Guest Writer Lisa Test

#SeeAllThePeople

We cannot disciple people that we are not in relationship with. Discipleship begins with relationships. – the Rev. Junius B. Dotson

Over the last two weeks, the hallways have been full of new faces, dozens of them, in fact!

This summer we intentionally engaged with the people in our surrounding neighborhood, those right outside our doors that Christ calls us to reach. Our mission of reaching deeper into our community brings us into relationships with people from all walks of life. Our common work partnering with the UMC and community mission organizations gives us opportunity to love children and youth in our neighborhoods in new and creative ways – unlike our church has ever done before.  

This summer we opened the doors of our building and grounds for young people to experience this love of Christ. What a joy to witness this ministry in our hallways and on our grassy fields!

The radical hospitality of FUMC Plano embraced about 25 children the first week of August for GO Camp, a unique ministry of the North Texas Conference of the UMC. This provided a meaningful day camp that reaches under-served communities and provides new opportunities to develop young leaders. 

The next week we hosted mission partner CitySquare’s Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) Program. PAL was a class provided to 30 or more teens who are about to age out of the State of Texas foster care program.   They learned adult life skills to prepare them for this next phase of independence.

I am inspired by the work of our church as we embrace all people experiencing God’s grace through our staff, volunteers, community partners, and by our prayers and presence. By sharing a warm blanket with youth as the classrooms were cold, by welcoming into our offices as a place to sit and have lunch together. THIS is what Jesus calls us to do and be: to boldly show Christ’s love to those around us. We are the church, helping people grow in their faith making new disciples for the transformation of the world. 

Let’s start new conversations, continuing to think deeper about how we are connecting with our community. Let’s continue to seek ways to look outward, seeing and reaching all people around us. It starts with relationship in intentional ways. 

Look around on Sunday.  #SeeAllThePeople

Lisa Test
Minister of Outreach & Discipleship

Guest Writer Pastor Ed Volfe

“Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.”
Psalm 71:17

I grew up in the Methodist Church in Brazil, and my parents made me go to church every Sunday.  It was boring for me. The fun part of church, though, was when I met my friends for Sunday school and after the Sunday Service. And it was there and then, at a youthful age, that I learned to love God from watching leaders in the church loving God so passionately, both in words and deeds. Like the writer of Psalm 71, I too can say ‘to this day’ I declare God’s marvelous deeds!

This Sunday, Aug. 13, Worship will be led by our very own Crossfire Youth. It is important they continue to find their space and meaning in our midst so that the seed of love for God and neighbor will take roots in their hearts and minds, and become a thriving, fruitful tree of life in their adulthood.

See you at the place of renewal this Sunday!

Ed Volfe Associate Pastor

Ed Volfe
Associate Pastor

Youth Week Mission Day - On Tuesday our Crossfire Youth put together "Manna Bags" for people in need. These bags are filled with non-perishable items. Stop by the youth table on Sunday to grab a bag or two to keep in you car for that person who will need it the most! 

Youth Week Mission Day - On Tuesday our Crossfire Youth put together "Manna Bags" for people in need. These bags are filled with non-perishable items. Stop by the youth table on Sunday to grab a bag or two to keep in you car for that person who will need it the most! 

Finding the Beauty

Matt.jpg


I shall behold your face I righteousness when I wake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness."
Psalm 17:15

I am going in for MOHS surgery on my nose for a second time in seven years. This is not a frightful thing for me given that my dermatologist catches these little cancers early on. However, it is a jarring thing; "beholding your likeness" in the mirror for a few weeks is not a thing of beauty as the wounds heal.  

I think of how unsettling my life would be if it were dependent on the likeness of my face or my soul, both of which have scars which, like skin cancer, are often self-inflicted from excess.  I am gratefully reminded by the psalmist that my satisfaction comes not from seeing my likeness each day, but rather God's likeness - God's "face" - wherever there is righteousness, love, beauty and healing in the people, in the world and in myself.  

See you at the soul surgical center on Sunday,

Matt Gaston Lead Pastor

Matt Gaston
Lead Pastor

Summer Smile

For a summer smile, I yield to member Ross Clegg who sent me these very good reasons for coming to worship, in addition of course to glorifying God. Enjoy.

