Interim Leadership for Metro District

Friends,

This is a tender time. It is a time filled with grief and loss, anger, and sorrow, but also one filled with the hope of the resurrection.

As you are now aware, we are grieving the loss of our friend, colleague and leader, The Reverend Dr. Autura Eason-Williams.

We recently learned that the funeral arrangements are:

  • A viewing on Tuesday, August 2, from 4 – 8 p.m. at Anthony Funeral Home, 135 S 16th Street, West Memphis, AR  72301. 
  • The funeral on Wednesday, August 3, at 10 a.m. at Saint Paul United Methodist Church, 2949 Davies Plantation Road, Lakeland, TN  38002. (Clergy who attend are requested to wear black robes with a white stole, or a dark suit, so they may line up along the aisle as Autura passes through.) 

While it is difficult to think about the future leadership of the Metro District, we are slowly turning our attention in that direction.

In the near term, I have asked the Reverend Dr. David Weatherly, the Mississippi River District Superintendent, to serve the Metro District as well as the Mississippi River District.

This appointment is for an interim period of time until we can make decisions related to the future leadership of the Metro District.

Dr. Weatherly is well acquainted with the Metro District having served in the district over many years. He will bring stability in this season as a steady and trusted leader.

Hopefully by the first of September, we will be able to announce a more permanent plan for the Metro District. In the meantime, Dr. Weatherly will continue serving the Mississippi River District as he assumes the duties of the Metro District.

Please be in prayer for the family of Dr. Eason-Williams, the Metro District congregations, pastors, and Dr. Weatherly.

Peace,

Bishop William McAlilly


Remembering Autura Eason-Williams

Words escape me today. Late yesterday, I received the news that Reverend Dr. Autura Eason-Williams was tragically and senselessly murdered in her driveway at her home as she attempted to prevent a car theft. Dr. Eason-Williams was in her second year as the District Superintendent of the Metro District in Memphis, TN.  

The clergy and laity of the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference are grieving and in shock.  Last night, over 200 gathered to remember and give thanks for Autura, for her life, her witness, her leadership, and her friendship.  The outpouring of tears and love as we remembered Autura was a reminder of what an impact one person can have and the loss that is felt when one among us is taken from us unexpectedly. 

We often quip that no one is irreplaceable.  I will tell you, however, that I beg to differ with that sentiment. One can be replaced but the unique giftedness of a person cannot be replicated. Autura was uniquely gifted for mission and ministry. She navigated a cross-racial appointment as an early pioneer in that work in the legacy Memphis Conference. Her peers elected her to lead the clergy delegation to General Conference and endorsed her as a candidate for Bishop prior to the anticipated 2020 General Conference. 

During the Global Pandemic, I invited Autura to join the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Appointive Cabinet.  She was in the process of becoming one of our most gifted District Superintendents and was tackling some of our most difficult challenges. Two of the ministries Autura was leading for the Tennessee Western Kentucky Conference were the Signposts Seminars, engaging the work of systemic racism in our conference, and #BeUMC Campaign, an effort to highlight the positive aspects of being the United Methodist Church. More than these very tangible efforts, however, was Autura’s ministry of encouragement, especially to female clergy.  

Autura, we will miss your laugh, your leadership, your love, your faithfulness, and your generous spirit. You modeled for us the words of Micah: “and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8.  We give thanks to God for the ways you led and loved us well.



Please help make Meharry in Memphis a success

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, 

At the Inaugural session of the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Annual Conference, we presented a transformative opportunity for ministry that will have a growing impact in the years to come. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we know healing is one of the foundations of our faith. The call to discipleship is to preach, to teach, and to heal.  As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to find a way to be engaged in the ministry of healing. If we do not, we have ignored a third of the Gospel.  

In a bold move, Meharry Medical School in Nashville has partnered with Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare in Memphis, The University of Memphis, and Church Health to establish a Memphis campus.  The goal is to identify, mentor, and train students who might grow up in poverty but who can become physicians to serve both the community where they grow up and all of America. Such a pipeline plan is ambitious with many places where “leakage” occurs.  We believe the United Methodist Church following the example of our founder, John Wesley, who promoted health education and healing as part of his ministry, can stop the “leakage.”

The Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference has an opportunity to play a leading role in the creation of a Memphis Campus for Meharry Medical School—the only historically black United Methodist-related medical school in the US. We hope that you and your congregation will support this work in a meaningful, thoughtful, and financial way.

There are 168 allopathic medical schools in America.  There are 4 historically black medical schools with only one affiliated with a church, and that is Meharry.  In 1876, Meharry was founded as the first medical school for African Americans in the south and has always been affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Its importance today is greater than ever before. Only 5% of all physicians identify as African American. Meharry’s role in raising children of color up to be doctors is critical and they take their affiliation with the Church seriously. The opportunity to create a Memphis campus with the support of the United Methodist Church gives us a chance to follow the call of the gospel to heal the sick, while also demonstrating support for promising young leaders.

