Pastor’s message 9.11.23

The Upcoming Church Vote

Dearly Beloved Friends,

If you are on the church’s membership roll, you have received or will soon be receiving a letter from lay leader, Freddie Brister, about the upcoming Church Conference on Sunday, September 24. If you do not receive a letter and believe you should have, please contact the church office.

I did want to share a few important details about the voting procedure as well as an invitation to prayer.

  1. You must be registered and seated in the sanctuary at 1:30 with your ballot in order to vote. Registration begins at 12:30 at the back of the sanctuary. Please plan accordingly because if you arrive after 1:30, you will not be allowed in to vote.

 

  1. We will reserve some pews at the back of the sanctuary for our elder members and others who need assistance.

 

  1. If you or someone you know needs a ride to the church or help getting in & out of the conference, please contact the church office, and we will work to find someone to help you

 

  1. Do not mark your ballot until the presiding elder tells you to do so during the church conference. The ballots will be collected and counted at the front of the sanctuary, in front of everyone, for full transparency.

 

  1. The presiding elder will give detailed instructions about the procedure and ballot throughout the conference. Let us be at ease & at peace knowing that God is with us in this process.

Let us pray together: Holy God, who was and is and is to come, you are on the throne. Take the seat of authority in this, your church. We give ourselves to you. We surrender the upcoming church conference to you. We listen for the voice of your Holy Spirit. Give us peace in the process and in the result. Help us to focus on obedience, and not outcome. For you are the Lord of it all, and we give everyone and everything to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 all good things to each of you,

dr. darian

Pastor’s message 9.4.23

Finding “Good Dog”

Like many of you, I look forward to Prairie Arts Festival every Labor Day weekend. One vendor whose work I especially enjoy perusing is Scott McQueen. Not only is he a fun and engaging conversationalist, each piece of his folk art is a conversation in itself!

 A few years back, I bought a painting of a train that he did and gave it to my dad. Then last year I bought a church made of wood and buttons for myself. This year, I looked forward to his newest creations and wondered if one would “find” me. Pretty soon after walking up, I saw it:

 It was a painting on wood of a smiling white dog, with a crown on his head, and the words, “GOOD DOG,” glued on. It looked like a compact and simplified rendering of my beloved dog, Isaac, who passed away two months ago. Of course, I had to have it—and poor Scott got an earful as I told him the story of Isaac!

 Prairie Arts always reminds me of the ways God is showing up with His wonders and marvels. There was no way that Scott McQueen knew about a dog named Isaac (who believed he was king) in West Point, but God used his gifts to provide me with a reminder of God’s presence —and humor. Such signs of God’s loving and caring presence are everywhere. Do we open our eyes long enough to see them?

 Let us be on the lookout today for sightings of his glory and signs of his presence!

all good things to each of you,

Dr. Darian

Pastor’s message 8.28.23

What’s Brought Me Joy This Summer

It’s been a few months since I shared with you in this space about the music, books, and movies that have brought me joy recently. I hope that in taking about what I’ve enjoyed that you will take the time, also, to pay attention to how God is speaking to you.

 Oppenheimer (film): I may not have seen the Barbie film yet, but I did see the summer’s other big movie. I can’t remember the last time I watched a 3-hour movie in the theater, but this epic journey was worth every minute. A biopic about the man who invented the atomic bomb, Oppenheimer is one of those films that I immediately wanted to discuss with others who had seen it. It contains lessons on history, ethics, and so much more. I was thankful for all I learned and will continue to learn.

 This is the Hour by Christy Nockels (music): Christy Nockels served as a worship leader with Passion conferences, but in recent years has focused on being home with her family and raising her children. Her newest album is one of those that is best heard from start to finish, and it is obvious these songs come from her heart of worshipping and encountering God in her everyday life.

 Hello Stranger by Katherine Center (book): Summer vacation may be over for many of us, but that doesn’t mean summer reading has to end! This novel was a lovely companion when I was traveling recently. It’s about a young portrait artist named Sadie who suddenly develops a condition called face blindness (it’s a real illness that the author researched so well!). This is, of course, terribly inconvenient since she paints faces for a living, not to mention that she had just met a cute guy she can no longer see clearly. It’s a great “beach read” but also has some depth to its characters that I really enjoyed.

 I’d love to know what has brought you joy recently!

all good things to each of you,

dr. darian

Pastor’s message 8.21.23

The Best of Words

When we receive grace, it frees us from so many things.

~Tommy Bryan, August 13, 2023

I am so grateful to Tommy Bryan for filling the pulpit on August 13 when I was away on vacation. I listened to the message after coming home and was thrilled hear him talking from his heart about his love of the church, which is rooted in his love of Christ. The above quotation was something that he said that really stuck with me.

There are few better words in the world than “grace.” It carries the weight of a Savior’s love for us, the gentleness of being patient with one another, the wind of God’s Holy Spirit leading and guiding us. Earlier this year, I was teaching a course for licensing school, the United Methodist program for those who wish to become licensed local pastors. The students in my class mostly worked full-time jobs or were in school full-time but felt called to serve in pastoral roles too. They were all busy with work, family, and their own church involvement, and I could sense the pressure in the room with all the assignments they needed to do. The first thing I said to them was, “You will have to put in work. You will have to put in effort. But there is also grace. And grace is abundant. If you are struggling with the assignments, please talk to me. I’m here to walk alongside you.”