Accident prone?

  1. Avoid riding in automobiles. They are responsible for 20% of all fatal accidents.
  2. Don’t stay at home. 17% of all accidents occur in the home.
  3. Avoid walking outdoors because 14 % of all accidents occur to pedestrians.
  4. Avoid traveling by air, rail or water. 16 % of all accidents involve these means of transportation.
  5. Of the remaining 33 %, 32 % of all deaths occur in a hospital, so avoid hospitals.

BUT, you will be pleased to learn that only .001 % of all deaths occur in church. Therefore logic tells us that the safest place to be at any given time is in church, and the percentage of deaths during Bible study is even less.

So, go to church and to Bible study classes. IT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE !

See you at the safe place this Sunday,

Matt Gaston Lead Pastor

Matt Gaston
Lead Pastor

Summer Play and Planning

I love summer's change of pace that readily allows for play as part of my pastoral work.  

  • Two weeks ago I spent a day in the pool and preaching with 35 of our elementary kids at Bridgeport Camp.
  • A week ago Mark Lucke, Cammy, our son Blaine, and I hosted 17 adults and 15 elementary children at our home for burgers and dogs. We shared our faith stories and discovered a hunger to create a new Sunday School class which will launch August 27. Another is being planned.
  • Last Sunday, we hosted six of our recent high school graduates and three of our college students to talk about adjusting to college life. They also played a most competitive game of Sequence.

All of this "play" helps us to plan better for the needs of our multi-generational church for the next 15 years as we enter Phase II of our Healthy Church Initiative. In the weeks ahead you will hear more information about opportunities to get on board for this. In the meantime, be sure to read Simple Church.

Come for the planning, but stick around for the play.

See you Sunday at the playful place,

Matt Gaston Lead Pastor

Matt Gaston
Lead Pastor

What? We're Related?

It has come as a surprise to some during our Luther 500 series to learn that all of us Christians came from the same trunk on the family tree. We all came from the Roman Catholic Church once upon a time. I am indebted to Catholic scholars, Catholic priests and Catholic friends for being the United Methodist Christian and United Methodist pastor that I am today; and this in spite of the fact that I have differences of opinion (sometimes significant differences) with those same people over issues of doctrine and practice (ordination of women comes to mind!). Nonetheless, they are my sisters and brothers in the faith for whom I am thankful to God.  

I think this should give us prayerful pause in our current culture wars that are quick to demonize the other who does not agree with me on a point of doctrine or practice, whether it is religious or political. The fact remains: we are all related. We all come from the same trunk of the one family tree. Most of us come from the same trunk of the same religious tree - the Abrahamic tree - Jewish, Christian and Muslim, with all flavors of each. And most of us come from the same political tree, the one that found root in this land and sought "liberty and justice for all."

As strange as it seems at times, those "others" are more related to us than we might want to believe ... thanks be to God! I know I am a better human being for that connection.


See you at the connecting place this Sunday,

Matt Gaston, Lead Pastor

Matt Gaston, Lead Pastor

My Last First - a Lot to Celebrate

Tuesday's Patriotic Pops Concert and the City of Plano's fireworks extravaganza was the last event I had not yet experienced at FUMC Plano. A year ago this Sunday I was on vacation before my first Sunday,  so our July 4th community event was my "last first." 

As spectacular as the city's fireworks display was, I was amazed and celebrated still more:

  • the inspiring and coordinated presentation by our music ministry under Robin's creative leadership;
  • our staff's active presence to secure and support this huge effort;
  • the number and the recognition of the women and men who did serve or are serving in all our nation's armed forces;
  • the army of men, women and youth who volunteered, set up, parked, tore down, greeted, assisted, thanked, waved, smiled, and were the face of Christ to so many who came through our doors for music, water, bathrooms, and a warm smile;
  • the collection of just over $2700 to be given to Heroes on the Water–an all-volunteer, non-profit organization dedicated to helping injured warfighters recover mentally and physically through the therapeutic qualities of fishing from kayaks allowing mother nature do what she has done for hundreds of years: heal.
  • the Spirit of thanksgiving, love and possibility for the future in our place.

