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

Pastor’s Message – December 20, 2022

What Brought Us Joy in 2022

It’s hard to believe that 2022 is coming to a close. Next week we will not have a newsletter, so I wanted to take
a moment to share some of the things that have brought me joy. I hope as you enter the Christmas season and
prepare for a new year that you’ll take some time to reflect on this year.

Where did you experience joy?
When did you experience grief?
How did God reveal himself to you in those moments?

Lucy By the Sea by Elizabeth Strout (book): I love Strout’s novels, and this one was especially poignant
because it was set at the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic. There was such a balance of joy and grief as
friendships formed and deepened in the story, against a backdrop of loss.

Abbott Elementary (TV show): Told in the mock-umentary style of shows like The Office and Parks &
Recreation, this delightful show that airs on ABC follows the happenings of an elementary school in
Pennsylvania. It doesn’t shy away from the troubles of funding and resources but also carries an optimism you
can’t resist in the lead character of Janine. I look forward to it every week.

Blood Oranges in the Snow by Over the Rhine (music): Released in 2014, this is the album I listen to the last
few weeks of every year. It is more than a Christmas album, even though Christmas is a central character. The
last track, “New Year’s Song,” which includes, “Auld Lang Syne,” is perfect for the dawn of a new year.

all good things to each of you,
Dr Darian

FUMC Staff Announcement: The Staff Parish Committee is happy to share the hiring of Melanie Sanders as
office manager. Melanie will begin on January 1, 2023. Julie Gray will transition to the role of financial
secretary on the same date. As a reminder, the church office is open Monday-Thursday, 9AM-4PM, and Friday
8AM-12PM. Please congratulate Melanie and Julie on these new roles!

Holidays – The church office will be closed on Friday, December 23 and Monday, December 26 for Christmas.
The church office will also be closed on Friday, Decembe r30 and Monday, January 2, 2023 for New Years.
We will not have a newsletter the weeks on December 26 or January 2nd.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from your FUMC Staff.

Pastor’s Message – December 13, 2022

A Heart Holding Love’s Weight

This is a shorter version of a weekly musing on my website,

“What heart could hold the weight of your love?”

This is the first line of a song titled, “Holy,” by Matt Redman, and when I hear it, all I can see is that baby named Jesus, even though it’s not technically an Advent or Christmas song. Think about how small a baby’s heart is. Intricate and miraculous like all hearts, yes, but still so small. This tiny heart came into the world to bear the weight of his Father’s love for us. What a heavy load for one so light to carry. Yet His heart was created for this very purpose.

A couple of weeks before Advent began this year, I was climbing into the passenger seat of a car and noticed a distinct red dot on the floorboard. I got closer to discover it was a tiny piece of wood painted red —and shaped into a heart.It is such a little thing; and yet it isn’t little. For in the grander story of Advent, the little wooden heart on the floor calls us back to the little heart of an infant, simply beating and pumping and growing as he becomes a man. His heart will break for the world’s sin and bleed for our healing and eventually stop so that death might be defeated.

But for this season—for this glorious, joyful, and deeply mysterious season, we remember what great things God does with what seems so small by the world’s standards.

Will you pause to sing, “Holy,” over the infant-king?
Will you receive the weight of love his heart brings to you today?

all good things to each of you,
Dr Darian