Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lott Community Thanksgiving Service

When Rev. Perdue from neighboring Lott Baptist Church contacted Pastor Larry Roberman at Lott UMC about hosting a Community Thanksgiving service on Wednesday night neither could have anticipated the response. To the surprise of all, the sanctuary of the recently refurbished church was filled for the first service of this nature in the community. Music from 7 different Lott churches produced a beautiful blended worship experience that moved on the hearts of all who were in attendance. The success of this event has given new hope for those in leadership in this small community and served to build unity between the churches.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

October 24th Mooreville UMC Car Show and Barbeque Cook-off

These are a few of the cars featured at an event that took place at Mooreville UMC. Whoever heard of a church doing a car show and a barbecue cook-off as a means of outreach? This little church is renown for its "out-of-the-box" approach to ministry and has been rewarded by phenominal growth as result. Pastor Joel Robbins announced in the early service the next morning that at least one person had given their life to Christ at the Saturday event.

Handiwork of the Marvin Menders

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Marvin Menders Blitz Lott UMC

On Thursday morning, October 15th the mission crew from Marvin UMC, Tyler pulled up to the historic Methodist church in Lott and immediately set to work. Within the first hour part of the team had pulled the old awning and front door casing off of the building while another crew began constructing a new rear entrance. Still others began remodeling the kitchen on the interior.

Watching the enthusiastic "Menders" is most inspiring because of the love of Christ's church and devotion expressed in their work. It was also a very heart-warming experience to see the more-than-a-century-old church being renovated for continued service to the Lott community. Truly, this is the best of a win-win situation.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Blessings Abound on 8/28/09 Lott UMC Prayer Walk

Just as Brother Pat Baker (CLM candidate, Caldwell 1st UMC) had assured us during our organizing meeting 4 weeks prior the actual event, participants discovered themselves greatly blessed by walking the streets and meeting the residents of this small Falls County town while distributing prayer request cards.
7 volunteers from five U.M. churches converged in Lott, located on the Northern edge of the West District and enjoyed a lunch prepared for them by members Betty Willi and Irene Duncan. Afterwards, they fanned out across the town to knock on doors in teams of two armed with maps and prayer request cards. Collectively, the teams universally encountered residents were receptive to what they were “selling.” Some, who may have initially been hesitant, opened up their doors, and in certain cases invited the volunteers inside to talk about what they were doing in the community. It was a case of “open hearts, open minds, and open doors,” but the direct inverse of the general application in the church.
Participants regrouped at Lott U.M.C. at 3:00 PM for refreshments and regaled one another with stories of their wonderful and unexpected encounters with various residents of the town. Each one wore a glow of something other than just sunburn as they shared how a bonding had begun with individual residents during the event. Following a closing prayer by Rev. Judy Draper, each participant departed home to their own communities filled with the warmth of newly-formed relationships on their hearts and a sense of great blessings received from their experience.

Monday, August 17, 2009

August 9th Taskforce Meeting Minutes

In attendance: Pastor Larry Roberman, Betty Willi, Mort and Kathy Kothmann, Pat Baker, Calvin Wood, and Eric Dehmer

Immediately following a sumptuous lunch provided by Ms. Betty, Pat Baker opened the meeting with prayer at 12:35 PM and began updating the team on the Lott Prayer Walk scheduled later this month on the 29th. We are planning to meet for lunch at the church and break into teams following our assignments to various parts of town. A total of 10 people will be required to adequately staff this enterprise. Calvin Wood offered to supply the nametags to identify participants as volunteers for Lott UMC.

Prayer request forms will also be printed out and made available through the volunteers for residents who wish to mail in their prayer requests to the church.
Discussion then shifted to the subject of worship. It was agreed by the consensus of the team to move the time of worship service to 10:00 AM with Sunday School at 9:00. As weekly services have resumed and Sunday evening services will begin Sept. 6th it was agreed that advertising these changes in the local newspaper(s) would be appropriate. Pastor Larry and Rev. Thomas Q. Robbins have volunteered for this task. Additionally, Pastor Larry and Kathy are sharing responsibilities for preparing worship bulletins, depending on the need for pulpit supply. Kathy is also scheduling CLM candidates as needed for same.

