Last Monday, we celebrated Memorial Day. Most of us observed the holiday by having a cookout, by shopping the sales at our favorite stores, or by getting away for a long weekend. Memorial Day serves as the official start of summer for most Americans, and for many of us who live in Bay County, it marks the last time we will cross the Hathaway Bridge until Labor Day!
While Memorial Day means many things to us, since 1971, the final Monday in May has been declared a national holiday for one purpose: to honor the men and women who have given their lives in service to their country during times of war. It was first commemorated in the years following the Civil War to pay tribute to the fallen soldiers from that tragic conflict. Originally called Decoration Day, residents in communities placed flowers on the graves of those who had given their lives in military service. I distinctly remember as a child making the rounds with my parents to the local cemeteries to decorate the graves, not just of deceased soldiers and sailors, but of dearly departed family members as well.
Sadly, in the present, most of us give little more than a cursory thought to the real meaning of Memorial Day. It’s fairly safe to say that few of us spent any significant time remembering the price others have paid for our freedom last weekend. If that was the case, I encourage you to pause and give thanks to God for the sacrifice others have made on our behalf. It would also be a good time to pray for the brave men and women who now serve our country, asking the Lord to protect them from harm and to keep them safe so they don’t have to pay the ultimate price.
If we’re not careful, this tendency to lose sight of the real meaning of a memorial observance can spill over into our spiritual lives as well. Our Methodist founder, John Wesley, commonly referred to the Lord’s Supper as a “memorial meal.” The dictionary defines memorial as “something designed to preserve the memory of a person, event, etc. as a monument or a periodic observance.” Holy Communion is a periodic observance designed to preserve the memory of both a person and an event. It helps us remember Jesus and the last supper He shared with His disciples. On the night before His death, He told them and all of His would-followers, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Like what happens with our observances of Memorial Day, we must make sure we don’t get so caught up in the outward forms of the ritual itself that we forget the real meaning and purpose of the commemoration. Jesus truly “paid it all” so that you and I might experience freedom from sin and become recipients of eternal life.
Typically, we gather on the first Sunday of each month to remember the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through the sacrament of Holy Communion. I hope you’ll join us as we do so on June 3rd as we kick off a new series called, “The Incredibles.” The sequel to the Disney animated movie with that title will be released later this month. Drawing on that theme, we’re going to look at the “incredible” life that is to be lived by Jesus’ followers as evidenced by the story of the first believers told in the Book of Acts.
Also, on June 3rd we will celebrate the other sacrament we recognize as United Methodist Christians: Holy Baptism. Between services at the Transmitter campus, we will baptize several new believers outside near the fountain. You’ll want to join us as we celebrate their new life in Christ and “remember” our own baptism into the faith.
The national holiday called Memorial Day has passed for this year, but we still have lots of opportunities to remember the sacrifice of the One who gave His life as a ransom for many – our Savior Jesus. Let’s not get lax in our attendance this summer, but instead, let’s celebrate each week in worship the freedom we’ve been given through Christ.
In His Name,
Craig CarterLead Pastor, LHUMC
“Hi I’m Craig Carter of the Lynn Haven United Methodist Church and I’m joined by my fellow pastor Rudy Olivo, who leads our ministries at the Fusion Campus. One of the things I’ve learned about the Christian faith over the years, both from scripture and my own experience, is that it is a journey. We serve a God who is always on the move and if we want to walk in step with Him, we too have to move and change. Rudy is going to share a little bit about a change that’s coming in his life and how it affects our ministries here at the Lynn Haven United Methodist Church.”
Rudy: “Thanks Craig. Since 2015 my family and I have called Lynn Haven Methodist home. We love this church and have been proud to be here. We came to this church when I was on an active duty order at Tyndall and we worshiped here as part of the community. When that order came to an end, July 1, 2016, I was thrilled when the bishop appointed me to be the Fusion campus pastor. During the last two years as the Fusion campus pastor, I’ve seen God do incredible things through our church, especially at our little outpost that is Fusion. I’ve seen people come to faith in Christ, I’ve seen increase in discipleship, we’ve seen our number grow on Sunday mornings and I’ve also been really honored to be part of the team that has transitioned the way that we’re doing our whole recreation enterprise, so that we can be financially healthy and also connect for kingdom growth to the worshiping body. And as much as I’ve loved all of that time at Fusion, I’ve also been actively working at Tyndall Air Force Base as a member of the National Guard. On a normal week I’d work one to two days at Tyndall and go back and forth between both places. Several months ago while I was working at Tyndall I was extended an opportunity to return to active duty work at Tyndall Air Force Base. After prayer and consideration, my family and I decided that it was not the time and God was not calling us there. Recently, however, in April, I was extended a second opportunity to consider yet another job at Tyndall. After prayer, consideration and earnest deliberation, we came to the point where we really believed that God is calling us to make that move. And because we believe God is in this, and because we do want to follow Him in this journey of life, we have decided to take the next step and return to full time Air Force ministry July 1st. Now here’s the deal about following God, anytime you do it amazing things are going to happen but it doesn’t always mean you’re never going to have life without a heavy heart. So it is with a heavy heart that I am aware that my days as the Fusion Campus Pastor are coming to an end and I wanted to let you know that this was not an easy decision because of the special place that we have in our hearts for all of the ministries of Lynn Haven Methodist Church. Now while that heaviness is there, I’m also happy to report that my Air Force assignment will have me here at Tyndall, which means my family and I will continue to get to worship as a part of Lynn Haven Methodist Church, although most Sunday mornings you’ll see us over here at the Transmitter Campus. Now we know transitions come from God and we don’t always know what the future will hold, but what I do believe is that this is the right place to be in mission and ministry. I look forward to continuing in mission and ministry with you in this new role and living into God’s truth that the best is yet to come.
Craig: “Well Rudy, first of all, I am truly grateful for the incredible leadership you’ve given to our Fusion campus over the last two years I’m especially thankful that you and your family are going to continue to be a part of the Lynn Haven church family. We look forward to your participation in the life of our congregation and, in particular, Rudy you’ve made some great connections with the military community here and those are going to continue to grow. We look forward to shared ministry as we seek at the Lynn Haven Church and the Fusion Campus to minister to our military community at Tyndall and the Naval Base. Now with this change of Rudy going to full time chaplaincy, it means that we’re looking for a new leader for our Fusion Campus. As a United Methodist Church, we do not hire our own pastors and I’m also thankful to report that we don’t get to fire our pastors either, praise the Lord for that. Instead, our resident bishop appoints the pastoral leadership of each local United Methodist Church. So, when we received the news of this change coming in Rudy’s life and ministry, he and I went to our District Superintendent and former pastor of this church, Doug Pennington. We told him about the move that was coming and also made some suggestions about a suitable replacement. He in turn took this matter to Bishop Graves and his fellow cabinet members and I am happy to report that effective July 1st, Chris Ackerman is going to be appointed to the Lynn Haven United Methodist Church staff as our Fusion Campus Pastor. Chris has a variety of experiences in the local church as a youth director, a coordinator of discipleship ministries, and he’s presently serving two United Methodist congregations in Jackson County. Chris is finishing up his theological studies at Asbury Seminary and he already lives with his family right here in Lynn Haven. So, Chris, welcome to the Lynn Haven United Methodist Church staff and we look forward to your ministry as our Fusion Campus Pastor.”
Chris: “Well thank you Craig. I can’t begin to tell you how excited my family and I are. My wife, Angie, our daughters, Bethany and Grace, are ready to meet everybody and get to know everyone and continue the ministry that’s been started by those like Rudy and those who have gone before him. We’re just excited as can be to be a part of the family. It’s such a blessing for us from God. Like you said, we live right here in Lynn Haven. We’ve been here for close to ten years now so this is a perfect fit and feels like a God ordained thing for us. We’re excited about it.”
Craig: “Well I know that is surprising news for all of you. It’s surprising news for the three of us as well because the scenario we just described has unfolded just over the past few weeks. But as both Rudy and Chris have said, we believe that God is in this and that God is going to use this to advance His kingdom’s work in a variety of different places. So, in the coming days you’re going to hear more about the transition but for right now I want to invite you in join me in praying that God’s will might be done for the Lynn Haven United Methodist Church, for the Fusion campus, for both Chris and Rudy and their families and ministries and all parties concerned. Let’s pray…
Dear God, our Heavenly Father, we are thankful for all that you have done up to this point and all that you continue to do through our lives and our shared ministry together. Lord, as we go through this time of transition we pray your blessings upon every person that’s involved. I pray for Rudy and his family as they transition back into full time chaplaincy. I pray for Chris and his family as they join us here at the Lynn Haven United Methodist Church and at the Fusion campus. I pray for the churches that Chris currently serves, Shady Grove and Grand Ridge. Lord, I pray that your kingdom’s purposes will be served in all places and at all times. Lord, we entrust our lives into your care and pray that your kingdom would come and that your will would be done. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. “
Last fall, our congregation entered into a management agreement with Shawn Walker and his company, Event Management Solutions (EMS), to run the day-to-day operations at our Fusion campus. Since we are about six months into that partnership, I would like to provide an update.
Using financial gifts contributed by members of our congregation, significant improvements have been made to the facility. We upgraded the HVAC capabilities in the gym and the enhanced air conditioning has made a dramatic difference, now allowing us to fully utilize the area during warm weather months. We also renovated the childcare area, purchased inflatables, added partitions that enhance both children’s church and private parties, and repaired lighting fixtures throughout the building. A new cleaning crew is maintaining the facility and the place looks and feels greatly improved.
New management and accounting procedures have been put into place, helping us operate more efficiently. While Shawn provides general oversight, he has assembled a great team of personnel that manage day-to-day operations. Brent Dillard is overseeing our sports leagues, Martin Lloyd is the fitness director, Jessi Pennington guides the afterschool and summer programs, Marcia Pineda coordinates the child watch area, and Makayla Hoskins oversees the front desk. We also have contracted with Joyce Morris, who now operates the snack bar.
