I can’t imagine a more important moral issue for the future of our planet than the one that is literally threatening the future of our planet. That so many of us would believe that it is OK to risk the future of our children is, frankly, insanity. And the church’s silence is deafening.Read more
When it comes to the life of faith and understanding stewardship as a way of life, most of us want to have our cake and eat it, too. We prefer a Christianity that doesn’t involve costly choices. We want Jesus the healer, Jesus the friend, Jesus the Savior—but not so much the Jesus that sometimes barges into our cabin and asks, “What Are You Doing??”Read more
If anyone wants to be more generous than they are right now, it’s not going to happen accidentally; it’s going to take thoughtful planning, it’s going to be intentional, it’s going to be on purpose.Read more
A friend has recently written a book on grief. He was a member of a former church and an accomplished sociologist. I read it this week and was struck at the amount of prose he created to talk about grief. And then, upon reflection, recognized that when we face the mystery of death and loss and when we confront the mystery of it, poetry is all that’s left to even try to make sense of it.Read more
On Saturday, our church served as one of the hosts for Blessing of the Animals held this year at St. David’s Episcopal Church. People from around the neighborhood came and brought their pets to be blessed.
I’ve been involved in many of these services over the years. And my experience has been that the more rural the setting, the more exotic the animals. In Giles County, we had not only dogs and cats and goldfish, but also horses, cows, pigs, donkeys, rabbits, ducks and even snakes. Those were interesting services…Read more
Her name is Greta Thunberg. She is 16 years old and is from Sweden. I’m guessing you know her name because of what she has been doing for the last few years. Greta is the face of Climate Change. She began a protest in Sweden two years ago that has now swelled to include millions of students and others around the world.Read more
I’m not a country music guy. Nothing personal--there is a lot of country music I like (mostly from female country singers and writers). I happen to be more of a jazz lover. But I have more reason today to appreciate one of Nashville’s brightest stars, Brad Paisley.Read more
I have friends in the Bahamas. At a former church, we developed a relationship with an organization called Methodist Bahamas Habitat. It was led, at the time, by a young man I had known since he was a 7th grader, Abraham McIntire. Their mission was to help rebuild homes that had sustained storm damage—and in the Bahamas such damage was frequent. One of the lessons we learned there was that the roof we were repairing might not last a year. But what we were mostly doing was building relationships…Read more
This was sent to me not long ago—I share it with a smile:
“A visiting priest was attending a men’s breakfast in Ohio farm country. He asked one of the impressive older farmers in attendance to say “grace” that morning. After all were seated, the old farmer began--
‘Lord, I hate buttermilk.” The priest opened one eye and wondered to himself where this prayer was going.Read more
September 1 marked the second year of the Counseling Center at Belle Meade United Methodist Church... Since September 1, 2017, with the support and encouragement of BMUMC, the Counseling Center has grown rapidly and accomplished much.Read more
I am thrilled to tell you about a very special treat we have in store for you. A few months ago I received a message from the folks at Vanderbilt Divinity School. We have a special relationship with the Div School as five of us on the church staff graduated from there (Sam, Gracie, Steve, Greg and myself). They were letting us know that the Div School was looking for ways to better connect with the churches in the area, and offered to have a faculty member come and teach a Sunday School class or perhaps to preach.Read more
“There are no passengers on this ship—only crew members.” You’ve heard me say this before. Every church depends on its membership to step up and give leadership in various ways. As the Apostle Paul told us, some are teachers, some are evangelists, some are prophets.Read more
We are only “news” when one of us does the wrong thing. That may be an unfair, high bar to set for all believers, but it is what it is… We who believe in the Lordship of Jesus proudly wear that title, but it comes with a price tag—”to whom much is given, much will be expected.”Read more
Two more mass shootings occurred this past weekend. 9 dead in Dayton, Ohio. 20 more dead in El Paso, Texas. 67 others injured… I would hope that it would surprise and appall you to hear that these were the 20th and 21st mass shootings just this year—and we just entered August. But I fear we are becoming numb to such news.Read more
Recently I stumbled over the obit for a man from Hendersonville whom I did not know—but I was intrigued by his obit. His name was James Howell. The obit didn’t list a church connection so I don’t know if he was a “believer” or not. What struck me was a “lifetime” project he undertook.Read more
Do you know the name José Andrés? I didn’t until I ran across an article on him while flying home from Portugal. Andrés is one of the world’s finest chefs. He has won numerous national and world-wide awards for his work and he currently owns twenty restaurants around the world.
