June 12, 2016

Pastor Letter

As we complete this season of ministry together, I am so grateful for the journey we have shared, the lives we have touched, the neighbors we have befriended and the community we have empowered. In these last months with my health developments, I have been blessed to receive your care and concern. I know I go forward in peace and thankfulness for the community we share.

As I reflect on our time together, I have been reviewing the “primary outcome” we named for our work together. Together we have been seeking to nurture “vital disciples,” using the phrase, A vital disciple is: rooted in the "Word," nurtured by relationships and grounded in the spirit. Vital disciples use their gifts in loving their neighbors. I want to celebrate the variety of ways in which you are building vital disciples.

Rooted in the “Word”
I have seen our Los Altos UMC family help in forming vital disciples as we foster roots in the “Word;” as we gather in worship, in the Sunday Bible Study class and at the Inn where each week disciples of all ages engage a different scripture passage. I celebrate our small group ministries, where disciples seek to listen for Jesus’ call in scripture, or the UMW hosting the “How is it with Your Soul” class and the Monday Night (now Tuesday morning) studies with Rev. Larsen and 4 years of Pastors Forum study/conversations which I was blessed to lead.

Nurtured in relationships
I have marveled at the connections and mutual support that are building vital disciples: from small groups throughout our congregation to the ensembles that enhance our worship, from mom’s and grandma groups to Wednesday night age level small groups, from UMW circles, to service teams.

Grounded in the Spirit
(In Wesley’s “3 simple rules” this is the “stay in love with God” rule)

Vital disciples are being shaped and renewed as our community continues to expand the way in which we practice what Wesley called the “ordinary means of grace.” In our worship life together, we continue to experience the renewal of the spirit in each of our diverse worship settings. Our caring ministry teams continue to surround us in prayer, shawls, quilts and assuring presence and visits.

Using our gifts in loving our neighbor
There is not enough room to list the ways in which we are employing the gifts of God’s children, youth, young adults and adults (mature and not so mature) in a witness to love: from feeding ministries to justice ministries, from language empowerment to alternatives to incarceration, from fighting malaria to surrounding orphans with care.

My prayers will attend you as you deepen and broaden the means by which you grow as a vital discipling community. With a grateful heart.

Pastor Mark Ulrickson