Showing posts from July, 2018

Appointed to a Zip Code with a Church in It

I can't remember the year that Bishop Goodpaster challenged all of us on Sunday of Annual Conference to think of our appointment to a "zip code, that just happens to have a church in it." But, I still think of that sermon on a regular basis.

As I met with him regularly while on the conference staff, he reiterated that point regularly with clergy and laity across the conference.

It was a different way to think about the church and its mission.  It was an idea that has resonated with me for a long time.

I believe that the local church is the primary place where disciples are made and nurtured.  But, I also believe that the local church exists to make a difference in its community, and is to always be focused outward on the surrounding community as its mission field.

Here are some things I have discovered about the mission field where I have been sent:
Terrell is a town of about 1000 people, with one stop light, a post office, a few businesses, and it has a strong rural fee…

The View Out My Window

My new church is a historic place.

It dates back to 1789, and is considered the first Methodist Church west of the Catawba River in North Carolina.

Out my office window is a cemetery filled with history.  The first settlers in the wilds of North Carolina with names like Sherrill and Beatty lie in rest (thus Sherrills Ford and Beatties Ford are common landmarks in these parts).

Out in one corner of the cemetery near the large oak tree is the grave of Daniel Asbury, the circuit rider who started Methodism on the frontier in western North Carolina.

Asbury (no family relation to Francis) had quite a story.  Born in 1762, he was raised in Fairfax County, Virginia, and at age 16 he went to Kentucky taking provisions to a frontier fort.  He was captured by Shawnee Indians, and was taken out west, then to Canada and later was turned over to the British at a fort in Detroit during the Revolutionary War.

He was released and found his way back to Virginia, where he was converted and became a Me…

First Sunday (Weekend)

I celebrated my first Sunday at Rehobeth UMC on July 15th. (Better said, my first weekend).

That first weekend started on Wednesday evening as the bell choir gathered for a practice, followed by choir practice.

There was special music planned for my first Sunday, so I did not  stay and listen, but I did get to meet Jean Sheets, the 89 year old mother of our choir director, Carol Graham.  What a bundle of joy in her short frame.

The following day, as I was working on the details for Sunday, and about to go to my first committee meeting, I get a call from the family that Jean had died unexpectedly on Thursday morning.

In a moment, my first Sunday got more complicated.  Our musicians would not be available, we added a service to Sunday afternoon, and we worked through all kinds of calendar issues to do what Miss Jean would have wanted.

This is when I discovered what a grace-filled church Rehobeth truly is.  I saw folks turn out in droves on Saturday evening for visitation that was held …

Transition Sunday

Today is known as "Transition Sunday" in Western North Carolina.  In United Methodist churches with new pastors, it is a Sunday break before things kick-off for the first full week in the office and the first Sunday in the pulpit on July 15th.

I remember the old days when you moved on a Tuesday and entered the pulpit on Sunday, and there was not much of a chance to catch a breath.

Today has been one to breathe.

I got up early as I do most Sundays, got dressed and drove around the community a bit before showing up at Denver UMC for their 8:15 am service.

There are at least a dozen (or more) United Methodist Churches in the communities surrounding us that you can drive to in 10-15 minutes.  I passed a couple of our churches on the way to Denver.

It makes you stop and think, "How do folks make the choice to attend one church over another when there are so many close by?"

I met a few folks at Denver this morning that drive past my new church to get to their church. Wh…

What does "Welcome" look like?

We have been at the new appointment for a little over 24 hours.  It is now the evening of the 4th of July, and we just finished our first cookout on the back deck of the new parsonage.  It is an evening to give thanks...and to ponder what "Welcome" looks like...

It is a lawn full of cars of folks who came to help unload a moving truck on a warm afternoon (warm is being generous based on the sweltering heat).It is a refrigerator and counter full of food that is easy to prepare and eat during the first few days in a new home.  A check that covers the difference between the standard moving allowance and the actual cost of hiring a moving company to handle the major portion of the move.A kitchen full of folks helping unpack dishes and household items and taking directions from someone they just met.A parsonage committee that did a bang-up job of preparing a house for occupancy.  After many moves over the years, I have never seen a parsonage file so detailed and comprehensive.  I…