Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Baptism at Republican Grove UMC

On October 25th, Cortney Lee Dawson, was brought up front at Republican Grove UMC by her parents, Kevin and Heidi, to be Baptized. Cortney is the first new baby on the Mount Airy Charge in about 14 years. This is a big deal to the entire Charge.

These are the questions asked to the parents:
  1. Beloved, do you in presenting Cortney Lee for holy Baptism confess your faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?
  2. Do you therefore accept as your bounden duty and priviledge to live before Cortney Lee a life that becomes the Gospel; to exercise all godly care the she be brought up in the Christian faith, the she be taught the Holy Scriptures, and that she learn to give reverent attendance upon the private and public worship of God?
  3. Will you endeavor to keep Cortney Lee under the ministry and guidance of the Church until she by the power of God shall accept for herself the gift of salvation, and be confirmed as a full and responsible member of Christ's holy Church?
To each of the questions Kevin and Heidi's answer must be to the affirmative.

Following the Baptism the entire congregation in asked this question:

Brethren of the household of faith, I commend to your love and care Cortney Lee, whom we this day recognize as a member of the family of God. Will you endeavor so to live that she may grow in knowledge and love of God the Father, through our Davior Jesus Christ?

The congregation responds:

With God's help we will so order our lives after the example of Christ, that Cortney Lee, surrounded by steadfast love, may be established in the faith, and confirmed and strengthened in the way the leads to life eternal.

It is a beautiful and moving service.

The grandparents and big brother, Cody, came up to stand with Cortney.

I get to hold Cortney for the Baptism, but I don't think she knew what to think of it. One thing I am sure of though is that she didn't like the water on her head.

Here's the whole family after the Baptism.

Now, these look like two very proud parents.

This is one of the things I love about doing what I do. I love to see parents committing to raise their child in the faith and to see her touched by Jesus. I love to see the congregation take seriously their responsibility to do the same.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

All the Way From Colorado to the Mount Airy Pumpkin Patch

At the Homecoming service at Saint Andrews UMC, A.J. Nuckols invited all those attending to visit the Pumpkin Patch at no charge. If you haven't figured it out yet, I love going to the Pumpkin Patch and climbing up the hay castle. When we were surprised by a visit from our god-daughter, Hannah Gaitten, and her daughter, Noah, we knew where we would be spending our afternoon.

Noah loved the huge rodeo bulls and didn't seem at all bothered by their size.

Noah liked the chickens, too. She fed them some loose corn that was on the ground.

We were happy godparents, getting to see Hannah after many years and Noah for the first time.

I joined Hannah and Noah for a pumpkin hunt. I have watched the hunts several times, but this was my first time going out with the kids. At first, Noah wasn't too sure about riding on a bale of hay, but she decidied it was an acceptable way to go after pumpkins.

First, the hunt is not a leisurely stroll through the field picking up pumpkins. Those who win are those who run. those of us who are more into walking are there for the joy of the hunt. (I know, that sounds like a loser's excuse) Noah did pick up some pumpkins, but once she tripped and fell, she lost interest in the manual part of the job. So, Hannah and I picked them up for her and then she put them in the bag.

When we got back and counted our collection, we found that Noah had collected a total of 21 pumpkins. Unfortunately, there were some of those running competitors in her age group. But, she did walk away with 3 small pumpkins to take home to Colorado.

After the pumpkin hunt, we decided to climb the hay castle. Once again I watched a child love the castle. We went all the way to the top and enjoyed the autumn scenery.

Later in the afternoon they started the fire and brought out marshmallows. Joanne loves roasting marshmallows. I prefer mine in hot chocolate. Noah, with help from mom, charred her marshmallows and ate them with a zeal.

It was a great afternoon. We got to spend some really fun time with Hannah and Noah. Thanks A.J. and Lisa for opening the Pumpkin Patch for those who were at the Saint Andrews UMC Homecoming.

