The word of Christ must live in you richly. Teach and warn each other with all wisdom by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
~ Colossians 3:16, Common English Bible
What Starts Here Changes the World

When I walked into my first class at Saint John's, nervous energy filled my body, and my mind was franticly listing all the reasons to walk right back out. After some difficult experiences in studies at a couple other churches, this was a leap of faith for me. One experience had even led me to wonder if the Church was a place that would accept me with all the questions, doubts, and curiosities I carried. Apparently after taking enough Religious Studies courses at the University of Texas you can be deemed a troublemaker in some church Bible studies. Who knew? 

Barbara Holmes greeted me at the door at Saint John's on an evening in February of 2010. I had been so apprehensive to go to a class in a church that I convinced my dad to take the class with me. We spent only four weeks learning all about John Wesley and a little about Methodist history, and it is no exaggeration to say those few weeks changed my world. With the eight people in that class, I was taught a new possibility: that the Church might actually be a place of accepting love and of wise scholarship. 

That September in 2010, I took my first Disciple class at Saint John's, and I learned that the Church could even be a place where I could faithfully wrestle with my beliefs, ask questions that challenged assumptions, and maybe even lead to a life change to follow this kind of study more deeply. The next fall I enrolled in seminary. 

This Sunday when Laura Dooley reminded me of our alma mater's motto "what starts here changes the world", UT is not the place that came to mind. I thought of stepping into that first class at Saint John's. Maybe the apprehension I felt was not just about past experiences, but about a future that was about to change. God's love was at work, changing my world. 

Wherever you are in your faith journey now, a class could be a new beginning. This fall, your new beginning could be the Disciple Two class or a brand-new study on the Enneagram. Maybe it's unpacking anti-racism and finding a new understanding of diversity, or learning about the role of deacons in the UMC. It could be learning about burnout and the stress cycle, or how to be an ally to our transgender neighbors. Maybe gathering around a table studying the book of Acts or joining online to read a memoir with our United Methodist Women will be a new beginning for you. 

This Sunday we will gather on Zoom to talk about opportunities for classes and small groups at our Festival of New Beginnings. You will hear from our teachers and see what possibilities are ahead. All curious troublemakers and question-askers are welcome. 

In love and learning, 
Shelley Walters
Director of Faith Development
Festival of New Beginnings
August 29th 12:30 pm

Are you looking to connect and learn with others this season?
Join us in our annual tradition of the Festival of New Beginnings to launch our fall classes. Leaders of small groups and teachers of studies will share their plans, registration info, and other details.

We will see you on Zoom this Sunday, August 29th at 12:30 pm at bit.ly/sjnewbegin.