We are asking you to commit yourself and your congregation to the task of making the Memphis Campus of Meharry strong and vibrant. The role of the Church will be three-fold: 1) to help identify potential students and to connect with and mentor them, thus plugging the points of “leakage” so that children with potential may become physicians;  2) to promote Meharry at every opportunity across our connection to enhance the role of the church in the training of physicians of color, and 3) to make a financial commitment that will assist in making Meharry in Memphis a success. 

Statistics indicate that students who grow up in poverty and successfully navigate college and Meharry Medical school, often begin their careers with a financial debt approaching $400,000. There are many financial resources needed to make the Memphis Campus a success. We are asking you to make a financial commitment to this powerful endeavor. You can make your commitment by giving online to “Meharry” at https://www.shelbygiving.com/app/giving/twkumc or by sending a check made out to Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference (Memo Line: Meharry Offering). Please mail checks to TWKUMC, PO 440132, Nashville, 37244-0132.

We make this request trusting in the belief that one day we will look into the face of God with the assurance that we did our best to provide a ministry of healing. We invite you to journey with us.

With hope for healing,

Bishop Bill McAlilly; Dr. Michael Ugwueke; Dr. James Hildreth; Dr. Scott Morris


Daily Prayers for Holy Week | Easter Sunday

The prayers this week were adapted from the Benedictine Daily Prayer Book.

The Resurrection of the Lord Easter Sunday

Acts 10:40-43

40 God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Lord Jesus, we come before you on this day of triumph, grateful for the knowledge of your saving love and for your promise of everlasting life. In the power that comes from your resurrection, we call out to you: Amen, Alleluia!

• Lord Jesus, continue to lead, nourish, and protect the people you have redeemed;
• Lord Jesus, strengthen us to achieve that peace which the world does not yet know;
• Lord Jesus, give us new life through the power of your resurrection;
• Lord Jesus, empower us for your work in the world;
• Lord Jesus, enlighten those in darkness;
• Lord Jesus, by your resurrection, show us the light of life;
• Lord Jesus, nourish us with the bread of life;
• Lord Jesus, by your resurrection, pour out on us the Spirit of life.

Prayer:
Holy God, raising Christ from the dead, and raising us with Christ, you have fashioned for yourself a new people, washed in the waters of baptism, sealed with the gift of your Spirit, invited to the heavenly banquet. In the beauty of this Easter, set our minds on the new life to which you have called us; place on our lips the words of witness for which you have anointed us; and ready our hearts to celebrate the festival of the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. We ask this through your Son, the Christ, our Passover and Peace, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and forever, Amen.


Daily Prayers for Holy Week | Holy Saturday

Over the days of Holy Week, we have offered Scripture, prayers for your consideration, and the Lord’s Prayer. We invite you to consider these daily prayers for your journey through Holy Week to Easter.

The prayers this week are adapted from the Benedictine Daily Prayer Book.

Holy Saturday

Psalm 24
1
The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it;
2
for he has founded it on the seas,
and established it on the rivers.
3
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
4
Those who have clean hands and pure hearts,
who do not lift up their souls to what is false,
and do not swear deceitfully.
5
They will receive blessing from the Lord,
and vindication from the God of their salvation.
6
Such is the company of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah
7
Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in.
8
Who is the King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle.
9
Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in.
10
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
he is the King of glory.

Hymn
Hail, O faithful Cross of Jesus, nobler than all other trees,
On your branches hung the Savior, God’s own justice to appease.
You, O Cross, became the balance on which Jesus’ body lay:
All our sins amassed together Jesus’ death did far outweigh.
Hail, O Cross, our only comfort, teach us patience, mercy, love;
Be a bout of inspiration and of grace from God above.
To the Father, Son, and Spirit, equal praise be given now.
As we call to mind Christ’s passion, and in deep repentance bow. Amen.

Lord Christ, you have brought us again to this holy season,

Ready to celebrate your victory over death, we give you praise and say: Christ, we adore you:
• Lord Jesus, your disciples forgot your promise that you would rise again, but you did not forget them. Remember those who do not know your resurrection and give them hope.
• Christ our Savior, from the cross you promised paradise to the repentant thief. May all who have shared in your death partake of your risen glory.
• Christ the Good Shepherd, you gave your Body and Blood for all humanity. Let your gifts be the source of life for your Church.
• Christ, Son of the living God, you have buried us with you in baptism and brought us to birth. May our new life grow to full stature in your Spirit.
• Christ, the new Adam, you went down among the dead to make them free. Lead out of captivity those who have died with you.

