First United Methodist Church
Hughes Springs, Texas
|Volume 6||June 2016|
When I was pastor at Trinity UMC in Longview, we had an opportunity to be involved in an important ministry. We were working with a women’s shelter on Hwy 80 which was a wonderful ministry, but the building they occupied seemed like a dangerous firetrap. Our church had an empty building that was detached from the main church building, was practically new, and was not being used. The City was pressuring the mission to make some improvements required by code or cease occupying the building. It looked like the mission might be forced out of their building so the church started talking about the possibility of using our empty building for the women’s shelter.
Unfortunately, when we tried to get an occupancy permit we discovered that there were requirements that we could not afford either. I was trying to negotiate with the City over the requirements when the church changed its mind and decided not to pursue use of the building for that purpose. I was very disappointed and felt we might have missed a chance to do real ministry that would not come along every day.
Not long after I was disappointed over the missed opportunity for the women’s shelter, the church decided to start a food pantry using donated canned goods. The first Saturday we put out a sign and set up a table in the parking lot and six cars pulled in and were given a sack of food. Before long we grew to the point that a long line of people would be waiting in line for us to open the doors. We helped feed approximately 150 families each month with a substantial amount of food obtained through the East Texas Food Bank. We were able to minister to the food pantry clients in other ways as well, and we gained new church members. Some new members first came to get food and then got involved in the church. Others came because they saw what the ministry was doing and wanted to be part of it. That ministry continues to this day and has gained the support of other area churches, scouts and civic groups so that this tiny church can continue this remarkable ministry. The empty building was soon needed for freezers, refrigerators, food storage and assembly areas. The building is still used for food pantry needs. The food pantry could not have grown into the ministry it has become if the building space had not been available.
During this period while the food pantry was growing, I was spraying weeds in the parking lot one Thursday morning when a man (I’ll call him Luke) walked up to me. He was pretty rough looking and was sweating heavily since he had walked several miles up and down Gilmer Road looking for work. Because of the area where the church was located, we frequently had people come to us asking for money and that was what I expected him to do.
As we talked, though, Luke asked me if there were any odd jobs around the church he could do. He told me that he had been looking for a job but it was hard. He had to have a job as a condition of probation but he had no car or phone and he had just been released from prison. As we talked in the parking lot Luke began to tear up and I believed he was sincere. We went back inside to get some water and sat and talked. I found an AA meeting for him within walking distance (another condition of probation) and invited him to come back to the church in the morning for our Friday morning coffee time. That would give him a chance to talk to others in the church about possible work. He did walk back to the church the next morning and in fact, did not miss Church or Sunday school for the next several years. I baptized him and he joined the church. He successfully completed probation and reconciled with his family after many years of estrangement. He is now living back in Ohio where his family lives and still calls me from time to time.
Luke’s success probably would not have been possible if not for the empty building. He had been sent back to Longview because that is where he was living when he was arrested. He had nowhere to go but back to the home of his former girlfriend whose lifestyle would guarantee that he would fail to complete probation and would be sent back to prison. When we were attempting to move the women’s shelter into the empty building we had installed a shower in one of the restrooms. When things reached a crisis for Luke and he finally called someone from the church and asked them to come get him out of the girlfriend’s house, we created an apartment for him in the empty building. He lived there for about 4 years, was our custodian and security guard, and a valuable asset to the church. Having that space allowed him to get away from negative influences and change his life. It is hard to say how different Luke’s life might have been if we had not had a place for him. Today, Luke is back home in Ohio, but Meals on Wheels occupies the space he used to occupy, and the rest of the building is still used for the food pantry.
I guess the point is that you just never know. Back then, I thought we needed to use the building for the women’s shelter but God had other ideas. A short time ago I thought I would never retire, but things change. All of us just want to live useful and meaningful lives, and I believe in a future where we can have meaning and purpose when we live in God’s will. The Lord is on his way, and tomorrow is a lovely day.
Blessings, Bro. Ed
In the months of June and July, many United Methodist congregations are in the midst of a pastoral change. It has been announced that the pastor we have known for years is retiring, and a new pastor is on the way. Whether you dread losing a beloved pastor or welcome a change in leadership, it feels like everything in our church is about to change. While that is not completely true, our congregation will be going through a significant time of pastoral transition.
Rev. Robert Kaylor, pastor of Tri-Lake United Methodist in Monument, Colorado, shares ideas in his book “Your Best Move: Effective Leadership Transitions for the Local Church” on how we might be receptive to new clergy leadership, and help our congregation move through this season of transition.
Pray. The first thing you can do is to pray for our retiring pastor, the new pastor, and our congregation. Surrender your anxiety and trust God to work through the process.
Attend the official farewell gathering. Take time to eat, laugh, cry, celebrate, and tell stories with each other as you fellowship in a farewell dinner or reception for the pastor. This is an important time for both pastor and his flock.
Say a personal goodbye. “For me, as a pastor,” Kaylor said, “one of the things I really have appreciated was when people took the time to sit down and write a note, expressing their appreciation for that time in ministry together.” He continued, “I keep those with me as I move to the new place… There’s no greater gift than that.”
The neutral zone. After saying goodbye well, our congregation will have three weeks “between pastors.” This is a good time for the church to catch its breath, and for everyone to continue helping with the transition. Ask the chairman of the trustees or the chairman of the PPR/SPR committee what you can do to help.
Help get ready. As you await the arrival of our new pastor, our church may hold a painting or a house-cleaning party at the parsonage. Jump in. Participating in the preparations is an investment in the successful ministry of our new pastor.
Learn about the incoming pastor. The church may post a profile of the new parsonage family on the church website. If so, be sure to read it. In addition to the fun stuff, look for “the pastor’s heart,” Kaylor said. “What is the pastor really passionate about? What are the things I might have questions about in terms of the pastor’s story? It’s not just looking at the resume. It is finding what it is that makes this person tick. How has God uniquely gifted them? Look for those points of connection.”
Saying Hello. After participating in the ending phase and neutral zone, we are now ready to welcome our new pastoral leader.
Go to church that first Sunday. Invest in the continued success of our congregation by supporting our new pastor from the very start.
Give a good gift. Welcome our pastor not only to our congregation but also to our town. A gift card to your favorite business, restaurant, or local home improvement store will be welcome, and helps the pastor and family get to know your community.
Give space. Pastors and their families have a lot to do when they first arrive—unpacking boxes, getting the kids signed up for school, finding a new doctor, and so much more. This might not be the best time to drop by the office or parsonage
Take the initiative. Attend a meet-and-greet, join the pastor’s Bible study, or invite him to coffee. Make the effort to get to know the pastor because he is not going to have time to invest in every single parishioner in the way that he would like to when he first starts getting oriented in the church and community. So take the initiative to go be with the pastor… That’s really, really critical.
Resist quick judgments. Stressed, tired, nervous, uncertain, worried—our new pastor is feeling all of this and more. Look beyond first impressions because sometimes that first impression can be difficult. Extending grace is absolutely critical, and saying that we are going to give this time and we are going to really invest in getting to know this pastor will allow us to learn how we can be in ministry together.
Expect the best. Things are changing. This is a new season in ministry. Ask yourself as a congregation member, “What gifts do I have that I can invest in the success of this new season of ministry?”
Our mission statement is “Loving and Serving Jesus by Loving and Serving Others.” This is our goal. We, First United Methodist Church of Hughes Springs, must strive for the success of our ministry together as pastor and congregation, so that in everything, God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.
Staff Parrish Relations Chairperson
The trustees have been a busy group. This year many projects have been completed including upgrading the chimes, extending the back awning, work on playground to make it safer for children and air conditioners in the church and parsonage have been timely repaired.
Projects that are currently active but not completed are inside painting of the parsonage, rain gutters at parsonage and the pavilion, and ceiling tile work in the church.
The trustees thank the church for your help and support of all the current and future projects.
Billy Wayne McKinney
In May, the Hughes Springs Post Office conducted a food drive. We were a recipient of their kind efforts. In addition to our usual boxed meals, we were able to distribute sacks of food to our clients. We had enough contributions so that we will be able to do the same again next month. We are nearing our one-year anniversary of this project. In July, it will be necessary to re-register our qualified clients. That could be a busy month from an administrative stand point, but we are continuing to enroll new clients every month. Our volunteers are faithful and the program’s success wouldn’t happen without them.
they are scary
If your organization or committee has an event to be held at or sponsored by the church, please call the secretary’s office at 903-639-2131, so it can be placed on the calendar, in the bulletin and in the newsletter.
This will help prevent double bookings at the church.
Scripture Readings for June
1 Kings 17: 8 – 24
Galatians 1: 11 – 24
Luke 7: 11 – 17
Acts 2: 1 – 21
Psalm 104: 24 – 34
Romans 8: 14 – 17
John 14: 8 – 17
Proverbs 8: 1 – 4, 22 – 31
Romans 5: 1 – 5
John 16: 12 – 15
I Kings 18: 20 – 39
Galatians 1: 1 – 12
Luke 7: 1 – 10