Pastor's E-Letter

Pastor's E-Letter

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Pastor's E-Letter 04/24/20

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Dear Suntree Family, 

Mary and I moved to the Melbourne area on August 20th, 2013. I remember the date because in my emails I found the offer letter to the job I accepted at the Hilton on the oceanfront that brought us here. It was Mary, Augustus (III), Ellie, and I. We got off highway 95 on exit 183 (the exit we've lived near for the past 6 years) and headed towards the beach. The moment we got to Melbourne, there is no way in the world I would expect what would transpire over the coming seven years. I didn't expect to lose my job, career, and, in some ways, my identity just one year later. Mary and I didn't expect to start a small business and work with what would become great friends for five years. We didn't expect to launch into my call to ministry in that first year as doors closed around us and new doors flung open. Our paths drastically changed in the first year. The beauty of that path has been you, Suntree United Methodist Church.

In October of 2013, we came to Suntree and fell in love with the ministries of this church. Mary and I started serving as greeters at the door to the contemporary service and met so many beautiful, Christ-loving people. I launched into serving in welcome and hospitality ministry (imagine that, the hospitality guy wants to greet people) and Mary quickly connected with children's ministry. We met some great friends and became connected with the marriage ministry and the men's ministry. The women of Abide (then it was the "IF Gathering") were some of the first ladies that Mary connected with. We grew our families call into ministry amongst all of you and that is what sustained us through five years of seminary. Five years in seminary, working multiple jobs and serving most every Sunday. We were blessed with Katie and Will here at SUMC. Terri Hill baptized Katie and Annette Stiles-Pendergrass baptized Will. This has truly, in so many ways, been our home and our family church.

Both Mary and I have families who love us, but they are all in other states. You have been our family here and the ones to help us raise our kids, teach them and us. You have helped to mature our faith and grow it into the role of leadership that we now serve. Because of God's work through the past few years and your dedication to the Kingdom we have been blessed to serve alongside you all. We are grateful for the time we have spent here and how we have been encouraged, held accountable, and loved with the same grace and mercy that we celebrate in the risen Christ!

Today, it is with a glad hearts, yet with some sorrow, that we announce our next move in ministry. I will be assuming the role of lead pastor of another church in the Florida Annual Conference as of July 1st, 2020. We are excited about this next phase of our life because we know how good our God is. We know because we have seen good faith, works, and word from you. We also know that even though the season right now is tough, this is the time. My call to the church has always been to lead a church. While here at SUMC I have been able to gain the tools and practice them in a variety of roles and I can't thank our Senior Pastor Annette enough for her guidance, leadership, and the mentor that she has been for me during this time. We are blessed with amazing pastors like her, Allee, Joel, and Steve and all the amazing people we have gotten to work with over the years.

One of the earlier Sundays when we were in attendance at the Gathering service, Pastor Terri Hill asked for people to share their favorite verse or life verse. I stood up and said that my verse was Galatians 6:9 "So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time if we do not give up." (NRSV). That verse has sustained me through long nights and even longer term-papers. It has helped to sustain me when things were difficult and at times when I needed to move forward with the next right thing. Today I pray this verse for all of us, that we don't give up and that we know the good work that is being done here and through us. We recognize how important the work is to the kingdom and that we are blessed to see the harvest. Today, I see the culmination of a lot of hard work. Today, as we look back on just a few short years, we see the fruit of our labors with you. We give thanks to God for you and all that God is doing in this place.

Over the coming weeks, you will see a position for Director of Outreach being published as we seek someone to take on this role. Pastor Allee and I have been working together to make the transition of this role as seamless as possible. We pray for the continued work of SUMC in the Kingdom. We pray for the people of our next church and look forward to being received in grace and love. We also are looking forward to getting a dog, but that's dependent on getting our youngest potty trained. (Please pray for us!)

We can't say it enough...
we love you...
we thank you...
and we are blessed by you.

