Resurrection works in surprising ways

Published 1:45 pm Saturday, April 30, 2016

by Andrew Book
Churches, like most other organizations, have a life cycle. Churches are born, churches grow and thrive and sometimes churches are closed. Any time a church close there is grief and loss for the people who were a part of that faith community and for many others who had been touched by that church.

Because the United Methodist Church is a large organization, we are constantly in the process of birthing new churches and closing churches whose life cycles have come to a close. Closing a church is a hard decision for the people within that faith community to make, but it is a decision that needs to be made sometimes. Last year, the people of Dendron United Methodist Church in Dendron (Surry County) made the decision to close. They did not know it at the time, but even as God resurrects the dead, so too does God work in the resurrection of churches!

As many of you are aware, in February, a deadly tornado tore through Waverly. Many people throughout our community came together to help in the initial rescue and relief efforts, but the rebuilding process is a long and slow process — and a process that the United Methodist Church has committed to be a part of. The United Methodist Church has a robust organization called “The United Methodist Committee on Relief” (called UMCOR by those of us who don’t want to say the entire name!). UMCOR is in the business of working to rebuild communities who have been struck by disasters like tornados, and UMCOR is now in the process of bringing the resources of our international church to be a part of the rebuilding work in Waverly.

This brings us back to the church in Dendron and God’s resurrection work. Next week, teams from United Methodist Churches throughout our region will be descending on Dendron UMC to begin a work of transformation — really a work of resurrection. The church that was closed will be gutted and transformed into a bunkhouse for teams of volunteers traveling to our region to help rebuild in Waverly. It will become a center of rebuilding activity and will give a new picture of what it looks like to truly be the church in our region. What was dead is restored to life! A place many had thought had reached the end of its life cycle has been given a new lease on life — that is what resurrection looks like.

Being a pastor in a large denomination like the United Methodist Church can be frustrating at times, but it is moments like this when I am thankful to be a part of something larger than our local church in Courtland. UMCOR does good work. I have been a part of rebuilding in New Orleans and in Central America and now we get to see (and be a part of!) the church working in our own community.

If you are interested in finding out more about the work that UMCOR will be doing in Waverly, please contact Forrest White at and he can give you the details. If you have a home that was damaged or destroyed in the storm and do not have the insurance necessary to rebuild, please contact Stephanie Hunt ( or 804-337-3569).

God is in the business of resurrection. Out of death, God brings new life. Resurrection is an incredible word of hope for anybody who is at a place in life where all you can see is darkness and despair. My hope and prayer for those of you who are reading this today is that you would be able to hope in a God who knows how to overcome all things (even death!). If you are in a place of despair today and cannot see what the future holds, know that Jesus has been down that road.

Jesus also emerged on the other side in the light of resurrection because he went through death and came out as the victor! God’s resurrection power is at work around us — in places like Dendron United Methodist Church and in lives like yours. May you find hope in God’s resurrection power even if you cannot yet see how God is going to be doing resurrection work in your life!

ANDREW BOOK is the pastor of Courtland United Methodist Church. He can be contacted at 653-2240 or