In the early part of December this year, my wife Becky and I had the opportunity to visit our daughter and family in Hawaii. Our son-in-law is a captain in the U.S. Army, and they are stationed on Oahu. In addition, we were able to meet our new granddaughter. who we had welcomed into the world in October.

We spent several days with family, and while we were there worshiped with the folks of Trinity United Methodist Church in Pearl City.

As we entered the church property, we were met by people who welcomed us, were curious about our visit, and made a fuss over our granddaughter. All in all, within a few moments, we felt at home with the folks of Trinity.

As the conversation continued, a few of the folks discovered that I am a pastor within the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference and they had questions about our conference and my appointment. I was introduced to a lady by the name of JoAnn Fukumoto; she is a delegate to the General Conference. As she and I spoke, she told me that she knew a pastor from Tennessee and asked if I might know him. I told her I might, but that there are many pastors in our conference.

She went on to say that she could not remember his name right off. However, she had met him at the General Conference and worked with him some. She described a man of faith, character, and a firm United Methodist heritage. As she continued to speak, one person came to my mind, I said, “Stephen Handy.” She said, “Yes, that is the man.” “Do you know Stephen?” she asked. I shared with her that Stephen and I had been friends and colleagues for years.

As their pastor entered our conversation, JoAnn was excited to find a friend of someone she knew through our connection. As our conversation continued, I shared how we suffered damage from the storms of December 9, 2023, and how our brothers and sisters were hurting from those storms; I asked that they remember us in prayer. We continued to talk and meet new folks until the time for worship.

During “Prayers of the People,” the pastor paused to lift up the people and churches of Tennessee and Kentucky touched by the storms.

In one sense, I felt so far away from my friends and neighbors here at home; in another way, I felt surrounded by friends and neighbors. The power of God spanning over 4000 miles, linked through our common worship, gave me the feeling of being with “my people” although I had only met them for the first time.

Our United Methodist connection truly does reach around the world as we worship, work, and serve in the name of Christ!

God bless,
Rickey Wade

Rev. Wade currently serves as the District Superintendent in the Caney Fork River District.