With the power of the Spirit, let us pray to the Father as his son taught us:

Pray as Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Closing Prayer:

God of mighty power, living forever and source of all life, your only Son descended to the realm of the dead, so that from that place of exile and shadow you might raise him up to new life and to glory at your side. Let all those who in faith descend into the waters of baptism find the font of the Church to be both the tomb in which they die to sin with Christ and the womb from which they rise reborn, a new creation. We ask this through your Son, the Christ, our Passover and Peace, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.


Daily Prayers for Holy Week | Good Friday

Over the coming days of Holy Week, we will offer Scripture, prayers for your consideration, and the Lord’s Prayer. We invite you to consider these daily prayers for your journey through Holy Week to Easter.

The prayers this week are adapted from the Benedictine Daily Prayer Book.

Good Friday

Isaiah 53:4-5

4
Surely, he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
5
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.

Toward mid-afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice: My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?

Isaiah 53:6-7

6
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.

I Peter 2:21-24

21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.
22 “He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
23 When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

For our sake Christ humbled himself, obediently accepting even death, death on a cross.

When Jesus tasted vinegar he said, “It is finished.” Then bowing his head, de delivered over his spirit.

Pray as Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Almighty God, you awoke in your Son, Jesus of Nazareth, the desire to be human, without power or prestige in this world. He experienced in his person the cost of such a life, dying like a salve on the cross. Let us, we beg you, recognize in him your power and wisdom. Give us faith, both in you, the living God, and in your power to bring even the dead to life again; today and every day forever and ever.

For our sake Christ humbled himself, obediently accepting even death, death on a cross.


Daily Prayers for Holy Week | Holy Thursday

Over the coming days of Holy Week, we will offer Scripture, prayers for your consideration, and the Lord’s Prayer. We invite you to consider these daily prayers for your journey through Holy Week to Easter.

The prayers this week are adapted from the Benedictine Daily Prayer Book.

Holy Thursday

Hebrews 2:9-10

9 We do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
10 It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

Merciful God, you have brought us to the threshold of the Easter journey, this time of salvation, so that you might free us from sin and strengthen us in your love. Listen as we pray: Lord, hear and have mercy.

• Lord, make us fruitful members of Christ by renewing in us his Holy Mystery;
• Make us eager for your word by opening our ears and hearts during these sacred days;
• Make us faithful in your service by the common events of our daily lives;
• Make us generous in serving others by our simplicity of life;
• Make us humble and without guile by giving us true knowledge of ourselves;
• And make us bear in ourselves the wounds of Christ by sharing the suffering and pain of your people.

Pray as Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.


Daily Prayers for Holy Week | 4-13-22

Over the coming days of Holy Week, we will offer Scripture, prayers for your consideration, and the Lord’s Prayer. We invite you to consider these daily prayers for your journey through Holy Week to Easter.

The prayers this week are adapted from the Benedictine Daily Prayer Book.

Wednesday of Holy Week

1 Corinthians 1:28-30

28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, 29 so that no one[a] might boast in the presence of God. 30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.
Lord Jesus, for forty days you fasted in the desert and were tempted, yet never sinned. Guard us with your power as we seek to follow you. Hear us as we pray: Lord, save your people.

• Lead your Church to Unity and Peace;
• Bless the efforts of world leaders to bring peace on earth and foster understanding among nations;
• Free all people from bigotry, prejudice and hatred;
• Comfort those who suffer because of injustice, poverty, and sickness;
• Increase the faith, hope, and love of those who are broken and confused;
• Forgive us our sins and keep us from losing heart because of our weakness.

Pray as Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.


Daily Prayers for Holy Week | 4-12-22

Over the coming days of Holy Week, we will offer Scripture, prayers for your consideration, and the Lord’s Prayer. We invite you to consider these daily prayers for your journey through Holy Week to Easter.

The prayers this week are adapted from the Benedictine Daily Prayer Book.

Tuesday of Holy Week

Jeremiah 11:19

But I was like a gentle lamb
led to the slaughter.
And I did not know it was against me
that they devised schemes, saying,
“Let us destroy the tree with its fruit,
let us cut him off from the land of the living,
so that his name will no longer be remembered!”

O God, you call us to seek you and the kingdom you have promised. Help us to answer your call with greater zeal. Hear us as we pray: Lord, be gracious and bless us.

• Enliven the faith of all who lead your Church and renew them in their ministry of service.

Draw Christians together in the bond of peace of love, and make them one in the power of your Spirit.

Turn us away from our selfishness, and renew our desire to serve you and each other.

Heal our anguish and pain we have caused others, and forgive our neglect and unconcern.

Pray as Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.