Saint Andrews UMC Homecoming Sunday 2009

On October 18th, Saint Andrews UMC had their 2009 Homecoming Sunday. I love Homecoming Sunday and its not just about the food. It is a time to see folks who live too far away to be with us each week, but who still hold their connection close to their heart. I've also been serving the Mount Airy Charge long enough that I recognize those I only see maybe once a year. We had people with us all the way from Oregon and Colorado.

Once again, all three churches of the Mount Airy Charge came together for another church's Homecoming.

Our guest singer was Alyce Blanks, who sings with the group "The Ageless Wonders". Alyce sang in the choir at Fairview UMC when we were there. Joanne provided piano accompaniment for Alyce and for the service.

Rev. Tim Earnhardt was our guest speaker. Tim was the Senior Pastor at Fairview UMC when I was the Youth Director and Joanne was Organist and Church Secretary. Tim did Gospel Magic for the chirldren who came to Homecoming.

The Gospel Magic may have been meant for the children's message, but you can tell by the look on the adults that they were as interested as the kids.

Tim delivered an excellent message on "Becoming Childlike Again" using the passage from Mark 10:13-16 as his text. He blended together his gospel magic lesson and his sermon that helped the flow of the whole service.

Yeah, you knew the fellowship meal pictures were coming. There is no better eating than at a church Homecoming. Everyone brings their best and no one leaves hungry. The fried chicken for the meal was prepared by the Mount Airy Store and it was really good. You can tell by all the smiles that everyone had a great time together.

There is one special thing that happened that morning that I just have to tell you about. Our god-daughter, Hannah Gaitten, was in town from Colorado with her daughter, Noah, and we had talked to her on the phone about maybe coming down to church on Sunday. She said she would call us and let us know wether to expect her or not. Well, we had stayed at the parsonage on Saturday night and never got a call from her. So, we thought we would have to see her later in the week.

When the service was closing and I had gone to the back of the church for the benedction, I saw someone holding a child in the entry area. When I finished the benediction the person walked in and it was Hannah and Noah. After a shocked hug, she told me that she didn't have my cell phone number and didn't have my blog address on her laptop. So, she went to Courtney's blog (my daughter), found where I had made a comment, and from there she found my blog. She then went through the blog and saw which churches had already had their Homecomings. Then she figured that it was St. Andrews UMC that was having their Homecoming that day. She then Googled the church to get the street address and then went to Mapquest and got directions. She had been there for the entire service and I didn't even see her. It was a wonderful topping on a wonderful Homecoming Sunday.

Saturday at the White Fall Farm Pumpkin Patch

Saturday, Joanne and I went to the Pumpkin Patch that Jay and Lisa Nuckols, from White Fall farm, http://whitefallfarm.com/ own in Mount Airy near Gretna. It was our Saturday to work the concession stand for Saint Andrews UMC.

Joanne and I were joined by Jean Shelton fixing hotdogs. We also sold sodas, bottled water, chips, cookies and brownies. We had a really good day for sales, one of the busiest ever. I think the increase in the amount of visitors to the Pumpkin Patch was due to the publicity it received on the television. See the earlier blog. I will be the first to admit that I am not the best selection for a cook, but I didn't burn as many this year as I did last year. Jean put the fixings on the hotdogs, while Joanne took orders and kept up with the payments.

We also took our dog, Millie, with us to the Pumpkin Patch. This was her first outing in the country and she was having a great time with all the new smells. There were a couple of big dogs roaming around that she showed no fear of, even though she would have made only a small snack to them. We did go out together to select a pumpkin, she seemed to like the one we chose to decorate.

She did get a little cold and when she started to shiver we put her up in the chair and covered her with a blanket. We eventually had to take her back to the parsonage when the sun started going down. When we went back that night, she came out to meet us without getting out from under the blanket. It looked a blanket floating acroos the floor, her nose wasn't even showing.

There were two rodeo bulls at the Pumpkin Patch from Dan and Herb Lanier. These lovelies were huge. Ferdinand preferred to lay around and people watch. While Wasabi, the bruiser with those large horns, would paw at the ground and rush the fence whenever someone got closer to the caution tape than he thought was appropriate. The kids loved them. Millie was indifferent.

