From the Lead Pastor's Desk

Reveille UMC

Have Coffee with Pastor Doug

Take a break and get to know your lead pastor over a cup of coffee. Pastor Doug is available to meet with you at a convenient location to discuss life, Reveille, or anything that is on your mind. To set up a meeting, just contact him at 359-6041, ext. 112 or email Doug.

June 2019

Summer 2019
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

I pray this note finds you doing well and having a wonderful summer. As is always the case, this time of year finds Reveille busy as ever, working hard to fulfill our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Whether we are building or repairing houses on the Eastern Shore or in Winchester, saving lives in Honduras, instructing children at Kids Camp or Vacation Bible School, or singing God’s praises at Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Reveille people are combining time, talents, and resources to enable life-changing missions to happen here and around the world.

And yet, while not all people are called to participate in a mission trip, each of us is called to be in mission. To discover where to begin, we need not look further than our own membership vows:

Prayer: Perhaps the most important of our membership vows is also the easiest to overlook. Our prayers for our church and its ministries are essential, as they are the primary way God has given us to connect with the Divine in our midst. This summer, I am asking you to make sure you pray daily for our church.

Presence: To say that “everything slows down in the summer” is a misnomer. As I listed above, many important ministries are happening in these hot weather months, and of course, worship does not stop! We are better when we worship together, for the Spirit weaves together our voices into a mighty chorus of praise to our Savior. This summer, I am asking you to be present in worship when you are in town and to visit another church when you are traveling. 
Gifts: In Psalm 116, the psalmist asks, “What can I give back to God for the blessings poured out on me?” Our combined generosity assures that life-changing ministry is able to happen in our community, region, and world. What we give may sometimes seem insignificant to us, yet in the hands of Christ our gifts become loaves and fishes multiplied in abundance, rendered into ministries that allow worship, growth, and service. This summer, I am asking you to continue your financial support of Reveille and its mission.
Service: Jesus reminds us that “the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve.” Servanthood is the natural posture of a disciple of Christ. As always, our bulletin, newsletter, weekly emails, and website are filled with opportunities for us to serve others. This summer, I am asking you to find a way you can use the gifts and skills God has entrusted to you to bless someone else. 

Witness: When we live our membership vows, they combine to form our witness to the world. Jesus reminds us that “a tree is known by its fruit.” How we live our lives is what is in our hearts made visible for all the world to see. This summer, I am asking you to find a way to share your faith with someone else. It can be as simple as inviting a friend to church with you.

Your church needs you. Reveille is a 12-month congregation whose ministries affect positive change in people’s lives throughout the year, and we cannot be the kingdom people Christ is calling us to be without being a part of his gathered community that he calls his church. Likewise, you (and I) need the church in order to worship, to grow, and to serve in ways we could not if we were trying to do this holy work alone. I thank each of you for the myriad ways you live out the promises you have made to God and one another as members of Reveille United Methodist Church, and I look forward to what God is doing next.

Grace and peace,

May 2019

The Church That Gives Back
Amos Purnell Bailey lived from 1918 to 2006. He was a Virginia Conference pastor who served for 68 years, including the time he spent as the senior pastor of Reveille, 1967-1970. While serving as an Army chaplain during World War II, he began writing a daily syndicated column titled “Our Daily Bread,” which he continued for over 54 years.

In 2002, a significant endowment was given to Randolph-Macon College in Dr. Bailey’s name to fund scholarships for students in pre-ministerial studies. This program provides students half-tuition scholarships for their freshman and sophomore years and full tuition for the junior and senior years. In return, Bailey Scholars commit to earning a Master's level degree from an ATS accredited theology school following college.

An important part of being a Bailey Scholar is completing two pre-ministerial internships while at Randolph-Macon. Interns are placed in a wide variety of settings, including placements in churches and non-profits, as well as international service opportunities. 

This year, Reveille was asked to host a Bailey Scholar as a summer intern. I can think of no better place for a Bailey Scholar to spend a summer than here. In addition to our historical connection with the program’s namesake, we are able to offer multiple perspectives on lay and ordained ministry in a setting that maintains its mission in such vital ways over the summer months.

Our 2019 Bailey Scholar intern will be Katie Wax. Katie is a native of Chesapeake and is completing her junior year at Randolph-Macon. I first met her last summer when she helped to facilitate a program at Randolph-Macon called Convergence ( which helps high school students learn about the intersection of science and faith. My daughter Ellen participated in this program.

Katie is bright, energetic, and enthusiastic about her summer with us. I know you will enjoy getting to know her, beginning in June. She loves the church and is passionate about ministry.

I am so proud that Reveille is a congregation who is able to give back to the broader United Methodist connection in this way. Reveille has been blessed throughout its history by strong lay and clergy leadership, and our participation in the Bailey program will enable us to help raise up a new generation of church leaders who will benefit congregations near and far.

Grace and peace,

April 2019

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Grace and peace to you. I pray this note finds you filled with God’s blessings during this season of Lent. I hope you are as excited about the coming of Easter as I am. I also would like to share with you a bit of what is on the other side of our Easter worship.

Starting on April 28, we will be preaching a sermon series titled, “What the Bible Does Not Say.” In this series, we will explore common sayings often attributed to the Christian faith that are actually not found in scripture. The sayings we will be exploring are “Everything happens for a reason,” “The Lord helps those who help themselves,” “God needed another angel,” and “Pray as though everything depends upon God: Live as though everything depends upon you.” It is my prayer that by examining words not found in scripture, we will gain a deeper appreciation for the words that are.

Then, beginning on May 26, we will begin a series called “The Visible Christian: Revealing Jesus to an Unbelieving World.” Over the course of five weeks, we will explore how we can share our faith in a world that seems increasingly disinterested in what Christ has to say. What does God really expect from us in this regard? Are we to go knock on doors? Preach on the street corners? Hand out tracts? It is said that our lives may be the only Bible some people ever read. If this is true, then how can we live in such a way that God’s light shines through us in a way that does not push others away?

As always, our worship will be filled with beautiful liturgy and outstanding music. Come and join together in prayer and praise, and don’t forget to invite a friend so that we can keep the joy of Easter alive each time we gather in the name of our risen Lord.

Grace and peace,

March 2019

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

By now, you have certainly learned that the General Conference, the highest decision-making body of The United Methodist Church, passed on Tuesday, February 26, legislation known as the Traditional Plan. This plan reinforces existing restrictions against same-gender weddings by United Methodist clergy and prohibitions against the ordination of LGBTQ persons. These prohibitions against marriage and ordination have existed in our denomination since 1972. However, as a result of the passing of the Traditional Plan, the penalties for clergy who violate these rules are now swifter and more punitive than before.

The United Methodist Church is the only denomination that is both global in scope and democratic in its governance, and the church is growing in more socially and theologically conservative areas of the world such as Africa and the Philippines. As such the Traditional Plan passed with support from not only United Methodists in the United States, but also with support from United Methodists from all over the world.

It is important to note that for some legislative reasons, the Traditional Plan is subject to review by the United Methodist Judicial Council when they meet later this year. 

So, what does this mean for our life together? Reveille will continue to minister to LGBTQ persons, their families, and their children as we always have. Baptism, Holy Communion, membership, and leadership in our church remains open to these persons. There have never been prohibitions against such things in United Methodism. As is our mandate and practice, Reveille United Methodist Church will reach out to all our neighbors in love and service, and we will receive whoever God sends to us into this household of faith and loving kindness.

For some of you reading this, the General Conference decision is heartrending. For others, the decision was the correct one, and things are as they should be. Some of you have even wondered why this was a matter for conversation at all. As I said in last month’s newsletter, I was, for several reasons, a supporter of the One Church Plan, which would have offered our congregation more opportunities to be even more inclusive of LGBTQ persons. Yet regardless of where you stand on this issue, I want you to know that I love you, care for you, and will continue to give my life to serving alongside you in this important work as I promised to do when I took my vows of ordination 23 years ago.

In John 17, Jesus prays for his disciples to be one as he and the Father are one. This is my prayer for our church in these difficult and divisive days. Regardless of where one stands on the issues before the General Conference, I believe that we can be united in the truth that our world stands in need of God’s grace. The students at Swansboro Elementary still need us, just as they did before. The rural poor in the mountains of Honduras still need us, just as they did before. The hungry homeless here in Richmond still need us, just as they did before. Our community still needs the racial reconciliation we demonstrate and work towards with our partner churches, just as it did before.

I could go on, but let me say this: we are simply able to do more of God’s kingdom work in the world when we are together, and it is my earnest prayer that you will join me in working for God’s good in the world, even in the midst of things with which you cannot not agree. Reveille United Methodist Church does not exist in this time and location by mere coincidence. God has placed us here for such a time as this, for making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Come what may, to be the church Christ calls and the world needs, we need each other, side by side, even in the midst of the areas in which we can respectfully disagree.

In other words, as I have said before, I love my people more than I love my positions, and on this day, I am asking you to do the same.

On Monday, March 4, at 10:00 a.m., our Bishop Sharma Lewis will give her “State of the Church” report. This event will be both livestreamed and archived I pray this will be a useful resource for all of us as we move into God’s future together.

I will be saying more on this topic in my March 3 sermon (available March 4 at, and I pray you will join me as we worship our risen Lord together. As always, regardless of where you stand on this issue, your clergy desire to be pastoral support for you, and we are always available for conversation.

Grace and peace,

February 2019

Why I Support the One Church Plan

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Grace and peace to you. I pray this letter finds you well. I am writing to you today in regard to the future of The United Methodist Church. At the end of February, the General Conference, our global denomination’s highest decision-making body will make decisions regarding how United Methodist churches and Annual Conferences will officially relate to LGBTQ people. These decisions will specifically address matters of the marriage and ordination of, to use language from our Book of Discipline, “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals.” Currently, such persons cannot be ordained to ministry in our denomination, and United Methodist clergy and congregations cannot offer same-gender weddings. 

When the General Conference met at their regular quadrennial meeting in 2016, they reached an impasse around this issue, and the result was the creation of a global task force called The Commission on a Way Forward. You can learn more about the work of this body at

The Commission developed a proposal for the 2019 General Conference called the One Church Plan. I would like to discuss this plan for a moment in this space, specifically why I support it. In a nutshell, this plan would allow for Conferences to decide who to ordain and congregations and clergy to decide who to marry. My reasons are below.

It has been endorsed by the Commission on a Way Forward and a majority of our United Methodist bishops.

The 18 months that the Commission spent developing this plan were bathed in prayer, discussion, and discernment by people who love the church and care about its mission. Furthermore, the majority of our bishops have endorsed it as the best available option for the future of the United Methodist denomination.

It adapts to the global nature of The United Methodist Church.

The One Church Plan recognizes that in a global denomination, there is a wide variety of contexts in which our churches do ministry. As such, what may be effective in the suburbs of Northern Virginia might not necessarily work in a village in rural Africa or the Philippines, as the cultures of those respective contexts are so different. As such, the One Church Plan makes room for a more adaptive church polity that recognizes the varied contexts in which The United Methodist Church finds itself. 

It recognizes a diversity of opinions around these matters and preserves individuals’ conscience.

While people hold differing opinions on this issue, what every member of the Commission on a Way Forward has in common is a deep and abiding love for Christ and his church. On the Commission, on the Council of Bishops, and in our congregations, there are faithful Christians on differing sides of this issue. The One Church Plan addresses this, allowing for Conferences to make decisions around ordination and clergy and congregations to make choices regarding marriage. Under this arrangement, no pastor would be forced to officiate at a wedding that went against his or her conscience, and no pastor would be prohibited from officiating at a same-gender wedding if that clergyperson, after due counsel, felt called by God to do so. 

I can see Reveille in it.

One of the many joys of serving as your lead pastor is that it affords me the opportunity to serve a congregation with a rich diversity of opinions on numerous issues. Reveille is not a church that is monolithic in its thought, which gives us the blessed opportunity to learn from one another as we gather in the midst of our differences to know God, to make God known, as together we worship, grow, and serve. This issue is no different, as members of our Christ-loving congregation hold differing opinions on the matters now before us. 

It would make United Methodist congregations more nimble and strategic in our mission.

An observation I would make about United Methodism, based on a lifetime in the church and almost 22 years of pastoral ministry, is that our practice of being both global in scope and democratic in our decision-making tends towards a one-size-fits-all mode of church polity. A benefit of the One Church Plan is that it could lead our denomination to even more ways of becoming much more nimble and contextual in living out our mission, recognizing the differences that exist not only between congregations across the globe, but which exist between congregations across town. A nimble church is a church who can more quickly adapt so that it can better welcome and serve its immediate community, drawing our neighbors into the light and life of the household of God.

As I said above, you can learn much more about the special session of the General Conference at, including locating the contact information of the Virginia delegation who will be voting on these important matters.

Regardless of where you may personally stand on these issues, I want you to know that Reveille’s clergy are happy to meet with you personally to discuss any questions or concerns you may have. Stephen, Kelley, and I are available and hope to hear from you. Also, on Sunday, February 17, we will gather in the chapel after the 11:00 service for the purpose of discussing any questions or concerns you may have. We would love for you to join us.

When we become United Methodists, we covenant to support our congregation with our “prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.” Come what may, your church, both local and global, stands in need of your prayers. I invite you to join me in this month of February to do just that: to pray for Reveille, pray for the General Conference, and pray for the mission of The United Methodist Church, to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.



January 2019

When I was a 24-year-old seminary student serving as an associate pastor in a field education placement in rural western North Carolina, I served for 11 months with a pastor named Chip Webb, from whom I learned a great deal. One of the most important of these lessons dealt with the topic of prayer.

There is a prayer that today is commonly called “A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition,” one that John Wesley adapted from a 17th-century English Puritan named Richard Alleine. It was a prayer the early Methodists, especially in Europe, used in watchnight services on New Year’s Eve or on New Year’s Day itself as a way to renew one’s commitment to Christ at the outset of a new year.

