Pastor’s Notes – Sunday March 4, 2018
I want to extend a sincere THANK YOU to everyone who has given and pledged to give towards our raising the $8,514 we owe for our Fourth District mid-year conference obligations. On Monday, Feb. 26, I delivered a check in the amount of $2,514.00 to Elder Smith, and as of this writing we anticipate being able to pay over $3,000 this coming week. Prayerfully, that amount will increase after today’s offering, and I am claiming that after today we will owe less than $3,000 on this obligation! You all have been amazing in your response and God has been AWESOME in helping us raise these funds. We continue to be in prayer that those who haven’t yet pledged or given will do so! On Sunday, March 25th we will recognize everyone whose contributed towards our conference obligations (in any way) with a reception after service!
The challenge now is “how to avoid these ‘emergencies’ in the future?” One thing we will be doing beginning today is automatically save 10% from every offering we collect and put it into savings. I shared with our officers that had we done this in October when I purposed it, we could have had over $7,000 in savings! Honestly, it was not possible to do this then, simply because of the financial deficit we faced upon my arrival here, however, we are in a stronger position to begin doing this and in doing so, I believe we will begin to take control of our financial destiny.
I am told a similar savings effort occurred previously, but the money dwindled away to cover other expenses. I am determined that the money we save will be primarily used for our conference (local and 4th district) obligations. At our upcoming Stewardship and Finance Committee meeting I will propose that this committee must pre-approve the disbursement of these funds for anything other than conference obligations and then present this need to the church during an Official Board Meeting. Certainly, emergencies will arise, however, if we can become disciplined in our savings we can put ourselves on the path of being able to pay our conference obligations on time and eliminate “fire drills” from being a constant occurrence.
Elder Stacey Smith has agreed to come to St. Peter’s for a Q&A session on Tuesday evening, March 20th and prayerfully by then we’ll know what our obligations will be for the second half of the year.
Additionally, we are working to embark on a much needed capital improvement campaign that will begin in April to raise money for a new air conditioner, new roof and updating our internet service within the church. Just as we must be good stewards of our finances we must also be good stewards of God’s building. The Development Committee is working on identifying grants and other resources to assist us in raising the capital we need.
With deep gratitude for what God continues to do through all of us!
Pastor Carla Mitchell
Pastor’s Notes – Sunday Feb. 25, 2018
I want to begin by simply saying THANK YOU St. Peter’s! Because of your generous giving in support of our community of faith, we have been able to accomplish much in a few short months. I am grateful to you for the example you continue to set for what it means to be a faithful steward.
Our midyear conference obligation is due. St. Peter’s owes $8,514; however, we don’t have the funds to meet this obligation. Upon my appointment to St. Peter’s in October of last year, we had a $12,000 deficit due to owing late 2017 conference obligations, utilities (heating and snow removal, Internet, security, etc.) and past due property assessments among other things. In the past five months, with God’s grace and your giving, we have become current with our monthly bills, paid off our Hennepin County assessments and paid our past due conference obligations (2017) owed under the previous administration, and we are current on our St. Paul/Minnesota District obligations.
We now need your help to raise the $8,514 to ensure we remain current in our obligations to the Fourth Episcopal District. Several of the church’s officers and I have already pledged $2,650 towards this obligation and we now seek your willingness to join us in stepping out in faith and giving above and beyond your regular tithes and offerings (we still have weekly operating and payroll expenses that we must continue to meet).
As you know, the practice of generosity is a faith discipline. Growing in generosity is the mark of developing faith and a deeper walk with Christ. 1 Chronicles 29:9 states “the people rejoiced over the offerings, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord.” I am hoping that each of you will commit to this giving initiative with joyful hearts and spirits.
I understand this is asking you to sacrifice above your weekly tithes and offering and I am hoping that during this Lenten season, you will be moved to exercise a deeper degree of faith and challenge to make a sacrifice to give more. If you are unable to pledge $500 or $200, perhaps you can commit to sacrifice buying your daily cup(s) of coffee from your favorite coffee house, taking your lunch to work a couple of days a week and giving that money towards this campaign.
