Today as I write this article I have been part of your community for just over a week. My family and I have felt very welcomed. Earlier this week someone asked me if I felt like I was home yet. I responded that I did. That question caught my attention because in seminary a professor of mine loved to teach and preach about the idea of home. Dr. Doug Meeks so loves this idea that he shares it with all who will listen. After hearing this lesson several times I grew tired of it, but when I was asked if I felt at home yet I could not help but recall his message and say a prayer of thanksgiving to God. Dr. Meeks describes the Kingdom of God as a home. He proclaims that God desires to create a home for all people. Jesus spends much of His ministry describing this Kingdom and proclaiming its imminent fulfillment.
For several days after being asked if I felt at home, I could not stop thinking about this idea of the Kingdom of God being a home. Surely the Church should be the place that we see this home being formed to the fullest. A home is the place where you are loved and can love. It is the place where you are held accountable, forgiven, and strengthened for your work. It is the place where you can forgive and strengthen others. It is the place where you welcome others to share in your love. It is also the place where people really know you and you really know them. You can be yourself at home.
The Church should be this place. We share our lives together in fellowship, worship, and service. We share each other’s burdens and celebrate each other’s joys. We welcome the stranger and offer them a place to be at home. We become co-authors of the disciple’s story at our baptism, and we seek forgiveness and grace to be better at the communion table. Church is where we join together to form a communal story. No one’s individual story or gift is devalued. In fact, they are all important and celebrated. We share in a common work of seeking individual and social holiness under the grace of God. Church is where we find the strength. Perhaps Church is also the place where we are accepted. When we say we believe that Jesus was and is the Son of God who will return to establish heaven on earth, we forget it can just sound crazy to the unchurched or the non-believer, but at Church it receives an Amen. You are safe to be the person God called you to be in the Church that is a home. Of course, the Church is not perfect. We are not yet perfect either. The Church, however, is and should be the place that we continually seek to make a home that will someday be completed as the Kingdom of God.
So when I am asked if my family and I feel at home yet, I can say yes. This is not because we are nearly done unpacking or because we have found the grocery store. It is because we have found God’s people. We have found Nolensville United Methodist Church to be a place that seeks to be a home. It is a place where we have already experienced love and have been able to love others. It is a place where we have been welcomed to join our story with yours. It is a place that will hold us accountable, forgive us, and offers us grace to be better. We are just beginning to get to know everyone, but already I can see the truth of Jesus’ proclamation: The Kingdom of God is at hand.
I propose the following prayer as a contribution to our home:
Righteous and gracious God, You call us to be part of Your family, Your Kingdom, and Your home. Strengthen and guide us that we might make the Church a home worthy of your call. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Rev. Jimmy Hendricks, email@example.com
Over the last four months, the Hope in Focus team, made up of a diverse group of leaders in the church, spent over 35 hours meeting and analyzing data about our church and the community. We looked at our church’s cultural heritage and core values. You, our church family, helped us put together a historical timeline. We studied the internal context of the church and looked specifically at your survey answers, the last ten years of data about attendance, giving, and baptisms, specific strengths of this congregation, and specific needs of the congregation. We also talked to persons in the community about their perception of our church. We studied community demographic data for a ten year period. We walked around Nolensville, and, lastly, we created a map of the community to identify where we live, work, and play.
Our purpose was to identify a vision for our church and a mission for our church. The vision is our preferred future. It is the ultimate end goal if we are successful in the mission – the long term desired place to be. The mission is the step we need to take to get to the vision. It is what we need to do to get there.
After much prayer and discernment, we identified the vision of Nolensville First UMC as:
A neighborhood church where people experience a life-changing relationship with Jesus in a welcoming church family.
This church is uniquely situated in the middle of this town. The idea of community is important to us. But community – or neighborhood – is wherever you are. In Scripture Jesus called people around us our neighbors.
The next part - a life-changing relationship with Jesus. God’s grace is given to us. Our acceptance creates relationship. As we are grounded in a vertical relationship with Jesus, we want to connect and love people around us. That horizontal relationship is loving and serving others. At the intersection of this vertical relationship with Jesus and the horizontal relationship with others, we are transformed, transformed by the hope of the cross. Our lives are changed.
We then heard over and over that this church is family. We are here because we have been welcomed among each other as family. We want that for others.
We discerned the following mission - the steps to achieve the vision:
Loving God and neighbor where we live.
In Matthew 22:36-39, Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. And the second is to love your neighbor as yourself.
What draws people to Christ is how we approach life day in and day out. How we deal with difficult people. How we deal with work. How we deal with illness, disappointment, joy. It is not creating a project and inviting people to attend an event. It is turning to the person beside you at the farmer’s market, looking in their eyes, and asking how they are today. It is looking up as you walk around your street and talking to your neighbor about their job loss and providing support as they process it. It is helping a neighbor with a project and getting to know what keeps him up at night. It is a way of life. It is being the church outside these walls and outside Sunday morning.