Because Wesley omitted the prayer from the worship book he published in 1784 for use by Methodists in America, the prayer and the covenant service it is a part of are not used as much here as it is in the British Methodist Church. However, the prayer is an important part of our history, included in our hymnal and Book of Worship, and worthy of our consideration at the outset of 2019.

In that church in North Carolina, at the very end of 1995, Chip introduced his congregation to this prayer, but he warned them about simply praying it with rote obedience. “Read these words,” he told us, “Consider what they mean, as well as what you are committing your life to if you dare to pray these words.”

We stood there for a few moments in silence, and then, as one, we prayed: 

“I am no longer my own, but thine.

Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,

exalted for thee or brought low for thee.

Let me be full, let me be empty.

Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.

And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

thou art mine, and I am thine.

So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth,

let it be ratified in heaven.


It is a serious prayer, one that invites God to have God’s way with us, our treasure, and our lives. It is a prayer that invites us to let go of everything we have, everything we know, and everything that we are, and to place those things that we have released at the feet of our God, and then stand before this God naked, exposed, and vulnerable. 

It is a prayer that invites us to live what we believe, fully and heartily.

As we prepare for another calendar year together, I invite you to make this prayer a part of your devotional life, but I warn you: if you do, if we do, anything is possible, for you, for me, and for our life together, for this prayer invites our lives into a place where we can do no less than “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.” Handle with care!



December 2018

Reflecting on the Things God Has Done in 2018

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Grace and peace to you. May God’s richest blessings be upon you during this season of Advent anticipation. In the United Methodist Church, we have built-in systems which enable us to look back at the year that has just passed while looking ahead to the year to come. We do this each autumn as we complete our Charge Conference reports. 

Doing this affords us the opportunity to look ahead at the budget we have planned for 2019 and all of the exciting, enriching ministries we will share with one another and with our community and world. We elect lay officers who will lead us into God’s future. In this season of anticipation, we excitedly prepare for all that God will do in our very midst and we give thanks. At the same time, we pause to give thanks for all God has done in 2018. We celebrate persons who have united with our congregation as new members, and we entrust to God our departed saints who have entered the church triumphant in the year past. We give thanks to God for all we have been able to accomplish as a church family over the course of the last 12 months, including the over 200 times we have worshipped together as sisters and brothers in Christ. 

At this time last year, I told our Church Council that the most important thing for us to do in 2018 was, in many ways, to build momentum to carry us into 2019, and I am so proud of how our church members and staff have accomplished this vitally important goal. In a time when most congregations are experiencing declines in worship attendance, ours is largely holding steady. 

In a time when churches frequently ask, “Where are all the young people?” Reveille is experiencing an explosion of students helping to lead worship through our music ministry on Sunday mornings and at youth group on Sunday nights. Best of all, we have so many children at Reveille waiting in the wings for their chance at youth ministry. 

In a time when many congregations suffer declines in giving, Reveille’s members fulfill their estimates of giving at amazing levels. At a time when churches are criticized for being insular and parochial, we are engaging the world in Swansboro, Honduras, Florida, the Bahamas, and beyond.

I could go on, but you see my point. This has been a wonderful year of ministry, and may God be glorified through it all. 

We have worked very diligently in 2018 to sharpen the focus of Reveille UMC towards ministry that forms and deepens discipleship, and we will continue to do so in 2019. We will emphasize connect groups and other forms of Christian education and formation. We will increase our offerings for young adults, and we will continue to encourage and direct our members and guests into any number of small groups ministries, so that we may grow closer to God and one another.

I give thanks to God for each of you. I give thanks to God for a strong and fruitful year, and in this holy season of Advent, I eagerly anticipate what the coming Christ will do next. 



Reflecting on the Things God Has Done in 2018

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
As a write this, I have just completed making a video for our stewardship campaign, which afforded me the opportunity to sift through about a hundred photos of our life together as a congregation in 2018. I wish I could have included all of them, that I could have given a detailed description of each and every ministry in our church, that I could have told the story of each life touched and transformed by the people of Reveille United Methodist Church, both inside of our congregation and outside.

The problem, I quickly learned, was that this video would very quickly become longer than “Dr. Zhivago.”

Still, this project was a wonderful blessing for me, as it caused me to pause and reflect upon our most recent year together, and I have come away from this time of reflection with such a profound sense of gratitude for all that you have allowed God to do in and through you over the course of the last 10 months as our congregation has grown in so many important and meaningful ways.

On Sunday, October 21, 12 new members united with our congregation and participated in what God is doing here. Before the end of the year, we will baptize four children. Our confirmation class has 23 students taking the next steps in their faith journeys. On a recent Sunday, there were 22 singers in the choir loft at 11:00 am. Daniel Banke has had 50 young people at choir rehearsals. Youth group attendance is up over 20 percent from last year. 

I could go on. While I know that ministry is about more than numbers, I also remember that in ministry, numbers represent people, children of God, precious in God’s sight, people of God’s redeeming. People matter to God, and in this season of giving thanks, I give thanks to God for the many ways that people at Reveille, in Richmond, and around the world matter to you, and how this is reflected in all you bring to our church.

Reveille is a growing congregation, and I excitedly await the coming year, with all that God will birth into being in our midst. Most importantly, I am so glad we are making this journey together with you.

Speaking of next year, if you have not yet submitted your 2019 Estimate of Giving card it is not too late! (Submit one now.) We would love to have you join in the transformative work God is going to do here next year, so that you can both be blessed as a giver and transformed as a disciple of Jesus Christ. You can find more information about the budget and stewardship inside this month's copy of The Window.
See you on Sunday,


Living Our Baptismal Promises

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Like you, I have read and heard with heartbreak and dismay news stories detailing the widespread sexual abuse of children in churches around the world, and it has led me to share with you the steps that Reveille United Methodist Church has been taking and will continue to take in order to keep young people safe in our community of faith. We are blessed by gifted and capable staff to work with our children and youth, as well as a committed cadre of volunteers who day after day and week after week make ministry happen in this place and together we endeavor to live out our baptismal promises to provide a church home that is a true sanctuary for the most vulnerable members of our fellowship.

First, we utilize and continually review our child and youth protection policy, which outlines safety measures and procedures like the ones listed below. This living document helps to shape our congregational life.

We screen all persons who work with children and youth, both staff and volunteers. We do this through a company with whom we partner called ScreeningOne. Through these paid screenings, we are able to search different criminal databases, which gives us a detailed report on all of our paid and volunteer workers with children and youth. Reveille is blessed to have the resources to screen all of our volunteers, which allows us to have a level of security beyond what most congregations can offer. 

We employ healthy ratios of adults to children and youth, and we utilize a rule of three so that a young person is never alone with an adult. Our children’s Sunday school classes also utilize a two-adult rule. We regularly hold Safe Sanctuaries training for our volunteers.

Those who volunteer with children and youth must have been active in our congregation for at least six months. This rule is in place to prevent ill-intentioned adults from having quick and easy access to children and youth.

On a personal note, I write to you today not only as your lead pastor, but also as a parent of two children, one in our children’s ministry, and one in our youth ministry, and as such, I would like to thank you for your support of these measures. As important as they are, they cannot be lived out without your prayers, support, and dedication, and for that I am grateful.

Please keep these ministries in your prayers, so that we can truly be who God has called and equipped us to be: a place where all God’s children can live and grow in the way that leads to life.

Grace and peace,

“With God’s help, we will so order our lives after the example of Christ, that this child, surrounded by steadfast love, may be established in the faith, and confirmed and strengthened 
in the way that leads to life eternal.”
Congregational Pledge #2
From the Baptismal Covenant II: Holy Baptism for Children
And Others Unable to Answer for Themselves


Why I Believe in Connect Groups

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

I pray that you are well and excited for a new program year at Reveille. As we look into September, I would like to discuss something about which I am very excited: 
connect groups.

As you read last month, “connect groups link members to one another, the world, and God. They may include Sunday school classes, covenant groups, and Bible studies. Groups may meet at Reveille, in a coffee shop, in a home, or any place the group selects. Each connect group is made up of four essential components: Bible study, prayer, service, and care.”

Imagine not merely going to church but having an opportunity to be the church out in the world, learning about and serving God, serving others, and making lasting friendships. Now imagine not having to do this at 4200 Cary Street Road in a classroom at Reveille. Instead, a group could meet anywhere you like, with anyone you like, studying God’s word as you like, even while doing things you like.

It really is possible. Connect groups can, of course, meet at church, but they could be a part of a running or cycling group, even on a golf course. In fact, the group does not even need to meet at the same place each time. The point is for you to make connections with God and neighbor in the places you already find yourself.

Here is why I believe in connect groups:

First, they are biblical. In Matthew, Jesus says “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” We meet the living Christ when we gather in his name, as he joins our gatherings, the same Jesus who was throughout his ministry gathering people together from their separate lives and stories.

Second, they are distinctively Methodist. When John and Charles Wesley started the Methodist movement, they were really just trying to start a Bible study on the campus of Oxford. Yet as the movement grew, it grew largely on the strength of small groups who learned together, served together, and cared for one another. 

Third, they are fun! I participate in a connect group at Reveille called the Men’s Prayer Breakfast. Not only do we pray and study scripture, we have become fast friends who genuinely care for one another and enjoy each other’s company. It starts my week off right, and allows me quality time with people whose life and witness enriches mine.

Fourth, they change the world. Connect groups have a service component to them. Your group will discover a way to serve others, and in that service, your gifts meet the world’s needs and lives in Richmond are transformed.

Fifth, they will care for you. One of the greatest benefits of being in a connect group is that no one stands or falls alone. There are people who will check on you, walk the path of discipleship with you, even when it is hard. And in your love and compassion, you will do the same for them, enriching their lives as well.

As you consider joining or forming one of these groups, your clergy at Reveille are ready to help you. Be creative. Think of things the church may not have ever considered. Love others, and have fun. Let it be said about us what was said of the early church, “See how they love one another.”

Grace and peace,


A Letter to My Congregation

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Grace and peace to you. I pray you are doing well. I am writing to you today a few weeks into my fifth year as your lead pastor, and I would like to share with you some thoughts as I look forward into the coming year.

This is such an exciting time to be in ministry at Reveille. Together, we have assembled Virginia’s finest team of lay and staff leadership who will enable us to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead into the future, even in these uncertain times. I am convinced that God is with us, that God has shown great favor to our congregation, and that our best days are still ahead of us.

A few reasons why I am so excited:

Remember 9/9/9:00! On September 9, The Point contemporary worship service is moving to 9:00 am from 9:30 am. This change is part of a relaunch of this service, and will allow not only wider participation in this reimagined service, but will allow The Point congregation to participate in connect groups (see below).

Evensong: Starting October 3, our Wednesday night contemplative worship experience is being redesigned as a service of evensong, which will loosely follow the Anglican service of the same name. These thematic services will sometimes include preaching, but will also include other forms of prayer and reflection, Lectio Divina, and of course, opportunities to receive Holy Communion.

Connect groups! There is more to this than I can fit in this space, but I could not be more excited about this new opportunity for us to engage in an authentically Wesleyan way of Christian formation. Connect groups include prayer, Bible study, service, and mutual accountability in love. What is more, they can take place anywhere and at any time. Curious? Speak to Kelley Lane, Stephen Coleman, or me for more information. 

The 2018-2019 school year will be the first since our new partnership with Swansboro Elementary where the use of funds from our million dollar gift has enabled Ellen Ficker, Swansboro’s Communities in School coordinator, to be full time. Ellen has remarkable gifts and abilities to connect with and bless Swansboro students. Her increased presence in the school will enable us to have a better “boots on the ground presence” in the Swansboro Community, which will enable our SPIRIT team to think even more strategically about our outreach in that community. 

This coming year will be the second year of our partnership with our ministry in the village of El Cielito, in Santa Barbara, Honduras. El Cielito is an Advanced Learning community, as well as one of the communities participating in the Early Childhood Development Program. El Cielito’s community leader has been trained to do a simple age appropriate developmental screening, as a means of identifying children with developmental delays.  Children with delays are then referred to the Extended Care Program for a more complete assessment and treatment planning.

Writing this, I discovered that I am excited about more than I could possibly fit in one article, so I entreat you to read this newsletter in its entirety to learn about the myriad ways in which Reveille United Methodist Church is making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Clearly God is using our gifts in so many ways.

Finally, on a personal note,  I want to thank you for being the church for my family and me. You all have been such a blessing to us, our family of faith, hope, and grace, and we love you for it. We are so blessed by you, and we treasure these years we are able to spend with you.


July 2018

Summer of Forgiveness: Giving Up All Hope

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

When I became your lead pastor four years ago, one thing that struck me about Reveille is a characteristic of our Sunday worship that is unlike all of the other congregations I have served: we pray a prayer of confession and pardon each week, and not only on Communion Sundays. It is one of my favorite things about our worshipping life together.

I love this because it sets the tone for our worship, reminding us from the outset that ours is a pardoning, and that everything else that we do and say in the service is done and said in response to God’s gracious mercy and pardon in Jesus Christ, the mercy and pardon that again and again, God offers to all people.

In worship throughout the month of July, we will be exploring what it means to be a forgiven and forgiving people. What does God really expect of us when it comes to forgiveness? Can all things truly be forgiven? How can I trust God’s forgiveness when I cannot forgive myself? Can I forgive someone who does not believe they have wronged me? What about those things that have been done to me that just feel too great to be forgiven, and why is forgiveness so important to God anyway?

Lily Tomlin famously described forgiveness as “giving up all hope of a better past.” These are the kind of questions we will be exploring during worship in July, and I pray that we can all be present for this important sermon series, as we all lose (and gain) a bit of hope together.

In Christ,

June 2018

The United Methodist Church and Human Sexuality - An Update

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

I pray your life is full of God’s blessings in this season after Pentecost. I am writing to you this month to give you an update on the work of the Commission on a Way Forward and the United Methodist Council of Bishops regarding our denomination’s ongoing dialogue regarding human sexuality.

