January NEWSLETTER | 2024

Dear Church Members and Friends,

I write to you with anticipation in my spirit as a new chapter in the life of Blair Road United Methodist church is beginning. As of January 1, I am your newly appointed pastor. My official first day in the office is Monday, January 8, but you will (or have) seen me around the church prior to this date. My first “Sunday in the pulpit” (the first Sunday I’ll preach) will be January 14, but I will participate with Mary John in the services on January 7. I recognize this is a bittersweet time, as this is another transition in a short period of time and you are probably just getting used to Mary John. Transition is part of life of as a United Methodist... and in general. Once I learned of the upcoming transition, I made it a priority to pray for the church and its leaders. Suzanne, my wife, and I have had the privilege of meeting several of you, and we are looking forward to getting settled and becoming part of the church and local community.

In the clergy world, I am known as a “second career” pastor, which is a polite way of stating I got my start in the ordained ministry a little later in life. I consider myself a “teaching” pastor and seek to offer insight, rather than information. In addition, I like to take a holistic approach to ministry, since we humans are complex creatures. As such, my formal education focused on a dual-degree program where I received a Master of Divinity from Duke University (Go Blue Devils!) and a Master of Social Work from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (Go Tarheels!). Yes, the two blue schools really can play well together. I have had the honor of serving churches in Mt. Mourne, Hickory, Asheville, and Spruce Pine. Additionally, I served in “extension” ministry (service outside the church) as the Ministry Development Officer for Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry (ABCCM). This had me connecting with the nearly 300 churches who partnered to make the ministry happen at ABCCM.

Suzanne is an Accredited Life and Leadership Coach, specializing in transitions and well-being for clergy and veterans, along with their families. Her job also has her mentoring those becoming accredited coaches. She is a graduate of San Jose State, but her heart still beats for the KU Jayhawks. Further, she is the daughter of a retired Major General – Army – and attended 10 schools in the course of her early educational years. Generally speaking (no pun attended), moving is not a big deal for her logistical genius. Also, Suzanne is the Executive Director of the Davidson Centre for the Professions – an outstanding organization which focuses on clergy health and wellbeing.

This is a natural fit for her passion to care for clergy. Additionally, she is a master at creating warm and inviting spaces for gatherings.

Our daughter, Jordan, is a classically trained French horn player. Her undergraduate degree comes from Ball State University. She attended the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University where she began a Masters program that COVID interrupted. She currently lives in Baltimore, and works for a swanky hotel and gigs out when needed.

Last but not least, Suzanne and I have a “grand cat” named Cat. She is Jordan’s cat, but has lived with us for about 10 years now. We had a wonderful dog named Zurk, but he passed away last year. Up to that point, Zurk and Cat were inseparable and acted very much like brother and sister. Since his death, Cat really has taken on the role of both our fur-kids.

Suzanne and I sincerely are honored to become part of your church family. We look forward to spending time with you, hearing your stories, and getting to know you. We have officially moved into our house in Mint Hill, so you’ll see us around town. We thank you for the prayers and warm welcome we’ve already received. We truly feel blessed as we take this next step in our journey together with you.

All our best... Suzanne and Pastor Rick

Let the Games Begin!

  "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."Philippians 3:14

Hi Family! Lea here! For those who might not know yet, I’m stepping into multiple roles within Blair Road UMC and I feel handpicked by God for such a time as this.

In addition to continuing my work with our Children & Youth Ministries, I'm also taking on the responsibility of Director of Adult Ministries and Community Outreach aka “marketing”. This expanded role holds a deep significance for me, touching almost every aspect of our church life. 

One of the key areas I'll be overseeing is our Small Groups, and interestingly enough, I've had the privilege of doing this before. During my time in NYC, I led several small groups, which we affectionately referred to as Bible Talks, for over 12 rewarding years. It was within these intimate gatherings that I rediscovered my love for diving deep into the Bible, embracing God's word as the standard for my life—an unwavering commitment I made 32 years ago. I actually did this at the same time as being the Manhattan Region Children's Ministry leader over 300 children and teachers. God has prepared me for every need that Blair Road has in this moment.

For me, the essence of a Bible Talk lies in its growth. My belief is that these groups should continually expand, dividing and multiplying, nurturing new leaders along the way. If you're currently part of a small group, I encourage you to pray about the possibility of leading your own. And if you're already leading, consider empowering your members to take the helm occasionally—everyone is equipped to lead when they handle God's word with reverence and understanding. Remember, most of the apostles were unschooled, ordinary men.

Another integral part of my role involves caring for our shut-ins. I’ve already reached out to each of them with a letter and am eagerly anticipating visiting them. However, just as Jesus sent out disciples in pairs, I'm extending an invitation for company. While I'm inclined to take action swiftly, I'm learning to heed God's guidance in calling on others to join me in these visits. Not only with the shut-ins, but we have several members who don’t attend in person on Sundays. As we are in the process of calling and visiting with each member on the current membership list, I am discovering there are several that could use a personal invitation back into the Sunday service so they can experience the love that comes from all of you.

