Keep it Positive!

Our Staff Parish Relations Committee recently

At Westview UMC we believe that gossip is detrimental to our church family and the world around us. We ask everyone involved at Westview to refrain from bringing negative issues to anyone who isn’t directly involved or who can’t solve the problem. We expect our staff and leaders to refrain from gossip.

How do you deal with the negativity in your life?

August 2019

Dear Westview UMC Family and Friends,


Pastors often hear, “I’ve done my time.” This is most commonly said in response to a request for volunteers. “I’ve done my time.” It seems that this saying equates volunteering and Kingdom Work with jail. I’ve done my time now I’m free to do whatever I want. I wonder what would have happened if Abraham had said to God, “I’ve done my time.” What if Mary, Moses, Noah, or any number of others had used this loophole?

Kingdom Work is work that we do to build up the Kingdom of God, to add to God’s family, and Good Works. These are behaviors that we as Christians should engage. At Westview we claim to be the hands of Christ right here for our community. God’s hands are anything but idle. God’s actions are purposeful and loving. Therefore as God’s hands we too must act with purpose and love.

“I’ve done my time.” Abraham and Sarah were around ninety years old when God moved them to and fro. They responded, “Here I am!” even though the how of what was to happen remained a mystery. Mary also responded with, “Here I am!” even though she was a young girl facing an uncertain path. Noah, Moses, David, and many more all responded, “Here I am.”

A woman from a previous church taught me a great deal about ministry. She was a cradle Methodist. That is she was born, raised, and grew old in Methodist churches. She was very active. She taught Sunday school, led the youth group, held leadership positions, and was a great Christian. This lady suffered many health issues later in life that caused her to be homebound unable to do the ministries that she loved so much. That didn’t stop her. God put a ministry on her heart and she responded, “Here I am.” She began writing notes of encouragement to the people in the church. She expanded that to the people in her neighborhood. She sent notes to elected officials simply giving encouragement. She wrote thousands of notes.

When she lost her eyesight people thought, “She’s done her time.” This wonderful lady turned that into, “Here I am!” She recruited her granddaughter to write the notes as she dictated them! This was a wonderful bonding experience for them and when this sweet lady passed over to glory her granddaughter continued writing those wonderful notes of encouragement.


Let us all turn, “I’ve done my time” into “Here I am Lord!


Blessings,
Pastor Tom

July 2019


As I was walking through Walmart this past week I noticed the back to school displays and realized how excited the children must be. After all how much freedom, fun, and fresh air can a child take before they go back to school?  It did make me realize that time has kept marching on and maybe even increased pace this summer. It seems that yesterday I was writing about summer vacations and family time and here it is the beginning of the school year.

Most of the children I have talked with are not excited about school. They have been enjoying their time away from a routine that keeps them busy at a school desk. I share with them that they can look at the start of school as a new beginning; a kind of do over. There will be new people to meet, challenges to face, and learning to accomplish. Looking back at the changes in the church I realize that we are very much a new church.

I do not mean that we are a new church start or that things will drastically change. As a new church we face certain challenges. We have people telling us we cannot do things this why or that because “we’ve never done it that way before.” We have people that are unsure how to plug in and get involved because new things can be messy and a bit confusing. We also have people waiting to hear about God and Jesus Christ; desperately needing to fill a void in their lives. Being a new church leaves us with questions. Who are we? What do we stand for? Why are we a church?

The mission statement of the United Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Our conference adds lines about empowering leaders to make disciples. Westview’s mission statement is to create, equip and send forth disciples to spread God’s love. How do we do this? Is this who we want to be? Is this enough? As a new church we have the opportunity to explore the answers to these questions and really look at what God is calling us to do in the mission field that is Fairview Tennessee.

God has called us to be the hands and feet of Jesus sent to a hurting world. The leadership of Westview will be meeting to discuss this theme on August 4th after the second service. If you are interested in being a part of leadership, ministry, or involved in a new beginning join us for lunch and conversation to see what Westview UMC will be doing for God in the coming months.

Blessings,

Pastor Tom

June 2019

Dear Westview Family and Friends,

Clergy and Lay Delegate members of the Tennessee Annual Conference met this past week in Brentwood Tennessee. Over the three days we participated in Holy Conferencing, a process of discerning God’s will for the United Methodist Churches of Middle Tennessee. At this Annual Conference we elected delegates to the next General Conference in 2020. We also approved direct billing of health insurance and pension of clergy serving local churches. We acknowledged and apologized for harm caused to LGBTQIA+ individuals by the church. The most exciting aspect of Annual Conference was the vote to form a new conference with the Memphis Annual Conference. Together we will be stronger in our Jurisdiction and the church as a whole. When more parts come together more can be accomplished because the many gifts combine to create a stronger whole. I look forward to working with our kinfolk from across the river.

In addition to Annual Conference news a date has been chosen to go to the Holy Lands. Join Brady Whitehead and me on January 13-22, 2020 as we set off on a life changing trip. We will visit sites like Petra, Qumran, Bethlehem, Jerusalem including the Garden Tomb and Church of the Holy Sepulchre. From Jerusalem we will travel to the Galilee region and visit Capernaum and many other sites! I am truly excited to share this opportunity with you. Brady has a vast knowledge of these sites and we will all learn a great deal from him and the guides as we travel. Brochures will be coming in the next week so keep an eye out and join us for a trip of a lifetime.

Blessings,
Pastor Tom

Our Way Forward


Recently a special session of the General Conference passed the Traditional Plan. this means our current statements about homosexuality, same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ persons have not fundamentally changed. The 2016 Book of Discipline statements are available here: Homosexuality: Full Book of Discipline statements.