Our biggest changes have come in the sports leagues we are offering. We have completed two youth flag football leagues (and had a 50% increase in participation from the fall to spring seasons), as well as youth soccer, youth basketball, and adult soccer leagues. We are gearing up for a huge summer with kids camps being held on weekdays, along with youth leagues for flag football, basketball, and soccer and adult leagues for soccer and basketball. Over the winter months, Fusion became the local “go to” spot for pickleball, a racquet sport popular with many of our northern guests. We also are hosting a steady stream of birthday parties in the Play Kingdom inflatables park.
As a result of this increased usage, we have decreased our net losses substantially and have a plan in place to “break even” by year’s end. Most importantly, we have many more persons utilizing the facility, giving us added opportunities to minister to our fellow residents and share the love of Christ with them. At the same time, Fusion continues to provide a second location for worship services and a valuable platform for youth ministry.
There are several ways in which you can help us reach our goals of making Fusion financially stable and maximizing its ministry potential. First and foremost, pray! Ask God to bring financial increase, to anoint our ministry efforts, and to enable us to reach people with the gospel.
Second, consider using the facility and its programs. Purchase a fitness membership for you or your family, schedule a birthday party for your child(ren), sign up for a sports league, or enroll your kids in the summer camp or afterschool program. Just 100 new members or 25 additional campers would help us reach financial viability. Besides, once involved, you will have the chance to interact with others and tell them about Christ and our church. You can find more information on all of our programs at www.playatfusion.com or stop by the front desk. And remember, as a Lynn Haven UMC member, you get 15% off all published prices.
Third, we need folks to be available at various times to minister to the clientele. These servant opportunities are as simple as welcoming families to the Play Kingdom area, praying with teams before games, or interacting with spectators at the sports leagues. This is the reason we have Fusion in the first place – to minister to the needs of the community and reach people for Christ. If you are willing to volunteer on a regular or periodic basis, please contact Fusion Campus Pastor Rudy Olivo (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I thank God for the wonderful gift He gave us in Fusion. Let’s use it to make disciples of Jesus and further His Kingdom. To God be the glory! In Christ,
P. S. We are updating the advertising signs around the Fusion soccer field and basketball courts. If you or your employer are interested in securing a spot, please contact Brent Dillard for pricing information (850-248-3800; Brent@MyLHUMC.net).
The 2018 Major League Baseball season begins on March 29, the earliest opening day in history. That fact doesn’t mean much to most of you, but for me, it’s truly good news. Former major league baseball player, Al Gallagher, once said: “There are three things in my life which I really love: God, family, and baseball. The only problem is, once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit.” While I hope that is not entirely correct, it is not far from the truth for me as well. I absolutely love the game of baseball. I love playing the game, watching the game, analyzing the game, talking about the game, reading about the game…I think you get the idea.
One of the reasons I love baseball so much is because it teaches a great deal about life itself. Baseball shows the value of individual contributions to a team’s success, the importance of a good work ethic (you play like you practice), and the inevitably of failure (even Hall of Fame hitters make an out 70% of the time). At the same time, baseball always affords its participants a chance to bounce back. At best, there’s another at bat coming. At worst, wait ‘til next year! (which is what we, Atlanta Braves fans, have been saying since 1996)
Some of you may recall a routine made famous by stand-up comedian, George Carlin, a number of years ago. In it, he compares the two most popular sports in America (no, not NASCAR and fishin’) – baseball and football. From his observations, you may get an idea why baseball is our national pastime and my sport of choice.
Football begins in the fall, when everything’s dying.
Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life.
Football is concerned with downs. What down is it? It’s the last down!
Baseball is concerned with ups. Who’s up? Oh, I’m up!
In football you receive a penalty.
In baseball you make an error…oops!
In football the specialist comes in to kick something.
In baseball the specialist comes in to relieve somebody.
Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, late hits, and unnecessary roughness.
Baseball has the sacrifice.
Football has the two minute warning.
Baseball has the seventh inning stretch.
Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we’ve got to go to sudden death.
Baseball has no time limit so we don’t know when the game is gonna end. We might even have extra innings.
And finally, the objectives of the two games are completely different:
In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use the shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy’s defensive line.
In baseball the object is to get home! And to be safe! I hope I’ll be safe at home!
Baseball lover or not, we all like to be safe at home. Maybe that’s why I love Christ’s Church even more than the game of baseball. It gives me a safe place to call home where I can learn and live the Christian faith. That’s why I agree with the writer of Hebrews when he says, “Let us think about each other and help each other to show love and do good deeds. You should not stay away from church meetings…you should meet together and encourage each other.” (Hebrews 10:24-25a ICB) Let’s take these words to heart so the Lynn Haven UMC is a place where everyone can feel “safe at home.” I’ll see you there or in the park…the baseball park, that is! In Christ,