Mother always tried her best to teach us values, respect, and to treat each other kindly. She wanted us to grow up to be good people who cared about others, gave freely, and worked hard. When I was young, one of the things she did was to take me to the store and get me a Sunday school suit.
I couldn’t have been older than five or six years old, but I still remember that suit clearly. There was a blue blazer, plaid pants, and a small, clip-on tie. I felt like I was walking in class! That first time attending the Methodist Sunday school with that suit on was a big moment and, boy, did I feel proud.
It wasn’t until later in my teens that I attended regularly again, though, and then it was blue jeans and the Adidas tennis shoes. Yes, times changed, and the 60s & 70s had passed. Yet, that Methodist church was still there. In fact, it was one of the oldest congregations in town. Families had been there for entire generations.
At one point, I seriously contemplated going into full-time ministry as a Methodist minister. I later decided to go to ORU, but it was one of several options that I weighed heavily. Later, while at ORU, I had the chance to serve as a Youth Minister at two different Methodist churches; one in Poplar Bluff, MO as a Summer Youth Minister and the other in West Tulsa. Both were great churches that had a real heart for the community.
Today, we attend a non-denominational church called Gateway, but the lessons I learned while growing up and serving in the Methodist church, still stick with me. My father and step-mother are very active in their Methodist church to this day as well.
Those lessons learned include a love for tradition and the timeless old hymns (yes, we sang all four verses too). Another was the love for music. That Methodist church was where my music director attended, taught my youth class, and helped to lead the Bell Choir (always a joy to listen to during the holidays). And, who could forget those organists who were always loving and funny!
The one thing that stands out most for me was the time we spent every Sunday in Fellowship Hall. After every service we would all retire to the Fellowship Hall for doughnuts, coffee, and spending time just catching up over the week. The occasional pot-luck dinner wasn’t too bad either. It was the one thing that made the Methodist Church special; fellowship…
The photo today is of the oldest congregation in the town I live in now that was established around 1860. The building reminds me of the one back home (except much larger). The stained-glass windows are amazingly beautiful as well.
One may not agree with everything at any given church, but you can’t deny that fellowship is the glue that holds us all together. That's because it's how God made us; for community. Sometimes, it’s difficult because there are people who we may not prefer to fellowship with, but when it’s healthy, it can’t get any better. And, it sure beats sitting around at a Starbucks just to keep from being alone…
Today, here’s to the Methodists who not only keep tradition alive, but keep fellowship as a priority too. I’m thankful for the Methodist heritage and will always remember those special times.
Love always friend,