From the Lead Pastor2019-08-26T10:22:08-04:00
Lead Pastor Doug Forrester with Youth

FROM THE LEAD PASTOR

COVID-19 Update

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Easter blessings. I pray this letter finds you well. I am writing to you today to give thanks, and to provide some new information regarding our current situation in the midst of this global pandemic.

On April 14, the churches of the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church received word from Bishop Sharma D. Lewis that “in-person worship cannot take place until June 11. If the Governor’s executive order is rescinded or revised before June 10, [she] will re-evaluate the status of in-person worship.”

I realize that this is sad news. I know because so many of you have told me how much you crave a return to normalcy at Reveille. We miss each other. We miss our beautiful worship in our beautiful spaces. We miss our small groups, youth, and Sunday School classes. We miss our shared meals. Simply put, we miss the Reveille we know and love.

I want to assure you that we will come through this current crisis. God is indeed with us, and God’s promise to not leave or forsake us has not been broken. Never forget that we are a people of resurrection hope, trusting that, in the words of Paul, “we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.” We are a strong and resilient congregation who is facing this predicament head-on with the sure and certain hope that we will indeed prevail.

I would like to give thanks to our staff for how quickly they have adapted to the new landscape of online worship, and I would like to give thanks to Mark Ritter for being our wonderful videographer. I give thanks to our leadership who have adapted to our virtual gatherings via Zoom. It is amazing to consider how much we have adapted over the course of the last month to continue to be the church for such a time as this.

Finally, I would like to give thanks to each of you, for you have adapted along with us. My heart is gladdened by how you have continued to help and check in on one another, how you have continued the holy practice of worship and Bible study. I love the images you have shared with me of your home worship—how you have filled your houses with the sounds of voices singing hymns.

We are indeed people of the resurrection. God gets the last word, and God is not done with us yet. I give glory to God for the strength God is giving us to press on, and I give thanks to God for each of you, as we press on together.

Grace and peace,

Doug

April 14th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Update on Response to Coronavirus

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Grace and peace to you in the strong name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray this email finds you safe and well. I am writing to you today to provide some thoughts and updates in regard to the coronavirus.

Once as I crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, the bay was filled with at least a dozen or so large container ships. What struck me was how each one looked to be just sitting there, stationary, not doing anything. It was strange to see so many apparently doing so little.

Later that evening, I realized what was going on. They were waiting for the tide to change.

This is where we find ourselves as a church: waiting for the tide to change. It sometimes feels like we are doing very little, but in reality, we are doing the most important thing we can: helping our nation and world overcome a global pandemic, and we are doing this by not gathering in person.

Although it looked to me that those container ships were not doing anything, I am certain that inside, they were actually abuzz with sailors taking advantage of their time being still by doing maintenance, making plans, and charting course.

Likewise, I want you to know that Reveille’s staff and lay leadership are utilizing this time of stillness to continue, as best we can, to chart a course for our respective ministries. We are making plans for online worship, creating innovative ways to reach our congregation and community, checking in with our members, and preparing for a future when we can return to normal life as we know it.

In Psalm 46:10, the psalmist writes “Be still and know that I am God.” In the midst of these Lenten lands, I pray that God abides with you in this time of stillness, that our waiting may be a time of “holy waiting” where we wait with purpose as our God uses us to heal the world.

Some immediate steps we are taking follow. Please let Stephen, Kelley, or me know of any questions you may have.

All in-person events, activities, and worship are cancelled indefinitely until this crisis is over and it is clearly safe to resume our normal schedules.

During this time the staff will be working to manage projects and day-to-day business, either on-site or from home. We respectfully request that prior to visiting the office you email or call staff to allow them to address your questions or concerns. Please note that the doors to Reveille House will be locked during this time to keep minimize risk to staff members working on-site.

We will continue to offer Sunday worship online.

We will continue to have as many of our committee meetings as possible via online conferencing.

The staff is continuing to work on additional ways for our congregation to stay connected without meeting in person. The staff is also available to assist small groups in setting up online meetings.

We will keep you updated via email, at www.reveilleumc.org, and on our Facebook page.

Grace and peace,

Doug

March 18th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Why I Believe in Peter Moon

As you certainly know by now, Bishop Sharma Lewis has projected the Rev. Dr. Peter Moon to be Reveille’s new lead pastor. Pete currently is serving us as the Richmond District Superintendent, where he has served since 2015. Immediately prior to his cabinet work, he served for 12 years at Woodlake UMC, which is a large congregation in the Richmond District. Reveille also happens to be the church that sent Pete into ministry, as this was his church while he was a student at Union Presbyterian Seminary. Bishop Kern Eutsler baptized one of Pete’s children in our sanctuary.

I have known Pete long enough that I cannot remember meeting him, at least 14 years. We served for six years together on the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry. I once led a staff retreat for him while he was at Woodlake, and of course, he has been my District Superintendent for the last five years.

Throughout the time I have known Pete, I have always found him to be an excellent preacher, a decisive and empowering leader, and a warm, humble, thoughtful provider of pastoral care. I cannot overstate the extent to which his shepherding of the Richmond District has impacted, for the good, my ministry with you at Reveille.

