Meet New Beginnings
What makes class special?
A sense of community is what makes New Beginnings different. Bumping along life’s journey makes it tough to sit alone in church or to try a new class. I’ve been morphed. I’m in a new place not necessarily of my choosing. I decided to try HPUMC Singles. Walking down the halls trying to find the classroom I felt pretty silly. I even hummed a little of “You’re an Overcomer” to get courage. Being single at 50+ is totally different from college days or from married days of being a couple. I went down my checklist as I walked. I wanted spiritually & mentally healthy people in relaxing conversational dialogue as we studied the Bible. When I stepped through the door, I found 12-20 people who have a shared faith that our spiritual & social needs will be met. We watch out for each other, enjoy humorous social events and “pay it forward” in outreach. A sense of bonding, “been there, done that” is pervasive. The Bible is emphasized in each lesson giving a sense of spiritual roots. It’s emotional safety, a sense of belonging, a personal investment of time & energy. When I went to a luncheon, I saw with a smile a sign that says it all. “Life’s better connected.”
How have you grown in your faith through the class?
Growing in faith means “Getting to Yes in a Land of No”. Our natural human instinct is to fight or flee from what seems dangerous or uncomfortable. Stepping out to attend a new Sunday School class is to make the unfamiliar familiar, the uncomfortable comfortable and to expect the unexpected. I think that I have spiritually grown through the fact that our teachers encourage us to share and ask questions. We have covered topics from Old Testament & New (with Allen Stone, Jimmy Worley & Rachel Roberts) to relational dialogue in life application with Gregg Medlyn and Nancy Cramer. Hearing a favorite or helpful Bible verse from a class member may be the break through moment in what I needed to hear. Sometimes the spiritual growth and gift is for another class member when they look past the anger, regret or envy to see a smiling face. It reinforces my conviction that God answers prayers I didn’t even know to pray. Basically, if God is my co-pilot, I need to move over. He’s the only way to get to Yes in a land of lots of oh-no’s.
Rewarding Outreach Project
We get lost in a sea of work & family demands, but the class has made a commitment to have one outreach project a month. We have provided one year of schooling for two Zambian orphans, built with Habitat, served dinner at Austin Street and worked at the North Texas Food Bank. But my favorite is our trip to Dickenson Place. This is where we turn life into a celebration by providing a Christmas party. I made the wrong assumption. I thought we would be playing bingo with the elderly. Instead we met 50-60 lively persons. They are not allowing negative feelings and past circumstances to place a lock on their soul. Participating in favorite Christmas carols, requesting “just one more”, taking turns singing solo, laughing at our jokes, jesting with each other over Bingo answers, their faith and belief allows us to see the strength that it takes to pull oneself up from poor circumstances to fully appreciate the blessings of warm food & housing. Mother Teresa said, “It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing. It is not how much we give, but how much love is put in the giving.” We thought we were the ones doing the hugging. But we walked away realizing the hug was two ways. The celebration was life, not just the birth of Jesus. The Christmas carols were just like a friend who remembers your verse when you forget the words or find it a little hard to sing. Yes, Life’s better connected.
A healthy attitude is contagious. Catch it! We start at 11 AM with 15 minutes of “catch up.” Whether it’s confirming our weekly activities in social calendar, brainstorming future events or reporting on what’s happening in our lives, the first 15 minutes hum by. At 11:15 the teacher begins either Old Testament, New Testament or relational interactive teaching. Dialogue and questions are encouraged. We finish at Noon with a circle prayer. Typically we will go to lunch together at a democratically chosen lunch spot.
10 Adjectives to describe Class
Adaptable, Amiable, Communicative, Compassionate, Can-do, Easygoing, Helpful, Impartial, Spiritual, Warmhearted-soul food.
We think that Social Activities should be diverse, inclusive, imaginative, weekly, and a method to reach out to people who feel shy about coming to class first.
We have sailed on a class member’s boat, had Death by Chocolate for Valentines, attended plays, movies, concerts, jazz festivals, art festivals, hiked around a lake, and especially like to dance. We go to members homes after viewing Christmas lights, Super Bowl, New Year’s, Halloween, Awards shows, football games, for dinner and dessert . If someone thinks of a fun activity, we try to show up for it –whether it means bringing something green to eat for St. Pat’s (and that was imaginative) or swimming in Lake Texoma (that was on the cool side).
Why did I join the class and why am I still active.
I joined the class because I wanted soul food. I know that God doesn’t make mistakes and He guides my steps. There was a place for me at Highland Park Methodist Singles 50 + and He allowed me to find it. I fervently believe that He will provide my soul mate when the time is right. In the meantime He has given the gift of New Beginnings where the light is on, the laughter abides in simple joys, the blessings of friendship are there to be shared and the invitation remains: there is room for more. We’re growing in numbers, but also in wisdom. Life’s better connected.
By Brenda Shull