Hello. My Name Is…

When I first learned that I would be appointed as the new pastor at Royston First United Methodist Church, I made a goal to meet EVERY person who called Royston First their home church. Over the last five weeks, I have met 157 out of 254 people who I know consider Royston First to be their home church. I have also met many others from the community and some new families who have started attending Royston First UMC in the last few weeks. It has been exciting and I have enjoyed getting to know each of you and to hear your stories of family and faith. But I also realize I still have many more people to meet.

Beginning this Sunday, I will be visiting each of the Sunday School classes and spending time with each class. I want to be able to learn your name, hear about your family, and listen to what God is doing in your life. I’d love to hear how long you have been part of this community of faith and why you chose to worship at Royston First United Methodist Church. Finally, I want to hear the ways you have experienced God’s love and grace here in Royston. I hope we will be able to sit together and have those conversations.

If you are not in a Sunday School class or if you are not able to attend the day I visit your class, then I want to invite you to join me for one of two special gatherings on Sunday, July 29, or Sunday, August 26. Both of these gatherings will be at 10:00 AM in the BBC House and there will be coffee available. In order to keep these gatherings small enough for good conversation, I am asking you to please e-mail me and let me know of your plans to attend either of these gatherings.

As we continue to move through summer and into fall, I am sure there will be additional gatherings. I really hope we are able to get to know one another as we share about the ways we are experiencing God in our lives.

Have a wonderful weekend and I look forward to being with you in worship on Sunday!

Grace and peace,
Matt

A Time for Sabbath

This week, my family and I have enjoyed some vacation time with our extended family in Florida. It has been a wonderful and refreshing week, and I appreciate you allowing us to be away and giving us the time to be renewed and restored. We look forward to being back with you soon.

Vacation time is important to our well-being. It’s so important, that God commanded we have a time of sabbath — or rest from our work. When God created the heavens and earth, God rested on the seventh day. In Exodus, God commanded the Israelites to “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy,” (Exodus 20:8). But in our fast paced society, we often overlook the need for rest and sabbath. Sabbath can come in the form of a day off, a vacation, or a retreat. What are some of the ways you find sabbath in your life? How might your life be different if you practiced the discipline of observing sabbath?

While I am away this Sunday, I am excited that you will have the opportunity to hear from one of my friends and colleagues in ministry, the Reverend Lindsey Solomon from the United Methodist Children’s Home. I first met Lindsey when she was a freshman at LaGrange College, and we have remained friends since then. Through her work in the United Methodist Children’s Home and foster care support, I believe Lindsey will bring a wonderful and unique perspective to our Miracles series. I have already told her about all of you and I am thrilled you will have the chance to be with her in worship this Sunday.

We will return to Royston on Sunday night and look forward to seeing all of you next week. Have a wonderful weekend and God bless!

Grace and peace,
Matt

Where do you see God?

Several years ago, I was leading a mission trip with some teenagers to the Agalta Valley in central Honduras. Each night, we would gather together for singing and an evening devotion. After the devotion time, we would ask anyone who felt comfortable sharing with the group to tell others where they saw God that day. The responses were amazing and inspiring. People would see God in a gentle breeze on a hot day or a cool drink of water at just the right time. They would see God in the actions of others on our trip and they would see God in the generosity of the people we were working with. God was seen in beauty of creation and also in the rain that would fall in the middle of the day. As I listened to these teenagers explain where they would see God, I was reminded once again that God is all around us.

Where do you see God? This month, we are talking about the miracles of Jesus in our message series and discovering the amazing things God is doing. I have enjoyed hearing some of your stories of miracles and God at work in your life. God is with us! This Sunday, we will continue our series as we read Matthew 14:22-33 and talk about Jesus walking on the water and the faith of Peter to step out of the boat. I hope you will plan to join us and invite someone to worship with us at 8:45 or 11 AM.

Finally, I want to add a word of thanks — I have been blown away by your welcome and hospitality as you have welcomed my family and me these last three weeks. I know we still have many people to meet, but we have been thrilled to meet so many of you and embraced as members of your faith community. Royston First UMC is a great place to be and I believe God is doing amazing things here! I am pumped to be part of this journey with each of you as we “make disciples of Jesus who make disciples of Jesus.” Have a wonderful weekend and I’ll see you in worship on Sunday!

Grace and peace,

Matt

 

New Beginnings

Last February, I received a phone call from my friend and district superintendent, Dr. Brian Clark, telling me that I was projected to be appointed as the Lead Pastor at Royston First United Methodist Church. I did not know much about Royston First UMC at that time – other than Brian had served here in the early 2000s. But he was excited for me and shared about his wonderful time in ministry at the church. I quickly learned the reason for his excitement, and my family and I are blessed to be at Royston First UMC as I get to be your pastor. We are grateful for each of you and the hospitality we have received. I am especially grateful for Ann McCauley, Ernie Graham, Missy Hart, David Jordan, and Sallie Watkins who have worked hard behind the scenes to welcome us, prepare the way for us, and help lead the church through this time of transition. Thank you!

This month, we will be kicking off a message series in our worship services titled Miracles. Throughout this series, we will be studying some of the miracles of Jesus and discovering the amazing work of God that still happens all around us today. Frederick Buechner, an author and theologian, once said, “It is not the objective proof of God’s existence that we want but the experience of God’s presence. That is the miracle we are really after, and that is also, I think, the miracle that we really get.” I believe we experience miracles when we experience the presence of God. But we have to be prepared to experience God and we have to be willing to participate in what God is doing. As I said on my first Sunday with you, God calls each of us into this journey of faith and we must be willing to take that step of faith. Together, we can witness and experience some amazing things. As Joshua told the Israelites, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you,” (Joshua 3:5). How are you preparing for the amazing things God is doing among you?

I look forward to meeting each of you over the next few weeks. One of my primary goals for this summer is to meet every person who considers Royston First UMC their home church. I have prayed for each of you and my hope is to be able to shake your hand, learn your name, and hear your story. I believe every one has a story and every story matters to God, so it matters to me.

Finally, as I begin this new season of ministry with you, I want to ask you three questions:

  • What is one thing I need to know about this church?
  • What is one way that we are going to reach new people?
  • What is one dream you have for our church?

I will be asking these questions over the next few weeks, but you can e-mail me at matt@roystonfirstumc.orgif you would like to share your responses. Or give me a call at the church; we can grab a cup of coffee or a bite to eat and talk about the amazing things God is doing in this church and in your life.

Grace and peace,
Matt

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