Monday, November 16, 2009

2009 Charge Conference

The Mount Airy Charge had their Annual Charge Conference Yesterday. This was our first Cluster Charge Conference. That means it was more than just our charge involved in the meeting. Actually we had a total of nine churches represented. There were two churches from the Payneton-Siloam Charge (Payneton UMC and Siloam UMC), two churches of the Smith Mountain Charge (Mount Zion UMC and New Ridgeway UMC), Anderson UMC, Zion UMC, and our three churches of the Mount Airy Charge (Republican Grove UMC, Providence UMC, and St. Andrews UMC). For the Charge Conference all the churches work on a project of collecting canned good and non-perishables for the Northern Pittsylvania County Food Bank. We filled a large pick-up with supplies, as you can see from the pictures.

I'm really proud of the response of our churches. This gentleman was from the food bank and had to squeeze all the provisions into the truck. 

These are the people from the Mount Airy Charge who attended. I wanted to be in the picture with them, so we took a second one. But, I had to leave the first one because my big head got in the way of some of their smiling faces. Besides, I had to wake Joanne for the second photo. 

This is Rev. George Schaefer, the pastor of the Payneton-Siloam Charge. George was our host at Payneton UMC for the Charge Conference. The folks at Payneton did a wonderful job of being hosts. After the meeting we were all invited to gather in the Fellowship Hall for refreshments. It was more like having dinner. The ladies did their church proud.
This is Rev. Larry Davies, the District Superintendent for the Lynchburg District, who presided over the Charge Conference. He had one before he came to ours and was heading to another one when ours was finished. Though he did stop off in the Fellowship Hall for a snack. 
Larry had everyone get up from there seats and introduce themselves to someone they had never met. Then they were to ask that person, "What's so special about your church?" 
After we all took our seats again, he asked for people to tell what they had learned about the church of the person they spoke with. It's very interesting what someone can learn about your church in two minutes.
 These are the pastors of the churches participating in the Cluster Charge Conference. From Left to right they are: Rev. Thomas Wilson of the Smith Mountain Charge, Me of the Mount Airy Charge, Rev. George Schaefer of the Payneton - Siloam Charge, Rev. Harold Thornton of Zion UMC, Rev. John Snyder of Anderson UMC, and Rev. Tom Boggs, a retired pastor who attends Siloam UMC and fills in for some of us from time to time.

These are some of the folks from the various congregations at the conference. Someone was complaining that a lot of the people wouldn't get in the picture. I told them that someone would have get the wooden plank out of the truck (next picture) and chase them into the picture. They actually used that plank to shove the food items to the back of the truck.
This was our first experience with a Cluster Charge Conference and it went rather well. I can see pros and cons to the format. I like meeting members of other congregations and hearing the wide variety of ministries done by the churches. But, I've liked that my church people got to brag on what they've done in the past year. I mean, new carpet may not be a big wow to some, but it is when you only have a few people in a congregation. It's hard to do all that bragging if each church only has about 5 minutes to share. But again, maybe its time for us as churches to put the emphasis on our ministry and outreach; and not on our maintenance and improvements. In my sermon that morning I spoke about how we need to be open to the possibility that God is bringing us into something new. So maybe, just maybe, this is part of God doing a new thing.

Providence UMC Gets a New Member

Yesterday, Ona Hoyer, Theresa Reiger's mother, became a member of Providence UMC by transfer of membership.

 Ona has been attending regularly with us for some time now, since she moved to live with Theresa and Fred.

 Ona is 92 years young and we are very happy to have her join our church family at Providence UMC.

 The service is very nice, first the new member declare their intentions and commitment to the church. 

The pastor asks:
As a member of this congregation, will you faithfully participate in its ministries by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, and your service?

The new member answers:  I will.

Then the congregation also declares it's commitment to support the new member and the church.

The pastor addresses the congregations:
Members of the household of God, I commend this person to your love and care.
Do all in your power to increase their faith, confirm their hope, and perfect them in love.

The congregation responds:
We give thanks for all that God has already given you and we welcome you in Christian love.
As members together with you in the body of Christ and in this congregation of the United Methodist Church, we renew our covenant faithfully to participate in the ministries of the Church by our prayers, our presence, our gifts, and our service, that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.

The pastor address the new member:
The God of grace, who has called us to eternal glory in Christ, establish you and strengthen you by the power of the Holy Spirit, that you may live in grace and peace.

