Prayer – To Be With God

Prayer – To Be With God

Published June 26, 2024

6th Sunday after Pentecost
Just these lines, my friends …

… to say that 43 (more including other family members) of us from Matthews United Methodist Church (MUMC) returned to our homes after spending beautiful, worshipful, inspiring days (June 20-23) at Lake Junaluska, NC (about 25 miles west of Asheville). It was the annual gathering of the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church at Lake Junaluska. Lake J, as it is affectionately called, is the largest United Methodist Retreat and Conference Center in the world. It has also been the home of the World Methodist Council, representing nearly 80 different Christian denominations shaped by the influence of John/Charles Wesley (The Wesleyan Tradition).

Thank you for your prayers for last week’s gathering of the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church, themed “Life – With Christ, Each Other, and the World.” It was the 46th one I have attended in my ministry, and one of the most hope-filled, energizing, and forward-looking of them all. Videos for all the plenary sessions and worship services are available here.

Here were a few highlights for me:

  • Worship in historic Stuart Auditorium. This is a holy, holy place for so many United Methodist people. Put on your bucket list to worship one summer Sunday in that space and to walk Lake Junaluska.
  • We participated in beautiful centering prayers before each session as well as powerful sermons, Bible study and gorgeous music.
  • Many of us attended a powerful luncheon hosted by Rev. Gaston Warner and our friends with Zoe Empowers. Our very own, Amy DeVore, gave a word of witness during the luncheon about the impact of Zoe Empowers in her own life.
  • We heard our bishop, Ken Carter, continue calling us to becoming a better church. We concluded our time with Sunday morning worship and the “fixing” of the appointments of our clergy for MUMC.

– Rev. Paul Craig (elder) beginning his 19th year of service.

– Rev. Corey Milliet (deacon) beginning her 12th of service.

– Rev. Roldan Flores (local pastor) beginning his 12th of service.

– Rev. Bill Roth (retired elder) beginning his 1st year of part-time service.

– Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II (elder) beginning his 9th year of service.

All throughout the week, there was a spirit of lightness, joy, and expectation, culminating in what was a most meaningful worship service of licensing, commissioning, and ordination on Saturday night. I could hear John F. Kennedy’s inaugural words: “The torch has been passed to a new generation.” I’m grateful for the energy, commitment and vision of this new generation of leaders and am happy to be cheering them on!

May I also invite you to join me in remembering that future clergy won’t be found under cabbage leaves or dropped by a stork. They will be nurtured through the work of folks who will encourage children, youth and young adults to hear the call and respond. It will happen when youth group counselors tap kids on the shoulder and say, “Have you ever considered becoming a pastor?” It will happen when youth are given the opportunity to serve in mission and lead in worship. It happens when the still small voice of God’s spirit whispers through the silence calling your name.

If you’d like to serve as a delegate to the 2025 Annual Conference, we can work toward that happening. Just send me an email expressing your interest in serving. Next year’s Annual Conference will be June 19-22. Our Western North Carolina Conference is always looking for potential delegates. That is why we had 43 of us at Lake J: 5 clergy delegates, 5 lay delegates, and 33 district/conference delegates.

A very special word of thanksgiving for each of these persons from MUMC that were in attendance to serve as a delegate: Kathleen/Rick Benjamin, Susan Chambers, Trish/Hugh Clark, Wendy Hall, Nancy Harris, Carol/Sam Hatcher, Jan/Mike Horai, Katrina/Robert Larrison, Laurie Little, Will Little, Liz Mockler, Deborah/Don Morrison, Whitney Poplin, Alejandra Ramirez, Amy Ramsey, Paige/Hunter Ross, James Ross, Valerie/John Ross, Ramon Vivero Zamudio, Allie/Cam Waterson, Dale Webster, Eric White, Karen/Chuck Wilson, Becky Yates, Amy DeVore, Suzanne Pugh, Lee Goldstein, Jordan Roth, Corey Milliet, Roldan Flores and Paul Craig.

Here are a few takeaways and observations from some of our delegates:

Katrina Larrison (our Lay Leader beginning in February 2025) – “… what was most surprising was the richness and depth of the content and the passion of the speakers. Each presenter brought a perspective that was steeped in personal experience that made their words not just land on me, but penetrate my heart and sometimes my bones.”