THANK YOU for your participation in and support of this important event. We witnessed well to our community that this is indeed a community's church with its doors wide open for all we would invite to enter.  Thanks be to God.

See you in the community place this Sunday,

Matt Gaston
Lead Pastor

Robin Kaufman Anderson directed a magnificent performance on Tuesday, July 4 at FUMC Plano's annual Patriotic Pops concert. 

Robin Kaufman Anderson directed a magnificent performance on Tuesday, July 4 at FUMC Plano's annual Patriotic Pops concert. 

Where Should the Patriotic Pops Offering Go?

This was one of those in-office, administrative logistic questions that became pause for theological reflection.  

It is very tempting for churches to work out of a theology of scarcity - the certain belief/fear that resources are scarce and that we may not have enough for ourselves and what we need to survive. So we skimp, fret and make sure that we "cover our costs" before we give to others, trusting only our own reserves. People see that.

Vibrant churches work out of a theology of abundance - the certain belief/confidence that resources are abundant since they are from God and that we have more than enough to survive. So we dream, plan and make sure that we give to others first, trusting God that we will cover our costs. People see that.

I saw our First Leadership Team and the Finance Committee together work out of a theology of abundance last week when it voted unanimously to apply proceeds from this year's Balloon Festival to our Missions Team instead of to the church budget. It was a faith step toward God, God's generosity and our mission field. That decision by our church leadership made that in-office, administrative logistic question an easy one to answer.

On Tuesday, July 4 at 7:30 p.m. our Patriotic Pops Offering will go to Hero’s on the Water (HOW) DFW Chapter - an all-volunteer, non-profit organization dedicated to serving wounded and disabled active duty, Reserve and Guard troops. The group aims to help injured warfighters recover mentally and physically through the therapeutic qualities of fishing from kayaks. The Heroes on the Water program lets mother nature do what she has done for hundreds of years: heal.

We trust God for what we need in order to witness to the world that we love to give (Acts 2:46-47).  And people see that too .

 

See you Sunday and Tuesday at the Giving Place,

 

Matt Gaston
Lead Pastor

Summertime Giving

Bob Baucum and his wife Jan

Bob Baucum and his wife Jan

Summertime for many of us represents a time for family vacations and a break from the push and pace of regular life.

To have a great vacation takes planning. You have to plan for the care of family pets, arrange for lawn care, the handling the bills and for someone to pick up mail while you are gone.  Having taken care of these things, you will have peace of mind. I am asking you to consider adding the church to your planning. 

Historically, church giving declines during the summer months as families away from home neglect to give. While you are away, the mission of the church remains the same to provide quality programming for spiritual growth and formation. At the same time, summer represents one of the busiest times within church life with Vacation Bible School, Youth Mission Trips, Kids’ Arts & Music Camp and Choir Tour.

My wish for you is to have a wonderful vacation, great adventures, new appreciation for loved ones and friends, and a safe return.  We all want to get away to relax and enjoy the many blessings God has given to us.  While you are away this summer please don’t forget to remember the church.  

Bob Baucum
Chair of Finance Committee

Being Neighborly; Returning the Favor

At the end of April our Crossfire Youth Ministry hosted some 25 of our neighbors from East Plano Islamic Center for invigorating games of Bubble Soccer followed by conversation around pizza. It was tasty, educational and good fun. 

Our neighbors felt so welcomed that they have in turn invited a few of us for fellowship and a break-the-fast-for-Ramadan dinner at their place this Saturday, June 17 at 7:30 p.m. In solidarity with them and our own Christian practice, I will fast that day as well. Our visit will begin with a tour of their new facility and conclude with dinner at 8:36 (sundown) ... just like neighbors do when they go to each other's homes.

In a fearful culture where armed citizens stage protests against neighbors outside of their mosques, it is important for Christians to ponder Jesus' response to the question, "Who is my neighbor?" (Luke 10:25-37). For two great faiths that put such emphasis on communion around a shared meal, I can think of few more loving acts than to simply make and accept an invitation to dinner.

Here's to peace & neighbor-making,

 

Matt Gaston
Lead Pastor