Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been affected by Hurricane Harvey. No amount of emergency preparation could have readied the Lone Star State for the sheer volume of rain and flooding that has drenched the Texas coast. Many have reported that the damage caused by this storm has gone far beyond any sort of "worse-case scenario" that they had imagined. While we in the Mid-South are now experiencing the remnants of this storm, many are asking how we can help. We'd like to offer several ways that Memphians and Mid-South residents can support the victims of Hurricane Harvey.
We are still several weeks away before churches, schools, and other organizations can host disaster recovery teams. The best immediate response we recommend is to donate directly to organizations that are already on the ground providing relief. We suggest making a donation to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) which has a 4-star rating on Charity Navigator. You can also give to our sister churches in the Rio Texas Conference (www.riotexas.org). 100% of the money donated to disaster recovery through these organizations goes directly to the people who need it the most; it never pays for staff or administration since those positions are supported by church offerings and apportionments.
Another way we can make an impact from afar is to assemble Cleaning Buckets. United Methodist Churches from across Tennessee and Western Kentucky are filling up an 18-wheeler with hundreds of cleaning buckets to assist Texans in the recovery efforts. There are several locations that are collecting buckets and other items in the upcoming week. Please drop off completed buckets or items from this list at Mellow Mushroom Germantown on Monday, September 4th from 7:00-9:00. You can also drop off items at the Collierville UMC Ministry Center weekdays during business hours. If you live in Bartlett, Lakeland, or Cordova, you can drop off your cleaning buckets at St. Paul UMC (call them at 901-387-0007 for drop off times). The truck is leaving from Nashville on Monday, September 11th and will be stopping in Lakeland to load up donations from the Memphis Metro area.
Scroll down to see two videos: one showing you how to assemble a cleaning bucket, and the other is how you can assemble a health kit (we recorded this video approximately one year ago when Louisiana was experiencing catastrophic flooding). We'll receive more info about team training and recovery teams that will journey down to Texas. Email us today if you'd like to be notified of updates and news regarding these recovery teams.
Let's all continue to pray for Texas and all those affected by Harvey. Pray for the safety of the military, police, firefighters, EMTs, and everyday people who are giving their time, energy, and resources to rescue people who've been left stranded and helpless. And pray for families and individuals who have lost everything in the floods. Even during these dark times, we know that God is with our brothers & sisters, and we trust that God will offer healing and redemption to those in need.
+Peace and Love from Pastor Kris
It takes dozens of volunteers to make our Sunday morning Large Group worship celebrations possible each and every week. As a way of showing our appreciation to these amazing individuals, we’re taking a break from holding a worship service this Sunday. We believe it’s important to rest and to spend time abiding in God. So, we’ve assembled the following worship materials for you and your family to use in order to worship God wherever you’re spending this holiday weekend.
We believe “Church Can Happen Anywhere,” and we hope you’ll invite others to join you in reading Scripture, praying, singing, and discussing the Gospel message from Matthew 10:40-42. Remember to “Check In” to Peace Tree UMC on Facebook and Instagram. Every check-in will provide a week of clean drinking water to a family in need thanks to our partnership with Causely and Northwest Haiti Christian Mission. And be sure to use the hashtag #givewater so that other people will know about this month’s charitable cause.
Have a safe and happy 4th of July weekend! We’ll see each of you back at the Malco Collierville Towne Cinema on July 9th at 10AM as we continue our Summer at the Movies sermon series with a movie clip from Soul Surfer and a message based on Matthew 11:16-30. If you’d like to make donation to Peace Tree this week, you can give HERE, and if you have any prayer requests, then please share them with us HERE. God bless!
+Peace and Love from Pastor Kris
OPEN WITH PRAYER
O God, you are the hope of all the ends of the earth,
the God of the spirits of all flesh.
Hear our humble intercession for all races and families on earth,
that you will turn all hearts to yourself.
Remove from our minds hatred, prejudice, and contempt
for those who are not of our own race or color, class or creed,
that, departing from everything that estranges and divides,
we may by you be brought into unity of spirit, in the bond of peace.
(Church of Scotland, 20th Cent., Alt.)
“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”
(Matthew 10:40-42, New Revised Standard Version)
Watch this music video for Matthew West’s Do Something. Listen to the lyrics (or sing/read them below) and consider what God is calling you to do this week.
I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now, thought
How’d we ever get so far down, and
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, yeah, I created you.”
If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something, yeah
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
Oh, it’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something
I’m so tired of talking about
How we are God’s hands and feet
But it’s easier to say than to be
Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves
It’s alright, “somebody else will do something”
Well, I don’t know about you
But I’m sick and tired of life with no desire
I don’t want a flame, I want a fire and
I wanna be the one who stands up and says
“I’m gonna do something”
We are the salt of the earth
We are a city on a hill
We’re never gonna change the world
By standing still
No, we won’t stand still
(Matthew West, Copyright Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.)
