The Pastor’s Desk-September Newsletter

Praying for Our Church

For September’s newsletter, I want us to think about prayer. One of the reasons we give for not praying is we don’t know what to pray for. Well, I’d like to suggest this month we emphasize praying for our church! I googled “praying for the church” and found a prayer guide that is very relevant for us at Homestead. I am asking you to use this for the next month. Pray for these things in your personal prayer time, Sunday School, with a prayer partner, your family, or any other way you would like.

• Pray that marriages and family relationships throughout the congregation will be strengthened.

• Pray that strained or broken relationships, among families and friends as well as acquaintances, will be restored.

• Pray that our church family will be united in our worship of God, fellowship with one another, and ministry to the community. Ask God to help believers confront and remove issues and problems that threaten this unity.

• Pray that believers throughout the church will grow in relationship with Christ as they follow the path of discipleship.

• Pray for the shut-ins in our church, as well as those who are widowed and living alone. Ask God to bless and encourage them, anointing their lives with power for minis try as well as help for the needs they face daily.

• Pray that the youth in our church will stand strong for Christ in their schools and with their friends. Ask God to help each young person to follow His plan for their lives, both now and in the years to come.

• Pray that God will bless the children of the church, protecting them from harm and helping them to grow strong in the Lord as they prepare for a lifetime of serving Christ.

• Pray that the men in our church will have a powerful impact on its ministries, and that they will provide godly leadership in their homes, the church, and throughout the community.

• Pray that the women in our church will serve as leaders and role models of strength, maturity, and ministry at the church, in their families, and in the community.

• Pray that Christ will be at the center of every ministry, service, and event that takes place within the church and congregation.

• Pray that visitors to the church will sense the love and compassion of Christ, expressed through every member of the congregation.

• Pray for members of the congregation battling physical illness or emotional struggles or facing spiritual needs. Ask God to minister to them in miraculous ways.

• Pray that God will bless the financial needs of the church, calling believers to give generously and sacrificially through tithes and offerings.

• Pray that members of the congregation will convey a strong witness of the gospel to their community, through integrity, love, and godliness.

Thank you, dear church family, for your continued commitment to Christ and to your Homestead Church! Pastor Tim

The Pastor’s Desk-August Newsletter

Wow! Where does the time go? If your summer is going as fast as mine, we are probably asking the same question, where has the time gone? Time seems to be flying by this year, doesn’t it? Way back in January, when we welcomed in the New Year, it seemed like I blinked and it was time for Lent, which didn’t start until March this year, which is later than normal. In the middle of that, the first six weeks of the year were spent ministering to Mrs. Preacher’s mother’s final needs. She went to glory then on Valentines Day February 14th.

Then, it was Holy Week. After Easter, we celebrated confirmations and graduations in May. Last Saturday, we participated in Vacation Bible School jointly with Dorton. Also, in July, we took a few days of vacation visiting family members and members of our first Congregation in Kentucky. Other activities, such as M&M trips, have taken place. And boom, just like that we are at the end of July. Time seems to be going faster and faster. I remember when I was a kid at the beginning of school summer vacation thinking, “Three months (it really was like three months back then), that is an eternity. I am going to have lots of fun.” The time seemed to go faster than I thought it was going to.

Now we’re seeing the “Going back to School” sales. I’ve thought to myself, “Come on, it’s still summer.” Even though time seems to be flying by, a lot of living still takes place.

This year, I have presided over funerals and said goodbye to dear ones, whom I miss dearly. Lots of life happening. Even during a regular week, our regular routines start on Monday and the day is filled with all kinds of “things” I must do, whether that be working or doing my “to do” list. The days go by and we begin the weekend, which we fill with other activities. We try to spend some time playing together as a family or with friends, creating memories. Then we gather on Sunday morning to worship our Lord, have fellowship, catching up with each other, lifting each other up with God’s peace. We blink and another week is gone, and we begin another. Some days are hectic. Some days are a blessing. Some days bring stress and brokenness.

