To the people of Aloma United Methodist Church,
I greet you in the name of Christ, Jesus who has done for us what we could not do for ourselves and invites us into a new life through death and rebirth. Grace and peace to you in this exciting and difficult time of transition. I would like to introduce myself, for those whom I have not already met. I am Chris Haden, the new pastor of Aloma UMC. I have been called by God and appointed by the Bishop of the Florida Annual Conference to discern and execute a new expression of local church for the people in our area. I have been dreaming of and praying for an opportunity like this for many years, and I thank God for the blessing of this work.
I have two specific items to inform you about. First, I have heard several questions about what precisely will become of the worshiping community at Aloma UMC. I know that this is a point of anxiety and concern for many. As frustrating as it may sound, the honest answer to this question is, “I don’t know yet.” I am meeting with a small group of disciples every week as well as attending The Table, our young adult group and youth group each week. I have heard that there is anticipation of a new building purchase and a Sunday morning worship service launching in the next 6 months or so. Currently there are no plans to purchase land or prepare a Sunday morning worship service. We are in a phase of internal, spiritual discernment. I encourage you to join us in submitting ourselves to God and each other in prayer and accountability in the hopes that we can be made into the people God needs for such a daunting mission. I will be happy to converse with anyone who needs to talk about this new expression of church and help process the grief of stopping Sunday morning worship at Aloma. In the meantime, I encourage you to take part in The Table at Goldenrod every Thursday night at 6pm. It’s a wonderful, fresh expression of church community.
Second, as we move forward with this mission, it is important for us to know who wishes to retain their membership at Aloma UMC. I know many have changed membership to other congregations already, especially our sister church, St. Andrews UMC where 37 members have recently joined from Aloma. I celebrate the connectional nature of the United Methodist Church and encourage any who are “church shopping” to give St. Andrews a try. If, however, you still wish to retain membership at Aloma UMC to be part of what’s next, please reply in one of two ways by August 30th. First you can complete and mail in the postcard included in this letter. Alternatively you can go to www.alomaumc.com/membership and complete the online form. Again please respond by August 30th.
I am so pleased to be a part of God’s work in this area. My wife and I are quickly feeling at home. We are looking forward to getting to know you, and to that end, please feel free to contact me and set up a sit down together. My cell number and email are at the bottom of this letter. Feel free to call, text or email me.
Rev. Christopher S. Haden
Pastor at Aloma UMC