We’re so glad you found our website. Whether you’re visiting us from another part of the world, or from right here in the Huntersville, North Carolina area — welcome!

We’re so glad you found our website. Whether you’re visiting us from another part of the world, or from right here in the Huntersville, North Carolina area — welcome!

We’re so glad you found our website. Whether you’re visiting us from another part of the world, or from right here in the Huntersville, North Carolina area — welcome!

Pastor Paul's Blog

Finding Our Way from Ranson to Stumptown: The Long and Winding Road

It’s a journey of only 2 miles or so from Ranson Road, the old location of Huntersville United Methodist Church, to here, the new location on Stumptown Road.  Is it true that in some ways we are still making the move of those 2 miles some eight years later?

Do you remember the life of Huntersville UMC back at the old location?  Many of you will because you have been a part of this church for that long.  You remember the crowded hallways, the cramped quarters, the unique architecture, the feel of that place that you remember as your church home.  You remember with fondness (and maybe a sense of longing), because it was a place that nurtured your faith, provided the space for your Baptisms and celebrations of Holy Communion, offered children’s meetings, youth groups, and the like.  Maybe it was a place that hosted the funeral service for your loved one.  You remember the McCorkle House and trying to host “Room in the Inn” when there wasn’t much room to host.  When the church started talking about buying land and moving to a different location, you knew it was time to do something to have more space for ministry, but maybe you weren’t quite ready to let go of the old space?

But all signs pointed to a new place to become the space of Huntersville UMC.  When the church purchased the property on Gilead Road, across Interstate 77, you paused.  When the town of Huntersville kept throwing up road block after road block to building a church building in that place, maybe you shared in the frustration over the long delay.  When, finally, the decision was made to sell that property and God seemed to be opening up a new, 30-acre tract on Stumptown Road, right in the middle of growing neighborhoods and rapid development, maybe you felt a little more encouraged? 

Then, in 2006, after years of talking and planning, it was time to commit.  The church needed to raise a LOT of money, about $1.4 million!  It seemed like an impossibility, but the money was pledged.  Construction began, finally!  Do you remember the excitement, the work, the planning, the dreaming about what it would be like to have this new church home available to do SO MUCH MORE?!

Were you here for those early days of holding services in the new location?  What a major transition it was, from the quaint confines of the old Sanctuary, to worshipping in a multi-purpose/basketball/playground/Worship Center!  I’m sure those early days were challenging in getting used to the new space and finding comfort in the new surroundings.  More than a few of you were a little discombobulated I’m convinced.

Are you familiar with the old adage “timing is everything”?  If that statement is true, the timing for the church’s move into the new location couldn’t have been much worse.  The beginning of the “Great Recession” began in December 2007.  Not since the beginning of WW II had our country’s economy experienced such a difficult environment.  As the church made her move to the new building in April 2008 the economy was weak and getting weaker.  Financial institutions especially were hit the hardest.  Many folks in the church who worked for “Wells” or “BOA” were adversely impacted.  The money needed to support the church’s ministry in both paying for the building and supporting the work of the church was hard to come by.  Difficult decisions had to be made, and staff was cut.  The joy and excitement of this grand new tool for ministry was giving way to a feeling that it was now a burden.

Pastor Billy Rintz, a wonderful, faithful leader left after many years of leadership. Byron Alexander, the Associate Pastor, left as well.  Further changes were necessary and forthcoming.  Much of the energy and excitement generated in moving to the new location was tempered by these new realities.  The journey from Ranson to Stumptown was becoming a painful, difficult journey and in some ways doubt and fears about the long-range viability of the ministry here was in question.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Many of the ministries dreamed of and planned for in the move were thriving:  Loaves and Fishes, Room in the Inn, the new HUMC Preschool, UMAR and others!  The new building and location were providing space and opportunity for the expansion of these vital ministries.  God’s hand was in it all, blessing and meeting the needs of nearly 10,000 clients to the Loaves and Fishes food pantry during the height of the Recession.  New ministries were beginning such as MAD Hoops and MOPS.  Even in the midst of the struggle, God’s faithfulness has been evident and increasingly clear.

So, here we are, ten (10) years after the beginning of the Capital Campaign to raise the money for the project and over eight (8) years after the move.  We have experienced a time of struggle without question.  But, here we are now, not only having survived but now ready to THRIVE!  There is fresh, new optimism and hope that not only can we continue to celebrate what God has done among us already, but also begin to dream God’s dream about what he has in store for us next!  With new, fresh faces in leadership and a renewed commitment to God’s work, our future is bright and getting brighter by the day.  Yes, the long and winding road of the 2 miles from Ranson to Stumptown has seemed like a 40-year sojourn in ways, but just imagine what the future will be!  Can we celebrate what God has done in and through us since the move and re-commit ourselves to God’s work in this new land?  Oh yes, we can and will!  And by the grace of God we can grow and flourish in this new soil God has planted us in for this time and season.  To God be the glory for the great things he has done and is doing!  

Over the next number of weeks, I will be preaching a sermon series called ‘Vision’ that I believe God has laid on my heart.  It will be a time of looking back over the last few years of ministry here and reflecting on the years to come.  I believe God is calling on us to take a fresh look at where we are and where we are to be next.  We have to think about letting go of some things and taking on some things.  We have to not be afraid of change and not be afraid to FAIL!  We have to remember who we have been and hold on to what we know is important to God.  We must be willing to risk ourselves in developing new relationships and new ways of being.  There is much to consider and ground yet to be ploughed.

Join us for these next number of weeks as we remember where we have been and as we, together, cast a vision for where we are being called to go.  The long and winding road from Ranson to Stumptown is a fascinating journey and gives us much to ponder.  The journey of 2 miles began with a single step of faith and now is the time to take the next step. 

(Remember the sermons are always available on our church’s website  http://www.humconline.org).

Grace and Peace,

Paul B. Thompson