CLOSE WITH PRAYER
God of grace and glory,
we thank you that you judge us not by the perfection of our actions,
but by our readiness to live boldly by faith.
Help us, as individuals and as a congregation,
to trust you and follow where you lead,
that in Christ your name may be glorified in all the earth. Amen.
(Ruth Duck, USA, 20th Cent.)
Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer. Students are on summer break, families plan family vacation, and everyone preps their grills for backyard grilling. We thought we'd get in the spirit of the season and share our favorite camps, activities, and family events for the summer of 2017. The best part is that you can do all these things in the great town of Collierville! So, without further ado, here are Peace Tree's list of 30 Things to do in Collierville This Summer.
1. Enjoy a free outdoor concert on the historic town square every Thursday night in June and July. Now in its 26th year, Sunset on the Square welcomes bands like The Vegabonds and Blind Mississippi Morris, and it features fun nights like Car Night that's sure to delight every member of your family. Find out who's playing next week's show on Main Street Collierville's Facebook page.
2. Catch a free outdoor movie every other Friday at the Avenue at Carriage Crossing from now through August 25th. This year's line-up includes fun family flicks such as Zootopia, The Secret Life of Pets, and Sing. Check out the entire summer schedule on Carriage Crossing's website.
3. Sign your young actor up for summer workshops with the New Day Children's Theatre. These camps take place at both the Harrell Theatre and at New Day's Studio. Visit their website to see which workshops still have spots available: www.newdaytheatre.org
4. Check out the Morton Museum's latest exhibit, Collierville Town Square: 1940s-1950s. Admission to the museum is always free, and you can learn more about the museum's hours at their website: colliervillemuseum.org
5. Knock down some pins and stay up late for Glo Bowling at Funquest every Friday and Saturday night from 9:30 p.m. til Midnight. Great for young adults and college students who haven't seen one another since the end of the spring semester. Learn more at funquestbowl.com.
6. Sign up your child for one of the many summer camps offered in Collierville. There's not enough space to list them all, but some of our favorites can be found at Maple Grove Farm, Creative Minds Art Studio, and the YMCA. And parents, studies show that summer camps help children with their critical thinking skills, boosts their learning, and makes them more resilient. What are you waiting for? Sign you child up for camp today!
7. Get outdoors and explore Hinton Park on Holmes Rd. It has a disc golf course, adventure playground for big kids, musical instruments, and greenbelt walking trails. Plus, there are several shaded areas to enjoy a nice picnic as a family.
8. Celebrate Independence Day during Collierville's annual celebration on July 3, 2017 at H.W. Cox Park. The town will be honoring men and women who have served in the military with a special media presentation during the event. For more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
9. Support local farmers and artisans at the Collierville Farmers Market. They set up in the parking lot at Collierville United Methodist Church (454 W. Poplar Ave.) every Thursday from 8:00 a.m until 1:00 p.m. Purchase everything from fruits, vegetables, and grains to guacamole, pepper sauce, and seafood. Learn about all of the vendors at colliervillefarmersmarket.org.
10. Lace up your running shoes and strap on your bike helmet before exploring all the trails that Collierville has to offer. There's over 18 miles of trails and connectors, and you can find them all at colliervilleparks.org.
11. Catch up with Lightning McQueen, Mater, and the rest of the pit crew in Disney-Pixar's Cars 3, premiering June 16th at the Malco Towne Cinema & Grill. Cars 3 is rated G and stars the voice talents of Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, and Bonnie Hunt.
12. Play trampoline dodgeball, take a dive in the foam pit, and learn how to slack line at Get Air Trampoline Park next to Booya's. It's a great place to hold a birthday party, and on Friday and Saturday nights you can jump along to some hoppin' tunes from 9:00 p.m. until Close. Learn more at getairmemphis.com.
13. Hit the Town Square on a Friday night and enjoy the Bluegrass & Old Time Music Jam. Pickers from across the Mid-South descend upon the Square to play their favorite tunes while teaching younger musicians the classics. The jam starts at 6:30 p.m. and ends when the last person leaves!
14. Grab your paint brush and palette and create original art inside the Morton Museum. Artists of all levels are invited to paint and socialize. Learn more on the Morton Museum's calendar.
15. Sign your child up for one of the many VBS camps taking place throughout our community. Grace Evangelical Church is sponsoring a VBS in early June, Collierville United Methodist Church has one in mid-June, and Collierville Christian Church will have one in late July, just to name a few.
16. Taste what all the foodies are talking about and visit the newest restaurants on the Town Square: 148 North and Brooks Pharm2Fork. At 148 North, you can enjoy such treats as hand-dived scallops, pan-seared Alaskan halibut, and roasted rack of American lamb. Pharm2Fork offers a wide selection which includes old school salmon patties, oven roasted chicken, and prime NY strip steak.
