Stuck at the Waffle House
Every time I drive by a Waffle House I think about two moments in my life. A moment that makes me smile is the evening Olivia was born. Sharon and I took Ella to a Waffle House on a cold winter’s night, and there we had a sweet moment. The staff welcomed this man and woman with the little girl, and there was laughter. I remember that night and smile.
There is another moment I associate with Waffle House restaurants. That memory is more difficult. What is so painful about that memory?
Far from home
We were far from home. Sharon and I were 24 years old, we had a 9-month old, and I had resigned from my position with the State of Indiana to go off to seminary. We had never visited Duke, never seen the apartment complex where we had already signed a lease, and I had not met the senior pastor with whom I would be working on my Duke Field Education assignment. I drove the U-Haul truck, Sharon followed behind with Bryan in our car, and we crossed the mountains. Our first night in North Carolina was spent in Hickory.
Not at all what we expected
The August heat was oppressive when we arrived in Durham. The apartment complex wasn’t at all what we had expected, and we didn’t know what to do. Instead of unloading our things, we drove to a nearby Waffle House where we parked the truck, got a dish of freshwater for our over-heated cat, and discussed what to do. What do you do when you are in a new place and know absolutely no one? To whom do you turn? There was only one person who had given us his phone number to use if we needed help.
We called. He was out of town.
I remember sitting on the curb of that Waffle House, Sharon holding Bryan in her arms, our cat lapping away at the water dish, and feeling overwhelmed. We realized we had no other option but to move into the apartment at Shannon Manor.
I wish there had been someone there to whom we could have turned.
Will students turn to us & find a welcome?
Students by the thousands are moving into Bloomington. Look around and you’ll see IU students and Ivy Tech students. Will we be a faith community known for the hospitality and love we show a new generation of students?
The welcome we offer students isn’t something our Jubilee College Ministry does on its own, but every member of our congregation (long known as the home of the Wesley Foundation outreach to students on campus) is a key player in reaching out to students.
Last weekend we had students walk, in a torrential downpour, from campus to join us for worship. There are thousands on campus who are looking for connection, community, grace, opportunities to serve, and worship experiences that are holy and beautiful and true.
Ways you can help students find a home at First Methodist & Open Door
Travis Jeffords, Director of Jubilee College Ministries (working with Adam Stichter as our on-campus representative and Markus Dickinson as small group coordinator), lists the following ways we can all help welcome students into the life of this blessed congregation where they can be known, serve, grow and be loved.
- Pray for students and pray First Methodist & Open Door will offer an enthusiastic and loving welcome to all young adults who come our way.
- Be on the lookout for college faces on Sunday and just say hello! It is the informal hospitality and smiles of adults of all ages—and children—that often help students decide to settle at First Methodist.
- Take a few Jubilee postcards (available at Sanctuary entrances) and give them to any college student you may meet. God can use you to reach people!
- Send the email and phone number of any new students you know to Travis at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you would be available to drive students to church on a Sunday morning let us know. You may have to text the student the night before or Sunday morning to make sure they’re still coming, but we can help you with those arrangements. (Or, you may want to make a gift to the church that would allow us to provide transportation to students on Sunday mornings!)
We’ve all been new & we know little welcome signs are never little
One of the most ancient fragments of scripture, according to some scholars, is Deuteronomy 26:5. “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous.”
We’ve all been new. Our ancestors, at some point, were on the move and settled in new places. They depended on the kindness of strangers when they were far from home.
There are two moments as we went into North Carolina I remember with gladness. A grocery store stock boy in Hickory gave me the gift of a loaf of bread. The next day, as we stood in the sweltering darkness trying to figure out how to unload the upright piano, a man showed up at just the right time. Remarkably, he lifted one end of the piano and was instrumental in getting the piano inside our small apartment. Interestingly enough, the man appeared out of the darkness, asked if he could help, and then—after lifting the piano—we never saw him again.
When you are new someplace, little things are never little.
Will we be the people college students can turn to for community, help, service opportunities, and an adventure with the living God? Will we find joy in caring?
Look back at the above list of 5 steps. You need not pick up a piano, but you can do something!
Grace and peace,
ALL-CHURCH PICNIC SEPTEMBER 11TH
SINGLE WORSHIP CELEBRATION IN THE BUSKIRK-CHUMLEY AT 10 AM
Join us for a great day of worship and fellowship on September 11th. Throughout the year people tell us they want to spend more time together, and this is an opportunity to do just that!
There will be a combined worship celebration in the Buskirk-Chumley Theater (our Sanctuary can’t hold the entire congregation) at 10 am with both the Chancel Choir and Common Ground Band.
Following the service there will be an ALL CHURCH PICNIC outside First Methodist on East 4th Street (4th Street will be closed) and across the street in the old Post Office lot.
Join us for this special day!
We are looking for about 60 volunteers who will help with set up, serving, and tear down. There will be team leaders and we’ll make sure our volunteers work in two shifts so everyone can enjoy the party!
THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW BUT MAY FIND INTERESTING
- Small groups are getting started. Watch for more information over the next three weeks!
- Sunday evening classes in late September – October we will be offered to help you move towards financial freedom (budgeting, getting out of debt, handling college expenses, finishing strong, etc). Simple steps…open to the community! Details to come.
- Usher and greeters celebration will be held on Sunday, August 28th at 11 a.m. in the Great Hall. Don’t miss this time of fellowship with good food and ideas about how we can work together to provide a welcoming and safe environment for all.
- First Methodist. After much research and discussion, our team of experts in communications recommended we refer to our church as First Methodist. (In the past we have been known as First, First United, First United Methodist Church, The Open Door, FUMC, and FUMCB: all of these names made it confusing for the public) While our legal name doesn’t change and we continue our strong and historic ties to the United Methodist Church, we will use the name First Methodist to welcome people and communicate with the larger community. It’s clear and simple.
- The Washington Street entrance was closed because the steps and doors are a danger to all who use them. The estimated cost to repair them is well over $100,000 so there is no “quick fix.” Thank you for your patience.
Please keep your eyes (and heart!) open to welcome the new guests who will be in worship with us as the school year brings thousands of new friends to Bloomington. Open Door yard sign to place somewhere in your front yards should be in the Atrium on Tuesday, August 23.
Join us this Sunday, in a Jesus community where all are loved and welcomed, as we continue the sermon series, “Choosing to Cheat: who wins when work and family collide?” Pastor Mark Fenstermacher will be looking at Exodus 18:13-18 and Matthew 19:13-15 this week when we consider the sermon title of, “Choosing to Cheat: Picking Up the Pieces”. Please, invite a friend to join you!