Peace With Jesus

Peace With Jesus

Published February 28, 2024

3rd Sunday in Lent

Just these lines, my friends …

… to say that a deeply disturbing incident of Zoom bombing occurred at our Matthews Town Council meeting on Monday night (2/26). Several callers spewed hateful homophobic and antisemitic speech during the public comment time. I was not in attendance, but I’ve watched the 20 minutes of deeply hurtful commentary made by persons who have misrepresented our community.

Mayor John Higdon, and devoted member of our church, was unable to be at the meeting due to work commitments but offered these helpful words: “I regret the extremely unfortunate incident that interrupted the meeting last evening and I extend my apologies to anyone who was subjected to it including Town staff and meeting attendees,” Higdon said. “While I support the protection of free speech under the First amendment, I also condemn the hateful and offensive words used. They are completely at odds with the welcoming, inclusive community we wish to have in Matthews.” Thank you, Mayor.

AND those Zoom bombing hurtful, hateful words remind me of where we’ve (MUMC) driven our stake into the ground: to be an all-inclusive Christian community that lifts high the Cross and shares the love of Jesus. MUMC … in all you say and do, keep living and loving like Jesus.

Embracing Disabilities

We are moving into week three of our 2024 Lenten series, Embracing Disabilities: Creating an EVERYBODY Mentality. I do hope you have been participating at every level: Wednesday Dinners and/or Study, Making Music Together special event, daily devotionals (printed copy or PDF), Sunday Morning Groups (curriculum written by our planning team), guest speakers in Worship (last Sunday was Hunter Ross and his message, Faith is a Group Activity), reading the study book (My Body is Not a Prayer Request) and so much more. We are off to a wonderful start. If you missed worshipping with us, you can do so by clicking here. And … if you’d like more information about where you can plug in, please click here.

Here are a few rich, rich quotes from Hunter’s message from this past Sunday:

  • The product we create when we worship God in this space – the sound it makes, the visual beauty, the impressive building – none of that matters as much to God as it does that everyone be included.
  • Faith necessarily has to be a group thing. Making religion into too much of an individual exercise is exactly where we get lost.
  • I heard a person with multiple disabilities recently say: “It’s not the desire of disabled people to be less disabled, because that would mean being less themselves.” We have to stop thinking of accommodation as an expense on us or a “special ministry” because then we can justify letting ourselves off the hook for caring about it.

Also on Sunday morning, Christian McClendon, a talented artist with Rainbow Express Ministries, talked with our Kindergarten through 5th Grade kids and then led them in a watercolor painting activity. Christian created the artwork for our church-wide Lenten focus, Embracing Disabilities! I’m so grateful for Christian, his beautiful artwork, and for his leadership with our kids!



In all three of our morning sanctuary services on Sunday, I introduced our wonderful church lay leaders for 2024 (pictured below L-R): Mike Murphy (Servant Leader, Finance Committee), Katrina Larrison (Vice Servant Lay Leader), Heath Gilbert (Servant Leader, Staff Parish Relations Committee), Lee Goldstein (Servant Lay Leader), Sam Hatcher (Servant Leader, Endowment), Gene Monago (Servant Leader, Board of Trustees), Suzanne Pugh (Servant Leader, Administrative Council), Beth Merchant (Servant Leader, Global Impact Team; not pictured). To dig deeper into our 2024 Leadership Roster for the church, please click here.

Continue to hold close in your heart our group (Amy DeVore, Helen Dickerson, Carol Hoffman, Beth Merchant, Lynn Robison, Dawn Salley, Marilyn Sczech) in Kenya with Zoe Empowers. These folks didn’t go to Kenya to serve in missions in the way we typically understand. These individuals went to be a part of what Zoe was already doing in the community. They celebrated with groups of orphans who, in the words of Zoe Empowers, had turned from Beggars to Bosses. Through Zoe, we send seed money for these children and teens to begin their own business and live their own dreams, taking charge of their lives and living into God’s abundant gifts. Through Global Impact, your generosity is making the lives of orphans in Kenya better.

It is hard for me to believe, but in a few weeks, I’ll be entering my 46th year of ministry … AND I’ve never been more excited to serve MUMC and to be a United Methodist pastor. Hope is a key word for me. We often hear of only the negative things happening in the world and in The United Methodist Church. When we consider the recent disaffiliation of churches (25% overall), it is easy to think that the church’s future is bleak, but no. Being a connectional church is one of the strongest assets we have. It is who we are as United Methodists. We are stronger and better together. Great things are happening in our churches, and those who have remained want to make The UMC a stronger and more influential denomination.

I’ve always thought our three biggest strengths were accountability, connection, and theology. We do not do ministry in a silo, there is accountability. We are connected and join other churches in local and global ministry. And our theology, the best part of who we are, is a theology of grace: prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying grace.

