Wednesday, November 12, 2008

This Sunday, the church I pastor can take a healing step amid Heritage Day festivities

Here are the facts for the event:

West Morris Street Free Methodist Church Heritage Day & Homecoming
Sunday, November 16
The Rev. Rick Francis - guest speaker - 10:30 am
Pitch-in Fellowship Dinner - 12 pm
Historical display & photos of friends across the years
All Invited - Celebrate 94 years together with us

Here's what's behind the significance of the event:

GIVING THANKS Heritage Day & Homecoming at WEMO is a way to look back with thanksgiving, gather insight and encouragement for present opportunities, and look forward in our unique mission and ministry in this place. This year, for our 94th Anniversary celebration, we have invited a former Youth and Associate Pastor from the 1980’s to preach in Morning Worship.

RICK FRANCIS TO PREACH. Rick Francis grew up in West Morris Street church and attended Greenville and Asbury Colleges and Asbury Seminary. Rick has over 25 years experience as a Pastor and counselor. He currently serves as Pastor of the Vineyard Community Church at Mount Comfort. This is his first visit back to WEMO to preach in 20 years. I hope all will join us in welcoming Rick and Debby with open arms.

21 YEARS AGO: A PAINFUL DISMISSAL. Whether or not one has history with West Morris Street, this is an important day for our church. Even as a visitor, you will have the opportunity to experience our fellowship reaching across time in hope and reconciliation. In 1987, Rick was asked by Wabash Conference leadership to leave the West Morris Street fellowship and Free Methodist ministry after he indicated that he had received the gift of a prayer language (tongues speaking), even though he did not promote it or make the issue divisive. The impact of that decision had an incredibly painful impact on many people, but none moreso than on Rick and Debby and their families.

A SPACE FOR GRACE. After picking up on the lingering regrets of several parishioners and feeling that this may a continuing barrier for us, I invited Rick to come and speak at this year's Heritage Day. There is no intent to point fingers or rehash history, but to provide a space for grace to bring healing. My prayer is that, somehow, this day will mark a point of grace and reconciliation for all.

CONTACT & INVITE We hope many who no longer attend WEMO will gather with us for this special day. WEMO folks are reaching out to friends, relatives, and WEMO folks from before the 1990’s. After the 10:30 am Morning Worship, there will be a fellowship dinner for all in the Lower Level at 12 pm. We've invited folks to bring photos or memorabilia from "good ol' days" to share or display, to send a letter or note (via e-mail to for a message board if friends just can’t be present.

I welcome your comments and/or questions in the spirit of dialog. Share yours by clicking on "comments" just below. They're moderated only to reduce incivility. Shalom!

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