The weekends are full of pumpkin hunts. A.J. and Lisa scatter hundreds of small pumpkins out in the field of tall grass. The kids and parents board the hay trailers for a ride out into the fields. Each child has a grocery sack to collect their pumpkins. After a given amount of time everyone reboards and heads back to the starting point.

The kids spread out their pumpkins and with the help of their parents count how many they have brought back. The kids are divided into age groups and the one in each age group who has bagged the most pumpkins wins a big pumpkin to take home. Each child gets to keep 3 of the small pumpkins that they found. No one leaves empty handed.

I love watching the smaller children picking pumpkins. They like to roll on them, sit on them, and usually pick one that they can barely lift. But, they never put it back and get a smaller one.

This is the pumpkin we decorated for our stand. I call it the pumpkin for the "Carving Impaired" or for those whose spouse won't let them use a sharp implement. I tried to tell Joanne, "I can't carve a pumpkin face with a spoon!". Jean named the pumpkin "Rufus the Pirate", after her husband and he doesn't even have a moustache.

The night ends with folks sitting around the fire. The more adventurous are still going through the corn maze and the hay castle with flashlights.

It was a busy day. Joanne and I had thought we'd get some slow times during the day for a walk in the maze, but it didn't happen. Just being here was fun in itself. I like the atmosphere, the sounds or lack of, the families together, the smiling kids, the colors, and weather of autumn. I hope you get a chance to come on down. The Pumpkin Patch is in Mount Airy, 10 miles east of Gretna on route 40 and then 1/4 mile south on route 640. If you want to plug it into your GPS use this: 6001 Riceville Road, Gretna, Virginia, 24557. You won't be disappointed and it beats picking a pumpkin at the grocery store by a long shot. 

Thursday, October 15, 2009

WSET and Woodlawn Academy Visit the Mount Airy Pumpkin Patch

Yesterday the Woodlawn Academy preschool from Chatham came to the White Fall Farm Pumpkin Patch in Mount Airy for an outing. There were about twenty kids, along with their teacher and some adults. They started their morning by loading into the hay wagon for a hay ride.

During their hayride they stopped in the field and had a pumpkin hunt. Then they all came back to the starting point and counted their pumpkin loot.

WSET, channel 13, our local ABC affiliate, came to the Pumpkin Patch and interviewed A.J. Nuckols about everything he has done at the Pumpkin Patch. Check their website to read the story:


Or you might take a minute and watch the video of the interview:


A.J. invited the news crew to tour the Pumpkin Patch and to follow the children from Woodlawn Academy as they enjoyed their morning.

Now, this is the way to enjoy a pile of hay! You had to laugh watching these children trying to climb the side of the hay pile and sliding back down. Though they did finally make it to the top.

All pumpkins are not your typical round, smooth, and orange.

The hay castle was a hit with the kids and the adults. Its fun watching the kids maneuver the castle. There are some entrances and paths that lead to nowhere. Most people, mainly adults, would go back and start over to find the right way to go to get to the steps to the next level. Not kids, they start climbing over and through spaces that most adults wouldn't dare. 

And when the kids make it to the top, that's not enough. They have to climb up on the third level wall and jump up and down. Can you remember being that fearless?

Even the crew from WSET took a try at making it to the top of the castle.
WSET interviewed some of the kids about what they liked best about the pumpkin Patch. The hay castle was the big winner, with the maze a close second.
Finally, the kids having tried everything, gathered their pumpkins, boarded the bus, and headed back to school. I didn't see a single child standing around and looking bored all morning.
The crew also headed back to Danville, with some pumpkin gifts from A.J. to take home and carve.
It was a nice morning at the Pumpkin Patch. Hopefully the television interview will be a boost to the number of folks visiting for the remainder of October. I think we'll get some extra hotdogs and drinks for this Saturday, just in case.