We don’t have to worry about growing our numbers. God will take care of that if we love Him and love others. Everything we do as a church should line up with our mission. It will guide our decision making because we are all moving to reach the preferred future for Nolensville UMC - the vision - His vision for us. This is something doable by each of us. It follows the commands of Jesus - Love God; Love our neighbor. And do it where we live. Love where we live. We love where we live.
This was the work of the team. The next step will be to look at how we live into this mission. In our process, we saw possibilities everywhere. The possibilities are as diverse as we are because we want to Love where we each live. We love where we live.
Ten members of the UMW met on June 21 and attended a program on Climate Justice given by Penny and Barb Belden. After our meeting we had a down-home lunch at Nana's restaurant.
Several of our members are struggling with issues that keep them from coming. Please pray for them.
We would love to have any lady that has interest to attend. We meet one a month and our next meeting is Wednesday, July 12, and 10:30am in the Fellowship Hall with Karen Hoffmeister giving the program.
Please join us on July 9 at 9:30am for Second Sunday Breakfast. Bring a favorite breakfast dish to share and come fellowship between the services with church family from the other service!
The Fellowship Sunday School Class is responsible for set-up, drinks, and clean up on July 9. Please remember that the class responsible for Second Sunday Breakfast is also requested to provide cookies, donuts, or other snacks for all other Sundays of the month.
Please put all food away after fellowship on ALL Sundays. We are called to be fishers of men, not of mice and ants! This class is also responsible for returning the Fellowship Hall to “Sunday Setting” after breakfast. Diagrams are posted on the kitchen doors.
Shannon Smith and Matthew McGarvey were wed on June 3.
Dear Lord, We give thanks for the love You have shared with these two people. We ask that You help Matthew and Shannon to remember always when they first met and to remember the strong love that grew between them. To work that love into practical things so nothing can divide them. Please help them find words both kind and loving and hearts always ready to ask forgiveness as well as able to forgive. Dear Lord, we put this marriage into Your hands. Amen.
Elaine and Presley Hughes will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary on July 14!
May God continue to bless you with joy, peace, understanding, and love to last you another 50 years. Amen.
Avalyn Grace was born to Alex and Andrew Tipton on June 9!
Father, thank You for this precious gift of new life. We pray that You would watch over this dear child all the days of her life Guide her footsteps Inspire her mind, anoint her hands, and lead her into life eternal. For the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Young Hearts is a group of senior adults who enjoy trips together and a variety of interesting programs. We meet the fourth Friday of each month in the Fellowship Hall. New members are always welcome. Our next meeting will be in August, a trip to Cannonsburg Village. We hope you will consider becoming a part of our group.
Carolyn Crigger, Secretary, and Donna Burdge, President
Save the date! The entire church is invited to a Retreat at Beersheba Springs Assembly on November 10-12. Watch for additional details or contact Zannie.
7/1 Charles Light, Jacob W; 7/2 Maddie Lindsey; 7/3 Leah S; 7/5 Monica Massey; 7/6 Andrew Church, Nikki Ringenberg; 7/7 Scarlett M; 7/8 Mason C; 7/9 Betty Green; 7/12 Pat Crawford; 7/14 Michele Overton, Ella J; 7/15 David Hackett; 7/16 Wayne Garvey, Sandy Murray; 7/17 Beth Sharrar; 7/18 Jerry Jones, Tressa Tuck, Austin N; 7/19 Rusty Moore; 7/20 Robert Vest, Alex Tipton; 7/23 Donna Burdge; 7/24 Jaycie S; 7/26 Kristin Wilson; 7/27 Joe McClellan; 7/28 Cindi Cooper; 7/29 Jamie B; 7/31 Alexis F, Emma B
7/5 Amanda & Dan Sabina (3); 7/6 Dawn & Jason Reed (21); 7/7 Susan & Don Smithburg (33); 7/10 Jamie & Jimmy Stitt (13); 7/15 Pat & Tom Crawford (57), Beatty & Jimmy Reaves (51); 7/20 Nancy & Tom Hatcher (55)
And a very special congratulations to Elaine & Presley Hughes on their 50th wedding anniversary on July 14 and to Kim & Bobby Jones on their 20th wedding anniversary on July 20!
Give blood and help save lives! Nolensville First UMC will host a Red Cross blood drive on Thursday, July 13, 1:15-7:15pm in the Fellowship Hall. Please join our lifesaving mission and schedule an appointment at www.redcrossblood.org today! Streamline your donation experience and save up to 15 minutes by visiting RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass to complete your pre-donation reading and health history questions on the day of your appointment.
The need is great; help save a life!
Vacation Bible School: Pirates! will be July 16-19, 6-8:30pm. Please register here.
Thanks to the generosity of donors in loving memory of Lucien Battle, Lucien’s family and the Trustees have agreed to establish a scholarship fund to assist graduating high school seniors that are confirmed members of Nolensville First UMC. The Trustees will determine the number and amount of scholarships, and the fund will be managed by an outside investment firm. Details have not been finalized at this time. All funds given in memory of Lucien and not otherwise designated will go towards this fund. Thank you for your love and support.