17. Encourage a love of reading in your little ones by taking them to one of the many free story times offered throughout the town. You can take them to the Lucius E. and Elsie C. Burch, Jr. Library, the Morton Museum of Collierville History, and Barnes & Noble.
18. Register your young athlete for the Grizzlies Youth Basketball Camp, coming to the H.W. Cox Community Center June 19-22. Students will develop their basketball skills and receive bonus treats including a reversible jersey, a full-sized Grizzlies basketball to take home, and two tickets to a future Grizzlies home game. Sign up at camppros.com.
19. Volunteer one of your Thursday mornings with the Collierville Food Pantry. Thanks to this organization and the work of its many volunteers, our neighbors can get the assistance they need to feed their families. Help is always needed in sorting food donations. The food pantry is open every Thursday from 9:00-11:30 a.m. Call (901) 853-3235 for more info.
20. Cast your line out at Herb Parsons Lake and go fish. You could catch anything from a bullhead catfish to a crappie, or even a largemouth bass. The lake officially opens 30 minutes before sunrise and it closes 30 minutes after sunset. For fishing tips and lake information, visit www.tn.gov.
21. Enjoy $2 movies at the Malco Towne Cinema & Grill during the 2017 Kids Summer Film Fest. This season's schedule includes The Peanuts Movie, Kung Fu Panda 3, and Trolls. Check out the whole line-up at malco.com.
22. Treat yourself to a macaroni and cheese egg roll with Sriracha honey dipping sauce at The Skybox Grill. You can also order up po-boy sandwiches, stone pizzas, and unique burgers and hot dogs. Take a look at their full menu at theskyboxgrilltn.com.
23. Find a hidden treasure at Sheffield Antiques Mall. Sheffield Antiques carries a wide variety of furnishings, artwork, collectibles, and much more. Get distinctive, unusual, and rare items to fill your space with wonderful options that make your area all its own. See what they have to offer at sheffield-antiques.com.
24. Stroll through the Town Square on a history tour. During the first and third Fridays of June at 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. a friend from the Morton Museum will lead participants through the Square's beginnings and describe the businesses you would have seen in the 1940's and 1950's. Call (901) 457-2650 or email email@example.com to schedule a group tour for this wonderful exhibit.
25. Grab your swimsuit and cool down in one of Collierville's spray parks. You'll need your Spray Park Pass to access the splash pad at W.C. Johnson Park, but the spray park at Suggs Park is always free! Visit colliervilleparks.org for more info.
26. Volunteer one afternoon with the Collierville Animal Shelter. You can help care for the animals any day of the week from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. If you're interested in adopting a pet, then you'll have to arrive between 1:00-4:00 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Call the shelter at (901) 457-2670 to get more information, or visit awos.petfinder.com to learn more.
27. Laugh out loud during the Harrell Theatre's production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. This hilarious Stephen Sondheim musical will run from July 14th through July 23rd. The show is rated PG, and you can purchase tickets at the box office.
28. Enjoy a free concert from the North Star Boys Choir on June 18th at 7:00 p.m. Admission is free and the concert will be held in the Sanctuary on the Square (104 N. Rowlett St.). This group will share sacred music of all periods including spirituals, folk music, and classic works dating as far back as the 5th century.
29. Brighten someone's day by painting and hiding rocks in your favorite spot in town. 901 Rocks encourages creativity and spreads joy to neighbors of all ages. 901 Rocks has its own Twitter hashtag, a Facebook group, and even its own website. Design something fun on a rock today and become a part of the 901 Rocks movement!
30. Explore the wizarding world of Harry Potter at the Lucius E. and Elsie C. Burch, Jr. Library on July 11th from 2:00-4:00 p.m. This traveling exhibit gives fans of all ages a chance to make a wand, create an immortality stone, and even see some fantastic beasts! The event will take place in the library's Halle Meeting Room, and you can visit colliervillelibrary.org for more information.
There you have it! What do you think of our list of 30 things to do this summer? Is there something happening in Collierville which we've missed? Let us know in the comments section below.
This morning, Pastor Kris joined with our local pastors to pray for the town of Collierville and its citizens as we observed the National Day of Prayer. Prayers were lifted up for single parents, first responders, those serving in the military, young people, teachers, elected officials, local pastors, and the unemployed. We were also led in singing by the Central Church praise choir. It was a blessing to see everyone come together as one town worshiping God. Below, you can read the prayer that Pastor Kris shared, and at the bottom of the post you'll find the Facebook Live video that was shared by the Town of Collierville. We hope that you will be in prayer today for all people in this great land and for all of our neighbors in countries near and far.
God of all nations, we turn to you this day in worship and prayer as your children. We know your character, and we have seen how you look favorably upon the youngest in society.
