Dear Dyersburg FUMC Family, 

Two weeks ago, I and six others from Dyersburg FUMC traveled to The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, KS for the annual Leadership Institute hosted there. You might simply know Church of the Resurrection informally as “Adam Hamilton’s Church.” Each year COR hosts Leadership Institute to share best practices with churches from all over the country, and churches from many denominations send representatives to learn, fellowship, and be inspired. 

One of the most inspiring moments of this year’s Leadership Institute was a keynote address by David Brooks, noted New York Times commentator and author of several books. The last book of his that I read was called The Road to Character, and I remember only that I found it enjoyable if not terribly memorable. His latest book is called The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life. I was already hooked before I finished the Introduction. In it he talks about the limitations in The Road to Character, primarily his belief when he wrote it that “life is going best when we take individual agency, when we grab the wheel and steer our own ship.” He goes on to say that “I no longer believe that character formation is mostly an individual task...I now think that character is a by-product of giving yourself away...You surrender to a community or cause, make promises to other people, build a thick jungle of loving attachments, lose yourself in the daily act of serving others as they lose themselves in the daily acts of serving you.” 

He talked about his involvement in Weave, a project of The Aspen Institute, which seeks to repair the social fabric of our country by calling people to be deeply relational in the communities where they live. No wonder he spoke to a rapt audience in Leawood, Kansas that night! As those who call ourselves disciples of Jesus, this should be our bread and butter, right? Jesus was all about weaving, about being deeply relational with each other, about desiring to understand and know the other. And he came from a long tradition of weavers—God’s chosen people who were entrusted with weaving a deeply relational community who, by virtue of their “jungle of loving attachments” would one day bring the world to know the love of God. 

It is my prayer that we continue not only to weave together our relationships in this church, but that we continue to build deep relationships with those outside of our congregation, particularly those who have only heard of the church as exclusive, judgmental, and hypocritical. What might happen if those who had been turned off by or turned out of the church could learn first-hand the power of life-changing relationships rooted in the love of Jesus Christ? May we be those who share that message of life change with others! 

Combining my mustard seed of faith with yours to change the world! Mary Beth