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  • Henry Prater

First Year Reflections: Things I Have Learned

A very wise man once reflected on his journey through life to this point with these words, “lately it occurs to me, what a long strange trip it’s been.” Okay, so maybe that doesn’t necessarily apply here, but it’s a great quote isn’t it? (Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead if you’re curious)

It has been a year since Kellie and I moved to Florence to be at Edgemont and our time has been a true blessing. Because of the commitment of everyone at Edgemont to the transition process, we have been able to hit the ground running together and begin ministering together immediately. We have been embraced by the community of faith here and believe that we have the opportunity to thrive as we share God’s love both inside and outside our church.

This week, I want to share three things that I have learned this year at Edgemont. Next week, I will share some of my hopes and dreams for the future.

Here are three of the things I’ve learned being at Edgemont.

First, Edgemont has a passion for serving in the community. As a church and as individuals, Edgemont is actively engaged in serving with the communities in the Florence area. Some of the organizations that Edgemont supports are: Room in the Inn, two different efforts at Weeden School, the Shoals Soup Kitchen, Meals on Wheels, snacks and supplies at Florence Public Library, the Help Center for Lauderdale County. I could spend several more lines listing the other groups that our various members support. We have been able to help hundreds of people receive food, shelter, and community support they need.

Second, Edgemont will respond when challenges arise. A lot was asked of Edgemont UMC this past year. You were asked to say goodbye to one pastor and hello to another. You were asked to support a capital campaign for $50,000, plus an extra $5,000 for mission projects. You’ve been asked to revamp some of our longstanding outreach ministries. In each of these situations, the people that make up Edgemont UMC rose to the challenge. Our transition went so well that the district asked us to participate in a video to be used at this year’s moving pastor’s retreat. (click here to view the video) We have exceeded our amount in commitments and are almost halfway to meeting our goal! Even when asked to retool some of our outreach ministries, as we have this year with Backpacks for Weeden, Room in the Inn, and the Shoals Soup Kitchen into Room at the Table; Edgemont’s passion for the community has helped us persevere and continue to help people in the Greater Shoals. When called upon, Edgemont steps up.

Third, Edgemont has a desire to learn. Edgemont has long had a strong Sunday school class structure, but this year we saw the addition of a new discipleship flow. We introduced new community groups that alternate with pastor studies. We had four different small groups form at different times during the past year and are looking forward to more opportunities in the coming months.

To sum up, I believe it has been a great first year at Edgemont. I would love to hear about some of your favorite things or something you learned in the last year, feel free to comment on this blog and share them. Come back next week where I will share some of my hopes and dreams for where God is leading us.

Pastor Henry

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