Having visited Mooreville UMC that morning, Eric shared how that church had mounted their successful canvassing campaigns and passed around a brochure about the church. After some discussion it was agreed to produce a bi-fold brochure for Lott UMC which would include a bio of Pastor Larry, a brief testimony from Ms. Betty, and a brief church history to be furnished by Eric. Pat will serve as editor and Calvin has volunteered to publish the brochure. The Community Canvassing event has been rescheduled for noon, September 26th following the publication of the church brochure.

Kathy and Pat volunteered to pursue obtaining a sign for the front of the church. Pastor Larry closed the meeting with prayer at 1:47 PM.

Respectfully Submitted,

Eric Dehmer
Recording Secretary

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

2009 Preaching Schedule for Lott UMC

Check it out:
Taskforce Team Worship Leader Kathy Kothmann has worked up a
schedule for the rest of the year at Lott UMC. If you can fill in on any of the
dates labeled CLM please give Kathy a call and she'll get you scheduled.
Thanks for your help!

9 - Pastor Roberman - Communion Sunday
16 - Eric Dehmer - Canvassing Sun Aft
23 - Pastor Roberman
30 - Pastor Roberman

6 - CLM
13 - Pastor Roberman - Communion Sunday
20 - Pat Baker - music: Bobbi Chapman
27 - Pastor Roberman

4 - CLM
11 - Pastor Roberman - Communion Sunday
18 - Charlie Ray
25 - Pastor Roberman

1 - CLM
8 - Pastor Roberman
15 - CLM
22 - Pastor Roberman
29 - CLM

6 - CLM
13 - Pastor Roberman
20 - CLM
27 - Pastor Roberman

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Building Facility Project Survey - Lott UMC

Betty Willi, Ray Macune, and Pastor Larry Roberman met and performed a survey of needed repairs and upgrades for the church structure and facilities. Pastor Larry filed the following report:

Project List Preliminary Survey - July 13, 2009

Access to Restroom - possibly raise floors / fixtures
Paint Exterior -scrape, prime, and paint recommended
Sanctuary Pews - ? padding, ?refinishing, ? minor repairs
Roll-Up doors - presently not functional. Could be used to open up area to fellowship room
Disability accommodations - ramp on entrance, ? elevator for upstairs access
Modernization - need to have a second entrance / exit for fire code. Electrical upgrading to code.
Exterior of Church - base needs "resealing" - presently with some holes / openings
Front porch - possible handicap ramp; if so, would need to raise awning, possibly extend
Window washing throughout church
Finish Ceiling
? shelves in kitchen storage area
New Front doors
?Shelf for microwave in kitchen, ? combined with vent hood
Hang Venetian blinds in sink area
Improve sound system
Upstairs - consider finishing out as 1-2 rooms. Check electrical wiring. consider add-on
Consider sprinkler system to keep grass green.
Consider refinishing sanctuary floor and pews.
Consider adding color elements in sanctuary to "enliven"

Monday, July 13, 2009

July 11, 2009 Lott Revitalization Team Meeting

Lott Revitalization Team Meeting

July 11, 2009 9:00 a.m. Caldwell UMC

Team members in attendance: Pat Baker, Eric Dehmer, Judy Draper, Kathy Kothmann, Rev. Larry Roberman, Rev. Thomas Robbins, Betty Willi, Jack and Liz Williams,and Sandi Dehaven (a new member who attended from Cedar Springs UMC and requested to be added to the team). Absent Team members: Calvin Woods

Following wonderful morning snacks provided by Pat Baker and the Caldwell Church, Eric Dehmer, chairperson, called the meeting to order with a devotional reminding us that we are called to be faithful to the task and God will provide the fruit. Eric then called on members of the team to share thoughts about why they responded yes when asked to serve on this team. Eric showed the team the Lott Church Blogg and how to access it and encouraged members to use it as a valuable tool to communicate.

Rev. Thomas Robbins presented an idea for the Mooreville Church (Rev. Joel Robbins pastor) and the Marlin church to meet at the Lott church on the first Sunday evenings of each month and provide a joint worship experience in hope it might encourage people from the Lott community, especially those who have relatives in Mooreville Church, to attend and get involved in the revitalization experience. After much discussion, it was agreed that evening services will start on Sept 13th –the first Sunday evening following Labor Day.

