September Informer First United Methodist Church of Gainesville Rev. John Fleming, Pastor John’s Epistle

“The World Is My Office”

If you’ve been steeped in Methodist tradition, you may be familiar with a statement associated with John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Movement in 18th Century England. “I look on all the world,” he wrote in his journal in June of 1739, “as my parish.” The word “parish” is still used in some Christian denominations to refer to an area of ministry, typically a geographic area, though it sometimes refers to a congregation that meets within the bounds of that area. It’s been a long time since Methodists actively used that word and it’s my educated guess that Wesley’s understanding is much of the reason for that: his sentiment referred specifically to his willingness to take up field preacher, a rather disreputable practice in those days. A few days ago, one of our church members caught up with me at the office, hoping to meet with me. He shared with me that it had been the third try to find me, for which I was sorry. It made me examine how it is I communicate with our staff about how I spend my time, as well as what our congregation should be able to reasonably expect of me. One of my most consistent philosophies of leadership has been: Establishing reasonable expectations of one another is the key to minimizing conflict. So I took that conversation as a wake-up call to help all of you understand what you should expect of your clergy staff. Below is a very brief explanation of each of our duties, along with an estimated weekly schedule.  Rev. John Fleming, Pastor: I would identify my three main areas of responsibility as (1.) coordinating and preparing for worship; (2.) administering pastoral care; and (3.) working with staff and lay leadership to help them lead the ministries of the church. I’m typically in the office at some point Mon-Thurs between the hours of 9:30 AM & 4:00 PM, but the best way to make sure I’m available is to call and set an appointment. I’m happy to find a more convenient time to meet with you if it’s helpful.  Rev. Kay Ash, Director of Christian Education: Kay’s primary responsibilities lie in coordinating and leading our ministries with Children, while equipping and relating to those who lead our Adult ministries. Kay is a part-time staff member and her schedule is based on 20 hours a week. In addition to Sunday mornings, Kay will typically be in the office on Wednesdays and other days as needed.  Rev. Kathy Nations, Community Minister: As you hopefully know, Kathy was hired to fill a position that was created by SPRC and Administrative Council action earlier this year to serve as a “Team Leader” for the Second Time Around Resale Shop. As we explored the possibility of hiring a clergy person for that position, it became clear to us that Kathy could offer us the possibility of leading a true community ministry, using STA as the vehicle for that ministry. In addition to Sunday mornings, Kathy will be primarily be working the days that STA is open—Mon, Tues, and Thurs, for now. I’m so very hopeful about the work that we will be able to accomplish together in the years to come. We must remember, however, that our mission—“To know Christ and to make him known”—isn’t possible unless we are willing to interact with the world around us. From now on, in recognition of that fact, I’m adopting a paraphrase of John Wesley’s words to describe my work among you: The world is my office. I’ll always be happy to create time for you, but I hope you’ll join me in carrying the light of Christ beyond the walls of the church. It’s a truly Methodist thing to do. Grace and peace, Pastor John PS: If you’d like to hear a testimonial from a clergy person who is following this philosophy to its fullest, read this blog, "How I'm Meeting New People in a New Place," from The Liturgy Nerd. If you’re not reading this online, please stop by the office and pick up a copy. Grace and peace, Pastor John