Pastor’s Perspective

Pastor’s 2020 Ministry Summary 

I’m sure I’m not the only one who sat down to prepare a report for HPC’s annual congregational meeting wondering:  “2020?  What in the world do I write to summarize this past year’s ministry??!!”   

  • I remember how it all was a buzz at the start of the year.   
  • We were just getting into partnering weekly with Hillwood High School students at risk. 
  • Our Trader Joe’s Belle Meade Neighborhood Shares Flower Delivery had taken off with delivery pretty much every day of the week. 
  • A new community partner in BNI Bellevue was just getting started – with over 20 young professionals meeting weekly on Wednesdays in the old Bell Room that we converted into usable meeting space. 
  • For some reason preparations for Ash Wednesday really stand out to me in 2020.  Probably because we had decided to hold a morning service for the second year in a row and with our new Ministry Administrator Intern Travis Williams, we planned to be available in the building Wednesday morning to ash any in Playcare wanting ashes and a prayer and any leaving the morning BNI meeting wanting ashes and prayer.  Those times of offering ashes to our community partners stand as a highlight of holy moments to me still. 

You may remember I went off to the NEXT Church ministry conference in early March.  It was there on the second morning of an amazing collection of incredibly diverse Presbyterians that I started receiving calls and texts from family and friends around the country wondering if I was ok.  They had heard about Nashville’s terrible tornadoes and was praying we all were all right.   

I remember Kathy O. instructing me to stop in Kentucky on my drive back to get whatever clean up supplies I could.  We were working out a way to deliver and start clean-up efforts with a small church near TSU hit hard by the tornadoes.  Remember we were going to send teams three times a week to organize supplies and help however we could from New Covenant Christian Church.  As I drove, Kathy said:  “While you’re at it:  look for facemasks, hand sanitizer, and Clorox wipes.”  COVID-19 had hit Middle Tennessee and shelves everywhere were empty.   

COVID-19 shut a lot down for us in 2020.  But as your pastor I can tell you:  

  • It did not shut down your deep care for one another. 
  • It did not shut down your incredibly generous way of serving those in need – within like 10 days of H.G. Hill telling us their families most needed financial donations due to the impact of the tornadoes and COVID, we were sending something like $1700 – and that was on the heels of two separate $500 donations going to a Playcare teacher whose house had been badly damaged and to Hillwood High School for their families first wave of needs.  Nothing in 2020 stopped Hillwood Presbyterian’s incredible generosity!  Which might just explain why financial support of HPC’s ministry just kept coming from unexpected sources until the very last month of the year.  Generosity begets generosity! 
  • COVID did not shut down this church’s ability to connect with each other – in sorrow and in stress and in times when we just had to laugh together because everything else just seemed so much.   
  • It did not shut down your reaching out to each other and new community partners all year to ensure needs were met and support was given and the love of God tangibly was experienced. 

I could go on.   

HPC is a little bunch – we know that.  And its strength remains your inspiring faith, your never-failing trust in God to work however God can through us as we are, your compassionate care, your genuine love for God and neighbor.  In 2020, we have adjusted again and again – pivot was the word someone used the other day.  That great basketball practice young players are taught over and over when just starting out:  pivot.  When you plant one foot right where you are and turn ever-so-slightly OR all the way around if need be in order to get where you need to go next.   

So much remains unknown about what our ministry will look like 6 months from now.  9 months from now.  A year from now.  The journey ahead may be long and difficult.  We likely will stay separated physically several more months.  But I trust God shall bring us through one act of care.  One generous gift.  One more time of connecting with God and each other.  One more need met.  Another time of support given.  One more tangible way God’s love is experienced by another as we all continue to be the body of Christ, working together to spread the Light – to be the Light needed in the world today!   

Thank you so much, Hillwood Presbyterian Church for every gift that you are each and every day!  It remains an honor to be your pastor and I look forward to the day we all come together again in person to celebrate! 

Respectfully Submitted, 

Pastor Jule