You protected Moses when he was but a babe floating down the Nile in a basket made of reeds. You chose David, the young shepherd boy to lead your people, Israel. Your angel came to Mary, a young virgin, and asked her to be the mother of the Messiah. And from the Gospel of Luke, we see how Jesus Christ as a teenager grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and all the people.
Christ himself said, "Let the little children come to me." So on this day, we ask that you would watch over the young people in the town of Collierville. Bless them as they study, and learn, and explore the world around them. Guide them as they grow and develop into young adults. Place good role models and upstanding examples in their lives. And watch over all the parents and adults of our town, for we know that these young people look to us and take in all that we say and do.
May we not look down on Collierville's teenagers and young people simply because they are young. But may we learn from them, may we listen to them, and may we build them up and direct them towards your perfect plan for a prosperous future full of hope and peace.
Dear God, bless the families of this great town and bless our young people. Watch over them and fill their homes with your good and perfect love and the power of your holy presence. We ask all of this in the mighty name of Jesus, who was born as a baby in Bethlehem, who fled to Egypt as a young child, who conversed with teachers in the Temple as a teenager, and who was baptized in the Jordan as a young adult. It is in His name that we pray for all of our youth. Amen.
It’s 8 am on Monday morning, our team’s first day at Centenary United Methodist for programming. Most of us did not get enough sleep due to first day jitters. The start of the day did not go as planned at first. We arrived at the church to find that we were locked out and the alarm system was set off. At times, I felt like I was going to burst from the anticipation of meeting the kids. The community was ready to start camp as well with families arriving up to an hour early!
Our team and the volunteers began to see the impact of Project Transformation from the start. Project Transformation’s discipline policy includes a set of rules known as the "Five Be’s." Be a Leader. Be a Learner. Be a Listener. Be a Friend. Be Responsible. Though these rules were set for the kids to learn, I saw every team member embody them. Adara took initiative every minute of every day to meet the needs of Young Artists, always with a smile on her face . Tanner was our leader, friend, and listener when we felt overwhelmed, frustrated, or confused. He provided laughter and encouragement whenever the environment was tense. Jasmine brought fresh ideas for classroom management through "air fives" and the energy we needed for Harambe. Cameisha was a listener and friend not only to me but to every volunteer that came to help in the reading program. Jakeno embraced his responsibility and the impact he had on the kids from his own neighborhood. Shyquel displayed grace and humility to every child of her group, even when they did not listen. Regan lead her Red Rockets with a listening ear and showed them the importance of how they each could be individual leaders within the group.
We were all learners in some sort of way. We learned to find our "teacher voice" and to adapt our skills to meet the needs of our community. One big way we were learners is by implementing a new buddy system with our kids. To aid in developing our older kids into responsible leaders, we pair an older kid with a younger kid. The younger kid has someone to look up to while the older kid gains a sense of responsibility. They are able to be a friend, be responsible, and be a leader. Our team was beginning to form our unique community at Centenary United Methodist.
Project Transformation is bringing people from all different backgrounds with diverse gifts to learn how to serve and develop children to their best potential. Some volunteers come from the suburbs with teaching experience. Some come from the city who had experience with the kids prior to Project Transformation. Our team embodies diversity coming from the inner city, the suburbs, other states, different majors, different upbringings, and different strengths. Already I have been encouraged by the conversations I have had with each of my fellow interns, volunteers, and church members. We are learning what it means for the children to become first and how Project Transformation is at work for the Kingdom of God. Love is at the core of every interaction. Grace, patience, and laughter is an everyday necessity. Despite our differences and the challenges of the first week of programming, our team continues to celebrate our diversity, cultivate leadership, learn how to serve our community, and how developing literacy empowers the kids to be who they were created to be.
Rachel Younger is a member of Peace Tree's Loeb St. House Group and she also assists with worship at our Sunday morning Large Group gatherings. Last summer, Rachel served as an intern with Project Transformation following her graduation from Union University. This post originally appeared on the Project Transformation Tennessee blog on June 22, 2016 and is republished with Rachel's permission. Contact us today to learn more about Project Transformation and how you can attend a volunteer training meeting on May 1 at our mother church.
Last weekend, the Guatemalan Mobile Consulate returned to the Memphis area to assist Guatemalan citizens who are living and working in the United States. Consulate officials helped individuals process updates to their documentation including passport renewals, birth certificate applications for children who have dual-citizenship, marriage licenses, certificates of death for loved ones who had passed away, and government-issued identification cards.