It really is a very spiritually moving service.

 Brian sang a special song, "Something Beautiful", for Ona's day of becoming a member of Providence UMC. 

 Providence UMC may be a small church, now 10 in regular attendance, but they are a very loving congregation. Now we have one more person to love and care for as we continue on the journey that God has called us to walk.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Veteran's Day

Yesterday evening we went to Applebee's restaurant to celebrate Veteran's Day; my sister, Karen (USAF), Joanne, and I (USAF). The national chain of restaurants was offering free meals to all military, veterans and active duty. I had seen these kind of offers years past, but I had never participated. I had always thought there were retired and active duty that deserved it more than I did. This year was different. Joanne went digging around until she found my discharge papers, then she called and told me we were going.

When we got there it was packed, but no one seemed in a rush or pushy. There were all ages there; those in there 80's all the way to some who looked very young. We talked to some of the people there while we waited. You felt you were there with comrades and friends, people that you were proud to have dinner with. All the staff would thank the veterans for their service. It was very appreciated. Thanks, Applebee's. Thanks, Joanne, for making me go.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Thought for Veteran's Day

As I was thinking about Veteran's Day, I got to thinking about all the men and women serving our country who are parents. What a balancing act they do between being defenders of our country, ready to place their lives on the line because of the duty they have chosen, and the love they have for their children, wanting to watch them grow to be adults. While thinking about that, I found the following pictures from when I was in the Air Force.

I didn't really think about it much back then, but today it's on my mind a lot.

Providence UMC Starts to Build a Fellowship Hall

A little over a month ago, Carl Wayne Adams followed me out of the church one Sunday. He said wanted to let me know about something the church was considering. They thought that they would like to have a Fellowship Hall. Since the cost of building one from scratch would be prohibitive, they were looking into closing in the picnic pavilion.

I asked him if they were planning to screen it in or use removable glass panels. He said no, that they were planning to do it up right. It would have walls, windows, two entrances, ceiling, electricity, and heat. When Joanne and I arrived at Providence UMC this past Sunday, the project had started and this is what we found. Grass does not grow under the feet of the folks at Providence.

Long Weekend at Colonial Williamsburg

A couple of weeks ago Joanne and I took a extended weekend and visited Colonial Williamsburg. It really is one of our favorite places to visit. Even though we've been numerous time we still enjoy the sights and sounds. We still find something new each time to go. It was the end of October, the air was cool and the autumn leaves were still hanging on the trees for the most part. It was great weather for walking through the gardens and watching the reenactors outside.





One place in Colonial Williamsburg that never gets old is the Governor's Palace. Whether you take the tour of the inside or just walk the gardens it is always enjoyable. The gardens are a nice quiet place to go and sit and imagine.
Joanne said that she had been so many times she felt as if she was seeing herself there.
It was a nice time to relax and recharge. We want to thank our churches for making it possible.

Monday, November 2, 2009

When Does 1+1+1=1?

Our Homecoming season on the Mount Airy Charge is the months of September and October. With Providence UMC and Republican Grove UMC having their Homecoming Sundays in September. Saint Andrews UMC having theirs Homecoming Sunday in October. This is always a great time of reunion and fellowship, not to mention some of the best eating of the year.

Normally when one of the churches has their Homecoming, the other two churches have a guest speaker and have their normal Sunday. The pastor of the Charge would always attend the church having the Homecoming and leave the other churches in the hands of someone else. This year it was suggested, by one of the members, that each church attend each other church's Homecoming Sunday. So they decided that instead of having a guest speaker at the 2 churches not having Homecoming, those two churches would close the doors, leaving a note on the door as to where they would be, and join their sister church that was having Homecoming.

It was a wonderful site to see. Members from all three churches worshiping and fellowshiping together. At least 50% of the members of the churches not having Homecoming joined the church having Homecoming for their special day. I think it was a blessing to the congregations, the guests, and especially to me.

I have encouraged the three churches of the Mount Airy Charge to think more as one Charge rather than three individual churches. We have had numerous services and projects where the three churches have joined together in work and fellowship. But, this one was their idea. It had never dawned on me. So, when does 1+1+1=1? When 1 church + 1 church + 1 church come together under the moving of the Holy Spirit as 1 Charge. 

I told a pastor friend what a blessing it had been. His response, being the pastor of a Charge, was that is was more than a blessing, it was a miracle. I've always liked miracles.