Published July 26, 2023

9th Sunday after Pentecost
Just these lines, my friends…

… to say that it is another wild, crazy, wonderful week at Matthews United Methodist (MUMC). It is Vacation Bible School week!

I hope you were able to worship with us on Sunday! If you missed it, you can worship here & hear beautiful prayers, inspiring music and Pastor Corey’s sermon, The Martyr, from our summer worship series, High Maintenance Relationships.

Also, please note at the 11 am worship service from this past Sunday, Jason, Cissy & Jack Carroll joined the church. This was a special joining made possible because of the unique circumstances surrounding this family. You can read Pastor Paul’s statement from Sunday about the Carrolls below:

I want to introduce the Carroll family: Cissy, Jack, and Jason. They moved to Charlotte in 2019 to be closer to family. They began coming here and attending the young couples’ class. Like us, they grew to love this church. Cissy was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer when Jack was only 4 months of age. Cissy entered hospice care in February, 2023. They were fortunate to receive the gift of a trip to Miami. Out of Jack and Jason’s desire to pay this act forward, their Take the Trip Foundation was born to offer encouragement and resources to the families they support.

It’s their wish to have a church family to love and surround Jason and Jack as they carry on Cissy’s legacy through this foundation. Today, we can be the church family the Carroll’s need in the months ahead.

I continue to marvel at and be grateful for the way the story of God’s redemptive love is worked out through ordinary folks, folks like you and me.

Speaking of ordinary folks, the Wilson family gathered in Blowing Rock for seven days and nights. The weather was superb (so much cooler), and we got some good, uninterrupted, and unplugged quality time. Long conversations around the fire pit were the best. But you put 13 people together and you’re going to have some moments: sibling stuff, cousin stuff, hurt feelings stuff, and so much more stuff. Just ordinary stuff from ordinary people who love hard and are trying to lean hard into God’s faithfulness.

“O Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, those he redeemed from trouble …” Psalm 107:1-2

While I was away, I did take a few hours to think more deeply. I recounted deep, miraculous-feeling blessings from God. I could see how after seasons of challenge, for myself, for friends, for family, for church – God had responded graciously. I took comfort in remembering people finding their way through a mental health or career crisis. I gave thanks for the hard work so many have done to weather a global pandemic. I’m grateful for our staff community who work SO hard alongside such faithful, dedicated servants in our church.

The Psalm above is inviting us into a deep, clear-headed, long look over God’s faithfulness in our lives’ challenging and good seasons. This long look prevents us from the instinct to patronize others or to brag about good fortune that others might not get. It also prevents us from being unnecessarily negative in our lives, only seeing the day-to-day “grind” and never the long sweep of God’s faithfulness. When we pause with clear minds and hearts, we can see that God has been and will continue to be faithful in our lives’ best and worst moments. It is a gift to be loved by this God! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His steadfast love endures forever.

Wednesday Devotional

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch my devotional for the week titled, Aging. In case you didn’t know, aging takes us to a deeper place, whether we want to go there or not.

The United Methodist Church Today

The United Methodist Church has just gone through a grueling season of approving church departures in the United States. But amid the sadness of goodbyes, many U.S. annual conferences, including our own Western North Carolina Conference celebrates a renewed commitment to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ’s grace. Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton, the President of our Council of Bishops said, “We want to reclaim a sense of purpose. And so right alongside of lament and grief is hopefulness and joy.”

You can sense that in our Matthews United Methodist delegates to the Western North Carolina Conference as well. There were 31 of us at Lake Junaluska. Many of them wrote me notes about their annual conference experience this summer (June 16-18). Below are a few of them:

