Year Two at Chestnut Grove UMC! Here we go!

July 1, 2016

(This is the first day of the "new year" for clergy appointed across the conference.  Evelyn Lemons shares about starting her second year at Chestnut Grove UMC)

chestnutgroveby Evelyn Lemons

Last year about 10 minutes after I was handed the keys to my office here at Chestnut Grove, I took an emergency call for Mary Martin's mom. Her mom died the next morning.  That was the first of several emergencies that were getting ready to come our way. The transition into the parsonage was not exactly smooth as the parsonage team learned that some structural repairs needed to be done to the foundation, and a room off the back of the house was pulling off from the rest of the house.  So, I hauled stuff to the parsonage, but was not able to move in.  All that work is now still in progress with a huge renovation project unfolding.  Living with Jeff in my own house has been good. So, all that is working out even as we speak.

Before I preached my first sermon, here, there was a shooting where a man was killed in Pinnacle about 3 miles from my new church.  I volunteer as a Chaplain with the Stokes County Sheriff's Office and was called on after the shooting.  My husband was the spokesperson dealing with the media on the shooting and my new congregation watched him on the local TV news give the updates. After one day of rest, there was another stand off in Pine Hall.  No shots were fired and prayers were answered in that incident as my husband was in command during that event.   Our youth were preparing to head out on a mission trip to Pennsylvania, and had two flat tires on their way back home on the church bus, but were well cared for, even in their crisis!   Anita Clifton from my church was on Hospice care and died, and we held her funeral before I had preached at the new church for the first time.  Dwayne Livengood's mother was in Hospice care and died in early July.  My sister in law, Karen Jones McAdams mother died my second day on the job. I hurt my left foot in the move and was put in a boot and it took months of care for that to get on the mend!  What a way to start a new job. In trying to finish out a doctoral degree, this spring I completed my principal internship with work at Nancy Reynolds Elementary, North Stokes High School, and Southeastern Middle School.  The dissertation project is underway and I hope to graduate with my Ed. D. in December of 2016.  Things with family and church were moving along in a good groove and this spring we had a death in our immediate family, and our world changed.  My father-in-law Cleo Lemons died in March.  Now we are helping Ruby from day to day try to move on with her life after losing a mate of 67 years, and at 92 that is a tough adjustment.

I probably left some stuff out, but when I was reading what a pastor should accomplish in her first 90 days on the job, I really laughed out loud.  One thing I am sure about: Ministry first.  Love and care for the people.  God will bring order to the chaos.

We opened the Anchor House for ministry with our youth and young adults almost 90 days in to my new appointment to the day.  We were doing construction at the church daily trying to get all that finished up while all the other crisis events were going on at the same time.  Still, as I look back at what the church accomplished last year, we had a bunch of baptisms, new people joined the church, we started a Wednesday night worship service for our youth, and started a new worship team to support that work.  A prayer team emerged that meets weekly on Tuesdays to pray for our church and community needs.  The church went through a discernment process of what to do with the needed repairs at the parsonage and decided to take out a loan and hire a contractor to get the work done.  It is happening now!  Recently God has called a woman to start a young adult ministry on Sunday nights and that launched the first of June.  God called a man in our church to launch a prayer shawl ministry.  Yesterday someone brought me about 20 hand made prayer shawls!  This just started and God is pouring it on us!

Everything has not just fallen into place by the book of what should be accomplished in your first 90 days, the time the book says your church will make some decisions about what kind of leader you are going to be, but God himself is thriving our congregation and thriving our ministry.  I don't know what kind of evaluations the church may have given me as I have journeyed with them for the first year, but I have given the church an evaluation.  This church wants God!  We want to reach our community with love and kindness.  This is a church where I can invite my friends and not be worried that they won't fit in, or no one will speak to them.  Chestnut Grove, you are my church family. I love each person here.  I am so proud of this church for wanting to learn more each week about what God wants from us.  I have evaluated that the church is not waiting on the preacher to go out and be Christians in this community. You are doing the work!  I have loved my work with you this last year, and I look forward to continuing to serve you here in King NC! Chestnut Grove, you are being salt and light to this community. It is my honor to be your pastor!

Evelyn Lemons is the pastor of Chestnut Grove UMC in King, NC.  Read her blog at: