Under 30 and out of seminary, the Rev. Tiffany Thomas is thriving where God has planted her. Thomas says she's learning valuable life lessons while serving an inner city church.
(Charlotte, North Carolina)
(Preaching) "Even when the world tells them they are nothing, they will stand and say, 'I am somebody.'"
The Rev. Tiffany Thomas: "The people in this community, they teach me about God."
Church member: "Thank you, Jesus!"
Tiffany Thomas became a United Methodist pastor at age 25.
The Rev. Tiffany Thomas, South Tryon Community United Methodist Church:
"I went to Duke Divinity School and it was there that I was really beginning to find an understanding of what I actually believed. My father is Roman Catholic, and I went to Mass with him for about the first 12 years of my life. My mother had a soup kitchen in the Baptist church. From the time that I was about 4 or 5, we went and helped in this soup kitchen. I had a sense, even then, that putting the bread on the people's trays was the most important thing that I could do. That has shaped what I understand ministry to be -- feeding people who hunger, and that means physically or spiritually. And that's what I'm about."
(Music) "I want to be at the meeting..."
The congregation at Thomas' current church in Charlotte, North Carolina feeds her spiritually and she credits them for making her a stronger clergyperson.
The Rev. Tiffany Thomas:"It is really high Pentecostal, very lively. That means jumping up and down. That means crying out, that means clapping hands. It makes preaching really easy because they won't let you die up there alone. They will help you.They will respond to you."
(At podium) "Amen."
South Tryon Community United Methodist Church has a weekly collection of about 200 dollars. That's a pretty drastic change from Thomas' former New York City congregation which had a five-million dollar annual budget.
(Offering) "...more than a hundredfold."
The Rev. Tiffany Thomas: "It's a lot of very extreme need. Need like I've never seen before. There's not enough food to go around, but we also have addiction and substance abuse, gang activity, physical and emotional violence against women and children and even young boys. We see it all. We see it all. And we have to minister to all the things that we see."
(Speaking to children) "Yes! The day that God rose again."
The young pastor invests a lot of time reaching out to young people through Bible study and tutoring programs.
The Rev. Tiffany Thomas: "In this community, it's the 12-year-olds and the 13-year-olds who have to make major decisions about their lives. Whether they're going to college or prison that decision is really made at 13. So, we have a big heart for figuring out how to minister to young adolescent children and helping them to find the right path."
(Tiffany to child) "You did it! Excellent!"
Tahnisha Cannie, 9-year-old:
"Miss Tiffany tells me nice things about me. She helps me with my math, and reading and science and social studies. I'd like to be a doctor when I grow up."
A.J. Bush, Volunteer, South Tryon Community United Methodist Church:
"When you have a bunch of this negative cloud over the community, they don't see a way out, they see darkness. But, with Tiffany, she brought the energy level of saying, 'Hey, you can become something different, you can do something better with your life.'"
(Kids speak) "Don't misuse me..."
(Prayer) "God, we ask that you touch their finances, Lord God, hallelujah..."
The Rev. Tiffany Thomas: "They have seen God in their lives in way that I will never know. They have an understanding of what it means when the Bible says, 'God will provide your food' that I've never actually experienced."
(Preaching) "Remember that He has given you a story for it to be told..."
The Rev. Tiffany Thomas: "The community has a lot to teach about who God is and about how God loves and how God provides in the midst of suffering, in the midst of need."
For more information, contact South Tryon Community United Methodist Church at (980) 939-6463.
Posted: May 30, 2013