From the Lead Pastor's Desk

Reveille UMC

April 2017

Worship Matters

First Sunday with Pastor Doug

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
In an article titled “Worship Game Changers,” Lucinda S. Holmes and Thomas G. Bandy give 12 reasons why the design of worship is different today, in our post-Christendom world, beginning with this: “Most people think worship is a waste of time. Yet stripped of all the wordiness and liturgy, dogma and tradition, facilities and symbols, sacred egos and sacred cows, there remains a profound desire for God.”

I believe they are correct. Worship at its best, is an immersive experience, something in which we can lose ourselves for awhile, and then come out the other side somehow enriched, somehow changed, because something mystical happens when we gather, when we proclaim the word in the myriad ways we do, we break the bread, we pour the water, we unite our voices in prayer, and we unite our hearts in silence. 

Yet this beautiful mystery, this sacred blessing, is something that is so easily taken for granted or forgotten. Years ago in another church, I developed and preached a sermon series I called “Out of Egypt,” in which I likened the changes that the congregation was facing to the Israelites learning to sojourn with one another, and with God, through the wilderness and to the Promised Land.

For that series, I had an artist in the church create a fairly large pyramid to symbolize what the Israelites left behind when they crossed the Red Sea. We used this pyramid as a focal piece in our sanctuary during the Sundays of that series.

I quickly learned that someone (I never learned who) was deeply offended by the “pagan” symbol with which we had desecrated our worship space, and this person asked, “What would you do if Jesus came to worship and saw that?”

And that is just the problem, the Church has often forgotten that when the people gather, when the prayers are prayed, the songs are sung, the scriptures are opened, the word is proclaimed, and the water is administered, Jesus is quite literally with us. This is what makes the church different from the beach or the museum. It is the place where Jesus has chosen to uniquely locate himself. 
In other words, if we do not believe that Christ is not only the object of our worship, but that he is the recipient of it as well, then why do we gather at all?

Our staff, Council, and Worship Team have been in prayerful conversation about the state of worship attendance at Reveille. Our church has not been immune to the results of an overall downward cultural shift in worship attendance in the United States. This is something I would like to be in prayerful conversation with you about. As such, I am inviting you to a ministry I am calling First Sunday with Pastor Doug.

Join me in the welcome center starting at 12:15 pm on Sunday, April 2, for an informal gathering designed for us to have time to better get to know one another, as well as to have holy conversation about worship. Light refreshments will be provided.

I hope you will come, and I will be praying that our time together is a means of grace for us all, and that we may deepen our relationships with God, and one another.  

Grace and peace,
Doug 
Sing to the Lord, all the earth. 
Tell of his salvation from day to day.
- 1 Chronicles 16:23

March 2017

More Than a Moment

Reflection on Race Dialogues

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

On August 28, 1963, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., to deliver a speech as part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a speech wherein he would call for an end to racism in the United States, as well as civil and economic rights. 

In his book The Speech: The Story Behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream, author Gary Younge says that towards the end of the speech, one in which he spoke from prepared notes, it seemed that even King feared the speech would fall short of the soaring oratory that ordinarily characterized his preaching, that he was merely restating what other speakers had said that day, albeit “more poetically.” 

It was then that King heard gospel singer Mahalia Jackson cry out, “Tell them about the dream, Martin!” King then departed from his manuscript and the speech, with messianic zeal, reached its familiar and resounding refrain and crescendo, “I have a dream!” 

King’s wife, Corretta Scott King, would describe this moment simply by saying, “At that moment it seemed as if the Kingdom of God appeared, but it only lasted for a moment.”

I write this letter to our congregation the morning after our second dialogue on race, the prophetic words of Bishop Larry Branch of Love Center of Unity Full Gospel Church in Swansboro still ringing in my ears. I write this, still seeing people who once were strangers, sit at table with newfound friends from our partner churches, and discuss how we, as brothers and sisters in Christ, can listen to one another, learn from one another, and break down the dividing walls that are between us as we seek in earnest to follow a God who is bigger than the things that separate us, in the spirit of reconciliation and unity in Christ. 

However it must last for more than a moment. It must, if we are to be faithful to the gospel, become our new and permanent way of being.

Momentum is so difficult to build and so easy to lose, and if this moment is to persist, then it is up to us, the people of Reveille, Koinonia Christian Church, and Love Center of Unity to make it so.

How do we do this? First, covenant with God to pray daily for the success of ministries in Swansboro. Check the bulletin, church website, and newsletter for opportunities to get involved in the Swansboro community. Plan to serve at Swansboro Elementary, or worship at one of our partner churches.

The hymn “Pass it On” begins with a lyric that says “It only takes a spark to get a fire burning.” Pray earnestly that what has happened in our race dialogues can be the spark that ignites the power of the Holy Spirit in our midst, that our moment will endure, so that together we may transform Richmond and beyond.

Then Peter began to speak to them: I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

- Acts 10:34-35

Peace,

Doug


February 2017

Keys for a Meaningful Lent 

The Means of Grace and Why the Church Exists

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Methodism’s founder, John Wesley, believed that God’s grace is something that is at once unearned and something in which the believer participates. While he was quite clear that one does not “earn” salvation by their works, he did believe that our faith is nourished, strengthened, and   confirmed by our engagement in the “means of grace.” Furthermore, when Christians participate in these means of grace, our lives, as well as the world around us, is transformed.

