Christmas Newsletter

2020 Review and Year-End

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Dear Lovers Lane UMC Family,

As we near the end of 2020, we can look back at a most difficult year for all of us. We can think about how time moved so slowly, as we socially distanced and masked. We are aware of all of the places we were not able to go with our families and friends, places where we so wanted to be. The Church is a community - it thrives on being together. We are about loving through outreach and ministry - together. We are about worshipping through prayer, song, gifts, laughs, hugs, and sharing made more sacred when we are all together in the sacred places we love. Not being able to celebrate life and weddings and memorial services has been an unexpected burden. For pastors, not being able to easily visit members, especially those who are sick and homebound, in hospitals, nursing facilities, and homes has made for a difficult time. 2020 has been a challenging time.

I mentioned Sunday that in the Bible’s original language sources there are two words for time. One is Chronos, from which we get the word chronology or calendar. Chronos time is measured by the ticking of the clock. The other word for time in the Bible is kairos. It is an expectant time. Kairos time is rich, special, significant, even sometimes dramatic. What has been the Kairos time you have experienced this year that took you to a place of new purpose and meaning? I see it in many ways at Lovers Lane:

  • Kairos time broke in when the church doors had to close, and we distanced and quarantined. Staff members prayed with people every night online and Vespers Prayer Friends was born to keep hundreds of us praying together in the evenings. What a blessing of time.
  • Kairos time is a young mother, nine months pregnant, waiting any day to deliver her baby and all of her family waiting with her. We had a new grandbaby, Lily Grace, born in October. What a blessing of time.
  • Kairos time sometimes arises out of very contentious times. We experienced challenges regarding race relations and tensions, peaceful protests and riots, political rigidity and elections. Hurtful actions and words have at times been the order of the day. But, we made time for online conversations and virtual workshops. I even wrote a cookbook with stories addressing some of these socio-political tensions that come our way from time to time. What a blessing of time.
  • Kairos time gave rise to addressing some of our facility needs. We have cleaned and sanitized like never before. We refurbished our sanctuary floors, renovated our beloved organ, are restoring our iconic stained-glass all paid for by generous giving. What a blessing of time.
  • Kairos time came when the word was out that we had neighbors experiencing food insecurity. The Food Ministry was born in the “fullness of time.” And the word got out to our neighbors and ministry partners, and now over 150,000 individuals have been fed nearly a half million pounds of fresh produce, rice, and beans. Your generous giving made it happen. What a blessing of time.

I have chosen not to grieve our inability to gather with those experiencing homelessness at Lovers Lane for a typical Everybody’s Christmas experience this year. I expect a Kairos time as we pass out coats to the homeless in the shelters and spirited worship is brought to us by our prison ministry and champions we met while they were incarcerated.

I have decided not to fret over having to do Christmas Eve differently this year as we come together virtually only on December 24th nearly all-day long. I expect great things in God’s good time.

Let me also say as your pastor, I am thankful for you. Your generosity allows us to continue to be the church as we seek to be in step with our God, who came to us in the “fullness of time” as the Babe of Bethlehem. I am expectant of us being able to financially finish the year strong because I know God will move our hearts to give. Those of us who have employment and means will give, while others who are suffering do what they can. God will perform another miracle and allow us to meet our missional responsibilities and help us end the year in the black with a budget balanced. And remember, look for making Kairos time. It will be happening.

God is Good,

Walnut Hill Church

We are excited to let you know what’s going on at the newly adopted Walnut Hill Church campus of Lovers Lane UMC!

First of all, our Board of Directors has been hard at work! Once Walnut Hill Church was adopted, a board was created to help contextualize the mission of Lovers Lane UMC, “Loving ALL people into relationship with Jesus Christ,” for the Walnut Hill Church community. This board has done a great job crafting core values, researching demographics and creating a mantra, or a way we communicate what we do. I’m happy to say that the way we Love ALL people is by “connecting and serving with our neighbors.” This mantra communicates not only the core values of Walnut Hill Church, but of our entire community as well. This mantra has driven us to continue our Drive-In Worship on Sundays at 11 am in the East Parking Lot of Walnut Hill Church so we can better connect with our neighbors. It has rallied us around providing Christmas to 40 homeless students at Thomas Jefferson High School in partnership with The Creative School (Walnut Hill Church’s preschool). It has also focused us on many ministries to begin early next year including a blood drive in partnership with our neighbors. We are so excited to continue putting this mantra into action!

