Archive - August, 2015

Excerpts from Remarks Made by President and Publisher Neil M. Alexander

of the United Methodist Publishing House at the New House Commons/John Dickins House Dedication; July 28, 2015

 While I have been away on Renewal Leave, I have shared a variety of material from various parts of the United Methodist Church. For the past 11 years it has been my joy and honor to serve on the Board of the United Methodist Publishing House (UMPH). The UMPH does not receive any apportionment money (put differently it must be physically self-supporting). Few industries are under as deep a threat and wrestling with as great a change as the publishing industry during the opening decades of the 21st Century. The UMPH has been incredibly well led by President and Publisher Neil Alexander. Recently the old downtown facility was sold, and this July the UMPH relocated to a new site in Nashville (at a great financial benefit and cost savings). With permission I share excerpts of remarks made by President and Publisher Neil Alexander.

“Perhaps it all started to gel when Methodism’s founder, John Wesley, first showed his deep conviction about the importance of learning, thoughtful discourse, and a disciplined life of devotional reading and prayer.

It cannot be that the people should grow in grace unless they give themselves to reading,” he said.

And he added, “A reading people will always be a knowing people.”

Perhaps things started to mesh in 1789 when John Dickins was named the first steward, or when three branches of the Methodist family decided in 1939 to join forces and establish a publishing house in Nashville.

Or maybe things came together in October 1954 when the board authorized erection of the new five-story Nashville office building at Demonbreun and Eighth Avenue, South, with a budget of nearly two and a half million dollars. The 350 employees moved in over a period of three weeks, starting on July 12, 1957.

That move set us in place to reap the benefits when several years ago our real estate advisor explained that with the new Music City Center being built across the street, there was a possibility that developers would be interested in our property.

… And step-by-step (and after maddening delays), our new place for our new work took on form—turning what was an elusive dream into a reality. And this result simply could not have come about without the many, many staff who have taken on special assignments and helped in obvious and often unseen but important ways at every turn.

… All around us is evidence that the outcomes have been delightful and encouraging. There are clear signs that our new house is a place people want to be; a place to invest their minds, hearts, and labor; and a setting from which we will reach out to serve more people in more places.

The enthusiasm about the new space has been palpable. We’ve seen staff in every department show great patience, flexibility, and appreciation for the new offices.

The notice went out to all staff and read in part:

Yes, this is it! The long awaited, the much talked of—the seriously doubted—is HERE! On Friday afternoon . . . the exodus begins. It took us 53 years to get to this point, and the move itself won’t be accomplished overnight. . . . You may need something right away that is packed in a box that somehow got put somewhere else. . . . Above all, keep your sense of humor.

The funny thing is this: That notice was sent in 1957 when the house moved to the Eighth Avenue, South location.

It might have just as easily been written 58 years later when we began moving staff in stages from the old house to the New House Commons! We are indebted to all of the folks listed on the acknowledgments page in your program …

So the evidence is mounting. This is not only a New House Commons and a new work space; it is a new day with great possibilities and prospects.

  • A place where people feel connected to each other, to creation, to God, and to all those across the world whom we might yet serve
  • A new house that our colleagues experience as a place for fresh start, a state-of-the-art facility, full of possibilities
  • A place for creativity and faithful service
  • A place to imagine new ways to reach more people in more places

A lot of elements and events gave us signs that things were starting to gel; that 225 years of history and God’s providence had brought us to this place, and that by God’s grace we are about to use our life at this new house to do a new thing.

It seems we are poised, ready to join forces and serve with excitement and ingenuity, empathy and insight; ready to reach more people in more places with quality services and resources that help them come to know and deepen their knowledge of God through Jesus Christ, learn to love God, and choose to serve God and neighbor. …”

I close these excerpts of President Alexander’s moving address with my own addition. It is tempting to bemoan the fate of 21st Century Christianity (postmodern, post-Christian, etc.). It is tempting (indeed easy!) to be capture by the distress the United Methodist Church is currently facing over controversial issues which threaten to splinter us. However, admit all the chaos of our times. God in Christ through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit is truly doing a new thing! – JML

“Look! I’m doing a new thing;
now it sprouts up; don’t you recognize it?
I’m making a way in the desert,
paths in the wilderness” (Isaiah 443:19).


