Happy New Year from the Regional Synod of Mid-America!  As you seek to follow Jesus in 2019, we pray that you are transformed by the renewing of your mind in order to put on the mind of Christ.

The 2019 IRS Mileage Reimbursement Rate for business miles driven has been increased to $.58 per mile.  You can learn more about IRS mileage reimbursement rates by clicking HERE.
Small Church Learning Community forming in 2019.  Based on the success and interest in our first Small Church Learning Community we will be leading another more in 2019.  One will be an introductory learning community based on Small Church Essentials by Karl Vaders and another will be a next steps based on a resource yet to be chosen.  Dates and times are not set yet.  If you are interested in either or these, please email Chad and let him know.

General Synod Council urging restraint in sending overtures which require action at General Synod 2019.  The formation of the Vision 2020 Team reflected the 2018 General Synod’s consensus that the RCA cannot realistically continue to do “business as usual.”  The proposed change to the 2019 General Synod’s time allocation would constructively signal a disruption of the status quo that the work of this team represents. It would begin to prepare us for General Synod 2020, when the team will bring its final report and recommendation. In place of overtures requesting action, classes and regional synods might consider sending a letter to the General Synod that would not entail floor debate while still expressing concerns and/or viewpoints.  To read more from GSC Moderator Lee DeYoung, click HERE.

The RCA’s Board of Benefits Services Employee Assistance Program provides free, confidential Christian counseling either at at an outpatient clinic in your area (Pine Rest in Grand Rapids), or via an online telehealth session.  Up to 3 sessions per issue are provided at no cost to any employee of an RCA church.  Some common issues addressed are depression, anxiety, work-related problems, marital issues, family issues, substance abuse, and others.  The 24 hour hotline number is (833) 244-2490.  For more information click HERE.

News from Camp Manitoqua
High School students are invited to participate in STAND OUT, a leadership retreat hosted by Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center on January 25 – 26, 2019.  Surrounded with opportunities to lead, Christians must look to the Bible and Jesus example of leadership.  Join us as we study, ask questions and work to answer questions as well.  Additional information and registration availabile at Manitoqua.org/standout or call the office at 815.469.2319.

Retreat season has begun at Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center.  At this time, we are offering groups a 15% discount on any retreat booked for December 2018 or January 2019. Please contact Todd at 815.469.2319, or at todd@manitoqua.org for availability.

Apply for Summer Staff at Camp Manitoqua!  We are looking for ministry-minded college students who love kids and have a desire to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are taking applications and would encourage you to apply today!  For more information visit our www.manitoqua.org.

Note to Self in a New Year

Raise your hand if you have ever written a list of New Year’s resolutions only to lose sight of what you had written about February or so.  Yup, my hand is definitely up right now.  Making new year’s resolutions can be a powerful time to make some fruitful changes in your life.  It’s a time to ask ourselves questions like: “What do I want most out of the New Year?  How do I want to be?  Who do I want to be?  What do I want to shift about the habits and behaviors in my life?”

A long-time member of a church made this “note to self” in an attempt to develop a plan and achieve a resolution to keep some equilibrium in life.  I know this is a helpful road map for me to stay grounded and grow in my relationship with Jesus Christ.  I hope you find this helpful as well.

•    “Practice of Silence
•    Listening for God in the silence
•    A word from Scripture
•    Continuously practicing the Presence
•    Daily affirmations and calling forth possibilities in all circumstances
•    Leaving negativity behind – – in thinking, in associates
•    “Learning to catch the wind of the Spirit”
•    Praying the difficult situations and distractions– seeing how God manifests in and through them
•    In “lapses” of focus, a gentle return to the center
•    Practicing daily gratitude and thanksgiving for God’s mercies, grace, and provision
•    Forgiving myself and others
•    Knowing that prayer is always answered. This is not wishful thinking. It is the reality of my personal experience to be claimed at all times. It is the stuff of life.
•    Learning to leave behind the things that distract from the central focus of living in the Divine Presence
•    Keep reading
•    Don’t be too hard on yourself
•    Getting used to being alone and devoting time to hallowing these circumstances
•    Gratitude for what I have and not focusing on what I do not have
•    Celebrating how resources manifest, are created and flow to achieve ends”

This list is simply a “note to self” as we begin 2019.  It can be updated to fit your particular circumstances as the Spirit speaks into your life.

Happy New Year!

— Wayne Van Regenmorter

                            LINKS YOU MAY FIND USEFUL
10 Really Big Questions About Future Church Attendance (and 10 Hunches) – These 10 questions (and the author’s hunches) may be some of the most important to ask of our churches in the coming year.  They can be questions that help frame discussions amongst your consistories and leaders and you seek answers in your own context. 

The Habits that Set A Church Back in Reaching New People – Developing an “experience” for guests matters.  What is it like for a newcomer to attend your church?  This guest post from The Unstuck Group can help you examine some important aspects of your church.

What’s Coming for Religion in 2019 – Religion News Service asked some prominent religious leaders what they see in store for religion in 2019.  You can scroll through it to just get the Christian perspective or engage them all to gain a broader understanding of religion in the U.S. and the world.  The Ex-Evangelical movement may be particularly interesting to keep an eye on as well as the prediction for the United Methodist Church and the hope for local congregations.

Inequality, Polarization, and Congregational Life – There are many inequalities in the church and our culture.  Income inequality, race, inequality, gender inequality…in our culture this has led to increasing polarization.  It may be starting to become that way in the church as well.  How might the church address this differently?

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