We wish to be clear about the position of the United Methodist Church, while acknowledging that we are a church, and a congregation, divided on this issue. We believe this is going to continue to be debated within the UMC, and agree with the following statement of Bishop Bill McAlilly:

I want to say to our LGBTQ members and friends, you are beloved children of God. Many of you were baptized as infants in our churches, nurtured in Sunday school, and participated in our Youth Ministry. You were confirmed in our Churches. You are living out the tenets of your faith—in new and transformative ways that have never existed. You have given your life to Christ and His Church. Communities in the Tennessee and Memphis Conferences celebrate the gifts God has given you. I am looking for the churches who will be sanctuary for our LGBTQ sisters and brothers. We are the Church—and it is up us to demonstrate our love for God and our love for those God loves.

We believe God’s grace is available for all, and we welcome all believers into our fellowship. We are actively seeking ways that we can become a true sanctuary for those who have been hurt by the world or even the church itself, and ask for grace as we try to find our own way forward as a congregation.

To learn more about the recent vote, visit the following link:

http://www.umc.org/who-we-are/what-happened-and-what-didnt-at-general-conference-2019

or watch our district’s LiveStream discussion:

For more information, please reach out to Pastor Tom Pierce.

You Are Welcome

It can be hard to know if you’re truly welcomed in church. So, just to be clear – here are some examples of who is welcome in our church!

We welcome those who are single, married, divorced, widowed, gay, confused, filthy rich,

comfortable, or dirt poor.

We extend a special welcome to crying babies and excited toddlers.

We welcome you whether you can sing like Carrie Underwood or just mutter under your breath. You’re welcome here if you’re ‘just visiting,’ just woken up, or just got out of prison. We don’t care if you’re more Christian than Billy Graham, or haven’t been to church since Christmas ten years ago.

We welcome those who are over 60 but still haven’t grown up, and teenagers who are growing up too fast.

We welcome cross-fit moms, football dads, starving artists, corporate lawyers, vegetarians, and junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems,

are down in the dumps,

or don’t like ‘organized religion.’

(We’ve got some problems with it too!)

We welcome those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or are here because grandma is visiting and wanted to come to church.

We welcome those who are inked, pierced, both or neither. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, have had religion shoved down their throat as kids or got lost on the highway looking for Denny’s and wound up here by mistake.

We welcome the pious, the outcast, the misfit, the skeptic…and YOU!

My Worship Rules

Over the last few years the worship team has strived to make sure as many people are ministered to by the service as possible, from those who connect best with the old hymns to those who have gospel music deep in their soul, to those who are in step with the latest praise songs they sing on their morning commutes. It’s really hard to accommodate everyone, but it is my sincere desire that we support each other in our mutual effort to worship our God.

But recently I have received some complaints. In considering this feedback I realized that while I have tried to communicate any changes we have made, and I have believed we are getting enough feedback as we go along, I have not made the effort to communicate WHY we make changes. Why our worship service is the way it is. This song or that song, this style or that style, doesn’t make much of a difference to me personally.  When I think about worship, and lead the way in worship for our church, I follow my own set of rules that have nothing to do with style or tempo. Worship can be very cultural, but all of these “rules” supersede any cultural decisions a church may make. These are the things I believe deep in my core. These are my non-negotiables.

 

My rules for worship?

 

  1. Sing to the LORD a new song. Worship must be fresh, because we must be fully present when we worship God. This doesn’t mean you have to sing new songs all the time. But if your routines are lulling you into a comfortable pattern, it might be time for a new approach. A new song. Bring something new to the sanctuary – God is worth the effort.

Psalm 96

Sing to the LORD a new song;

sing to the LORD all the earth.

 

  1. God hears the heart. There’s a whole sermon series in this one verse, but let’s just say for now that God knows the truth of what is in your heart, and does not care how well you can hit that high note. You may feel like you’re hiding, tucked back in that pew, but He sees you just as if you’re singing all alone, twirling ‘round on a mountaintop with your arms stretched out.

John 4:24

“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

 

  1. Take it seriously. This doesn’t mean you can’t laugh. It doesn’t mean you have to be super-religious about everything. It means you are standing before the creator of the universe. How you approach Him does matter. The feeling we’re going for is “awe.”

Hebrews 12:28, 29

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

 

  1. Give of your very best. Everything you are is a sacrifice in worship to God. He’s not asking for what the church expects of you. He’s asking for much more. He’s asking for absolutely everything you are capable of giving.

Romans 12:1

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.

 

  1. It’s okay to go big. We’re worshiping the creator of all the noises. He likes our noises when they are used to praise him with deep joy. Any instrument that is available and any style of music. Not everything for every church. We have to find our own “right” way, which may be itself a noisy process involving lots of opinions, but we should do that together – in love.

Psalm 150:3-6

Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,

praise him with the harp and lyre,

Praise him with tambourine and dancing,

praise him with the strings and flute,

Praise him with the clash of cymbals,

praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.

 

To be very clear here, I am NOT asking for support of any instrument or any music style. The worship team doesn’t need encouragement, or discouragement, or anything in-between. We will do what is best for our congregation as a whole, under the leadership of the current minister, mindful of our history, our liturgy and discipline, but looking toward a hopeful future that includes new faces and new perspectives.

 

But I want to hear from you. When do you worship best? What brings you the closest to God during a service? What can we do more of, or less of, to help more people find a moment alone with their Creator amidst the crowd?

 

-Jill Turpin