Pat Baker presented a wonderful idea concerning a Lott Community Prayer Walk to be held on a Saturday afternoon to take prayer requests from the community as a way to introduce the revitalization effort to the community. These events have been very successful in Caldwell. After much discussion, it was decided to hold the prayer walk, Saturday afternoon August 29th.

Additional discussion concerning a canvas of the Lott community for the purpose of announcing and inviting people to come and participate in the worship services and other renewal activities was presented. Rev. Robbins said his son Joel, pastor of the Mooreville Church could help us with detailed plans for this event since he has used canvassing of the Morreville community with much success. August 16th was the date selected for the community canvas.

Rev. Robbins said he would work with the editor of the Marlin and Rose Bud Weekly paper to design and publish a large ad announcing the revitalization efforts starting the week prior to August 16th so that the people of the Lott Community will have had some information about our work inthe community before the canvas Sunday afternoon the 16th.

The following is the timeline through Sept. for our revitalization activities:

Mon. July 13th 12:30 Rev. Roberman, Betty Willi, Wayne Wolz and Ray Macune from Caldwell Church meeting at Lott church to survey renovations to the facility and prioritize the needs.

Sat. August 1 9:30 Team Meeting at Lott Church

Sun. August 9—Rev. Roberman preaching service

Aug. 12 th and following few weeks—Ad in Marlin and Rose Bud Weekly Papers

Sun. August 16th –CLM (TBA) leading worship—followed by Community Canvas in the afternoon

Sun. Aug. 23—Rev. Roberman preaching with special music TBA

Sat. Aug. 29—Prayer walk

Sun. Aug. 30—Rev. Roberman Preaching with special music TBA

Sun. Sept. 6—(Labor Day Weekend) CLM Preaching and special music TBA

Sun. Sept 13–Rev. Roberman preaching with special music TBA and Kick-off of joint Evening Worship

Service by Mooreville and Marlin Churches.

Sun. Sept 20—CLM preaching with special music TBA

Sun. Sept 27—Rev. Roberman Preaching with special music TBA

Other Details:

Task Force will be calling upon District Churches for Special Music

Want to add a task force member from the Cameron church since it is so close to Lott. Judy Draper will consult with Joe Fort for a nomination for this position.

Rev. Robbins will contact the Traveling Methodist Work Team from Tyler to see what renovations they might be willing to help us with. The other tasks will be covered by other church groups such as Wesley Foundation, A&M College Ministry, Caldwell Methodist Men and Faith & Deeds Sunday School Class at Christ Church. Plans were made to rent water slide or attractive play equipment for the kids of the community to play on during the times that groups are working at the church. It was suggested that watermelon, ice cream, or hotdogs and chips –etc. be served to those who drop by the church to help or to inquire. We want to present a very inviting image.

Eventual child care was discussed including: Safe Sanctuary, facility safety, staffing and instructional materials. This will need to be worked out as the need arises. It was agreed that this task may be the most difficult of all.

The following people volunteered for the following leadership roles:

Out-reach coordinator ---Pat Baker

Worship coordinator---Kathy Kothmann

Children/youth coordinator—TBS

Adult ministry coordinator –Rev. Judy Draper

Physical Plant repair, landscaping coordinator—Rev. Thomas Robbins

Next meeting of the Task Force will be Saturday, August 1 at 9:30 at the Lott Church.

It is certainly understood that this is a work in progress and that after much prayer for guidance and wisdom, other ideas will come forth to serve the needs of the church as this effort progresses.

Judy Draper, recording secretary---corrections:

Friday, July 10, 2009

May 31st Lott Re-vitalization Meeting

Lott Re-vitalization Meeting

District Office

Sunday, May 31, 2009 5:00 P.M.

Those in attendance: D.S. Rev. Joe Fort; Rev. Larry Roberman, Pastor; Rev. Judy Draper, CLM District Chairperson; Ruth Martin, Kathy Kothmann, Charlie Ray and Judy Hedderman all certified lay ministers; Eric Dehmer, Ronald Perry and Pat Baker, all candidates for certified lay-ministry.

Rev. Joe Fort called the meeting to order with prayer and an overview of his vision for the Lott Church Re-vitalization Project. He summarized by stating that he sees this project as a group effort of at least one year duration with the following time line: Summer 2009 mapping out plans, late August—early September restart worship every Sunday using lay ministers when Rev. Roberman cannot be present. Following 6 months developing a core group of families from the community and the last 6 months of the year, solidifying programming and concentrating on leadership training for the membership.

