dorean elabote, dorean dote. Given Gifts – Give Gifts. (Matthew 10:8b).
The above quote in Greek is the motto of the Theological School of Drew University. Our hymnal translates Jesus’ teaching as “freely you have received, freely give” (The United Methodist Hymnal: 1988, #389). Dr. Robert Bull, my advisor and Patristics professor, intimidated us by translating the motto “those to whom much is given, even more will be expected.” I am most comfortable with a reading offered by the late Dr. Jack Beaudean and Dean Thomas Ogletree: “given gifts – give gifts.” Most importantly for this meeting tonight, I offer you what is my statement of mission at NUMC. As a person gifted for ordained ministry, I am privileged to work among a people who are growing in faith, in fellowship, in service, and in Christ. One of my discoveries in four months of ministry is that we are indeed “blessed to be a blessing.”
In the four months since I arrived in Nashville I have visited in over 65 homes, have made numerous other pastoral visits, presided at two weddings, a funeral, and one raucous baptism. Our worship life is enhanced by a gracious people and a bevy of gifted musicians – organists, pianists, and choir members. Our growth in faith is enhanced by a strong Sunday School program. I am excited to have 30 people in Cokesbury’s new Christian Believer program. The Wednesday night meals is providing a needed place for folks to fellowship together and help our children and youth mature in the Christian life. Missions and community outreach make a distinctive mark for NUMC. Whether we are welcoming children from Belarussia, hosting folks overnight with the Interfaith Hospitality Network, or responding to the victims of Hurricane Floyd, we see our church growing in our love for neighbor. Our witness team is following up with first time visitors and I am beginning to make headway with this list as well. Look for some fresh ideas in advertising to come into view in the coming weeks as we lead to our special Advent and Christmas services. I do not have to mention our youth program – you know of its strength.
Growth also brings many challenges to us. The finance committee is in the midst of making a difficult journey as we make a transition to Bradley and Berry, P.A. as our treasurer and financial secretary. I celebrate Raymond Batchelor’s careful stewardship of our resources. You will begin to discover in the coming weeks how careful he was as the Trustees lead us in considering the cash purchase of the Van Dorp and Davis properties on the other side of Hilliard Street. Our building committee is making headway on a facility that allows us to grow into the next millennia. We anticipate that many will challenge us to make our new fellowship hall, child day-care space, kitchen, and administrative areas something that enhances the “streetscape” of Washington Street. Finally, we will be beginning a new worship service in the coming year and we need the gifts of many of NUMC’s saints to launch this new ministry.
Within the Methodist connection I serve as a member of the Conference Commission on Congregational Development. With Jim Boehm and Anne King (First UMC, Rocky Mount), I teach DISCIPLE I Bible Study at Fountain Correctional Institute for Women. I also serve as the spiritual director for the Heart of Carolina Chysalis Community, was the spiritual director for a Chrysalis flight in July, and anticipate serving as an assistant spiritual director for the Heart of Carolina Walk to Emmaus in the coming year.
I am blessed to join in service in this community with a minister of youth and education who is growing in her calling to the ordained ministry. If the equation E=mc² is true then she is the speed of light squared that balances my mass. Cindy Pike is pure contagious energy. Our raiding party to First UMC (Rocky Mount) found success when we met Adonna Dickerson. She brings a marvelous gift and tremendous passion for excellence to our music program. Cindy, Ann, William, and I are blessed to serve in ministry with Cindy, Bob, Casey, Bryce, and Aaron Pike and Adonna, Den, and Taylor Dickerson. To their names, I add the great blessing I receive from retired colleagues Lester and Henrietta Jackson and Sidney and Katherine Boone. We also continue to pray for Scott Smallwood and his family as they serve the Red Oak UMC.
I am truly blessed to live among the saints and sinners of Nashville United Methodist Church.