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Pathways

Our Pathways Journey of Intentional Discipleship

You can learn more about the Pathways journey of intentional discipleship by reading the PATHWAYS WELCOME and PATHWAYS TRAVEL GUIDE.  Copies of these guides are available in the church office or in the atrium as you enter the sanctuary.  Please contact the church office or Sandra Boedeker if you would like more information.

 

The intentional discipleship program at FUMC, Graham is called, “Pathways.”  After almost two years of planning Pathways was started in Fall 2014.  Some of the information and guidelines about Pathways are listed below.

Pathways

The Bible shares that discipleship revolves around a relationship with God through our Savior Jesus Christ, and relationships with other people.   The essence of these relationships was revealed by Jesus when he shared the two great commandments in Luke 10:27, “He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is much more than being a member of a church.  It is letting the redeeming love of God in Jesus Christ transform our hearts, words, and actions, so that we serve and glorify God in all we do.  At First United Methodist Church of Graham we understand our mission as making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by knowing, loving, and serving God.

Pathways was designed by our church to help the disciples of Jesus Christ at First United Methodist Church in Graham to journey and grow in their faith.   All Christians grow and move in their faith in different ways, but we are all traveling on a faith journey led by God.

Pathways is designed around three themes:  Knowing, Loving, and Serving God. 

First United Methodist Church of Graham designed Pathways to help disciples grow in their faith through an intentional process.  We wanted this process to involve every age and stage of the faith journey.  Our goal is to help every disciple of Jesus Christ at First United Methodist Church of Graham to be engaged in a discipleship journey and to grow as a committed Christian.

At the heart of Pathways is a study called Journey 101.  This three-part study explores discipleship through the topics of knowing, loving, and serving.  A brief definition of each area would be:

            Knowing:  Exploring the good news of the Bible and discovering Bible study tools and

                        Resources to deepen your understanding of God and the Scriptures.

            Loving:  Experiencing spiritual transformation through spiritual practices that will help

you fall more in love with God and grow in your relationship with God and

others.

            Serving:  Understanding the biblical context for service that will enable you to use your

                        hands, your time, and your spiritual gifts to serve others and share Christ.

Each age level in our church family is part of an intentional plan of learning.  This plan of learning incorporates elements of knowing, loving, and serving God.  During the year all three elements are addressed although one may be a focus for a specific amount of time.  We have a plan of spiritual growth for our children, youth, and adults.  Growth in belief and action is one of the important ways that we can experience and witness God transforming our lives.  As we center on knowing, loving, and serving God, the love that Jesus requires of all disciples is made manifest in our lives.

Preschool Children

We provide a loving, nurturing, caring, and protected environment for the youngest in our church family.  All of our nursery caregivers are carefully screened and trained so that we maintain the highest standards of care.  As children make the transition to age three, they begin to learn more about God through Sunday School.  Parents are provided a “Parent Page” that provides an overview of what the children will be learning each quarter in Sunday School.  The lessons utilize resources that enable our children to begin learning the basic Bible stories through lessons appropriate to their age.  We also offer a quality weekday preschool during the school year for children age three through pre-kindergarten.  For three days each week the children learn the skills and tools to grow as individuals and to prepare for kindergarten.

Not all children of a similar age are academically or socially on the same level, but we believe that all children can know that God loves them, that they can talk with and respond to God, that we are created by God to love, and that church is a secure place where people care and listen to them.

Elementary Children

Sunday School for children in kindergarten through fifth grade utilizes a rotation format of learning centers: computers, storytelling, games, science, art, music, cooking, and movies.   Rotation through these learning centers exposes them to a deeper knowledge of the Bible, provides participation in appropriate mission projects, and gives them opportunities to discover the importance of caring, prayer, giving, and serving.

We want our children in the elementary ages to begin relating to God as Creator, Jesus as the Son of God, and God through the Holy Spirit.  This is the time to teach them to be comfortable with prayer, to understand God has created and loves our world, and to know that they are important to God.   This is a time when children can expand their role in the church family by serving as acolytes, singing, playing bells, and participating in special worship services.  Children should begin to understand they are participants in worship and not observers.

Youth

Our youth in grades 6-12 have a wider variety of learning formats.  They are discovering how to make their faith personal and how to live out their faith.  These goals are met through Sunday School, as well as weekday, weeknight, and other special learning and mission opportunities.  We want our youth by the time they graduate from high school to have a good understanding of the Bible and to have meaningful experiences in worship, prayer, and care for others.  We want them to have personal experiences in mission and outreach that will shape their faith as they grow as disciples.

During this important stage of growth our youth can begin to identify their gifts in God’s kingdom.  They can become more involved in the church family by volunteering to serve, beginning a serious reflection on scripture, and reflecting and discussing faith, moral, and ethical issues from a Christian perspective.  This is a time for our youth to gain a sense of self and to belong to large and small groups.  Through this time of growth the foundational experiences of childhood are shaped and formed into the beliefs that will guide them as adults.

Adults

At First United Methodist Church we are intentional about nurturing adults in their faith and recognize that people are at different ages and stages of their spiritual journey.  Our goal is to offer all adults, regardless of where they are on their journey, opportunities to grow in their personal relationship with Christ and with others.

Opportunities for growth include a strong adult Sunday School program with a variety of classes, weekday/weeknight short-term and longer-term Bible studies, faith-focused workshops and seminars, and topical studies.  There are also many opportunities for adults to be hands-on and to “grow by doing” through our extensive community outreach ministries and mission trips.

Our goal is for all adults to be a participant in a group study of Journey 101: Knowing, Loving, and Serving God, which will be offered on an on-going basis.   We want all adults to grow in their faith, to connect their faith to their own life experiences, to grow in their understanding of the Bible as a guide for their lives, to grow in their relationship with others, and to use their spiritual gifts for serving in the name of Christ.  We hope all adults will be involved in at least one ministry area in addition to worship.

We invite all adults to join in this grand journey of knowing, loving, and serving God as we strive to be a community of committed Christians living Christ-centered lives.  Wherever you find yourself on this trip of a lifetime – in the exploration, planning, packing, mapping, first steps, refueling, you name it – we are here to travel with you.

Where am I on my path?

Discipleship is a life-long process.  It is a journey that expands and grows with us as we enter into a relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ.  As we follow Jesus and desire to grow in our faith, we learn and build upon the foundations of the faith that have been handed down through the ages.  Because we grow in our relationship with Jesus and travel in our faith journey, everyone is at a different place and stage of the journey.  Some of us may just be recognizing that we are on the pathway while others have been traveling and exploring their faith and relationship with God for many years.

If you are not sure just where you are in your faith journey, here are some ways to reflect on your pathway and to see where you are and where you might want to go next.

New on the Path – I believe in Jesus as my Savior, but I really don’t know much about the Bible or how to grow in my faith

Occasional Traveler – I believe in Jesus as my Savior and try to occasionally read the Bible and pray, but I would like to do more and to do it better.  I may not be sure where to turn next to grow in my faith.

Seen the sites – I believe in Jesus as my Savior, and I have been discovering how to know, love, and serve God for many years.  I have experienced a variety of learning settings, but I am still looking for new ways to grow.  I feel that my faith is pretty well grounded and would like more guidance on the next step in my faith journey.

Well-Traveled – I believe in Jesus as my Savior, and I have shared in what seems to be every Bible study and mission experience that has been offered.  I feel that my faith is solid, grounded, and I have no doubt about my faith relationship.  I am ready to explore spiritual disciplines, deeper theological discussions, or more hands-on experiences to grow in my faith journey.  I know there is more I can do to explore and deepen my relationship with Jesus Christ.

Adventurous Traveler – I believe in Jesus as my Savior, and I would like new and exciting ways to deepen my faith journey.  I want to take the road less traveled and discover God’s deepest blessings for my life.

What is my next step on this pathway?

Because each of our pathways is different on our faith journey, there is no one pathway for all people.  God leads each of us in different ways, using our gifts of the Spirit and our desire to work in God’s kingdom.  Because we believe that God leads each of us in different ways and that all people learn differently, as a church family we intentionally provide a variety of settings to grow in your faith.

We believe that one important role of the church is to nurture, encourage and challenge every disciple as we strive to grow in our faith.  Our church family provides a variety of opportunities to experience God in small groups, different worship settings, and in many hands-on experiences that allows us to use our spiritual gifts for God.  

Disciples always grow best when they are engaged in corporate worship, when they gather with other Christians to study, pray, learn and grow together, and when they discover their spiritual gifts and participate in God’s work through the ministry of the church.

The Pathways Destinations document is your guide for growing as a disciple.  Pathways Destinations will be published twice each year listing a variety of opportunities for knowing, loving, and serving God.  If you are unsure what direction to go next, ask God to lead you, listen to that leading, look at the opportunities in the Pathways Destinations, and then try a direction.  You can sign up for a Bible Study, join a small group, volunteer at the Friendship Meal, go on a mission trip, or work in one of the local mission sites.

If you have a specific interest or area of study you would like to pursue or feel God leading you to discover and do not see it listed in the Pathways Destinations, please visit with our Program Director or one of the pastors.  The types of classes and experiences offered will vary throughout the year.

Let the compass guide you!

Look for the compass logo that accompanies Pathways.  When you see the compass around the church and in printed materials, you will know that something important and exciting is happening as we grow as disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world through knowing, loving, and serving God.

Pathways – Additional Information

Three Core Classes

We determined there were core beliefs that all believers should know or be exposed to in order to better grow in their faith.  We determined that the study, Journey 101, provided the core basics we believe are important.  These classes are taught on a rotating basis.

Points of Interest

We call our seasonal or special studies “Points of Interest” for adults.  These can include any number of topics or emphasis.  The goal is to rotate between Bible, spiritual, short and long term studies, as well as hands-on events.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Library

J.S. Criswell Library

Open on Sunday Mornings and Wednesday Afternoons from 3:00-4:30 p.m.

Also open upon request.

The J.S. Criswell Library is an important partner in ministries at First United Methodist Church. The Library contains over 6,000 volumes of both secular and religious books.