Rev. Fort sees the project starting with several key leaders from within the CLM’s; out-reach coordinator, worship coordinator, children/youth coordinator and adult ministry coordinator. In addition there will need to be a coordinator for the painting and landscaping of the Lott Church. Rev. Thomas Robbins from the Marlin church has expressed an interest in the Marlin church playing an active part in this project by providing help and leadership. It was also suggested that the Wesley Foundation at A&M be contacted about possible painting and landscaping work. We also discussed visiting with a few members of the Marlin and Cedar Springs church to get names of possible interested people to be invited to join the revitalization team early on in the planning that will take place this summer.

Ideas discussed for kicking off the project included: late summer Bible School for the community, work day with community involvement to paint and landscape the church, bulk mailing and possible door-to-door visitation to invite the community to join the revitalization project in any way they may like to participate with anticipation that some will join the church and become a part of the core leadership of the Lott church.

Rev. Fort emphasize the need for leadership development for the 2nd 6 months of the project so that a hand-off goal for turning the church over to local leadership could occur between 12 and 18 months following the kick-off early this fall.

Rev. Fort said that the District could come up with limited funds for revitalization but that funds would be limited.

Several CLMs and Candidates expressed an interest in getting on board with the planning process. As a result, the group present decided that all who are able will meet at the Lott church by 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 14th to get a tour of the church and visit with members concerning their vision for the project. Those who are able are invited to 9:30 worship followed by the monthly church business meeting and a covered dish dinner.

Rev. Fort will contact Rev. Thomas Robbins and ask him to invite interested people from the Marlin church to join our group on June 14th and Rev. Larry Roberman will visit with the members of the Lott church about the formation of the revitalization group and our visit on June 14th.

The meeting was adjourned at 6:30 p.m. with prayer by Rev. Roberman.

Rev. Judy Draper, recording secretary

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Texas Methodist History Blog Site

The blog "Texas Methodist History" maintained by our conference historian Bill
Hardt is one of my favorites. A good number of us belong to historic churches
steeped with a rich heritage, so you may occasionally find out something quite
interesting that occurred where you worship years before you were born. I
encourage you to check it out at:

Monday, July 6, 2009

New Members

I see we have some new blood on the blogger (is that an Aussie expression). Welcome, and feel free to join Brother Eric and I and Kathy here is thinking through this God given opportunity. We need the prayers and input of all of us to be successful. Eric has ordered the book, "Ezekial's Bones" for each of us, and I think this may be our guide for the Lott revitalization. It is a guide to me for most of our churches. I hope to see you all Saturday at FUMC Caldwell to kick off the process.

Monday, June 29, 2009

What the Numbers Mean - Part 2

In his comments to "What the Numbers Mean - Part 1" Brother Pat made 3 important points concerning our efforts to attract new folks to Lott U.M.C. in regard to the abundance of church capacity which already exists in that locale. Having previously commented on his first point I'd like to address the others. He said, " Second, while the town may have 700, the surrounding community is larger." Indeed, there is already another historic church in nearby Westphalia which is capitalizing on that - Church of the Visitation.

This is one of the largest and most beautiful wooden churches in the state of Texas. It sits on a one-hundred acre site which also includes the Westphalia Independent (co-operative) School System. This school has a higher academic standard as well as a larger and more modern plant than the public elementary school located in Lott. The attendance figures for the two schools are roughly the same. Yet, there appears to be a strong loyality to the church (and it's school) as 6300 dinners are sold at the annual picnic each year. This figure represents nine times the total population of Lott and one-third of the population for Falls County.

As nothing much exists in the unincorporated area known as Westphalia, beyond the surounding farms, it should be safe to assume that there is a strong (and quite large) Roman-Catholic following in this region which supports the church and school. Indeed, the high percentage of German and Czech descendents reflected in the demographics for Falls County would traditionally indicate such a following. Additionally, it would probably also be safe to assume that a good number of Catholic families in Lott are sending their children to school and worshipping with their families on Sundays there, as well.