There was a collective sigh in the room with that bit of permission: grace is here. Simply ask. And freedom will follow.

God desires for us to live a free and full life, not weighed down but waiting on him. Where do you need grace today? To whom will you extend grace? Do not hold back. The best of words is waiting to give you new life!

all good things to each of you,

dr. darian

Pastor’s messsage 8.14.23

From The Archive of Isaac’s Insights

I have found a lot of joy and comfort in the past few weeks in old photos, videos, and musings about Isaac the dog. Here is an abbreviated version of an old favorite, titled “Isaac and the Elephant in the Room,” originally published on October 25, 2018.

Isaac jumped off the sofa and pulled out his toy elephant. He tossed the elephant in the air. He chewed on it. He jerked it around. He licked it. He honked all three of its squeakers. The elephant in the room was no match for the paw-stor. After a while, he tucked it under his head and fell asleep. The elephant that he had “fought” so hard had become his pillow. He rested on what had once rattled him.

We’ve all probably heard the phrase, “the elephant in the room,” to designate something that everybody sees but no one wants to address. We avoid something that we must eventually confront. We don’t deal with the tension and conflict that are as impossible to push away as an elephant.

Isaac gave me fresh perspective on how to deal with the issues we want to avoid. Resist the dread, and pull the elephant out of the its “hiding place.” There may be squeaking and pushes and pulls. There may also be relief we would not have found any other way. So often, once we’ve struggled with our elephants in the room, we are able to rest more easily. We may find more in common with the elephant than we imagined. What bothered us may end up comforting us.

Whether animals are real like Isaac or stuffed like the elephant, creation teaches us to learn the basics. Let’s cease dancing around the troubles we don’t want to address. Instead, let’s grab them by the paws and find the rest that God desires for all his children (and pets).

all good things to each of you,

dr. darian

Pastor’s message 8.7.23

Discernment and Next Steps

Dearly Beloved Friends,

Last Thursday, the Administrative Council met to vote on a recommendation from the discernment committee. The majority of the committee had recommended that the Council ask the district superintendent (DS) to call a church conference, which would be a church-wide vote on disaffiliation from The United Methodist Church. The majority of the Council approved this recommendation, and the DS has been contacted to schedule the vote.

We’ll be sharing more information in the weeks ahead about the date, time, and other logistics of the church conference. In the meantime, I want to encourage you to do three things:

  1. Prayerfully revisit our discernment website, and review what the committee assembled. Seek clarity on any questions you may have.
  1. Intentionally converse with people you both agree and disagree with. Even though this recommendation to have a church conference was approved by the majority, neither the discernment committee nor the Administrative Council were unanimous in their decisions. I share this detail to remind us that division is present in our congregation, and God desires for us to respond rightly to the reality of division. As the Holy Spirit leads you, reach across the aisle to one another in love. Listen to one another.
  1. Most importantly, spend time alone with the Lord. Immerse yourself daily in His Word and prayer. Take deep breaths as you slowly let His Word wash over you. Allow him to transform you from the inside out.

Even though the discernment committee’s work is technically done, the work of discernment never stops for the body of Christ. Let us continue to listen to him together. Above all things, beloved, do not cease to give thanks. Give thanks for what God has done. Give thanks for who he is. Give thanks for how he is at work among us and within us. To him belongs the glory.

all good things to each of you,

  1. darian

Pastor’s Message -Upcoming Opportunities for Youth and Children

Revive is sponsoring a Youth Fishing Trip on Sunday, August 20th at the Dill’s pond on Churchill Road from 4-7 p.m. We will meet at the Youth House at 3:30 and take the van. You may bring your own fishing pole if you have one, but there will also be some extras available. Bring your friends and enjoy an afternoon of fishing, fellowship, and a hotdog supper with homemade desserts. Hope to see you there!

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Promotion Sunday is quickly approaching us. We will gather in the Sanctuary on August 6th at 10:00am to be promoted to our “new” Sunday School classes for the fall semester. Rachel and I are also excited to promote a new and exciting curriculum for our K3- 3rd grade friends! Sunday School will be formatted differently for this. Beginning August 13, we will meet in the Fellowship Hall at 9:45 and begin our morning with praise and worship! There will be a time for music, games, video lessons, and large group discussion. Then we will split into our smaller groups by age to dive into the word a little more and wrap it up with an activity. 4th-6th graders are welcome to join the large group for music if they are interested in doing so! We want our children to be excited to come learn about Jesus each week! There are also opportunities to teach all grades for the months of November and December. The curriculum is easily laid out for each age and the individual teachers will only be responsible for leading the last 20 minutes of the Sunday School hour. This is a wonderful opportunity to spend with our children teaching them how to build their foundation to continue growing their relationships with God. In the midst of our chaos, let us bring the children strength and stability from the people their eyes are looking to for guidance. Please join me in this very fulfilling ministry!

