Pastor’s message 3/13/23

An Update from the Administrative Council

Dearly Beloved Friends,

In early January, the Administrative Council met and unanimously approved not to enter into a disaffiliation process. This group of leaders discussed a deep need for the congregation to have as much information as possible before entering into such an important decision making process.

Since then, a small, diverse group was gathered to brainstorm ideas for our next steps. As Elizabeth Bailey shared with you a few weeks’ ago, the group saw the two main areas that needed attention were to work on casting our vision as a church and to provide accurate, thorough, and unbiased information on what is happening in our denomination. The next step we decided on was to offer a space and time to gather people’s questions, which we held on March 5.

This past Thursday, the Administrative Council met to look over those questions and to decide on what our next step would be. After much discussion, the committee approved continuing to gather information to share with you. We will begin with answering those questions that were submitted. We have not entered into the disaffiliation process now. It is important to be mindful of our time but not to be rushed, and we are working to live in that balance. Be on the lookout for more correspondence from the Administrative Council in the next week.

Three years ago this week, the covid-19 pandemic began to affect the world in ways we never imagined. Still, God was on his throne through it all, and He still sits enthroned over any and every situation His Church finds Herself in. Let us keep our vision fixed on Him as we seek His will as a congregation and continue to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with the King of Kings.


                                                                                                                                              all good things to each of you,

                                                                                                                                              dr. darian


Pastor’s message 3/7/23

The Missing “E”

Eight years ago, I was walking through the sanctuary of the church I pastored, and nestled beneath a pew were six white beads with black letters, strung together in a semicircle: B-E-L-I-E-V

I thought of the disciple, Thomas, who was one E short of being able to believe that Jesus had risen. I thought of the modern-day Thomases—both those who fill the pews and those who avoid the pews. This spark on the floor spoke as loudly as the stained  glass window on the wall.

Sometimes we believe wholeheartedly. Other times we feel like we’re one E short. We believe up to a point, but then questions enter. Our minds race. Our thoughts crowd out our faith. No greater blockade is there to joy than confusion. Yet how do we find joy when our circumstances raise endless questions, pressing decisions, and various outcomes—creating a windstorm of confusion?

As I walked to my office and opened my computer , I discovered a new single from Mumford & Sons was releasing at that time. And the title was “Believe.” I listened to it and remember well the prayer offered in it: “I don’t even know what I believe. So open up my eyes. Tell me alive.”

Some of us long for definitiveness. We grow anxious when we don’t have all the answers we want. Mystery makes us nervous. The missing “E” distracts us. We crawl under pews to search for something that is not on the floor.

Mumford & Sons reminded me to pay attention both to the bracelet on the floor and to the window up above. The Father is in both places. Christ extends his scarred hands toward us from above & below. The Spirit speaks to us from the recording studio and in the sanctuary. To believe is to risk moving forward without the third “E”—trusting and hoping that in Him we are indeed complete.

all good things to each of you,

dr. darian

Pastor’s message 2/27/23

What’s Brought Us Joy in February

Every month I like to set aside a week in the newsletter to share what I’ve been watching, reading, or listening to. My hope is that in sharing with you what brought me joy, that you will pay attention to what brings you joy as well.

There’s a Light by Liz Vice (music): Liz Vice’s voice first captured my attention in her work with the worship collective, The Porter’s Gate. Her first solo album, There’s a Light, released years ago but I’m only now finding and enjoying it. Vice received a kidney transplant nearly 20 years ago, and one year after the transplant, she felt God “nudging” her to join the worship team at her church even though she was scared to do so. Since then, her music has soared in a way that only God could work.

The Reset: Returning to the Heart of Worship and a Life of Undivided Devotion by Jeremy Riddle: Last month I shared with you how I had worship leader Jeremy Riddle’s latest album playing on repeat in my ear buds. Then I discovered he had written a book about worship, and it is one I want to read and re-read. What’s especially interesting is that everything he is calling the Church to do is exactly what students at Asbury University did
in the time leading up to the current revival.

Elvis (movie): I know I’m late to the party, but I finally watched this musical biopic and so enjoyed the glitz and glamor of it. I only wish I’d seen it on the big screen!

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Pastor’s message 2/20/23

The Crown of Thorns: A Lenten Worship Series

Of all the images associated with Jesus’ passion and death, the crown of thorns is likely one of the most familiar to us. Three of the four gospel writers include this detail of the soldiers placing this crown on Jesus’ head as a tool of torture. I find this interesting because there is a lot about Jesus’ passion that they don’t tell us—likely because of how incredibly violent it was.

Why is the crown of thorns important enough to name over and over? Why would we make this a guiding image for our Lenten series together?