So, how does all this apply to Lott UMC? For one thing, our church appears to be a microcosm of the example we looked at above. All but one of the 11 people in worship at Lott UMC the weekend we visited were from out of town. So, Brother Pat has a very valid point in regard to appealing to the greater community of Falls County in the revitalization efforts for the church. We should not limit our thinking (or the ability of our God to bring about miracles) in this regard. When we come to the table for our first meeting in this effort we should be thinking as large-scale as the limitless possibilities (and blessings) that our Lord gives us in abundance each and every day.

- Shalom -

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Revolutionary Approach

Brothers and Sisters,
I would like to go so far as to suggest a revolutionary approach to the revitalization of the FUMC in Lott. I would like to suggest that we plan to implement a program to develop a deep sense of Spirituality in this church, to instill the spiritual passion Rev. Kemp refers to in his book, "Ezekial's Bones". I think this could be an example for us to follow in our home churches, as there is not so much inertia to overcome here. We could develop a culture of Prayer, expectant prayer, witness, evangelical witness, Bible Study, and passionate worship that not only would attract new attendance and growth, but help each of us involved in the process to grow in our own faith, and in our ability to share it in our home churches.
What if the church became a beacon of spiritual wholeness, filled with the Holy Spirit, and steeped in the Word of God, that many would come to see what a deep devotion to God can mean in our lives? What indeed? I think this could be our purpose in being chosen for this important work.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What the Numbers Mean - Part 1

Last week I promised to follow up on how the demographic statistics actually portray the Lott community. From the numbers we know that its a small town in a rural county. We also learned that it is economically depressed but that is hardly surprising as Falls County per capita income is 22.6% below the poverty line. We also know that with lower-than-average taxes, housing, and living cost Lott is a very affordable place to live. But what else does the town have to offer?

For one thing, there is a proliferation of churches of almost every persuasion inside the city limits with a population of just less than 700, so in theory there is plenty of church capacity if a resident is inclined toward corporate worship on Sunday morning. By Rev. Joe Forts observation approximately 75 folks were in the Baptist Church across the street from Lott U.M.C. at 10:30 this is representative over 10% of the towns population. I walked a block over from Lott U.M.C. and discovered St. Marys Catholic Church with about the same attendance levels. So, between these 2 churches were garnered pretty much the average church attendance for any given community - 20% of the population. Does that mean that there are no leftovers available for Lott U.M.C?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Minutes of First Revitalization Meeting For Lott U.M.C.

The meeting began at 11:45 following a wonderful meal prepared by the ladies of Lott U.M.C. Rev. Joe Fort, D.S. presided at the meeting. In attendance:

Rev. Joe Fort, District Superintendent, West District
Rev. Larry Roberson, Pastor, Lott U.M.C.
Rev. Calvin Beckendorf (ret.), Brenham U.MC.
Rev. Calvin Woods (ret.), Wheelock U.M.C.
Judy Draper, Deacon, Christ U.M.C.
Gary Draper, Christ U.M.C.
Liz Williams, Marlin U.M.C.
Ann Holland Marlin U.M.C.
Olga Schlemmer, Lott U.M.C.
Betty Willi, Lott U.M.C.
James Bell, Lott U.M.C.
Irene Duncan, Lott U.M.C.
James Bryan, Lorena Baptist Church
Ron Perry, CLM candidate, Somerville U.M.C.
Eric Dehmer, CLM candidate, Chappell Hill U.M.C.

Rev. Larry Roberson extended greetings and offered the opening prayer at the request of Rev. Fort who then began the meeting with opening remarks. After introductions were made around the room Rev. Fort shared his vision of setting up a steering team for developing outreach efforts and revitalizing the Lott church. Key points made in the presentation included utilizing the steering team to:

- Develop an action plan for "building up the Body" of Lott U.M.C.
- Develop a strategy for evangelizing to area families with children
- Develop a renovation strategy for the church building using district resources
- Guide the efforts of a separate Support Team which will staff physical
projects, outreach efforts, and short-term ministries at Lott Church

Rev. Fort asked for a team of 6-7 interested volunteers to serve in this endeavor consisting of representatives of the Lott and Marlin churches and the CLMs. In the event that an adequate number of volunteers of these three groups are not forthcoming within two weeks Rev. Fort advised that they would be "called" into service. He also charged the CLMs who were present to communicate the content of this meeting with their peers in order to provide them with the opportunity to volunteer in this effort. With that he opened the floor for discussion.