Trinity United Methodist Church (Midtown) served as the host site for this event, with Iglesia Metodista Unida "El Redentor" acting as the liaison with the Consular General in Atlanta and Peace Tree UMC coordinating volunteers for the two-day event. Volunteers came from the three churches mentioned above as well as from the following groups & organizations: Collierville UMC, Emmanuel UMC (Memphis), St. Paul UMC (Lakeland), Trinity Baptist Church (Cordova), Teach for America, Latino Memphis, University of Memphis Spanish Department, Sigma Chi Fraternity (EK Chapter), and the Congregational Health Network from Methodist Healthcare. By the end of the weekend we had helped serve 929 neighbors, and Christians of all ages from varying socio-economic levels and different cultural backgrounds had come together to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.
The Guatemalan Consulate hopes to return to Memphis for another visit in 2017. So if you'd like to work alongside all these amazing people, then please Contact us today. Reverend Luz Campos is the pastor of El Redentor, and below you can read her letter to the volunteers. With her permission and with light editing, we share it with you now:
It was 5:30 p.m. on Friday, March 24th when we realized that there were already some cars in the parking lot with people waiting for the line to start. When we returned at 2:00 a.m. the line was very long; men and women with children in their arms prepared to spend the night waiting in line in order to receive assistance from the Guatemalan Mobile Consulate.
Unfortunately, during the early hours of Saturday the 24th, a storm with strong winds and heavy rain approached Midtown. But no one moved from their place in line. Thanks to the compassion of Rev. Jonathan Bratt Carle and for Rev. Goyo de la Cruz who coordinated the details of opening the Education Center at Trinity UMC, at 4 o'clock in the morning we were able to allow people to enter. Everyone was obviously soaked but thankful for the shelter.
The church housed between 400 to 500 adults plus children that Saturday morning. And at 8:00 a.m. the officials from the consulate arrived to assist the Guatemalan community. Everyone was very grateful because the volunteers from Trinity UMC had shared water, fruit, and cookies. There was even a group of volunteers who took care of the children. We are also very grateful to our neighbors from the Vollintine Evergreen Community Association for their support in allowing us to park along the streets of their neighborhood throughout the weekend.
There is a Latino saying that says “Union Makes Force" (La Unión hace la Fuerza). It is true! The union of three churches (Trinity UMC, Peace Tree, and Iglesia Metodista Unida “El Redentor”) and many volunteers made it possible for us to be the hands and feet of God in this journey.
Thank you brothers and sisters! And to all the volunteers, thank you for working so hard to serve our neighbors. They were very satisfied, not only because they were able to carry out their official consulate business, but also because they met people who truly love God. They encountered people who exemplify the love of God burning in their hearts by serving others. So once again, "Thank You."
Rev. Luz Campos
Iglesia Metodista Unida "El Redentor"
"Wow! Y'all are a starting new church?! Where are you located?" This is one side of a conversation that my team and I have had with numerous people who are interested in what we're doing as Peace Tree. We tell them that we felt called to start a new church to reach people who've been burned out on church, or people who were hurt by a congregation and left that group, or even those who've never entered a church building or attended a worship service before. They appreciate the mission that we have as a new faith community, but many people have trouble understanding our vision: Church Can Happen Anywhere.
It's difficult to answer the question, "Where are you located?" since we've primarily existed as a network of House Groups for our first 18 months of ministry. We've tried to shift the focus of "going to church" as simply showing up at a location on Sunday morning to gathering as the Body of Christ wherever and whenever we can meet. This flexibility in how we come together for worship & study has helped accommodate friends with ever-changing work schedules, those who have plans on the weekends, and families who have other commitments on Sunday mornings. This model of "house churches" has allowed us to go deeper in our discipleship and our walk with Christ. Friendships have formed to the point that each House Group feels more like a family, and each group's attendees can't imagine missing one of the mid-week gatherings. Still, with House Groups stretching from East Memphis to Collierville, it's hard to answer the question, "Where are you located?" since our church doesn't have just one location.
"Oh, so you have small groups that meet throughout the week? Great! But where is your main church building?" This is another question that we often get asked as we talk about Peace Tree. We re-emphasize how each House Group has its own identity and missional emphasis. Each House Group is self-sustainable, but all are connected to the larger Peace Tree community. As we've grown and added more House Groups, we saw a need to gather together as one Large Group in order see one another face-to-face and to worship God together as a family. So, we launched a weekly worship service at the Malco Towne Cinema in Collierville where we've gathered our different groups into one Large Group while also welcoming our friends from town. But the movie theater is a rented space; we set up our worship area, nursery, children's area, and hospitality tables early Sunday morning and then we pack it all up before the first films start showing at Noon. We don't have a church building and we actually prefer it this way.
Not having a main church building or one primary location has allowed us to focus more on the people that we're reaching. We've been able to see God at work in businesses, parks, and neighborhoods in a pretty magnificent way. God is Everywhere, which means Church Can Happen Anywhere! All of the financial support and contributions we receive help drive this vision. Instead of asking people to come to us, we'll go to them!
