From Our Pastor

Our Presence in the Community

Posted 21 July, 2017 by Pastor Keith Ritchie

I trust you are remembering the youth of First Church and their leadership as they serve in mission this week in Copper Hill, Tennessee. I spoke with Paula last night. She sounded excited about having a wonderful week with the youth of First Church and other youth who are working at the same mission site. Along with work on homes and other projects (pictures on church Facebook site), they are enjoying powerful times of worship and some fun recreational time. Remember them in prayer as they share in continued mission until their return on Saturday.

A week ago, we received the tragic news of a murder just a block away from First Church. As part of the investigation of a disappearance which tragically ended with the discovery of a body, local police searched church property. Some of us knew the victim, Karen Likens, as she worked at Rania's restaurant. I contacted Rania's to offer any help we could as the church; I certainly respect the family's request for privacy at this time. With you, I remember Karen's family and friends and co-workers at this time.

Still, as I mentioned on Sunday morning, this act of violence, bringing local police to this property, is a strong reminder that we in this community of faith are deeply connected to this uptown community. We are not shut off from this community, nor should we be. We are not isolated from those not of this community of faith. Though we worship and learn within beautiful and impressive facilities, we are still called to welcome, worship, and serve within a community that knows a great share of troubled and fragile relationships.

So I pray, and invite you to pray, that we at First UMC may be known fully as a light shining in darkness. I pray that in our worship and service, we may witness to a God of light and life. I pray we may be seen as a place of hospitality and healing. I pray we are not seen as a place inaccessible and shut off, but as a place where all know the presence and peace of a God who desires to welcome and heal all.

As part of our presence in and connection to this community, I will be volunteering with Drug-Free Martinsville/Henry County (DFMHC) this Saturday, working with a Community Canvassing Project involving DFMHC, Martinsville Police, the Department of Health, and Piedmont Community Services. I will join with representatives from these agencies in going door to door delivering brochures about the dangers of opioid abuse. Other materials may be delivered as well.  I look forward to working with our neighbors in this community for the welfare of the city.

Worship this week takes us again to the parables of Jesus, as we hear him speak of the parable of the weeds and the wheat, of how the good and evil grow together. But, whose field is it? And who is to offer judgment? We confront these questions as we worship.

I hope to share in this worship with you.