The means of grace can be divided into two categories, and each is both individual and communal: works of piety and works of mercy. Individual works of piety include reading, meditating, and studying the scriptures, prayer, fasting, regularly attending worship, healthy living, and sharing our faith with others. The word “piety” comes from the Latin word for dutifulness. Although today calling someone pious is generally understood to be, at best, a bit of a back-handed compliment, in religious circles, piety simply means that we practice our faith in a disciplined manner. 

Communal acts of piety, as the name suggests, are the things Christians do together, and they include regularly sharing in the sacraments of baptism and Communion, holding one another accountable to the disciplines of the faith (what Wesley called Christian conferencing), and studying the Bible with others.

Wesley believed that works of piety will naturally lead us into a deepened love and concern for our neighbors, and as such, the means of grace include individual and communal works of mercy. The 
individual works of mercy include doing good works, visiting the sick, visiting those in prison, feeding the hungry, and giving generously to the needs of others.

One important aspect of the Wesleyan understanding of works of mercy, even today, is that we do not simply address the results of injustice, such as hunger, poverty, and oppression. We also believe in addressing the root causes of human suffering. Thus, we believe communal works of mercy include seeking justice, ending discrimination, and addressing the needs of the poor. One way in which Wesley manifested this in his own life was in his vocal opposition to the slave trade.

This Lent, I want to challenge you to consider these works of piety and mercy, and to find a specific way to include a practice from each in your own life. You will find that taking on these means of grace will enrich not only your own life, but the lives of those around you as well.

Peace,
Doug


January  2017

Crossing Boundaries
The Power of Coming Together

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
I pray this note finds you filled with Christmas blessings and excitement about the new year. As we look to 2017, I am quite excited about Reveille’s upcoming dialogues on race relations that we will have in February with our Swansboro partner churches, Love Center of Unity and Koinonia Christian Church.

I have met with Bishop Larry Branch and Pastor Keith Edmonds, and we believe that these conversations will be a blessing to each of us as we seek to deepen our holy friendship, better understand how God has uniquely equipped each of us for ministry, and how we can learn from each other about our varied experiences of life and faith. 

As our world moves into 2017, there are many challenges that face our nation and world, one of which is how easy and common it is for people to divide into camps of like-mindedness, which makes understanding others who may be different than us near impossible. Yet in the midst of this, the church has been blessed with an opportunity to model for the world around us what crossing boundaries looks like, and how people of diverse experiences can come together by the power of the Holy Spirit of God. 

Details of these dialogues are being finalized as I write this, but it is my prayer that you will come and be a part of them, and that you will bring your true, authentic self to the table. I pray that we may all be willing to enter into a time of “holy vulnerability” so that you may bless others and God may bless all of our hearts, minds, and churches for the glory of Christ and the kingdom he is bringing to bear.

Shalom,
Doug

December 2016

A Season of Peace
Preparing Our Hearts and Minds for Christ

It was the Wednesday, the day after election day, it was raining and I was taking my eight-year-old daughter Claire to school. She had been quiet for the trip, until she broke the silence and asked, “Can Donald Trump undo anything that Martin Luther King did?” 

That was it. As long as she could be convinced that the values of equality and civil rights were intact, she was satisfied. 

On the way to work I stopped for office supplies, and I saw a woman in line in front of me who looked angry and tearful. I had a lunch meeting with Rev. Keith Edmonds of Koinonia Christian Church in Swansboro and people in the restaurant seemed unusually quiet to me. Throughout the day the emotions of my friends vacillated between grief and fear on one side, and elation and vindication on the other.

Then at Wednesday evening worship, perhaps as the result of my own emotions, I preached the worst sermon I have ever preached at Reveille. It was a coward’s sermon that tried to cover too much ground but found itself sadly stuck in the mud, spinning its wheels, digging itself ever deeper.

There are people in our land who are angry and hurt because of the election. There are people who were angry and hurt before the election. There are people who feel the nation no longer represents their ideas, and there are people who feel their voices have not been heard for too long.

What reaching has in common with writing is that both require one to be a keen observer of the human condition, and as I observe the people around me, people just seem fatigued. Not simply tired, but fatigued, battle-worn, tired of all of the shouting found in the diatribe that masquerades as modern discourse from our podiums, our social media feeds, and yes, even our pulpits. 

In the midst of all of this fatigue comes Advent, a season of peace and hope, a season that takes its name from the Latin word for “coming.” We prepare our hearts and minds for the arrival of the God of Israel, incarnate in an infant, born in a stable in the little village of Bethlehem,who would grow up and save the world from its sin.

This year, we are doing Advent a bit differently. Instead of preaching from the gospels on Sunday mornings, as is our custom, we will preach on the words of the prophet Isaiah. These are words you know, words that include “swords being beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks” and “the lion laying with the lamb.” The liturgies themselves will be more contemplative, utilizing more of the ancient practices of our faith, as we envision what Christians mean by “peace on earth,” which includes peace in your heart, and my heart, and our life together.

I invite you to come, to invite someone, perhaps even someone who thinks differently than you, to worship during Advent. Experience “A Season of Peace” as we prepare hearts and minds for the advent of Christ amongst us, as he enters our harried and stress-filled lives anew, as he enters a world he promised to never forsake, all for love.
Shalom,
Doug

November 2016

How and Why We Worship at Reveille
Plus: Looking Ahead to Advent

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Grace and peace to you. I pray you are well. I am writing to you today on the topic of worship, specifically how and why we worship at Reveille United Methodist Church.

About a year ago, we began regular Wednesday night worship at 6:45 pm after our Wonderful Wednesday dinner. This is a short, contemplative service focuses on congregational prayer and meditation, with one scripture reading, a message, music, and opportunities for people to light candles as an act of worship. It is a beautiful service, and by the end of the evening, especially in the autumn and winter months, the chapel is filled with warm, flickering light as we have prayed for each other, the church, and the world. This year during the season of Advent, we will offer a brief service of Holy Communion on Wednesday nights as well as sermons on the gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary. 

This spring and summer, a good deal of time, prayer, and reflection was put into The Point, our 9:30 am Sunday contemporary service. The Point turned fifteen this year, and the time was right to rethink what this service can be for such a time as this. Worshippers at The Point can now expect a service that features increased instrumentation, better digital visuals, a more consistent flow, more diverse worship leadership, and creative responses to the Word, while still being the casual, intimate service we have come to expect.

We are looking ahead to the season of Advent later this month and a time of renewal as the liturgical calendar starts anew. The Worship Team is excited about the creative, ancient, timeless elements that we will bring to Sunday worship at 8:30 and 11:00 am during this four-week season of preparation.  Special activities planned include liturgical dance, congregational singing of the verses, responses of the psalter, and sung antiphons when we light the Advent wreath.

Also during Advent, we will offer brief morning prayer or Holy Communion on weekdays  in the chapel at 7:30 am.  Throughout the year on Wednesdays at 12:15 pm a time of prayer, Bible study, and Communion is also offered in the sanctuary.

There is a beautiful praise song written by Chris Tomlin called “Made to Worship,” and the chorus is:

You and I were made to worship

You and I are called to love

You and I are forgiven and free

When you and I embrace surrender

When you and I choose to believe

Then you and I will see who we were meant to be

I believe that this is true, and that worship is a unique place where we can both lose and find ourselves. I invite you all to do so together with me as we journey through this season of peace and hope together.

Grace and peace,

Doug


October 2016

What the Bible Really Says About Money
Plus: The Relaunch of The Point

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Autumn blessings to you. I pray you are well. As always, exciting things are happening at Reveille, and although it is difficult to believe, it is already time for us to begin thinking about 2017 and all the things that God will do in and through our life together. 

Starting October 16, we will begin a four-week sermon series titled “What the Bible Really Says About Money.” This will be our stewardship series for the year.

Over the last 20 years, my practice of ministry has taught me that for some people, financial stewardship is like time management, in that, in order to feel good about what you are doing, you have to feel about what you are not doing. Likewise, Tracy and I have learned over the years that we especially enjoy the fruits of our labors when we know we have given our tithe to God. At the same time, we do so knowing that we are living a life characterized by gratitude for what God has done for us, for our family, and for our world in Jesus Christ, whose work we are collaborating with in supporting the work of his church.

I believe that we could all benefit from reexamining what the Bible says about money, so that we can feel good about what we are doing for God, what we are doing for ourselves, and so that we can remember that a life characterized by gratitude for God’s amazing grace in our lives is the best life of all. Learn more about our 2017 Stewardship Campaign.

The Point 2.0
The second thing I would like to share with you is the exciting news of the relaunch of The Point, our contemporary worship service that meets Sundays at 9:30 am in the fellowship hall. A dedicated team has been working on reimagining this service, its purpose, its liturgy, everything about it. The result is something we affectionately refer to as The Point 2.0, and we are excited to, in the words of the psalmist, “Sing to the Lord a new song.” If you have not been to The Point in a while, we hope that you will come and sing a new song with us!

Grace and peace,

Doug


September 2016

The Great Myth of Summer

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

I pray you are well and have had a safe and happy summer. In this article, I would like to discuss one of the great myths of our faith: that not much happens at church over the summer.

As one would expect, we worshipped each Sunday morning and most Wednesday nights. The office was open during the summer, as it always is. Yet to say that not much happens at Reveille in the summer? Pish-posh!

Let’s look back, shall we? Since June:

We celebrated the ordination of the Rev. Kelley Lane, our minister of adult ministries, who was ordained by Bishop Young Jin Cho at Annual Conference in Roanoke, and we said farewell to Executive Pastor Katie B. Gooch.

We hosted baccalaureate services for Midlothian High School and Maggie Walker Governor's School.

We sent members of our fellowship on two international and one domestic mission trips (Honduras, Costa Rica, and New Orleans).

Gave children a week of missions via KIDz C.A.M.P.

Gave children a week of education at Vacation Bible School.

Hosted the Virginia Conference Kaleidoscope Camp, which is a music and arts camp for children that came to us when their previous site closed.

Speaking of music and arts, we sent a team of youth and adults to a music and arts camp at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina.

We said farewell to our director of youth ministries, Kate Rhodes, who is taking a job with the West Virginia Annual Conference, working with The House of the Carpenter in Wheeling.

We welcomed Tammy Tipton-Nay to our church as our new director of children’s ministries.

From a pool of 27 applicants, we chose our own Terri Edwards to be our first director of administration.

Held Listening Sessions to discern God’s call for our church in the short and medium-term. 