By consensus it was agreed during open discussion to begin a community canvassing campaign in August as well as weekly Sunday services. Many creative suggestions were offered which will be reviewed by the Steering Team in a future meeting. Judy Draper closed the meeting with prayer at 12:30.

Respectfully Submitted,
E. Dehmer

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lott U.M.C.

Lunch at Lott

Past and Present


Rev. Larry Roberson, Pastor Lott UMC
2009 and Rev. Calvin Beckendorf, Pastor Lott MC 1959

Past and Present Pastors with Rev. Joe Fort, District Superintendent, West District

Bible Study

Return To First Appointment

Rev. Calvin O. Beckendorf stands in front of the church which which he began serving on this particular Sunday 50 years ago as his very first appointment.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Condensed Demographic Summary For Lott, TX

Here are the numbers from data collected in 2007:

Land area: 1.04 sq. miles, the zip code is 76656, and the area code is (254).
The population density is relatively low with only 645 people per sq. mile.

2007 population for Lott, Texas was 668. As noted elsewhere in the blog this number reflects a decline of 6.4% from the year 2000. Male residents represent 47% of the population compared with 53% females. The median age is 37 years, 12% higher than the state average.

The median household income in Lott was $31,910 which is 33% lower than the state average. The median value for a single-family dwelling was $54,728 – 55% below median figures for Texas. After a 10+ year period of no new recorded home construction 22 permits have been issued beginning in 2005 for building single-family dwellings costing an average of $55,000. The 2008 cost of living index in Lott is very low coming in at 71.1 in comparison with the national average of 100. When you combine this with the fact that median property taxes in Lott are a full 73% lower than the state average the community appears to be very affordable to live in.

The community's ethnic breakdown is:
68.8% White
21% Black
9.3% Hispanic
0.9% Other
*Only 23 residents were foreign born
which represents a mere 25% of the state average.

Educational attainment for residents 25 years and over:
68.0% High school or higher
10.7% Bachelor's degree or higher
2.7% Graduate or professional degree

At 10.9% Lott has a higher than average unemployment rate and those who are employed have a higher than average mean travel time of 28.1 minutes to work. Most common occupations for both men and women in Lott are predominately blue-collar.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Rethinking The Church For the 21st Century

Yesterday, while dining with a couple of my favorite pastors one of them suggested a blogsite featuring the observations of consultant Dan R. Dick regarding what's ailing the U.M.C. as well as direction for the acheiving wholeness for the future. As result I checked it out and would like to recommend it to all of you as well. The site is called United Methodeviations and if you're interested you can click on the link below:

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Little Bit About Lott

Lott, Texas was founded by developers in 1890 when the railroad came through the area. Named for the president of the railroad, Lot had three churches, two cotton gins, a gristmill, a weekly newspaper and 350 residents by 1892. Population swelled to 1200 by the turn of the century. The town was given an additional boost in the 1920s when the highway (U.S. 77) was built through town. Unfortunately, 10 years later the bank closed during the great depression, never to reopen and many families had to accept government relief. The towns population declined as many residents left to follow WPA projects in the 1930s.

During a brief flurry of agricultural activity around the time WWII stimulated a rise in the population to 1,021 but then it began to decline within a decade of the conflicts end. The town was dealt a blow that it would not recover from when the railroad discontinued service in 1967. The number of businesses have steadily declined and a population of 668 was reported in 2007. This figure is down 6.4% from the figure reported in 2000.

Coming soon:
- Condensed demographic summary for Lott, TX. (10 page report available on request)
- Church affiliation analysis for Lott, TX (Postal Code 76656)
- Church revitalization action plan proposal

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Shared View From The Pulpit 2:21 PM Reply

Hi, Eric,
Thanks for allowing me to look at your blog. I wanted to give you a little more history. I, too, believe the idea of closing the Lott church is tough to take. Yes, if the members are not financially supporting the church, it would be considered. But they are. They love their church. The thing that almost killed the church, at least their membership in the Methodist denomination, was being told that they would have two services a month, on Sunday afternoons, no less! Whatever we offer now is a gigantic improvement from that. I would not have resigned from the church if I had suspected that such an arrangement was even possible, and I have told the members this. I am committed to those people for as long as they will have me. They have been terrific role models for my children, and a loving influence for my wife and I, particularly as both of our mothers have died and the ladies are quite maternalistic to us! I look forward to your participation on June 14th, and I feel a kindred spirit with you already. I will not support the closing of that church unless it is obvious that it's time - that is, no one is coming anymore. As long as two gather in my name.... Take care!