We are confident that, with God’s help and your faithfulness, we can meet this obligation. Our church leaders and I believe that if our 100 adult members give according to how we have been blessed, we can meet this obligation. To do this we need at least 5 members to contribute $500; 10 members to contribute $200; and 80 members to give $50 (or whatever you can), over and above your tithes and offerings.
We don’t have much time as we need to raise this amount by March 31st. Again, I sincerely thank you for your past financial and spiritual support and pray that you will make a financial sacrifice to help ensure St. Peter’s continues to meet our conference obligations.
With deep gratitude for what God will do through all of us!
Pastor Carla Mitchell
Pastor’s Notes – Sunday Feb. 18, 2018
“Bring the full amount of your tithes to the Temple, so that there will be plenty of food there. Put me to the test and you will see that I will open the windows of heaven and pour out on you in abundance all kinds of good things.” Malachi 3:10
Why are we afraid…scared to REALLY TRUST GOD? Why do we put God into boxes that God doesn’t belong in? Sadly, too many of us – the church universal and St Peter’s specifically do this when it comes to tithing! Yes, I’m back on this subject again!
We have SO MUCH WORK to do in God’s kingdom and in God’s physical house. There is so much good St. Peter’s could be doing but there are too many members who seriously doubt God’s word…God’s challenge to “try me and see!” When we doubt God – when we feel we can’t step out on faith and tithe (fixed income or fluid) because we have our own bills and financial obligations to pay – we put God in a box and limit the power of the Holy Spirit to work in our lives!
We need to stop making God small and powerless! We need to stop believing the lie of satan that we can’t tithe and give financially to the church because if we do, we won’t have enough to pay our bill or worse yet…do the fun stuff we want to do or we fear the church (pastor and officers) will misuse the funds!
As we enter this Lenten season, I really want us ALL to begin to be more intentional in speaking HOPE into our lives! Speak HOPE into every situation – financial, emotional, spiritual and beyond. Why is it that we can pray to God to heal us when we are sick, save and give us jobs and promotions, pray for a relationship or the strengthening or restoration of a relationship yet refuse to ask and TRUST that God will pour out blessings upon us so great we won’t have room to receive them when we tithe and give faithfully and joyfully! Tithing is an act of faith and trust that when we give 10% of our 100, God will bless and expand the 90% we have left!!
When we tithe, God will meet EVERY need! God knows what we need, and I am convinced and believe God indeed blesses faithfulness and obedience. Those blessings are not always monetary, but can come in the form of good health, a loving/healthy marriage, blessed children, a peaceful home and life.
St Peter’s needs a new air conditioner that is expected to cost us around $70K. We also need a new roof, plumbing work to be done. We need to completely update our Wi-Fi network in the church and that will cost us an additional $5K; the list of other items is too long to mention here and all these things cost money! We need to reestablish a church school for children and teens, expand the adult church school, do more outreach and evangelism and in addition to the financial resources needed for all these things, we need NEW folk to step forward and become involved on all levels.
I want to challenge this faith community to be more TRUSTING in and of God. Let God OUT of the boxes we have put God in! Step out on faith and with a sincere heart be in prayer and then being good stewards of your finances, talents and time, GIVE and watch and receive the blessings God has for you. See how much more satisfying and blessed your life can be.
TRUST God and begin to tithe and give; yes, it’s a sacrifice, but it’s a sacrifice that will bring you so many blessings, you truly won’t have room enough to receive them all!
God’s waiting for you to take that first step!
Pastor Carla Mitchell
As of today, we are three days away from the beginning of the Lenten season. Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of satan and preparing to begin his ministry. This is also when people choose to give up something; however, I want to encourage us to add something to your life/day on a spiritual level during the next forty days. Add time for daily prayer, Bible study or time alone with God. Make time to visit or call a friend or church member who might be encouraged by your presence or call.
We are also eleven days into Black History Month! OUR history is worthy of being celebrated every day and February is a wonderful time to remember the accomplishments of African Americans and people from the African diaspora (the dispersion of a people from their original homeland) for ALL the contributions they’ve made not only to this country but the world.
