From Our Pastor

Feeding the Hungry

Posted 19 July, 2018 by Pastor Keith Ritchie

Though I always know I am more than blessed to serve as pastor of First UMC, I was especially reminded as I arrived at church this morning how blessed I am to worship and serve God with you.

First, I went to the Uptown Ministry Center, as I have each morning this week, to see the opening exercises of Vacation Bible School. This has been such a wonderful and exciting week as over one hundred children and volunteers have experienced "the ride of a lifetime with God" at "Rolling River Rampage!" So many volunteers of all ages have blessed the children with their leadership in music, crafts, snacks, games, and Bible stories. This has been a great way to begin each day this week!

After visiting VBS, I then came to the church office building. Before coming upstairs to my office, I stopped in at the Fellowship Hall. There, in the kitchen, before preparing meals for our Thursday lunch bunch guests, I found volunteers preparing meals for our neighbors still displaced by a recent fire to their apartment complex. With great passion and energy these meals were being prepared by those who know it is a blessing to be called by God to serve him as we serve our neighbors. As I recall my experience with VBS this morning, I am thankful that God has brought us into ministry with one another and grateful for your response to God's call to serve and worship Him. (I also share that I am grateful to the Danville District: upon learning that we were helping feed our displaced neighbors, the District Board of Missions decided to give us a grant of $500 toward this ministry.)

We worship this Sunday with Jesus feeding the five thousand, as found in Mark, chapter six. This is the only miracle found in each of the four gospels. As we share this scripture, we will notice that it sets before us images gathered from the 23rd Psalm. I believe, as we worship, we will find these images very comforting and welcoming. I find this scripture to be scripture inviting us to table as well, so we will share in the Lord's Supper as we worship. We also have the great joy of welcoming a new member to FUMC at 11am, and Jill Gardner, our new Director of Music Ministries, will sing at both the 8:45am and 11am services.

You may recall that last November, First UMC hosted the "Martinsville Community Care Collaborative." In doing, we partnered with Liberty University and numerous local agencies to provide health care and other services to underserved residents in this area. We served close to three hundred persons! We are to host this event again on Saturday, November 3. First planning meeting for this ministry was held at the church yesterday. I am excited and grateful to be part of this ministry; I ask you to remember this ministry in prayer. I also ask you to mark this on your calendar; there are numerous opportunities to volunteer in this ministry, a ministry very powerful and blessed.

As the United Methodist Church prepares for a called General Conference next February, it has been announced that the Commission on a Way Forward's (COWF) final report is now available. Click here to view it.

As discussed for some time now, this report and the work of the COWF addresses the ongoing conversation in the UMC regarding the church's view on human sexuality. So as to participate in this conversation in a faithful way, and so as to prepare for this called General Conference, I invite you to take part in a study of, "Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church." This study begins Tuesday, September 18, at 7pm and runs for six weeks. The Rev. David Mucha of Roanoke will lead this study. Registration is required; contact me or the church office for the book to be used for the study.