Larry Roberman

PS The church was hosting a pancake breakfast almost quarterly until Irene fell ill. They would average 25-40 families showing up on a Saturday morning. I think that shows that there is an idea in the community that this church exists, and that there are people already a little invested in its sustained presence. Things are not as bleak as you might think, but it is a disadvantaged community.

Monday, June 1, 2009

New Hope In Lott, Texas

Yesterdays meeting at the West District offices was a little tense as our District Superintendant described his vision for revitalizing Lott U.M.C. This was largely due to the huge challenges facing the proposed undertaking as it appears that it will be anything but an easy task. Given it's remote location in the far corner of the district presents major logistical problems for most CLMs to participate. Combined with the fact that most CLMs are serving more or less as associates for their pastors in their own church it makes it doubly difficult to find an available Sunday to contribute at Lott. So how plausible is this proposal?

Speaking only for myself, it's going to be really tough. I have the greatest distance to cover to get to Lott of all our CLMs and I'm already working with multiple congregations. Combined with the fact that I'm gone for 13 hours a day to a Southern county making a living doesn't help matters any, either. But you know what? None of these issues are any more than a hollow excuse if it's God's will that I contribute as a part of this effort. This is the main component, that I seek His direction for my involvement.

For me, this is personal. As a 25-year veteran community leader and activist in Houston engaged in ecumenical social-justice ministries, this is right up my alley. This opportunity ignites all those burning passions in my heart to mount a crusade for (re)building the Kingdom in Lott, Texas. You may also notice from other postings at this site that I harbor strong objections to closing churches. So, the dilemma for me is not whether or not I should be involved, but rather, allowing Him to impose limitations as to what degree.

As each of you examine your own hearts and hopefully take your petitions to the Lord on this matter, know that you are not alone. We are all in this together and as result this should be viewed as a team effort. Please know also that I intend to contribute all that can to this enterprise and invite each of you to call on me as a resource in your endeavors to that end. Additionally, I plan to be in church at Lott U.M.C. for services at 9:30 on the 14th.

- Peace, Blessings & Godspeed -

Friday, May 15, 2009

Opportunities For Service

I've been pretty much burning the candle at both ends lately, serving as pulpit supply at our church while the pastor is on vacation as well as serving another congregation outside of our denomination. But in spite of having more than enough to keep me busy I was pleasantly surprised when I received Ms. Judy's e-mail about meeting with our D.S., Rev. Joe Fort and Pastor Larry Roberman for a brainstorming session aimed at jump-starting Lott U.M.C.

I've never kept it a secret that I have a passion, not just for keeping the doors open to prevent another church closure, but reviving these old churches to become the beacons of hope and faith in their prospective communities as I believe our Lord intended. So, the news of our district leadership's concern and proposed involvement of our CLMs was just about the best thing that I've heard all year! This is an excellent opportunity for the CLMs to come together as a team and perform the service that they were called to
and provide the witness of authentic Christian action through their efforts.

My hat is off in salute to the vision of our district leadership and I sincerely hope to see everyone at the proposed meeting when it is announced.

- Peace and Blessings -

Friday, May 1, 2009

Something that I've been wanting to share with our group for some time is a monthly publication by Barbara Wendland, a United Methodist layperson who lives up in Temple. The current issue includes a testimony from Julie Fuschak and her church experiences that you might find interesting. I invite you to check it out using the link provided below:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Who's Going To Do It?

A recap of our last class session is found in the previous post "Revival" followed by comments echoing the sentiments expressed by our class members. Essentially, we found agreement with Brother Pat when he said, "Discipleship over Membership, and Intentional over Institutional should be our watch words" in guiding the church back to reclaim it's roots in genuine Methodism.

Brother Pat went on to say: "Not only an increase in discipleship, but an increase in the faith filled practices of worship, including testimony, prayer, and spirit led worship are also needed to complete the change. There must be others who recognize this. Who are they?"
This is the question that I'd like to address and I solicit your input as well...

