Loving, Learning, and Leading Together at We Are One
By Tamica Smith Jeuitt, Communications Specialist, Mississippi Conference
Photo right: This summer Pastor Tim Howard of We Are One United Methodist Church (seated front right) attended a retreat where small membership churches were coached on loving, learning, and leading.
Living Out The POWER of We is an opportunity for faith communities to become more relational in two ways: 1) by strengthening the relationship and walk with God, and 2) creating an ongoing way of building relationships beyond Sunday morning and Wednesday night with others as the body of Christ.
This edition of The Circuit Rider concludes a series of stories introducing Mississippi United Methodist congregations that are Living Out The POWER of We through loving, learning, and leading together.
Pastor Tim Howard recalls being a participant in a thriving small group ministry at Anderson United Methodist Church in Jackson, Mississippi. Back then he was the church lay leader and an attorney. His leadership gifts were apparent not only to Mississippi United Methodist leaders but his law colleagues as well. Howard eventually put aside his law career and surrendered to the call of ministry when he and the small group were approached to start Anderson's sister church, We Are One United Methodist Church, in South Jackson. That was nearly a decade ago. According to Howard, membership is roughly 100 and the average age attending is 30. Membership growth is a challenge due to people leaving for better-paying jobs. The high count of families living in rental homes makes outreach difficult too.
"We can knock on a door on a Monday and come the next Monday, and the people have moved," explained Howard. Nevertheless, he is optimistic that the power of another small group will bring transformation to both the church and community. Howard and four lay members have joined as the ABIDE team.
They are following the ABIDE process which focuses on becoming like Jesus through loving, learning, and leading together in covenant creating an environment where people can be and make disciples.
"We are learning collectively to become better leaders. It takes all of us to put our gifts together. We have had to be very honest with one another. Things are going to come out that you did not intend to come out. So by us being vulnerable with one another it has allowed us to be more loving," said Howard.
Since early spring 2016, the team meets eight hours a month for the purpose of clarifying the values, mission, and vision for the church. They are now at the point of developing a Mission Action Plan (MAP) and soon ask ministries within the church to create MAP's as well. When they are complete, We Are One will know what God is calling them to do as a church.
Living Out The POWER of We in Mississippi means loving, learning, and leading that is rooted in Love, Generosity, Justice, and Apprenticeship.
To read the previous loving, learning, and leading stories from the series, Living Out The POWER of We, click on the links below.
Living Out The POWER of We at Forest UMC (#1)
Living Out The POWER of We at Heritage UMC (#2)
Living Out The POWER of We at Hopewell UMC (#3)