Jun 25, 2011

Vacation Bible School for Adults: July 10-13

Vacation Bible School for Adults is an annual summer event for those who are not able to vacation in Sweden, the Czech Republic, or in Australia—where it is now nice and cool. Rather we invite you to FUMC of Arlington for four nights of Luke. Luke unfolds both the story of Jesus and the early church in his two volumes: The Gospel of Luke/Acts of the Apostles. Of course with a combined fifty-two chapters we will only be able to give an overview. Yet I pledge to allocate time to the detail of Luke’s artistry as one of the literary giants of the Bible.

Soon around FUMC of Arlington you will notice fliers that announce what our prelude meals will be and in which room we will hold the study on July 10, 11, 12, and 13—of 2011. Meals are good ways to share what Acts tells us that the early church did when “Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts” (Acts 2:46). If you wish you might consider eating with others these evenings as part of your homework for the class!!! Young people who have inquisitiveness in learning what this part of the Bible is all about are also most welcome.

All you need to do for the class is read Luke and Acts as a continuous story, bring your Bible, and an appetite to eat and learn. I will try to set these writings of the New Testament in a literary and historical context. Taken together, these four nights may offer some insights on arguably the most enjoyable books in our New Testament.

I look forward to seeing you these evenings ahead and encourage you to invite your neighbors, fellow acquaintances, and the just plain curious. I hope to make these evenings worth our time and learning, remember, keeps us all young!

Sincerely, your friend,

David N. Mosser

PS. The sessions will never go more than ninety minutes—completed by 8:30 sharp and the Rangers do not play any evening that week!

Jun 23, 2011

Local Church History

I have long believed that one can learn a lot about a community by knowing the history of the three primary institutions that first arrived in most small towns in Texas between 1850 and 1880. Our church, for example, will celebrate its 133 year in 2011, as it was founded in 1878.

Generally, and in no particular order, the first three primary organizations/establishments in most Texas towns were First Baptist, First Methodist, and the local newspaper. If one reads about how these institutions developed, one would get a thumbnail look at how that particular town developed too. It is hard to say why exactly, but nowadays the churches usually fare better than the journalists.

One of the former Deans at Perkins, James Kirby, wrote a charming and revealing book titled Brother Will. Kirby’s book is about Bishop William C. Martin, whose name is etched on the cornerstone of our sanctuary just in case you wanted to know (Go look if you do not believe me). He has his name on us! His story is, in part, the story of the Central Texas Annual Conference, written from the perspective of personality. In a sense, Brother Will is a version of church history via biography.

Remembering our heritage is a key to knowing our future. As George Santayana once famously wrote: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905). It was one of Harry Truman’s favorite quotations.

Earlier last year, several members of our congregation compiled a pictorial history of the artwork both inside and out of our Church. They titled the book First United Methodist Church of Arlington Religious Art and Symbolism. It has 221 color images of textiles, glass, and carvings, along with detailed descriptions of the images’ meaning.

Adding to the aesthetic content of that illustrative book, our historical committee (which has on it too many wonderful people for me to mention) complied a book of profiles of our church’s pastors. In a sense, it is a version of church history via biography. Far too often local church history consists of dry lists of pastors, Sunday school superintendents, etc. What this book chronicles is the life of the church through the personalities and deeds of its chief-operating-officers, which the church calls shepherds or pastors.

The book’s title is Ministers: 1878-2010. It is the kind of name one might expect from a functional group of practical Methodists. But . . . it is a splendid book that narrates the story of our church through 13 ½ decades. When Ministers: 1878-2010 goes on sale again, sometime in the next few months, be sure to stop by in the main hallway and thank the historians. Sitting at the table will be a collection of folks who have given us a great gift - a well done piece of documentation about who we are and who we were. then take a look at Ministers: 1878-2010.

Ministers: 1878-2010 does for FUMC of Arlington \what the book of Acts does for us. It puts meat on the bones of the church’s early characters, whether they are Peter, Lydia, John, Pricilla, Barnabas, Mary, Paul, Bernice, Silas, Rhoda, or Timothy.

Be sure to check out the biographies of Don Pike or Virlis Bane or John Wesley Ford. If you have a historical bone in your body you will not be disappointed.

Jun 17, 2011

The War of 1812

When was the last time you thought about the War of 1812?

It began on 18 June 1812 (which is tomorrow). That is also 199 years ago and, according to my informal survey at Denny’s on Park Row in Grand Prairie, the random sample there obviously cared nothing about the War of 1812. They did find it odd I asked them about the war, as they were trying to dig into the Grand Slam Breakfast. Interviewing people while eating is tricky!

You may remember that President James Madison signed the declaration of war against Great Britain into law and the war began. Which is to say that, sometimes, we think we are doing something exceedingly important—and yet looked at from the distance of two centuries it does not seem to mean much.

Although, as a footnote, the War of 1812 did turn out to be an important, although under-appreciated, war in any event. The British—sore losers of the Revolutionary War—blockaded ports on the American East coast and targeted the French shipping industry.

It is an easy thing, I think, to forget some of the great sacrifices that others have made to bring us to where we are today. May we pray that the sacrifices that we make for others will be as important as those we have forgotten over the years.

Jun 11, 2011

Division Street Project

Over the last three years, some of our church’s best leaders—Bart Thompson, Brian Cotter, and Charles Clawson—have led our church in a project to furnish a face-lift to our south side property on Division Street. This has been a lengthy task and has a great degree of difficulty given the nature of State Highway 180 which, as we all know, runs a few miles south and parallels Interstate 30, despite never intersecting with it. Our little Division Street starts in the West as Lancaster Avenue ends. It extends through Arlington to Grand Prairie where it becomes Main Street all the way to Davis Street in the Oak Cliff vicinity of Dallas.

Brian, Charles, and Bart have spent countless hours in what they originally thought was a small landscaping project. This project was to replace the trees that the church had removed near the Vandergrift Chapel. With the renovation of Center Street and the addition of several near-by restaurants and new office buildings, the Division facelift project once completed, will provide an agreeable appearance to the exterior of First United Methodist Church of Arlington.

We need to thank those in addition to our “ringleaders” who have offered numerous volunteer hours. In addition, we understand that the legal documents produced by Brian Cotter are worth thousands of dollars. A tomorrow foundation grant of $55K will fund the whole project. In addition it is this kind of attention to infrastructure that will continue to move our neighborhood forward. There is much hope for the recovery efforts of central and downtown area of Arlington, Texas, USA. I am proud we are part of this neighborhood healing.

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