 

The children's division has over 2,000 volumes ranging from board books for the very young, pictures, books, Caldecott Award books, and other beginning reading material.

The junior division appeals to upper elementary age children through junior high grades and includes Bluebonnet and Newbery Award books.

The adult division has books on church history, self-help, meditation, devotion, religious reference, and current fiction and non-fiction bestsellers.

 

The Children's Reading Adventure is held every summer and recognizes children who read at least 12 books in the specified time. Children are recognized during worship and presented with a trophy.

 

About the J.S. Criswell Library

The J.S. Criswell Library was established in 1977 with a generous donation made by Kathleen Gregory in memory of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. J.S. Criswell, who were longtime members of the church. The library overlooks the courtyard on the north and the stained glass windows from the old sanctuary are on the south wall, providing a peaceful atmosphere for study, mediation, and reading.

The lovely furnishings and the library equipment, as well as the Children's Reading Adventure and the annual luncheon for the Library Guild, are all made possible by a special memorial gift from Kathleen Gregory.

  

Making a Gift

You may make a contribution to the ministry of the library through the church office. Memorial donations are welcome.

 

The Elizabeth Bettis Library Guild

The Elizabeth Bettis Library Guild, named after the first librarian, was initiated in 1985. The purpose of this group is to assist the librarian. Members of this group help prepare books for check-out and work in the library on Wednesdays and Sundays. An annual meeting is held in late spring. Membership is open to interested readers.

Stewardship

giving2It seems that everyone has a different definition or understanding of stewardship.  Many times the focus is solely upon putting money in the offering plate, but the biblical understanding of stewardship is much larger.  Stewardship includes not only how we use our financial resources but how we use all of the gifts that compose our lives.  Being a "steward" means being a person of faith who takes care of the gifts given to us by God and using those gifts in a way that honors the giver.

 

Good stewardship means doing the best we can with all God has blessed us with in our everyday life.  It is important to honor God with our gifts of time, relationships, work, play, and money.  We strive to use these gifts wisely, to never take for granted what we use, to honor God in the choices we make, and to make the world better by our choices.

 

Every choice we make in life should reflect our faith and witness.  When it comes to money, we need to use it wisely, carefully, and in way that is not selfish.  We also believe that giving grows out of a maturing faith.  That is why our stewardship campaigns are not focused on giving by guilt, but upon the grace of God.  We are invited to respond with the same level of joy and grace that has been given to us.  We believe in tithing, returning to God ten percent of what we have received, but no one is going to stand over your shoulder to see what percentage you give.  Your giving is a decision between you and God and we believe you need to be faithful as you listen to God's leading.

 

The finance committee reviews income and spending each month, reconciles accounts, and reports to the church council.   Giving statements are mailed throughout the year as well as a special quarterly newsletter for those who give. 

 

 ONLINE GIVINGonline logo

You may now make contributions to the budget and other special funds by go to the home page and clicking, "Click Here for Online Giving" or use the link below.  This is a safe and secure site for making gifts using your credit card, debit card, or making an electronic funds transfer from your checking account.  If you have any questions please contact the church office for more information.

Click here to give online

 

 

Church Foundation

The leadership of FUMC took a bold step several years ago to create a Foundation that would benefit for the church for many years to come.  The concept was to create what is called, "The Third Generation Fund" which when it reached a corpus of $1 million dollars, the earnings above that corpus could be used for the maintenance and care of the church.  The Foundation Committee oversees the interests of the Foundation, receives requests and bequests, and works diligently for the Foundation.

 

Gifts can be made to the Foundation through your estate, gifts of real estate, stock or insurance, or memorials and cash gifts.  Once a year we have Foundation Sunday as we lift up this ministry that will enable the church to be a good steward for many years to come.  Please check with the church office for more information about giving to the Foundation.

 

 

 

Prayer

prayer ministry

Prayer is woven through all we do at First United Methodist Church.  There is not any part of the church family where prayer is not a real part of our ministry, worship, and programs.  In addition to emphasis placed on prayer in the regular work and ministry of the church, there are special times of prayers where we invite the church family to participate.  Some of our prayer emphasis includes:

  • praying for the children of the church
  • praying for our college students
  • praying for the Caring Ministries of our Community
  • praying for the teachers, administration, and staff of the Graham ISD
  • praying for persons affected by natural disasters
  • praying for those who are facing severe illness

Our Prayers and Squares Prayer Quilt ministry is also one way that we involve the entire church family in prayer.  Handmade quilts are lovingly made for people going through a difficult time in their lives.  Each prayer quilt is prayed over by the congregation and strings of yarn are tied as a tangible symbol of each prayer.

Special prayer services are held in the Chapel as needed throughout the year.

Short Term/Special Studies

We offer a number of short-term and special studies throughout the year.  The four major times of the year when you will find special studies and classes:

    January - Lent - September - December

Many of these classes will range in duration from four to ten weeks.  The longer term special studies such as Disciple Bible Study or Christian Believer are 32-36 weeks in length.  These classes generally start in September and end in May.

A current list of available classes can be found by contacting the church office.  You can also click on "Join A Study" at the bottom of the home page of the website for current class registrations.

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