Reviving my Methodism

by Dr. Harry Smith

My Methodism has been revived.

“Revived from what?” you may ask.

“Revived from being very dormant between the ages of 14 and 64,” I would say. During those years I thought other things were more important.

You now may be thinking, “And just what was more important than your religion and your faith?”

In response, I will share what took precedent over actively participating and serving as a Methodist for half of a century.

I grew up on a farm in Mexico, Missouri. My grandfather was a Methodist minister serving in churches in southern Missouri. My mother and I attended a small, rural, one-room Methodist church. The congregation was comprised of farmers and their families—about 18 in all. Our minister was on a circuit, and we had preaching once a month. The other Sundays were filled with 60- to 90-minute Sunday school lessons. As a teen, I attended Sunday evening MYF meetings.

In 1959 I graduated high school and enrolled at Missouri State University. That marked the end of my regular church attendance for many decades. The only church functions I attended during that time were funerals and weddings.

My priorities, justified or not, were work and providing for my family. I taught high school for five years, moved to university teaching, and retired in 2002 after a very rewarding career.

I wasn’t anti-religion, but after working all week, I wanted to spend time doing things with my family and enjoying various hobbies. Sundays ended up as a day for that—it was easy to rationalize not taking time for church.

My religious posture changed abruptly when I married Nell Boyce in 2006. A life-long Methodist, she was courageous enough to marry me and move to a log home outside Cookeville, Tennessee.

On our first date, she had made it clear that her beliefs and attending church were important. I knew we needed to find a church!

At the time, my mother and many of my university colleagues attended First United Methodist Church (FUMC) in Cookeville. We felt led to try a worship service there. It did not take us long to find a Sunday school class. Members from the Wesley class were welcoming and encouraging.

Since that initial visit 10 years ago, Nell and I have enjoyed participating in and serving in several ministries. Nell is a regular volunteer at the Tuesday Food Pantry, serves on the Financial Assistance Team, and is actively involved in other church functions.

Three years ago, I had the honor of being asked to lead and reorganize a senior ministry titled Young at Heart. With the assistance of 15 older adult members, we created an over-arching ministry titled the Senior Adult Council (SAC). The council assists our church’s senior ministries as well as provides additional activities for seniors and the community at large.

Being retired allows me time to serve First UMC. It’s also been my pleasure to serve on the Sanctuary Service Security Team and Board of Trustees. In addition, I helped add a senior ministries page to the church website and am setting up a FUMC Senior Adult page on Facebook.

Thanks to Nell and all my friends at FUMC, my Methodism has been revived!

Harry Smith is enjoying his retirement years caring for his family’s country acreage, writing, building dulcimers, wood turning, and serving on the Homeowner Selection for Habitat for Humanity—all while continuing to serve God’s Kingdom through his involvement in many older adult ministries at First United Methodist Church, Cookeville, Tennessee.