Dale Webster – “I liked the bishop’s message about being a better church, and that we need to be ‘purple’. Identity politics are everywhere, and we need to keep in mind that we are all God’s children – there should be no ‘us’ or ‘them’.”

Wendy Hall – “… I am so thankful to be part of The United Methodist Church … because The UMC continues to choose love for everyone and social justice as major priorities, I am walking away from this weekend proud to be a United Methodist myself.”

Amy Ramsey – “I just don’t have the words for these last few days spent together with fellow United Methodist church laity and clergy from MUMC and all over the Western North Carolina Conference. My heart is bursting with pride and love for this courageous church that has chosen LOVE.”

Susan Chambers – “Wow, Annual Conference 2024 was truly an incredible experience for me … One of the most rewarding aspects for me was seeing how our church, MUMC, is at the forefront of emerging trends within both the conference and the broader church community. It’s humbling and inspiring to be leading in these areas and to witness the impact we’re making.”


2024 Capital Campaign & Questions We Hear You Asking

In case you missed the announcement regarding the feasibility study survey results and background that led to the unanimous Charge Conference vote to move forward with a 2024 Capital Campaign, please click to read the complete details. We appreciate all the feedback, questions and ideas received during the feasibility study process. Please tune in over the coming weeks as we feature answers to your questions or click on the FAQ document for an updated list.

Q5. Why wasn’t this project more focused on meeting disabled persons’ needs? Lenten study led people to believe that it would be mostly about accessibility for that community.

The feasibility/capital formation project was developed and charged by the Ad Council nearly two years ago. Initially, the big piece around the project was our 30-year-old HVAC (heat/air) equipment that was costing us thousands of dollars in repairs, and on the brink of permanent failure. It was the appointed Building Committee that broadened the focus to include both accessibility/inclusion and worship/arts early on in our discussions. So, for the last nearly 2 years the Building Committee (as charged by the Ad Council) has focused on three important items (accessibility/inclusion, worship/arts and heat/air).

The Embracing Disabilities Lenten study came later, with no plan to follow the series with a feasibility study around capital formation. It was completely by accident that Embracing Disabilities happened concurrently with our feasibility efforts … or most likely, a move of the Holy Spirit.

Q6. Why wasn’t there more participation from members of the disabled community?

Our goal is to do better integrating the disability community into our planning process. Grace Trumpower is now serving on the building committee and providing critical feedback as we develop further details. During the feasibility study process, we had input from Laurie Little and Rachel Ladnier. Rachel has a Masters Degree in Social Work from UNC Charlotte and has a breadth of knowledge in the area of disability studies. She is part of the Rainbow Express community and helped educate us on the topic of disability at Leadership Connection a number of years ago. Rachel’s mom also served on the building committee for Calvary Church and was part of the decision-making process around disability efforts for their sanctuary.

Q7. Why will handbells be placed behind the choir? And how will someone with disabilities be able to join them, if interested?

The handbells are in the back row in the renderings for placement during rehearsal. When the Bells play in any service, they will be in a U shape on the main chancel level. And if there is a time when Bells, Orchestra and Choir are united on a song, they will play from the top row of risers behind the choir.

Handbells as they are structured are not conducive for a person in a wheelchair to play. They must be able to stand above the level of the table and be able to swing bells back and forth as one of the many techniques used to play. A person with a disability who is not in a wheelchair, however, would still be able to participate.


Video Devotional

I can’t be trusted to do a day well, not a single day, without spending some part of it alone with God in prayer. My devotional for the week is titled Prayer: To Be With God.


This Sunday is Pastor Jenny’s Final Sunday With Us as One of our Pastors

Pastor Jenny Savage officially leaves our staff community this Sunday, June 30. We are so thankful for her three years as one of our clergy. And how about her marvelous message this past Sunday?!? You can watch, listen and worship by clicking here.

Pastor Jenny has touched us so deeply with her wisdom, humor, passion for hospitality and welcome. She will assist me in worship this Sunday and following the 11 am service, we will celebrate her service with us with a reception in The Commons. If you’d like to contribute to a love gift for Pastor Jenny, you can do so with a gift to her directly (non-taxable for Pastor Jenny) or you can mail a check (taxable for Pastor Jenny) to MUMC with “Love Gift – Pastor Jenny Gift” marked in the memo line or click here to make your gift online.

