The Pensacola District of The United Methodist Church
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Here for You - Serving Jesus
Have you ever visited a jewelry store and asked to see a diamond? The jeweler usually lays a piece of black felt or velvet cloth over the counter. He or she then places the sparkling diamond against that jet-black background. The black surroundings make the diamond sparkle with more brightness and glitter than ever.
This is Holy Week. It’s Maundy Thursday as I write this. Nearly 2,000 years ago, against a background of darkness and rejection, God revealed to us a Gem of divine love and forgiveness. Today, Jesus Christ still shines out against the backdrop of darkness that surrounds us. What a contrast His message makes against our often-loveless ways and unforgiving spirits! That’s one of the reasons it is good to remember those last dark days of His life once a year at Easter. How very much like some of our own dark days they are! Yet Jesus overcame that darkness. And He can overcome ours, too – if we look in His direction.
I’ve always been amazed at how many people just come to worship on Easter Sunday but do not participate in anything during Holy Week. It’s like they want to experience the resurrection without experiencing the pain of the crucifixion. It can’t be done. You cannot experience the joy of the resurrection without experiencing the pain, ugliness, and tragedy of the crucifixion. You simply cannot experience the fullness of the resurrection without experiencing the darkness of the crucifixion. We cannot understand the beauty of the resurrection without understanding the darkness of the crucifixion. What does it all mean?
The world watched in admiration as the great Henry “Hank” Aaron hit his 715th home run, breaking the remarkable record of the great Babe Ruth. What was going through Hank Aaron’s mind at that historical moment? This is what he said: "I don’t remember the noise or the two kids that ran on the field. My teammates at home plate, I remember seeing them. I remember my mother out there and her hugging me. That’s what I’ll remember more than anything about that home run when I think back on it. I don’t know where she came from, but she was there….”
Holy Week carries a similar message. Through all the crowds and defeats and triumphs in life, a powerful love is always reaching out to us. He doesn’t sit at home in heaven, waiting to see how well we play the game. Jesus Christ made it clear that God is always right here with us!
Happy Easter, and may the new life that is offered to us in and through Jesus Christ bring new life to each of us!
March 7, 2017
I want to thank so many of you for your expressions of love and concern for Linda and me during the recent death of my mother-in-law, Bettie Haynes. Mom had a seven-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. There is an old saying: “The real grief starts when all the potato salad is gone.” It takes about that long for all the company to leave and you try to get back into a routine. All our potato salad is gone and now we are just tired and sad. I was very close to my mother-in law. We shared a lot of good times and laughter together. It was an honor for us to care for her. She will be missed greatly but we know she is in a much better place. She is whole and complete and we give God thanks.
Curtis Henderson, my dear friend, also passed away. He too had a seven-year battle with Alzheimer’s. I had the privilege of working with Curtis at Conference Headquarters. We also were in the three-year covenant group for spiritual formation together. We became soul brothers – we shared our souls with each other. Curtis was a great lay person. He served the Church well. From the Pensacola District, he served in many capacities. He served on committees on the District, Conference, Jurisdiction, and National Church levels. He was a dear friend and a good and faithful servant. He, too, is in a better place and, again, I give God thanks.
Last Wednesday night I had the honor of preaching the Ash Wednesday sermon at Trinity UMC, Ft. Walton Beach. It was a great service! Attendance was good and we had over forty youth present. With all the sadness that I have been experiencing, I needed that service.
I was reminded that Ash Wednesday began in 1099 A.D. Think about how many persons have received the imparting of the ashes over the years all around the world. Of course, it is the beginning of that great season of Lent. It is a time for repentance, renewal, and growth. It is a time for prayer and fasting. It is a time for self-reflection and change. It is a time to be reminded that Christ died for us all!
When I’m going through a period like I am now, I look to the cross of Christ and am reminded that there is no depth that I can go that Christ has not already been! I am reminded through the cross that Christ understands fully my hurting heart and sense of loss. I’m reminded that he cares and hurts with us, because He has been there.
There is much sadness with a lot of people right now. Let us be diligent in praying for one another. Let us be diligent in reaching out to those who are hurting even as Christ reaches out to us.
I wish for each of you a meaningful Lenten season. May it be a season where we are drawn closer to the Christ. Max Lucado says, “We are sometimes so close to the cross, but so far from the Christ.” May that not be true of us in this Holy season.
February 10, 2017
Dear Clergy and Laity of the Pensacola District:
Bishop David Graves will be in the Pensacola District February 26-28. On Sunday, February 26, at 4 p.m., we will have the Bishop’s “Town Hall Meeting” for the LAITY of our District at Pensacola First United Methodist Church. A light dinner of soup and sandwiches will be provided. If you plan to be in attendance, we ask you to call or e-mail the Pensacola District Office no later than Friday, February 17, by 12:00 noon.* There will be no cost for the dinner. This will be a great time for the laity to meet with Bishop Graves in a Town Hall Meeting format and ask him questions that may be on your mind and heart.
On Monday, February 27, at 10:00 a.m., we will have a District PREACHERS’ MEETING with the Bishop at Ft. Walton Beach First United Methodist Church. This will also give you the opportunity to ask the Bishop questions that may be of concern. That evening at 6:00 p.m. we will have another Preachers’ meeting for our LOCAL PASTORS at Bellview United Methodist Church. If you are a local pastor and can come to the 10:00 a.m. meeting, you are more than welcome to do so. If you are an elder or other clergy status and can’t be at the 10:00 a.m. meeting, you are welcome to come to the one in the evening. Some of our Local Pastors have other jobs during the day and we want them to have time with the Bishop as well.
