I wanted to begin keeping a journal about what my work looks like from week to week and thought that people might like to peer into that journal to understand the work I am doing here at TUMC. I am using the categories from the clergy assessment of the Florida Conference to lay out the different types of work I do each week.
New Sermon Series
This week I began preparing for a new sermon series called I’ve Been Meaning to Ask. The materials are from from A Sanctified Art, which I love, for the beautiful liturgies and strong themes of justice. The focus of this series is to learn each other’s stories and better understand our differences and our hurts. There are 4 topics that will stretch out over eight weeks. Here are the 4 topics:
I’ve Been Meaning to Ask…Where Are You From?
I’ve Been Meaning to Ask…Where Does it Hurt?
I’ve Been Meaning to Ask…What Do You Need?
I’ve Been Meaning to Ask…Where Do We Go From Here?
Our Lay Leader, Lu Ann Harrell, schedules the liturgists each week and will kick off this series by serving as liturgist, offering the call to worship, prayer, and scripture reading. She is great about touching base with me each week to clarify these pieces of the service.
I met with Alex Lilly, Jeff Redding, Linda Dold, and Linda Charlton on Tuesday to talk about improving the flow of worship music and trying to work through some of the transitions to make things run more smoothly.
Damien Herrington, Jeff Potter, and Doug Holder are all working on getting our live streaming equipment set up. I ordered a few more things we need for this. We are hoping to get this happening in the next week or two. Very exciting!
This week I have been studying the passage from John 1:35–51. The key points are:
John the Baptist points people to Jesus
When the disciples ask Jesus where he is staying, he doesn't give them a location, but invites them to follow - Come and you will see!
As Jesus invites them to a greater curiosity, the disciples echo this invitation.
Can anything good come out of Nazareth? What places might we substitute in our context for Nazareth?
Dr. Raj Nadalla says this, "The subtext is: 'Don't arrive at premature conclusions about anyone or otherize them based on insufficient knowledge.'"
Dr. Nadalla also asks, "How do we cultivate deeper curiosity that grants a fuller understanding of others, especially those who look, think, and dress differently?
Discipleship — Christian formation, teaching
The focus of this sermon series is connection. As people take vacations (I loved my recent vacation to Amelia Island!) we feel a little scattered. This week I felt like it was my own discipleship that needed the most attention, especially in cultivating the posture of a servant. We have some great leaders here and I want to do a better job serving and supporting them in their ministries. As I meet with each one, I feel renewed to listen more intently to how God is calling each person to serve.
This week Jeralyn Martinez is speaking about the Joy of Giving. Our Finance Chair, Elizabeth Healy schedules a different person each week to give a testimony about how the ministry of our church has impacted their life. Jeralyn has a heart of gold and is the most giving person I have ever met. She is always thinking of others before herself. She is one of the key people of our church who carries the heart of Tuskawilla. Her caring for others is genuine and imbedded in who she is as a person.
I met with Pastor Bonnie this week to talk about how we can provide better communication for pastoral care with people in our congregation who are going through the death of a loved one, surgery, illness, or other difficult circumstance. We have a wonderful congregational care team and they have been well trained by Pastor Bonnie. I am renewed in my desire to walk more closely with this team in caring for our congregation.
This week, we learned that someone from our church experienced the death of a spouse back in March. We didn’t know about, so we didn’t reach out or provide any support. I want to assure the people of the church that we care and want to walk with them through these important events in their lives, but to also make sure that they know how to contact us and let us know about these things.
A challenge for many of us is meeting new people. I am working on some ways to be more intentional about spending time with people outside the church. This might be fun!
I asked Caralyn to create some slides and asked Jeff Potter to put them on the sign out front for our upcoming sermon series and Community Prayer Service.
Bonnie Williams, who serves as our liaison with Hope Helps, shared with me about the Back to School Bash. She has picked up a donation box for school supplies in the Narthex.
Sheryl Love spoke with me about providing a collection box for school supplies for The Arbor School. She is working with Pastor Kate Ling on ways that we can be more engaged in partnering with the Arbor School.
I prepared for a meeting with The Bridge Builders, a group made up of clergy and laity in the East Central District to educate and support local church efforts in anti-racism. I am the communications person for the team, so I keep the calendar, schedule the Zoom, and send out reminder emails about our meetings.
I met with our Lay Leader, Lu Ann Harrell and our Executive Council Chair, Kevin Harrell to talk about their work and vision for the coming year. We continue to talk about the best ways to involve and equip people for the work of the church. Lu Ann Loves the people of our church so much that she is frequently moved to tears in talking about that love. Her heart breaks when we have conflict or division. She is working with Diane Fay on some exciting plans to gather us all together this fall. Kevin is a great strategic leader, a scholar, a teacher, and a nurturer. I am hoping that he will have the opportunity to nurture and encourage a team of people in their discipleship. We talked about streamlining some of our meetings and leadership processes to get things to function more efficiently.
I am working on forming some neighborhood groups, which will be small groups of people organized by location. Each group needs a host, someone to serve as the “cruise director” to get everyone together, either at their home or a local establishment for some fun and fellowship. We need to know each other’s stories and learn about where we each come from. We all have rich journeys to share. Being part of a church family means to listen to people’s stories and to share our own. I need to identify a leader for each group, so I hope that people will be receptive to this invitation.
District and Conference responsibilities
I serve as a Candidacy mentor for the East Central District, serving the Florida Conference, along with Pastor Mike Luzinski who just began serving at Spring of Life UMC, where my daughter and grandchildren belong. Pastor Mike and I gather with a small group of people in the East Central District who have experienced the call to ministry. We hear their call stories and engage in 6 sessions that help them discern their next steps. Thursday was the Mentor Training. Today is the Call Retreat. There are two retreats each year where people can discern their next steps in pursuing ordination in the United Methodist Church, which is a long process that requires a great deal of inner work. It is an inspiration to hear these call stories and walk with people through this important time in their ministry.
Morning — Bible reading and reflection. I am currently using the Moravian Daily Texts, which Bishop Carter has recommended as a reading plan. I engage each morning in a time of intercessory prayer for my family, the church, and the world, incorporating the morning’s headlines into the prayer.
Afternoon — After lunch I engage in a daily time of meditation and/or centering prayer. This is 20 minutes of silence. I sometimes use the Headspace app for a guided time of breathing or a sacred word of phrase to guide this time.
Evening — I engage in some inspirational reading and write in a gratitude journal to reflect on the day. I ask for God's forgiveness for anything weighing on my heart before I go to sleep.
I engage in worship on Sundays and choir practice on Wednesdays, offering these amazing songs that Alex and Jeff have chosen in praise and worship to God. During the week, I sing along with these songs on Apple Music or Youtube as I wash the dishes and do things around the house. This week the songs on my lips are: Every Praise, In Christ There is No East or West, Living Hope, and Is He Worthy.