Daily Prayers for Holy Week | 4-11-22

Over the coming days of Holy Week, we will offer Scripture, prayers for your consideration, and the Lord’s Prayer. We invite you to consider these daily prayers for your journey through Holy Week to Easter.

The prayers this week are adapted from the Benedictine Daily Prayer Book.

Monday of Holy Week

Acts 12:26b-30

To us[a] the message of this salvation has been sent. 27 Because the residents of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize him or understand the words of the prophets that are read every sabbath, they fulfilled those words by condemning him. 28 Even though they found no cause for a sentence of death, they asked Pilate to have him killed. 29 When they had carried out everything that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead;

Lord God, you brought us out of slavery to sin into the freedom of a new life by the death and resurrection of your Son. Though we have been unfaithful, you wait for us with strong and gentle care. Listen, we pray,

Lord, save your people:

• As we turn away from sin;
• As we turn from selfishness and deceit;
• As we turn away from pride and arrogance;
• As we turn away from anger and hatred;
• As we turn to you in lowliness of heart;
• As we turn to you in worship;
• As we turn to you in love.

Pray as Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.


Daily Prayers for Lent | 4-09-22

God, there’s a lot of water out there! There’s water that you call us from, nurtured us in, fed us through, wrapped us up in, and water that when the time was just right released us to newness, released us to life, released us to know the experience of pain. We wait on you, God who controls the water. We wait! We wait for the rivers to become calm again. We wait for the streams of peace to drench our feet, our feet as we go forward knowing our steps are ordered by you. God, the water is wide, but your grace to handle it is so much wider! Be with us, God, in the water, be with us, we pray. In the Only name worthy of such praise, we pray. Amen!

(MICHAEL PARKER, Lenten Liturgical Resources from Africana Writers, edited by Safiya Fosua, 2020 at http://www.umcdiscipleship.org)


Daily Prayers for Lent | 4-08-22

Lord,

Your church needs You. Help Christians everywhere seize with one accord the mission to go out into all the world to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. 

Your church needs You. Wake us from our slumber and equip us to be the hands and feet of Christ in our communities. Like Christ healed the hurting, fed the hungry, preached good news to the poor, touched the lepers, and ate and dined with sinners, rouse Your church so that we may do the same.

This world needs You. College students struggle with depression. This world is not what they hoped for. Older adults didn’t plan for inflation eating their savings. Wars and rumors of wars speak to the hopelessness of this world. Lord, this world needs the church to be the church, to be salt and to offer the light of Christ. This world hungers for Christians to be Christians. They hunger to see people who forgive wholeheartedly, who love sacrificially, and who put their trust in God alone. Help the church to be like that.

For the world’s sake, for the witness to Christ we bear, help us, O Lord, to be the church You have called us to be at this time. It is in Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.

(REV. DONNA PARRAMORE)


Daily Prayers for Lent | 4-07-22

Everlasting God,

     because of your tender mercy toward all people,

     you sent your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ,

     to take upon himself our flesh,

     and to suffer death upon the cross,

     that all should follow the example of his great humility.

Mercifully grant that we may follow the example of his patience

     and also be made partakers of his resurrection;

through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER, U.S.A., 1979, p. 166., ALT.)


Daily Prayers for Lent | 4-06-22

Amen! In the name of Jesus we pray! Lent has come in a season when things seem backwards. We are divided, not united; we are walking away from each other, not towards one another; we are trying to talk over our neighbor, not listening to them. So let us recognize our backward state and begin our prayer with an “Amen!” and immediately offer it the name of Christ. Perhaps it will help us realize that faith is the work of going against the grain of society. Faith is the work of turning things right-side-up in an upside-down world. Faith is offering acceptance before knowing if there is agreement. Faith is listening before speaking. Faith is loving before judging. Faith is worshiping you, oh God, and not fretting if we don’t sing our favorite hymn, hear an easy-going sermon, or quickly averting our gaze from you as soon as we leave the sanctuary. Lord, may our Lenten journey be a time of right-sizing our faith. May our self-evaluations come against the example of Christ, and not in how well we are winning the war to be right. Keep our attitudes humble, our hearts open, our hands and feet active, and our minds flexible in the midst of your Holy mystery, oh God of Grace and Glory.

(REV. DR. DAVID O. WEATHERLY)


Daily Prayers for Lent | 4-05-22

Loving God, may we reach out with joy to grasp your hand.

If we are honest, we realize that we have been seeking other sources of life.

We recognize our weakness and turn to God for help.

Though our hearts are being opened up to their depths,

though we cry out to God for help, we are not discouraged.

The Lord is near to broken hearts.

When the just cry out, the Lord hears them,

and from all their distress God rescues them.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;

and those who are crushed in spirit he saves. Amen.

(REV. NANCY VARDEN)