October promises to be a month filled with significant milestones in the life of Rome First. What is a milestone? Milestone: a stone by the side of a road showing the distance in miles to a given place or: an important point in progress or development. The illustrious history of Rome First has positioned us today at a critical juncture for significant growth in ministry and mission to and with the community.

October is packed with opportunities to worship, serve, connect, share and grow. Saturday, October 6 will be a bellwether event for the North Georgia Annual Conference UMW, and Rome First is the site of their annual meeting. The UMW (United Methodist Women) have a long tradition of leading the way in the areas of social justice and inclusion, and the agenda and program for this year’s annual meeting is no exception.

After the UMW meeting adjourns on Saturday, the Wilder Center and Sanctuary will be “set” for a grand celebration on World Communion Sunday. We will gather at 11 AM in the Historic Sanctuary of Rome First with two other United Methodist Congregations (Metropolitan and Second Avenue) for a time of praying together, hearing great music provided by the children and youth combined from the three congregations, hearing a tremendous sermon by The Reverend Ms. Millie Kim, Pastor at Second Avenue, and sharing the sacrament of Holy Communion together as One Body!

As the time of worship concludes in the Sanctuary, the assembled worshippers will make their way to the Wilder Center where we will enjoy a covered dish lunch and continue in the sharing and fellowship of World Communion Sunday. The Congregation of Metropolitan Church is celebrating their 150 year anniversary and has invited everyone to worship with them as they host a three night Spiritual renewal event led by Dr. Winston Worrell. Dr. Worrell will be preaching Sunday through Tuesday at Metropolitan.

Dr. Worrell will be preaching about “The Bread of Life”. He will focus on three different “groups” of people in our culture – the “Nones” (those who claim no religious affiliation), the “Dones” (those who left the organized church and are done with institutional religion), and the “shuns” (those who believe they are “unwelcome” in Faith Communities).

The very next Sunday, October 14, is “Commitment Sunday” at Rome First. We will gather to sing, pray, worship and make our commitments for the support of mission and ministry of Rome First and the related missions and ministries we seek to support and encourage through our gifts of time, talents and financial support. The theme of the 2019 stewardship commitment at Rome First is “Let’s Do This...Buckets of Love.” Commitment Cards are available now and will be available around the church buildings throughout the month of October. You won’t want to miss Sunday, October 14 as we celebrate our commitment to building the Kingdom of God, not with Stones and Glass and Steel and Mortar, but with Love, Grace and a Welcome for ALL.

The common thread of all of these great events is that they provide entry points into the “life” of a Christian Community – opportunities for folks to take part in something “larger than us”, and an opportunity to connect in real and meaningful ways that will have a long lasting impact in our world. The mission of United Methodist Churches worldwide is to make Disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of our World. The impact of that mission is ETERNAL, and I can’t think of anything more long lasting than eternity!

As we seek to live into that Mission – we must ask – What can we learn from Wesley’s approach to mission—inviting people on a journey into communion with God and into Christian fellowship while encouraging them to do good, to do no harm, and to use the means of grace?

SERVE ROME opened in a leap of Faith, and may well be the best opportunity Rome First has as a vital expression of God’s Grace visible for, with and to the community. SERVE ROME will provide multiple “points of entry” for folks from all walks of life to enter the premises of Rome First through the SERVE ROME building. The larger question is will we be prepared to model and share the “Promises of God” once folks are on the premises? I pray that we will “live into” our vision of Serving Rome by Inviting and Welcoming ALL as partners in transformation.

So many new opportunities and changes! Change is inevitable and constant, so we must consider how we “deal with” change; do we embrace it with grace or do we resist and “fight against it”? Some will view the changes as milestones and others will view the changes as millstones. Consider the opportunity for change for good in which we are now participating through our SERVE ROME partners. The Exchange Club Family Resource Center and Lutheran Services of Georgia help families, children, and at-risk individuals find hope amid hopelessness and connect needs and resources. I cannot think of a better way to transform the World than by offering hope, extending Grace and Sharing the Love of God with God’s People. So, I close with a picture and note from a precious child of God whose life was forever changed because of people who cared and took the time, energy, resources to make a difference.

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I hope to see you in worship throughout the Milestone Month of October as together we seek to Serve Rome by Inviting and Welcoming ALL as partners in transformation.

Shalom, Robert ><>