Growing an Engaged Church: FUMC Westfield is a place where the community wants to be
One generation shall laud your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts. . ..
They shall celebrate the fame of your abundant goodness,
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. . ..
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom,
and tell of your power,
to make known to all people your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
(Psalm 145:4, 6, 11-12)
Beginning with the September 2019 issue of the FUMC Messenger, the format of the Messenger will change. Instead of the Messenger being used as a conduit to distribute upcoming or current information, the FUMC Messenger will be a publication that will look back and celebrate all that has taken place in the life of the church during the previous month. Current and new information will still be communicated via:
- The Sunday worship bulletin
- The weekly e-mailed FUMC Connect, and
- The FUMC Messenger calendar
Celebration is an important part of life
As we see in the above scripture, celebrating and recognizing the active presence of God in our individual and collective lives is a spiritual discipline. This act of celebration is the purpose of the new formatting. The hope is that the FUMC Messenger continues to be a publication that strengthens and deepens your relationship with God through your connection with the church.
In the spirit of looking back and celebrating the past, I’ve been reading the Messengers of the past. Some of the stories of interest to me, include:
Our Church is No. 10 in Giving to Advance Specials. (among all American Methodist Churches). It was written, “this is a sign that we do take seriously our “outreach” responsibility.” A reminder that FUMC Westfield is a church that looks beyond our walls. – Volume 23, September 8, 1967.
Mr. Dietrich Elected. It was written, “Mr. Dietrich was elected vice-president of the National Fellowship of Methodist Musicians.” A reminder of our great musical history. – Volume 23, September 15, 1967.
Constitution Week. It was written, “Sunday, September 17, marks the 180th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of the United States by the Constitutional Convention… for we are ever in the process of attaining the goals of the Preamble! A reminder of FUMC Westfield’s then understanding of the scripture, ‘be in the world, but not of the world’ ~ 1 John 2:15-17. I’m reminded that last week (August 25, 2019 ), FUMC Westfield tolled the bell for 4 straight minutes to recognize the 400th sorrowful anniversary of our country’s involvement in the North American Slave Trade System (1 minute for each century). – Volume 23, September 15, 1967.
Tolerance for Frustration. A September 17, 1967 sermon by Dr. Hunt. The Sanctuary Choir sung, ‘Rejoice in the Lord Always’ on this day. September seems to be the month when frustration is at its peak. To recognize and rejoice in the Lord’s presence in our lives must have been healing to the soul. – Volume 23, September 15, 1967.
Choir Room Designated as Kenneth Sprague Memorial. The large choir room is a memorial to Kenneth B. Sprague, who died on August 10. Mr. Sprague was chairman of the building committee which planned the re-modeling of the Chapel Wing in 1961-62 and which made possible new facilities for our music ministry. A deep gratitude for those who lead our church in growth and for those who follow a dynamic vision. – Volume 23, September 22, 1967.
Search for Faith and a Name. The adult discussion group (previously called the Married Couples Class) will begin its Fall program with the series, “Search for A More Meaningful Faith.” … Adults, couples or singles, are invited to join the challenging discussions, enjoy the fellowship and test your involvement with that of the Church. A constant series for us all, even today, as we seek to grow deeper roots of faith. – Volume 23, September 22, 1967.
FUMC Westfield has always been a church where people of faith strengthen their discipleship walk, celebrate each other, and constantly look for ways to grow in faith, service, and love. It was a treat to read these past Messenger articles. If you’re interested in reading these and other editions, they will be inside the display cabinet on the second floor outside of the large choir room.
This past Summer was an opportunity to reflect on how we live, reflect, and grow as disciples in 2019. Times have changed since 1967, but the presence of the sin’s permeation in our lives remains constant. And thus, the saving grace and love of Jesus Christ continues to serve as a necessary beckon of hope in our daily lives, regardless of the year. Discipleship then and discipleship now invites us to recognize, daily, manifestations of sin and our freedom and power in Christ to reject these manifestations.
I celebrate the history of FUMC Westfield to organize a community of faith that is centered around being life-long students of Jesus Christ. In very practical ways, we continue to learn the principles of our faith that help us grow, and for this, I say, Amen.
As you read this month’s messenger, I invite you into a spiritual practice of celebration and gratitude; give God thanks for all that God has and is doing within your life as well as this community of faith.
You’re always invited to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you haven’t attended worship in a while, please come back. There is a place for you.
Rev. William M. Williams, III