued portion of the congregation from before my arrival to today and into the future. We are blessed by this worship style!
Together, we have hosted 5 student ministers, sponsored 3 people for ordination, sponsored 2 people for commissioned ministry and have created our first full-time Associate Minister position on staff. We did this regardless of orientation, race or gender for the table of the Lord is that radically open. These are important ministries of developing leaders for the church universal.
In 2001, our ministry to minors could be counted on one hand. This year we chartered a bus to take 31 youth & sponsors to camp. We are about to birth a JYF for youth 5th grade and younger to compliment our existing dynamic weekly youth ministry.
We created the E-Event! For 3 years, we hosted a 1 day gathering focused on evangelism. We gathered over 100 people from 25 congregations, from multiple denominations, to strengthen efforts to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.
We have shared our blessing of facility. Over 15 outside groups use our facility each year. We have hosted gatherings focused on closing the gaps in our community’s social safety network. This in the midst of our own ministries who make increasingly higher demands upon our facility.
We have consistently celebrated 10% of our worshipping community joining our church each year. This made us vibrant as we mourn the loss of cherished members. The new members have diversified who we are making us more like the local community we serve.
In the midst of our shared ministry, I am raising my son, Joseph. I obtained my doctoral degree. I have served on a multitude of regional & general church ministries representing our congregation. I have served as the chaplain for the Edwardsville Police Department since 2005.
More than all this, we have worshipped Jesus Christ and we have shared the faith with our brothers & sisters near and far. We have seen lives & relationships transformed. For this, I am most thankful to serve with you. May God bless us in the years to come!