Some years ago, in a sermon for the funeral of Sir William Cokayne on December 12, 1626, The Rev. John Donne (1572-1631) made the following statement: “I throw myself down in my Chamber, and I call in, and invite God, and his Angels thither, and when they are there, I neglect God and his Angels, for the noise of a fly, for the rattling of a coach, for the whining of a door.”
There are indeed so many things and ways that we can be distracted as we seek the voice, presence and guidance of God for our lives. In our world, that is a gross understatement. So many distractions that it is hard, at times, to distinguish the voice of God from every other bit of noise we put up with on a daily basis from all kinds of people and places. Add to that the business that eats away at every fabric of our lives and we can easily find ourselves out of touch with that which is the foundation for the joy, meaning and purpose of life, God!
Therefore, may I suggest that we cultivate the discipline of “Pause.” There is a reason for the pause buttons we find on a variety of the electronic devices which seek to control our lives these days. Pausing is an extremely important part of helping us keep our heart, souls, minds and bodies together.
It is no fluke that the Psalmist said, “BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.”
There is no secret glory nor is there some great reward for being on the move and being busy all the day long. So, just pause precious ones, just pause once in awhile. Pause……..and enjoy God a whole lot more.
– Doug Fairbanks
Published on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 @ 8:48 AM EDT
Just to let you know, Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor did not call me and ask about who should be the next Senior Pastor at First-Centenary United Methodist Church. Bishop Taylor did not base her decision on any question she may or may not have asked any of the former pastors like Al Bowles, Charles Neal, David Harr or, with all due respect, even our beloved Bishop Looney. Though, I am sure we would have some good advice.
However, she and the Holston Conference Cabinet, with input from our Staff/Parish Committee, made the decision on their own. That, in the end, is a very good thing.
It is a good thing because no FCUMC “former pastor” and, I will soon be one of them, knows the present needs of a former congregation and does not have the authority shape the mission of said congregation. If the new senior pastor asks for help that is a different story. We clergy live in covenant with one another and Holston Annual Conference and consider it a breach of ethics to do otherwise. We human beings relate differently to different people, that’s just a fact. This is simply part of the dynamic change of energy involved in the appointive process that allows for the church to build upon what has happened and to move forward to what can happen for the cause of Jesus Christ!
Our system is not perfect. Yet, when I left the Knoxville District Office six years ago, I had a large drawer full of requests and resumes from Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Catholic, Wesleyan, Nazarene, Church of God and other clergypersons who wanted to become ministers in The United Methodist Church. I accommodated one from the Nazarene Church. Our approach must not be too bad.
We former pastors of FCUMC are just that, former. Please, I hope and pray that you have appreciated us, but, do not seek guidance for the life and mission of this church from us. Our opinions should be appreciated but never definitive concerning the existential life of this church. In other words, having served here gives us no special privileges. Indeed, any participation by us in the life of FCUMC should be done with the permission and blessing of the new senior pastor. The new senior pastor at FCUMC is projected to be Rev. Dr. C. Mark Gooden.
Mark’s first sermon is on July 1 and my last sermon is June 17th. May the Holy Spirit continue to be upon us all during this period of transition.
– Doug Fairbanks
Published on Friday, May 18, 2018 @ 10:03 AM EDT
We are all familiar with the words “IT IS FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!” Well, in that same spirit I would like to share with you, as if you did not know it already, “IT IS TRANSITION TIME AT FIRST-CENTENARY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH!”
The word transition is defined in the following way: “The process or a period of changing from on state or condition to another.” Synonyms are change, passage, move, transformation, conversion, metamorphosis, alteration, handover, changeover, segue, shift, switch, jump, leap, progression, progress, development, evolution, flux. I personally think that country singer, Willie Nelson, describes the essence of transition best in his song, “On The Road Again…!”
Yes it is transition time at FCUMC and I want you to know that all persons and leaders involved in this particular transition have done an excellent job in enabling our time honored and cherished tradition of moving on from one pastor to the next pastor.
If you do not know already, The Reverend Mark Gooden is projected to be the next FCUMC Senior Pastor. Mark has followed me before and survived very well and I know that he and his lovely wife Judy will be tremendous assets to FCUMC. So, keep them in your prayers as they make their way to you. Mark’s first sermon will be on July 1, 2018.
Carolyn and I continue to wish all concerned the very best as this transition period continues and as you prepare for new days ahead. In the meantime, keep all United Methodist preachers in your prayers who may find themselves and theirs “On The Road Again…” in just a few short weeks.
– Doug Fairbanks
Published on Thursday, May 10, 2018 @ 3:41 PM EDT
One definition of Evangelism that I really appreciate is the following: To engage in evangelism is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every corner of the world. I want you to give thanks for the evangelists who are a part of our TV Ministry. Yes, I said, “Evangelists!!” These are members of our TV ministry team who spend countless hours each and every week producing one of the best, if not the best, worship service to be seen on local television. I have seen other productions that do not come close to scratching the surface in terms of what these precious persons do week in and week out.
As well as producing this television service each week, these persons live stream our morning worship as it is happening. And, I want you to know, if you do not know already, that people from all over the world watch First-Centenary United Methodist Church at worship every Sunday. Yes, all over the world, people are seeking the Good News of Jesus Christ. Isn’t it wonderful to know that thanks to the dedicated work of these volunteers that your church is spreading the Gospel all over the world!
It has been a very high privilege for me to work with Clint Cooper, Bill and Martha Eaves, Emory Fry, John Germann, Santino Italia, Tom Loggins, Bill Matthews, Mike and Martha Payne, Sally Richardson, Chris Schobert, Jim Schwartz, and Pat Strange.
Their work, dedication to and love for this very special ministry has been an inspiration beyond words to me. May we continue to keep each of them and this priceless ministry in our prayers, as they continue insuring that First-Centenary United Methodist Church spreads the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.
– Doug Fairbanks
Published on Thursday, May 3, 2018 @ 4:04 PM EDT
One of my favorite Hymns has the following words:
“Take the name of Jesus with you, Child of sorrow and of woe; It will joy and comfort give you, Take it then where’er you go. Precious name! Oh, how sweet! Hope of earth and joy of heav’n………”
We United Methodists believe that though faith is personal it is also social. That means that we understand that our beliefs are not to be kept to ourselves. It also means that there is no such thing as a private faith, as faith that impacts us personally is to be used to impact others through interaction, through mutual support and actions that help make this world a better place for all people.
I have been deeply disturbed by what I consider to be a very tragic hijacking of the Christian narrative by so-called evangelical groups. Some of these groups have, in my mind, polluted that word forever. They have presented a brand of Christianity that bears little if any resemblance to what Jesus and his early followers proclaimed to the world. One only needs to do a careful read of the Gospels to see that.
Personally, I have lost all respect for those who fail to appreciate the very fact that Jesus is more than a “personal Savior.” The same Jesus who said, “Come unto me and I will give you rest . . .” is the same Jesus who said, “What you do to the least of these you do to me.”
Or to put it another way, I believe The United Methodist belief in “Personal Piety and Social Holiness” captures who Jesus would have us be and what Jesus would have us do. It reminds us that Christ is in us to work through us. Of course, Christ is deeply concerned about our personal well-being in the world, but He is equally concerned about the well-being of others in the world.
So, may we take the name of Jesus with us…..and…..take it then wherever we go.
– Doug Fairbanks
Published on Thursday, April 26, 2018 @ 8:13 AM EDT