Your Commitment Transforms Me
By Rev. Keith Turman | 2022-11-18 | 4 min read
Boarding the plane in Asheville—our backpacks full and our brains still catching up with reality—Chan and I felt overwhelmed with gratitude. Certainly for the Lily Foundation’s clergy renewal leave grant—this was a ‘once in a lifetime’ moment. It felt like we had won the lottery. But all along the way, for three and a half months, at random times on random days, we shook our heads in amazement at you and your commitment to us. You encouraged us to go. You wanted us to find rest for our souls and renewed energy for ministry. Thank you. Thank you for loving us the way you do. Your love has changed us—we are not the same. Getting off the plane and coming home, after having been away for so long, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for your commitment to our neighbors.
My first Sunday morning back in action, as I made my way to the stage to preach my first sermon in fifteen weeks, I was greeted by two FUMC friends that I have known for years. I was taken back, startled to see them, because the context of our friendship has been a Saturday morning thing—never a Sunday morning thing. As we hugged, I noticed how comfortable and completely at home they seemed—a testimony to your love and commitment to our unsheltered neighbors. Your commitment is broad. I see it in your desire to bridge relations with our African American sisters and brothers. The Juneteenth celebration in FUMC’s sanctuary filled me with such hope. I am inspired by your initiative to form a diverse committee, to dream together and work together to address the problems created by centuries of racism. When immigrant families come to our door, you don’t shrink from the challenge—you begin conversations about language barriers and obstacles to inclusivity. As our United Methodist denomination splinters over the matter, you have made it clear that our LGBTQ+ friends, family members and neighbors are both included and affirmed in our life together.
Your commitment to feed people is astonishing. Every Saturday morning at the Friendship House, our neighbors can enjoy a hot breakfast—biscuits and gravy and coffee. Our client-choice food pantry, which is also open on Thursday evenings, is a sight to behold. The pantry opens at 9:00, but the line starts forming at 7:00! Pathway’s Holy Cow food truck is in our parking lot every Thursday providing free lunch and dinner. FUMC provides thirty meals every week to the residents of The Towers. Matthew told me that some guy named William cooks two times a week in our kitchen and delivers the food to the Bethel House’s unsheltered clients. You’re kidding me, right? Nope. Not a joke.
At our Halloween Trunk or Treat event, two very nice strangers were happily giving out candy and flyers at the trunk next to me. I was curious and then amazed. Their non-profit organization, UNETE, provides free services to help the community navigate available resources—they help people find all kinds of stuff—like healthcare, food and clothing resources, financial resources, grief care, parenting workshops, and on it goes. “We work out of your church.” You’re kidding me, right? Nope. Not kidding. I am amazed at you. Your commitment to share the building—and our building is being worn out—is impacting more families than we’ll every know, in ways we’ll probably never fully comprehend.
The way you live your life transforms our community. Your commitment to live generously—to give financially and serve tirelessly—it’s making an incredible difference. Now that I am home, you ask to hear my stories of renewal. I’m sure I’ll get around to telling them, as soon as I recover from hearing all of yours.