As I think about how time seems to fly or time can become real slow, and all the living that happens, I was reminded of a text in Revelation 21, verse 5 and 6. The scene is Jesus sitting on his throne. He has already returned as the Conquering Lamb of God, having Michael, the Archangel capture Satan and thrown him into the Lake of Fire. Jesus has judged all. Jesus rules overall. Then Jesus gives it all to his Father, so all in the universe is one with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jesus says, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning, and the ending.” As I think about these words of Jesus, I am reminded of the power of this promise. Jesus is Lord. Jesus was with the Father creating all things at the very beginning, the Alpha, the first letter of the Greek alphabet. Jesus reign until he brings in the fullness of his kingdom, destroying death, sin and evil, making all things new as Jesus brings us into the perfect love between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Pastor’s Desk-July Newsletter

Here we are again in the “dog days of summer”. Independence Day (4th of July) always leads us into the dog days. What does your family do to celebrate the holiday? Is it a day for a big barbecue? What about a picnic at the park? Is it just your family? Do you include others? Do you invite your brothers and sisters from the church? Do you invite your neighbors?

This holiday might be a great time to introduce your family, friends, and neighbors to your church lives. I’ve read that in excess of ninety-nine per cent of new attendees to a church are there because they were invited by a person in the pews. In other words, they were invited by a lay person- not the pastor! Isn’t that an amazing statistic? When family, friends, and neighbors come together for fun and fellowship, we are opening the doors to a wonderful opportunity to show the love of Christ and the fellowship of the church.

I believe the future is bright for our Homestead Methodist Church. But it bright because Jesus lives in our heart, and we truly want to share the love of Jesus with the world. Why don’t we, this Independence Day, use this wonderful opportunity to introduce others to Jesus through fellowship?

On another note, I had the privilege this past Sunday evening to attend a “get-acquainted” session for the Global Methodist Church. This event occurred in Manchester, Tennessee at the First Methodist Church there. It was a very informative meeting. I thought I knew about the GMC. But, as I found out in this meeting, there is still much to learn about the organization. I hope it is just the first of several opportunities to learn about the various other Wesleyan denominational groups.

I still do not feel that we are, in any way, ready to commit to another denominational entity. Perhaps we will never be ready. Someone said, “why would we want to jump right back into another restrictive organization when we just got out of one?” That is a fair question. I think the answer, at least for me, is a resounding, “We don’t!” If, and when, we do join some other entity, my prayer is that it will be much less restrictive.

One thing that was said Sunday evening of the GMC that struck a chord with me was that the GMC does not want to be driven from the “top down,” but rather from the “bottom up.” In other words, rather being told what to do, the local church will be freed to DO MINISTRY in their local community rather than being told how, when, what, and where to do ministry in the place(s) where they have told to do ministry. Sounds quite freeing, doesn’t it?

During these dog days of summer, let’s all make a concerted effort to invite, invite, invite our family, friends, and loved ones to be part of not only our home life, but also our church life. And let’s be on the lookout for those people who could be a part of our wonderful church!

The Pastor’s Desk-May Newsletter

This month of May 2023 may prove to be one of the most momentous in the history of Methodism- perhaps the most momentous since the 1968 merger of The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren (EUB) Church. Some conferences have already held special annual conference sessions to vote on the dis-affiliations of hundreds of United Methodist Churches. However, this month many conferences will hold their vote.

On May 22, 2023, at 7:00 pm in the evening, our Tennessee Western Kentucky Conference will hold a special meeting online to vote. Dis-affiliations will be the only item on the agenda. Notice that the meeting is online only. It can be viewed, as I understand, on the conference website. Voting delegates (already elected by individual churches/charges) will be Zoom call only access. I will be sending a link before the meeting for the viewing site if you are interested, or you can
simply pull up the Tennessee Western Kentucky Conference website to access.

As I said, some of our neighboring conferences had their vote this past month of April or earlier. Thus far, the vast majority of churches who have sought to disaffiliate have been approved with few exceptions. One example includes our neighbor conference just to the east, the Holston Conference. The Holston Conference comprises churches in East Tennessee (all churches east of us to the North Carolina state line), southwest Virginia, and Northwest Georgia. Prior to the vote, there were 842 churches in the conference. After the vote, 578 remained. Thus, a total of 264 churches requested disaffiliation. All were approved with one general vote in the meeting. That totals a little less than 31 per cent of the total number of churches in the conference.