In a combined Sunday School class on April 8, I led the first of a three-part series of discussions on human sexuality and the future of The United Methodist Church. Part one dealt with how United Methodists interpret scripture. Part two will explore the polity of the denomination, or how United Methodists organize for mission, and part three will deal with the specific scriptures and church law in question. Click here for the summer combined adult Sunday school schedule.

On April 8, some of you asked about the proposals that have been developed and I was able to share with you three models that were being forwarded to the Council of Bishops by the Commission on a Way Forward. The first was called the One Church Model, which “allows for contextualization of language about human sexuality in support of the mission; and allows for central conferences, especially those in Africa, to retain their disciplinary authority to adapt the Book of Discipline and continue to include traditional language and values while fulfilling the vision of a global and multicultural church. This plan also encourages a generous unity by giving United Methodists the ability to address different missional contexts in ways that reflect their theological convictions. The One Church Plan removes the restrictive language [on LGBTQ issues] in the Book of Discipline… and adds assurances to pastors and Conferences who, due to their theological convictions, cannot perform same-sex weddings or ordain self-avowed practicing homosexuals.”

The second proposal is called the Connectional Conference Plan, which would organize The United Methodist Church into three connectional conferences, based on theology and perspective on LGBTQ ministry. The three conferences would be the Progressive Conference, the Contextual Conference, and the Traditional Conference. Annual conferences like Virginia would decide which connectional conference to affiliate with, and only local churches who choose a branch other than the one chosen by their annual conference would vote to join another conference.

Finally, there is the Traditionalist Plan, which would preserve the Book of Discipline’s current restrictive language which prohibits the marriage and ordination of LGBTQ persons in our church.  

On May 18, 2018, the Council of Bishops issued the following statement: “The Council of Bishops has voted by an overwhelming majority to share the work done by the Commission on a Way Forward on the three plans and to recommend the One Church Plan. The One Church Plan will be placed before the [February] 2019 General Conference for legislative action. To honor the work of the commission, and in service to the delegates to the [February] 2019 Special Session of the General Conference, the Council of Bishops will also provide supplemental materials that include a historical narrative with disciplinary implications related to the connectional conference plan and the traditionalist plan. The recommendation adopted by the Council of Bishops reflects the wide diversity of theological perspectives and the global nature of the UMC as the best way forward for our future as a denomination.”

Throughout this process of discernment, your Reveille clergy have worked to be as open and transparent as possible regarding the deliberations of the leadership of The United Methodist Church. This has been the case for three important reasons. First, we communicate with the congregation in this way because we both trust and expect the very best of people who love and serve the church the way Reveille UMC people do. Second, this is an important issue that affects the lives and families of real people in our community and beyond as we seek to be an authentic Christian witness to the world, and third, learning to have holy conversations with our sisters and brothers in Christ on difficult issues goes to the very heart of what it means for us to be part of something larger than ourselves, as together we strive to live in community as the body of Christ on earth.

Please keep this process in your daily prayers. You can find the most up-to-date information at a special section of the Virginia Conference website at, or you can always meet with Kelley, Stephen, or me, and we will be happy to discuss this matter with you. 
See you on Sunday,

May 2018

A Walk Across the Room

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Grace and peace to you. I pray you are doing well and enjoying this beautiful spring weather. As I write this, the Reveille grounds and gardens are blooming with their characteristic loveliness. Soon the weather will be warm, and life will slow down a little.

Or will it? Reveille is sending missionaries to Daytona Beach, Florida, the Bahamas, and Honduras. We are sending young people to Lake Junaluska, North Carolina for worship and arts camp. At home, we will be blessing children and the community through our Vacation Bible School and Kidz C.A.M.P. That means Reveille will be experiencing God and transforming lives in two foreign countries and three domestic states.

So what about those of us who remain in Richmond? How can we be in mission to Christ’s people and Christ’s church? I have an idea, and it is something that I know you can do and do well: make summer Sunday worship as welcoming and inviting as we possibly can.

As it turns out, summer is a time when many new people search for churches, and it is imperative that we, the people of Reveille United Methodist Church, put our best foot forward, and there are three vitally important ways for us to rise to the challenge and do this:

1. Be present in Sunday worship when you are in town.
2. Invite your friends and neighbors to church with you.
3. Be welcoming and invitational. 
As old-fashioned as it sounds, the primary way in which individuals come to know Christ is still through his church, and the primary way in which people connect with a church is through personal invitation. Being invitational is one of the essential elements of the personality of a disciple, and a second is like it: being hospitable. 

Christian hospitality can be as simple as a walk across the room on a Sunday morning, and saying to someone, “I haven’t learned your name yet. My name is _______. I am so glad to see you this morning.” It is how people are welcomed in this building that we boldly call the house of God. It is how friendships are made. Most importantly, it is how so many people will come to know the living God in their midst, and that this God is the God of love and welcome.

Sometimes missions work means traveling to foreign lands. Sometimes it is in our own back yard. Sometimes it is a walk across the room. We are all God’s missionaries. Let’s get to work!


“Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled.”
- Luke 14:23

April 2018

April Fools: Faith, Doubt, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, 
“I have seen the Lord.” - John 20:18a

As I write this, I am about to sit down and begin composing my 21st Easter sermon. As I do, I am faced with the same challenge that all preachers face year after year: making the old, old, story new again. What can we possibly say about Easter that we have not already said? What does it mean for us to believe Jesus rose from death, and if it is true, what does it say about how we live our lives and die our deaths in this realm? 

The resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from death sounds so implausible that even scripture itself wrestles with it. In 1 Corinthians 15:17, Paul writes “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” Earlier, in 1 Corinthians 1:23, Paul states “we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” Foolishness indeed.

However, I assert that believing that Jesus rose from death requires less faith than believing he did not, and it is time that we subject doubt to the same level of scrutiny that faith faces, especially now.

Bart Ehrman, the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill argues in his book How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee that it was the early church who fashioned the itinerant rabbi known as Jesus of Nazareth into a divine figure, and “If that hadn't happened, [Christianity] would never have become the dominant religious, cultural, political, social, economic force that it became so that we wouldn’t have even had the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Reformation, or modernity as we know it.” 

So then, a dozen or so men and women who had just witnessed the torture and murder of their leader somehow decided that it would be reasonable to concoct an imaginary scenario in which Jesus came back to life, appeared to them, removed their fear, and convinced them to risk their lives in order to propagate this lie throughout the Roman empire, this lie that has survived each generation’s attempt to destroy it, this lie that would become “the dominant religious, cultural, political, social, economic force that it became so that we wouldn’t have even had the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Reformation or modernity as we know it.” Friends, I do not have that much faith.

Or perhaps the alternative actually is more plausible, that early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, a sealed tomb was open and empty, and the one who was inside did appear to those who sought him and in so doing transformed this tiny, frightened group into something the likes of which the world had never before known.

I invite you to join us on April 1 for Easter worship, so that we may celebrate what we know to be true: Christ is alive and death has been vanquished. It is not as crazy as it sounds.

Grace and peace,

March 2018

The United Methodist Church and Human Sexuality - An Update

Lenten blessings to you. I pray this note finds you well. I am writing today to provide you with an update on matters of human sexuality at the denominational level, as well as plans we are making at Reveille United Methodist Church. 
A bit of backstory: On May 18, 2016, delegates at the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Oregon, approved a request from the Council of Bishops to delay a debate on homosexuality until a proposed commission can study church regulations. Instead, the bishops asked for the body’s permission to name a special commission that would completely examine and possibly recommend revisions of every paragraph in The Book of Discipline related to human sexuality. The commission would represent the different regions of a denomination on four continents as well as the varied perspectives of the church. This commission is known as the Commission on a Way Forward. 

The Commission on a Way Forward (COWF) consists of 32 members from all around the world. With great prayer and discernment over the course over the last 12 months, the COWF has developed three possible models to present to the United Methodist Council of Bishops in advance of a special, called meeting of the General Conference in February of 2019. Information on these models can be found here: Even more information can be found on the Virginia Conference website at, including contact information for the COWF and resource guides. 
At Reveille, your clergy leadership have done some teaching around this issue during combined Sunday School last summer. Rev. Kelley Lane and I have assembled a task force to create a framework for holy conversation around this issue in our congregation. This task force held its first meeting on February 26, 2018. Personally, I have attended two gatherings around this important issue: the Uniting Methodists Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, in November 2017 as well as the Virginia Conference’s Bishop’s “Chat and Chew 2.0” in Stafford, Virginia last month. At this gathering, I served as a small group facilitator. Finally, Rev. Lane and I participated in a Virginia Conference webinar on discussing this issue hosted by Rev. Tom Berlin, a Virginia pastor and member of the COWF.

You will be hearing of opportunities at Reveille to dialogue about this issue soon, to make your voice heard, and to learn from the perspectives of others. In the meantime, please know that we will be using our normal channels of communication to keep you apprised of the latest updates on this issue as they happen.

When we become United Methodists, we covenant to uphold our church with our “prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.” Your church needs your prayers, and I pray that you will covenant with me during this Lenten journey to pray daily for the United Methodist Church, for the COWF, and for the people, leadership, and ministries of Reveille United Methodist Church.
Grace and peace,

February 2018

Discipleship Matters

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

In this season of Epiphany, and as we prepare for the beginning of Lent, I pray you are doing well. In my letter to you last month, I commended you on your worship attendance and how our 2017 attendance at all of our regular services improved over our 2016 numbers. This year, I would like to commend you on your giving in two ways.

First, your giving to Glorious Gifts, our alternative Christmas gift ministry to fund our outreach ministries far exceeded the total for a year ago. In fact, your giving to Glorious Gifts in 2017 was the best in five years. By raising $31,525, you shattered our goal of $23,000. Well done, good and faithful servants!.

Second, our commitments to our stewardship campaign are up over where they were at this point last year. This is exciting news and evidence of your passion for Christ and his church at Reveille. Also, if you have not submitted an estimate of giving card for 2018, it is not too late. Information can be found at Again, well done, and thank you for your generous and diligent stewardship of God’s resources to fund ministry at Reveille!

And now for a new challenge, which comes to us by way of our Bishop Sharma D. Lewis. As I wrote last month, the reason Reveille United Methodist Church exists is for “the making of deeply committed disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, disciples who experience, practice, and share their faith in three discreet ways: worshipping God, growing in knowledge and understanding of our faith, and serving God by serving others in our church, community, and beyond.”

Studies show, including those found in the book Simple Church by Thom S. Ranier and Eric Geiger, that perhaps the most essential component of a Christian community of faith’s formation of disciples is small groups. In our context, a small group could look like a Sunday school class, a covenant group, a Bible study, a regular prayer breakfast, or even a small group that meets at church, in homes, or even in places such as coffee shops. What is important is that we are together with our brothers and sisters in Christ, allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to work in and through us and our life together. By the way, I am excited to tell you that our church council is currently reading Simple Church together while looking for ways to implement our learnings in the life of our congregation.

There is something very distinctively Wesleyan about this method of Christian formation, as John Wesley intentionally organized the early Methodists into small groups. He did this because he believed that there is no solitary religion in the New Testament, and because he believed in a social religion where we are formed in relationships with God and our neighbor.

Of this, Wesley writes, “It can scarce be conceived what advantages have been reaped from this little prudential regulation. Many now happily experienced that Christian fellowship of which they had not so much as an idea before. They began to ‘bear one another’s burdens,’ and ‘naturally’ to ‘care for each other.’ As they had daily a more intimate acquaintance with, so they had a more endeared affection for each other. And ‘speaking the truth in love, they grew up into him in all things which is the head, even Christ; from whom the whole body, fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplied, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, increased unto the edifying itself in love.’” (Wesley, “A Plain Account of the People Called Methodists” Works 9:262)

Perhaps everything old is new again, or perhaps it is time for the people called Methodists at Reveille to return to our roots as one of the expressions of Christianity that most highly values the communal aspects of our faith.

To this end, you will be hearing much more about opportunities through our church to be involved in Christian formation groups. Please keep this process in your prayers, but most importantly, if you are not already in such a group, prayerfully ask the Spirit of God to lead you into such a group, and that it may be a place where your gifts bless others, and where the gifts of others bless and edify you in your journey of discipleship, for the sake of the transformation of the world.
In Christ,

A disciple of Jesus Christ is lifelong learner who influences others to serve.
 - Virginia Conference Bishop Sharma D. Lewis

January 2018

Why Reveille United Methodist Church Exists

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

In this season of Christmas, I pray this letter finds you filled with God’s grace and abundance. I would like to commend you for how diligent you have been in attending to the means of grace, especially in your worship attendance. As of this writing, our average worship attendance in 2017 is up over our 2016 numbers at all three Sunday services. In short, Reveille is praising God! Well done good and faithful servants! Your ability to accomplish this places you in an elite group of congregations in the United Methodist Church as well as within mainline Protestantism. 

As we move into 2018 and beyond, I want you to know what will be our primary congregational focus: the making of deeply committed disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, disciples who experience, practice, and share their faith in three discreet ways: worshipping God, growing in knowledge and understanding of our faith, and serving God by serving others in our church, community, and beyond. 

At out annual fall Charge Conference, our Church Council agreed that, in our context, a disciple of Jesus Christ “is a lifelong learner who is, as James 1:22 says, a ‘doer of the word.’ Disciples grow in our faith as we, by the action of the Holy Spirit, move towards sanctification. Disciples exhibit a relationship with Jesus characterized by spending time with God in acts of piety, such as prayer, Bible study, receiving the sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion, corporate worship, and Christian conversation.” 

Furthermore, “Disciples also live lives characterized by service with others, working for justice and peace while influencing others to do the same. Disciples of Jesus Christ are ambassadors of the gospel who take the Good News of the Kingdom to the world, leading by example with an ability to share our own faith stories with joy and grace, while bearing the fruits of the spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

It is our belief that our definition of a disciple of Jesus Christ is truly biblical, distinctly Wesleyan, and authentically Reveille, something each of us can strive for in our journey of discipleship in this time and place. 

Going forward, it will be the responsibility of church leadership to plan and evaluate all programs and ministries based on two questions. First, are we offering programs and ministries for people at all stages of faith development that will enable them to grow toward becoming deeply committed disciples of Jesus Christ? Second, is a particular program or ministry enabling members of our church to take the next faithful step to grow in their journey of discipleship?

Reveille United Methodist Church does so much, all of it good. Yet, it is my belief that the benefit of our emphasis on the formation of disciples will enable us focus our efforts in a way that will make the best use of our church’s time, human capital, staff, and resources as we labor together to make the Kingdom of God known in our place and time. 

This is not easy work. It requires great prayer, conversation, searching the scriptures, and discernment. As we enter into 2018, I need you to do three things: first, please keep our church and its leadership in your daily prayers. We need them and they do make a difference. Second, examine your own spiritual health and practices, and join in ministries that will feed your soul in the year to come. Make a priority of growing in God’s grace in 2018. Finally, I need you to invite others into this journey of discipleship, so that, in the words of one my favorite prayers, “those to whom love is a stranger will find in us generous and faithful friends.”

Exciting things are coming, but they will mean even more only if you are a part of them. I invite you to join us for another exciting year of partnering with God and one another to transform the world for good.

In Christ,

Click here to read the Charge Conference report on disciple-making in its entirety.

If you would like to have conversation with me about it, you can reach me at (804) 359-6041, ext. 112 or

December 2017

The Worst Gift Ever

Tracy and I were married in March of 1998 and her birthday is in July. I can still remember going to the store to purchase my very first birthday gift for my new wife. I sneaked it in to the house, hid it in the back of my closet, wrapped it myself and waited for the last day of the month when I would give it to her.

I am certain that I was more excited than she was as she lifted the rather large box and began to tear off the paper. I am even more certain that I was more excited than she was when she saw what was inside.

 It was a bread machine. 

That’s right: I somehow decided to begin married life as a stereotype by buying my wife an appliance for her birthday. Her reaction was in no way what I was hoping for. After a few agonizing moments of silence, she said “This is more a gift for you than it is for me.”

She would not even allow me to exchange it for another gift, because she did not trust me to. I was benched for the year. “Just give me the receipt. I am going to the store,” she said. “You wait here.”

I tell you this story so I can tell you about the most recent gift I gave. It was at our annual Charge Conference, where a cluster of local United Methodist churches gathered to present a gift that showcased the disciple-making ministries of our congregation. Reveille’s gift was a movie I made, using photographs of ministries of our church over the course of the last year, interspersed over a video of our youth choir characteristically beautifully singing the Prayer of Saint Francis, “Lord Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace.” 

As with the bread machine, I felt rather good going in and rather bad coming out. The gift I made was just not enough to do justice to the work that is done week after week, in so many ways by the people of our congregation. Reveille is a complex organism that does so much good in so many different ways. In my presentation, I tried to point to our 56 page ministry manual which you can find in the pews on Sunday morning, and talk about the ways we will plan and evaluate ministries going forward. I only had eight minutes to speak, and I tried to rush, which never works for me.

My gift, it turns out, was something of a bread machine. 

If I could do it over again, I would have told the gathering that Reveille is a place that has ministries in place for people from birth to old age, that we send our people to the mountains of Honduras to provide medical care, to the marshes of the Eastern Shore to build homes, that we sent teenagers to the streets of Washington, D.C., in order to share the gospel through music, and middle schoolers to Winchester to repair houses. I would have described the new Open Table ministry and how it is helping to transform lives using the gifts God has given to our members.

I would have described for them what it is like to hear the youth choir sing “Carol of the Bells” from the balcony of the sanctuary on Christmas Eve, what it is like to hear tiny voices from our Children and Worship class say “the body of Christ, given for you” when they learn how to serve Holy Communion, and how so many new parents learn to leave their child in someone else’s care for the first time in our nurseries. I would have described what it is like to leave a service on Sunday morning where CrossPoint led us in singing “God of Wonders,” and then immediately participate in a service in the sanctuary where the choir sings in Latin. I would have described for them how the candlelight dances in the chapel during Wednesday night worship as we pray. I would have told them how children fall in love with sacred music by learning how to ring handbells. 

I would have taken them to Swansboro, to see an elementary school with so many needs and opportunities, and to our partner churches and the life-changing work they are doing in south Richmond. I would have told them about the conversations I had last summer at Kidz Camp with children who had just served lunch to the homeless, and who had come back to Reveille overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity, yet melancholy because so many of the homeless were their age.  

I would have told them about the countless adults formed into Christ’s ambassadors in the world through Disciple Bible Study, the hard questions asked by the eighth graders in Confirmation class, and the ways in which our members care for one another in their Sunday School classes. I would have told them about our how our prayer team sits with the joy and pain of our members, written out on yellow prayer cards, as they pray to God over these concerns in our chapel throughout the week. 

I would have told them about the Men’s Prayer Breakfast and how we each pray for the church and world each week. I would have told them about the United Methodist Women’s circles, including the Anna Oliver circle for teenage girls and how they are likely the only such group in Richmond. 

Of course, I have just scratched the surface of what we do and who we are, and my eight minutes would have been up, but the point would have been clear: Reveille changes lives. Reveille changes lives because it is a church of the gospel of Jesus Christ and because Jesus changes lives and both commands and empowers us to do the same.

It was been a wonderful year at Reveille. Christ has been exalted in worship, more deeply known in our grow ministries, and lived visibly in our serve ministries. Put simply, the world is a better place because we are here, partnering with God and one another for the transformation of the world, to make the Kingdom known in our midst. 

I am convinced that 2018 will be another strong year for our congregation. It will be a year in which we prayerfully focus all that we do on the formation of deeply committed disciples of Jesus Christ, which will be the work of all of our people and ministries. As United Methodists, it is our purpose, our mandate, and our charge. I look forward to what the coming year will bring as we make this journey of discipleship together. 

Grace and peace,

November 2017

John Wesley and "Defying Gravity"

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

John Wesley, the 18th century co-founder of Methodism, was the son of an Anglican priest named Samuel, who served one of the lowest-paying parishes in England while trying to support a wife and 10 children. Samuel was almost never out of debt and once was even sent to debtor’s prison. Yet, when John became a fellow of Lincoln College at Oxford University his financial life improved greatly. For the first time in his life, he had the funds to purchase luxuries such as playing cards, brandy, and tobacco. 

One day, he had a life-changing experience. It was winter and Wesley had just purchased some decorations for his room when he encountered a chambermaid at his door who he noticed lacked a coat to protect her from the cold. He wanted to give her some money to purchase a coat and realized he had too little left. He suddenly began to ask himself what God would think about how he was using his money, whether or not God would regard him as a “good and faithful steward.” He began to realize that his spending on himself was weighing him down instead of enabling him to defy gravity in such a way that he could be a benefit to the poor, cold woman now standing before him.

Starting when he was 28 and for the rest of his life, he lived with remarkable frugality. He lived simply so that he could free his resources in order to help others as much as he possibly could. He ate a vegetarian diet, mainly potatoes, so that he could save money. He had his hair cut as seldom as possible for the same reason. He was so careful with his purchases that, in 1776, the tax commissioners accused him of underreporting his possessions on his return and failing to pay excise on them, reasoning that he must own more than he did. 

He managed to live on 30 pounds a year for the rest of his life and he gave away the surplus. In fact, when Wesley died, he give instructions that his pallbearers were to be unemployed men looking for work, and that there should be heavy black curtains in the windows of the sanctuary of the church where his funeral was to take place. The fabric from those curtains was to be fashioned into dresses for poor women. It is said that when John Wesley died, he only left behind some religious books, a well-worn pulpit robe, and the Methodist Church. 

John Wesley’s gravity-defying generosity was borne of two important realizations. The first was the realization that all he had was God’s, and that God had entrusted wealth to him so that he might be a steward of his wealth the purpose of holiness. Wesley understood God as having great trust in people like you and me to use what is God’s in godlike, God-glorifying ways.

Second, he realized that generosity does not happen by accident. It requires disciplined budgeting and careful planning. John Wesley organized his life so that he could be a generous, life-changing person. By living well within his means, he was freed, not only from the weight of debt that so plagued his father for so much of his life, but also freed to be the kind of disciple who God was calling him to be at any given moment. In so doing, he was freed to, in the words of Jesus “have life, and have it abundantly.”

It is my prayer that the Defying Gravity series has been a blessing to you, that it has helped you to take steps towards defying financial gravity, that it has enabled you to become a more generous disciple of Christ, and that you will be able to experience the joys of generosity in your own life. 

If you have not yet returned your 2018 Estimate of Giving to the church, it is not too late. You can do so online ( or use the form on 
page 17 and place it in the offering plate during worship or mail to the church office. Our goal for 2018 is for these estimates of giving to total $1.3 million, which is a stretch goal of $100,000 more than last year. It is my belief, as well as the belief of church leadership, that together, we can do this, that we can be a “gravity-defying” congregation, and that our generosity can fund our witness to the world in 2018. I am grateful to be making this journey of generosity with each of you as together, we see what God can do.
Grace and peace,

October 2017

Reveille 1-2-3 Plan

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Grace, peace, and autumn blessings to you all. I am writing to you today with a new initiative that I believe will bear much fruit in your own life, as well as in our life together, an initiative called Reveille 1-2-3. 

As I said in my sermon on Reveille Day, we are stronger when we are together, and our faith becomes richer and move vibrant when we avail ourselves of the means of grace offered by the church. Therefore, I am issuing to our congregation the following Reveille 1-2-3 challenge.

I want you, in this program year, from today until the end of May to do three things:

First, make a covenant with God and one another to be present in weekly worship, Sunday morning or Wednesday night, at least one more time each month than you already do (unless, of course, you are already here each week).

The second facet of our Reveille 1-2-3 Plan is for each of us to covenant to participate in two studies at church over the course of the next nine months, so that we may be edified and grow in our faith and mutual support.

The third facet of the Reveille 1-2-3 Plan is for each of us to find three ways in which we can serve others with our time and talents. This can be anything from reading to children at Swansboro Elementary School, to serving on a team or committee at church, to teaching children, to volunteering with youth. 

One, two, three.

As I said, this is designed to be both challenging and doable, and when we do it, we will be changed as individuals, we will be changed as a church, and we will change the world.

Jesus makes it clear that there is something cosmic and eternal at stake in our life together and our witness to the world. Our life together matters. So now is the time for us to rise to the challenge, to be formed into the kind of congregation we are capable of being, and to be Christian disciples the world needs now. 

Let’s do it together, and see what our God can do in our midst.
In Christ,

September 2017

Reflections on Charlottesville

We lived in Crozet, a bedroom community of Charlottesville, for nine years between 2005 and 2014, while I was serving as the pastor of Crozet United Methodist Church. Tracy taught fourth grade for eight years in the neighboring Albemarle County public schools, and for one year in the city of Charlottesville at Johnson Elementary. Our youngest daughter Claire was born at the old downtown Martha Jefferson Hospital. 

And now, it is somehow all different. On August 12, East Market Street, the place where we once watched a parade, became a racial battleground. The Downtown Mall, where Ellen as a preschooler used to hold our hands and slide atop the fallen autumn leaves, is now the place where Heather Heyer was murdered by a white supremacist who had driven to Charlottesville from Ohio. The verdant golf course we used to pass on our way into town is the site of the helicopter crash that took the lives of Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates of the Virginia State Police.

We were vacationing in South Carolina on the Saturday when the violence took place. It was heartbreaking to watch on television and the internet: this evil imported into our quiet little city. It was a helpless feeling being two states away while hell was breaking loose a dozen miles from our old home. I cannot imagine what it was like to actually be there, in the midst of it all.

On Saturday night, I had a dream where I was supposed to take a document to the University of Richmond, and when I arrived on campus, I realized I had forgotten the document. As I began to return home (for some reason, on foot), two students began to harass me. They followed me everywhere I went, I tried to get away from them, and they were hurling epithets, insulting everything about me, pushing me from behind, and threatening violence against me. 

I awakened Sunday morning thinking of an interview I once read from 1987 with the Irish singer Bono where he said that the reason he was drawn to Dr. King, to Gandhi, to Christ, and to nonviolence was specifically because he was not, by nature, a nonviolent person. He describes himself, especially when he was young, as someone who did not turn the other cheek. Even as an adult, he felt like a hypocrite for writing songs about peace and love while being wired the way that he is. 

It made me wonder about myself, about how I would have behaved had I been on the Downtown Mall that Saturday. I preached my first sermon more than 23 years ago, and I can talk a good game about love for enemies and nonviolence, but had I been there, had I taken the devil’s bait and succumbed to anger, could have I, in that moment, put hope above despair and loving kindness above violence? Could I have seen the divine image still remaining in the contorted faces of those threatening me? Could I have taken the longer view, left vengeance to God, and placed the ideals of my faith above my most base and animalistic desires when things seemed like a fever dream and everything was falling apart. If I am honest, I am afraid I do not know. 

Earlier this year, I heard Rep. John Lewis discuss the training he received during the Civil Rights movement regarding how to resist violence without returning it, and I wonder if I, in the moment, could have such discipline under the same difficult circumstances.

Tracy was less then three months pregnant with Ellen on September 11, 2001, which meant we were the only ones who knew, as we had not told anyone. I can remember preaching that Sunday and quoting The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s sermon entitled "The Most Durable Power." In it he said, “Always be sure that you struggle with Christian methods and Christian weapons. Never succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter. As you press on for justice, be sure to move with dignity and discipline, using only the weapon of love. Let no man pull you so low as to hate him. Always avoid violence. If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in your struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.” I remember standing in the pulpit, looking at Tracy, seated in the choir loft, her looking back at me, and wondering what kind of world into which we were bringing this still unnamed child on that day when, in the words of the old hymn “the wrong seem[ed] oft so strong.”

I wonder about myself, but on this afternoon, I think perhaps that is a good thing. Perhaps now is the time for all of us to take a good look in the mirror and remind ourselves of the convictions that we hold so dear, convictions that we name in our baptismal vows, that we will “resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves,” convictions that name racism and murder as the vile, demonic, anti-Christian forces that they are.    

