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Welcoming New Neighbors

Hamilton United Methodist Church in Antioch, Tennessee, faced a new reality that many other United Methodist congregations have faced.

Their once homogenous neighborhood has expanded to include people from all over the globe. And like many of our UM congregations, Hamilton was forced to make a decision: They could either get to know and welcome their new neighbors or they could retreat inwardly, knowing their days are numbered.

With God’s help and grace, Hamilton chose the first.

Mission and outreach have always been part of the Hamilton DNA. For years, they performed acts of mercy without really having to engage in the tough and messy work of building relationships.

They could go and serve those in need and then retreat to the safety of who and what they knew. But no more.

One of the most significant ministries at Hamilton is with the growing Egyptian population in Antioch. The church now hosts two Egyptian services, ESL and citizenship classes, a Parents’ Day Out and an Afterschool program. Members also regularly engage in ministry with the hungry and homeless.

In 2012, Hamilton UMC reached over 13,700 people in their community. Hamilton is not a large church with an abundance of resources, but they are a community of faith that has taken very seriously their mission of sharing God’s love with the world.

Questions for Discussion

  • Does your church know its neighbors?
  • What are the needs in your community? Has your church worked to address those needs?
  • How does your congregation view “missions?” Is it something that you do for others, or is it an opportunity to build relationships with others?
  • How does your church use its resources (building, finances, human resources)? Are they primarily inwardly focused or outwardly focused?

Check out Hamilton UMC online.