Pete will serve Reveille exceptionally well. God has richly blessed us with this appointment. In fact, when Bishop Lewis asked me to join her Bishop’s cabinet, I was emphatic that she give the utmost care to choosing my successor, and I have the fullest confidence that she has.

Please keep the Moons in your prayers during this time of transition, and be excited for what God has in store next.

Peace,
Doug

February 26th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Science, Faith, and Raising Children in Church

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Throughout January, our sermons engaged the topic of faith and science. The sermons have been enjoyable to write, as have the conversations with some of you that have come out of these sermons. I have been blessed by our dialogue.

In concert with this sermon series, I have been interviewing members of our church whose education and vocation are in the sciences for a series of podcasts, and I have to say, I have enjoyed these conversations as much as anything I have ever done in pastoral ministry.

Ever since I was ordained, I have wondered how people of science hear my sermons, how you experience the scriptures, the miracle stories, and the sacraments. To actually sit down with scientists and discuss these topics has been such a tremendous blessing. What I am learning is that those of you with a science background seem to wrestle with the same texts that I do and are blessed by the same scriptures that especially bless me. The community aspects of church are important to you, and you are moved by the pursuit of truth incumbent upon all disciples of Jesus Christ. You are open to mystery and wonder, and you are not hindered by the fact that there are some aspects of scripture that we may never be able to fully explain from a scientific standpoint.

Having said all of that, there is one vitally important trend that I noticing in these interviews, one we ignore at our peril. My conversations have been with diverse people from a variety of the sciences, people with varying experiences of God, what each person who has spoken to me has in common is that they were raised in the church from childhood as regular church attenders.

This may seem minor and obvious and yet it is of the utmost importance, for I am learning just how important it is that these women and men had a firm foundation of faith to build upon as they became adults and faced both the blessings and challenges of adult life as well as how they experienced their academic experience.

I know how difficult it can be to get children to church, especially on an early Sunday morning. I know this because my wife tells me so (this is something she has to do since I arrive at church before sunrise). And yet, this sometimes challenging labor is not just a weekly activity; it is an investment in our children, one that pays great dividends in the kind of adults they will become in whatever vocation to which God calls them. While we may seldom see the fruits of our labor right away, they are there, and the fruit of our labor is what Paul calls “the fruit of the Spirit.”

These podcasts are still being recorded, so if you are interested in participating, let me know. I will make them available shortly, and I hope you enjoy listening to them as much as I am enjoying making them.

See you on Sunday,
Doug

January 29th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

With All Your Mind

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, ’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:34-40

What does it mean for us to love God “with all our minds?” The older I get, the more I wonder how to faithfully answer this question. Does it mean that I have to believe in creationism or evolution? Does it mean that I have to read scripture literally or more metaphorically? Am I allowed to question the core tenets of the Christian faith, or will God punish me if I wrestle with these matters because my faith is feeble?

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) famously remarked, “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” I love this quote because it reminds me that my mind wishes to ask these important questions is a mind gifted to me by the same God with whom I sometimes wrestle. Since our God wishes to be in relationship with us, our God welcomes our questions. Furthermore, if God is God, then God is powerful enough to withstand even our most ardent, persistent questioning, and if this God is the compassionate God we have seen revealed in Jesus of Nazareth, then we can trust that our wrestling with God can be a means by which we actually grow in our faith.

Our first three sermons of 2020 will explore the relationship between faith and reason. We will examine the topics of creationism versus evolution, the story of Noah and the ark, and finally, the scripture above. It is my prayer that we can use this time to deepen our understanding of what it means to approach the Christian faith as thinking people, so that we may truly love God “with all our minds.” Join us.

Grace and peace,
Doug

December 23rd, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Four Perspectives on Advent

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Grace and peace to you in the name of the living God. I pray this note finds you full of God’s richest blessings as we move into this holy season of Advent. I would like to take a moment to share with you plans for worship during this season of anticipation and preparation for the coming of the holy child.

This year, our four Sundays of Advent will offer us the opportunity to explore four different perspectives on this liturgical season: the prophet Isaiah with his vision of justice and peace, John the Baptist on change and repentance, Mary the mother of Jesus will tell us of an upside-down world order, and the angel who appeared to Joseph who will provide us with reasons to live and believe with courage.

As always, Advent is a time when many people will visit our congregation, some for the first time. It is incumbent upon each of us to embody God’s gracious welcome to each person we meet. As the author of Hebrews reminds us, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

As we prepare for a holy time of shepherds and angels, let us not neglect the angels in our midst as we gather to prepare our hearts and minds for the advent of the God of life. As such, never be afraid to extend a hand, learn a name, even make a new friend, for we never know how God will use our relationships to bless others. It is how the gospel is spread, how good news is made known, and how the living Christ is present in our midst, even here, even now.

See you on Sunday,

Doug

 

November 26th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments
RESOURCES

To reach out to the lead pastor, please contact:
Doug Forrester
Lead Pastor
(804) 359-6041 ext. 112
leadpastor@reveilleumc.org

Read Doug’s Column in The Reveille Window

Read the Flemish Bond blog by Doug Forrester