But we simply must always do so while at the same time remembering that the courage we need to live those same convictions comes not from our own will or resolve, but from the God who stands with us, for our sake, for the sake of our brothers and sisters, even for the sake of our enemies who like us, are children of God, made in God’s image. We remember this, lest we usher into this realm the “long and desolate night of bitterness” of which we were warned. Now is the time to redouble our efforts for peace and justice, love and understanding, as though everything were at stake and the world were watching. Because it is.

If you would like helpful resources that our church provides regarding racial reconciliation and justice, including ways to address racism with children, you can find them at

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
- Romans 12:21

Update from the Gift Task Force

Blessing Others

The task force authorized by our Church Council to allocate the first $200,000 of our $1 million gift has been meeting and working diligently and prayerfully to further the cause of Christ with this wonderful, generous sum that has been entrusted to us. Here is where we are:

We approved a $48,000 one-time gift to our partner in Honduras, the Friends of Barnabas Foundation medical mission. Reveille has a long-standing relationship with Friends of Barnabas, sending a mission team to Honduras each summer to provide medical care for impoverished children. Through this contribution, we will be supporting the organization’s Extended Care program for children whose medical needs go beyond the care provided by the Community Health clinics. Children and families in Extended Care receive home visits, transportation to appointments with specialists and hospitals throughout Honduras, medications, and treatments or surgery if needed. Educational workshops also are given for parents and caregivers of children with special health needs.  

The task force also approved paying for year one of a community partnership with Friends of Barnabas in El Cielto, Honduras. This gift of $3,250 will give our Outreach Committee a year to build this sponsorship into their annual budget starting in 2018. El Cielto is where our mission team served this summer, and our partnership will bless adults, children, and newborns through health and education. This summer our medical team saw Friends of Barnabas’ 400,000th patient, a gentle 76-year-old woman who is raising her great grandson. 

We also have set aside funds for supporting strategic ministry at Koinonia Christian Church, one of our partner churches in Swansboro. Finally, we also approved the purchase of a new church bus for our congregation to replace our very old existing bus. 

I am so proud of these bold steps our church has taken, but I am most proud of the fact that our first steps taken were to serve some of the world’s most vulnerable people, that we blessed others before ourselves, and that we modeled extravagant generosity as a witness to the world.

Our Church Council is currently in prayerful consideration of what our next steps will be to allocate the remainder of the gift, and we earnestly invite you to join us.

Grace and peace,

August 2017

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
As anyone who has attended worship at Reveille lately has noticed, your Worship Team and clergy staff have been giving serious attention to ways to breathe new life into our worship opportunities in an effort to deepen the religious life of our congregation. 

This effort began in earnest two years ago when we added a contemplative worship service to our Wonderful Wednesdays. Worshippers at this service have an opportunity to hear God’s word read and proclaimed, sing, pray for the church and world, and during certain liturgical seasons, to celebrate the sacrament of Holy Communion. This service also allows worshippers to hear more preaching from Kelley Lane and Stephen Coleman than they ordinarily do on Sunday mornings. 

A year ago, we attended a conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, called “Fusion: The Future of United Methodist Worship.” Afterwards, we spent months working with a consultant to reinvent and invigorate our 9:30 am Sunday  service, The Point. This has resulted in a service that features a much more cohesive liturgy as well as a sense of flow between the different elements of the service. We have also renewed an emphasis on visuals, both on the altar and in our digital presentations of our slides, as well as added instrumentation to our CrossPoint music ensemble.  

We have formed an informal collective of artists who have lavished beautiful visuals upon our chapel and sanctuary. Worshippers in these spaces have noticed colorful textiles, custom-made banners, and ceramics, especially for high holy days like Pentecost. Speaking of the arts, we have also added children’s liturgical dance to some of our 11:00 am services which has beautifully enhanced our intergenerational worship leadership. 

Our preachers have intentionally become more creative in our sermons. During Lent, we read the gospel at 8:30 and 11:00 am services as dialogues between Christ and the people he engages in the scriptures. In an attempt to create a greater sense of intimacy between the preacher and the congregation, we have begun to occasionally preach from the chancel instead of the sanctuary pulpit, and we have added more sermon series to both Sunday morning and Wednesday night, including “The Gospel According to Calvin and Hobbes,” which was perhaps our first sermon series intentionally designed to include small children in the proclamation of the word. During Advent, we sung the psalter. Last summer, we asked you to submit your favorite scriptures to us and we preached sermons on them in a series called “Wonderful Words of Life.” We began an intimate time of discussing worship called “First Sundays With Pastor Doug.”

We have done these things in addition to our rich existing musical offerings by our children, youth, and adult choirs, bells, and instrumental ensembles. Also, this summer, our Property Committee decided to invest in a multi-month process of refurbishing our organ for the first time since its installation more than six decades ago. 
We have been working very hard, and all of this we have done to glorify and magnify the God who creates, claims, redeems, and saves us, to truly “praise God from whom all blessings flow.” 
One of my favorite quotes is from the late Rev. William Sloane Coffin, the former pastor of New York’s Riverside Church, who wrote “Duty only calls when gratitude fails to prompt.” The most obvious, natural, and visible way that Christian disciples show gratitude for all God does and has done for us is through corporate worship when we gather each week to join our hearts, minds, and voices in prayer and song to glorify our redeemer. Put simply, we need your presence. We need your voice, so that our worship will be the foretaste of heaven it exists to be.
See you on Sunday,
O sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things.- Psalm 98:1

July 2017

The Pareto Ecclesiology

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

In 1896, the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto noted the principle that bears his name: eighty percent of effects come from twenty percent of causes. Pareto noticed that eighty percent of the peas in his garden came from twenty percent of the pods. He also noticed that eighty percent of the land in Italy was owned by twenty percent of the population. This 80/20 rule has been noted in other disciplines, including business (eighty percent of your sales come from twenty percent of your clients) and mathematics (Pareto distribution, a power law).

The same is probably true in most congregations, and that is not a mere principle. It is a theological problem that twenty-first century Christians must have the courage, dedication, and devotion to confront if our churches are going to accomplish our most basic directive: to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. 

Confronting this principle will be challenging, mainly because the challenge is so elusive. For centuries, congregations like ours were able to survive, even thrive, with the standard Pareto 80/20 division of leadership and effort. In fact, one can argue that prior to the Reformation, this kind of division was preferable to some in the Western church, as it made more power and influence available to the clergy and less available to the laity. 

Fast-forward a few centuries, and things were able to continue to work in Western churches, still following the 80/20 rule. Protestantism, with its emphasis upon and greater valuing of the leadership and contribution of the laity, offered more people in churches more opportunities to do more things, so the twenty-percent was comprised of both clergy and lay leadership. This worked well for awhile. Consider how many congregations in existence in the United States today were founded in the nineteenth century. There was a veritable boom of churches and congregational life. Many hands made light work, and there was much work that was done. It was something of a gilded age for American Christianity.  

But then two important things changed that dramatically altered the landscape. Yet these things were easy to ignore, mainly because the church had so much cultural momentum that it was easy to miss what was occurring just outside of our stained glass windows. First, as the period known as the Enlightenment continued, the church found it more and more difficult to be the sole claimants to absolute truth. The advent of a scientific culture and postmodernism’s assertion of the relativity of truth meant that Christianity was no longer a solo voice. It became, and is, one voice amidst a cacophony of voices in the marketplace of ideas.

The second change, while ultimately very good, affected the Christian movement in ways that church is only now beginning to address: the entrance of women into the workplace and the subsequent emergence of the two-income family. Now, I want to make clear that equal rights and opportunities for women is a good, righteous, holy, and necessary thing. The problem is not working women. The problem is that the church failed to adapt to it. 

In the days of the single-income household, many wives stayed at home, and these women were able to use a portion of their daytime hours to be a part of that essential twenty percent of leadership in congregations like ours. Churches created ministries and outreach programs, and the necessary committees to run them utilizing the gifts, talents, and dedication of these saintly women. They were differently available generations ago than women are today, and men were generally limited to support ministries that met in the evenings.

Today, we see vestiges of this model everywhere. We have numerous important ministries and committees in place that are structured to support them. We still have elegant ideas for ways to bless our membership and bless our world. Our problem is not a shortage of ideas or even the resources to birth and sustain them. Our problem, then, is that we lack the available human capital to dream, birth, and sustain the exact kind of life-changing ministries that our increasingly secular culture so desperately needs now. 

Yet because we are still filling the old wineskins with new wine, as it were, we so often find ourselves simply limited by who is available to help, who can find some time away from career and family, who has the stamina to add one more commitment to an already crowded agenda, and as the culture continues to change, the number of people in this category continues to shrink. Ministry, almost as it was prior to the Reformation, becomes the work of the very few, which results in decreased ownership of and passion for the ministries themselves. Put simply, it is more difficult to passionately live into a ministry one did not help create.

Increasingly, in what is certainly a stop-gap measure, congregations of all sizes are addressing this by adding staff. Each day, job postings cross my inbox that sound like this: a pianist for ten hours a week, a youth director for fifteen hours a week, a church secretary for eight hours, a children’s director for six. What a generation ago was considered a perfect opportunity for a willing servant to bless and be blessed is now something that can only be imagined to be done by a very part-time staff person, simply because it is often actually easier to find money than it is to find people with available time. As such, the old 80/20 rule becomes almost an aspiration to reach than a problem to be addressed. 

So then, what are we to do? I invite you to visit to learn more about six ideas I would like to share. 


June 2017

The Way Forward

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Pentecost blessings to you. I pray this note finds you doing well. I am writing to you today to introduce, or reintroduce you to the Commission on a Way Forward and the important work they are doing on behalf of our United Methodist Church.

According to their official statement, “the Commission on a Way Forward was proposed by the Council of Bishops and approved by the 2016 General Conference to do a complete examination and possible revision of every paragraph of the Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and explore options that help to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church.”

The Discipline is the official book of church law of our denomination, and is amended every four years when the United Methodist General Conference convenes. The General Conference is a global, legislative body of nearly 1,000 persons, half of whom are clergy and half are lay. Our bishops are the presiders at this quadrennial meeting. Delegates are elected by the Annual Conferences, such as our Virginia Annual Conference. 

Since the 1970s, the United Methodist Church has held to statements regarding human sexuality that say “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” As such, those described as “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals” are officially not permitted to be ordained or married in the United Methodist Church.

There are faithful United Methodists on both sides of this issue. Some United Methodists read scripture and see clear prohibitions against same-sex relationships, while others read the same scriptures and regard verses about same-sex relationships as bound to a particular time and culture, like verses on slavery or the role of women. I have friends and colleagues on both sides of this issue, and I know there are members of Reveille on both sides of this issue as well. All are earnestly trying to be faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

At the 2016 General Conference in Portland, Oregon, lay and clergy delegates on both sides of this matter reached an impasse as they sought to discern the future of our United Methodist Church. That impasse has been addressed in two very important ways that I want you to know.

First, as stated above, the General Conference created the Commission on a Way Forward. Second, the Council of Bishops has called for a special session of the General Conference to meet in 2019, whose purpose will be “limited to receiving and acting on a report from the Council of Bishops based on the recommendations of the Commission on a Way Forward."

There is more to say about this than space allows, but allow me to say this: when we become United Methodists, we covenant to uphold the church with our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. Our United Methodist Church needs our prayers, especially as we sail through these turbulent waters. Please keep the Commission in your prayers, as well as our bishops and General Conference. Pray for God’s will to be done, and for us to have grace, humility, courage, and the discernment necessary to recognize and live into God’s will when we see it. Of course, keep our congregation in your prayers as well, for the work our Savior has set before us: making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

You can learn much more about the Commission on a Way Forward at, and you can contact the Commission at

Grace and peace,


May 2017

Reflections on Lent and Easter

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Easter blessings. I pray this message finds you well and filled with hope. As I write to you today, I do so reflecting upon the journey we have made from Ash Wednesday to Easter. 

As I have grown older and more mature in my faith, I have learned to see the Lenten journey as more than a simple annual time of self-improvement and willpower. Lent is more than making one New Year’s resolution and keeping it for a mere seven weeks. Instead, Lent is an invitation to intentionally deepen our relationships with God, one another, and the community into which God is always sending us. 

For many reasons, this Lent was especially meaningful for me personally, and I owe a great deal of that in fact to all of you. During Lent, you have been more disciplined in your worship attendance and participation in ministries of Christian formation. Our Council decided to move forward with strategic use of a portion of the million dollar gift. Youth have gone into the neighborhoods surrounding Reveille with door hangers to invite new friends to celebrate the resurrection of Christ with us, and members of Reveille have been outstanding in how you have welcomed people in our midst. Whether it was to our wonderful Family Easter Celebration, Holy Week services, Easter Sunday, or the concert by the Cornell University Chorus, you have demonstrated to our city that Reveille is a haven of loving kindness.  And when you do this, lives are changed by the gospel, and that is good news indeed.

Yet the call to growth in grace is not limited to Lent. Indeed, the call of the reformers “Ecclesia semper reformanda est” (the church must always be reformed) still rings true. We must always be growing in our faith and faithfulness. As anyone who was among the more than 1,000 in attendance on Easter knows, we are stronger when we are together, and our invitational witness to the world shines ever brighter. 

Indeed, the number of different people who worship with us in a given month is considerably greater than the number we have on a given Sunday. So then, here is the good news: with only a modest increase in regularity of worship attendance by those who do not worship weekly, we can take one great step closer to being the church God is calling us to be next, a church that looks more and more like we do on Easter Sunday, every Sunday of the year. Remember, our attendance, presence, and witness on Easter is not an outlier. It is our potential, something God has placed within our reach, if we want it.

The Worship Team and I are spending deliberate, prayerful time discerning how we can assist you in living out this commitment, including first Sunday of the month fellowship conversations with me and partnering with Dr. Lester Ruth of Duke University Divinity School to learn ways in which we can enhance our 11:00 am Sunday worship service. I hope you will keep these lines of dialogue open with me, and keep this process in your prayers.

