Looking back on 2022, I see God’s grace all over our church family. We’ve seen so many prayers answered! We’ve seen so many people grow in their faith and step into greater acts of service.
Many of our ministries that were forced to the back burner during the pandemic have started to come back, to find new innovations, and to thrive.
There’s so much more – I could go on and on!
Thank you for being faithful to your Heavenly Father and His church. Thank you for serving, giving, and praying for this ministry. I’m so excited about the future of our local church and God’s mission for us. With your help, we’ll see much more good done in Jesus’ name in St. Louis.
We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father.
– Colossians 1:11
Colossians 1:11 was one of our theme verses on the board this year. As your elder board, we spent time working on and praying for us all to have endurance, patience, and joy amid struggles as we continue to feel the effects that COVID has had on the church and community. We were also thankful for the time
spent with the Crossroads Resolution Group to help us see the “plank in our own eye” and help encourage others to not let bitterness take root in their hearts as we deal with conflict and differing opinions. This year on the board we tried to follow God’s leading in a few areas:
We are thankful for another year of God’s faithfulness in and through FFC. We are especially grateful for all of you and for the love, service, and prayers you have poured into our church over this past year. Please continue to pray and seek God in the new year as we would like to focus on reaching out into our neighborhoods and bringing a renewed joy of community within First Free this next year!
Your 2022 Elder Board:
Adam Bowers, Senior Pastor
Bill Peskorse, Vice Chair
Ben Thomas, Chair
Todd Yeager, Secretary
The funeral team at First Free is an important part of our care ministry. This team of volunteers demonstrates God’s love by serving bereaved families. Tasks include setting up, greeting guests, serving meals, cleaning up, and responding to needs as they arise the day of the funeral. In 2022, this team brought compassion and hope to several families facing the tragedy of losing a loved one.
It was great to hear about the care that happened in the Rooted groups in 2022. The weeks that focused on overcoming strongholds in life and serving others helped so many people find hope and peace.
Increasing the compassion, care, and support that First Free provides for those in our church and those in the community.
The official launch of our partnership with Compassion International was a big deal for First Free, but there’s a lot of behind the scenes work that goes into big events like our Compassion International launch (that we tied together with The Compassion Journey and our Spring Carnival). We have lots of meetings and drafts and collaboration and it’s so rewarding when all of that background work comes together for an awesome event!
It never hurts to triple-check all of the details. 😉
Increased collaboration with Tech & Worship!
We’ve added 30 new volunteers to our ministry! We have new families coming all of the time, and these new volunteers are very welcome additions to the team as we seek to provide a warm welcome to our church.
Our team learned important information on handling emergency situations inside the auditorium and around the campus.
We’re excited to be launching a new branch of our ministry – Section Hosts!
Disappointing, but hopeful. Almost all of our major all-church events, concerts, etc. were either postponed or canceled altogether, so it was a difficult year for events. At the beginning of the year, we still had no idea when this would end or what it would look like for events following the pandemic. We are still not out of the woods, but I’m excited for events to hopefully return in 2022!
Highlights included the spring carnival with Kid Connection, the summer picnics when we were finally able to get back together in person, the Cookout for a Cause which provided 350 lbs of food to our ministry partner Circle of Concern, the Chosen Christmas Special, and closing out the year by bringing Cookies and Cocoa back for Christmas Eve!
I’m looking forward to the possibility of hosting concerts and large outside events once again! They are always such an exciting way to bring the church together, the community together, and they give us the opportunity to meet people who may never set foot in our building otherwise.
From a team that works primarily behind the scenes, we enjoy helping the many ministries around First Free. We get to see many people throughout the week and interact with all the ministries in different ways. It is a win for us when people can come together and not be distracted by the building.
After an eventful year, and with a strong team, we have learned a lot about teamwork. We have grown as a department and make it a point to help each other out whenever possible. With the ups and down from the past year, God has been working through our team and we learn more and more everyday that he is in control and to trust him.
We are most looking forward to a reopening of the Main Lobby of the church. It has been a year of patience as we worked with county officials to make sure that our building is up to the highest standards and up to date on all codes. We should start seeing some movement forward soon!
We’ve had approximately 300 people complete the Rooted experience in this first year and have heard some great stories of transformation from this experience.
I’m just a year & a half into my role here, so I feel like I’m still learning most things: people’s names, getting to know our existing group and other ministry leaders, and the overall culture of First Free. It’s been a fun, if sometimes challenging, year!
Launching new groups, both existing types of groups (Sunday AM, small groups, men’s/women’s) and also new types (Life Transformation groups), to help connect all of the new people God continues to bring to First Free. To do this, we’ll need new leaders to step up, so I’m looking forward to hearing from you! 🙂
We have expanded our Staff Team and increased our Volunteer Team, all of whom are teaching the Bible through a new and interactive curriculum each and every week to the kids! If you’ve never been downstairs during service, you’re missing out – the energy is awesome!
Having a crew of college-aged Summer Staff brings a whole bunch of excitement and energy to KC. Oh, and pineapples explode really well when dropped from a 40-foot lift! (IYKYK)
In 2023, we’re looking forward to more new faces walking through the door, more fun and engaging events with our church and neighboring community, and continued in-depth study of the Bible for all ages.
Our team covers so many areas that it’s hard to choose just one! So you’ll have to excuse us if we give you two answers.
First, we were excited to add a new benefit for our staff. Full Strength Network is a non-profit organization that believes that healthy leaders are vital for leading healthy churches, and healthy churches change the world. They are dedicated to supporting ministry leaders in their spiritual, emotional, relational, physical, intellectual, and financial heath. Through generous donations, they are able to provide counseling and coaching to church staff for a minimal cost. First Free is sharing the cost of an annual membership for any staff member who would like to join, and it has been enthusiastically received by our staff.
Second, we have improved our recording of special contributions. Donors who give through donor-advised funds or from their IRAs can now view those donations through their Church Center account, whereas in the past, these donations were tracked manually in a separate system.
Our team is all about processes! This year we leveraged some new features in our form-building software to streamline the processes for benevolence requests and ministry volunteer reimbursements. This helps us to work faster and more efficiently in two important areas of ministry.
This year we learned how important it is to be flexible and follow where God is already at work.
We are looking forward to refreshing our missionary care teams by having a group of people devoted to praying for and communicating with each of our missionaries.
The willingness of our county Emergency Services to support and work with us has been phenomenal! They are just as dedicated to work with us on preparedness as they are to respond to us in a real emergency.
We are excited to continue to develop and practice our safety protocols here at First Free, and are motivated to work with police and fire on a couple of initiatives intended to raise safety awareness within the congregation and the local community.
We are beginning the process to recruit pastors to oversee Junior High, Senior High, and Family Ministries, including Kid Connection. During the interim period, we are relying on leadership teams to lead Junior High and Summit. These leadership teams will be led directly by Pastors Andrew Miller in Junior High and Kevin Krosley in Summit. Both have worked extensively in these ministries and have significant experience and wisdom to bring to the teams. As God allows, we hope to see all three roles filled within the next year with godly people who will lead these ministries well. Please be praying for our Student Ministries leaders and students during this transition!
With a healthy team and good communication, nothing is unattainable. As I mentioned above, we were able to challenge ourselves to accomplish new creative elements we didn’t know were possible for our team. We also learned we need to lean on other ministries for support and not just be the support all the time. A lot of things were kept in balance because we had other ministries helping us out.
We are looking forward to seeing what God is going to do within our ministry. We have some big goals this year to help better support other ministries, add more creative elements to our services, and to organize and clean our areas to be sure we are being good stewards of the equipment and budget that we have been provided.
I’ve had a chance to step into a new role as the pastor of worship ministries at First Free, and I’ve learned how important it is to lead in the context of a strong team. I’m so thankful for the wisdom, leadership, and pastoral heart of our worship leadership team (worship leaders Alec Biggs, Jason Fahey, and Stephen Kruse, technical director Martin Becktol, and senior pastor Adam Bowers). The heart, passion, and creativity of this team provides the leadership to guide us into worship each Sunday. I’m so blessed to serve alongside such excellent leaders, and they’ve taught me that strong teams are essential to strong leadership.
Worshiping with our congregation on Sunday mornings is one of the highlights of my week, and I can’t wait to worship Him together in 2023! We will have some special opportunities to do this next year – including a worship together service for families, some special prayer services, and several baptism celebrations. We’re also excited to grow our worship in terms of depth, creativity, and excellence. We want to bring our God all that we are for His glory in 2023!
We baptized 42 people this year!
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