I also want to celebrate the amazing team you have working at Walnut Hill Church. Some of you may know Pastors Scott Luginbill and Tom Hudspeth. Pastor Scott is now the Executive Pastor at Walnut Hill Church. Pastor Scott works tirelessly to ensure things are running smoothly in the building, with the staff and for The Creative School as well! It’s safe to say this adoption would not have gone through without Pastor Scott’s amazing work! Pastor Tom is the Pastor of Care extraordinaire! Pastor Tom works with our amazing congregational care team at Walnut Hill Church to ensure everyone who is in need receives a loving call, a kind note, or a warm meal! Pastor Tom is credited for our beautiful All Saints Sunday where we worshipped with 87 people in our parking lot! Some of you may not know our Treasurer, Patti Martin. Patti has been on staff at Walnut Hill Church now for quite a while and is excellent! Not only does she bring a wide breadth of history for Walnut Hill Church, but is an expert at what she does! Her management skills are out of this world and we are so blessed to be working with her! Next, we want to make sure we highlight Lyndel Doran, Director of The Creative School at Walnut Hill Church. Lyndel’s ministry to the young families and children of our community is a blessing! Her over-and-above work these last 5 months has allowed us to reopen The Creative School in the safest way possible. Way to go, Lyndel! We also want to celebrate the superbly talented Christine Bouton, Music Director and Organist. When I first arrived at Walnut Hill Church, a long-time member pulled me aside and said, “Please don’t mess with the music. It’s better than we deserve.” I can say with absolute certainty that Christine is better than any of us deserve! Not only does Christine bring her incredible musical talents, she also brings her incredibly musically talented family to the table. All 7 members of the Bouton family were able to play together the Sunday before Thanksgiving during Drive-In Worship. Finally, I want to make sure we celebrate our VOLUNTEER staff member, Cathy Bell. Yes, Cathy volunteers as the Membership Secretary to make sure that all of our data is collected and organized. What an incredible asset!

Thank you to everyone for your support of this amazing ministry!

Loving ALL,

Rev. Andy Nelms

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Everybody's Christmas

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Lovers Lane has always been a church for others. Through missions and outreach, we have met the tangible needs of people whom society has often forgotten. Over a decade ago, we dreamed of an event where we would invite people experiencing homelessness, former offenders, and everyone from our community to experience Christmas. Many of these people have spent most of their time waiting in lines to receive a meal. We hoped to extend the extravagant love of Jesus Christ to our friends through a seated hot dinner (no line), a warm coat, a bag of essential items, and of course, a Spirit-filled worship service. This event is called Everybody's Christmas because everybody is invited.

Everybody's Christmas will look different this year than it has previously, but the purpose remains the same: to share the love of Christ with everyone. This year, we will take Christmas to our neighbors. We will have a small service for the Prison Ministry, and it will be recorded for broadcast. Our guests, attending in-person, will receive a warm coat and a bag of essential items. For those not able to attend, we will hand-deliver the coats and gift bags to their living facilities. They will have the opportunity to watch the service online. The following weekend, we will take Everybody's Christmas to Austin Street Center - a shelter for people experiencing homelessness. They will receive a hot meal, a warm coat, a bag of essential items, a worship service, and lots of Christmas cheer. We have opportunities to serve for every comfort level, from praying at your home to carrying coats to Austin Street. For more information and to sign-up go to llumc.org/everybodyschristmas.

Family Christmas Experience

December 20 from 4:00-6:00 pm
and until 7:00 pm at Walnut Hill Church
December 21 is our inclement weather date.

This Summer, Jennifer Sutcliffe and I were spending our “typical day” serving with the Food Distribution while chatting and mourning the fact that we needed to cancel our Kids- and Student-led Christmas Eve worship service, due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

“What if we did a drive-thru??! Like this?!”

We began to walk the route of the Food Distribution, which winds around our entire campus and dream about what it could be. This could work! Soon, we learned that many of our beloved ministry partners were also having to cancel their Christmas traditions, and the Holy Spirit nudged us to invite them to be a part of this new thing.

This year, Lovers Lane, Walnut Hill Church, Wesley Prep, Christ’s Foundry, The Creative School, Lovers Lane Deaf Fellowship, and the Lovers Lane Foundation are all coming together to create a new tradition that allows us to embrace the unique gifts of our beautiful and diverse community and engage anyone who drives through in the journey of the first Christmas.

Family Christmas Experience is a free, safe, drive-thru experience with actors and live animals, and narration and music that you can hear using your phone, in English, Spanish, and see ASL! The journey doesn't stop there! You will follow a map of a beautifully Christmas-lit route over to our Walnut Hill Church campus for lots of socially distant activities: an interactive live nativity, socially-distant visit with Santa, s’mores and hot cocoa, and supplies for each child to make and wrap four gifts for family and friends!