Let Your Light Shine! Event

A member of the Evangelism Task Force passed on the following invitation to a special event in evangelistic training.  I offer it as a guest blog while I am on renewal leave with a strong recommendation that readers consider attending.  Dr. Tommy Brumett has an outstanding ministry and more importantly a passion for sharing Christ.  Lay and clergy alike would greatly benefit!

Bishop Mike Lowry


Time is running out to register for the Let Your Light Shine seminar.  Speakers are in place and we are just waiting for you to sign up.  Please click the link below so we can reserve you a seat.

The importance of evangelism has been diminished in our faith communities. There is a great deal of confusion about the role of evangelism in our churches. We are uncertain about the relationship between evangelism and church growth and many well-intentioned followers of Jesus Christ simply struggle to share their faith story.

Last fall 60 pastors and church leaders gathered at Grace Avenue. We asked the question, “What would be most helpful in growing your evangelism ministry?” 90% of the respondents answered: “Better training opportunities for lay members.”

This is just such an opportunity. Spend the day learning creative, tested, and practical methods for doing evangelism in your mission field.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

 Grace Avenue United Methodist Church
3521 Main Street Frisco, TX 75034 (Map)

$30 per attendee / $25 per attendee for groups of 4 or more

Keynote Speaker, Tommy Brummett
brumettDr. Tommy Brumett will be the keynote speaker. Tommy has served a variety of appointments of all shapes and sizes across the North Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Every church he has served has excelled in evangelism. He is currently pastor of FUMC McKinney; a church that has grown its attendance over 70% in the last seven years making it one of the top 25 fastest growing United Methodist Churches in the United States.

Breakout Sessions
Following the keynote address there will be breakout sessions covering a wide range of topics related to evangelism in the 21st century. Bring yourself or your entire team to this exciting one day event hosted by Grace Avenue United Methodist Church.

    • Evangelism Tool Kit
      • Best Practices related to evangelism in your church
      • This will be led by Billy Echols-Richter (Billy is the Pastor of Grace Avenue UMC and has been with the church since the beginning.)
    • Telling My Story
      • How to share your faith story with others
      • This will be led by laity members from Grace Avenue.  It will be a facilitated Q&A session to help people get comfortable with telling their story.
    • Guest Cultivation
      • Learn successful systems, processes and procedures for reaching out to and tracking guests throughout the year
      • This will be led by Patty Froehlich (Patty is the Associate Pastor of Connections at First UMC McKinney.)
    • Developing Your Church’s Community Influence
      • How to develop and leverage activities that will make an impact on your community
      • This will be led by Laura Echols-Richter (Laura is the Executive Minister at Grace Avenue responsible for Program Ministries.)
    • Marketing for Today’s Church
      • What works and what doesn’t when advertising your local church
      • This will be led by Leslie Duncan (Leslie is the Partner and COO of the Duncan/Day Advertising Company in Plano TX.)
    • Getting past the Scary
      • Concepts of Evangelism; definition, theories, and models
      • This will be led by Dr. Tommy Brumett (Dr. Brumett will also be our keynote speaker.  He is the pastor at First UMC, McKinney.)
    • Evangelism in Social Media
      • Using the power of social media to share your faith and church
      • This will be led by Kim Eiffert (Kim is the Director of Communications at Grace Avenue UMC.)
    • Evangetality
      • The importance of hospitality as a part of evangelism ministry
      • This will be led by Dr. Jim Ozier (Dr. Ozier is the Director of New Church Development and Congregational Transformation for the North Texas Conference.)

Want More Information?            Questions?            Register!