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Weekly E-Letter - For the Week of May 22nd, 2022


Hello FUMCA Friends and Families,

This past week I had the opportunity to serve with a couple of Pastors who had served my grandmother. One was newly appointed to her local church and the other had retired in 2015. Pastor David (retired) had done my grandfather’s funeral in 2001. He gave a really nice message about how he feels his time is completed having the honor to be a part of the closing of this chapter with my grandfather and grandmother. It was a blessing to serve with the both of them.

As I had the opportunity to travel and return home, I began to reflect on the work that pastors do and how we do the work. I also considered the question that I got from some of my family, early on in my seminary selection and decision to join the UMC. Some wondered why I would be Methodist. Why would I choose this denomination over others? Did I do my research, did I look into other options? I did. I’ve studied various expressions of Christianity and spent time with a number of pastors in the local areas where I served. I’ve been on ecumenical boards where a number of Christian churches were represented. I’ve served with inter-faith groups that sought to leverage the good will of our Jewish and Islamic brothers and sisters in creating a better community. We didn’t agree on all the facets of faith and God. And, when the group was in harmony, we weren’t there to evangelize one another. We were there to see how God might use us all in the efforts of good kingdom work.

But, back to my original question, why am I Methodist? Simply put, I’m drawn to the fervor and passion of John Wesley and the leaders that would come after him. In Wesley’s communications, journal, and sermons there is this sense that there is work to be done today, right now, not tomorrow and not later on. Methodism at its core comes with this desire and drawing of the spirit to move out into the world to share the good news of Christ through both word and deed. For Wesley, it wasn’t enough to say that we had received Christ if we were unwilling to be transformed by the spirit for the good works of God in our lives and the lives around us.

Some might see this emphasis as too outwardly focused on social justice initiatives around the world. I believe in a both/and approach to understanding Methodism’s emphasis on both personal and social holiness. Wesley firmly believed that one must participate in the salvation work of justification; however, it was God’s work of grace that saved us and gives us the spirit to engage that work of justification. This means that we will engage the need for spiritual transformation that comes in prayer, worship, study of scripture, accountability groups (small groups) and more. These are the tools that help to transform us into Christ-likeness that will shine the light into the world.

However, this work is not meant to be kept to ourselves. The work of salvation was not to make sure we got into heaven and ignored the plights of our brothers and sisters all around us. The faith we have in the saving work of Christ compels us to engage the troubles of the world. Wesley claimed that faith is expressed in good works. Good works are not the basis of salvation, but are the necessary outcomes of a faith that is transforming our lives. Wesley saw the importance of James’ letter in Chapter 2 that reviews this very necessity to have good works (deeds) accompany our salvation (faith).

For Wesley, and for me, faith is a work of our life that compels us to continue on towards sanctification (perfection). This work is completed in Christ, but does not allow me to ignore the work that is laid out before me. Faith in Christ, love of God, is an action that both transforms me and compels me to engage the spirit into the world that so desperately needs the good news of lives being transformed.

This Sunday we’ll consider that work and how we are given the call, sometimes called “vision” to begin this work. We’ll hear from Acts 16:9-15 and the vision Paul was given to go and do the good work of spreading the Gospel to others. I pray you will be able to join us and look to see how God has called each and every one of us to this good work.

I look forward to seeing you Sunday, online or in-person!

Grace & Peace,

Pastor Augie

Announcements:

Youth Director Position: It is with saddened hearts that SPR announces that Todd Leclair will be stepping down at the end of the school year to take a position closer to his home in SW Gainesville. In the coming week we will have a job posting for Youth Director posted. If you know of anyone with a heart for Youth Ministry, please contact Staff Parish or the Pastor.

Santa Fe Senior Celebrations: Senior Sunday is June 5th! We’ll be celebrating Turner Hilton, Conner Lewis, Jackson Bryan and Jake Hayes! These students have been a great part of our youth ministry and we wish them well as they celebrate their hard work and pray for God’s guidance on their years to come.

New Staff: Our new Pianist, Bill Powell, will be here on May 29th for his first Sunday with us. Also, this past Monday, James Wheeler joined the staff as the Director of Communications & Media. Be sure to say “Hi!” to them on Sunday mornings and welcome them to our church!

FL UMC Children’s Home: May 29th is our 5th Sunday special offering for the FL Methodist Children’s Home. There will be envelopes for a special offering to go directly to the Children’s Home that supports some of the most at-risk children in our state. Thank you for your loving support of this ministry!

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