  • Nancy Harris – “Being at Lake Junaluska is so inspirational. Such a beautiful location! The worship services and sermons were fantastic! It is so good to see people I know from across the conference. We are truly a connectional church. I think God is calling us to remain strong in the United Methodist tradition, loving God and our neighbor, reaching out to include all people in our church, offering them God’s grace.”
  • Rick Benjamin – “I feel that God has indeed called us at Matthews to help lead our District and Conference and The UMC as a whole in the direction of greater inclusiveness and greater attention to the least and the lost. I believe that is the journey we’ve been on and need to continue on in the months and years ahead.”
  • Dale Webster – “I appreciated the thoughtful and intelligent discourse that took place around the petitions – I think it demonstrated the health of the denomination overall, and reinforced my belief that the UMC doesn’t require you to “check your brain at the door.” I felt reassured by the positive messaging of the Conference. I came away feeling that “the State of the Conference is good” as Bishop Carter noted, and there are reasons for optimism. We are coming out of the last several years in a positive outlook for the future. My takeaway for MUMC is that we are on the right path, with the right messaging. We need to continue to be welcoming to all, and open to discussion of social issues. It’s part of our DNA (both at MUMC and the larger UMC), and we should build on it. However, we also need to avoid the culture war “dog whistles” that divide us. Instead, continue to emphasize that we are doing what Christ called us to do.”

I’m so grateful for the amazing leaders that represent our nearly 150-year-old community of faith, hope and love.

Upcoming Events

I hope you’ll add the following events to your calendars & register for a growth opportunity:

  • 5th Sunday Fellowship – This Sunday, July 30, 12:15 pm in The Commons, with Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist & Matthews Presbyterian. Register here for lunch & fellowship by midnight tonight (July 26).
  • Community Forum – Tuesday, August 15, 7 pm at Mt. Moriah. More info here.
  • Hug-A-Cop – Saturday, August 19, 4 – 7 pm at Mt. Moriah. More info here.
  • Back to School Carnival – Saturday, August 26, 5:30 – 7 pm. More info here.
  • New Studies: Disciple, Beatitudes, The Good and Beautiful Life (In Person & Intergenerational Online Study), Luke: Gut-Level Compassion, The Anxiety Opportunity and Are Miracles A Step Away? View all opportunities.

This Sunday in Worship

We invite you to join us this Sunday at 8:15 am (Traditional; in person only), 9:30 am (Contemporary; in person or online here), 11:00 am (Traditional; in person or online here) or 12:30 (Spanish; in person or on demand here).

Our Spanish-speaking community will be inspired by Pastor Roldan this Sunday. He will be preaching from I Corinthians 1:26-31 with his sermon titled: Keeping the Correct Perspective.

I’m so excited to be with you for our 6th High Maintenance Relationship, The Green-Eyed Monster from Matthew 20:1-15. Please invite someone to come along with you this Sunday to church. Who knows, the person you invite may need the warmth of community. Who knows, they may need a little bit of inspiration and hope. Who knows, they may need to experience ordinary people serving an extraordinary God.

And now, as always, during these strange, uncertain, but hopeful days, remember … God does God’s best work in moments like this.

We are better … together.
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II

Did you know that Patricia Humphries-Bivens, a retired United Methodist pastor is now volunteering to help with hospital visits and care calls? Patricia and her husband, Laurence, are beautiful gifts to us.

Did you know that MUMC has an active Creation Care Ministry? Each month, creation care tips are posted on our Micah Connection page to “equip church members, families, and individuals to respond to God’s call to care for creation and do justice with our neighbors.” Please call the Church Office or contact Brenda Messera who leads our Creation Care team if you are interested in sharing your love for our earth by serving.

Did you know that Deborah Morrison has joined our staff as our Accounts Payable Coordinator? Since joining MUMC in 2020, Deborah has become very involved in the life of the church. You have seen her in the Sanctuary Choir and MUMC Orchestra (playing the flute). She is also a member of the Faith Sunday School Class, serving as its treasurer. Deborah follows in the footsteps of Rona Swakopf, who is stepping down to spend more time with extended family. Thank you for your service, Rona, and welcome, Deborah!

Did you know that we are fortunate to have purchased a “new-to-us” 15-passenger van? We received the van just in time for our United Kids Ministry to use it for Vacation Bible School this week, and all of our ministries will be able to use the van for years to come!