Having lived in many places, I believe you cannot begin to really understand a community until you have spent four seasons there and seen God change nature and the nature of people in it. Short days and long as the seasons change, cool days and warm, the way the sky moves when the weather is changing, and the way people, native to all those changes, react – this defines the character and culture of a community.
In important ways the same is true in an organization. It takes at least four seasons if not a few years to discern the small details that keep a group of people working together as they do. People are creatures of habit. Christians are no exception to that. We continue to do what seems to work, we avoid conflict and pain, and we embrace the familiar. For many this means doing “the safe thing” instead of risking failure
However, when we begin to know a place and an organization there is always the truth of change. Economic cycles drive us in ways that do not respond to the seasons or the habits of people. But being driven to truth is not our calling; our calling is to seek truth. Organizations at the state and national level will change, whether it is a new president or governor, a maid or janitor, a new board chair of a foundation, a farmer, a pastor of a church, or a solider, personalities and policies affect the rules and resources we work with.
I pray as you read through the pages in this book you will be aware of the challenges and triumphs of The United Methodist Neighborhood Centers of Memphis negotiating the changing environment of ministry in a wonderfully dynamic community. Try to imagine how two years of growth is experienced in the lives of our children in the Miriam Child Development Center. And ask yourself, “Where is God in that?” Consider how seasons affect the foods distributed through our food pantries. And ask yourself “Where is God in that?” Imagine the details of the reports we make that track who we serve, how we receive and expend our resources, and the decisions made every day to earn and hold the trust of our supporters. And ask yourself, “Where is God in that?” He’s there, in the mental physical and spiritual growth of those children. He’s there, in strong connections to our churches and selfless giving to our pantries. He’s there, in our reflective accountability to our God and our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Join us in the ministry of the United Methodist Neighborhood Centers of Memphis.
— Rev. Brent W. Porterfield
— Edited by Dr. Melissa J. Rura
Copyrighted 2013. All Rights Reserved.