There are so many things we share – our love for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, our commitment to transforming lives through his hope and holiness and our passion to care for the most vulnerable members of our society, our children and their families. We also share a journey that has lasted for years as we have together ministered in countless ways to and through Hephzibah Ministries.
We are in a season of transition for Hephzibah Ministries. And, while there is hope and need for a new grassroots and more far-reaching ministry model, concerns also exist. Many of you have been faithful to reach out to various Board of Directors and Hephzibah staff members with your questions. Your questions have been heard, and I write you today speaking from my heart as a fellow traveler and one who loves the ministry that is Hephzibah.
Many people are confused about the “suddenness” of the January 17 announcement. The Hephzibah Board of Directors has wrestled with the viability of the current ministry model for several years. While we were able to make ends meet for this time, a “perfect storm” of costs related to staffing, building maintenance and increasing government regulations finally resulted in more costs than could be absorbed. It was in early January that the Board realized it had to take immediate action in order to preserve the hope of a future ministry through Hephzibah.
Shirley Duncan gave us permission to share her thoughts with you. They are as follows:
“Sometimes God guides us in new directions. We may not understand why or what it will look like, but we know that God sees the end from the beginning and that we can trust him. Please pray with me as we seek God’s clear direction as to how we move forward in continuing the ministry of Hephzibah. Where the Lord guides, he provides! For 118 years, he has shown to be faithful.”
Many of you have supported Hephzibah financially and are wondering if you should continue. Please continue to give. We want to steward well the 210 acres of land and facilities owned by Hephzibah until the moment they are released into the care of others. We must also position Hephzibah to flourish in the future, and what a future we are imagining!
Operational expenses still exist – utilities, staff salaries, etc. need to be paid, grounds need to be mowed and buildings need to be repaired. Because we also want to ensure funding is available for re-visioning and the resulting ministry model, effective March 1, Hephzibah donations can be placed in a restricted re-visioning fund so your giving is secure for the future expanded ministry of Hephzibah.
The realtor search is progressing with strong indications of buyer interest. Revenue from the sale of Hephzibah assets will be used, along with your continued financial support, to seed the re-visioned ministry model. Continue to pray as the Task Force identifies the multiple ways Hephzibah Ministries will serve vulnerable youth and families across geographic boundaries.
The past few weeks have been filled with disappointment, challenges and confusion. Hephzibah is a complex ministry organization. The past few weeks have also been filled with God’s overwhelming presence, power and peace. We can be confident in our God and, as Shirley stated earlier, it is in God that we put our trust.
We have traveled together many years serving our Lord by serving others through Hephzibah Ministries. We as the Hephzibah Board of Directors are convinced that Hephzibah Ministries will continue for years to come reaching even more of those individuals who have little hope and less voice.
Please stand with us as we together seek God’s will for the future of Hephzibah Ministries. We are earnestly trying to keep in step with God moving appropriately to transition well and allowing time for God to speak into our re-visioning so that it is God who shapes the vision and not us. As you know, all we strive to do is for his glory.
Dan Berry (Hephzibah Board of Directors Chair)
Jerry Lumston, Jr. (Hephzibah Board of Directors Vice Chair)
P.S. Please join us for the 2018 Great Smoky Mountain Gathering April 16-20! The registration deadline has been extended to March 15, so there is still time to secure your place. In addition to the wonderful program already planned, there will be dedicated time for prayer, sharing the journey leading to the January 17 announcement and a re-visioning update. Call Rachael Briones (478-477-3383, ext. 209) to register. We sincerely hope to see you there.