Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ.
I’m grateful for your prayers, and that God has seen fit to send me to the community of Westfield and the First United Methodist Church.
Bishop Schol has charged me, and all Greater New Jersey clergy, with the responsibility to lead the congregation to increase its vitality by:
- Planning and leading inspiring worship.
- Making new disciples of Jesus Christ.
- Involving more people in small groups to go deeper in faith in the Wesleyan tradition.
- Developing and growing leadership amongst the laity to lead our new and existing ministries.
- Engaging disciples in hands-on local and outside the community missions.
- Increasing the giving of disciples, including the 100% support of our United Methodist commitment to world service and shared ministries.
I could say, “Whew! That’s a lot of responsibility”; but what the Bishop expects of me, is what our Lord Jesus has commissioned all of His disciples to do:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. ~ Matthew 28:19-20
The joy in all of this responsibility, is that each one of us has varied ideas on how we can fulfill God’s vision. To that end, over the next 3 months my hope is to speak with all of you. Thank you to Traci Basaman, Peter Pantenla, and Joann Huber who are helping to coordinate these conversations. Please, reach out to them to ensure your visit has been scheduled.
Many of these conversations will focus on you and your story rather than on me and my story. So allow me to introduce a little of my story. I’ve been married to Joyce for over 8 years. She and I are the parents to Julia (7 years old come August 4th) and twin boys William and James (4 years old as of June 28th). Joyce and I graduated from Swarthmore College; me, a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, and Joyce a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. I received my Master’s of Divinity from Drew University School of Theology, and certifications in pre-medicine from Drexel College of Medicine. I was Ordained an Elder in 2015. For fun, I love to fish, garden, attempt to hit golf balls, and wrestle with my boys.
I grew up as the eldest child of three (two younger sisters) to an itinerant United Methodist preacher; thus, I was born in Dallas, Texas, lived in Amarillo & Lubbock, Texas, Wood River, Nebraska and Omaha Nebraska. Joyce is from Wenonah, New Jersey (Gloucester County), and has a younger sister. We’ve buried two of our children – Noah and Angel – twins who were born at 21 weeks of gestation; 2 weeks later I was appointed to Asbury, Atlantic City, 4 months later SuperStorm Sandy knocked us out of our home and city for 10 months, and I served a church similar to FUMC- large building, shrinking congregation. Nonetheless, because Philippians 4:6 tells us, don’t worry about anything, but through prayer and thanksgiving, tell God everything (paraphrased), I am assured, everything will be okay. And it has.
I know trust takes a while to build, but join me in trusting a God who speaks to our heart and tells us everything will be okay. We have work to do- a vision to fulfill-, but as you and I build trust, we will achieve God’s vision. And because we fulfill this work, as others journey through their own ups and downs in life, they will come to believe there is a God who also tells them, don’t be anxious, everything is going to be okay.
Thank you for welcoming me into your home.
Rev. William M. Williams, III