Please scroll down to read updates regarding the appointment of United Methodist clergy at LUMC. The most recent information is at the top.
May 18, 2023
Kim Taussig, Chairperson, Staff Parish Relations Committee
Littleton United Methodist Church
Dear Members and Friends of Littleton United Methodist Church,
I am excited to share with you that Bishop Karen Oliveto, in consultation with the Mountain Sky Cabinet and the Littleton UMC Staff Parish Relations Committee, is announcing her intention to appoint the Rev. Tezenlo Thong as your new Minister, as of July 1, 2023.
Rev. Tezenlo comes to Littleton UMC after serving six years as a District Superintendent in the Mountain Sky Conference. Prior to serving as a District Superintendent, Rev. Tezenlo served Simpson UMC in Arvada, and Vineland UMC in Pueblo. Prior to coming to the United States, Tezenlo served churches in South Korea and India. Tezenlo, his wife Han, and their children are excited to be joining the Littleton community, and look forward to starting their ministry with the church on August 1, 2023.
You will all be in my prayers as you say goodbye to Rev. Tom and welcome Rev. Tezenlo. This is an important time to be in transition and welcome a new leader, and I am grateful for your openness and excitement about what is next for the Littleton United Methodist Church.
Grace and Blessings,
Rev. Jessica Rooks
Mile High Metro District
Mountain Sky Conference
May 11, 2023
To Our LUMC Family,
Over the past few months, church leadership has been working to identify and alleviate some financial pressures within the church. While LUMC weathered the pandemic reasonably well in terms of finances, there are longer-term trends that have raised significant concerns regarding both giving revenue and cash flow. In February, we took the step of temporarily suspending our payments in support of the greater United Methodist Church (known as “apportionments”) until the revenue and cash flow concerns could be better understood. This provides some short-term relief in terms of both budget and cash flow. To provide some context, our average monthly apportionment payment has been around $5,500 (each payment is based upon the financial giving of the previous month).
To address the longer-term trends, and to help us move God’s ministry forward in this post-pandemic time, these are the steps we have already taken:
- When John Ostermiller retired as our Business Manager, his position was divided into two basic parts: facilities management and financial management. Al Larson came on board in a half-time position to handle our facility. Financial management was partially outsourced to a contractor who is an expert on the financial tracking system that we use, and partially kept in-house under the supervision of Pat Wojahn with some tasks falling to our Director of Office Administration, Kristyn Johnson. This has resulted in some internal cost savings already, and we anticipate those savings to continue – or even increase – as time passes.
- Planning is underway to freshen the vision of LUMC’s ministry. We’ve been doing background work that provides insights into the shifts that are occurring in our local community. Work is also being done to survey our congregation to understand how all of us feel about the ministry that is being done in – and through – this church.
- We are organizing a team that will coordinate our financial stewardship efforts. For the past three years, Rev. Barlow has handled this process largely on his own; while the results have been positive (particularly in light of the pandemic and economic challenges), this is not a one-person task, and we look forward to seeing the fruit of this new team’s work.
While we look forward to the longer-term results of the work that has already started, we are mindful that Methodism is a system which deeply values the interconnectedness of all UM churches and ministries. We also recognize that our financial giving to the United Methodist Church (through the Mountain Sky Conference) is an essential part of that. Resuming our apportionment payments is a high priority.
On Thursday, May 4th, a group of leaders (all laity) met with our District Superintendent, Rev. Jessica Rooks, to discuss the best path forward. After reviewing the church’s financial information, all were in agreement that the best course of action is to make an adjustment to our staffing level. Beginning July 1st, our Associate Pastor position will be reduced to a half-time appointment. This is a significant financial savings for the church, and helps to ease both budgetary and cash-flow pressures.
Our District Superintendent is actively working with the Bishop and the Appointive Cabinet to secure a full-time appointment for Rev. Amos Kariuki, who has served as our Associate Pastor for the last two years. As an Ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church, Rev. Amos is guaranteed to have the opportunity for a full-time appointment during each conference year.
We are thankful for Rev. Amos’ leadership and participation in our Care Team, Senior Adult, New Member, Outreach and other ministries in the past two years. Please join us in praying for God’s hand to be visible in the process of appointing him to his next ministry setting.
Our District Superintendent is also actively working to find a half-time clergyperson to serve as our Associate Pastor. We hope to have more information on this position soon, and the goal is to have this person in place at the beginning of the appointment year, which is July 1.
Please be assured that the Staff-Parish Relations Committee will work carefully with our new clergy to ensure that all pastoral needs of the congregation will be met.
We will soon have an update regarding the appointment of our new Senior Pastor as well. As Rev. Barlow moves to his new appointment at the Iliff School of Theology, we are thankful for his ministry during the unique challenges of the past three years and wish him well as he embarks on this new adventure.
The decision to move to a half-time Associate Pastor appointment was not made lightly. This was made in consultation with our District Superintendent, who noted that there are other churches in the Metro area who have found it necessary to do the same thing during this appointment cycle. The financial issues that churches are experiencing in this post-pandemic economy are challenging, and these changes are sometimes necessary.
We have attached a separate page which provides answers to some questions that have surfaced as this was presented to the Staff-Parish Relations Committee, the Finance Committee, and the Administrative Council.
We invite your prayers as we move forward into a future with new ideas, new clergy leadership, and new opportunities for ministry in the world.
Chair, Administrative Council
Co-Chair, Staff-Parish Relations Committee
Acting Financial Secretary
In the face of our current financial challenges, why haven’t we done a new stewardship drive (or a request for second-mile giving) to make up the difference?
This financial challenge has been brewing for several years, starting before the pandemic and before Rev. Barlow’s arrival. In order to find a place of long-term sustainability, it is necessary to take the steps mentioned earlier (cost-cutting, strategic planning and visioning, and stronger approach to stewardship involving a team of people), and those will take time to implement. There is no short-term fix to this long-term trend; rather, the actions that we are taking are the beginnings of the long-term solution that is intended to return LUMC to a more stable financial position.
Will we have the opportunity to return to a full-time Associate Pastor in the future?
Yes, once our financial position supports such a move.
Years ago, we had some retired clergy who did much of the work of our current Associate Pastor. Is that an option?
Perhaps. This could be an option for the future, and might be an effective use of our financial resources. We are aware of this history, and that has been part of our conversation with our District Superintendent as well.
Why can’t we make up the short-term deficit from the church’s endowment?
We did make a withdrawal of $93,800 from the endowment in 2022. There are significant (and well-founded) concerns about doing this in consecutive years, and even with the endowment withdrawal last year, the revenue that we received through giving still fell significantly short of our expenses – by around $100,000. Considering the economic conditions of the past three years, the endowment has done reasonably well, and continues to gain in value. However, our long-term goal must be financial stability without requiring annual endowment withdrawals.
While our endowment is not technically restricted to capital expenses as is the case with many church endowments, repeatedly supporting the general fund of the church with endowment funds is not healthy or sustainable. We look to our visioning and stewardship programs – and continued financial savings where we can do so without impairing the church’s ability to provide ministry – to take us into a healthier financial future.