Our sister conference just to our south is the Alabama Conference. This conference makes up the northern half of the state. Their meeting was held earlier. Of the 638 churches in the conference, 198 churches were approved for disaffiliation. The North Carolina Conference had approximately 798 churches prior to their vote. Of that number, 249 were approved for disaffiliation. By the end of this year, almost all of the conferences will have held votes on disaffiliation.

These are just a few of our neighboring conferences. There are many more. So, you can see why the United Methodist Church as a denomination is going to look vastly different going into 2024. My prayer and our prayer should be that all the consternation created by and through this process will cease and we all can work together for the salvation of the world.

Thus, pending almost certain conference approval on May 22nd, as of June 1st, Homestead United Methodist Church will become Homestead Methodist Church. A congregational vote was taken to approve the name change. For the time being, we will simply be an independent church. However, at some point in the future, we have the option of choosing to become a member of some other Methodist-connected denomination. We anticipate that we will study those options for approximately one year. Then we will make a decision on remaining independent or join another organization.

Let us all be in prayer, not only for our church, but all churches who are taking this enormous step of faith! Our only desire should be the furtherance of God’s Kingdom.

In Christ,
Pastor Tim

The Pastor’s Desk-April Newsletter

We say it every Sunday, but it never gets old, and it’s never untrue. “God IS good! ALL the time!” The past six months have definitely been an unusual time in the life of our church. As we began discussions early last fall concerning disaffiliation, I think we wondered where it would all lead. These past months have had some ups and downs as we struggled mightily with trying to follow our hearts and, most importantly, the Spirit’s leading. Now, here we are, just one step away from becoming an independent Methodist church. The upcoming special called meeting of the Tennessee Western Kentucky Conference in May will make the final decision. Our two churches, Homestead and Dorton, and many others across middle Tennessee, west Tennessee, and western Kentucky will finally know the result of all the praying, discerning, and wrestling with the decision to disaffiliate. District Superintendent Donna Parramore, when asked the possibility of the conference not allowing these churches to disaffiliate, replied, “no chance of that happening.”

And, speaking of our wonderful district superintendent, she will conclude six wonderful years of service to the Caney Fork District this coming summer. While I cannot speak for everyone else, I can say that she has been totally supportive of our ministry. Matter of fact, I think I can safely say that, if not for her, we would not be at Homestead and Dorton. While she has not shared what her future plans are, I’m absolutely sure that God is not finished with her and He has a plan for her future, just like he does for each of us.

Finally, AWESOME APRIL is upon us! We have big events scheduled for each Sunday in the month. I believe this coming month will be an exciting time for our church. There is a fresh excitement in the air! Seeing some old faces return to our church, and welcoming new faces (including welcoming back our former pianist Maggie Burnett) has created a wonderful sense that God has big things in store for us in the future. Our March attendance average was the highest since before the “Big C” struck in March 2020. I believe it’s “onward and upward” from here. How about let’s all be inviting our friends, family, and neighbors to come out to Homestead and experience the excitement?

The Pastor’s Desk-March 2023 Newsletter

As you know by now, this coming March 2023 we, as a church, will be making a significant and possibly historic decision about the future of our Homestead Church. I hope that you have been praying about this decision, and you are prepared to cast an informed and Spirit-led vote on this matter.

For some context, let me remind you of some background information. As you probably remember from our 75th Anniversary Celebration, our church was founded in 1946 as Homestead Methodist Church. At its founding, it was not known as a “United Methodist Church.” The church began under the auspices of what
was then known as the Tennessee Conference of the Methodist Church. In 1968, after a merger with the Evangelical United Brethren Church, the church became known as Homestead UNITED Methodist Church-taking the UNITED name from our EUB brethren. Eventually, as different events took place within the conference, the Tennessee Conference has now become the Tennessee Western Kentucky Conference- merging the middle Tennessee area with west Tennessee and western Kentucky.