I did not grow up a United Methodist Christian. I am a United Methodist by choice. When I was considering my call to ministry, I knew I wanted to be a part of a church I could believe in, align myself and raise my family. Karen and I made the right choice. We are by no means a perfect church, but we are a strong, vibrant, caring church, and our future is bright and filled with hope.

By the way, have I told you lately how much I love being one of your pastors?


As we continue our Embracing Disabilities Lenten emphasis, I’ve invited some of my friends to help with our weekly devotional. Please click the video below to watch “Peace with Jesus” with Ronda Blanchard. 40-Day Devotional: Complete PDF or Week 3.

Lent: Day 13 Reflection by Ronda

Upcoming Events

  • Insights & Q&A with Amy Julia Becker – Sunday, March 3 at 6:30 pm in the Sanctuary. Event details
  • Wednesday Dinners at 5:30 pm & Optional Study at 6:30 pm – Wednesdays, February 28 – March 20. Join the church community, including those with disabilities, for a meal (with special kid’s option) and fellowship. Book study on My Body is not a Prayer Request: Disability Justice in the Church by Amy Kenny. Childcare available for children 3 & under. Reserve your spot each week (by Monday prior) OR all in advance.
  • Parent’s Night Out – Friday, March 1, 6-8 pm Parents/Guardians enjoy a night out while kiddos (Infant – 6th Grade) enjoy treats, dinner, games, crafts & spring-time fun! Register by tonight!
  • Easter Sunday, March 31 – See Details for Worship, Order Easter Lilies in Honor/Memory of a loved one by March 4 & Order Caterpillars by March 3 for our Butterfly Release.
  • General Conference 2024 in Charlotte – The General Conference of The United Methodist Church is coming to Charlotte April 23 to May 3. I hope you take the time to read through this beginner’s guide to General Conference. You can do so by clicking here.

This Sunday in Worship

We invite you to join in worship 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).

In our Spanish-speaking CCH community, Pastor Roldan begins a new worship series, Learning from the Master. He will be teaching from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:10-16). His sermon title will be What the Teacher Sees.

This week we welcome Amy Julia Becker to worship with us for our Lenten series, Embracing Disabilities: Creating an EVERYBODY Mentality. Please also plan to attend a special event Sunday night at 6:30 pm in the Sanctuary for Insights with Q&A. Amy Julia helps people reimagine the good life through her writing and speaking on disability, faith, and culture. She is the author of To Be Made Well, White Picket Fences, Small Talk, and A Good and Perfect Gift. She is a guest opinion writer for national publications and hosts the Reimagining the Good Life podcast. Amy Julia is a graduate of Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary (MDiv). She lives with her husband and their three children in western Connecticut.

Amy Julia’s sermon for Sunday is titled, Made Well: How Jesus Changes the Story of Disability. She writes, “What stories do we tell ourselves as a culture about disability? How does Jesus tell a different story? What difference would it make for us, as a community, and as individuals, to live into Jesus’ story? John 5 offers us a way to better understand Jesus’ message of healing and wholeness for all of us.”

If you will, watch this clip of her from a recent interview she did on the NBC News Daily: 

NBC News NOW | Disability, Kids, and Friendship

In addition, each week in preparation for Sunday, I’m hopeful of your reading a Top 10 list from our study book, My Body is Not a Prayer Request by Dr. Amy Kenny. This is the book many of us are using to guide our learnings during this season. In describing this week’s Top 10 listing, Dr. Kenny writes, “Folks say these to me when they are trying to empathize with being disabled.” Please click here and read through the Top 10 listing, “I Know How You Feels,” in preparation for Sunday.

Be sure to invite someone to come to church, or maybe a couple. Be bold. You never know who might be seeking to be renewed and might be looking for a church whose future is bright.

And now, as always, during these strange, uncertain, and yet hope-filled days. Remember … God does God’s best work in moments like this.

Creating an EVERYBODY Mentality,

Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II

Did you know that the Western NC Conference of The United Methodist Church shared this article written by Ken Garfield in their e-news and on social media as an invitation and resource for our Embracing Disabilities: Creating an Everybody Mentality focused worship, groups and events?

Did you know that over 20 choir members are providing weekly support of Blair Road United Methodist Church on Sunday mornings at their 8:15 services? They have remained United Methodist.

Did you know that each Wednesday Liz Tikalsky (our Receptionist & Administrative Assistant for Global Impact & Pastor Jenny), gets to be the first one to greet young adults from Rainbow Express Ministries before they tidy up the Sanctuary and replace items in the pew holders each week? Our staff team is grateful for everyone who comes to help!