Jesus' final words to his disciples were this: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." By not having one location, we feel as though we're living out Jesus' last words. We're witnessing in Collierville, and in Germantown and Memphis, and God-willing to the ends of the earth! We're not staying put. We're on the move, and we're spreading God's love to everyone we meet practically every day of the week. Exciting things are happening at Peace Tree, and we'd love for you to come and see for yourself. Click on the tabs marked Sundays and House Groups to learn about our multiple locations, and click on the tab marked Connect if you have a prayer request or a question that you'd like to ask us. We'll see you soon!
+Peace and Love from Pastor Kris
In a few short days, Peace Tree will be launching our first public Sunday morning worship service. Up until now, every Sunday morning gathering we've held has been a "Preview Service." These previews were invaluable since each week we learned something new, gained another skill, recruited more volunteers, and witnessed how God was working through our team. Now we're finally ready to open up our Sunday morning worship celebrations to the larger public!
Since we're a new faith community that does things differently, we planned our Launch Day Celebration to be a little different than a typical Sunday morning at church. First off, we realize that this Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday, which is why we're encouraging everyone to come to worship decked out in their Super Bowl gear. If you have a favorite team or player, then wear their jersey! Wanna let others know who you're pulling for in the Super Bowl? Sport that team's colors. And if any of your kids wanna dress up in rec league jerseys or cheer uniforms, then let them! Americans will be watching the big game later that day, so why not come to church in your football attire and redefine what it looks like to wear your "Sunday Best?"
Second, we want our Launch Day to be more than just about Peace Tree starting a new worship service. Much of our ministry and work these past 18 months has been focused on real people that we meet out in our neighborhoods. For this reason, our Launch Day Celebration at the Malco Towne Cinema will serve as a collection site for the Souper Bowl of Caring canned food drive. The Souper Bowl of Caring is a nationwide movement which helps young people learn what it’s like to make a positive difference in the world as they collect food, raise money, and volunteer to work in local charities while showing compassion to those in need. Canned food and cash donations may be dropped off in the lobby of the Malco Collierville Towne Cinema from 9:30-11:30 a.m. on February 5th. Every food item and dollar donated will stay in our town and go directly to the Collierville Food Pantry supporting our neighbors.
Launch Day is the perfect opportunity to check out Peace Tree as we live out our vision, "Church Can Happen Anywhere," so come and see what God is doing this Sunday at the Malco Collierville. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. and worship begins at 10:00. You're also welcome to watch the big game with us on Sunday night as we gather with friends at Miller Creek at Germantown apartments. We hope that Peace Tree's Launch Day Celebration will bring our community together in a festive way as we serve our neighbors and worship God together. See y'all this Sunday!
+Peace and Love from Pastor Kris
When we began planting Peace Tree in the Collierville/Memphis area in 2015, we knew that we needed to offer something different. There are over 50 houses of worship in Collierville alone, so we believed many would ask, “Does Collierville really need another church?” Our answer is YES, Collierville needs new churches to reach new people. While a majority living here would say they have a church home, there are literally thousands of Collierville residents who have marked “No Religious Preference” on their census forms. We imagined the number of people we walked by every day who weren’t part of a church family, the number of people who’ve experienced a life crisis with nowhere to turn, with nobody to talk to. We knew that thousands of our neighbors were spiritually homeless and we needed to do something now.
As we dreamt of a new church for Collierville, we were sure of two things: 1) we wanted to do Church differently and 2) we didn’t want to put all of our efforts into a Sunday morning worship experience (remember there are over 50 churches in this town with Sunday morning gatherings). So how could we flip the “church planting script” and build up a congregation without first launching a weekly Sunday morning worship service?
This is how the idea of House Groups was born. If we truly wanted to reach our neighbors, then we needed to go into our neighborhoods. Neighborhoods are made up of people who live in homes, and play in parks, and eat in restaurants down the street from where they live. This was where our church would start; these were the places where we’d plant Peace Tree.
Seventeen months after we began this work, we can say that God has blessed us with six House Groups spreading across East Memphis, Germantown, and Collierville. We meet in homes, restaurants, and apartment complexes and our community events often take place in our town’s parks. We’ve welcomed over 180 people who have visited one of our House Groups in 2016, and many have made Peace Tree their church home.
There’s a difference between a church which offers Small Groups as a program opportunity and a church that is entirely made up of small groups. We’ve aimed to be the latter. And since we didn’t pour all of our efforts into a Sunday morning celebration, we now have a solid foundation of House Group participants who want to see members of the other groups more regularly as well as serve alongside one another in Kingdom-building work. After a season of monthly Preview Services, and after much prayer and discussion with our Launch Team and volunteers, we are happy to announce that one month from today Peace Tree will be launching weekly Sunday morning worship services at the Malco Collierville Towne Cinema starting January 8, 2017.