Finally, we are counting on you to keep the invitational spirit of Lent and Easter going. One of the goals of our current The Gospel According to Calvin and Hobbes sermon series is for it to be something that is easy to invite friends without a church to attend. The Holy Spirit is certainly afoot at Reveille, and I remain convinced that exciting days are ahead of us.

This is my commandment, 
that you love one another as I have loved you.
- John 15:12

April 2017

Worship Matters

First Sunday with Pastor Doug

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
In an article titled “Worship Game Changers,” Lucinda S. Holmes and Thomas G. Bandy give 12 reasons why the design of worship is different today, in our post-Christendom world, beginning with this: “Most people think worship is a waste of time. Yet stripped of all the wordiness and liturgy, dogma and tradition, facilities and symbols, sacred egos and sacred cows, there remains a profound desire for God.”

I believe they are correct. Worship at its best, is an immersive experience, something in which we can lose ourselves for awhile, and then come out the other side somehow enriched, somehow changed, because something mystical happens when we gather, when we proclaim the word in the myriad ways we do, we break the bread, we pour the water, we unite our voices in prayer, and we unite our hearts in silence. 

Yet this beautiful mystery, this sacred blessing, is something that is so easily taken for granted or forgotten. Years ago in another church, I developed and preached a sermon series I called “Out of Egypt,” in which I likened the changes that the congregation was facing to the Israelites learning to sojourn with one another, and with God, through the wilderness and to the Promised Land.

For that series, I had an artist in the church create a fairly large pyramid to symbolize what the Israelites left behind when they crossed the Red Sea. We used this pyramid as a focal piece in our sanctuary during the Sundays of that series.

I quickly learned that someone (I never learned who) was deeply offended by the “pagan” symbol with which we had desecrated our worship space, and this person asked, “What would you do if Jesus came to worship and saw that?”

And that is just the problem, the Church has often forgotten that when the people gather, when the prayers are prayed, the songs are sung, the scriptures are opened, the word is proclaimed, and the water is administered, Jesus is quite literally with us. This is what makes the church different from the beach or the museum. It is the place where Jesus has chosen to uniquely locate himself. 
In other words, if we do not believe that Christ is not only the object of our worship, but that he is the recipient of it as well, then why do we gather at all?

Our staff, Council, and Worship Team have been in prayerful conversation about the state of worship attendance at Reveille. Our church has not been immune to the results of an overall downward cultural shift in worship attendance in the United States. This is something I would like to be in prayerful conversation with you about. As such, I am inviting you to a ministry I am calling First Sunday with Pastor Doug.

Join me in the welcome center starting at 12:15 pm on Sunday, April 2, for an informal gathering designed for us to have time to better get to know one another, as well as to have holy conversation about worship. Light refreshments will be provided.

I hope you will come, and I will be praying that our time together is a means of grace for us all, and that we may deepen our relationships with God, and one another.  

Grace and peace,
Sing to the Lord, all the earth. 
Tell of his salvation from day to day.
- 1 Chronicles 16:23

March 2017

More Than a Moment

Reflection on Race Dialogues

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

On August 28, 1963, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., to deliver a speech as part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a speech wherein he would call for an end to racism in the United States, as well as civil and economic rights. 

In his book The Speech: The Story Behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream, author Gary Younge says that towards the end of the speech, one in which he spoke from prepared notes, it seemed that even King feared the speech would fall short of the soaring oratory that ordinarily characterized his preaching, that he was merely restating what other speakers had said that day, albeit “more poetically.” 

It was then that King heard gospel singer Mahalia Jackson cry out, “Tell them about the dream, Martin!” King then departed from his manuscript and the speech, with messianic zeal, reached its familiar and resounding refrain and crescendo, “I have a dream!” 

King’s wife, Corretta Scott King, would describe this moment simply by saying, “At that moment it seemed as if the Kingdom of God appeared, but it only lasted for a moment.”

I write this letter to our congregation the morning after our second dialogue on race, the prophetic words of Bishop Larry Branch of Love Center of Unity Full Gospel Church in Swansboro still ringing in my ears. I write this, still seeing people who once were strangers, sit at table with newfound friends from our partner churches, and discuss how we, as brothers and sisters in Christ, can listen to one another, learn from one another, and break down the dividing walls that are between us as we seek in earnest to follow a God who is bigger than the things that separate us, in the spirit of reconciliation and unity in Christ. 

However it must last for more than a moment. It must, if we are to be faithful to the gospel, become our new and permanent way of being.

Momentum is so difficult to build and so easy to lose, and if this moment is to persist, then it is up to us, the people of Reveille, Koinonia Christian Church, and Love Center of Unity to make it so.

How do we do this? First, covenant with God to pray daily for the success of ministries in Swansboro. Check the bulletin, church website, and newsletter for opportunities to get involved in the Swansboro community. Plan to serve at Swansboro Elementary, or worship at one of our partner churches.

The hymn “Pass it On” begins with a lyric that says “It only takes a spark to get a fire burning.” Pray earnestly that what has happened in our race dialogues can be the spark that ignites the power of the Holy Spirit in our midst, that our moment will endure, so that together we may transform Richmond and beyond.

Then Peter began to speak to them: I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

- Acts 10:34-35



February 2017

Keys for a Meaningful Lent 

The Means of Grace and Why the Church Exists

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Methodism’s founder, John Wesley, believed that God’s grace is something that is at once unearned and something in which the believer participates. While he was quite clear that one does not “earn” salvation by their works, he did believe that our faith is nourished, strengthened, and   confirmed by our engagement in the “means of grace.” Furthermore, when Christians participate in these means of grace, our lives, as well as the world around us, is transformed.

The means of grace can be divided into two categories, and each is both individual and communal: works of piety and works of mercy. Individual works of piety include reading, meditating, and studying the scriptures, prayer, fasting, regularly attending worship, healthy living, and sharing our faith with others. The word “piety” comes from the Latin word for dutifulness. Although today calling someone pious is generally understood to be, at best, a bit of a back-handed compliment, in religious circles, piety simply means that we practice our faith in a disciplined manner. 

Communal acts of piety, as the name suggests, are the things Christians do together, and they include regularly sharing in the sacraments of baptism and Communion, holding one another accountable to the disciplines of the faith (what Wesley called Christian conferencing), and studying the Bible with others.

Wesley believed that works of piety will naturally lead us into a deepened love and concern for our neighbors, and as such, the means of grace include individual and communal works of mercy. The 
individual works of mercy include doing good works, visiting the sick, visiting those in prison, feeding the hungry, and giving generously to the needs of others.

One important aspect of the Wesleyan understanding of works of mercy, even today, is that we do not simply address the results of injustice, such as hunger, poverty, and oppression. We also believe in addressing the root causes of human suffering. Thus, we believe communal works of mercy include seeking justice, ending discrimination, and addressing the needs of the poor. One way in which Wesley manifested this in his own life was in his vocal opposition to the slave trade.

This Lent, I want to challenge you to consider these works of piety and mercy, and to find a specific way to include a practice from each in your own life. You will find that taking on these means of grace will enrich not only your own life, but the lives of those around you as well.


January  2017

Crossing Boundaries
The Power of Coming Together

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
I pray this note finds you filled with Christmas blessings and excitement about the new year. As we look to 2017, I am quite excited about Reveille’s upcoming dialogues on race relations that we will have in February with our Swansboro partner churches, Love Center of Unity and Koinonia Christian Church.

I have met with Bishop Larry Branch and Pastor Keith Edmonds, and we believe that these conversations will be a blessing to each of us as we seek to deepen our holy friendship, better understand how God has uniquely equipped each of us for ministry, and how we can learn from each other about our varied experiences of life and faith. 

As our world moves into 2017, there are many challenges that face our nation and world, one of which is how easy and common it is for people to divide into camps of like-mindedness, which makes understanding others who may be different than us near impossible. Yet in the midst of this, the church has been blessed with an opportunity to model for the world around us what crossing boundaries looks like, and how people of diverse experiences can come together by the power of the Holy Spirit of God. 

Details of these dialogues are being finalized as I write this, but it is my prayer that you will come and be a part of them, and that you will bring your true, authentic self to the table. I pray that we may all be willing to enter into a time of “holy vulnerability” so that you may bless others and God may bless all of our hearts, minds, and churches for the glory of Christ and the kingdom he is bringing to bear.


December 2016

A Season of Peace
Preparing Our Hearts and Minds for Christ

It was the Wednesday, the day after election day, it was raining and I was taking my eight-year-old daughter Claire to school. She had been quiet for the trip, until she broke the silence and asked, “Can Donald Trump undo anything that Martin Luther King did?” 

That was it. As long as she could be convinced that the values of equality and civil rights were intact, she was satisfied. 

On the way to work I stopped for office supplies, and I saw a woman in line in front of me who looked angry and tearful. I had a lunch meeting with Rev. Keith Edmonds of Koinonia Christian Church in Swansboro and people in the restaurant seemed unusually quiet to me. Throughout the day the emotions of my friends vacillated between grief and fear on one side, and elation and vindication on the other.

Then at Wednesday evening worship, perhaps as the result of my own emotions, I preached the worst sermon I have ever preached at Reveille. It was a coward’s sermon that tried to cover too much ground but found itself sadly stuck in the mud, spinning its wheels, digging itself ever deeper.

There are people in our land who are angry and hurt because of the election. There are people who were angry and hurt before the election. There are people who feel the nation no longer represents their ideas, and there are people who feel their voices have not been heard for too long.

What reaching has in common with writing is that both require one to be a keen observer of the human condition, and as I observe the people around me, people just seem fatigued. Not simply tired, but fatigued, battle-worn, tired of all of the shouting found in the diatribe that masquerades as modern discourse from our podiums, our social media feeds, and yes, even our pulpits. 

In the midst of all of this fatigue comes Advent, a season of peace and hope, a season that takes its name from the Latin word for “coming.” We prepare our hearts and minds for the arrival of the God of Israel, incarnate in an infant, born in a stable in the little village of Bethlehem,who would grow up and save the world from its sin.

This year, we are doing Advent a bit differently. Instead of preaching from the gospels on Sunday mornings, as is our custom, we will preach on the words of the prophet Isaiah. These are words you know, words that include “swords being beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks” and “the lion laying with the lamb.” The liturgies themselves will be more contemplative, utilizing more of the ancient practices of our faith, as we envision what Christians mean by “peace on earth,” which includes peace in your heart, and my heart, and our life together.

I invite you to come, to invite someone, perhaps even someone who thinks differently than you, to worship during Advent. Experience “A Season of Peace” as we prepare hearts and minds for the advent of Christ amongst us, as he enters our harried and stress-filled lives anew, as he enters a world he promised to never forsake, all for love.

November 2016

How and Why We Worship at Reveille
Plus: Looking Ahead to Advent

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Grace and peace to you. I pray you are well. I am writing to you today on the topic of worship, specifically how and why we worship at Reveille United Methodist Church.

About a year ago, we began regular Wednesday night worship at 6:45 pm after our Wonderful Wednesday dinner. This is a short, contemplative service focuses on congregational prayer and meditation, with one scripture reading, a message, music, and opportunities for people to light candles as an act of worship. It is a beautiful service, and by the end of the evening, especially in the autumn and winter months, the chapel is filled with warm, flickering light as we have prayed for each other, the church, and the world. This year during the season of Advent, we will offer a brief service of Holy Communion on Wednesday nights as well as sermons on the gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary. 

This spring and summer, a good deal of time, prayer, and reflection was put into The Point, our 9:30 am Sunday contemporary service. The Point turned fifteen this year, and the time was right to rethink what this service can be for such a time as this. Worshippers at The Point can now expect a service that features increased instrumentation, better digital visuals, a more consistent flow, more diverse worship leadership, and creative responses to the Word, while still being the casual, intimate service we have come to expect.

We are looking ahead to the season of Advent later this month and a time of renewal as the liturgical calendar starts anew. The Worship Team is excited about the creative, ancient, timeless elements that we will bring to Sunday worship at 8:30 and 11:00 am during this four-week season of preparation.  Special activities planned include liturgical dance, congregational singing of the verses, responses of the psalter, and sung antiphons when we light the Advent wreath.

Also during Advent, we will offer brief morning prayer or Holy Communion on weekdays  in the chapel at 7:30 am.  Throughout the year on Wednesdays at 12:15 pm a time of prayer, Bible study, and Communion is also offered in the sanctuary.

There is a beautiful praise song written by Chris Tomlin called “Made to Worship,” and the chorus is:

You and I were made to worship

You and I are called to love

You and I are forgiven and free

When you and I embrace surrender

When you and I choose to believe

Then you and I will see who we were meant to be

I believe that this is true, and that worship is a unique place where we can both lose and find ourselves. I invite you all to do so together with me as we journey through this season of peace and hope together.

Grace and peace,


October 2016

What the Bible Really Says About Money
Plus: The Relaunch of The Point

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Autumn blessings to you. I pray you are well. As always, exciting things are happening at Reveille, and although it is difficult to believe, it is already time for us to begin thinking about 2017 and all the things that God will do in and through our life together. 

Starting October 16, we will begin a four-week sermon series titled “What the Bible Really Says About Money.” This will be our stewardship series for the year.

Over the last 20 years, my practice of ministry has taught me that for some people, financial stewardship is like time management, in that, in order to feel good about what you are doing, you have to feel about what you are not doing. Likewise, Tracy and I have learned over the years that we especially enjoy the fruits of our labors when we know we have given our tithe to God. At the same time, we do so knowing that we are living a life characterized by gratitude for what God has done for us, for our family, and for our world in Jesus Christ, whose work we are collaborating with in supporting the work of his church.

I believe that we could all benefit from reexamining what the Bible says about money, so that we can feel good about what we are doing for God, what we are doing for ourselves, and so that we can remember that a life characterized by gratitude for God’s amazing grace in our lives is the best life of all. Learn more about our 2017 Stewardship Campaign.