Sincerely,
Pastor Augie and Mary Allen
#allenpartyofsix

Posted by Augie Allen with

Pastor's E-Letter 04/17/20

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Dear Suntree Family,  
 
"Go with your love to the fields. Lie down in the shade. Rest your head in her lap. Swear allegiance to what is nighest your thoughts. As soon as the generals and the politicos can predict the motions of your mind, lose it. Leave it as a sign to mark the false trail, the way you didn't go. Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction. Practice resurrection." Excerpt from "Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front" by Wendell Berry
 
I was reminded of this poem by my devotional reading this past Monday and the last words captured my heart, "Practice resurrection." Berry invites us to embrace a countercultural way of living which is exemplified by the resurrection of Christ. The resurrection didn't make sense. It didn't follow the accepted rules of life as we know it. And so, as people who seek to live in and through the resurrection of Christ, we are invited to defy the status quo by living a countercultural kind of life. 
 
I've been pondering what that means for us as followers of a resurrected Christ during this global pandemic. What does it mean to claim and live in the light and power of Christ's resurrection amid so much darkness? What does it mean to be a witness to the light, while at the same time, not ignoring the real pain, grief, and sadness that permeates our world and our own days? 
 
For me, I believe it may mean that I pay attention to all the pain and sadness. I weep with those who weep, I mourn with those who mourn. I pray for the suffering that is all around. I pray for myself and for all of us as we navigate this isolation, this economic fallout, this utter upheaval of our normal routines. And I pay attention to my own soul and own those moments when I just need to slow down and be sad and sit with the weight of it all. 
 
But I do not grieve as those who have no hope. (I Thessalonians 4:13) When I am tempted to give in to despair, I remember we are not alone. I remember that Christ is Risen. I give thanks for the day before me. I give thanks for the opportunities it represents. I give thanks for the gifts that surround me even in the darkness. And then I get to work again, even when it would be easier to just give up and lie in bed and feel awful. I call or text a friend or family member, I clean my house, I cook and read and do puzzles and watch mindless TV. This is what it means to practice resurrection. I keep living and hoping and believing the end will come. 
 
And I continue the work that we are all called to, the work of "being the church." I make phone calls to check on people. I work with the rest of the staff to plan worship, devotions, bible studies and all the normal things we are continuing to do during this crisis. And together we work to continue to develop new ways and new opportunities for this body of Christ to stay connected, to worship, to grow in faith, to serve one another and our community, and to keep giving our best to our mission for Christ in this community. This too is what it means to practice resurrection. 
 
Now, more than ever, our community needs us to "be the church", the body of Christ following a resurrected savior, living resurrected lives and sharing the good news of the gospel that darkness is never the end of the story. There is hope and life and healing in Jesus Christ and that is good news! 
 
This Sunday in worship, we will begin a new message series entitled, "Acts: Be the Church" (read Acts 4:13-22 in preparation for worship). In it, we will explore what it meant for the early followers of Jesus in the book of Acts to practice resurrection by "being the church" in witness, in community, in service, with courage, in hospitality, in prayer, and in power. We will be reminded that the church has been, and always will be, about people, following Christ out in the world, giving witness to the life-giving power of Christ to heal and make new. While we miss being able to gather as the whole body of Christ in worship, while we miss the hugs, the handshakes, the joy of being present to one another physically in worship and other activities, the essence of who we are and what we are called to do and be for Christ in the world has not changed. We simply must engage that mission in different ways. Fortunately, God is more than able to lead us in discovering those new opportunities. 
 
So join us for worship online either on our website (www.suntreeumc.org/live) or on Facebook.com/SuntreeUMC. We will again be offering two services, the Gathering Contemporary service at 9:30 am on Facebook and a Traditional service at 11:00 am on Facebook. Both services will be available at 9:30 am on the website. 
 
In the meantime, I encourage you to find your own ways to "practice resurrection". Celebrate each new day. Find something for which to give thanks. Find something positive and hopeful to engage in. Be light and hope for someone else. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!
 
Grace and Peace,
Annette

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