Reflecting on the challenges of 2023, I'm deeply moved by the steadfast devotion and strength displayed by our church community. In my own walk with God, there have been moments where adhering to the teachings of the Bible—especially in aspects like parenting and marriage—has been a test. Yet, I hold onto the vow I made at my baptism: "Jesus is Lord."

As I step into these new responsibilities, my heart is full of gratitude for the remarkable hearts within this church. Let's embark on this journey together, drawing strength from each other and our shared commitment to faith, love, and the teachings of our Lord.

With a heart brimming with friendship, You know the love I hold for each of you. I may have a job to do but you are my family.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in faith so that you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

Romans 15:13:

Listening Circles

Pastor Rick, along with the Transitional Leadership Council of Blair Road UMC, are organizing Listening Circles. These are house-gatherings where about 12 – 15 people gather in a host’s house to meet Pastor Rick and Suzanne. During each Listening Circle, Pastor Rick and Suzanne want to hear from you – the Blair Road UMC congregation – about your experiences at BRUMC. They want to know when you felt most encouraged and motivated, and what played a part in that. In addition, they want to know what you value most about the church – what activities and ministries are the most meaningful to you. They also want to know your hopes and dreams for the church and how you plan to be a part of making those dreams a reality.

In short, a Listening Circle is your chance to ask anything to Pastor Rick and Suzanne, so that you can get to know them and they can start knowing you. Pastor Rick is passionate about knowing people’s stories, because the best way to know someone (not just know about someone) is to know their story. You’ll start seeing sign-up sheets for different times and locations of the Listening Circles, so keep an eye open for them. Make sure to participate, because Pastor Rick and Suzanne want to hear from all of you.

To kick off the Listening Circles, we will have one at our house – Blair Road UMC – on Wednesday, January 10... during the Fuel Up dinner event, which starts at 5:30 pm. Come hungry for food, fellowship, and conversation with Pastor Rick and Suzanne. It’s your time to ask questions and tell your stories. We look forward to seeing you at our next Fuel Up and all the Listening Circles.

Fuel Up Logo

New Year, New Beginnings at

Blair Road United Methodist Church!

Hey, Mint Hill Fam! Get ready for an exciting chapter as we kick off 2024 at Blair Road UMC! 

We're all about connections: Connection to God, Connection to each other, and Connection to our amazing Mint Hill community! Join us for a fantastic year filled with activities that'll make your heart soar! 

But first, let's chat over a loaded Baked Potato Bar and Salad Buffet at the Family Life Center on January 10th, 2024. We've got all the fixings, including bacon and sour cream for those of you who don't have healthy eating resolutions.

Buffet opens at 5:45 PM, and the conversation continues at 6:30 PM with our first listening circle of the year! Wondering what that is? It's an open space to ask questions, share thoughts, and connect about the exciting changes ahead.

Whether you are a long-time member, you’ve been away from church, seeking a new spiritual home, or just curious about our vibes, come on over! Rev. Rick Schilling, our awesome new Pastor, will lead the circle and introduce himself. Hey by the way, his stellar spouse Suzanne will be there too!

To quote our favorite Book (the Bible!) "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” - Matthew 18:20:

Come be with us as we are with God.

Can't wait to see you there, ready for a year of faith, fun, forgiveness and fantastic friendship.

Upcoming Future Fuel Up Menus

January 17 - Homemade Chicken Soup and Salad

January 24 - Tacos, Rice Black Beans and Salad

January 31 - Baked Ziti, Bread and Salad

February 7 - Hot Dogs & All the Fixings!

February 14 - Baked Potato Bar/Salad Bar - Ash Wednesday

2024 Offering Envelopes

If you need tithing envelopes for 2024, please contact Mac McCall our new Church Administrator. He can be reached at 704-545-6785 or at [email protected]

Mac McCall brings us a wealth of experience both in church office management and Christian education. We are thrilled at this new addition to the staff. Stop in and introduce yourself so he can put a face with a name. He has quickly become family and we are thrilled by his many talents and joyful demeanor.

You may also set up giving to Blair Road UMC electronically through Vanco on the Church Website Giving Portal http://blairroadumc.org/ or bank withdrawal by a draft. If you choose a bank withdrawal, the Finance Office will email you forms to sign and set this up for you once your signed forms are received in the Church office.

Thanks for your faithful support of the ministry of Blair Road UMC!

2024 Pledge Campaign

Now that 2024 is underway and our new pastor has arrived, Blair Road UMC (BRUMC) needs to prepare a church budget for 2024. Much happened last year that affected our church family, but we are still here, and we are still committed to Grow, Care, Serve, and Invite. We have been a vital and active presence in our community since 1959 and God isn’t done with our church.