The Point 2.0
The second thing I would like to share with you is the exciting news of the relaunch of The Point, our contemporary worship service that meets Sundays at 9:30 am in the fellowship hall. A dedicated team has been working on reimagining this service, its purpose, its liturgy, everything about it. The result is something we affectionately refer to as The Point 2.0, and we are excited to, in the words of the psalmist, “Sing to the Lord a new song.” If you have not been to The Point in a while, we hope that you will come and sing a new song with us!

Grace and peace,


September 2016

The Great Myth of Summer

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

I pray you are well and have had a safe and happy summer. In this article, I would like to discuss one of the great myths of our faith: that not much happens at church over the summer.

As one would expect, we worshipped each Sunday morning and most Wednesday nights. The office was open during the summer, as it always is. Yet to say that not much happens at Reveille in the summer? Pish-posh!

Let’s look back, shall we? Since June:

We celebrated the ordination of the Rev. Kelley Lane, our minister of adult ministries, who was ordained by Bishop Young Jin Cho at Annual Conference in Roanoke, and we said farewell to Executive Pastor Katie B. Gooch.

We hosted baccalaureate services for Midlothian High School and Maggie Walker Governor's School.

We sent members of our fellowship on two international and one domestic mission trips (Honduras, Costa Rica, and New Orleans).

Gave children a week of missions via KIDz C.A.M.P.

Gave children a week of education at Vacation Bible School.

Hosted the Virginia Conference Kaleidoscope Camp, which is a music and arts camp for children that came to us when their previous site closed.

Speaking of music and arts, we sent a team of youth and adults to a music and arts camp at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina.

We said farewell to our director of youth ministries, Kate Rhodes, who is taking a job with the West Virginia Annual Conference, working with The House of the Carpenter in Wheeling.

We welcomed Tammy Tipton-Nay to our church as our new director of children’s ministries.

From a pool of 27 applicants, we chose our own Terri Edwards to be our first director of administration.

Held Listening Sessions to discern God’s call for our church in the short and medium-term. 

Removed the rest of the asbestos floor tile in the upstairs of the education building.

Rearranged almost all of the offices in Reveille House, so that staff can more easily work alongside those with whom they collaborate, and so that I could be on the ground floor and more easily interact with the congregation. Office location list

Continued Wonderful Wednesday through August 3 with food trucks, worship, and a study of the Chronicles of Narnia. 

Held a picnic with members of our partner churches in Swansboro, Koinonia Christian Church and Love Center of Unity. 

Were selected to host the Service of Welcome for Sharma D. Lewis, our new bishop, on September 17, and began preparations. Learn more

And to think, autumn is coming, when we really get busy!

It is such a blessing to work with such dedicated servants of Christ. Without the people, there is no church, and without the church, the world loses the means God has designed for making God’s love known in our world.

I give thanks to you all, excited about all that is to come.

Grace and peace,

June 2016

A Season for Listening

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Grace and peace to you. I pray you are well. 

We have now entered the Season after Pentecost, but I would like to take you back to the previous season of the liturgical calendar: the season of Eastertide. It was during this season that we engaged in an intentional season of prayer in which many of you participated. Next comes a time of reflection and discernment. How is it with your soul? What is God saying to you as you pray for our church? What is next for Reveille United Methodist Church?

It is in this spirit that the gift discernment task force and I invite you to participate in one of our listening sessions, which are designed so that you may have a safe place in which to share what the Spirit is saying to your spirit about Reveille and the ways in which God is calling us to put our blessings to work to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. I hope to see you there.

The dates and times are below, and we will be scheduling additional events at both Westminster Canterbury and Cedarfield. Stay tuned for those dates and times.

Please keep our church, its people, its ministries, and its future in your prayers. I look forward to hearing from you.

Listening Session Schedule of Events
To be held in the chapel at Reveille United Methodist Church
Thursday, June 2 7:00 pm
Sunday, June 5      2:00 pm
Wednesday, June 8           5:00 and 7:30 pm
Sunday, June 12 4:00 pm

Listening sessions also will be held at Westminster Canterbury and Cedarfield, 
dates and times to be announced.

The members of the gift discernment task force are Jill Gaynor, Clark Williams, Katie B. Gooch, Rich Schweiker, Bo Bowden, Stephen Coleman, Blake MacIver, Mary Davis, Kevin Bruny, Sheelagh Davis, and Doug Forrester.

May 2016

Reflections on Two Years of Ministry at Reveille UMC

A little over 20 years ago, as I was preparing for my own ordination, I read somewhere that there are essentially five milestones in the Christian life. Some of us experience all of them, while others only experience a few. These milestones are birth, baptism, confirmation, marriage, and death. 

“Who,” the author inquired, “is the one in the life of the community of faith who is invited to help celebrate all five?” The answer, of course, is the pastor. 

I have not ever forgotten that entreaty to remember that ordained ministry, like all ministry, is not ever supposed to be reduced to a mere duty, and it is certainly never a right. Ministry, in all of its blessings and heartbreaks, is and forever shall be, a privilege. It is a privilege because it is the way that all of God’s people discover and live the lives that God knit us together to have, and it is in these very lives, especially in how they are lived in community, that the love of God in Jesus Christ is supremely experienced and understood.

I have been reflecting upon the privilege of ministry lately, about those people over the last two decades with whom I have celebrated those five milestones, in concert with a season of personal reflection upon my ministry with you, the people of Reveille United Methodist Church. 

There is much that we have done together in these last two years of which I am proud, more than I can list here. I am proud of our commitment to our current “Season of Prayer and Discernment.” I am proud of our deepening relationships with Koinonia Christian Church and Love Center of Unity Full Gospel Church International in Swansboro. I am proud of additions we have made to our staff, of how we have reimagined our Church Council and committee structure. I am proud of our ministries of worship, growth, and service. I am proud of you and how you have stretched and evolved in order to adapt to significant changes in our life together over these two years, especially our young people. I am proud that someone believes in us enough to invest $1 million in our future. 

Still, I have discerned that I have not spent adequate time hearing your stories, and celebrating those five milestones in your lives. It was relationships, with God and with people, that led me into ordained ministry. It was mending spiritual wounds and speaking grace to broken hearts that originally led me to the pulpit, not the other way around. 

As a pastor, I believe that it is important for us to know one another, and I will continue to seek ways for us to build relationships between, to learn each other’s stories, and to witness the ways in which the Spirit of God is working in and through our individual lives and through our collective life and witness in the church.

To that end, I am eagerly anticipating our upcoming listening sessions wherein we can share with one another what God has revealed to us through the Season of Prayer in which we engaged during this season of Eastertide. Furthermore, I will be seeking opportunities to meet with you one-on-one so that we can engage in holy conversations together and learn one another’s dreams for all that this tremendous church we so love can be in God’s time and by God’s grace.

Finally, I will be in contact with you more often than this monthly article allows by sharing relevant stories and information about our church at my blog, which you can easily find at

I look forward to seeing you soon, to our life together, and to all that the God of life is unfolding in our midst.

Grace and peace,
Information will be forthcoming about opportunities to continue our Season of Prayer and Discernment with discussion groups which will be facilitated by members of our congregation and offered at a variety of times.

April 2016

A Season of Anticipation, Prayer, and Conversation

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Easter greetings! Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia! Together, we have entered into a period in the Christian calendar known as the Easter season or the Great 50 Days. It is that time between Easter and Pentecost, when the disciples of Jesus were in awe of Jesus’ resurrection and obediently waiting in Jerusalem for what God was going to do next in bestowing the Holy Spirit upon them at the harvest festival of Shavuoth, 50 days after Passover. The season of Easter is the most joyous and celebrative season of the Christian year. It focuses on Christ’s resurrection and the givings of the Holy Spirit.

Like the first disciples long ago, we will use the Easter season to wait and listen to what the Holy Spirit will tell us to do next. I am inviting the people of Reveille United Methodist Church to enter into an intentional time of prayer, reflection, and conversation about our future as a congregation. What is God calling Reveille, and only Reveille, to do? Who is God uniquely calling and equipping Reveille to be? What can Reveille United Methodist Church do better than anyone, for God’s glory and for the furthering of God’s kingdom?      

In my February letter to you, I announced that Reveille is the recent recipient of an extremely generous $1 million gift that was given with the intent of enabling our church to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Since then, our task force has been meeting to develop a methodology for our congregation to discern answers to the questions I just posed so that we can make the best, most strategic use of all of the gifts that have been entrusted to us.

As such, the Church Council has directed that we enter into an intentional 40-day period between Easter and Pentecost to pray and discern where God is leading us. The first half of this time will be devoted to intentional prayer and the second half will be devoted to holy conversation in town hall meetings as well as small groups. 

To sign up for a 30-minute prayer slot, click on one of these links:
Click here to download a guide to prayer for each day of this 21-day period. Please sign up! It is crucial that we blanket this process in prayer!

Please keep this process itself in your prayers, remembering the words of our risen Lord that “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.”
Grace and peace,
Doug Forrester

March 2016


Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

I hope that this message finds you well, and that you are experiencing a Lenten season filled with God’s blessings and a renewed sense of self-discipline and self-examination in your prayer life as we prepare for the coming of Holy Week and Easter.

It is with both a heavy heart and a firm conviction that God’s Holy Spirit is at work in our midst that I inform you that the Rev. Katie B. Gooch will be receiving a new pastoral appointment at Annual Conference this year, when she will become the new director of the Pace United Methodist Student Center at Virginia Commonwealth University. Katie has served at Reveille since graduating from seminary in 2012. Before attending seminary, Katie worked as a communications consultant for four years in the Washington, D.C., area. There is no question that her passion for ministry and her innumerable gifts will bring new life and vitality to the Pace Center, and that the VCU community will be much better for it.

Throughout my twenty years of ordained ministry, I have heard more times than I can count how the United Methodist system of deploying clergy is perhaps the most difficult aspect of being a United Methodist. It is often heartbreaking when our clergy are deployed to new fields of service, and we miss them, even as we give thanks for their years in our midst, as their lives intersect our own.

However, none of us could have entrusted ourselves to this itinerant life if we were not convinced that God is in it, for ourselves, our families, and the congregations we leave behind. In that spirit, I want you to know that our Bishop and his Cabinet are already hard at work, as is our own Staff Parish Relations Committee to discern who and what is next for Reveille, and we all covet your prayers as we enter into this time of sacred transition. 

On the topic of prayer, I also want you to be on the lookout for opportunities to pray for the future of Reveille United Methodist Church this Lent, as we enter into a season of holy discernment to learn specifically who God is calling us to be at this time in our history, and as we move into the future, especially as recipients of the large gift I wrote about last month. Our discernment task force is meeting Monday, March 7, to help design opportunities for intentional prayer. 

I remain convinced that the Spirit is afoot in our midst, and I am excited about our journey together into God’s future, for the glory of God and for the world Christ came to save.

Grace and peace,
Doug Forrester

February 2016

Reveille UMC Doubly Blessed by Amazing Gift 

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

I pray you are well and that 2016 is off to a fantastic start for you and those you love. I have tremendous news to share with you.

Along with pastors Katie B. Gooch and Stephen Coleman, I learned on December 16 from our Trustees Chairperson David Simonsen that a loving and generous anonymous donor has made a donation to Reveille United Methodist Church in the amount of $1 million.

According to David, who has been in communication with the donor, the general understanding is that this gift is to be used to further the vision and mission of Reveille UMC.

On Monday, January 18, I convened a group of 11 key persons representing various ministry areas, backgrounds, and years of leadership in the church to help form a recommendation to our Church Council as to what should be key elements of a discernment process for how to best use this amazing gift. These persons are Jill Gaynor, Clark Williams, Katie B. Gooch, Rich Schweiker, Bo Bowden, Stephen Coleman, Blake MacIver, Mary Davis, Kevin Bruny, Sheelagh Davis, and myself.

Our recommendations to the Church Council include two core elements. First, we want to challenge the congregation to regard this gift as a double blessing. There is the obvious gift of tremendous financial resources to our church. This donation also will require our congregation and its leaders to discern quite clearly and specifically exactly who God is calling Reveille UMC to be.

To that end, we strongly recommend that the people of Reveille, its leaders, its staff, and its clergy enter into a season of intensive prayer and fasting, which is timely as we stand at the threshold of Lent. During this season, we will have opportunities for our congregation to pray, to ponder, to meet in small groups, and to discern where God is leading us in our shared venture to glorify God in Jesus Christ, and to make disciples in his name for the transformation of the world. 

Second, the aforementioned group recommends that the Church Council approve a task force to discern a plan going forward and submit it to our Council for approval. At our meeting on January 26, the Church Council agreed to deploy the existing task force to continue this work.

I pray that you will join me in a time of disciplined prayer and discernment, as we chart a course for living into God’s future. These are truly exciting times!

From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.  Luke 12:48b

Doug Forrester
Lead Pastor

January 2016
New Year's Resolutions

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Grace and peace to you. I pray that 2016 finds you filled with the many blessings of our God. Since this is a new year, I thought I would write to you today about the making and keeping of resolutions, something I try to do each year. In the spirit of transparency and accountability, I thought I would share with you my personal resolutions, and then I will share with you what I hope will be the New Year’s resolutions of Reveille United Methodist Church. So here we go:

Pastor Doug’s 2016 New Year’s Resolutions

I have divided these into three categories: Body, Mind, and Spirit. They are as follows:

1. Body: I will eat less processed food and will exercise at the gym at least three times a week.
2. Mind: I will read at least two books a month beyond all of my work-related reading. 
3. Spirit: I will read the Old Testament daily, as I do not know it as well as I know the New Testament. 

Pastor Doug’s 2016 Resolutions for Reveille United Methodist Church

1. That we will honor our membership commitment to worship together more often, because we are at our best when we are together.
2. That those of us who are not currently engaged in a short-term or long-term Bible study, Sunday school class, or covenant group will do so, because it allows for us to grow in our faith and to love and care for one another in a way few things in the world today can.
3. That we will increase the ways in which we as a congregation of God’s people give of our time and talents in service to others, especially those in need, so that we can make a difference in God’s world. 