Fellow colleagues, this is IMPORTANT! I expect “all hands on deck” or an excuse why you can’t be there. I know some will be at the Board of Ordained Ministry meeting. I know some will be out of town for required classes. If you can’t be there, let the District Office know. If not, I expect to see you at one of our meetings.
On Tuesday the 28th, we will be visiting ministers and churches across the District.
If you have any questions or issues, give me a call and we will talk about it. I look forward to seeing you and to our time with Bishop Graves.
Thanks in advance for your attention and consideration in this matter.
Dr. Tim Trent
Pensacola District Superintendent
* We have been experiencing some e-mail issues, so if you respond by e-mail please look for a personal reply confirming that your message was received.
February 3, 2017
Since I was a young boy, I loved hearing or reading stories of John. I always have a visual of what John looked like and sometimes I’ve even thought I knew how he must have sounded. I also like the fact that he was very comfortable with his role of being second to Jesus.
You probably know that the Iditarod is an annual race in Alaska in which racers and their dog teams cover 1,049 grueling miles across rugged terrain during extreme weather conditions. The winner, understandably, receives accolades for completing this challenging race ahead of all other competitors. But did you know that there is also another award given out as this annual event? It’s called the Red Lantern Award.
Given to the competitor who comes in last, the Red Lantern is a symbol for perseverance. It is an acknowledgment that the competitor kept going and that their endurance lasted despite the harshness of the contest. I love the idea of the Red Lantern Award and that it represents the tenacity it takes to finish even when you’re dead last. It’s easy to measure the time it takes to complete a race. It is much harder to measure courage and determination.
Today’s society places far too much emphasis on finishing first. Ancient wisdom tells us that success in life goes to the one who is willing to try and try again and yet again. Louisa May Alcott wrote, “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” Steadfastness and resilience are qualities that all spiritual masters share. May we have the dedication to cultivate those qualities in our own lives.
God bless each of you in your work in the Pensacola District.
Holding my red lantern,
January 19, 2017
As I write this, I am at the SEJ DS consultations on St. Simon’s Island. It is a beautiful, peaceful setting. I will be heading back to Pensacola tomorrow. During my break from our sessions, I wanted to remind you of a couple of things.
I hope you have made plans to attend our Spiritual Formation Session this Saturday. You have received e-mails about this and can find information on our District website. This is an offering our District makes every quarter. They have all been of good quality. They are held at Pensacola FUMC from 8:30 – 2:00. Lunch is provided. You also receive .5 CEUs. I hope to see you there.
Sunday afternoon (3:00-4:45) is our annual LITE Day Training Session. There is detailed information on our website about this as well. I hope both clergy and laity will be present. I know the weather is questionable but if you can, I hope you will come and get training.
I would ask all of you to pencil in February 26-28 on your calendar. Bishop Graves will be in our District those three days. There will be a chance for both clergy and laity to be in meetings with him. We are just now in the planning stage for this. As we get the schedule and the places for our meetings nailed down, we will share this with you. It is going to be a great three days! Please reserve those dates on your calendars now.
My break time is over and it is time for me to get back to my class. Thinking of you and giving God thanks for the privilege that is mine to be in ministry with you. Blessing upon each of you as we continue to be doing Kingdom work together!
Grace and peace!
January 9, 2017
I read with sadness today that the Pioneer Cabin Tree in the Calaveras Big Tree State Park, one hundred miles southeast of Sacramento, was destroyed by flood waters yesterday. This was the iconic sequoia tree that we all saw pictures of that had a hole cut in it for cars to pass through. This was cut out in the 1880’s and for the last few years only hikers could pass through. They can be over a thousand years old and grow to over 100 yards high (the length of a football field!).
Today I was at Wesley Memorial UMC in Pace. I was doing consultations all day and will be there all day tomorrow (Tuesday). They have huge oak trees on their property. Some look like three or four trees grew together through the years. They are tremendous trees.
If you read much of what I write, you know that I love trees! Here’s what I find fascinating about the trees I saw today and the giant sequoias: no matter how big and strong they are, they all started out as a seed. I don’t know much about how the sequoias start but I do know that each of these magnificent trees at Wesley Memorial started out as an acorn! Wow! Something so big can begin so small.
I saw in those trees somewhat of a parable about our Christian journey. We, too, start our Christian walk as babies, but hopefully through years of prayer, study, meditation, studying the scriptures, and worship, our faith grows into something much larger. The trees have deep roots and arms (limbs) that reach out for sun and nutrients. We, too, must have deep roots and reach out to others to learn from and, just like the tree, we grow in our faith.
I’m thankful today for my roots in the faith. I’m thankful for the countless numbers of persons who have helped me along the way to help me grow in the faith. I wouldn’t say that I am a mighty oak or sequoia, but I am no longer an acorn! How about you? Are you still growing? If God will help an oak grow into a magnificent tree from an acorn, what more will he do for us!
I will be in consultations tomorrow and in Montgomery Wednesday and Thursday for Cabinet meetings. May we all be in prayer in this season of consultations.
I hope you have a great week! Who knows, you may just see a great tree!
Pensacola District Superintendent