We continue to impact kids and their families at Lebanon Elementary School by providing Backpacks of Love (food for the weekends) and needed clothing. Additionally, BRUMC affects our church and community through the Alzheimer’s Support Group, our Fuel Up weekly dinner events, the Young at Heart older adult ministry, our Sunday Small Groups, Trunk or Treat, and involvement with the Uptown Men’s Shelter Roof Above. Further, we’re engaged with the Pre- School that operates on BRUMC’s campus, Appalachian Service Project, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts. Finally, we closed out 2023 with our Christmas Eve services being well-attended, which highlights just how hungry people in our community are to hear the Good News that God loves them and that Blair Road UMC is a place where people can be themselves and be loved.

The future of Blair Road UMC is bright and hopeful. This is a rebuilding year for us, and there is much we want to continue doing and more we’d like to launch. With all this being said, we are asking you to earnestly pray about your financial commitments for 2024. Would you be willing to step up your giving? Will you consider giving a little more than you initially had planned? We are called to love God with all our hearts, souls, mind, and strength. This means we love God with all we have been blessed with. When we give back to God, we express our trust in God and it is an act of worship.

Mark your calendars. Commitment Sunday will be Sunday, February 4 and we will collect pledge cards during both services that day. We are excited about what God has in store for BRUMC this year – and beyond. Thank you for your commitment to God, your faith, our church, community, and world. Let’s make 2024 an exceptionally generous year!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Rick and the Transition Council Team

It is important that your heart to give is truly inspired by God so that we do not give out of compulsion. Pray. Here are ten Bible verses that touch on giving and tithing so that when you give, you know that you are giving from a place of peace to God and His mission.

  1. Malachi 3:10 - "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it."
  2. 2 Corinthians 9:7 - "Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
  3. Luke 6:38 - "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
  4. Proverbs 3:9-10 - "Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine."
  5. Acts 20:35 - "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
  6. 1 Chronicles 29:14 - "But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand."
  7. Proverbs 11:24-25 - "One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed."
  8. Matthew 6:3-4 - "But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
  9. 2 Corinthians 8:12 - "For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have."
  10. Proverbs 19:17 - "Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done."

These verses highlight the importance of generosity, giving with a cheerful heart, and trusting in God's provision.

Updated Memorial and Honor List through December 2023

In Memory of Elsie Lyles

Legacy Fund:

Bill McGalliard

Memorial Fund:

Aida Arak

Bereavement/Memorial Meals:

Becky Barnes

ASP Youth Missions:

Lee and Kathy Madden

In Memory of Carla McDowell

Legacy Fund:

Bill McGalliard

Bereavement/Memorial Meals:

Becky Barnes

ASP Youth Missions:

Lee and Kathy Madden

Bookbags of Love:

Jean Surratt

Memorial Fund:

Charles and Mildred Adams

In Memory of Edith Lineberger

Legacy Fund:

Bill McGalliard

ASP Youth Missions: Lee and Kathy Madden

In Memory of Earle Wolfe

ASP Youth Missions: Lee and Kathy Madden

In Memory of Bobby Whisnant

Memorial Fund:

Thomas and Sandra Childress

Bob and Suzette Southern

Charles and Mildred Adams

Phyllis Peeler

Linda Cook

Marti Strickland

  Emilie Holkins

ASP Youth Missions:

Becky Barnes

Lee and Kathy Madden

In Honor of Barbara Bingham

Bookbags of Love:

Outer Banks Community Foundation Inc.

In Honor of Marie Humphrey

ASP Youth Missions: Lee and Kathy Madden

In Honor of Joel Madden

ASP Youth Missions: Lee and Kathy Madden


We are headed to Appalachia Service Project in July 2024 and want you to join us! 

What is Appalachia Service Project?

Appalachia Service Project(ASP) was founded in 1969 by United Methodist Rev Glenn “Tex” Evans to make homes warmer, safer, and drier for families in need in Central Appalachia. 

  • ASP believes all people should be able to live in affordable, safe, and sanitary housing. 
  • ASP believes that each person is a child of God imbued with dignity and worth. 
  • ASP accepts people right where they are and just the way they are. 
  • ASP believes in ministering in the spirit of love, acceptance, and hopefulness.

Interested in joining the team? Contact Marie Humphrey

Who: Youth (must have completed 8th grade by June 2024) and adults from Blair Road UMC and Philadelphia Presbyterian Church interested in a life-changing experience repairing homes and building relationships with homeowners in Central Appalachia. 

Contact Marie Humphrey at 704-575-3182 or [email protected] with questions. 

The Dates & Theme has been Set for VBS

Stellar Faith!

July 22-25 (Monday - Thursday)

9:30 AM - 12:30 PM

If you are open to Teaching or Volunteering to be a helper, please email Lea at [email protected]

9135 Blair Road, Mint Hill 28227