Tell Me A Story

By Rev. Keith Turman | 2023-08-19 | 3 min read

We are surrounded by dreamers—a fact that became evident during this week’s staff evaluations. Prompted by the first question on the evaluation sheet [“What is your vision or dream for your area of ministry?”] the stories they told were inspiring. I sat intrigued, probably with my mouth hanging open, as one staff member after another helped me to see the dreams dancing around in their heads. Some of them are huge—the kind of visions that leave you wondering, “Is that even possible?” Others are not so huge—but like pebbles tossed into a pond, they are the kind of dreams that will ripple and grow into the future. I’m actually not surprised by this. It’s a phenomenon that happens a good bit around this place. The experience once again reminded me—this staff is not your ordinary group. So, I hope you will find them and say, “Tell me a story. Tell me your dreams.”

Truth be told, we have always been surrounded by dreamers—a fact that became evident during Sunday night’s Newcomers Connect Class. We took a stroll down memory lane, and it didn’t take long for everyone in the room to feel it—this church is not your ordinary group—and it never has been. First United Methodist Church Waynesville has never lacked the courage to dream big and take risks. And the most inspiring part of this congregation’s storied history is an obvious concern for the growth and well-being of the community. Former pastor, Rev. George Thompson, always said, “The bishop appointed me to the town of Waynesville, and there happens to be a United Methodist Church there.” Well, this church moves to the beat of the same drum. In the 1880s, FUMC’s first building was moved from Green Hill to Pigeon Street as a gift to Jones Temple AME Zion Church. In 1950, the church purchased a large parking lot when there was no clear sign that a parking lot that large would ever be needed. And they started a preschool and kindergarten in 1959. In the 1980s, they built a theater that doubles as a gymnasium. In the 1990s, they rebuilt a burned-out sanctuary into a new sanctuary that doubles as a state-of-the-art music venue. In 2012, the dreamers imagined a free music program for Haywood County’s elementary school kids, and Music Makers was born. In response to the community’s cry for help in 2016, FUMC figured out a way to start the middle school after school program. When the church’s gaze fell upon the needs of hungry families and unsheltered neighbors, the Friendship House began to ripple and grow.

During our 2023 stewardship campaign, DREAM BIG: Past-Present-Future, we want to capture the formative stories from our past, realize their impact on the stories we tell about our present, and enable them to inspire the story that will become our future. Sue Monk Kidd, author of The Secret Life of Bees, says that, “Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.” I know that I am surrounded by dreamers—so tell me a story. Tell me your dreams.

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