Leaving Home

When they dropped me off at my dorm in Dallas, I’m fairly sure than neither my parents nor I had any idea of what was actually happening that day.  For though I went home for holidays many times after I moved away to college, it was never quite the same.  

At the seasoned age of nineteen, I began my first church job, working as a summer youth director in Baytown where I lived in a rather rickety garage apartment on stilts behind the associate pastor’s parsonage. And the following year, I moved further down the bay to do the same in Texas City.  Two years later I was ordained as a deacon, just days before heading to Europe to work in Slavic missions behind the Iron Curtain.

Thus began a half century of ministry within The United Methodist Church that has included pastoring nine churches, administering a church-owned college, working on a national church newspaper, as well as teaching in both denominational and ecumenical seminaries.  Ministry has taken me across the world, not just to Europe but to the Caribbean, Africa, Southeast Asia, and even Siberia, as well as to more church conferences than I’m sure the Geneva Convention allows.  I even hold the record for the shortest tenure on the cabinet ever within our conference, going to serve my present church before I actually moved into my new office in the conference building.

More significantly, my wife and I were married in her United Methodist church in Arkansas and both of our children were baptized in UM churches where I was serving when they were born.  We’ve lived in eleven parsonages, as well as two or three apartment complexes and even the Ronald McDonald House in Houston in which we served as the founding managers just to help make ends meet.  All until we bought the first house of our own at the age of sixty, much to the amusement of our realtor who quickly discovered we knew nothing about home ownership.  But in every place, it has been the church which has provided for that roof over our heads, one way or the other.

Across the years we have also met many incredible church folks whose faith and love not only inspired us, but also carried us through challenges and hard times. They’ve loved on us in immeasurable ways and we in turn have both celebrated and cried with them.  All of which is why it is difficult indeed to walk away from this denomination around which most of our lives have revolved for the last five decades.

But I also know it is time.  For though Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, the church I joined long ago is sadly not.  After fifty-four years of a bold experiment in theological pluralism, in fact, it is now clear that the grand notion of a big tent when it comes to defining our beliefs did not work, as those embracing differing views on “essentials” (to use a Wesleyan term) have slowly but surely drifted further and further apart.  And so, for an evangelical Wesleyan such as myself, it now feels as though I no longer have a home in The United Methodist Church.

After preaching my last sermon as a United Methodist pastor thus on Christmas Day, on December 31 I will no longer be a part of the denomination to which I have belonged since the age of 15 when the UMC itself was formed.  And despite my sometimes lover’s quarrel with that body, I’m certain it will be a poignant goodbye indeed. For like that day in Dallas five decades ago, I’m leaving home once more, and I know it will never be quite the same again.   

Blessedly, however, on the following day, I will begin a new chapter as an elder in the Global Methodist Church, a fresh expression of the Wesleyan witness which I believe to be a better fit for my own biblical and theological understandings. And since I can’t actually find the word “retirement” anywhere in the Bible, I hope to keep on serving in the GMC however I can, albeit at a slightly less frantic pace.

As we stand at this crossroads, thus, I wish my friends in The United Methodist Church only the best in their journey.  And following the admonition in Jeremiah 6.16, my prayer is that all of us may do our best to ask for the ancient paths, to discover where the good way is, and to walk in it, finding rest for our souls indeed. 

For sometimes you really do have to leave home in order to find it.

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27 Responses to Leaving Home

  1. Georgia Clark says:

    Oh Chap! I am so sad this has happened. And yet, I know that Jesus has had a hand in your direction and in mine. Bob and I, along with many others, will be looking for a place to worship that holds true to our beliefs. With Gods help we will find it. On another note, Bob and I will miss your wonderful sermons and sense of humor. We will also miss doing the videos! We have appreciated you and will miss you sorely. Maybe we will run into you again, Globally. Best wishes to you both! Georgia and Bob Clark

  2. amygyoung says:

    Chappell,

    Thank you for your lifetime of service to our Lord. I am so grateful that I had the good fortune to be part of your congregation. Your wisdom, knowledge and insight have had a meaningful impact on my life and faith. It is such a sad time for the church, but also an exciting time to be part of a new expression of faith. May God bless you and Julie in all of your days, and all that you do.

  3. bhager28 says:

    Thank you Chap for your witness. I am in retirement, but I am serving a special congregation in Jonesboro AR, who has chosen to stay UMC, so I am praying for wisdom.
    God Bless!

  4. Larry Wilson says:

    I’m with you my friend

  5. Dana Jacobson says:

    Courage, humility and anointed leadership are the hallmarks I have seen in our 5 years of knowing you, Chap. The UMC is losing a champion and the GMC is gaining one. Blessings on you and your house, my friend.

  6. Kathe Behrend says:

    It has been a hard decision, we know , for all of us who have a long familial history in the UMC. I pray God blesses your new endeavor. Keep in touch 💕🙏🏻

  7. Colin D McLeod says:

    Many hills we have traveled together, and mission doors opened. A new door is opening for you as Christ has invited. Looking forward to continued fellowship in the years ahead. Giving thanks for God putting you in our lives.

  8. Jed Hester says:

    Thank you for your article. Very moving. Sadly this kind of tragedy is happening in probably a third or a maybe more of our United Methodist churches. Because of the liberal takeover due to their drivenness to control, their narcissism, their hate and their unwillingness to abide by United Methodist law and decisions churches are being torn to shreds. Pastors are having to leave a denomination that abandoned them in its drive towards anathema. So your story is multiplied in countless UMC churches but affecting many, many more lay people than it is us pastors. However, we know in the end God will right all of these wrongs.

