Who Is Shalimar United Methodist Church?

One of the take-aways from my time as a District Superintendent was that there are no two churches exactly alike. I supervised 103 churches and, amazingly, each church had their own identity. Shalimar United Methodist Church is the only SUMC in the world. We are incredibly unique and have our own specific identity.

I have had the privilege of serving here twice, first for three years as an associate pastor, and for the last seven years, as lead pastor. Below are some of my observations about Shalimar United Methodist Church.
  • We are the church behind Waffle House with the iconic roof.
  • We are under the radar for people who do not live here since few people know where Shalimar is and who are usually quite surprised to discover such a thriving church.
  • Most people are happy we are not like other churches. We are not like the church up the road or down the street. Our church is distinctive. We are United Methodist and you can see the UMC cross and flame on our pulpit, window, and buildings. We have always supported the conference and district and have provided leadership when called.
  • SUMC has raised up generations of children and youth for Jesus. Numerous young people who came to know Christ through this church are now pastors and are leading their own congregations to know Jesus.
  • Our church is known throughout the community as a serving and caring congregation. Every time I wear my staff shirt, people make glowing comments about Shalimar.
  • We are the church that has something going on all the time (even with COVID-19) as there are events occurring most every day.
  • The SUMC campus is located on the beautiful Emerald Coast. Established in 1951 in a drive-in movie theater, it has been fruitful for the Kingdom for 68 years. We have a special connection with active duty and retired military families as we are located near Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field.
  • We are a United Methodist Congregation in name and practice. We seek to live out the mission “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
  • Our mission statement is REACH, TEACH, and SEND for Jesus.
  • We do all as a Christ-centered, multi-generational family and seek to be a community-relevant ministry through worship, discipleship, and mission. Shalimar UMC devotes itself to four major focuses: children, youth, young adult, and adult ministries. Each member is invited to grow in their next step as a disciple.
  • We believe our salvation comes in professing our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior which can happen instantaneously or gradually. As salvation can come quickly, our goal is to grow as a disciple of Jesus, and this takes a lifetime.  
  • We get excited and have great passion. Sometimes this reveals itself in controversy, but most times, it manifests in the joy of seeing the Holy Spirit at work.
  • Most of our members love hearing good sermons and would rather see a good sermon than hear one.

    • We seek to do all in the spirit of the General Rules of the Church:
    • DO NO HARM
    • DO GOOD 
  • We do not agree on everything. We hold to the truth of the statement attributed to Martin Luther and that is referenced often in our United Methodist Tradition.
  • In non-essentials, LIBERTY. We do not always agree on everything that is non-essential. We value relationships over 100% agreement on matters of taste, worship style, political views, and other non-essentials. One of our worship services is called the Freedom Service because we believe in freedom of matters that are non-essential.
  • In essentials, UNITY. Our Apostles Creed provides for us a core for our essentials and we affirm these beliefs.
    • “I believe in God the Father Almighty, make of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontious Pilate, was crucified dead and buried, and on the third day arose from the dead. He ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He shall judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church (universal), the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, and resurrection of the Body.”
  • In all things, LOVE. We seek to live the great commandment of Jesus to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Mark 12:30) We also affirm the teachings of the Apostle Paul that “love is the greatest of all” and “without love we are nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13)
  • We are saved by God’s Grace that is a gift from God. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Grace is known in three ways. First, through prevenient grace which is God’s reaching out to us. Second, through justifying grace which is saying “yes” to what Jesus Christ did for us by dying on the cross for our sins. Third, through the work of sanctifying grace which helps us grow and become more like Jesus every day.
  • Our tradition is that we are a warm and accepting Church. This value of hospitality matters. We can trace this back to the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, who had his heart “strangely warmed” on Aldersgate Street in London, England in 1738. Shalimar seeks to offer this same environment for hearts to be warmed in the modern age.

This is such a great church! Thank you for letting me serve you as your Lead Pastor. One more thing, our church is not simply content because we are always seeking to do better what we normally do. Let us strive in the coming days to see how we can accomplish great things for God!        
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Philip McVay

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