We celebrate Father’s Day this coming Sunday. Father’s Day doesn’t typically get the same amount of “press” as Mother’s Day does—and most Fathers I know are O.K. with that. And it’s a tough holiday because there is that awkward “what do we get for dad?” thing. Maybe a fishing lure that lights up or a 36-in-one tool.
Let me suggest an alternative for all of us Dads—I suggest you write a letter to your children—each child individually. In this letter, tell that child what it is about them that you love the most, why you are so proud of them, etc.
I am not doubting that most (all) of us say these things out loud regularly. Just thinking that a hand-written letter from you would be such a treasure for your child (children). Whether they are 4 or 40, this letter could mean so much—something I bet they will keep forever.
So dads, would you consider this year giving something special to your children? Write that letter and give it to them this Sunday. Because the truth is, they are probably the best gift you’ve ever had, and what better way to celebrate Father’s Day than to acknowledge that.
And if you DO get an electric fishing lure, be sure to receive it as if it was the best gift you’ve ever gotten.
As you read this, we will have just concluded the 48th session of the Tennessee Annual Conference. Each year, pastors and lay members from churches all across Middle Tennessee gather to hear reports and dream for the future. This year your lay delegate was John Dickson and your alternate delegate was Jo Dorris Anderson. However, also elected from our congregation to serve as “at-large” lay delegates were Don Ladd and Keith Enders, so our church was very well represented.
I’d be less than truthful if I told you that sitting through long reports was exciting—unless your idea of excitement is watching paint dry. But, there are several very meaningful worship experiences and Bible Studies given by our Bishop or a visiting Bishop or professor. The service of Ordination each year is the high point of the week. The Memorial Service honoring our dead is always powerful. And it is always uplifting to hear of the many good things happening among Methodists in Middle Tennessee. We are starting several new churches in the area in places where new subdivisions and new growth is occurring. Yes, we have some churches in trouble—churches that once upon a time were strong and vital, but now finding themselves in areas of decline and transition—but Methodism is alive and well here.
John Wesley created these yearly conferences (actually at one time they were held quarterly) as a way of us engaging in what he called “Holy Conferencing”. Wesley was convinced that the Body Of Christ was at its best whenever they came together in prayer and love to make decisions about the well-being of the church. Our annual conference continues to gather in that same spirit.
This year, we elected clergy and lay delegates to the General Conference meeting next year for its Quadrennial (every 4 years) Meeting. That gathering will set the tone and direction for Methodism in this country and around the world. Delegates will come from Europe, Africa, Asia, and Central America as well as from around the United States. This election is always the cause of a lot of excitement.
We have all heard that mainstream Christian denominations (Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, etc.) have entered into a season of decline. That this is true is undeniable. But contrary to the chorus of media who are sounding the death knell, the church is not dying. The church is simply changing—shifting—into what it will be for the foreseeable future. Make no mistake—if we as believers refuse to tell our faith stories and share with people why our lives are better because we believe, then we may very well see ever more decline in our ranks.
What was true at that first Pentecost It is still true today. The Spirit of God moves among us in powerful ways. Lives are transformed. Brokenness is healed. Those who were blind can now see. It remains up to us—as God’s partners—to sew good seed and then watch what God can do with it.
We had a great day last Sunday during Sip and Dip for our “Barnabas Ministry Reveal”. By now most of you know that over the past several years, Carol McDonough has developed this unique ministry for our college-aged students. It’s known as The Barnabas Ministry and is basically a “secret friend” effort in which one of us is “paired” with one of our college students. Throughout the year the Barnabas Minister sends notes of encouragement and little “goodies” to lift the spirits of these students. The relationship is kept secret until that Sunday in May when we invite the students to come and meet their “Barnabas”.
Come September, you will have a chance to become a Barnabas for one of next year’s college crop. I hope you’ll consider it. Remaining connected to their church home is important for these students—no matter how far away they go for school—and they are always appreciative of the thoughts.
While we’re at it, most of you also know that our church has been giving scholarships for years through the Jubilee Scholarship Fund. This Fund now resides within the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee (CFMT) and their Board of Directors is responsible for selecting the most worthy students.
This year a total of thirteen (13) students have been awarded a scholarship through the Jubilee Fund. They are:
Jacob Bumpus of Cheatham County H.S. to attend U.T. Chattanooga
Tahreem Fatima—a past recipient--of Martin Luther King H.S. attending David Lipscomb University
Gabriela Flores—a past recipient--of Maplewood H.S. attending Tennessee State University
Cheyenne Gavin of Hume Fogg H.S. to attend David Lipscomb University
Salvador Hernandez—a past recipient--of Glencliff H.S. attending Western Kentucky University
Jacob Hill of McGavock H.S. to attend Trevecca Nazarene College
Hang T. Nguyen—a past recipient--of Hillwood H.S. attending David Lipscomb University
Victoria Smith of Oakland H.S. to attend U.T. Knoxville
Jasmine Snell—a past recipient--of John Overton H.S. attending U.T. Chattanooga
Jacob Whitehair of Blackman H.S. to attend U.T. Chattanooga
Kevin Williams of Hume Fogg H.S. to attend U.T. Knoxville
Alex Wu—a past recipient--of Hume Fogg H.S. attending Notre Dame University
Corey Wu of John Overton H.S. to attend U.T. Knoxville
These scholarships are need-based and allow these young men and women to attend college to pursue their dreams. The Jubilee Scholarship is a vital ministry for young people.
Kristin Clark-Banks is the pastor of Forest Hills UMC.