Removed the rest of the asbestos floor tile in the upstairs of the education building.

Rearranged almost all of the offices in Reveille House, so that staff can more easily work alongside those with whom they collaborate, and so that I could be on the ground floor and more easily interact with the congregation. Office location list

Continued Wonderful Wednesday through August 3 with food trucks, worship, and a study of the Chronicles of Narnia. 

Held a picnic with members of our partner churches in Swansboro, Koinonia Christian Church and Love Center of Unity. 

Were selected to host the Service of Welcome for Sharma D. Lewis, our new bishop, on September 17, and began preparations. Learn more

And to think, autumn is coming, when we really get busy!

It is such a blessing to work with such dedicated servants of Christ. Without the people, there is no church, and without the church, the world loses the means God has designed for making God’s love known in our world.

I give thanks to you all, excited about all that is to come.

Grace and peace,
Doug


June 2016

A Season for Listening

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Grace and peace to you. I pray you are well. 

We have now entered the Season after Pentecost, but I would like to take you back to the previous season of the liturgical calendar: the season of Eastertide. It was during this season that we engaged in an intentional season of prayer in which many of you participated. Next comes a time of reflection and discernment. How is it with your soul? What is God saying to you as you pray for our church? What is next for Reveille United Methodist Church?

It is in this spirit that the gift discernment task force and I invite you to participate in one of our listening sessions, which are designed so that you may have a safe place in which to share what the Spirit is saying to your spirit about Reveille and the ways in which God is calling us to put our blessings to work to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. I hope to see you there.

The dates and times are below, and we will be scheduling additional events at both Westminster Canterbury and Cedarfield. Stay tuned for those dates and times.

Please keep our church, its people, its ministries, and its future in your prayers. I look forward to hearing from you.

Shalom,
Doug
Listening Session Schedule of Events
To be held in the chapel at Reveille United Methodist Church
Thursday, June 2 7:00 pm
Sunday, June 5      2:00 pm
Wednesday, June 8           5:00 and 7:30 pm
Sunday, June 12 4:00 pm

Listening sessions also will be held at Westminster Canterbury and Cedarfield, 
dates and times to be announced.

The members of the gift discernment task force are Jill Gaynor, Clark Williams, Katie B. Gooch, Rich Schweiker, Bo Bowden, Stephen Coleman, Blake MacIver, Mary Davis, Kevin Bruny, Sheelagh Davis, and Doug Forrester.


May 2016

Reflections on Two Years of Ministry at Reveille UMC

A little over 20 years ago, as I was preparing for my own ordination, I read somewhere that there are essentially five milestones in the Christian life. Some of us experience all of them, while others only experience a few. These milestones are birth, baptism, confirmation, marriage, and death. 

“Who,” the author inquired, “is the one in the life of the community of faith who is invited to help celebrate all five?” The answer, of course, is the pastor. 

I have not ever forgotten that entreaty to remember that ordained ministry, like all ministry, is not ever supposed to be reduced to a mere duty, and it is certainly never a right. Ministry, in all of its blessings and heartbreaks, is and forever shall be, a privilege. It is a privilege because it is the way that all of God’s people discover and live the lives that God knit us together to have, and it is in these very lives, especially in how they are lived in community, that the love of God in Jesus Christ is supremely experienced and understood.

I have been reflecting upon the privilege of ministry lately, about those people over the last two decades with whom I have celebrated those five milestones, in concert with a season of personal reflection upon my ministry with you, the people of Reveille United Methodist Church. 

There is much that we have done together in these last two years of which I am proud, more than I can list here. I am proud of our commitment to our current “Season of Prayer and Discernment.” I am proud of our deepening relationships with Koinonia Christian Church and Love Center of Unity Full Gospel Church International in Swansboro. I am proud of additions we have made to our staff, of how we have reimagined our Church Council and committee structure. I am proud of our ministries of worship, growth, and service. I am proud of you and how you have stretched and evolved in order to adapt to significant changes in our life together over these two years, especially our young people. I am proud that someone believes in us enough to invest $1 million in our future. 

Still, I have discerned that I have not spent adequate time hearing your stories, and celebrating those five milestones in your lives. It was relationships, with God and with people, that led me into ordained ministry. It was mending spiritual wounds and speaking grace to broken hearts that originally led me to the pulpit, not the other way around. 

As a pastor, I believe that it is important for us to know one another, and I will continue to seek ways for us to build relationships between, to learn each other’s stories, and to witness the ways in which the Spirit of God is working in and through our individual lives and through our collective life and witness in the church.

To that end, I am eagerly anticipating our upcoming listening sessions wherein we can share with one another what God has revealed to us through the Season of Prayer in which we engaged during this season of Eastertide. Furthermore, I will be seeking opportunities to meet with you one-on-one so that we can engage in holy conversations together and learn one another’s dreams for all that this tremendous church we so love can be in God’s time and by God’s grace.

Finally, I will be in contact with you more often than this monthly article allows by sharing relevant stories and information about our church at my blog, which you can easily find at www.douglasforrester.org.

I look forward to seeing you soon, to our life together, and to all that the God of life is unfolding in our midst.

Grace and peace,
Doug
Information will be forthcoming about opportunities to continue our Season of Prayer and Discernment with discussion groups which will be facilitated by members of our congregation and offered at a variety of times.


