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eNote from Rev. Tom Berlin – October 5, 2012

Dear Floris Family,

This week Floris had the opportunity to host the Five Talent Academy where we focused on Ministry with the Poor. The event was live streamed to five other sites in Virginia where over 300 people participated. When we built our sanctuary, we added audio-visual equipment so that we could hold such events. While we use this equipment each week, it was great to see it bless over 100 churches around our state.

I also spoke on a panel for the Religious Newswriters Association at their conference in Washington, DC this week. The conversation focused on ways religious organizations work to alleviate poverty in their area. It was a real privilege to talk about all that you are doing in our region. I was able to speak about our partnership with Hutchison Elementary as one example of where we are involved in multiple programs like ESL, Hutchison PALS, Backpack meals and Camp Hutchison. I also spoke about the other partnerships we enjoy with a wide array of organizations that enable our members to build relationships with people in poverty and, as a result, experience personal transformation. Walking back to the Metro, I was thinking of all the volunteers who make these things happen each week and the ways that you are truly living Jesus’ call to be a light to the world. In case I don’t say it enough, thank you for your heart for our community and the way you serve it!

I am excited to begin a sermon series this Sunday, called Simple: Life Doesn’t Have to be Complicated. Our culture is geared toward complexity. The American Dream is to gain more. Bigger is seen as better. Our lives and schedules have become very complex. Over a period of four weeks, we will consider how the Bible calls us to simplicity and how we might align our time and money toward greater significance in life. Visit our website to view a brief video and find out more about Simple.

Financial Peace University
I do not know of a better way to make your financial dreams of saving and preparing for the future become reality than to engage in the questions and planning raised by Financial Peace University (FPU). Many of you have said that you were interested in a course that might help you with debt and other financial challenges you face. Floris is offering FPU, a life-changing program that teaches how to achieve your financial goals by eliminating debt, saving for the future and giving like never before. I have heard from many of you that this course was a blessing, especially if you are married and have to come to some key agreements around money matters. FPU meets once a week for 13 weeks, and two classes will begin this month. You may visit Financial Peace University on our website for more information or to sign up.

Serving God
We are also offering a class called Serving God, part of Floris’ Knowing, Loving, Serving God series, beginning Tuesday, October 16. Serving God is a four-week class that will help you understand why, as United Methodists, we are so committed to serving, how you are uniquely created to serve and ultimately determine where you want to begin your serving experience here at Floris. I want to encourage you to begin your journey of discovering the joy of serving God by signing up today. Sign up for Serving God, or contact Cheryl Brock for more information.

Bridge Campaign Emails
Earlier this week many of you received the email and video message regarding our one year “Bridge Campaign” for debt reduction. Three separate messages were sent. The first was to those who have met or will soon meet their estimate of giving. The second was to those who may have been unusually impacted by the recession or some other event. The third was to those who were not here five years ago and who might like to join others in this effort. If you anticipated receiving this email and did not, please contact me so that we can be sure to get a copy to you.

Hutchison PALS
Last Sunday we began our recruitment for the Hutchison PALS Program, which is a weekly mentoring program at Hutchison Elementary School. As a PAL, you can build caring relationships with students who need positive adult interactions during their breakfast or lunch period. One of our PALS spoke at the Five Talent Academy held here this week and I was amazed by the transformation of the student that she had worked with through their weekly interaction. At Floris, we believe that children matter, and this is a great way to mentor underserved children in our community. You may enjoy reading the Floris Blog which contains the experience of one of our PALS. Stop by the Gathering Space this Sunday to find out more, or you can visit Hutchison PALS on our website to sign up.

This Week in Worship
This week we will consider our complex and demanding schedules and how we can experience “Simple Time.” Scripture: Luke 10:38-42.

In Christ,
– Tom

About Tom Berlin

Rev. Tom Berlin is the lead pastor of Floris UMC. Tom was raised in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley and has lived in Virginia most of his life. He is a graduate of Virginia Tech and his Master of Divinity is from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. He has co-authored three books and is the author of his own book and several small group studies. Tom and his wife, Karen, have four daughters.

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