We have Windows!

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Greetings from First United Methodist Church the downtown church that now has some windows in it’s new Sanctuary!! 

I really never thought I would be excited about coming to work and seeing windows installed but I really was excited Monday when I noticed the crew was putting in the first pane of glass in the top windows.  For some reason, that made the reality of the new sanctuary real for me this week.  It is so exciting to see the visible and tangible progress of what God is building up here at First Church.

God is teaching me a lot in this sanctuary building project.  Last January we as a congregation made a decision to move forward with the sanctuary project knowing we only had enough money on-hand to complete the outer shell.  I was clear to me God was leading us to move forward with the resources He had already provided without making it clear how He would provide what we needed to complete the sanctuary.  Along this journey, my faith has been tested quite a few times.  I have at times succumbed to the fear that we would only be able to finish the outer shell and have to stop construction once again with an nicer but still unusable structure on the corner.  Even with a great consultant and a great team of volunteers, the prospect of raising another 2+ million dollars has caused me to worry.  

This experience parallel so many other experiences of faith in my life big and small.  God continually calls us into waters that are too deep for us to navigate on our own.  When we stop in the midst of our journeys and begin to assess our circumstances based on our own wisdom, abilities, and resources; our natural response is fear.  Fear is not, however, the opposite of faith.  Fear should be a holy cue for us to lean further into God and move forward with faith and courage in the midst of fear.  

Since January it has been so exciting to see the many ways God is getting us closer to being able to complete the sanctuary and begin building up our worshipping community in our new space.  Last May, each of you increased your financial sacrifice to God’s mission and ministry at First Church by pledging and giving almost $500,000 towards the sanctuary.  Just a few months ago we were blessed by a another gift of $500,000 from Barbara Hamilton.  These gifts and pledges have put us across a threshold of being able to at least occupy the sanctuary space, most likely by February 2018.  It would still be sparse and we would use chairs we already own but we know we can still worship in there.

We have 1.2 million dollars left to raise to be able to complete the sanctuary and be fully able to open our doors to the community ready to move to our next challenge of bringing in the many people in downtown Memphis who are not currently connected to a christian community.  We are presently working hard at trying to identify people in our community God may be leading to help us complete the sanctuary.  While I again don’t know where and how God is going to provide, I am confident He is going to lead each step of the way.  

As we stand in this exciting place in the life of First Church, I challenge you to pray God will make clear our steps towards completing the sanctuary and prepare us to hit the ground running on our mission to reach the downtown community when it opens.  

Grace and Peace,

Andy Rambo, Senior Pastor

Charlottesvile ....

Charlottesvile ....

Greetings,

It wasn’t until late Saturday night I began to hear about the horrible events that took place in Charlottesville.  I was a little more “unplugged” from the outside world than usual.  I looked at my twitter feed that night and began to discern some of the events of the day by people’s reactions on Twitter.  

Toes Above Nose -- A Rambo Summer Update

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"Toes above Nose". This is a phrase I have come to despise over the last 2 weeks. Those are the instructions the Dr. has given me since my Achilles Surgery. And, yes, despite the huge temptation to not obey his orders I have been mostly faithful.
In case you don't know what I'm talking about, the very short version is that my Achilles' tendon ruptured and I had surgery to repair it a couple weeks ago. This surgery and the recovery has been the icing on a very challenging summer cake for the Rambo family. But as I preached during my sermon before surgery, God's grace is sufficient in our weakness and our weakness sometimes reveals itself most in times of challenge.
So despite the challenges of a fire in our house, living in a hotel for over a month, and now a touch Achilles recovery; I can truly say the Rambo family can truly say how incredible God's grace is. We have witnessed His grace through the outpouring of love from our family and friends. We have particularly been blessed by the prayers, food, and love from our incredible community at First Church.
How are we and what is next?

  • We have now been back in our house for a week!! It is so good to be home! Everything is repaired our home is restored. We were incredibly blessed and the damage to our home really wasn't anywhere near as bad as it could have been.
  • My Achilles is healing well but the recovery is slow and very boring! I go back to the Dr. on Monday to find out if I will be allowed to be back in the office and enter back among the walking. I'll be on crutches for awhile but as long as I can get out of the house and back in ministry with y'all, I'll be very happy.
  • The boys are starting school Monday and life will finally be settling back into a routine of sorts.

I can not wait to getting to preach again Sunday August 13th!! I dearly miss worshiping with the First Church Community and can not wait to return! Thank you all for being vessels of grace in our lives in such a special way the last month!

Grace and Peace,

Andy

Are you Thirsty?

Are you Thirsty?

As I decided on my sermon scripture for this Sunday, I chose a passage I love to preach. I’m sure I’ve preached on it a few times over the years here.  I’ll admit that I’m being a little selfish because this is the passage I really need to focus on and hear from this week.

“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ”” (John 7:37–38, ESV)

Mission at First

After the re-construction of the Education building as well as the foundation and frame for the sanctuary was completed, the people of First Church once again were able to worship, to gather, and to serve with one another at the corner of Poplar and 2nd Ave. Rather than focus on what we did not have after the loss of the grand sanctuary, the people of First Church chose to commit what God had restored to whatever door of mission and ministry God would open.

During the last four years, we have been able to host a number of dynamic ministries to homeless and poor poor persons in Downtown Memphis.

Carpenter’s Table Food Pantry
Provides food for those working but still need help feeding their families. The Carpenter's table volunteers provide groceries for 150+ persons each year.

Room in the Inn:
We have leased for $0 the Carpenter’s Building to Room In The Inn Ministries. RITI uses the Building as a check-in and meeting place for the homeless persons who will be spending the evening in a host church. RITI also has plans to open a daytime hospitality center for homeless persons to shower and take care of essential needs.

Burrito Ministry
Organized primarily by volunteers with Iona ministries.
Provides a hot burrito meal for all in need.

Urban Bicycle Food Ministry
Gathers at First Church to prepare meals and deliver them, along with other small items, throughout the downtown area on bicycles.

Team Laeth
Organized by Volunteers with Team Laeth. Led by David and Sharon Mullins.
Provides a hot meal for all in need and offers various other items, including blankets, coats and socks, especially in the winter.

The people of First Church are 100% committed to making sure the building of a new sanctuary will in no way displace the various ministries currently using the foundation of the new sanctuary!!

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