Sending Forth


When Sam and I arrived two years ago, we were blessed to find some amazing staff members already in place. It made our transition so much easier knowing we had these folks to join up with. After 40 plus years in ministry, one thing I do know for sure is that change is inevitable. It is rare, indeed, to have an entire church staff stay together for many years.

Most of you know that Kelli Hamilton joined our staff as an ordained Nazarene pastor. She was able to bring a wealth of experience and the heart of a pastor to her role as Youth Minister at Belle Meade. Kelli’s call to ministry never faded. She made a decision to pursue a transfer to the United Methodist Church, to have her orders accepted and to serve one day as the pastor of a church.

That day has come. Kelli completed the tasks given to her by the Board of Ordained Ministry. She was recently approved by that board and will be subsequently Commissioned as a Provisional Elder in our church TONIGHT, June 13th, at 7:00 at Brentwood UMC. You are all invited and encouraged to come and support Kelli in this important moment for her.

Kelli has been a valuable member of our church staff. She is very bright and insightful. She brought a total “teamwork” mindset to our staff and was quick to jump in and help out in areas that had nothing to do with her role. We will definitely miss that about her.

Kelli also brought a transformational vision to the crucial work of discipling our youth. Most youth groups I know of thrive temporarily under the “superstar” leader model. I’ve watched this time and again. This model tends to produce great results on the front end and then a spectacular flame-out. The youth in that model are somewhat the victims.

Kelli began the very difficult work of transforming our model to one that doesn’t depend on the star youth pastor, but rather seeks to bring in many leaders among the church--a model that is far more sustainable over the long haul. This transformation hasn’t been easy, but Kelli deserves our gratitude for undertaking this work.

Over the years, Kelli has taken our youth on a spiritual journey, investing in their faith and leadership through Sunday and Wednesday programming, mission trips, choir tours, and connect groups. We are thankful for all the time she has given and all the love she has poured into our young people and their families.

Beyond all that, Kelli is more than a valued colleague in ministry; she is also our friend and we are going to miss her. This Sunday, the 17th, we will be saying our final goodbye to Kelli. I hope you’ll make every effort to be here as we send forth Kelli, Levi, Tessa and Debbie to their next place of ministry.