April 2016

A Season of Anticipation, Prayer, and Conversation

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Easter greetings! Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia! Together, we have entered into a period in the Christian calendar known as the Easter season or the Great 50 Days. It is that time between Easter and Pentecost, when the disciples of Jesus were in awe of Jesus’ resurrection and obediently waiting in Jerusalem for what God was going to do next in bestowing the Holy Spirit upon them at the harvest festival of Shavuoth, 50 days after Passover. The season of Easter is the most joyous and celebrative season of the Christian year. It focuses on Christ’s resurrection and the givings of the Holy Spirit.

Like the first disciples long ago, we will use the Easter season to wait and listen to what the Holy Spirit will tell us to do next. I am inviting the people of Reveille United Methodist Church to enter into an intentional time of prayer, reflection, and conversation about our future as a congregation. What is God calling Reveille, and only Reveille, to do? Who is God uniquely calling and equipping Reveille to be? What can Reveille United Methodist Church do better than anyone, for God’s glory and for the furthering of God’s kingdom?      

In my February letter to you, I announced that Reveille is the recent recipient of an extremely generous $1 million gift that was given with the intent of enabling our church to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Since then, our task force has been meeting to develop a methodology for our congregation to discern answers to the questions I just posed so that we can make the best, most strategic use of all of the gifts that have been entrusted to us.

As such, the Church Council has directed that we enter into an intentional 40-day period between Easter and Pentecost to pray and discern where God is leading us. The first half of this time will be devoted to intentional prayer and the second half will be devoted to holy conversation in town hall meetings as well as small groups. 

To sign up for a 30-minute prayer slot, click on one of these links:
Click here to download a guide to prayer for each day of this 21-day period. Please sign up! It is crucial that we blanket this process in prayer!

Please keep this process itself in your prayers, remembering the words of our risen Lord that “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.”
Grace and peace,
Doug Forrester

March 2016

Transitions

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

I hope that this message finds you well, and that you are experiencing a Lenten season filled with God’s blessings and a renewed sense of self-discipline and self-examination in your prayer life as we prepare for the coming of Holy Week and Easter.

It is with both a heavy heart and a firm conviction that God’s Holy Spirit is at work in our midst that I inform you that the Rev. Katie B. Gooch will be receiving a new pastoral appointment at Annual Conference this year, when she will become the new director of the Pace United Methodist Student Center at Virginia Commonwealth University. Katie has served at Reveille since graduating from seminary in 2012. Before attending seminary, Katie worked as a communications consultant for four years in the Washington, D.C., area. There is no question that her passion for ministry and her innumerable gifts will bring new life and vitality to the Pace Center, and that the VCU community will be much better for it.

Throughout my twenty years of ordained ministry, I have heard more times than I can count how the United Methodist system of deploying clergy is perhaps the most difficult aspect of being a United Methodist. It is often heartbreaking when our clergy are deployed to new fields of service, and we miss them, even as we give thanks for their years in our midst, as their lives intersect our own.

However, none of us could have entrusted ourselves to this itinerant life if we were not convinced that God is in it, for ourselves, our families, and the congregations we leave behind. In that spirit, I want you to know that our Bishop and his Cabinet are already hard at work, as is our own Staff Parish Relations Committee to discern who and what is next for Reveille, and we all covet your prayers as we enter into this time of sacred transition. 

On the topic of prayer, I also want you to be on the lookout for opportunities to pray for the future of Reveille United Methodist Church this Lent, as we enter into a season of holy discernment to learn specifically who God is calling us to be at this time in our history, and as we move into the future, especially as recipients of the large gift I wrote about last month. Our discernment task force is meeting Monday, March 7, to help design opportunities for intentional prayer. 

I remain convinced that the Spirit is afoot in our midst, and I am excited about our journey together into God’s future, for the glory of God and for the world Christ came to save.

Grace and peace,
Doug Forrester


February 2016

Reveille UMC Doubly Blessed by Amazing Gift 

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

I pray you are well and that 2016 is off to a fantastic start for you and those you love. I have tremendous news to share with you.

Along with pastors Katie B. Gooch and Stephen Coleman, I learned on December 16 from our Trustees Chairperson David Simonsen that a loving and generous anonymous donor has made a donation to Reveille United Methodist Church in the amount of $1 million.

According to David, who has been in communication with the donor, the general understanding is that this gift is to be used to further the vision and mission of Reveille UMC.

On Monday, January 18, I convened a group of 11 key persons representing various ministry areas, backgrounds, and years of leadership in the church to help form a recommendation to our Church Council as to what should be key elements of a discernment process for how to best use this amazing gift. These persons are Jill Gaynor, Clark Williams, Katie B. Gooch, Rich Schweiker, Bo Bowden, Stephen Coleman, Blake MacIver, Mary Davis, Kevin Bruny, Sheelagh Davis, and myself.

Our recommendations to the Church Council include two core elements. First, we want to challenge the congregation to regard this gift as a double blessing. There is the obvious gift of tremendous financial resources to our church. This donation also will require our congregation and its leaders to discern quite clearly and specifically exactly who God is calling Reveille UMC to be.

To that end, we strongly recommend that the people of Reveille, its leaders, its staff, and its clergy enter into a season of intensive prayer and fasting, which is timely as we stand at the threshold of Lent. During this season, we will have opportunities for our congregation to pray, to ponder, to meet in small groups, and to discern where God is leading us in our shared venture to glorify God in Jesus Christ, and to make disciples in his name for the transformation of the world. 