We pray you can join us in this new tradition on Sunday evening, December 20th from 4-6 pm (4-7 at Walnut Hill Church). Come, invite your neighbors, or sign up to serve! Go to llumc.org/ChristmasExperience for information or contact me with any questions.

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Candlelight Carols - LIVE CONCERT

December 20 from 7:00 pm
llumc.org/live

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Please join the Lovers Lane UMC Music Ministry virtually for an hour of beloved traditional Christmas music broadcast from the serene beauty of the historic Lovers Lane UMC Sanctuary. Special musical elements include a heartwarming virtual choir performance by the Lovers Lane KIDSing ensemble and appearances by Victorian Christmas carolers, special guest instrumentalists, featured vocal soloists, and our long-standing Christmas tradition of singing "Peace, Peace" and "Silent Night" by our Lovers Lane UMC Sanctuary Choir in all its virtual glory!

Viewing will be available live and then on demand through Christmas Eve. The program will include words of celebration and rejoicing from the Gospel narratives. Stoke up the fireplace, prepare a mug of hot chocolate, and enjoy one of Lovers Lane UMC's most cherished musical Christmas traditions with those you love.

Poinsettias

Order a poinsettia in honor or in memory of someone you love. Poinsettias will be displayed in the Sanctuary throughout the Christmas Season. The list of dedications will be mailed to the donors. Plants may be collected at the end of worship Sunday, Dec. 27. Additionally, there will be a drive-thru pick-up available on Sunday, Dec. 27 from 12:30-1:30 pm at the Northwest Highway Entrance (Entrance C next to the Spire).

Orders may be submitted by completing this form and mailing to the church office at:
9200 Inwood Road
Dallas, TX 75220

Or order online at  llumc.org/advent  The last day to order is Tuesday, Dec. 15. Poinsettias are $15 each and the proceeds will support the Worship Ministry. We request that payment accompany your order. Please make your check out to “LLUMC” with “Poinsettia Sale” in the memo.

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Heart of Africa and Zimbabwe Fellowship

It is Christmas time and we are excited to be in worship together this year at church in person or virtually. Our African Ministries will have three services this year for Christmas and New Year’s. On Christmas Eve, we will be combined with the Traditional Service, which will be online only. On Christmas Day, we will gather in person in the Sanctuary at 10 am for a 30-minute service of celebration. We will also have an online-only virtual service in the format of a Zoom testimonial for Heart of Africa and one for Zimbabwe Fellowship. These services will start at 9 pm and go through 12 am.

We totally understand that we should have gathered to celebrate all these events in person, but as we are all aware of the situation we are in, it is important for us all to Do No Harm, by avoiding any ways leading to spreading the deadly disease. We are looking forward to seeing you all on Zoom and listening to each other on how our Lord has been faithful to us, and also sharing the 2021 personal goals. This pandemic has taught us to be very adaptive to the fast-changing environment, and God will always lead us the right way. Remember this is the season of giving away, and make those without Peace, Love, Joy, and Hope, realize that through Christ, we have the key to unlock everything. Looking forward to seeing you all in the services planned for us. Like I always say to you, “Let’s hold on to faith, and keep on keeping on.” God bless you all.

Christmas Eve Worship

A rundown of Christmas Eve worship times with Uncle Rusty

Ending 2020 Strong

A message about end of year giving with Donna

Capital Campaign Update

We were able to take advantage of the COVID shutdown and refinish the Sanctuary floor by removing the pews and storing them on-site, saving $11,000 in transfer and off-site storage costs. Floors were sanded down to bare wood, re-stained, and re-sealed to their original luster. The stage and steps stained a contrasting color to match the recently refurbished Aeolian Skinner organ and stair treads highlighted for safety. The Sanctuary windows were beginning to allow water penetration into the building which also threatened damage to the newly renovated floors. The rusting window mullions are structural and rapidly becoming compromised. Work has begun on a 4-5 month project to remove the sealant around 1,500 individual protective glass panes; to reseal, clean, and remove 45 years of dirt and grime. The mullions and bases will be resealed and repainted inside and out with a protective seal adhered to the vertical mullions to ensure against further leakage. Our iconic stained-glass Sanctuary is on it's way to being like new again.

New Worship Series: New Normal

As we step into 2021, we all take a deep breath because 2020 was not the easiest of years for anyone. But we made it through 2020 together. We invite you to join us as we enter the New Year by turning the page of the calendar to January 2021 with our new sermon series, “New Normal.” A new year doesn’t mean that the challenges we face will all suddenly go away or that life is immediately back to normal. But this series will help us see God’s miracles all around us and figure out how to live into a “New Normal” once we recognize God’s miracles in us and for us. Let’s start the year off with a new perspective because there is always a miracle to find.