I pray for your help in attaining these two sets of resolutions. Hold me accountable to my resolutions, and let us hold one another accountable in love for being the kind of Christian disciples that God calls us to be in our special, uniquely Reveille way.

Grace and peace,
Doug Forrester
Lead Pastor

December 2015
Advent and Christmas Worship at Reveille

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, 

Grace and peace to you, and Advent blessings upon you and your home. I pray you are well. This season of preparation is upon us, and I pray that it will be a season of hope, self-examination, and meaningful encounters with the living God for you. 

This year, our theme for Advent is “God in the Midst of Real Life.” I hope that we can use this season of the year as a time for us to pause and reflect upon God’s presence in our lives, even in the midst of our busyness, challenges, and blessings. I pray that worship during this season of Advent will be a time for you to unplug, let go, and increase in your awareness of God’s presence in your midst.

Grace and peace,
Doug Forrester

November 2015

Recently, I was at a meeting with Virginia Conference United Methodist seminary students at Union Presbyterian Seminary. It was a great day, one that featured a good deal of exciting discussion around the future of the church with young men and women who are its future clergy leadership. 

While there, we attended midday worship where we sang a hymn I had never heard before called “God Whose Giving Knows No Ending.” The lyrics are beautiful, and they include these words:

God, whose giving knows no ending, from your rich and endless store-
nature's wonder, Jesus' wisdom, costly cross, grave's shattered door-
gifted by you, we turn to you, offering up ourselves in praise;
thankful song shall rise forever, gracious Donor of our days.

Skills and time are ours for pressing toward the goals of Christ, your Son:
all at peace in health and freedom, races joined, the Church made one.
Now direct our daily labor, lest we strive for self alone.
Born with talents, make us servants fit to answer at your throne.

Treasure, too, you have entrusted, gain through powers your grace conferred,
ours to use for home and kindred, and to spread the gospel word.
Open wide our hands in sharing, as we heed Christ's ageless call,
healing, teaching, and reclaiming, serving you by loving all.

I believe that this hymn beautifully encapsulates what Christian stewardship and Christian generosity mean. They mean that all  we have is God’s, and that ours is a God who gives abundantly to us. Yet, our God also gives all things to our wise and faithful stewardship, for the purpose of holiness, and for use in spreading the good news of mercy, rebirth, forgiveness, and everlasting life which is God’s ultimate gift to us in Jesus Christ. 

Very soon, you will be receiving communications from our church which invite you to be a giver in 2016. Please prayerfully consider this opportunity to “open wide our hands in sharing, as we heed Christ’s ageless call.”

Grace and peace,
Doug Forrester

October 2015
A Power Play for God
If there is one thing about which I know very little, it is ice hockey. However, I am fortunate to know people who do know a great deal about it, so much so that they can even explain it to me. So, in this note, I want to talk about hockey, particularly one rule in hockey that I believe sets it apart from just about every other sport, something called the Power Play.

In other team sports like baseball, football, and basketball, if a player is a bad sport or breaks certain rules, that player can be thrown out of the game by one of the officials, and in baseball, football, or basketball, when this happens, the coach looks to his or her bench and puts a player into the game to replace the player who has been removed. 
However, in hockey a player who commits a penalty is removed from play and told to sit in what is called the “penalty box” for a period of time that, while it can be longer, is usually two minutes. Yet, unlike other sports, during this time when one of the players is in the penalty box, that player’s team must play with one less player than their opponent, until the advantaged team scores or the two minutes expire. 
This is called a Power Play because, for obvious reasons, the team with more players on the ice has more “power” than the team with fewer players on the ice. One can imagine how quickly a power play can shift the fortunes of an ice hockey competition, as well as how this rule demonstrates the importance of every player on the team.
As I reflect on this past Reveille Day, I am reminded of the Power Play, because I believe that it illustrates a truth about how God has created the church to be. As so many of us returned to church, to Sunday school classes, to Disciple Bible Study, to youth group, our music ministries, to fellowship opportunities, and to our Reveille Today new member class, there was an air about us of happiness, of sheer gratitude for God and for one another. It reminded me of returning to college after a long summer and seeing everyone glad to be together, catching up on what is new.
It is just different when we are together. Worship is different. It feels different to preach when I can see more of your faces. The hymns sound different. The passing of the peace feels different. And not just different, but better. We are better when we are together because, quite simply, God has made us for each other. 
Autumn at Reveille is filled with exciting opportunities to worship, grow, and serve, and to do so together, as a part of Christ’s body on earth, in this beautiful little outpost of the Kingdom of God. 
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 1 Corinthians 12:12-14
Grace and peace,
Doug Forrester

September 2015

September in Worship at Reveille: 
Why Jesus? The Hard and Sometimes Bizarre Sayings of Christ   
I love September. I think the roots of this love are found in my childhood, when September meant a new school year, new books, new friends, new classes, and a new season. Years later, it still feels like the whole year begins anew each September.
This September, I am especially excited about worship and our educational offerings. Our sermons will be exploring several of the more difficult teachings of Jesus found in the gospels. Learn more
This sermon series will supplement our congregational study of the book Why Jesus? by United Methodist Bishop William H. Willimon, who will be speaking at Reveille at 4:00 pm on Sunday, September 27, so get your reading done and come prepared to ask questions of this great scholar and writer!
“Why Jesus?” is the greatest question of our time. How we answer this question determines how we think, live, and treat those around us. How would you answer this question? What does Jesus mean to you? I am looking forward to our discernment of these questions together this month.

Grace and peace,
Doug Forrester

August 2015

Reflections on the Summer of Godspell  
“Would you be willing to play Martin Luther in Godspell?” Director of Music Ministries Cathy Armistead asked me.
“Absolutely I would,” said I. 
Until this summer, my only experience with Godspell was having heard “Day By Day” a few times. Therefore, I had no idea that I had just signed up for a singing role. In truth, Martin Luther actually was a musician. He composed the words and the music to “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” Luther believed that one of the best ways to teach the Christian faith was to sing the Christian faith, and he believed that this was especially true for young people.
Our young people (and a few of us not-so-young people) have been putting in more than twenty hours a week lately to get this production of Godspell just right, and it has become a beautiful thing. Because I have had virtually no experience with this musical prior to this summer, and because the songs from Godspell really do get stuck in my head, I realized this morning that I have had the voices of the people of Reveille United Methodist Church, young and old, echoing in my head for more than two weeks. I have awakened to your voices each morning. I fall asleep to your voices at night. I hear you singing as I make my customary rounds during the day.
It has been a summer full of God’s blessings. It has been enjoyable to spend a week preparing and preaching a sermon on the parables of Jesus and then spend each evening watching how those same parables are interpreted by our youth. We have not been just singing the songs of the musical; we have been relearning, and most importantly, teaching our faith to our neighbors in Richmond and beyond.
Methodism’s founder John Wesley told his preachers, lay and clergy, “You have one business on earth — to save souls. So spend and be spent in this work.” I am certain that everyone who has been a part of Godspell is definitely feeling spent right now, but then again, is there any greater task in which any of us can be employed?
That word above all earthly powers,
No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through Him who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His Kingdom is forever. 
- Martin Luther, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” (c. 1529)
Grace and peace,
Doug Forrester

July 2015

Mr. Wesley Goes to Camp
June 15, 2015 - This afternoon, I did something I normally do not do: I put on a pair of tights. 
I then put on knickers, a vest, a colonial era jacket, and a three-cornered hat.
I walked from Reveille House to the education wing, went upstairs, entered a KIDz C.A.M.P. classroom, and for one amazing hour, broken into four separate sessions of children, I was John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. 
In my best British accent, I launched into the best-known stories of Wesley’s life: the fire in the parsonage when he was five, the Holy Club at Oxford, the dangerous trip across the Atlantic, his disastrous ministry in the colony of Georgia, his transformative experience on Aldersgate, preaching on his father’s grave, the 40,000 sermons and 250,000 miles travelled on horseback as he traversed the kingdom to spread scriptural holiness across the lands. 
In the first session, after my presentation was done, Kathy Rainey asked me a question: “Mr. Wesley, could you tell the children why the Methodist movement is still important today?”
To this I asked the girls and boys questions of my own: “Are there still people who do not know the love of God? Are there still people who do not love and serve Christ? Are there still people in prison? Are there still people who are poor? Is there still injustice in the world? Are there still people who feel unloved?”
To each question, the children replied loudly and clearly, “YES!”
“And that,” I told them, “is why the world still needs the Methodists.”
“So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.” - Galatians 6:9 
Grace and peace,
Doug Forrester

June 2015

Is God Trying to Get Our Attention?
Everyone I know is at least familiar with the results of the Pew Research Center survey released last week. Titled “America’s Changing Religious Landscape,” the findings reveal rapid and significant changes to how Americans report religious affiliation, and the news is not good. You can find the report in its entirety here.
According to the report, “The number of religiously unaffiliated adults has increased by roughly 19 million since 2007. There are now approximately 56 million religiously unaffiliated adults in the U.S., and this group – sometimes called religious “nones” – is more numerous than either Catholics or mainline Protestants, according to the new survey. Indeed, the unaffiliated are now second in size only to evangelical Protestants among major religious groups in the U.S.” For Christians, the report is especially bleak: During that same time period, the number of Christians in the United States has diminished by between 2.8 and 7.8 million people.
To put this in perspective, the number of people in the United States who report having no faith has grown by roughly 2.5 times the total population of the Commonwealth of Virginia in less than eight years.
What can this study tell us, and is there any reason for hope? I read and reflect upon this report, and I find myself wondering how much of the struggles of the church in America are God’s way of calling God’s church back to deeper covenant faithfulness, a stronger sense of prayer and devotion, a renewed sense of mission to our respective communities, and a higher standard for all that we do. In the Hebrew Bible, a similar cycle would play out again and again, wherein God’s people would forget God, God would leave the people to their own devices, they people would struggle, then repent and turn back to God. Things would improve, and the people would prosper, and the cycle would eventually repeat.
In other words, what if we are seeing in this survey is God trying to get our attention? 
What if God is saying to God’s churches, “Do better. Be better. Reclaim your passion for the least, the last, and the lost. Only then will I again ‘add daily to your numbers those who are being saved.’”
What if God is leading us through our own wilderness school, leading us to rethink what being the church means for such a time as this?
In our United Methodist Hymnal, there is a prayer that I would like for you to join me in praying daily. It simply says, “Renew your church, Lord, your people in this land. Save us from cheap words and self-deception in your service. In the power of your Spirit transform us, and shape us by your cross. Amen.” 
Grace and peace,
Doug Forrester

May 2015

"Of all the Christian festivals, it is the Easter parade that demands the most faith – pushing you past reverence for creation, through bewilderment at the idea of a virgin birth, and into the
and far-reaching idea that death is not the end. The cross as crossroads. 
Whatever your religious or nonreligious views, the chance to begin again is a compelling idea.” 
- Bono, lead singer, U2

As Psalm 133:1 says, “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!” I pray that this season of spring finds you full of God’s blessings and a resurrected spirit. What a blessed time it is to be a part of the family of faith that is Reveille United Methodist Church!
We are entering into a time of year full of new life and new beginnings, so it is fitting that we would dedicate a period of worship to exploring the ways in which God provides us with new beginnings in our lives. We are currently doing so with the sermon series, “Who is Jesus of Nazareth? Exploring the God of New Beginnings.” This month, we will examine topics such as what it means to call Jesus “friend,” and what is the nature of Christian friendship; Jesus as the ascended Lord of heaven, Jesus as the Lord of his church, and what it means for Christians to claim that Jesus is divine. During May, we also will celebrate the high holy days of Ascension Sunday and Pentecost in addition to youth and confirmation Sundays.
Speaking as someone who has experienced the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, and now Easter at Reveille for the first time, I remain even more convinced of the power of Christian synergy. Synergy is defined as “the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.” This is what God does in us when we are together. Perhaps this is why Jesus said, “when two or three are gathered together in my name, I am with them.” We are better when we are together. Our worship is stronger, our hymns more powerful, our prayers more effusive, our witness more profound, truths made evident each time we gather together for Easter.
Let’s keep the momentum going, so that we may be blessed and be a blessing to one another, and so that we may be a visible witness to the world around us that God is alive and God’s people are filled with God’s joy.
Grace and peace,
Doug Forrester

February 2015

“You find that the Bible has been put into your workshop, into your hand, into your heart…Just look at your tools, at your needle or thimble, your goods, your scales or yardsticks or measure, and you will read this statement inscribed on them... “Friend, use me in your relations with your neighbor just as you would want your neighbor to use his property in his relations with you.”
- Martin Luther, Germany, 16th Century

Our worship in February begins with a continuation of our series on Christian vocation, “We Are All Ministers.” We will continue to focus on the call of God to all Christian people to serve the world with the gifts and talents God has given us in all of the places in which we find ourselves. February will conclude with the beginning of the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday and the first Sunday of Lent on February 22. Our Lenten focus will be upon spiritual disciplines, those gifts that God gives us to strengthen and enrich our faith and life. 
Also, I would like to commend you for taking seriously your membership vow to be present in the life of God’s church. At the time of this writing, our total Sunday worship attendance has been over 500 for four of the last five Sundays. Keep up the good work! We are truly at our best when we are together, lifting our voices in prayer and praise!

Grace and peace,
Doug Forrester

Lead Pastor
J. Douglas (Doug) Forrester
(804) 359-6041, ext. 112

Doug was 
appointed to serve Reveille in July 2014. A Richmond native, Doug graduated from Emory & Henry College and Duke University Divinity School and has served churches in Newport News, Prince George, and Crozet. Doug 
is married to Tracy, a third-grade teacher at Colonial Trail Elementary School in Short Pump. Doug and Tracy keep busy raising their two daughters, Ellen and Claire. When not at Reveille, Doug enjoys teaching classes for new clergy, tinkering with computers, writing music, and watching Duke basketball. Doug blogs at