West Chelmsford United Methodist Church
Wednesday, August 15, 2018


On June 18 our Administrative Board entered into a covenant agreement with the Brazilian congregation for them to use our building as a base for their ministry. The agreement reflects conversations our task force, created by the Board on April 23, have had with the Brazilian congregation members and their pastor, Gilson Silva.


            As we have begun to get to know these folks we have come to appreciate them, as they surely appreciate this congregation. Some of you met some of them on Sunday, May 27, when some from their congregation visited our worship service. They bring joy and enthusiasm and faith as they are participating in the work God is doing to create a new congregation. I look forward to getting to know them better.


            This is a United Methodist ministry. They have come into being through the hard work of Gilson Silva, who describes himself as a pastor and a church planter. He is a long-time member of Family UMC in Saugus; until recently he served as a worship leader there and served on their Staff-Parish Relations Committee. Family UMC is a largely Brazilian congregation whose pastor, known as Pastor Juarez, encourages church members who feel so called to start house churches of their own in various communities, largely serving Brazilian immigrants. This is what Gilson, who lives in Chelmsford, has been doing here in our area in recent times. (By the way, Gilson is a lay person, though he is beginning the process of moving toward ordained ministry. He officially became a certified Candidate for Ministry a few weeks ago.) Gilson is a carpenter by trade, though starting this summer he is working ½ time as pastor of the Brazilian Congregation and ½ time as a carpenter.


            Our annual conference supports the establishing of new congregations through the conference Congregational Development Fund. That fund largely receives money from the sale of the property of UM churches that close, and then makes that funding available as “seed money”, so to speak, for new United Methodist congregations. Among other things, that funding will reimburse our church for the higher utility costs that will come with a second congregation using our building. Such beginning congregations are overseen by the District Superintendent. At this time the Brazilian congregation is not “officially” a United Methodist church; that step would come later if they grow and become financially sound enough for that step. That later step is called being “chartered”. (The Brazilian congregation doesn’t even have a name yet; we’re just going to call them the Brazilian congregation for now, and they say they are fine with that!) At this point, though the annual conference will be largely funding this developing congregation, they have set up a rudimentary financial structure and are receiving offerings and gifts as all congregations do. 


            In terms of using the building, their main desire is to worship here in our Fellowship Hall on Sunday nights, have a Sunday School program on Sunday nights in some of the Sunday School classrooms, and do a Bible study program in similar space on Tuesday nights. Their first worship service was on the evening of Sunday, July 22, followed by their first Tuesday Bible study on Tuesday, July 24.  Any other activities will be scheduled with the church office the way other groups do so.


            I want to emphasize that in a large sense we will be partnering with another United Methodist congregation to support the work of God through United Methodism in our area. So the covenant agreement in some ways resembles a landlord / tenant arrangement, but it is much more than that. It is an invitation for both congregations to move outside our comfort zones a bit and embrace a joint ministry in this geographical area. We will remain two separate congregations, but we can and will encourage one another and support one another in our common ministry. As we encounter one another around the church building we will have opportunities to get to know one another.


            And finally, on Saturday, Sept. 8 our congregation is invited to participate in a celebration of this new ministry with food and a joint worship service that evening. We will have more details on the plans for that date soon.


Reverend Mack