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I think I’ve explained before I am a Provisional Elder in the United Methodist Church. As per the ordination requirements in Western North Carolina and the United Methodist Book of Discipline I am required to a number of requirements. In year two I am to complete a Foundations of Leadership In Ministry (FLIM) initiative. However, my family and I were recently reappointed which meant I had to write a completely new proposal fitting my new appointment. I just found out my FLIM proposal was approved!!! Woot! Check out my proposal below.

Richard Blount
FLIM Proposal                                                                                                         Fall 2016 RIOM Yr 2

Train and equip laity of Central UMC Denton to come under the umbrella of discipleship by marrying study and prayer with mission and service.

Ministry Context
During a recent Administrative council meeting a couple of people in the church revealed their passion for serving the poor and working poor in this area.

According to the MissionInsite data the city of Denton is fairly economically depressed. The mills are gone. South Davidson County is seeing a slow migration of people out of Denton. Young people are not moving to Denton because there is no work for college educated young adults. According to the Missioninsight data from 2000 to 2010 there was a 2.41% increase in family households. However, from 2010 to 2016 there was only a .51% increase. Too many people are leaving Denton and not enough new people are taking their place. With jobs being hard to find there is hardly a day that goes by when someone does not call or come by the church office for a bag of food or money to pay a power bill. An additional challenge to the time and resources needed to meet this need is Central UMC has a vital preschool program. The staff is feels increasingly unsafe with some of our visitors coming in to ask for assistance. The concern is if the staff feels unsafe then the preschool children may be unsafe.

Denton is the home of the South Davidson Family Resource Center (SDFRC).[1] The SDFRC helps the poor and working poor in the Denton Area. They have a food pantry and distribute funds to help those who have had their power turned off. The Resource Center faces challenges with receiving government aid and having to indiscriminately distribute that aid to people who may be abusing the system, and who live outside of the Denton area. The SDFRC has the funds to stay open three mornings a week and the director has expressed a desire to have volunteers who might cover from 4-7pm one night a week.

There are members of Central UMC who volunteer at the resource center and who are serving on the resource center’s board of directors.  Even with this assistance people in the area will go to the Resource Center and then come to Central UMC for help with food or paying a bill.

Biblical Foundation
In chapter ten of the Gospel of Matthew Jesus sends out disciples saying, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matt 10:16). At Central we want to love on everyone. We are just not always sure how. This verse from Matthew suggests we should be discerning about whom we turn to for help and to whom we offer aid. We want to help those who are seeking a hand up. However, we have also been called to go forth and make disciples. Disciples put God’s will ahead of their own. We hope to move passed giving hand-outs to helping people in need stand with Christ’s help. This is our challenge in a ministry to the poor and working poor. We are not asking who is worthy of help? We are struggling with how best help those in need.

The Plan
There are those at Central UMC who are passionate about helping people who are struggling. Given the fact people in the community are trying to double dip by going to the Resource Center and then coming to Central it makes sense to look for ways to partner Central UMC with the South Davidson Family Resource Center. This is what we hope to achieve.

  1. Central will set aside a portion of their 2017 budget to assist the resource center. SDFRC will be a focal point to talk about the importance of stewardship as a part of Discipleship. There is already an emergency fund in place. Central is simply awaiting Admin Council approval to give the funds to SDFRC.
  2. Work with Central UMC’s Church Vitality committee to generate ideas around:
    1. Starting a Community Garden on some land the church owns to supplement the Resource Center’s food bank. Planting would begin in the spring, and harvest would depend upon the appropriate harvest times for the crops needed by the Resource Center.
    2. Generating a group of volunteers (inside and outside the church walls) to work at the Resource Center so perhaps it can be open more than three days a week. The start date of this group depends on the meeting discussed below.
      1. Working with the poor and working poor can be stressful and can cause people to become jaded. It is very important the group of volunteers working at the SDFRC form a small group who prays and stays in God’s word together. This small group will be essential for long term partnership with SDFRC.
      2. Work through the Nominations and Leadership development committee to identify volunteers within the church. Invite current volunteers at SDFRC to be a part of this group. Through prayer and study we will be in mission and ministry with people inside and outside of the walls of the church.
  • I will “start off” as the leader for this small group until a leader for the group can be elected from the participants. The Nominating Committee and the pastor will walk alongside the volunteers to develop leadership skills and provide support. I will pick and choose from Disciple II materials for the study and insert, “Same Kind of Different As Me” by Ron Hall to generate discussion. I hope to get JoAnn Harold, Cathy Ward, Jocelyn Kearns, Andy & Sarah Morris, and Bill Sigmon as a start.
  1. Provide space for the SDFRC to store clothing and food at Central UMC.

Steps in the plan
Set up a meeting between the most interested church leaders, the director of South Davidson Family Resource Center (SDFRC) and the Director of the Open Hands ministry in Lexington. The purpose is to discuss the specific ways Central UMC might partner with the Resource Center laid out in this proposal. The meeting is scheduled for Thursday November 17, 2016 at 6pm in the Central UMC Hut. Participants to include:

Pastor Richard Blount (Pastor of Central UMC)         Caitlyn Baker (Director of SDFRC)
Andy Morris  (a Central Church leader)                     Cathy Ward (Central UMC Lay Leader)
LeRoy Hinesly (church member on SDFRC Board of Directors)
Rev. David Talbert (who started Open Hands)           Bob Harmon (Director of Open Hands)
Open Hands Leadership has been invited to offer insight as to how to successfully partner churches with a ministry of this kind.

Soon after this meeting I will need to ask for volunteers to garden from among Central’s laity. There are a number of laity who have large gardens where they grow vegetables in their back yard. This is an opportunity to marry their gifts and their passions with a very real need in the community.

[1] http://www.southdavidsonfrc.com/