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Reasons to Give Thanks to God

This is the week leading up to Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year! I have a tradition of listing at least 100 specific blessings each year. In the coming days, I will be listing all the reasons to give thanks in 2018. My personal blessings and family blessings are too numerous to count this year. In addition to my family and personal blessings, I will also name blessings from our congregation. These blessings too have been off the chart this year! Here are a few sample blessings on my mind as I write for this article.

We began the year blessed with an incredible journey of 21 days of prayer, fasting, witness, and worship. Our church is still being impacted by this blessing and we are pleased to announce we will offer twenty-one days of worship, fasting, and prayer as we begin 2019!

We are blessed this weekend! Our church is SENDING 25 people to Lynn Haven United Methodist Church in Panama City to prepare and provide a Thanksgiving Dinner for their entire congregation. This lunch will follow morning worship at Lynn Haven and provide for hundreds of worshipers. Let us give thanks to Chef Heyward for leading this team in providing a deed of shalom from our church to another! Thank you to our congregation for your generosity making this possible!

Let us give thanks for hundreds and even thousands of “deeds of shalom” done through our congregation this year. We have made a spiritual impact with both small and large deeds to help and encourage others in our community. Our witness for Christ has shined brightly this year. Thanks be to God!

I’m so grateful for our other pastors, staff, and laity that do amazing things every week in Reaching, Teaching, and Sending in the name of Jesus. Our worship services have been inspiring all year! Our REACH has increased this year. The baptisms and reaffirmations of baptism through our church have increased this year.

Thank you for new staff members in 2018 to minister to our youth and children David Garvin, Jennifer Guidoni, and Dawn Rozosky. I’m also grateful for Steve Larson and the blessings he brings as our new Church Administrator. I’m grateful for the impact they are having in just a matter of months.

I’m grateful for new Lay Leadership that has stepped in and up in 2018! Our Alive at Shalimar event identified some great opportunities. We have six new teams pursuing six priorities moving into the New Year. I am grateful for all our excited Lay Leadership and the new things that are springing forth!

We have reason to give thanks for the addition of the Presbyterian Church next door purchase. Now the new property is called Cross Corner and we give thanks to God for this new addition to our campus. This addition could only come through the Hand of God!

I’m grateful for our congregation that says often God is at work now and anticipating a major move of God is coming through Shalimar United Methodist Church. Let it be so!

These are just some of the reasons to give thanks for our congregation. Many of you could fill this page with how Shalimar has blessed you this year. On this weekend, may we consecrate our 2019 Will You Grow Commitments with a spirit of thanksgiving in our hearts! May all in our congregation have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!


Posted by Philip McVay with
in Teach

Cardboard City


I know you wanted a few of the kids testimonies. While they are fresh on my mind.  

We started the night with a meager meal of rice and beans. Some of the kids were not so happy but they tried it and ate some because they knew that would be it. To get into the city you had your bags searched to make sure no games, candy, or phones were present. The night was an educational night . The kids would have 30 minutes outside designing their city and then 30 minutes inside learning about homelessness.

  1. Ate our meager meal
  2. Prayer. We prayed over all of the kids for safety on their journey through homelessness. They watched a homeless man give his testimony and how scared he was sometimes. If he fell asleep people who were not so nice sometimes stole from him. He was always tired, cold and hungry
  3. 90 works representative Michael came and gave an educational talk to allow them to learn about the process of becoming self-sufficient.
  4. We watched the viral video about people who gave to the homeless things they needed from amazon. We then made cards to encourage the new members of 90 works who were in there new homes.

Each time in between we made our cardboard city.

By 12 midnight all were asleep. Only two needed to use the cold shelter we made for their comfort.

Neveah- She wanted everyone to know Homeless have dreams and hopes like us. She also made the small cakes box and said small cakes should give homeless people free cupcakes because that would be a real treat for them. 

Rihanna- She wanted to let everyone know that we are no different than people who are homeless. That we could be one paycheck away from being there ourselves. It is just a situation that happened and it can get better.

C.J. – He wanted us to know the God loves us all the same. No matter what the persons status we have the same love of God.

Lorenzo- He wanted people to know we can hire the Homeless and help them get better. Most really want to move on and have success.

Alexa- We need to consider others and think of how they might feel. We can make a difference with giving and helping.

Jackson- You don’t get much sleep when you are homeless. You move around a lot and people and not always nice to you.

River- God loves you no matter what. Homeless is just a situation not who you are.

Esperanza- We all have stuff to deal with. God still is with us through the stuff.

Charlie- I made a movie theater. I would like the homeless to be able to go into theaters and enjoy a movie. Something they don’t get to do. I would like people to treat them nicer.

Charlotte- We felt what it was like but they live it. We need to help others so they get help. Learning to use their money needs to be part of the lessons we teach them as well. 

 As you see each got something different out of this event. It was so helpful for the awareness. Part of the journey was now to tell what you learned. It was required as part of the journey to stay till 12:30 to educate the public so although we were tired and cranky we stayed and gave all we had to educate the public.

Jennifer Guidoni



Posted by Jennifer Guidoni with


This week we focus on the “GROW” part of the phrase with our WILL YOU
GROW campaign. God does not give us life to become static but rather to
grow. We are challenging everyone in our congregation to grow! Our capacity to grow never ends. We are never too young or old to grow. There are endless frontiers to grow as a person in knowledge, wisdom, and love. In the spiritual life, we are seeking to be more like Jesus. We seek to GROW in our discipleship and His teachings. We, as a church, seek to grow in REACH,
TEACH, and SEND in both numbers of people impacted and disciples made
through our church.

One other important area to never grow complacent is to grow in generosity. Growing in generosity helps you grow both individually and as a disciple. In addition, we have a need in our heart to give. All of us growing in our generosity helps the church flourish! Our WILL YOU GROW campaign is challenging us all to grow in our giving for the Lord!

Over the past 33 years, Karen and I have grown in our giving. We have learned and experienced God’s blessings early in our marriage, when we began tithing (10% of our total income). As a pastor of a brand new church start, I witnessed first-hand not only the personal blessings of tithing but also how the church grew as the entire church grew in generosity.

This year Karen and I have had our conversation and are committing to
increasing our weekly giving for 2019. We already give more than 10% of our total income. In preparation for 2019 we will increase our weekly generosity and take another step forward. Karen and I will grow and we invite each of you to grow as well.

Finally, I would ask you to take a moment and think about the reasons we have to give thanks to God. As we continue WILL YOU GROW, take a few moments and reflect on how God has blessed you. Our generosity will grow as our gratitude grows. God has blessed us and we cannot out give God! May our gratitude lead the way of our generosity!


Posted by Philip McVay with

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