Second, the aforementioned group recommends that the Church Council approve a task force to discern a plan going forward and submit it to our Council for approval. At our meeting on January 26, the Church Council agreed to deploy the existing task force to continue this work.

I pray that you will join me in a time of disciplined prayer and discernment, as we chart a course for living into God’s future. These are truly exciting times!

From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.  Luke 12:48b

Shalom,
Doug Forrester
Lead Pastor


January 2016
New Year's Resolutions

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Grace and peace to you. I pray that 2016 finds you filled with the many blessings of our God. Since this is a new year, I thought I would write to you today about the making and keeping of resolutions, something I try to do each year. In the spirit of transparency and accountability, I thought I would share with you my personal resolutions, and then I will share with you what I hope will be the New Year’s resolutions of Reveille United Methodist Church. So here we go:

Pastor Doug’s 2016 New Year’s Resolutions

I have divided these into three categories: Body, Mind, and Spirit. They are as follows:

1. Body: I will eat less processed food and will exercise at the gym at least three times a week.
2. Mind: I will read at least two books a month beyond all of my work-related reading. 
3. Spirit: I will read the Old Testament daily, as I do not know it as well as I know the New Testament. 

Pastor Doug’s 2016 Resolutions for Reveille United Methodist Church

1. That we will honor our membership commitment to worship together more often, because we are at our best when we are together.
2. That those of us who are not currently engaged in a short-term or long-term Bible study, Sunday school class, or covenant group will do so, because it allows for us to grow in our faith and to love and care for one another in a way few things in the world today can.
3. That we will increase the ways in which we as a congregation of God’s people give of our time and talents in service to others, especially those in need, so that we can make a difference in God’s world. 

I pray for your help in attaining these two sets of resolutions. Hold me accountable to my resolutions, and let us hold one another accountable in love for being the kind of Christian disciples that God calls us to be in our special, uniquely Reveille way.

Grace and peace,
Doug Forrester
Lead Pastor


December 2015
Advent and Christmas Worship at Reveille

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, 

Grace and peace to you, and Advent blessings upon you and your home. I pray you are well. This season of preparation is upon us, and I pray that it will be a season of hope, self-examination, and meaningful encounters with the living God for you. 

This year, our theme for Advent is “God in the Midst of Real Life.” I hope that we can use this season of the year as a time for us to pause and reflect upon God’s presence in our lives, even in the midst of our busyness, challenges, and blessings. I pray that worship during this season of Advent will be a time for you to unplug, let go, and increase in your awareness of God’s presence in your midst.

Grace and peace,
Doug Forrester


November 2015

Recently, I was at a meeting with Virginia Conference United Methodist seminary students at Union Presbyterian Seminary. It was a great day, one that featured a good deal of exciting discussion around the future of the church with young men and women who are its future clergy leadership. 

While there, we attended midday worship where we sang a hymn I had never heard before called “God Whose Giving Knows No Ending.” The lyrics are beautiful, and they include these words:

God, whose giving knows no ending, from your rich and endless store-
nature's wonder, Jesus' wisdom, costly cross, grave's shattered door-
gifted by you, we turn to you, offering up ourselves in praise;
thankful song shall rise forever, gracious Donor of our days.

Skills and time are ours for pressing toward the goals of Christ, your Son:
all at peace in health and freedom, races joined, the Church made one.
Now direct our daily labor, lest we strive for self alone.
Born with talents, make us servants fit to answer at your throne.

Treasure, too, you have entrusted, gain through powers your grace conferred,
ours to use for home and kindred, and to spread the gospel word.
Open wide our hands in sharing, as we heed Christ's ageless call,
healing, teaching, and reclaiming, serving you by loving all.

I believe that this hymn beautifully encapsulates what Christian stewardship and Christian generosity mean. They mean that all  we have is God’s, and that ours is a God who gives abundantly to us. Yet, our God also gives all things to our wise and faithful stewardship, for the purpose of holiness, and for use in spreading the good news of mercy, rebirth, forgiveness, and everlasting life which is God’s ultimate gift to us in Jesus Christ. 

Very soon, you will be receiving communications from our church which invite you to be a giver in 2016. Please prayerfully consider this opportunity to “open wide our hands in sharing, as we heed Christ’s ageless call.”

Grace and peace,
Doug Forrester


October 2015
A Power Play for God
If there is one thing about which I know very little, it is ice hockey. However, I am fortunate to know people who do know a great deal about it, so much so that they can even explain it to me. So, in this note, I want to talk about hockey, particularly one rule in hockey that I believe sets it apart from just about every other sport, something called the Power Play.