In the past few years, many United Methodist Churches (in all areas of the world) have come to believe that their local church’s belief systems have parted ways with the views of the general church expressed through the General Conference and regional conferences such as the TWK conference.

As a result, General Conference in 2019 voted into place a method for churches which felt the need to depart from the UMC to do so. It came to be known in the denominational Book of Discipline as section 2553. Under this, churches would be allowed to leave (disaffiliate) the UMC by simply paying two years of apportionments and the “unfunded pension liabilities” for former pastors. However, section 2553 is only available through December 31st of this year.

At this point, approximately 110 churches in the TWK conference have already departed and several more have voted to also depart. Both Homestead and Dorton voted initially to pursue disaffiliation. Dorton has taken all the steps necessary to do so, including taking the final vote within the church body. Disaffiliation required a majority of 2/3 of the church’s members present at the meeting to vote in the affirmative. According to our wonderful district superintendent, Donna Parramore, who along with one of the Dorton Church members, counted the votes, the final vote was unanimous with a vote of 27-0 for disaffiliation.

This is now where we find ourselves at Homestead Church. Our final vote will be coming up Thursday evening, March 2nd, at 6:00 pm. The same parameters will apply to Homestead as applied to Dorton and all other churches who have voted to disaffiliate. Only church members present at the meeting will be allowed to vote. Plus, disaffiliation will require 2/3 of those present to vote for disaffiliation.

For clarification, let me answer one question that has been asked numerous times. “Will we no longer be Methodist?” The answer to that question is a resounding YES! We will still be Wesleyan Methodists. The United Methodists are not the only Methodists in the world. There are many denominations and groups that subscribe to Wesleyan Methodist beliefs. So, pending an affirmative disaffiliation vote, while we will no longer be Homestead United Methodist Church, we will most definitely continue to be Homestead Methodist Church.

With all that said, I can only ask that you vote according to the way the Spirit leads you. Voting either way, will bring about decisions that will need to be made in the future. As pastor, I have tried my best to stay out of the discussions as much as possible in order to let you make your personal decisions based upon your personal belief systems and under the guidance of the Spirit. If you asked me on a personal level my opinion, I shared that with you. But your vote should reflect your opinion and beliefs.

We love and appreciate all of you and your dedication to your church! Please know that whatever vote you make will not affect that love.

In Christ,
Pastor Tim

The Pastor’s Desk-February 2023 Newsletter

February 2023, my how time moves along! Let’s continue our thoughts about the new year from last month’s article. We are excited about all that lies ahead in the New Year of 2023. While 2023 will bring its share of challenges and concerns, the dawning of a new year always offers us the opportunity for spiritual renewal and new beginnings in our relationship with our Lord and with our families and friends. The new year reminds us that in Jesus Christ, each day is a new day, and we are renewed in Him as we move through the challenges that come our way. We are forgiven on an ongoing basis of our sins and shortcomings as we come to Him in repentance and prayer and asking forgiveness for the mistakes we have made. God grants us renewal, transformation, and hope for each day that we live in and for Him.

What are some of the things that may be holding you back as we begin 2023? What are the barriers that may be keeping you from having that full relationship with Jesus? Are there unconfessed sins in your life, regrets that you still carry with you from the past, hard feelings that you may hold toward another person? What is it that is keeping you from fully experiencing the joy of your salvation and the full and abundant life that Christ came to provide us here and now as well as the hope of eternity with Him? So many of us grow tired in our daily walk with Christ, and it is because we allow things of this world to take our attention from the call that is on us to live daily for Jesus Christ.

So, as we move forward in 2023, let us commit anew to turn to God for direction, discernment, forgiveness, and leadership. May we allow God to pervade all areas of our lives rather than only allowing Him to influence certain parts of our daily living. This new year can be a time of new beginnings, a time for renewal and rededication, and a time to be about the important work of our Lord. Will you commit to that call upon your life in 2023 and beyond?

