From Our Pastor

New Music Minister

Posted 18 August, 2017 by Pastor Keith Ritchie

It is my joy to share with you the good news that First UMC is now blessed with a new Director of Music Ministries!

Our new director is Carol Burnett. Carol comes to us from Greensboro, and brings a great wealth of experience. She has worked with various churches, educational institutions, and choral groups. She brings great knowledge and passion to the music ministries of the church. She will begin her work at FUMC with the Children's Choirs on August 28th, and will have her first rehearsal with the Chancel Choir on August 30th; September 3rd being her first Sunday in worship with us. Please pray for Carol and the church in this time of beginning ministry together.

We are never far from being reminded First UMC ministers in a community of great need. This coming Saturday, being the third Saturday of the month, is that Saturday on which we provide the ministries of the Food Bank and Clothes Closet. These ministries take place in the Uptown Ministry Center, beginning at 8:30am. Not only do these ministries provide opportunity to serve Christ as we serve our neighbors, these ministries also provide opportunity to get to know one another as we work and talk with one another in a setting other than that of Sunday morning. I am grateful for those opportunities to get to know you as I volunteer with you at the Food Bank and Clothes Closet, and look forward to that experience again this Saturday.

I have appreciated the opportunity to speak to the ministry of prayer during our worship in August. We have spoken of the Lord's Prayer, we have spoken of annoying God as we pray; this Sunday, we claim the witness of Daniel as he prays to God from the lions' den (Daniel 6:10-23.)

While we are familiar with this story from Vacation Bible School and/or song, I hope we do not believe we know this story so well as to learn from it nothing new. The story of Daniel in prayer is a rich and powerful story; a story with great relevance in this troubled political and social climate in which we find ourselves. It is a story reminding us faithfulness to God and to God alone may have painful consequences for those who serve God.

We have been saddened by the news of loss of lives and injuries borne of the violence in Charlottesville last Saturday. We still feel the effects of that day and are called to pray for the grieving and injured, and for all in Charlottesville.

I am grateful to have shared in a service of witness and remembrance on the front lawn of the church on Wednesday. I found it of comfort and hope to share, not only with colleagues in ministry, but with many in this community, as we prayed, shared scripture, and remembered the words of those saints who have gone before us.

During this service, I was guided, in part, by the words of Bishop Lewis as she responds to the violence and racism displayed in Charlottesville. Bishop Lewis lifts before us our baptismal vows, calling us "to renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world and repent of (our) sin;" vows asking, "Do you accept the freedom and power God gives (us) to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?"

Again, we do well to remember Daniel's faithfulness to God and his life of prayer, as we do so on Sunday.