Pastor's E-Letter

Pastor's E-Letter

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Pastor E-Letter 6/12/20

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The first time I remember moving was in 1994. I was 9 years old and lived in Flowery Branch, GA. It was a new and exciting idea to move to a new town and get to meet new people. Even then I knew I was an extrovert who loved meeting people. We moved to Warner Robins, GA, where my parents became the managers of a small motel chain called the Admiral Benbow Inn. It was a unique experiencing living in an apartment on the property, just behind the front desk. This was a roadside motel with rooms that you could drive up to. It is everything you're imagining right now. My Mom, Dad, Brother, and I all worked together at that little motel. I cut grass, helped in housekeeping, and would occasionally be found skipping out of my chores to go to the pool on the property. It was a unique life for sure.
 
What was even more unique was the fact that I would move 11 more times before I landed in Melbourne, FL. From the ages of 9 - 28, I lived in 6 states and 14 different addresses. To say that I was used to moving around the country, would be an understatement. The longest I've lived in one area was in that little trailer in Flowery Branch, GA. Most of the moves were pretty easy, emotionally. School years were broken up in a good way where I was able to spend all my high school years at one school in Cassopolis, MI. One move that was not too easy was the move from Indiana to Virginia in 2007, but that's another devotional.
 
The move that I struggled with the most was in 2011. In 2011 Mary and I lived in a 2-bedroom condominium in Virginia Beach just across the courtyard from my parents. Even when I moved out of my parent's house, I still lived across the street. In 2011 I was offered my first long-distance transfer with the company I admired. There was a new management contract in Clarksville, IN for a Candlewood Suites and I was selected to run the hotel. I spent a month in Clarksville, while Mary stayed home with our one-year-old son, Augustus, and was about 3 months pregnant with Ellie. I returned to VA Beach and loaded the 16' U-Haul in late October. On October 30th, 2011 I kissed my mom and hugged my dad goodbye. The first time I would live out of state from my family. As soon as I got in the truck and headed out of the neighborhood, I began to cry. The emotions of that move flooded over me as I thought about leaving my family behind and heading off into this new adventure. That new adventure provided a few bumps along the way, but overall was a blessing to my career and it eventually led to my transfer to Melbourne, FL.
 
I've been thinking about the emotions of moving for the past few days as I began my "lasts" here at Suntree. I attended my last meetings. I recorded my last sermon. I'm writing my last E-Letter. During our staff meeting on Monday as we celebrated this new adventure, I was asked if "it had hit me yet." Has the idea of leaving Melbourne sank in yet? I don't think it has. There are too many things on my to-do list. My mind is reeling from everything that needs to be packed, cleaned, and repaired before we leave. But, it occurred to me that when I load the last few pieces into my truck, I sign over the keys to our rental home, and I pull out of the neighborhood...that's when it will hit me. I'm leaving my family again. Leaving the people I love dearly. People who have been supportive and helped my family to grow. I'm sure the tears will flow and I will thank God for all of you inside of that mixture of grief and joy.
 
Moving isn't new to me. Leaving you all, that's a new experience. This begins a new season and the scriptures in chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes are a great way to reflect on the many seasons of our lives. This is a new season for both SUMC and the Allen Family. I know that God is in this season, as God has been in every season before. It doesn't take away from the emotions of it all. It only provides comfort that God is with us at this time. I'll be honest, if it wasn't for that faith in our God who goes through the mess with us, I'm not sure what this last 6 months would have looked like, let alone the last seven years we've been in Melbourne. I know this: we have been loved, supported, challenged, and encouraged by you all. You have given us more than we could ever repay, and that's grace. We thank God for grace.
 
This wasn't the way we wanted to end our time here. This extrovert is struggling with "social distancing," even though I respect and value the very important work of it. It makes this already difficult time, just a bit harder. But I take hope that God continues to provide in even the most unique ways, like a drive-by goodbye. I'm excited to get to see your faces one last time as you cruise through the parking lot on Sunday night, between 5-6pm. I pray that you are encouraged by the work we have done together and that you have the opportunity to hear my last message this Sunday as I reflected on that work. I pray for Suntree UMC and I thank God for every one of you.
 
I can't imagine what that final drive out of Melbourne will look like a short two weeks from now. But I know there will be tears, smiles, laughter, and fond memories.
We love you. Thank you. We are encouraged by you.
 
Gratefully yours,
Augie - Mary - Augustus - Ellie - Katie - Will
#allenpartyof6
 
P.S. I asked for Augustus' input on this E-Letter, and he simply said to tell you "I'm going to miss everyone." Honest words from a nine-year-old.
Posted by Augie Allen with

Pastor's E-Letter

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I heard a stand-up comedian once say that on first dates, he would rather ask someone what they hated rather than what they just liked. His argument was that hate- of anything from pickles to racism to a certain part of town- got more to the heart of a person than their favorite binge show, or flavor of ice cream. Getting to the heart of a matter is difficult on first dates, on social media, and even in churches! A popular phrase used among pastors is "the questions beneath the question,” meaning, topics that get to the heart of any matter. It is never about carpet color, what’s for dinner, what business we work with on any given project, or what color flowers a family wants at a funeral. It is almost always also about something else. This is where the “question beneath the question” comes in- the heart of the matter. It is a helpful reminder as we navigate complicated times interpersonally and globally: it is almost never about the first thing.

One of these “heart of the matter” questions we could ask ourselves is, “What are we (am I) afraid of?” 

Even before humans can speak, we have answers to this “heart of the matter” question. Spiders. Tornados. The dark. Losing mom, dad, sister, or brother. As we get older, the answers get greyer, deeper, and more complicated. We are afraid of abandonment. War. Hunger. Rejection. Weakness. The way we age. Death. 

This week has been one of those “heart of the matter” weeks. Our fears have been on full display. For African Americans in this country, their answer to this question has often, rightfully, and tragically been racist systems in our country, which can often include the police. So many forces that I take for granted as a white woman are filled with fear and uncertainty for people of color, and this tide of fear and uncertainty is hard to stem in a world where events like the killing of George Floyd continue to regularly occur. For those of us who don’t have this experience, we can be afraid these days, too. If we are honest, racism can often stem from our fear. We are afraid of those who are different from us, the places they’re from, and particularly this week, the emotion that people of color have shown in the days after a public death like George Floyd’s. Our fear also stems from uncertainty, but not all fear is justified. 

This Sunday in worship, we will address fear head-on. In the empowerment of Pentecost, we are taught to not be afraid of this world but, through the Holy Spirit, to work for God’s love and justice to be real and tangible. In perfect love, there is no fear, which empowers us to be open and loving to those who are different from us. For white people, this also means being open to hearing how fears can be legitimate in people of color, and how we can be part of the solution.

Suntree’s 4D Vision Plan commits us to the work of racial reconciliation and justice. We continue to do this work by first examining our hearts and minds, and asking God for help to see which fears are legitimate and which fears we can be released from to learn how to love those who are different from us. As a part of this, we will begin on June 10th our study of "White Fragility" by Robin DiAngelo, which addresses fears specific to White People and our inability to address the way racism pervades our society. For me, to begin reading this is to get honest in my heart and mind about my fears, too. I hope you’ll join us for that and for worship.

See you then,
Pastor Allee

Posted by Allee Willcox with

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