3rd Sunday after Pentecost
Just these lines, my friends …
… to say thank you for your presence in worship this past Sunday. My dear friend, Rev. Luke Maybry was not able to preach due to the death of his mother early on Sunday morning in Spartanburg, but we were fortunate to have Rev. Lisa McLennan, the new Dean of Union Seminary/Charlotte, to put the Word into words for us. Like the Queen of Sheba (in her sermon), we will not be the same. I hope you’ll watch here. You’ll be thankful you did.
Our young people are at it again. They are off on mission trips in Johnson City, TN and Philadelphia, PA making the love of God real in communities filled with suffering people. In addition, they are having fun, building relationships with each other, deepening their relationship with Jesus, and learning what it means to serve by loving our neighbor as ourselves.
Our Music and Arts Camp, with 80+ children led by 50+ volunteers, was a roaring success. The musical presented on Friday evening was called Happily Forever After. Thank you to everyone who came & enjoyed the live performance. We are grateful for the staff and 54 volunteer leaders (last photo) who made the experience possible! A special thank you to Abigail Okland for guiding us through this big week.
Let’s not dismiss the significance of what is happening in these experiences for our children and youth. Their lives are being formed by their faith and nurtured by the Christian leaders who love and support them. Take a moment and celebrate the WOW of what God is doing; a moment to celebrate this victory in the church!
I could go on, but I will stop with a week’s worth of things. What about you? What do you need to take a moment and celebrate? Let’s all take time to say thank you to God for the good things and good people in our life. Don’t waste an opportunity to celebrate!
On Monday, we celebrated Juneteenth on the Town Green in Matthews. This day is known as “Freedom Day” in the African American community. Juneteenth is short for June 19, 1865, which is the day that slaves in Galveston, TX were finally given the enforcement needed for what the Emancipation Proclamation had done two years earlier. History tells us that when the Union soldiers finally reached them, these slaves sang and danced for joy at their new freedom. Even though this act of joy would have been dangerous for them, freedom from the pain and toil of slavery was cause for great celebration! This freedom holiday celebrates the day when all slaves truly became free for the first time across our country.
Juneteenth is an important holiday because it recognizes a major milestone in our country’s history, and it reminds us that sometimes, we don’t hear the full story. Some of us may have learned of Juneteenth because awareness of the holiday has become mainstream in our culture. Juneteenth is also important to us today, because it reminds us that, as Dr. King often told his audiences, “the long moral arc of the universe moves toward justice.” On holidays like Juneteenth, we remember that freedom doesn’t come easily. Just as those slaves in Texas had to wait many years to experience that freedom, so too do many communities still wait for freedom in other ways. Most especially, we celebrate our nation’s continued effort to bring awareness to the long struggle for freedom for Black Americans.
At MUMC, we are committed to welcoming and loving All people. The work of our Micah Connection is not just to love diverse people who have known discrimination, but to honor the diversity of God’s creation as we continue to educate ourselves on the diverse experiences of our neighbors. Love begins as we come to “know” others and truly celebrate their uniquenesses. The work of the Micah Connection includes education, relationship building, and opportunities for deep self-reflection. If you’d like to be involved, please contact Amy DeVore (704-815-1985 or AmyD@MatthewsUMC.org).
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday, if not before. Be sure and invite someone to church, or why don’t you come in person this week? That would be quite a celebration as we worship our mighty God!
The Worshipful Work of the Western North Carolina Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
This past week, our clergy and an equal number of lay delegates, plus 15 district/conference delegates who are MUMC members, spent Friday through Sunday Noon engaged in the work of The United Methodist Church called the Annual Conference. It was the first time since 2019 that we gathered in person. Like so many others, we had been meeting virtually. The Western North Carolina Conference is made up of nearly 1,000 churches organized into 8 districts. We are active in communities in and around Charlotte, Mt. Airy, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Asheville, Murphy and everywhere in between. Total membership of these churches is just over 250,000 persons.
The Annual Conference meets each year during the third week of June to engage in the business and work of the church and experience exciting worship and share the good work happening across our connection. It is much like going to a big, wonderful family reunion. It was good to see clergy friends, colleagues, former church folk, as well as new people.
The days were active and busy. The clergy session met on Thursday and approved candidates for ministry. Friday morning, we worshiped together with 2000+ delegates gathered. In the early afternoon, we heard an important episcopal address from our bishop, Ken Carter. Late Friday afternoon, we worshiped and gave thanks to God for those clergy retiring from active service. Rev. Patricia Pegram, who serves throughout MUMC and sings in our Sanctuary Choir, was one of those to retire after a number of years of faithful service. Then on Saturday morning we remembered those of our clergy/spouses who have entered life eternal this past year. Our very own Rev. Dawn Hand (served MUMC from 2006 to 2011) preached a powerfully moving sermon. She concluded her message with these words: “… that when we find ourselves standing in Glory in the presence of The Light, there will be no “-isms” – no racism or sexism, no “red sides or blue sides,” no us and no them. When we stand in God’s presence, “everybody is somebody.”
This past May, as many of you may know, a new denomination was formed by persons who feel they can no longer remain in The United Methodist Church. On Saturday, Bishop Carter offered a blessing for 17 congregations completing their due diligence work in compliance with Paragraph 2553 of The United Methodist Book of Discipline. We approved legislation to be gracious and helpful for churches who feel they must make that move. Bishop Carter asked all of us to pledge to never disparage anyone for their choice and asked for the same in return.
You cannot imagine how honored I am to have spent the last 45 years of my life serving in this amazing tradition of The United Methodist Church. The UMC is a remarkable expression of faith that is all about Jesus Christ as the center of our lives. The holy scriptures are central to our faith and belief. As Bishop Carter reminded us, “Our doctrinal standards, article of religion – our key beliefs – have not changed.” We are also a grace-centered church with a wide welcome for all God’s children! I am glad that so many churches across the U.S. love our United Methodist tradition and so many across the globe have made the commitment to remain United Methodists – including the churches of Africa, Philippines, and Europe. We are truly a global church!
I also love that our church is filled with diversity. God wired diversity into the very creation itself! But I also love that unity is one of our high values. God also reveals that to us in the creation story and all the way through Jesus in John 17 and the vision of heaven in Revelation! I ask that you continue to pray for Matthews United Methodist and The United Methodist Church.
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch my devotional for the week titled, “The Original Six-Word Story.”
This Sunday in Worship
We invite you to join this Sunday in person or online at 8:15 am (traditional – in person only), 9:30 am (contemporary), 11:00 am (traditional) or 12:30 (Spanish – in person only). It is Pentecost (the birthday of the Church and the coming of the Holy Spirit) Sunday. If you can, please wear red.
In our Spanish-speaking CCH community, Pastor Roldan is preaching from Luke 6:46-49 and his sermon title: Take Care of Your Foundations.
This Sunday, in our morning services, we will be sharing in vibrant worship including powerful music and moving baptisms. In addition, we will show for the very first time a moving GodStory from one of our young people, Caroline Arndt. Her story involves a remarkable relationship she developed with the Crossnore Communities for Children. As well, the title of my sermon is I Choose the Church.
And now, as always, during these strange, uncertain, and hopeful days, remember … God does God’s best work in moments like this.
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II
Did you know that Darin Ford and Janet Lilley were married on Saturday, June 18 in a ceremony in Chimney Rock, NC? Congratulations, Darin & Janet!
Did you know that Home2Home Ministry delivered 50 pieces of furniture to Red Springs, NC on Wednesday, June 15?