  9. MarvinFuller says:

    Pastor Temple, I will miss you and your intellect. I always thought of you as a teacher and scholar. I wish you and your wife the very best and don’t forget to take her to Switzerland. Since I don’t drive much anymore I may not see you prior to your departure. I am looking for a new church home in Katy.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  10. Bill Preston says:

    May God continue to bless you and Julie my friend. What a courageous Christian you are, and surely among the most accomplished. The church, and I, are forever in your debt and your fan club. Merry Christmas.

  11. Thank you,Chap, for this beautiful and poignant reflection. My last sermon as a UMC pastor is also Christmas Day. God bless.

  12. Linda Kana says:

    I had heard what happened at your church, and my heart breaks for you and Julie. This separation from the UMC has been hard for me, but I can’t begin to imagine how hard it has been (and will continue to be) for those of you in the clergy. I feel so blessed that Lakewood’s vote for disaffiliation was passed (although not by a large margin). It’s still hard to see members leave that I have known for years, and I know that it will take some time to make the physical changes that are required with the change to the GMC. Lakewood holds a place in my heart that I can’t imagine being filled by any other church, and I believe that started with you and Julie and your emphasis on missions. I want you to know that I would welcome your return to Lakewood in any capacity (even as just a member), although I feel that is not too likely. I always look forward to seeing you and Julie on your brief visits back (usually for Memorial services for long-time members), and I would love to get the opportunity to see you two more often. May God bless whatever you end up doing in the new GMC and in your life in the future.

    Blessings, Linda Kana ________________________________

  13. Sally Mc Knight says:

    Thanks for this. It was tough reading in spots, touching in others.

    You will be sorely missed.

    Keep an eye out for the newly forming Trinity GMC. You would be quite a catch for that new Plant.

    Blessings Pastor in this new phase of you and Julie’s lives.

    Sally

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  14. PAM BLUESTEIN says:

    I hope you will write a book some day- about all your years of service, etc. You are a Wonderful writer. This piece, of course, carries with it a poignancy that will stay with me for awhile. None of us wanted things to work out the way they did, but here we are. Thank you for your faithful and courageous leadership. I truly hope we have the opportunity to work together again- “on the other side”! Yours In Christ- Pam Bluestein

    Sent from my T-Mobile 5G Device Get Outlook for Androidhttps://aka.ms/AAb9ysg ________________________________

  15. David Daniels says:

    You are an amazing pastor and an amazing human being. You and Julie have been so good for Christ Church and I know you will be good for the GMC. We will probably run into each other over there at some point down the road, so this is not goodbye, just see you soon my brother. May God continue to bless your ministry. We love you. Kim and David Daniels

    • David Daniels says:

      The apostle Paul wrote, “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

      PHILIPPIANS 3:13-14 (NIV)

  16. Paul Broyles says:

    Take Courage! Sometimes change is necessary and exciting and exactly what we need. God Bless you, sir! Thanks again for your past service to Lakewood Methodist and UMC in general.

  17. Patsy Johnson says:

    Your love for the Methodist church is so evident in your words. Those of us who have been privileged to be part of your congregations have been enriched & guided in our faith walks, blessed many times through your sermons(learned some Hebrew words too), and instilled in us the joy that comes when serving others in missions. May this next chapter for you & Julie be a fulfilling one as you each continue His work and spreading His love.

  18. John Brewer says:

    May the Lord bless you and keep you.

  19. Clayton L. Smith says:

    Thank you for your thought provoking and heart warming blogs.
    Your story is my story. I especially remember my first day at Perkins. There are so many pastors and spouses in our boomer generation who are retiring and leaving our church home. Your blog calls for deeper reflection and healing hope.
    Five years ago I started a dynamic boomer ministry at one of our largest churches. In my own retirement, I continue to have a ministry passion for helping people prepare for the retirement transition. One of my best friends helped me write a book called Crossroads. It was based on Jeremiah 6:16. My wife and I are considering adding another chapter on “Leaving Home.”

  20. Phyllis Ashton says:

    😪😪‼️. I’m sorry, as a member, that I didn’t receive your message, but thankfully it was forwarded to me.
    I also have been a UMC most of my life & will also be moving to a Global Methodist Church that is close to where I live in Del Webb in Richmond.
    God Speed go with you!

  21. Edward A. Monto says:

    Chap, our best wishes to you and Julie and our thanks for your always determined and intellectually honest guidance. Blessings shall follow you!

  22. We are very sorry that you are leaving and that our vote to disaffiliate failed. Your sermons were inspiring and each one was as if you were speaking to us one on one which was your intention of course. We have been trying to locate GMC congregations in the Sugar Land area and possibly that will be easier after the a vote to affirm the disaffiliation officially takes place.

  23. sharaprestoncomcastnet says:

    “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
    ‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭4‬:‭7‬-‭8‬ ‭

    Thank you, Chap and Julie

  24. Royce Thompson says:

    Chap, I so much enjoyed your Leaving Home comments this morning. Your and Julie’s lives have been, and will continue to be, I’m sure, such a powerful witness and blessing for your and our faiths in Jesus Christ our Lord. Thank you for the opportunity to have been associated with and blessed by you in our work together within the UMC in the TAC. I feel like I have known you since that very day your parents dropped you off at your freshman dorm high on the hilltop at SMU. Thanks, too, for all of your spiritual and creational efforts within the Wesleyan Covenant Association and the Global Methodist Church. Both of you have inspired Deborah Gail and I in our faith. We will continue to pray for both of you, as we work together as brothers and sisters in Christ.

  25. pastorheidimcginness says:

    Let’s stay in touch , please .
    Christmas love to you both and yours , joyfully , Heidi

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