He is best known for bringing the Spanish concept of “small plates” or tapas to the United States.
But not many people know what he should truly be known for.Read more
Allow me to introduce Naomi Hackman to you. Naomi is an 88-year-old great-grandmother who lives in Greenville, South Carolina. She turns 89 in September and for an early birthday gift, her family checked off a “bucket list” item for her—they arranged for her to skydive…Read more
The 2019 Tennessee Annual Conference met recently at Brentwood UMC. Approximately 750 lay and clergy delegates representing every church in Middle Tennessee were present. The theme for the conference was “WORD, WATER, & WITNESS.” We were all called to remember that our identities were formed at our baptisms. Here are some of the highlights:
We elected 20 persons to serve as delegates to the 2020 General and Jurisdictional Conferences. Sam McGlothlin was one of those elected to represent our conference.
We voted to merge with the Memphis Annual Conference. This conversation has been ongoing for many years. The actual merger will not begin until 2021. We will report to you on the ramifications of this merger at a later date.
The Board of Ordained Ministry recommended 28 persons for Ordination and Commissioning and another 19 persons to be licensed to preach. This is an unusually large class and represents a genuine hope for our future. The Service of Ordination took place on Wednesday, June 12th. Many of you were part of the packed church to witness Sam’s final ordination.
The Council on Finance and Administration (CF&A) presented 7 action items to the conference. Most importantly for our local churches was the recommendation and approval for a change in our apportionment system. Up to now, clergy health insurance and pensions have been an apportioned item. Beginning in 2021 or 2022, churches will now be directly billed for these two items. And with this “direct bill” system will come a significant decrease in the amount apportioned. When the new system goes into effect, the new apportionment amount—based on a churches reported revenue from the previous year—will be 11% and then graduated downward by a quarter of a percent for the next four years until we arrive at a flat 10% apportionment. For frame of reference, most churches are currently apportioned anywhere between 16 and 20%. Is the new system awash (for Belle Meade will the amount saved in apportionments be equal to the amount we pay in direct billing)? The short answer is no. Under the new system, Belle Meade will benefit financially from this system because larger churches have been “subsidizing” other churches for a long time. Again, we will bring more information about this change later.
The Conference passed an “Inclusion Resolution” that reads as follows:
It Is Resolved That - “The Tennessee Conference apologizes for the harm that actions at the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference has caused LGBTQIA+ persons, their families, their friends, and the body of Christ. We affirm that all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God, and urge all in ministry, whether lay or clergy, to affirm that no human being is incompatible with Christian teaching. Be It Further Resolved that we urge all lay and clergy in the Tennessee Conference to make all reasonable efforts to address issues of LGBTQIA+ ordination and marriage in a manner so as to treat church trials and judicial processes as a last resort.”
There was debate around this resolution. A written ballot was taken and the Resolution passed with a 62% vote in favor.
There were numerous luncheons and dinners held by various organizations and seminary alumni groups. One of these gatherings was The Golden Cross dinner which recognizes and honors outstanding efforts by Sr. Adult ministries in local churches. This year our own MOSAICS group received one of only five such awards given for 2019. Congratulations to our Mosaics!
Belle Meade was represented very well by the following persons: Martha Brooke Martin and Marshall Brown, who are two of our elected lay delegates, and by Ashley Terrell and Kristy Westover, who were elected as Red River District at-large delegates, and by our three clergy delegates Sam McGlothlin, Gracie Dugan and Jim Hughes.
In early June, our Be45 Ministry students took a trip to the Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Arkansas for 3 days of experiential learning about the reality of global poverty and hunger. We learned about food waste, sustainable agriculture, global hunger, refugees and the causes and effects of poverty. During our three days together, we pondered this question: if there is enough food for everyone in the world to have 2 meals a day, why doesn’t everyone have enough?Read more
“When did we see you in prison and not visit you? Inasmuch as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it unto me.” That’s what Jesus says in the powerful 25th chapter of Matthew. These words from Jesus have always carried extra weight because they came near the end of his life.Read more