Howdy, Partner!

Mandi Richey, Community Minister

I’m not from Texas, but there’s something inviting about the way Texans greet one another. They say, “Hey y’all,” or “How y’all doin’?” or sometimes they say “Howdy, partner.” As the new community minister at Faith United Methodist Church on South Lamar, I just wanted to say, “howdy, partners.”  Partners in ministry, that is.

What does it mean to be a partner? A partner is a person who shares or is associated with another in some action or endeavor.” A partner is a sharer.

We are a community at Faith.  We share common beliefs and common goals. One of our goals is to be relevant in our community. So how do we do that? We partner. We connect. We want to make our presence known in the community. We don’t just want to be “the church with the great preschool” or “that church next to Matt’s El Rancho”. What do we want to be known for? Don’t we want to be known as “the church that helps people” or “the church that cares about South Austin”?

Connection. Community. Partnering. Kinda reminds me of this image: 

We are driven by love. Love for God, love for others and love for ourselves. We want to be a loving and caring community. This is a great goal. But notice how the hands are extending outward from the heart? We need to extend, too. Into our community. Each hand can represent a connection we make in our community. Each hand can be a partnership we make with an elementary school or local restaurant. Together we will reach out our hands into our community with love.

As community minister, I can help to find things we can do. I can help us to find places where we can get out and serve the community. But I can’t do this community ministry work without you. I need you to partner with me. It has to be the whole Faith community reaching out, not just one person. You are the ones who live and work in the surrounding community. You are the ones who can see the needs of the community. It might be mulching trees or handing out water bottles or simply offering a smile.

Being part of a community is a coming together for unity. Come – unity. In a community, each person brings something different to the table. We each have different gifts to share. So let us all use whatever gifts we have to help and serve. Not everyone is gifted at tutoring students, but I bet someone is. Not everyone is good at cooking, but I bet a few of you are. Not everyone can be an organizer, but I’ll bet there’s one or two among you.

When we reach out our hands to partner with the community because of the love we have for God and for each other, community connections happen. Partnerships are born and nurtured and grown.

I look forward to partnering with you!

Howdy, partner!


The Unforced Rhythms of Grace!

Ocean Beach Pastor Scene

For many years now I’ve tried to capture anew and be intentional about experiencing summer the old fashioned way.  You know, school lets out and one is free.  There’s free time in abundance.  The summer is not booked up with yet another string of activities to fill the days and further wear one out.  One slows down.  One breathes in and breathes out and practices smiling, as Thich Nhat Hahn teaches.  One plays the Best of the Beach Boys at least twice pretty loud, ideally near or upon water.  One spends loads of time with friends and family.  One rests.  One can even enjoy being bored; board shorts optional.

To be honest, now, I already have a bunch of things on my calendar.  Time in Corpus Christi at Annual Conference meetings; plus time to visit family down there.  Quality time will be invested in welcoming three wonderful new people to the Faith Church staff; and we’re installing new carpet and new phones and planning new beginnings on many new things.  I get to visit kids in Chicago.  Later in the summer my wife is taking me to Alaska.  Zoom zoom.  I’m one lucky guy.  And, I’m feeling a tiny bit tired just thinking about all the arrangements and plans and to do’s.

Jesus said: Are you tired?  Worn out?  Burned out on religion?  Come to me.  Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.  I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  I won’t lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  (Matthew 11.28-30, The Message)

So I share this scripture passage with you, with the Faith Church congregation once again, and with myself.  I don’t think one can be exposed to this one too often.  To walk with Christ and learn from him.  To learn the unforced rhythms of grace and learn how to take a real rest.   Ahhhhhhhhhhh….

Happy summertime, friend.  And, really—may the peace of Christ be with you all summer long.

david gilliam, summer pastor, faith united methodist church, austin.  for more about faith church, click here.