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Rev. Smith has been appointed to be the pastor of First United Methodist Church (FUMC). With the appointment, it comes a specific instruction that the church must be “turned around,” and it was Rev. Smith’s responsibility to make it happen. FUMC has been in decline for many years under the leadership of several pastors. Rev. Smith is black and the congregation is predominately Caucasian and elderly, with longtime members who have stayed on because “this is their church.” Rev. Smith comes to the church bringing her experience, energy, and vision. This appointment is a cross-racial cross-cultural appointment, which is part of her denomination’s mandate for the future, as it places pastors that reflect the diversity of the surrounding community in churches that do not currently look like the community around them. Currently FUMC does not interact with the community—it does ministry “to” the community but not “with it.” Therefore, from the beginning, Rev. Smith knew that her job would not be easy. She accepted the appointment believing that a “new wind” must blow through the church bringing forth spiritual revival. She now faces a crucial issue in the church, which she feels is in a make or break situation. First United Methodist is located in an urban environment. FUMC has been in this city for 133 years but has been at this site for 83 years. Originally, the neighborhood consisted of predominately white, blue-collar workers, but has since transitioned into a neighborhood community of mostly African Americans, Caribbean Blacks, and Hispanics. When the church was first built in this neighborhood and for many years after that, both consisted of white blue-collar workers. As the neighborhood began to change, no efforts were made to develop new programs or a more inclusive worship to include the growing diversity. The lines are drawn; Rev. Smith knows it but she is determined to turn First Church United around. As she has said before in conversations with the church, “God called me into ministry and the Bishop sent me here. No one is going to stop me from serving God and the church.” For a brief moment, she felt terribly alone, but then she remembered that she did have some support at FUMC. Rev. Smith took a deep breath, “I am going back to the drawing board. There is much work yet to be done, and I will not give up. But what is the next step?” This paper is based on a case scenario for a religious education program and as a response to Cooling of the “Spirits” by Marjorie Nunes of the Summerfield United Methodist Church Bridgeport, Connecticut. The author of this response paper analyzing the problems from the case study provides suggestions for a Religious Education ministry as a program for the church, and data on effective church growth and leadership.


This work was originally published in Philosophy Study, available at doi: 10.17265/2159-5313/2017.09.003.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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