In other team sports like baseball, football, and basketball, if a player is a bad sport or breaks certain rules, that player can be thrown out of the game by one of the officials, and in baseball, football, or basketball, when this happens, the coach looks to his or her bench and puts a player into the game to replace the player who has been removed. 
However, in hockey a player who commits a penalty is removed from play and told to sit in what is called the “penalty box” for a period of time that, while it can be longer, is usually two minutes. Yet, unlike other sports, during this time when one of the players is in the penalty box, that player’s team must play with one less player than their opponent, until the advantaged team scores or the two minutes expire. 
This is called a Power Play because, for obvious reasons, the team with more players on the ice has more “power” than the team with fewer players on the ice. One can imagine how quickly a power play can shift the fortunes of an ice hockey competition, as well as how this rule demonstrates the importance of every player on the team.
As I reflect on this past Reveille Day, I am reminded of the Power Play, because I believe that it illustrates a truth about how God has created the church to be. As so many of us returned to church, to Sunday school classes, to Disciple Bible Study, to youth group, our music ministries, to fellowship opportunities, and to our Reveille Today new member class, there was an air about us of happiness, of sheer gratitude for God and for one another. It reminded me of returning to college after a long summer and seeing everyone glad to be together, catching up on what is new.
It is just different when we are together. Worship is different. It feels different to preach when I can see more of your faces. The hymns sound different. The passing of the peace feels different. And not just different, but better. We are better when we are together because, quite simply, God has made us for each other. 
Autumn at Reveille is filled with exciting opportunities to worship, grow, and serve, and to do so together, as a part of Christ’s body on earth, in this beautiful little outpost of the Kingdom of God. 
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 1 Corinthians 12:12-14
Grace and peace,
Doug Forrester

September 2015

September in Worship at Reveille: 
Why Jesus? The Hard and Sometimes Bizarre Sayings of Christ   
I love September. I think the roots of this love are found in my childhood, when September meant a new school year, new books, new friends, new classes, and a new season. Years later, it still feels like the whole year begins anew each September.
This September, I am especially excited about worship and our educational offerings. Our sermons will be exploring several of the more difficult teachings of Jesus found in the gospels. Learn more
This sermon series will supplement our congregational study of the book Why Jesus? by United Methodist Bishop William H. Willimon, who will be speaking at Reveille at 4:00 pm on Sunday, September 27, so get your reading done and come prepared to ask questions of this great scholar and writer!
“Why Jesus?” is the greatest question of our time. How we answer this question determines how we think, live, and treat those around us. How would you answer this question? What does Jesus mean to you? I am looking forward to our discernment of these questions together this month.

Grace and peace,
Doug Forrester

August 2015

Reflections on the Summer of Godspell  
“Would you be willing to play Martin Luther in Godspell?” Director of Music Ministries Cathy Armistead asked me.
“Absolutely I would,” said I. 
Until this summer, my only experience with Godspell was having heard “Day By Day” a few times. Therefore, I had no idea that I had just signed up for a singing role. In truth, Martin Luther actually was a musician. He composed the words and the music to “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” Luther believed that one of the best ways to teach the Christian faith was to sing the Christian faith, and he believed that this was especially true for young people.
Our young people (and a few of us not-so-young people) have been putting in more than twenty hours a week lately to get this production of Godspell just right, and it has become a beautiful thing. Because I have had virtually no experience with this musical prior to this summer, and because the songs from Godspell really do get stuck in my head, I realized this morning that I have had the voices of the people of Reveille United Methodist Church, young and old, echoing in my head for more than two weeks. I have awakened to your voices each morning. I fall asleep to your voices at night. I hear you singing as I make my customary rounds during the day.
It has been a summer full of God’s blessings. It has been enjoyable to spend a week preparing and preaching a sermon on the parables of Jesus and then spend each evening watching how those same parables are interpreted by our youth. We have not been just singing the songs of the musical; we have been relearning, and most importantly, teaching our faith to our neighbors in Richmond and beyond.
Methodism’s founder John Wesley told his preachers, lay and clergy, “You have one business on earth — to save souls. So spend and be spent in this work.” I am certain that everyone who has been a part of Godspell is definitely feeling spent right now, but then again, is there any greater task in which any of us can be employed?
That word above all earthly powers,
No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through Him who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His Kingdom is forever. 
- Martin Luther, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” (c. 1529)
Grace and peace,
Doug Forrester

July 2015

Mr. Wesley Goes to Camp
June 15, 2015 - This afternoon, I did something I normally do not do: I put on a pair of tights. 
I then put on knickers, a vest, a colonial era jacket, and a three-cornered hat.
I walked from Reveille House to the education wing, went upstairs, entered a KIDz C.A.M.P. classroom, and for one amazing hour, broken into four separate sessions of children, I was John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. 
In my best British accent, I launched into the best-known stories of Wesley’s life: the fire in the parsonage when he was five, the Holy Club at Oxford, the dangerous trip across the Atlantic, his disastrous ministry in the colony of Georgia, his transformative experience on Aldersgate, preaching on his father’s grave, the 40,000 sermons and 250,000 miles travelled on horseback as he traversed the kingdom to spread scriptural holiness across the lands. 
In the first session, after my presentation was done, Kathy Rainey asked me a question: “Mr. Wesley, could you tell the children why the Methodist movement is still important today?”
To this I asked the girls and boys questions of my own: “Are there still people who do not know the love of God? Are there still people who do not love and serve Christ? Are there still people in prison? Are there still people who are poor? Is there still injustice in the world? Are there still people who feel unloved?”
To each question, the children replied loudly and clearly, “YES!”
“And that,” I told them, “is why the world still needs the Methodists.”
“So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.” - Galatians 6:9 
Grace and peace,
Doug Forrester

