years ago, on 9/16/2000, I
danced with Kevin O’Kelley at a wedding. He drove me home to my mother's
house after the wedding, and on the way he told me he was a director of youth
ministries at HUMC. I was in my first semester of graduate school and thought,
"huh, that’s an interesting job." I think I even asked him how
long he thought he’d do that. I had never known anyone whose actual job
was in a church. I stepped foot in the church building, in the DDR,
for the first time about a month later when the youth threw him a surprise
party and I was invited. I started attending HUMC’s Heartsong about one month
later, attended the traditional worship service soon
after, and joined the church on Palm Sunday 2001. I
was married here. Our 3 girls were baptized here. Kevin’s
memorial service was here. I’ve been here for countless youth
and children’s events, VBS, XLs, and choir tours. I co-taught elementary
Sunday school, sang in the choir, and joined a silent UMW
circle. I had at least one child attending The Children’s Place
from February 2004 until August 2017, meaning I was in and out of the
education building doors nearly daily, and I have been a Board
member and then Chair of the daycare Advisory Board since 2007. I have lived,
been in meetings, slept, eaten, cried, and laughed in nearly every space that
this building contains. Probably every single person in this building has
given of their time, money, and prayers to support me and my family from
the moment I entered this church’s life.
have been times I’ve questioned my place in the church, the people in it, and
the purpose of the building and the structures it operates within. I remember reading
the Book of Discipline for the first time and the limiting statements
regarding homosexuality and serving in appointed positions. I
questioned. I’ve been hurt by individuals, groups,
and leaders in this church. I've likely hurt others
here. Although I was a churchgoer my entire life before HUMC, I had never belonged
to a church at so many levels. Being part of a church, the physical and
organized entity, has been a reminder of the imperfection of people and the
limits of expectations and hope, at times. It has been a challenge in
self-reflection and forgiveness. I’ve had to reframe my commitment many,
many times over the last 19 years. I’ve been surrounded by friends and members
who I know have done the same. Last week Ed’s sermon included the phrase
“crisis of commitment.” I felt the weight of those words for myself, our
church, and our community.
many of you, I give because of the LEGACY of my family in this church. I give
in FAITH, when finances are tight or unpredictable, and in
faith that my tithes and offerings will be used in a meaningful way. I
give for the PURPOSE that our church has in our community and in
the lives of all our members (past, present and future), reflected in our Mission
Statement. I give because I’ve experienced #transformativelove.
am an unlikely chair for your stewardship
campaign. For 18 out of the last 20 years I toggled between the Tuscaloosa and
Birmingham NPR stations to avoid the guilt of the fundraising drives.
The Fall competitive soccer season is extremely busy across my 3 girls, and I
am hardly ever in town on the weekends. I’ve been on Lay Leadership
when nominating people to this position and I’ve been on Finance for the last
10 years or so. I know the responsibility and potential weight of the position.
And yet I volunteered as your chair. I could not ignore the
nudges (possibly pushes) that I was feeling each time stewardship was
mentioned. I feel like this is a time, an uncertain time, where I am
compelled to stand here for this church and open up
conversations about what tithing and stewardship means. I feel
like this is a critical time that I will reflect on in the future and would
regret not doing my best.
won’t be that different from other years; you’ll receive letters, a pledge
card, hear from others in the congregation, and be asked to
pray/consider/pledge. To be honest, I have not figured out how to do this given
my personal feelings about where the larger UMC has been and is headed, but I
am committed to exploring this with you over the next year.
am going to ask each of you to consider why you give, possibly why you don’t.
Help me share those thoughts by sending me short texts, voicemail, emails, notes to
gather and share anonymously with the congregation. I’ve set up
a dedicated Google voice number to receive your thoughts at 704-561-1648.
You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week I will collate
these responses and share them in various platforms of ongoing
conversation until Pledge Sunday on 10/27. Thank you for
your openness to move through this season with me and your