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

What Are Sacraments?

Are you familiar with the term “Sacrament?”   A Sacrament could be described as a Christian rite or ritual that is celebrated by the church.  We as Methodists recognize two primary sacraments- Holy Baptism and Holy Communion that we observe in obedience to Jesus’ commands.

Regarding Holy Baptism, Matthew the Disciple gives us an account of Jesus command regarding Baptism. It is found in chapter 28, starting with verse 18.  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

When a disciple is baptized, this is an outward sign that one has made a commitment to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord and become a part of the community of faith.

If you are a follower of Jesus but have never been baptized as a Believer, would you please speak to Pastor Tim in order to begin the process?

But what about Holy Communion, our second Sacrament? 

Methodists, like other Protestants, view Holy Communion as a sacrament. It is a sacred act of worship ordained by Christ and a means by which God dispenses grace to believers. We, as Methodists, view Communion as a way to remember Christ’s sacrifice and experience God’s presence.

The Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion and the Eucharist are all names for this sacrament celebrated by Methodists. Each of these names highlights an aspect of this act of worship.

According to This Holy Mystery, The United Methodist Church’s official document on communion, “The Lord’s Supper reminds us that Jesus Christ is the host and that we participate at Christ’s invitation.” Jesus invites us to take part in the special meal he ate with his disciples the night before his crucifixion, and other meals he shared in homes and on hillsides.

“The term Holy Communion invites us to focus on the self-giving of the Holy God which makes the sacrament an occasion of grace, and on the holiness of our communion with God and one another,” This Holy Mystery continues.

Finally, “Eucharist, from the Greek word for thanksgiving, reminds us that the sacrament is thanksgiving to God for the gifts of creation and salvation.”

There are no conditions for church membership or completion of a class required.

The baptized present are all invited, even if they belong to a different church.

Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of both of our Sacraments.

What’s Next

Here we are again- SEPTEMBER! Where did the summer go? The kids are back in school. Wednesday Night Life is back in session! We had our “Blessing of the Backpacks.” The kids and the entire congregation seemed to enjoy the service.

The next question that comes up may be, “Now what?” Believe me, things are not slowing down. We may be slowing down from summer activities. But the church does not have the option of slowing down. There is kingdom work to do! How do we do that? And another question is, how do we do that in con-junction with all the other things going on? For instance, the disaffiliation discussions that have been taking place within our Administrative Council and, most recently, with the entire church group.

Let’s get caught up, shall we? General Conference 2019 passed a resolution allowing churches to “disaffiliate” from the United Methodist Church if they disagreed with stances taken on two different issues. This is section 2553 in the Book of Disciple. There are two issues which a church can use as the basis for their decision to seek disaffiliation. First, “reasons of conscience regarding a change in the requirements and provisions of the Book of Discipline related to the practice of homosexuality or the ordination or marriage of self-avowed practicing homosexuals as resolved and adopted by the 2019 General Conference.” The second reason is “the actions or inactions of its annual conference related to these issues.”

Many churches have already made use of the opportunity. Approximately 60 Tennessee Western Kentucky Conference churches were approved for disaffiliation at this year’s annual conference. Many more are somewhere in the process.
Both Homestead and Dorton, beginning in the administrative councils, and continuing most recently with general church meetings, have been discussing the possibility of accepting the offer to disaffiliate. Obviously, this creates great consternation on everyone’s part. As pastor, I can most assuredly say it brings great consternation to me and Mrs. Preacher!

Now some might say, “what do you really think, Pastor?” Let me say this. I have tried my best to “straddle the fence” throughout this process. I have provided information for both councils when I was asked, while trying not to influence as best I can. When I have been asked on a personal level, I have shared my opinion. Over the years, I have encouraged my congregants to do their own research on matters of conscience. You have access to the same information. But remember this, pastors come and go at local churches. But this is your church. You hopefully don’t come and go like pastors. That continues to be my mantra throughout the current process. You, the church, must decide what you want for the future.

But with all of that said, as of Sunday, August 28, 2022, our Homestead Church has decided not to pursue disaffiliation and will continue to monitor the situation at both the annual conference and general conference levels. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

In Christ, Pastor Tim

Serve to Lead

Matthew 20:25-28 tells us that, “Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

If we want to be the type of leader that Jesus was, there are plenty of examples of how he led and what He said about leading others in scripture, especially the gospels (Paul talks a lot about Jesus’ leadership as well). The scripture above makes it clear that if you want to lead in the Kingdom you must serve. Not to serve first, then you earn the right to lead, Biblical leaders continue to serve. A Christlike-leader serves always. Romans 6:13, “offer yourselves to God” becomes a fixed point to navigate Christian leadership.

Giving ourselves to kingdom work becomes exhausting when people continually let us down. That person that you invested so much in feels called to another ministry. That couple you counseled with for hours on end decides to give up on their marriage. Without even calling you, they file for divorce. That young man from your discipleship class decides he’s not all that sure if there even is a God and stops returning your texts.

How do we deal with the frustration and disappointment? Primarily, we must recognize that it is not our responsibility to convict of sin and woo others to Christ. In fact, it’s none of our business! We are not the Holy Spirit. You do not offer yourself to a church, to an institution, or to people. You offer yourself to God.

In times of disappointment and betrayal, focus on offering yourself to Him and doing the labor (for Him) of fishing for men and making disciples. Overcome the temptation to fix everyone’s problems by taking them to God in prayer. Only He can fix them anyway.

There is a story told of a fisherman who bought a new compass. Excitedly, he fastened it to the front of his boat and set off into the ocean, beyond sight of land. After a full day he decided to head home following his new compass. After an hour or so, he knew he should be able to see the shore, yet there he was surrounded by waves on a clear day. As he saw the sun begin to set in front of him, instead of off his left shoulder, he realized the compass was leading him west instead of north. He knew the compass worked when he bought it; what had gone wrong? When he got home he unscrewed the compass and it immediately shifted . Only then did he realize that the screw he had mounted the compass with was magnetized. It would always point north no matter which way he was going.

As we all struggle with our personal calls to kingdom work, The Apostle Paul says in Galatians 6:9, “…let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Keeping our focus upon Him is the only way to move forward in the face of trials and tribulations.