Finally, there was something I forgot to mention in last month’s article. Your parsonage family wants to thank all of you for the kindness that you have shown us over the holiday season. You mean the world to us and we are beyond grateful for each of you. We consider it a privilege to “do church” with you and we only become more and more excited about what the future holds. Thank you for being a blessing to us and we always pray that we are a blessing to you!

Here We Are!

Well, here we are! January 2023- A New Year!!! What does this new year hold in store for us? Can we make an attempt at a guess? Maybe yes, maybe no! Should we even try? There are some givens for this new year. There will be joys along with sorrows. Some will be sick this year, and some will be healthy all year. Some will have problems, and some will breeze through 2023 with seemingly not a care in the world. How do we deal with the long list of situations we may face in the coming year? Let’s see, shall we try?

Let’s begin with “can I or we make it on our own?” The answer to that is a resounding NO! Some folks make new year’s resolutions at this time of year. We’ve heard them all, maybe done them all, haven’t we? “I’m going to lose weight this year.” Nothing wrong with that one is there? I think all of us could stand to live a healthier lifestyle. And one of the ways we can live a healthier lifestyle is by eating right. Here’s another, “I’m going to start exercising to start the new year.” Again, that sounds like a great resolution, doesn’t it? Walking, running, working out, going to the gym- all great ideas! The list of resolutions could go on and on and on. Obviously, the intent is good. But the follow-up tends to be much more difficult, doesn’t it?

So, what about making it on our own? We’ve already determined that’s impossible. We need each other! Spouses, children, siblings, parents, church friends, pastors, and best friends are all great helps in making it through life. But I believe the greatest help in “making it” comes from God.

Psalm 46 says “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” The reality is that there will be difficult times, but God promises to be our refuge. When life jumps up and kicks us in the teeth, where do we turn? God has not failed us yet. And He never will. He has promised to be with us in the midst of troubles and trials. We sometimes think that when we find ourselves in difficult circumstances that God has abandoned us, but this is not the case.

But as we look ahead at 2023, we can rest assured that God is also with us during the good times. Matter of fact, the reason we have good times, is because of God. Psalm 16:2 says, “I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.’”

Maybe the best resolution we could make for this coming new year of 2023 would be to let God be God totally in our lives. Let’s quit trying to depend upon self and learn more about depending on God. If I, Tim Lewis, have learned nothing else in the past year 2022, it’s that I can’t do it by myself. Some circumstances are just beyond my capabilities to solve. I’m not super pastor. Most of you have figured that out by now. But God does not require or ask me to be super pastor. Nor does he require you to be super parishioner. All He desires is for us to lean more on Him. Again, the psalmist may cover it best. Psalm 3:5 and 6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Maybe that is the best resolution of all for 2023! I leave you with this blessing from Numbers 6:24-26.

“The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”

God Sent His Son

“When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman.” (Galatians 4:4)

Here we go again! Where does the time go? It only seems like yesterday when we were celebrating Christmas last year! Does life seem to speed up the older we get? It sure seems as if it does.

It’s funny how time is viewed in different ways to different people. As a kid, it seemed like it took FOREVER for Christmas to get here. I loved everything about Christmas–the decorations, the music, the special worship services, the family gatherings, but most of all, of course, the presents. But as I waited for Christmas to arrive, the weeks and days seemed to go by so slowly. As a kid, time just seemed to slow down before Christmas.

As an adult, I have a very different perspective on the passage of time, especially this time of the year. With of the special services to prepare, all of the events and activities on the calendar, not to mention making sure all of the gifts have been purchased, wrapped, and delivered, it seems to me that Christmas is coming WAY too fast. Time really seems to have sped up.

To God’s Old Testament believers, it must have seemed like it was taking forever for the birth of the Savior to come. After all, God had promised to send the Offspring of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head way back in Eden. But year after year, century after century, millennia after millennia went by, and the day still hadn’t come. Time must have seemed like it slowed way, way down for those who were longing for the Savior to come.

But God sees things differently. He sees things from the perspective of eternity. The apostle Peter wrote, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8). God knew when the right time for the Savior to come would be. And so it was, at exactly the right time, God sent his Son. Notice, it was not on humanity’s time, but on His time.

