The Questions We Ask at the Door…
Walking past the front desk of the YMCA on my way out, I heard a young woman say, “We’re brand new in town.” Clinging to her leg was a little girl who looked to be around four years of age, and there was an infant in her arms. She was trying to figure out how to get started. She wanted to know about the YMCA and what it had to offer, and how to be a participant. Bloomington was new territory for her. New territory can be overwhelming as well as being exciting.
I slowed down, as I heard the woman’s exchange with the counter person and thought of going back to introduce myself. I thought of telling her to call First Methodist if she and her family had questions about the town, good places to eat where to get a car fixed, shop, the best hardware.
But I didn’t go back. I didn’t want to be pushy and, besides, I didn’t have a business card with me. I wish I had taken a moment and gone back just to say, “Welcome. This is a good place. Let us know how we can help.”
The next time I am in that kind of moment, I’ll go back. That moment, though, made me think about the questions we ask when we stand at the door of a community, a classroom, or a church.
Will I be welcomed here? Is there a place for me? Is it safe here?
The Open Door
More than a decade ago, the people of First Methodist had a dream. The dream was about a worshipping community that would welcome all people, and share the love and grace of God in a non-traditional way.
People could come as they are. Suits or shorts, shoes or sandals, full of faith or full of questions, young, old, student or non-student, rich or poor, living in a mansion, dorm room or the street, black or white or brown, gay or straight: everyone would be welcome!
People would be welcomed.They wouldn’t be tolerated but welcomed! They would be included. People would make room for them – along with their dreams, fears, faith and gifts.
People would be able to put their passions and gifts to work in serving others. People would be invited into a partnership as they worship, asking questions and learning about life with God as they reach out to serve.
People, in a world where there is an epidemic of loneliness, would get to break bread with other people, sing side by side with other people, and have the opportunity to be a part of a small group.
People would be introduced. Introduced to a God who doesn’t sit on some cosmic throne, eager to judge and reject people when they are imperfect. Introduced to a God who loves all, seeks all, and has a truth and grace that can make the wounded whole. People would be introduced to the Jewish Carpenter who many believe is Lord, but this Open Door community would also respect all faith traditions and live out its bold faith with humility…knowing we don’t have a monopoly on God truth.
People would be part of a faith community that wasn’t about building up its own little religious empire, but loving the whole world…and giving itself away to God and others.
An invitation to a new chapter for Open Door
As we look towards the start of a new school year, we are embarking on a new, exciting chapter at The Open Door. Those of us who lead and participate in The Open Door believe it is time for a conversation about what we’re doing, who we are, and how we will reach out to the world in new ways. We also believe this moment is a time for recapturing—as First Methodist—our early passion for The Open Door.
How will this new chapter begin? We don’t know every twist and turn in the road ahead, but at least we know this new chapter will include:
- A strategic conversation, with leaders and attendees, on Sunday, July 23rd, at 12:30 p.m. in Rooms 218-219 at First Methodist. We’ll pray together, talk together, share observations, questions and hopes.
- Please RSVP by Tuesday, July 18th at Noon if you want to have pizza and drinks. A $4 per person donation is requested for the food.
- An invitation to the worshipping congregation in the Sanctuary to consider the dream that is The Open Door, pray for this dream, lift up this dream and share it with friends, neighbors and co-workers, and perhaps even make a commitment to join The Open Door worshipping community for a season or two.
- A review of our worship planning, and how we celebrate the faithfulness and love of God when we gather at the Buskirk-Chumley. We’ll look at everything from hospitality to the preaching plan to music and staging.
- An intentional focus on publicity about The Open Door to the wider community.
I, along with Pastor Teri and the team at The Open Door, invite you to join us in an exciting new chapter at The Open Door. Join us on the 23rd for prayer and conversation and a dream-fest. Join us in praying for The Open Door. Be intentional about sharing the news about The Open Door with the people you know. And consider becoming a part of this amazing community!
- Thank you to all those who have responded so generously that we have gone past (!) our $100,000 excel goal to close our 2017 operating budget gap. (Just a month or so ago you went way past our $20,000 goal for the Korean Parsonage Project and gave more than $31,000 to that great cause!) First Methodist is a generous community in so many ways!
- Please read the paragraph below introducing Pastor Kevin Smigielski. Pastor Kevin will be our Pastor of Youth and Young Adults (Jubilee). And please continue introducing yourselves to Pastor Teri Crouse as she settles in and becomes a part of our community.
- First Methodist is currently looking for a gifted, committed person to join our church staff as Director of Finance. This person’s basic focus will be in budgeting, facilities and human resources. We are accepting applications and hope to have someone hired within the next month.
- Join us this Sunday as we continue The Story by exploring The Trials of a King. One of the great stories of scripture is the story of King David, and we will be telling the 2nd half of David’s story.
Thank you for the privilege of serving Christ with you!
Meet Reverend Kevin Smiegelski, our new Pastor of Youth and Young Adults
I come to First Methodist, having recently graduated from Duke Divinity School and spending the past year at Norton Hospital in Louisville, KY as a Resident Chaplain. First Methodist will be my third pastoral appointment; having been an interim pastor for a 2-pt charge in the North Carolina Conference while finishing seminary and just recently serving Christ UMC in Georgetown, IN. I have directed youth and young adult ministries in South Bend, Marion, Fort Wayne and Sherrills Ford, NC over a ten year span. During that time I’ve also had opportunities to travel to Europe, Africa and Central America to partner with Christian outreach organizations. I’m excited to live once again in the heart of Hoosier country but I will always be devoted to my Duke Blue Devils. I bring two dogs with me – Finn and Tucker – and a love for reading, playing tennis, backpacking, watching college football and trying to make pottery. I hope my time at First Methodist will yield deeper connections with God, a stronger sense of belonging for youth and young adults in the Church and clearer understandings of who we are as children of God.
View a welcome video from Kevin here: https://youtu.be/6r6VU42OKD4
Attention Parents & Teens!
Don’t stay inside all summer!
View our updated list of Summer Youth Events…
Download the First Methodist Summer Youth Schedule 2017. Print it out. Hang it on the fridge. Then come join the Summer Fun!
This week we’re continuing our sermon series, THE STORY. If you don’t yet have your own copy of THE STORY, you can purchase one from the church office for $10 or order online here. If you’re interested in going deeper, the Adult Companion Guide is also available.