These Sunday morning large group celebrations will simply be one way that we worship God together. Our main opportunities for learning, service, and fellowship will still be found in the House Group setting. Think of Sunday morning worship services as a “family reunion.” It’s a chance to see friends from other House Groups that we haven’t seen in a while. Sundays will give us a moment to say hello to fellow volunteers from various service projects while together we seize the opportunity to rest in God. These large group gatherings will allow us the space and time to celebrate God together, to lift up our praises, and to be inspired by God’s Word.
For some of you reading this, your first encounter with Peace Tree will be on a Sunday morning when you walk into the theater to check us out and see what we’re all about. We think that’s great! But as we’ve already mentioned, the true heart of Peace Tree is in our House Groups. We hope that everyone who visits us in January will take the next step and find a House Group that they can attend during the week. We currently have House Groups that meet on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and we have plans to launch new groups in the new year.
You’ve read the blog post this far and you may be wondering, “Am I a good fit for Peace Tree? Is Peace Tree a good fit for me?” Well, you should know that our goal is to reach individuals who have left the Church, those who have turned their backs on God or have given up on religion altogether. We also hope to reach people who are spiritual and religious but haven’t found a safe place to explore their spirituality and to ask the big questions about God and our place in the universe. There are also individuals who didn’t grow up attending church services, going on youth retreats, and participating in Vacation Bible School over their childhood summers. Maybe their families didn’t believe in “going to church,” or maybe they were raised in a different country with different belief systems. We feel called to reach these neighbors as they take their first steps into Christianity. So, if you fall into any of these categories please believe me when I say that our hearts go out to you. We’ve already connected with some of you, but to the rest: we’re so anxious to meet you!
We hope you’ll consider joining us for our outdoor Christmas service, Carols and Candlelight, on the Collierville Town Square. It’ll be Friday, December 16th with hot cocoa being served at 6:00 pm and our program beginning at 6:30. House Groups are continuing to meet throughout December with a few taking one week off for a seasonal break. And be sure to mark your calendars for January 8th when we begin hosting weekly worship services at Malco Collierville Towne Cinema. Doors will open at 9:30 am for coffee & donuts. Worship will start at 10:00 and Peace Tree Kids is open to children at 10:30. We also provide a nursery with Safe Sancutaries-trained workers to care for your little ones.
As always, please contact us if you have any questions about Peace Tree. My personal email is firstname.lastname@example.org and our office phone number is (901) 286-5532. We’re so excited to see what God has in store for 2017, and we hope you’ll be part of this new thing that God is doing. Happy Advent, Merry Christmas, and remember: Church Can Happen Anywhere.
+Peace and Love from Pastor Kris
Pastor Kris preached "Live Together / Follow Christ" on the Sunday following the 2016 presidential election. Below is his sermon manuscript, and you can watch the full sermon in the video below. The Scriptural focus for this sermon is Luke 5:1-11. Please share your thoughts and reflections in the Comments section.
Here we are for the fourth time in this place to worship God, but what marks this Sunday as different from earlier Preview Services is that the presidential election has taken place in our country merely 5 days ago. And I'd be a horrible preacher if I didn't address this moment in our country's history.
So on this day, as I address two of Peace Tree's core values (Live Together and Follow Christ), I do so knowing that some people sitting in this movie theater voted for Trump and others voted for Clinton. Some voted for a 3rd party candidate and some wrote in Mickey Mouse or wrote in Harambe.
But here we are...together, singing our praises to God, hearing the story of Jesus calling his first disciples to follow him, and we are all members of the same human family.
It's probably safe to say that there are as many different opinions about this country and its priorities and the steps we need to take as there are people sitting in this room. So we have one of two choices to make today and everyday, and here they are: do we choose to turn our backs on our neighbors who are different than us? Do we hate those who disagree with us? Do we say, "I'll go it alone?" OR do we say that we choose to live together, that we embrace each other as brother and sister, and that we claim one another as family.
Jesus never held public office as an elected official, but he was called the King of the Jews. And as the King of the Jews (a.k.a the Son of God and the Son of Man), he addressed economic disparity, accepted people from other cultures, disrupted the establishment, was branded a radical and a religious zealot, and he taught a new way. But by doing all of this, he put a target on his back.
Ultimately, the people of Israel were given a chance to vote on Jesus. They could vote to free Christ during the Jewish feast of Passover, but instead they chose to free another prisoner, and thus, the Son of God was crucified. But in Jesus' sacrifice, in taking on our sin, and in demonstrating God's great love for humanity, Christ gave us all a path to citizenship in God's Kingdom.
So when we say that at Peace Tree we Live Together and Follow Christ, we do so claiming our shared inheritance in Christ. We don't focus on the things the world focuses on: the spectrum of ages, the differences in income, the number of cultures represented here today. Instead we rally around Christ and his mission in saving this world and pointing people to God.