There were so many things that made it the right time; things like the census decreed by Caesar Augustus that caused Mary and Joseph to journey to Bethlehem (just as Micah had prophesied centuries earlier), or the fact that the Romans employed crucifixion as their method of executing criminals (again, in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy concerning the Savior’s death), or the Roman’s military strength, which resulted in peace and ensured safe travel, plus the Greek language being used nearly universally, thus enabling the good news of the Savior to be spread quickly and easily.

All these things and more made it the right time–God’s time–for the birth of Jesus. God’s time is always the right time, even when it doesn’t seem that way to us. When we pray for something, and we don’t receive the answer we desire immediately, we may think God’s time is wrong. But it’s not! When a loved one is called home to heaven at a young age, we may think that they were taken from us too soon. But God’s time is never the wrong time. We may not understand God’s timetable, at least not right away. But one day we will.

Whether it seems to us like Christmas is taking forever to get here, or it’s coming way too fast, let’s remember that God sent his Son at just the right time. And may the celebration of that coming remind us that God’s time is always the right time.

From your parsonage family, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Blessed New Year!

“Where Could I Go?” 

Is it November already?  My heart and my body suggest to me that it should still be July or August.  I long for the warm days and especially the warm mornings when I could take my coffee and reading materials to the front porch to bask in the glory of God’s creation.  But, alas, the calendar doesn’t lie, does it?  So…November, here we come! Like it or not!

As I sit here in the church office this morning, I’m watching the beautiful maple trees being removed from the front yard of the parsonage.  We’ve known for months that this day was coming.  Still, knowledge didn’t prepare me for the reality that is here.  Just seems to make the melancholy even more profound as I grieve the passing of warm weather and watch the removal of our beautiful shade trees in the yard.

And then I think of the heartache we see in the lives of so many of our friends and neighbors.  A dear friend shared with me recently that he had lost over $300,000 in the past year from his retirement accounts.  I could see the concern on his face as he shared. All of us who are nearing retirement can’t help but be concerned for what the future holds.

I am also concerned for so much sickness in the lives of our friends and loved ones.  It seems we hear of more and more cancer diagnoses with each passing day.  Chemo, radiation, immuno-therapy- those words, and more besides, sound so serious.  And THEY ARE SERIOUS!  And then what about covid?  Just when we think it is subsiding, it pops up again.  Fortunately, recent covid sicknesses do not seems to be as serious as they were months ago.  Still, it’s troubling, isn’t it?  And we could go on and on, couldn’t we?  What will be the next new virus, bug, or sickness that comes along?  I do not know.  You do not know. Only God knows.

On and on we could go- sharing the troubles, trials, tribulations, and problems we hear about each day from those we love and care about. They just seem endless, don’t they? If we are not careful, we could let it all just cause us to slide into profound depression.  So, where do we go for comfort and assurance that everything is going to be okay?

Well, I’m reminded today of an old hymn.  Many years ago, I played piano for an African-American singing group from Sparta.  I’ve shared that, many times, I was the only white boy in the house.  And that was okay!  I loved it!  Those sweet people treated me like their brother, and I loved them dearly. Several of them have now gone on to be with the Lord.  One of the songs they sang was “Where Could I Go, But to the Lord!”  My oh my, they could rock that old song.  But today, the words of that song bring peace and comfort to my soul once again during these troublesome times.  Truly, God still brings peace, comfort, and assurance that, no matter what troubles and trials we face down here, we always have Him- even when all other sources of comfort are gone.

Living Below in This Old Sinful World,
Hardly A Comfort Can Afford;
Striving Alone to Face Temptations Sore,
Where Could I Go but to the Lord?

Where Could I Go, O Where Could I Go?
Seeking A Refuge for My Soul?
Needing A Friend to Help Me in The End,
Where Could I Go but to the Lord?

May God again bring His peace and comfort to these difficult days in which we live.  The month of November includes that wonderful day of Thanksgiving!  As we indulge in all our favorite Thanksgiving dishes, let us remember that we can go to Him anywhere and anytime!

In Christ, Pastor Tim