Summer Worship Series to Begin this Sunday

Par-a-dox – noun. 1. A statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality, expresses a possible truth.

What could be more paradoxical than Jesus’ description of the “blessed” life in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5)? What’s so “blessed” about being poor, meek, hungry or persecuted? The Beatitudes describe a way of life that contradicts some of the most commonly-held assumptions of the world around us. But in reality, they describe just how The Good Life … The God Life is to be lived. Instead of turning our lives upside down, they turn lives right side up.

Join us in worship beginning June 30 and continuing through Labor Day weekend for our summer series: The Good Life … The God Life. 


Upcoming Events

  • Music & Arts Camp – It’s camp week all throughout our building and across our grounds this week. It all culminates with the public performance of Not Your Average Joe – The Story of Joseph on Friday, June 28 at 6:30 pm in the Sanctuary. If you want to be inspired and filled with joy, then show up and support these wonderful young people and their efforts to learn and grow in the way of Jesus this week.
  • Summer Sundays for Kids:
    • Creative Summer Sundays in the Commons at 9:30 & 11:00 for rising 1st – 7th Graders. Create items relating to our Bible story or virtue. This week’s creative media: sand art! (Adults, come volunteer!)
    • Popsicles on the Playground 10:30 – 11:00. Relax with other families on the playground while the kids enjoy a cold treat & some playtime!
  • Sermon on the Mount – Starting July 9. Foundational evening study on the Beatitudes. Register
  • Beatitudes Women’s Small Group – Starting July 11. Delve deeper into our summer series with a Thursday morning small group! Register
  • Serve at VBS – July 22-26. YOU make sharing God’s love possible: 80% of campers who attend VBS do not attend church or have a church home. All adults & youth are invited to sign up to volunteer and share a few hours at any point during the week.


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 (CCH) will continue the series, Intentional Evangelism. Pastor Roldan will be preaching from Timothy 4:1-5, and his sermon is titled Today is the Day to Share the Word.

In all our morning sanctuary services, I will begin our summer worship series, The Good Life … The God Life. This Sunday’s message is titled The Way to the Good Life. You can prepare by reading Matthew 5:1-12.

This time of the year, there are many families in transition looking for a new faith community home. They are moving into your neighborhoods. These newcomers are looking for connection and a vital community of faith. Keep an eye out for someone and invite them to learn of the subtle, subversive and sublime way of Jesus.

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 Micah Connection is sponsoring a table in the Sanctuary Reception Area, where you can check your voter registration status? They can give you info on when/where/how you can update your address, vote early and find your precinct or early-voting location. Stop by the table the 2nd Sunday in July, August & September between worship services. NC Voting info here.


Did you know that MUMC recently made contributions to some worthwhile causes?
– The 2024 Annual Conference Offering is shared equally with two efforts (WNCC Campus Ministries & scholarship to youth & young adults for the 2025 Peace Conference). This contribution came from our Global Impact funds.
– Pastor Dawn Hand reached out to Pastor Chuck about the need for support for meals at the Black Methodists for Church Renewal Youth Harambee Conference held at Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC on June 26-30. This came from our Pastor’s Discretionary Fund.
Zoe Empowers offered a Staff Retreat to their team in Cary, NC, and MUMC gave a contribution to cover meals. This came from our Pastor’s Discretionary Fund.


Did you know that Coffee & Mingle was last Tuesday and we had all ages attending including some members of the Matthews Chamber of Commerce? Will Beans provided the delicious coffee and breakfast treats. We also had a couple of people come to check out the church for the first time who said this is a great way to meet people and decide if they want to attend a service. One assured us she will be coming on Sunday morning, and another attended the Morning of Wellness on Saturday as well. Invite your friends who do not attend church to come and meet folks at the next Coffee & Mingle on Tuesday August 20th at 10:00 am for a great way to check out the church and get to know some folks!


Did you know the Morning of Wellness on Saturday had great speakers who offered diverse pathways for enhancing people’s faith and spirituality? Everyone loved doing their own SoulCollage® to help them access their inner wisdom and creativity. Thanks to Margaret Wyche, Carolyn Perlman and Larry Watts for nurturing spiritual growth through innovative approaches and their passion for helping people to deepen their spiritual connections.