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Signs of God’s Goodness in 2021

 

We were able to return to the building on a consistent basis starting with Holy Week 2021. Our services are slowly building back.

 

God blessed us with the opportunity to serve our community through Food Distribution. Starting in September, when many entities closed, Epworth continued on a smaller scale with increased partnerships and support. From September forward 52 boxes are taken to Cider Mill each week. An additional 60 families receive in Epworth parking lot every other week.

 

After more than 1.5 years of being closed, Epworth Preschool and Kindergarten opened its doors to students and teachers again in the summer 2021. We began with several very successful camps and moved to 6 classes of all ages (2-5years), including our Transitional Kindergarten Class.

 

Weekly podcasts (M-F) produced by Epworth pastors and laity are posted on our YouTube channel Epworth Productions and our Facebook page EpworthUnited and our webpage. Epworth Productions now has 176 subscribers to our channel.

 

Our COVID taskforce continues to provide balanced, steady, scientific counsel to our leadership – helping us to stay safe and make collective informed decisions about how to engage in ministry in these times.

 

La Voz de Bendicion internet radio program shares our Spanish service on their Facebook page every Sunday at 12:30. This radio program has 2500+ subscribers.

 

Epworth and Epworth pastors celebrated 6 weddings this summer – fall as the COVID restrictions lifted slightly.

 

We were also able to safely return to in person funeral services for our members.

 

Rev Tammi D Brantley has come on staff as our new Pastor of Discipleship. Her energy, her vision and her gifts are already a blessing to our community and to Epworth families.

 

8 life groups have continued through the pandemic (1 young adult, 1 English women’s study, 3 Spanish language, 3 English language, and one newly added younger young adult life group) These groups followed the study of Jeremiah, an Advent Study Because of Bethlehem, and chose some of their own studies.

 

Epworth received two Payroll Protection Loans which have now both been forgiven, converting them into grants. These PPP grants have helped sustain the finances through this hard times.

 

Epworth has received a significant grant to support the continued operation of the preschool.

 

We finally were able to celebrate the confirmation of 9 of our youth who had been in the confirmation process since December 2019. This was celebrated with a shared service at Mill Creek Parish. A new in person confirmation class (with remote option) and adult basics in faith parallel course began in November 2021. The first youth retreat in 2 years was held at West River December 3-4 with all confirmands present.

 

4 rooms in Epworth (Library, 201, Children Ministry room, Computer Lab) were equipped with hybrid capability. Our newest confirmation class is hybrid, and some life groups are starting to embrace a hybrid option.

 

Epworth raised over $20,000 in Capital Contributions to install a new tech booth in the back of the sanctuary so that we can continue livestream and in person services. Altar redesign *New addition of sound support in December 2021 has already improved sound quality. A team of servant leaders, comprised mainly of youth, has held down tech and video for over two years.

 

Epworth has raised $11,000 of the $25,000 goal to Invest in Leadership and sustain staff salaries long term.

 

Our community partners have grown to include:

  • Lord’s Table – Gaithersburg Community Soup Kitchen

  • Ana A Brito Foundation

  • Linkages to Learning at Rosemont Elementary

  • Linkages to Learning at Summit Hall Elementary

  • Linkages to Learning at Forest Oak Middle School

  • Mujer Fuerza y Coraje

  • Asbury Methodist Village Gaithersburg Beloved Community Initiative

  • Cider Mill Residents Association - Safe Places

  • Gaithersburg Presbyterian Church (pack supplies every Thursday)

  • Gaithersburg HELP

  • Emory Grove UMC

  • Mill Creek Parish UMC

 

Gaithersburg HELP heard of our work and is continuing to give 20 boxes of food each week. During the thanksgiving weekend, they contributed 2,000 additional dollars to food distribution ministry. They partnered us with NOVAVAX in Virginia for a special corporate donation of 35 additional boxes.

 

Gaithersburg Presbyterian Church made a significant financial contribution to Food Distribution and our Back to School Event.

 

Back to School Event was held with over 500 students receiving age appropriate backpacks and supplies.

 

Vacation Bible School was held in person at Epworth and an onsite outdoor VBS was held for several Sundays at Cider Mill. This event culminated with a Kona Ice celebration that coincided with the backpack distribution and food distribution. It was an outdoor block party!

 

Van transport was started in October for Cider Mill families attending worship. Van transport has been provided since the summer for youth attending Friday night hang out.

 

Two additional vaccination clinics were held in the winter – November 29 and December 19, offering booster shots, pediatric shots, and adult doses. These were done as part of a Faith initiative focusing on local churches and mosques.

 

200+ individuals in Cider Mill received coats. A large part of this was funded through collaboration with Asbury GBCI. 150 additional individuals from all our other partners received warm winter coats in their size.

 

Computer classes for the AABF resumed indoors in very small numbers in the fall of 2021.

 

Epworth families sponsored 25 specific families provided through our community partners. These families received gifts, clothing, and food.

 

200 toys were collected in the first ever Toy Drive, a joint venture of Family Discipleship and EPK. These toys are being distribution to Cider Mill and Mujer Fuerza y Coraje.

 

A grant writing team has been established and is regularly submitting grants. A $10,000 grant was received from the Community Development Program of the general UM Church.

 

Our December 12 Shared Service with Christmas Family Fun following was great. We reached our highest attendance all year (up to allowed 150), surpassing the World Communion Shared Service celebration held in October 2021.

 

Epworth’s executive team held their first in person day retreat in the fall of 2021, taking steps towards re-building relationships and spiritual growth together.

 

Great strides are being made in the chapel/Lessons in God’s Love with EPK. Pastors and eventually Family Discipleship staff are leading lessons at the beginning of every month, for teachers to reinforce in their classrooms following.

 

ORANGE Sunday school curriculum is the foundation of EPK chapel and EUMC Sunday School and the children’s moment during worship at the 9am and 12:30 services. After much anticipation the ORANGE app has been rolled out. Teachers and families are just beginning to see its features.

 

Epworth finance worked with Epworth Endowment to push forward a coordinated strategy to include endowed grants in the ongoing ministry of Epworth.

 

Chris stepping up to lead Soccer Clinic – second large outside event. Evidence of new leadership and apprenticing.

 

Seeds sown years ago in Ana Brito – now present in parents and youth serving in family discipleship.

 

Parents are wanting to serve with their youth.

 

Participation of youth in the life of the church in many areas that are essential to the work to which we are called.

 

Leadership of Christina Castillo in the Executive Team – taking us through hard time and moving forward after Derek held the role for many years.

 

Pastor Jen’s leadership through COVID.

 

Friends and family from around the country who are commenting on and investing in the ministry of Epworth.

 

Church that offers opportunities for bilingual youth to use their skills and gifts.

 

A sense of family that is created.

 

Executive leadership team that has sustained team through 2 years, pivoted to face hard challenges and overcome individual and collective struggles – while we have kept going.

 

The way in which INVITE and EPK worked together on Pumpkin Fest 2021.