United and Engaged

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

During October Lynn and I had an opportunity to go to the Elmore United Methodist Church to participate in the baptism of a special friend, Stephanie Conner. Stephanie works with Lynn at Mathison Interiors. Jim Sasser is the pastor at Elmore United Methodist Church. He came out of the Frazer family and is having a super ministry at Elmore.

I was fascinated by the physical buildings at Elmore. Jim told me some interesting facts about them.

The sanctuary was built in 1884. It was a part of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. It is still today a beautiful place. Since Jim has been there during the past seven years they have put in some new stain glass windows, etc.

Another building attached to the sanctuary is a Sunday school wing. Jim told me that this was the old Methodist Protestant Church which was located about a block down the road.

When the Methodist Churches united in 1939, they physically moved the Methodist Protestant Church building up to the site of the Methodist Episcopal Church South and attached the two. That is what you call a union. The buildings are a demonstration of that fact.

There is another interesting building connected to these two buildings. It is the part of the building that connects the two church buildings together and now houses the church parlor, being used by one of the adult Sunday school classes and other meetings.

Jim asked me to look out and showed me a major railroad line. He said this building was the old ticket office for the railroad. When the ticket office at Elmore was discontinued, they moved the building over and used it to help join the two Methodist Churches.

Standing there today are three structures that are united. Two of them represent churches that had a great history, but decided in 1939 to unite. The buildings physically united. The third building represents one of the primary businesses of the area. The church ought never to be divorced from the world in which it is trying to minister. That ticket office is now used for teaching, discipling, and planning by the parishioners of the Elmore United Methodist Church.

Jim also shared with me ideas about outreach to the community. The actual property is being used for many community events that provide free food, clothing, school supplies, etc. for that area.

The worship experience at Elmore was an uplifting time for me. Just observing the physical structures that are now attached to each other taught me some big lessons about unity and outreach.

On the Friday afternoon before the Sunday I was at Elmore UMC, I had gone up to Stanhope Elmore High School to meet with and speak to the football team. That team is an impressive group of young men who are disciplined, polite, and good football players. They have a great coaching staff. The first two people I met when I drove onto the property at Elmore UMC were two of the football players who quickly said, “We heard you speak two days ago when you visited our football team.”

I am proud of the ministry of Jim Sasser and the Elmore United Methodist Church. It is making a difference in the community.

It is interesting to see church buildings united to serve on property that is engaging the community. If the congregation stays as united and engaged in the community as the buildings and property—Elmore UMC has a great future!

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