Jessi Sugg

Pastor’s message 7.24.23

The “O-bark-tuary”

This is an abbreviated version of the canine obituary I wrote for my dog, Isaac. To read or listen to the longer version of Isaac’s “o-bark-tuary,” visit my website, www.darianduckworth.com/musings

 Dog-tor Isaac Duckworth, 12+ canine years/80+human years, peacefully entered eternity on June 30, 2023. While his exact birth date is unknown, he first appeared on August 29, 2012, in Cleveland, MS, along with the remnants of a hurricane. Wearing only a purple collar with no tag, he followed the scent of canines Sam and Homer, and their human companion, Jamie, on their morning walk. Jamie began calling him Isaac (the name of the hurricane he accompanied) and convinced the new Methodist pastor in town to meet him. Pastor Darian immediately said, “Yep, that’s my dog,” became his pet parent and human sidekick, and gave him the title of paw-stor. He readily accepted the role but quickly questioned that decision when he learned this involved working on Sunday mornings.

After failing obedience school, a feat accomplished by only 10% of dogs his trainer had seen, Isaac’s pet parent accepted the fact that he needed to train her instead. They learned how to communicate with each other, she learned to obey, and he gradually submitted to her requests as well. Upon arriving in West Point, Isaac self-appointed himself the mayor and loved every inch of “his town.”  His morning walks downtown, afternoon rides in the neighborhoods, and weekend rides in the county were routines that became sacred rituals. He also considered himself the CEO of Love’s Truck Stop, his favorite place to visit and to welcome travelers in Clay County.

Though he began to show initial signs of slowing down in mid-2021, Isaac adapted with grace and joy. Though we wish he could have hung around with us for longer, we rejoice that he is running in circles around the heavenly throne room and scratching his back in forever-green pastures. If he were to choose a favorite verse of Scripture, it would probably be Job 12:7: Ask the animals and they will teach you.

Thank you for listening with me to “insight from Isaac” the past seven years. May the insight continue!

all good things to each you,

dr. darian

Pastor’s message 7.17.23

Congregational Call to Prayer: Fasting and Prayer

This Thursday, July 20, we will enter into a time of intentional quiet as a congregation, that will last until next Thursday, July 27. The discernment committee met for nearly four hours on Sunday afternoon to tally the surveys, and at our weekly meeting this Thursday we will review, evaluate and prepare those results to share with you as soon as possible.

After spending the past week in prayer, surrender, and meditation and Scripture, we invite you into two new opportunities for the next week. From July 20 through July 27, during the weekdays, the sanctuary will be open 9-11AM and 4-6PM. On Saturday, July 22, it will be open 9-11AM, and on Sunday, July 23, the sanctuary will remain open after worship until 6PM for anyone who wants to come and pray. There will not be an order of worship during these times of prayer, but prayer guides will be available for those who want to use them.

Second, we invite you into a time of fasting—a specific kind of fasting. Much of the discernment committee’s work this past month has been in the gathering of information. We invite you to join us in fasting from the gathering of information. If possible, I’d encourage you to step away from social media and news, especially any news related to Methodism, and to use that time of scrolling instead for prayer and meditation. If you are interested in learning more about specific kinds of fasting, please reach out to me, and I’d love to share more. And please don’t embark on a fast from food or beverage without checking with your healthcare provider first.

Let us pray together: Holy Spirit, we wait for you. We listen for your voice, and we seek your guidance. Bind us together first with you, the Father, and the Son, and from your union stir among us a spirit of unity. We desire your kingdom and your will for our congregation. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

all good things to each you,

dr. darian

Pastor’s message 7/10/23

Discernment Updates: A Congregational Call to Prayer

For the past month, the discernment committee has regularly met, compiled an informational slide show, received and responded to your questions while compiling them into an FAQ, and organized presentations from two guest speakers. You also have received a survey that the committee will be receiving until Sunday, July 16.

On July 20, the discernment committee will enter into a week-long intentional time of quiet reflection on Scriptural study and invites the congregation to unite with us in prayer and meditation. The committee prayerfully plans to make a recommendation to Administrative Council by the end of July based on the congregation’s feedback.

As we prepare for that week of quiet, which will include an invitation to fasting, please join me daily in three things, beginning on July 12:

  1. Read the Scriptures assigned to each day and spend time with them.
  2. Offer the following prayer at least 3 times daily: Lord Jesus, soften my heart. Holy Spirit, soften the heart of our church. Heavenly Father, mold and make our hearts after Your will.
  3. Sing or listen to the hymn, “I Surrender All.”

Wednesday, July 12: Ephesians 4:1-6

Thursday, July 13: Philippians 2:5-11

Friday, July 14: 2 Timothy 2:1-7

Saturday, July 15: Ephesians 1:15-23

Sunday, July 16: Colossians 1:9-18

Monday, July 17:1 Thessalonians 3:6-13

Tuesday, July 18: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Wednesday, July 19: 2 Corinthians 1:1-7

Be sure to check out discernment.fumcwestpoint.com for more resources & guidance on prayer. We will be communicating with you about more opportunities to pray together.

all good things to each of you,

dr. d.