But perhaps it would be more appropriate to ask the question "WHERE are the others who recognize the need to let the Holy Spirit lead us in open and sincere worship unencumbered with rigid and rote liturgy? Where are THEY? They might very well be sitting next to you in church on Sunday morning and you'd never even know it.

Why? Because, unlike you who have undertaken this course of study in order to serve our Lord in a powerful way, most church-folk don't want to get involved, rock-the-boat, be branded as a renegade by their peers, and above all - move beyond their comfort zones - even for the benefit of their faith. In spite of the growing restlessness in the pews (and some defections), few are willing to step out in faith and pursue the path to authentic worship that is on a lot of our hearts. Are you?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Church Revival

I found it interesting that two of our classmembers chose "strengthening rural churches" as the topic for their class assignment at our last meeting. It really comes as no surprise as the West District is comprised largely of small congregations set in rural areas. Nonetheless, it was very gratifying to see the CLM candidates identify a primary need within their midst and embrace it.
There can be little doubt that this group is serious about the mission God has placed on their hearts.

Discussion was peppered with serious concern for the current state of the church and what we as disciples are called to do about it throughout the class time Saturday. There were some empassioned words expressed by several members about the need to return to our roots as a denomination. A shift of primary agenda to evangelism beyond the church and away from preservation of the church intitutional structure was cited as a formative step to reclaiming the roots of Methodism. In essence, we voiced that quality of discipleship was of far greater importance than an emphasis on quantity of membership.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Is it God's will and does it serve our mission

Brother Eric,  I certainly appreciate your love and concern for these older and smaller churches, and at one level, it is not only appropriate, but a worthwhile calling for CLM's to work to turn these churches into thriving churches.  However, I think the question must be asked, and hopefully answered through prayer, whether the "salvation" of these churches is really God's will.  In some ways, nearly all United Methodist churches need a measure of salvation.  I think the revitalization taking place at my home church in many ways is of that nature, because without a renewed focus on the mission of bringing people to Jesus Christ, we were on the downhill path.  
These churches you mention may not be a vital part of that mission today.  I know the Brenham area in general is growing rapidly, but are the areas served by these churches growing?  If not, perhaps your, and God's efforts should be focused on areas of growth, with many unchurched.  If the only mission, today, of these churches is to minister to their parishioners, then perhaps it is not in the cards for them to be revived.  You know these churches, and their hearts, and their willingness to fulfill the mission, so if I am missing the mark, just say so.  But I think, today, with so many needs, and with the rural areas stagnating, perhaps combining these churches, or, sadly, letting them go, is a better answer.  My only point here is that we must consider how we utilize our resources, of buildings, money, and wonderful  caring people like yourself, in the light of our mission.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

At our class on 3-28 we discussed the connectionalism of our church and it elicited a number of comments - some favorable and some unfavorable. A somewhat typical complaint regarding our connectionalism is on the subject of apportionments. This is particularly a bone of contention for older, small, struggling congregations without the funds to afford a full-time pastor and often included in a circuit that does not have services at every church on any given Sunday.

I have been privilaged to work with the three churches of the Brenham Circuit (Mt. Zion, Pleasant Grove, and Richard's Grove U.M.C.) for the last two years. Pleasant Grove has services on the 1st Sunday of each month only, Mt. Zion U.M.C. has services on the 2nd and 4th Sundays, and Richard's Grove has services only on the 3rd Sunday. As you can imagine all three of these once thriving, historic churches are in serious decline and struggle to maintain their aging edifaces and pay their apportionments each year.

We know that CLMs are called to fill the clergy shortage as a low-cost alternative
for struggling churches just like these. My question is: Are we also called to be turn-around pastors, working to revive these churches in lieu of qualified clergy?
Or, are we just expected to keep the doors open until the inevitable end occurs?

Monday, March 30, 2009

This blogsite was started in hopes of preserving communication of our members between classes. This was originally a closed forum available only to class members so that we might be as candid with our thoughts as if we were sharing them in class.

It has since been expanded to include the previous class of CLMs, participating clergy, and members of the Lott Revitalization Steering Team as a vehicle to promote dialog during this project. Please respect one another's rights to express their thoughts in a loving, Christian atmosphere.