Hamilton Park United Methodist Church continues to defy and diminish the hindrances and hurdles that were placed in our praising God and serving God’s people pathway this year. We continue to be a congregation with made up minds to make a difference for the Kingdom of God despite life’s vicissitudes. This has been an emotionally and spiritually challenging year due to the pandemic, the rise in racism, and economic upheavals. Another remarkable victory is that we are on track to pay all our apportionments this year! The fact that we are still here is proof of God’s goodness.
In 2021, our congregation demonstrated tremendous resiliency and strength when contorted by two major calamities: the continued despair of COVID-19 and extensive damage to 75% of our campus due to a February water pipe break. Both hardships could have shut down our church, but we remained open and active. We learned to become a Hybrid Church — one that ministers in person and online.
COVID-19 brought death and sickness to our congregation. This illness claimed the lives of three of our members and countless other lives of our family and friends. In response to COVID-19, we ensured that our members were offered Pastoral Care in the form of phone calls and online seminars addressing isolation, loneliness, and grief. Our various ministries continued via Zoom and Facebook. We took care of our community by continuing to feed the hungry and the elderly around us. We also offered three COVID-19 vaccine events in our parking lot.
As the COVID-19 infection rates dropped, there was a request for in-person worship. Our members were vaccinated and hungry for fellowship. Our campus was still under repair, yet we were undeterred to meet this request. Rev. Scott Gilliland, of nearby Arapaho UMC offered his sanctuary. We met there during June, July, and August, and offered live stream and in-person services. Those months demonstrated that we could be nimble and agile. It was refreshing to see the members step out of their comfort zones and do church in a new place.
Water ravaged our campus in February during the historic freeze that plunged Texas into brutally low temperatures. The men of the church sprang into action to cut off the water and remove rivers of frigid water. Once the broken pipes were repaired, it became clear that there was extensive damage to our campus. Our Narthex, Sanctuary, Bridal Room, Cry Room, Ushers Room, Main Hallway, Christian Living Center, and the Learning Center all were invaded by water and in need of extensive repair. Our Trustees and Finance Committees immediately went to work with contractors, and even a commercial interior decorator, to take our campus to a new level of beauty and functionality.
In the face of this destruction, we did not shut down the campus. We arranged the spaces that were usable to keep going. The Learning Center transitioned over to the administrative side of the campus. The ministries that distribute food relocated to other spaces on the campus. We did not stop. We found new ways and new places to keep being God’s church.
The perseverance shown by this church in 2021 let’s all know we stand on the Word of God. We are survivors of any and all things. The Apostle Paul put it best in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, “We are press on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not abandoned, struck down, but not destroyed.”
Dr. Sheron C. Patterson