I Was Thinking…
How are we being the church to the world? With a ‘boat-load’ of unchurched, de-churched, done-churched’ in our communities this is the primary question. Where there is ineffectiveness in reaching the broken, hurting and lost, then it is imperative that we think in new and innovative ways. This week’s ‘re:Vision’ article in our North Georgia Conference weekly is a result of death to resurrection…we are going to see more of this in the days, weeks, months and years to come. We will reach the acre given us for Christ. Thanks for all you do.
A Beacon of Light After a Missional Merger
By Alan Nicely
Tillman United Methodist Church was founded in the 1950s and experienced many years of vibrant ministry. Yet, over the last decade its membership and attendance declined. A decision had to be made about the church’s future and closing the doors was a real possibility. However, there was also another opportunity, a missional merger with Smyrna First UMC, a church less than a half-mile down the road.
Led by the Atlanta-Marietta District Superintendent and the leadership from both churches, discussions began about this second possibility. And in May 2018, Tillman UMC closed, merged with Smyrna First UMC, and opened its doors once again as Tillman House.
Tillman House is a mission and outreach center for Smyrna and the south Cobb County. Staying in line with Smyrna First United Methodist’s guiding scripture, Acts 1:8, to be “witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth,” the vision of Tillman House is to be an entire community focused on assisting those in need, with an emphasis on hunger relief, housing assistance, and education.
Hunger is not a problem most of us associate with Smyrna. Few of us know what it is like to put a child to bed hungry or to go hungry ourselves. Yet, believe it or not, four elementary schools in Smyrna have free and reduced lunch percentages in excess of 90 percent. In partnership with Action Ministries and MUST Ministries, Tillman House has begun to launch a food pantry and food box program to feed families in need. We are also supporting weekend food programs through the local elementary schools as well as providing meals to MUST's Elizabeth Inn and to Trinity Community Ministries.
Homelessness and housing insecurity is another issue that affects families in our community. Tillman House programming focuses on rental and utility assistance. We began partnering with Tallatoona Community Action Partnership, Inc. just this month to further assist families with utility bills. We are also developing new relationships as I write this article to help families locate and qualify for affordable housing programs.
Lastly, educational programs are fundamental in breaking the cycle of poverty. In January, we begin an after school tutoring program in partnership with the Action Ministries Smart Lunch, Smart Kids and Family Matters Achievement programs. In the future, we see ESL, GED, and Financial Literacy programs also being developed. Employment services in partnership with MUST Ministries are also on the horizon.
Coordinating all these activities will be a challenge, but there is a light for Christ shining in Smyrna that wasn’t here before this missional merger. In no time, I am confident it will become a beacon!
is Director of Missions & Evangelism at Smyrna First UMC. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
May God bless continue to bless you in this Advent season.