Of course, the obvious answer is that Jesus is the King of Kings who gave up his heavenly crown to take on the thorns of sin. In this series, though, I invite you to think about this: the crown of thorns caused tremendous pain on Jesus’ head. The mind of Christ was literally surrounded by suffering. When we think of mental health, and the pain that so many are enduring, often quietly, the Scriptures remind us that Jesus is well-acquainted with what our minds endure.

I am not a mental health expert, but I do know that working on our spiritual health can only have a positive impact on us mentally, physically, and emotionally as well. In this series, as we walk from the wilderness through the streets and towards the cross with Jesus, we will listen for the peace he speaks to our minds as well as our hearts. For we know the end of the story: he endured the crown of thorns and now sits enthroned and crowned as King forever. So let us cast our earthly crowns down and invite him to heal our minds, too.

all good things to each of you,

Dr. Darian

Pastor’s message 2/14/2023

Moving Forward as a Congregation


In January, the Administrative Council voted unanimously to postpone a congregational vote on disaffiliation from the United Methodist Church.  The Council realized that even they didn’t have a deep understanding about the process, why we were in the process, or what the options are for our church. The vote to postpone will provide time for all the members of our church to study scripture, pray, and seek discernment about our way forward.  Dr. Darian is leading the way now in helping us carry out these important practices together.  She called together a small but diverse group of members to begin thinking about ways to accomplish these goals.  Shane Alpe, Elizabeth Bailey, Freddie Brister, Pam Carson, Jack Jameson and Laura Tinsley gathered around the pastor’s dining table and began the discussion.  Steven White was unable to attend.

Concerns that were expressed and discussed include the importance of :

  • Focusing on the why of disaffiliation as well as the how;
  • Avoiding hurry in the process, but moving steadily and prayerfully;
  • Learning about all options;
  • Keeping communication open;
  • Sharing information in a variety of ways;
  • Understanding our mission and purpose as this particular congregation.

Two priorities seemed to emerge from the discussion.   First, we want to inform the congregation of the reasons that have brought us to this point along with the procedures to move forward. Second, and equally important, we want to bring our vision for West Point FUMC into clear focus as we continue to carry out our mission as God’s people in this place.  To this end Laura Tinsley has agreed to lead the visioning goal and Freddie Brister the informational goal.  The group members expressed deep faith that as God leads us, we will grow as a church in ways we never dreamed.

The committee will meet again to set dates for sharing with the congregation.  Please contact any member if you have suggestions.

Elizabeth Bailey

Pastor’s message 2/8/23

What’s Worth Salvaging

I subscribe to a meal delivery service, and last week, the bag containing one of three meal kits was
soaked. A small plastic bag that contained a pre-made, cream cheese base for a soup had torn in
transit and now soaked all the other ingredients in the bag.

I reacted with a shrug of the shoulders and resignation that the meal was lost. I confess that my first
instinct was to throw it all away —until I looked more closely. Nothing else was bruised, torn, or
broken. Messy and sticky on the outside, yes, but on the inside the ingredients were whole and fresh
and ready for cooking. The meal was not beyond repair. Its pieces simply needed salvaging. I
washed everything, one piece at a time, dried them, and placed them swaddled in a cloth inside the

Life can get messy. We mere mortals have torn places within us, we sometimes feel torn by others,
and we tear at others. Sometimes we can’t see what is whole because of the mess of what is broken.
How easily we forget that the body of Christ is made up of broken and torn people whom He felt
were worth salvaging. Shouldn’t we do the same?

There is no better time for the body of Christ to focus on two immediate tasks, two lessons from
yet-unprepared soup. One is to remember our baptisms. We are cleansed one by one, and baptism is
the outward sign of what Jesus has done in the hearts of those who believe. The other is to wash one
another’s feet. Before he went to the cross, Jesus cleansed one foot at at time. These were the same
feet that would flee from him in abandonment in his hour of need. Yet they were worth salvaging.

Beloved, you are worth salvaging today. You are not beyond repair. Remember your baptism. Be
thankful. Let us not be quick to judge, but instead let us be quick to kneel, to plunge our hands into
the water and find a way forward. In our brokenness we are whole, and in our cleansing, we have
been made free.

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Pastor’s Message 1/31/23

What We’ve Been “Seeing” Together

For the past three Sundays, we have begun a new calendar year with a call to see through “The Eyes of Jesus.” Here is a brief recap, and I encourage you to go back and listen/watch our reflections on Scripture together.

We began in John 1:35-42, where Jesus asked us, “What are you looking for?” We were challenged to really SEE one another in our church family, to spend time looking into each other’s eyes and to see Jesus in each other.

We then moved to 1 Corinthians 1:10-18, where the apostle Paul strictly warned us not to live in division with one another, for in doing so we are “dividing Christ.” We can live in unity, and without division, even though we disagree. We were challenged to HOLD one another in prayer and gratitude, especially those with whom we disagree.