When we look at this morning's passage from the Gospel of Luke, we see Peter putting into practice the core value of Live Together. Peter does not work alone; he has fishing partners that we find out are the brothers James and John. Not only that, but when the fish that Jesus instructs them to catch becomes too great to haul in, they're able to signal another boat for help. In their day and time, you needed a community to get by, to live and to eat. Friends and neighbors looked out for each other, and here we see them working alongside one another.
But what amazes me most about this invitation to follow Christ, is that Peter, James, and John drop everything (and I mean everything!) in order to follow Jesus. They leave behind their livelihoods, their families, and now this insurmountable catch of fish that may have possibly met their quota for the rest of the year, all in order to follow Christ! How many of us would walk away from our careers, and our families, and from financial stability to follow a divisive figure who was performing miracles and claimed that he spoke directly to God?
Some of you are thinking, "This is nice and all, learning about Peter and James and John from 2000 years ago, but we're scared right now, today on Nov 13, 2016. And I get it; some people are fearful for their community, others are scared that the country will not come together - that we won't be the UNITED States, and for others there is uncertainty about the future when it comes to wars being fought, and when it boils down to the stock market, or healthcare and national security."
So let me offer a word from Ricky James, a friend and pastor in Mississippi, who shared this post on his Facebook page Wednesday morning:
"At around 3:00 a.m. this morning my five year old climbed in our bed. He said he was afraid of the dark. This is a common occurrence these days as he wakes up in the middle of the night, alone in a dark room, and seeks the solace of his parent’s bed. Normally I’m annoyed at this because he wakes me up.
This morning I was already awake. I had just watched the acceptance speech of President-Elect Trump. On social media I saw the full spectrum of emotions: joy, astonishment, anger, and fear. It was that last emotion that had kept me up. I thought of all the people I knew who were afraid because of what had just occurred. I was pondering fear and it was keeping me awake.
I know many people who voted for Secretary Clinton and were now afraid at what this election means. They are afraid for what this means for people in vulnerable situations because of their race, gender, status, and a myriad of other identifiers. They are afraid that many of their rights are now in jeopardy. Some are afraid for their lives. This fear is real.
I know many people who voted for President-Elect Trump who were afraid. They were afraid of rising healthcare costs, of the loss of jobs in their community, of a deep belief that their own sense of self-worth was slipping away. They were afraid that the country they saw around them was fundamentally different than the world they grew up in. They were afraid of what the world would look like tomorrow. This fear is real.
I can’t pretend that fear isn’t real. And I don’t presume to tell anyone today that they shouldn’t be afraid. As a pastor I’ve sat with many people who were experiencing moments of great fear. I often see two responses to such fear. Option one: find someone to blame and lash out. Option two: surround yourself with people you love and trust to hold you in the dark. I try my best to steer people to the second option.
All I can offer is the good advice that came to me this morning at 3:00 a.m. from my five year old: it’s ok to be afraid of the dark; and you don’t have to face it alone."
Friends, we have two options, and I hope we all choose to seek the embrace of our Heavenly Father and to surround ourselves with people we love and trust. The first disciples chose this; they chose to live together. They needed each other as they followed Christ and learned from him, they needed each other during the dark days of the crucifixion, and they needed each other still as they formed a beloved community and planted the first Christian church in Jerusalem. They lived together as they followed Christ.
Look again to today's passage; Jesus says to you and to his first disciples the same thing that the angels spoke to the shepherds in the fields at Christmas, "Do not be afraid." These are actually the first words that Jesus speaks to them after performing his fishing miracle. So pause for a moment and consider the power in that statement: Do - not - be - afraid! Do not fear.
The first disciples cast aside anxiety, and worry, and the stability of a steady job, and they all followed Christ. They chose not to fear when they chose to follow Jesus, and they made this choice together as one group who cared for others.
Friends, we are not alone. We have each other. And even if the person you're sitting next to is of a different gender or a different age, whether they are single or married, with children or without, voted for the same candidate as you did or for a different person, they are still your sister and brother in Christ, and they are made in the Image of God.
Living together doesn't mean we pretend we're all the same and that we'll never disagree on issues. It means that we must recognize how we are all wonderfully made by a good, good Father, and that many different people with different gifts make up the Body of Christ just as different disciples from various backgrounds and professions and education levels with varying levels of faith made up Jesus' original Twelve. 'Different' is beautiful in the Family of God.
The great author, Harper Lee, said it best in her famous work, To Kill a Mockingbird, "You can choose your friends but you sho' can't choose your family, an' they're still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge 'em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don't."
Today, I pray that we acknowledge our great human family. I pray that we choose to Live Together just as the first disciples chose to live together. And I pray that we won't be afraid to leave everything behind in order to Follow Christ.
Follow the journey of a new church as we answer the call to reach people in Collierville, Memphis, and the Mid-South.