America is a great country…I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else! However, this country has an ugly history of racism and social and civil injustice against people who are not of European descent. First Native Americans, then Blacks who were forcibly brought here as chattel slaves. Chattel slavery was the enslaving of a person forever! Their children and their children’s children were automatically enslaved. Chattel slaves were only viewed and treated as property; they could be brought, sold, given and even inherited! They had no rights as human beings…as children created in God’s image and loved by God.
The AME Church exists because the ministerial efforts of Richard Allen and Absalom Jones were so successful that the Black membership at St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church grew tenfold and the white members of the congregation did not welcome this growth and in November 1786, white ushers attempted to remove all Blacks from the floor of the sanctuary and these brothers and sisters of God were having none of it! Richard Allen, Absalom Jones and other Blacks left the church never to return and founded the Free African Society in 1787. From this society the foundations of the AME Church (Allen) and African Episcopal Churches (Jones) came into being.
I invite you to check out these websites for great Black History facts. These are just the tip of the iceberg to obtain information from, but it’s a good start:
These are wonderful online resources to get news and other information that are meaningful and relevant to the Black community! We must become more engaged in the political process, we must vote and participate in political activities within our communities to ensure our issues are raised, our voices heard, and change comes that will benefit us, our children and our children’s children!
Have a blessed week family!
Pastor Carla Mitchell
St Peter’s, I believe we are indeed on the cusp of God doing some wonderful things for our community and our mission as a church. Why do I say this? Because there seems to be a building of tension and challenges within our community of faith and as I have been talking to some members over the past several weeks, it was revealed to me that this kind of thing…this kind of drama and confusion and even tension comes when the devil is trying to take us off course because we are getting close to a period of growth and experiencing God in new and deeper ways!
I continue to hear that there is a new energy in our church, a renewed spirit and that’s a wonderful thing and indeed good news! I am also aware that when we are open to God moving and we are seeking to be the people and church God desires us to be, there is a spirit that is not at all happy and that’s the advisory…satan! I think (this may not be theologically correct however), that satan…the enemy…the advisory knows when God is about to bless and do something wonderful in our lives and therefore tries his hardest to stir up mess, cause confusion, create drama, doubt and strife (just to name a few) but it’s when we see these warning signs of confusion, unnecessary drama, etc. that we have to stop and ask ourselves “what’s going on here and why?” We then must go to God and ask God to show us the root of this confusion in our lives and I believe that God will!
Sometimes, I think we become fearful and even doubtful of the “new thing” God is about to do in our lives, within our families, etc. and then we create opportunity for satan to enter the picture and put doubt in our minds that we are not worthy of this wonderful thing God has promised us; or that we can’t really believe God is going to come through for us. When this happens, the devil is working overtime to bring confusion and doubt into our lives! He will start making you think God’s not going to provide for you. God is not going to make a way for you. The devil wants you to doubt, but you must trust in the Lord. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to “be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
I have shared with you all in past weeks some of the challenges I faced on this journey into full-time ministry and I came to realize during those difficult trials and stressful times, that the devil was truly trying to take me off course. He was determined to cause me to doubt and question God’s faithfulness and turn and run away from the very thing God was calling me to do. I did stay the course, but I had times of doubt, tears and worry, but because I had experienced God’s faithfulness in the past, I knew (once I got over those pity parties) that God would be just as faithful as before and I also recognized that I had to quiet the devil’s voice in my mind and heart and that was done by going deeper into scripture, being more intentional in my times of devotion and praise and surrounding myself with people who encouraged me and prayed for me as I was praying for myself! This doesn’t mean the devil backed off right away, but after while there simply was no room for both the devil and God, so the devil had no choice but to flee.
Things are changing, and this change is good! It is my most sincere desire and prayer that when we see stress or adversity coming up within our community, our ministries, our times of devotion and study that we will ask God to come in and that we’ll look internally to ensure that the devil is not using us to be the source of the confusion within our families, on our jobs or within the church. James 4:7 instructs us to submit ourselves to God first. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Have a blessed week family!
Pastor Carla Mitchell
Pastor’s Notes – Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018
Sometimes, I struggle with what I’m going to write about each week. I want this space to be meaningful to both me to write it, and to you all who read it!