June 2015

Is God Trying to Get Our Attention?
Everyone I know is at least familiar with the results of the Pew Research Center survey released last week. Titled “America’s Changing Religious Landscape,” the findings reveal rapid and significant changes to how Americans report religious affiliation, and the news is not good. You can find the report in its entirety here.
According to the report, “The number of religiously unaffiliated adults has increased by roughly 19 million since 2007. There are now approximately 56 million religiously unaffiliated adults in the U.S., and this group – sometimes called religious “nones” – is more numerous than either Catholics or mainline Protestants, according to the new survey. Indeed, the unaffiliated are now second in size only to evangelical Protestants among major religious groups in the U.S.” For Christians, the report is especially bleak: During that same time period, the number of Christians in the United States has diminished by between 2.8 and 7.8 million people.
To put this in perspective, the number of people in the United States who report having no faith has grown by roughly 2.5 times the total population of the Commonwealth of Virginia in less than eight years.
What can this study tell us, and is there any reason for hope? I read and reflect upon this report, and I find myself wondering how much of the struggles of the church in America are God’s way of calling God’s church back to deeper covenant faithfulness, a stronger sense of prayer and devotion, a renewed sense of mission to our respective communities, and a higher standard for all that we do. In the Hebrew Bible, a similar cycle would play out again and again, wherein God’s people would forget God, God would leave the people to their own devices, they people would struggle, then repent and turn back to God. Things would improve, and the people would prosper, and the cycle would eventually repeat.
In other words, what if we are seeing in this survey is God trying to get our attention? 
What if God is saying to God’s churches, “Do better. Be better. Reclaim your passion for the least, the last, and the lost. Only then will I again ‘add daily to your numbers those who are being saved.’”
What if God is leading us through our own wilderness school, leading us to rethink what being the church means for such a time as this?
In our United Methodist Hymnal, there is a prayer that I would like for you to join me in praying daily. It simply says, “Renew your church, Lord, your people in this land. Save us from cheap words and self-deception in your service. In the power of your Spirit transform us, and shape us by your cross. Amen.” 
Grace and peace,
Doug Forrester

May 2015

"Of all the Christian festivals, it is the Easter parade that demands the most faith – pushing you past reverence for creation, through bewilderment at the idea of a virgin birth, and into the
far-fetched 
and far-reaching idea that death is not the end. The cross as crossroads. 
Whatever your religious or nonreligious views, the chance to begin again is a compelling idea.” 
- Bono, lead singer, U2

As Psalm 133:1 says, “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!” I pray that this season of spring finds you full of God’s blessings and a resurrected spirit. What a blessed time it is to be a part of the family of faith that is Reveille United Methodist Church!
We are entering into a time of year full of new life and new beginnings, so it is fitting that we would dedicate a period of worship to exploring the ways in which God provides us with new beginnings in our lives. We are currently doing so with the sermon series, “Who is Jesus of Nazareth? Exploring the God of New Beginnings.” This month, we will examine topics such as what it means to call Jesus “friend,” and what is the nature of Christian friendship; Jesus as the ascended Lord of heaven, Jesus as the Lord of his church, and what it means for Christians to claim that Jesus is divine. During May, we also will celebrate the high holy days of Ascension Sunday and Pentecost in addition to youth and confirmation Sundays.
Speaking as someone who has experienced the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, and now Easter at Reveille for the first time, I remain even more convinced of the power of Christian synergy. Synergy is defined as “the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.” This is what God does in us when we are together. Perhaps this is why Jesus said, “when two or three are gathered together in my name, I am with them.” We are better when we are together. Our worship is stronger, our hymns more powerful, our prayers more effusive, our witness more profound, truths made evident each time we gather together for Easter.
Let’s keep the momentum going, so that we may be blessed and be a blessing to one another, and so that we may be a visible witness to the world around us that God is alive and God’s people are filled with God’s joy.
Grace and peace,
Doug Forrester

February 2015

“You find that the Bible has been put into your workshop, into your hand, into your heart…Just look at your tools, at your needle or thimble, your goods, your scales or yardsticks or measure, and you will read this statement inscribed on them... “Friend, use me in your relations with your neighbor just as you would want your neighbor to use his property in his relations with you.”
- Martin Luther, Germany, 16th Century

Our worship in February begins with a continuation of our series on Christian vocation, “We Are All Ministers.” We will continue to focus on the call of God to all Christian people to serve the world with the gifts and talents God has given us in all of the places in which we find ourselves. February will conclude with the beginning of the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday and the first Sunday of Lent on February 22. Our Lenten focus will be upon spiritual disciplines, those gifts that God gives us to strengthen and enrich our faith and life. 
Also, I would like to commend you for taking seriously your membership vow to be present in the life of God’s church. At the time of this writing, our total Sunday worship attendance has been over 500 for four of the last five Sundays. Keep up the good work! We are truly at our best when we are together, lifting our voices in prayer and praise!

Grace and peace,
Doug Forrester


Lead Pastor
J. Douglas (Doug) Forrester
(804) 359-6041, ext. 112

Doug was 
appointed to serve Reveille in July 2014. A Richmond native, Doug graduated from Emory & Henry College and Duke University Divinity School and has served churches in Newport News, Prince George, and Crozet. Doug 
is married to Tracy, a third-grade teacher at Colonial Trail Elementary School in Short Pump. Doug and Tracy keep busy raising their two daughters, Ellen and Claire. When not at Reveille, Doug enjoys teaching classes for new clergy, tinkering with computers, writing music, and watching Duke basketball. Doug blogs at www.douglasforrester.org.