In my very first meeting with a church leader from FUMC Gainesville in the spring of 2016, I received a challenge: Can you help us address our future? That’s not an exact quote or even a paraphrase, really, but the essence of what was said.
It was just a couple of weeks after the announcement of my pending appointment here that was to take effect in July, but I was already being asked to consider how we might envision what our congregation could look like in the years ahead. What I found as I continued to meet with the leadership here—Rev. Don Yeager, the staff, and lay leadership—was that there had been an expressed hunger to develop the ministries of the church in new ways.
That work began with a focus on re-imagining our worship life, a conversation that began even before I officially arrived and resulted in the launch of two new weekly worship experiences nine months later. It continued as we talked about what ministries with youth and children might look like, hired new staff, and began to address our debt with more vigor.
Along the way, we had multiple opportunities to engage with programs designed to help congregations like ours do that work in systematic ways. Though our lay leadership often felt as if that kind of process might be helpful, we continued to wait for the right time.
Now is that time! I’m happy to share with you that we have begun a process called “Holy Conversations,” a program designed and facilitated by the incredible folks at the Texas Methodist Foundation. Over the course of the next 6-7 months, a wonderful team of people from diverse perspectives and stages of life and relationship with our congregation will meet with our consultants, the Rev. John Thornburg and the Rev. Carol Montgomery. Our first meeting was held on February 5, and it was a wonderful start to the process.
Our team includes people young and not as young 😊,
some of whom have been members of FUMC for decades and others who are new to
our church. The team members are:
- Kent Wooldridge
- Kay James
- Gary Sutton
- Katie Brinkley
- Jason Brinkley
- Bernadette Trammell
- Edna Slater and
- Pastor John.
Our work together will be focused on assessing where we are as a church, what our resources are, and how our gifts match up with the needs of our community. And, if you’re wondering, you will have plenty of opportunities to participate, as well—to offer your thoughts and perspectives along the way. I hope that you will be in prayer as this work ensues. Without you, it will be incomplete!