The Inclusive Church

I cannot believe that I have been with you at Riverview for over two years. The time goes fast because my family and I enjoy our times here at Riverview. This Church is a very caring, loving, and inclusive one. Riverview demonstrates to me and my family the true mark of the Church, to be inclusive.

I reaffirm that the church is inclusive. The inclusiveness of the Church means that the Church is a refuge that welcomes all: male, female, white, black, rich, poor, sick, and healthy. They are all constitutive of the gospel and the ministry of Jesus. Jesus included all kind of persons during his ministerial work. Therefore, the church as the very body of Christ must be an inclusive church in order to be the effective body of Christ.

The Book of Discipline describes the inclusive Church as meaning “openness, acceptance and support that enable all persons to participate in the life of the Church, the community, and the world” (Book of Discipline #139 Page 93). My brothers and sisters, these are how I can describe our lovely Riverview Church.

God has created us all in God’s image. The Church as the very body of Christ must welcome all with equal opportunity. Christ himself declares, “And I when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.” Riverview, it is an imperative act for us to continue to be an inclusive Church and minister to all without limitation.

I understand that Jesus command the Church to convey the gospel to all with equal value in the name of the triune God” (Matthew 28: 19-20). Yes Riverview, two years could be mean a long time if you were not an inclusive and a loving church. May the grace of our Lord continue to be upon you.

Rev. Louis Telcy
Senior Pastor, Riverview First UMC
Pastors Message
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8002 U. S. Highway 301 South, Riverview, FL  33578  813-677-5995
A Life of Piety
Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but those who are kind to the needy honor him. Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor. (Proverbs 14:31; 22:9).

In 1910 Agnes was born into a poor peasant family in the primarily Muslim country of Albania. Agnes's Christian mother taught her to walk with God. After taking her first vows as a nun, Agnes was sent to teach in a convent in India.

For fifty years Agnes, known as Mother Teresa, walked the streets of Calcutta, ministering to the poor, carrying those destitute, dying, emaciated bodies to the Home for the Dying (Nirmal Hriday)—a home for persons whom no hospital wants; a home for people who have absolutely no one to take care of them.

A typical case was a woman who had been brought in from a sewer. She was a beggar who had fallen into an open manhole. She was barely alive. She was covered with maggots. Mother Teresa put her to bed, and while gently washing the woman, pieces of flesh broke away from her body and fell into Mother Teresa's hand. The half-conscious beggar asked Mother Teresa why she was doing this for her. She answered that she was doing it for the love of God. She honored God through her loving acts of agape.

When a reporter asked her how she could possibly go into that home day after day, she replied that she can only go in because she takes Jesus with her. Mother Teresa lived a life in piety each day. Her relationship with Jesus, her love for Jesus, her compassion and empathy for those half-alive sons and daughters of God, displayed the qualities of a pious life. In her servanthood, Mother Teresa daily shared the Bread of Life with the poor. Too often, we think of piety as a negative quality, a "holier than thou" attitude. But a life in piety is a whole life and a state of being where our relationship with God is our priority. Being good and doing good are our responses to a life lived in connectedness with God. We live in obedience to God's will.

We cannot each be Mother Teresa, for God made her who she was. But we can take the qualities of a life in piety and adapt them to our own everyday world.

From Walking Side by Side: Devotions for Pilgrims by Joanna Bultemeier and Cherie Jones (Upper Room Books, 1998)
A New Season

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose 
under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a 
time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 
a time to kill, and a time to heal . . . a time to mourn, and a 
time to dance . . . a time to love, and a time to hate; a time 
of war, and a time of peace. I have seen the burdens God 
has laid on the human race.  ––Ecclesiastes 3:1-4, 8 and 10

With all the changes in how we live, we could be forgiven for
 missing the changes of the seasons. A virus began at the end
 of winter, a lockdown came in the spring, and social distancing 
continued in summer.

Today, early mornings have taken on a chill. Maple trees are changing color. Another change is coming.

The Byrds’ 1965 song “Turn! Turn! Turn!” is based on Ecclesiastes 3, but the vocal harmonies and twelve-string guitar cover the more shocking nature of the message. Verse 10 says, “I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.” Many feel burdened. We are in the fall.

It is the same leaves of past spring that will rot into the nourishment of spring. Rotting is not a glamorous process. Do we judge the leaves from last spring because they have fallen? In the heat of summer, we enjoyed their shade. Now they decompose. They smell and turned black.

History follows this cycle. As we look at the past, some see only the mulch pile––the rot and decay. Others remember the full cycle, buds, leaves, fall, de-composition, and new growth. Let us use the decay of the past to plant a brighter future. If the gardener is intentional, the benefits of the past come back quickly in the spring.

Join us in planting so that out of the errors of the past and challenges of the present will come new gardens and forests in the future.

Steven Scheid, Director of the Center for Scouting Ministries, 
General Commission on United Methodist Men