This past Sunday, the prophet Micah (6:6-8) told us bluntly what God has called “good”: to do justice, love goodness, and walk humbly with our God. We were challenged to MOVE into acting beyond our walls, beyond those we are close to in our church family, to remember our calling is bigger than ourselves.

We have assembled a small group of leaders from both within and outside the Administrative Council who will begin this week planning ways we can see, hold, and move with each other into our vision as a church. I encourage you to hold them in prayer as we listen to the Holy Spirit together: Shane Alpe (Admin Council chair), Freddie Brister (lay leader), Elizabeth Bailey, Pam Carson, Jack Jameson, Laura Tinsley, Steven White, and myself.

Aren’t the eyes of Jesus a wonderful place to dwell? Where there is peace and vision and unconditional love? Let us make every effort to see through his eyes so that we might live with his vision!

all good things to each of you,

Dr. Darian

Pastor’s message 1/24/23

What’s Brought Me Joy in January?


Every month I like to set aside a week in the newsletter to share what I’ve been watching, reading, or listening to. My hope is that in sharing with you what brought me joy, that you will pay attention to what brings you joy as well. This month’s selection is quite diverse, and as always, keep in mind these are not for everyone!


Vengeance (movie): I love the work of B.J. Novak, who is best known for his work on The Office. He wrote and directed this dark comedy/satire about a party-loving podcaster who travels to west Texas to investigate a true crime mystery. The film sheds a lot of light on how we consume stories in our modern age and what is means to be truthful.


Live From the Prayer Room by Jeremy Riddle (music): On a totally different note, I listened to this worship album everyday for the first two weeks of the year, sometimes multiple times a day. The song on it that has become my primary prayer for this season is, “Jesus Have it All.”


Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel: This book was published with much acclaim in 2014, and I have tried three times to read it. Once I got past the first 60 pages on the third try, I was hooked. It is set in a post-apocalyptic world and weaves the story of survivors with a fantasy in a place called Station 11. I am still reading it now and taking my time absorbing the beautiful language.


all good things to each of you,

Dr. Darian


Pastor’s message January 17, 2023

Growing and Building Trust in 2023

Four years ago, when I embarked on my doctoral research project, ten church members volunteered to participate in a Bible study and information sessions around the topics of grief, hospice, and end-of-life care. We studied the story of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and we heard from hospice employees about what is expected at the end of life. At the beginning and end of the study, the group answered questions about what helped them the most.

Two outcomes intrigued me. One was that the sharing of direct information about hospice put many more at ease by dispelling misconceptions. Another was that the group felt they had bonded and built trust with one another because of the time spent together.

As we begin to unearth God’s vision for us as a congregation this year, I remembered these two insights from the study and realized how they apply to us as a church. In order for us to grow, we have to build trust with one another. To build trust, we have to get to know one another, spend time with one another, pray together, and study God’s Word. This is a priority for us as we explore God’s vision for us moving forward.

Last December, our Annual Conference treasurer, David Stotts, shared a lot of information with us about happenings in our denomination and the disaffiliation process at an Exploration meeting. Minutes from that meeting are available in the church office if you’d like a copy. If you couldn’t attend, I encourage you to talk to folks who did. More about this information will be shared and discussed as we move through this year.

We are working on some times of prayer, Bible study, and discussion that we’ll be sharing more with you in the week ahead. Please be sure that you are worshipping each Sunday as we listen for God’s unfolding vision. I’ll share more information in next week’s newsletter, in the worship services, and at Wednesday Night Supper. What a great year we have in store of growing closer to God and building trust with one another!

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Pastor’s message – January 10, 2023

The Eyes of Jesus: An Epiphany Worship Series

Jan. 15 – Feb. 19, 2023

2023 has dawned, and we have entered a new season on the church calendar. The season after Epiphany is a time where we bask in the light of Jesus, a time of spiritual growth as we stand between the wonder of Bethlehem’s star and the love of the cross.

Last November, we began talking about the topic of vision, and this month we will pick up on that theme. If we are to seek God’s vision for our lives and for our Church, we sometimes inadvertently skip an important step by offering a vital prayer:

Jesus, help me to see through your eyes.

If we are to seek Jesus’ vision, we have to pray that he would help us to see through his eyes. When I was a teenager, there was a contemporary Christian song titled, “Through His Eyes,” whose lyrics have held a place in my memory.

If we could see through his eyes, then we could dare to love the way God loves.

If we could see through his eyes, then we would understand the way God understands.

For his eyes see through the surface right down to our needs,

Far beyond where we are to where we can be

If we can only see through his eyes.

This is my heart’s prayer for us as we search God’s Word together in the weeks ahead. I look forward to the ways God will show us His vision for His church, and it begins with us praying earnestly. Will you join me in this prayer for the new year?

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian