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AP Nazarene Church Missions Giving 2013

Retirees in Florida church give 300 percent to missions
By Gina Grate Pottenger
February 15, 2013

At Avon Park Church of the Nazarene, in the retirement community of Avon Park, Florida, U.S., it should come as no surprise that most members of the church are living in their retirement years. This is why it may surprise some to find out how much this church gives to missions.

Running an average attendance of about 80 to 90 people, with the average age being around 80 years old, this church consistently raises about $25,000 for their annual
Faith Promise mission offering.
And that’s above and beyond the 5.5 percent of their annual expenditures that they’re already giving to the denomination’s
World Evangelism Fund (WEF). In all, the church’s giving totals often more than 300 percent of their 5.5 percent budget.
Pastor Randy Rupert, who has been leading the church for the past five years, says the congregation has long had a heart for missions, and that he continues to reinforce that by keeping missions in front of the church year round, not just during the monthly missions meetings they have on Wednesday nights.
“It’s not about your church, it’s not about us, it’s about others,” he said. He tells them, “Missions isn’t just a part of the church; a church IS missions.”
Avon Park, which began in 1925, has a long legacy of mission giving and involvement. It continued when, in Rupert's first four years as pastor, the church set a four-year goal to raise $29,865; actual contributions soared to $65,833.

The church doesn’t stop at sacrificial giving, but expresses its passion through attending monthly mission services, praying and contributing to district-wide mission projects, such as the time it collected hundreds of pairs of children’s shoes toward the district’s project to deliver thousands of shoes to children in Haiti or contributed to the building of a church and school in Gros-Morne, Haiti (picture right).
The church also frequently sends members to participate in
Work & Witness trips organized by the district or other churches. When the participants return, they host a meeting to show pictures, talk about what they saw and experienced and pass around trinkets they picked up while on the trip, said lay member David Coller.
It’s sending out members on these trips, so that they experience first-hand what God is doing in missions, that keeps things “fresh” at the church, said Coller, who recently returned from a mission trip to Haiti.
It’s keeping their pulse on missions that enables the church members to give well beyond their means to World Evangelism Fund – and to be excited about it.
Each year at the Faith Promise service in which the members pledge their annual mission gift to WEF, they plug in lights along a board to show the progress of the pledges. Within about give minutes, the church usually hits the $20,000 mark.
“Once we reach our $20,000 goal, the place erupts in cheers and claps and it’s that kind of an atmosphere,” Coller said. “It’s not one of the places that we have to struggle to get a passion for mission.”
“Our people are not rich by any means, in fact most of them are on Social Security, but we do what we can and this we can do well,” Rupert added.