Greetings and salutations, my friends!
I would like to share an update with you. I typically submit my updates on a different blog but I feel like this one deserves a UBFM blog post. As most of you know, there have been some changes to UBFM. I have moved (relocated), stepped back from the full-time leadership role, and allowed some other members to pilot the ship. I have done this because ministry has called me to another place.
Toward the end of last year I was offered a job at a small, beautiful, rural church near Columbia TN. The location is twenty minutes from my parent’s house and 30 minutes from my sister and her family. It would have been an ideal place for me but I did not take it because I did not feel like I should leave UBFM behind. After I declined the position I put it behind me and moved on.
Time passed, I became restless, and my mind started churning. In the early part of this year I was nearly a year out of seminary with a Master’s degree, working part-time retail, part-time UBFM, traveling to churches every Sunday morning to preach, and making about 800.00 a month. I had to borrow from my parents to make ends meet. Something had to change.
I started thinking about the church offer a lot more. Then, they contacted me. They wanted to talk again. God might work in mysterious ways but God also works in obvious ways. They wanted to make an offer that would allow me to be in Memphis when I needed to be. I asked them if I could be in Memphis every other week for three days. They had a meeting and confirmed. They offered me a salary and a house to live in across the street from the church. I took it.
As I discerned this call to ministry I thought a lot about UBFM. It has out grown my skill level. There are things about it that I cannot nurture. When it comes to administrative work, finances, and paperwork I only squeeze by. However, there are people who are involved with the organization that are experts in those areas and they want to help. I love being a leader and facilitating groups but there are people who volunteer every Wednesday night and Saturday morning who are much better at it than I am. There are members that meet every Tuesday night to make burritos and have a discussion. I didn’t start that; a brilliant group of leaders did. Two years ago I had a vision; it is now tangible. The dream I had came true and it is all of the people involved, God’s people, who made it happen. If you have invested in UBFM in any way, may it be physically, funding, or simply prayed for us, you have built a ministry that started with nothing more than a vision. I believe God orchestrated and facilitated it; you all built it.
I tell everyone that this ministry is ecumenical and it is for everybody across every spiritual and religious board. It is most certainly that but it is built on a Christian foundation. It is truly inspired by the works of Christ on earth over 2,000 years ago. I created it as if it were a church. To many members, it is church; it is a church without walls. The Christian church is considered the body of Christ. It is Christ working in the world today. His hands, ears, voice, emotions, and so on. It does not take a Christian to know that the things Jesus did were radical. He upset the authorities by giving hope to the people nobody loved. He loved criminals, people with diseases, homeless people, and he told them they would inherit the kingdom of God. He encouraged them and gave them hope. He did what no one else would do. He did what people were afraid of doing. To me, that is awesome.
When I see the unique value that each UBFM member places in this ministry I think of the body of Christ. A person may not be able to ride a bike around and deliver food but they might be brilliant when it comes to administrative work. A person may not be able to meet every Wednesday night but they are meticulous at managing supplies. A person may not be available for the rides but they are a genius when it comes to coordinating fundraisers. I have learned that this ministry takes a lot of people to operate. It takes a lot of unique individuals to make it what it is.
Looking ahead, I know UBFM will continue to grow and serve people in the Memphis community. I feel like the future for this organization will go above and beyond what any of us expect it to. It has already done that for me. The building next door to the First United Methodist Church will soon become our home as well as home for Room in the Inn. The building will require a lot of work but I am confident it will happen. I hope we are able to coordinate some more fundraisers in the near future in order to make this happen.
I will still be available. I am not that far away. I will be in Memphis every other week, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. On Mondays and Tuesdays you will find me working at Bike the Planet in Bartlett. Wednesdays I will be open to meet with anyone. If there are any questions in regard to the organization you can still contact me firstname.lastname@example.org or direct your questions to Frank Fournier email@example.com, Frank Rouse firstname.lastname@example.org, Ellen Hudson email@example.com, Jill Steele firstname.lastname@example.org, Amy Hutcheson email@example.com, Taylor Merritt (Saturday morning rides) firstname.lastname@example.org, Lyle Udell or Christian Lemon for Tuesday night meeting email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
I pray for you all everyday and I am confident that this organization will grow and thrive. And, I am confident that it will continue to teach us and help us grow in spirit. I hope to see you soon. God bless you all.