It’s truly amazing when I have moments of “blankness” on what to write about; that when I least expect it, God will give me a thought or theme to write about and the words seem to flow faster than I can write them. My thoughts this week are on love!
There are three types of love that are referenced in scripture: Eros which is a love of passion or physical love. Philo which is described as affection, fondness or liking. The final type is Agape love. This is the type of love God has for us and the type of love we should all strive to have towards one another; but I will acknowledge that sometimes that’s easier said than done.
Today, we find ourselves in the midst of more hate than love in this country. Hate coming from the President directed towards minorities, Africans, Haitians and “Dreamers”, (those youth and young adults brought illegally to the U.S. by their parents who came to America with a hope and dream to give their children a better life and greater opportunity for education and a career). When ‘#45’ spoke with such distain for these people I thought of John 1:46 “Can anything good come from Nazareth? Absolutely…come and see!!”
We must be careful to not remain silent to hate and lies and we must hold politicians accountable who profess to be Christians but go against the very teachings and principles of Christ through their actions, votes, political positions and silence.
The Bible is full of scriptures that instruct us to love our neighbors, to love those who are foreigners in our land and to love others as we love ourselves. Some of these scriptures are: Deuteronomy 10:19, Leviticus 19:34, Matthew 5: 43, 44 and 46, Mark 12:31 & 33, Luke 6:27, 32 and 35, Luke 10:27, Romans 13:8, Galatians 5:14 and James 2:8.
I acknowledge it’s hard to love those who undervalue us and our humanity; yet, we are required by God to do so even when that seems like an impossible task most of the time. There’s nothing in scripture that says we must agree with or even like ‘#45’ let alone those who hurt or sin against us; however, we are required to love and perhaps it’s the effort we are being called to make…to love, that is the important thing. I must remind myself (often) that even ‘#45’ is a child of God and because of that he is deserving of the love of God and me.
The Struggle to Love Everyone is Real, but with God it can be achieved!
Be a blessing…even when it’s hard!
Pastor Carla Mitchell
Pastor’s Notes – Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018
In our Wednesday afternoon Bible Study, we are on a 13-week journey into “Overcoming; Rising Above Life’s Toughest Problems.” I am truly excited about this Bible study and the members who have attended have stated the same and I look forward to what God will do through this series and future studies!
I chose this series as our first course of study because I felt it would be helpful to all of us as we journey into 2018 and work (I pray) to overcome the challenges that may have held us captive in 2017 and face those challenges still trying to overwhelm us and make us feel that this year won’t be any better.
My “Pastor” Rev. Dr. Frank A. Thomas said something in a sermon nearly 20 years ago that has stuck with me “it’s not what happens to us that matters; it’s how we handle what happens to us.” This quote has been a wonderful reminder to me that stuff will happen in life that will often nearly take us out and its human nature to become upset, sad and even angry as we deal with these valley experiences; but the key (I believe) is to NOT stay angry, but to pick ourselves up and face each challenge head on knowing that when fervently we pray and seek God’s guidance and direction on how to tackle, address, face and ultimately overcome each challenge, God will always give us what we need to endure.
The other important challenge for all of us is to not allow these valley experiences to keep us from finding God’s presence in the storms of life – that will surely come. Sometimes, just changing our attitude about the storms we are facing can be the first step in helping us identify ways to overcome them!
On a separate note, I want to thank everyone who attended our second quarterly conference for this church year. Elder Smith was 100% correct when she spoke to the new spirit in our church and I want to echo her “thanks” for the progress we are making in chipping away at the financial debts we have. Slow and steady truly will win the race and I know that God has been with us and will continue to be with us.
Finally, let’s continue to pray for all our members who are on our prayer list and requesting prayer! Please remember Gaye Adams Massey and her family who celebrated the life of her beloved father Bishop John Hurst Adams yesterday (Jan. 20th); and let’s also pray for Thomas Brown the brother and uncle of Sister Shirley and Deanna Callender who is in the hospital as well as Shirley’s sister Gloria.
Blessings to each of you in the week ahead!
