Our November theme is Stories that make us better people.
Part of our bedtime routine with the children includes them jumping into their beds and exclaiming, read me a story. Depending on the time, we negotiate the number of stories that we will read. After some praying, singing, and tickling, they are ready for bed… of course there are the routine requests for water, bathroom, another tuck-in, etc. As I watch them sleep, I breath a sigh of relief AND pray a prayer of thanksgiving that they are growing into better people each day.
In my first 100 days as your pastor, you have shared stories with me that have encouraged and strengthened me; stories that have deepened my faith and widened my experiences. In our short time together, you have made me better…Thank you!
Stories should do precisely this – open us up to possibilities for growth. Stories can move us through our emotions, and connect us to a better understanding of ourselves.
In sharing your stories, I constantly heard that FUMC has been an integral part of the temporal and spiritual development of so many lives. This congregation has a sense of pride because of its history in Westfield and within the United Methodist denomination. Not only has the congregation shared their stories with me, but so has many of our Wesley Hall families as well as Westfield community members. In addition to your stories, allow me to share some common themes that I have heard in my first 100 days:
- People chose to live their faith at FUMC as a family because the church was deeply welcoming;
- FUMC felt like a great place where varied religious backgrounds could coexist;
- Once they entered our doors (though the architecture looked intimidating), people felt:
- At home
- Cared for, especially during difficult times
- Wesley Hall generates the same feelings, has a stellar reputation, and embodies institutional turnaround;
- FUMC must do a better job communicating our intangibles to the surrounding community;
- FUMC is the church that
- Has a beautiful gardening and landscaping in front;
- Is close to the YMCA;
- Is connected to Wesley Hall;
- Is involved with Family Promise;
- Has the pumpkin patch;
- Is across from the 9-11 memorial;
- Looks like an intimidating castle set up on the hill.
Stories open us up to possibilities for growth. In hearing all of the above, what are you thinking? Did I hear correctly? Let me know by e-mail (email@example.com) or by phone (909-233-4211).
In hearing these stories over the past 100 days, please be assured, I am committed to leading in such a way that makes FUMC a place where former members, current members, and people in the community want to come because FUMC adds to their life’s story and makes them better.
This month, let the stories that are being shared throughout our education classes, small groups, and in our worship services open you up to the possibilities of personal and communal growth.
May the stories of God move you,
Rev. William M. Williams, III