Pastor Carla Mitchell
Pastor’s Notes – Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018
Tomorrow (January 15) we celebrate the birthday of one of America’s Greatest Hero’s – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
One of the things I appreciate about Dr. King is that he struggled with his call to be the face/voice of a movement that was determined to change the course of race relations in our country and begin the long road (cause we’re still not there; but we are a bit closer) for America to see the God in all of humanity – especially those of us with brown and black skin. King didn’t eagerly embrace this assignment (call), but recognized that someone had to be the front person and (as I’ve said before) he knew that everyone can’t be behind the scenes; someone had to be out front; even if it meant facing a certain amount of pain, hardship and abuse from some within his own community and especially from those in the dominant culture that didn’t want to acknowledge or accept the humanity of Blacks in a country that was suppose to be founded on the principles of Jesus Christ and equality for all people!
Martin Luther King, Jr. also reminds me of Samuel (the subject of my sermon today) who was called by God to give a dire message to Eli (his mentor) from God because Eli had allowed his sons to completely disrespect God and the sovereignty of God’s Holy Temple. For Samuel, there was no way of getting out of delivering this bad new; the message had to be given and it didn’t matter if the hearer (Eli) liked it or not.
Sometimes, God will put us in situations where we must take a stand for something – a stand against injustice, a stand to end sexual assault and misconduct. Sometimes we need to take a stand to call out friends who are homophobic or who bully a person because of their size, skin color or even where they live.
Martin Luther King, Jr. took a stand. He didn’t sit by silently and wait for someone else to speak up, he spoke up and out and it cost him his life. With the various forms of protest taking place in America these days by women, men and youth who are saying “Black Lives Matter,” “Time’s UP” and #MeToo, people are using their voice to challenge the normative behavior of men who abuse their power and a culture that’s for too long chosen to look the other way. There’s a quote by Dr. King that I think sums all of this up: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter!”
As we celebrate the life and ministry of this GREAT AMERICAN, I want to ask you – what will you stand up for and/or speak out against? Even if the message you deliver or the stance you take is unpopular and costs you something; will you have the boldness of Samuel and Martin Luther King, Jr to speak up and out or will you simply sit back and wait for someone else to do what YOU have the power to do?
Be a Difference and a Blessing to someone this week!
Pastor Carla Mitchell
Happy New Year St. Peter’s!!
We are blessed to celebrate a new year and have another opportunity to begin anew! I am reminded of one of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV): “The steadfast LOVE of the Lord never ceases; God’s mercies never come to an end; they are NEW every morning; GREAT is God’s faithfulness!” This verse always reminds me that each day (and year) we have another chance to experience God’s love and mercies and to extend that same love and grace to one another.
As we enter 2018, it’s the perfect time to make SPIRITUAL resolutions – to create time (each day) for personal prayer and scripture reading, commit to attend one of our two weekly Bible studies (in person or via the conference bridge) or Sunday School, join one of our prayer calls, become active in a ministry (or develop a new one), commit to regularly visit or reach out (via phone calls and cards) to one of our shut-in members, commit to tithing (you knew that was coming)…in other words be more committed to spending time with God and living life as Christ has instructed us.
I am excited about all we have planned for this year and I believe that God has ordained every activity planned and that we will grow as a congregation and get outside the walls of our beautiful church and engage the community and especially our neighbors! We certainly have challenges to overcome, but I am claiming God’s faithfulness in those matters too as long as we continue to be good stewards of the resources God provides for us.
I’m not big on making personal resolutions, but I am going to commit to maintaining my early morning devotions and making time for self care (which is important) and getting in some golf…once this winter ends!
Finally, let’s make time to enjoy the blessings God has given us and let’s ensure we let those we love know how much we value and appreciate their presence in our lives and make time to care for ourselves.
Blessings for a Joyous 2018,
Pastor Carla Mitchell
Rev. Carla Mitchell, Pastor
Rev. Stacy Smith, Presiding Elder
The Rt. Rev. John Franklin White, Presiding Bishop
African Methodist Episcopal Church
401 E. 41st Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55409
St. Peter's Office Hours
Tuesday - Thursday 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Saturday - 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM