rosesims.htm January 24, 2005 Return to TCA homepage -- Return to Trilby History homepage
Excerpt from an article posted at Good News Magazine (URL below)
At a luncheon on a cold, rainy April day I was introduced to a retired Air Force sergeant, Jim Sims. He’d lost his wife to cancer several years before our meeting. Jim had a great compassion for people. We stayed in touch and eventually fell in love. Jim Sims and I were married and I moved to his home in Florida (in 1984). The bishop said there were no churches open in Florida. I taught at a college and continued my research. Six miles north of our home, in the little community of Trilby, stood a one-room, unpainted church with only a tiny handful of people left. The church was located in one of Florida’s highest crime areas and because of low attendance it was scheduled to close. Seven Methodist churches around it had already closed.
This time it was Jim who said, “Let’s prove it with our lives!” I became the pastor of Trilby United Methodist Church. Six years later, those eight in attendance had grown to 350 members with debt-free buildings and a ministry that the Board of Global Ministries evaluated at a replacement cost of nearly a million dollars. Best of all, those buildings had been built and paid for without a fundraiser or a single negative vote. Jesus had been lifted up, and broken lives were mended. The Trilby Mission was packed with the African Americans, Anglos, and Hispanics who came for food, clothes, and our clinic. Our programs became wide-open doors and windows leading many of them to accept Christ. Teenagers and children who had accepted Christ shared their testimonies in a drama group week after week, leading many in attendance to Christ. A petition to the county brought a free health clinic and park. Singles, drama groups, country gospel nights, adult education, literacy programs, AA, a dinner theater group, etc., opened windows of opportunity. I performed 20 weddings for couples from our singles group. After they found Christ, they found new beginnings.
The week the United Methodist Church gave me the Circuit Rider award, their highest award for church growth, I thought back to that holy ground in a Nebraska prairie country churchyard. Wesley’s foolproof method for church growth had never become outdated or ineffective. He had provided the ingredients that we never altered. What we did alter was the contemporary way in which we made them relevant to an America that was experiencing a moral and spiritual decline unparalleled in its history. Success is always a journey, not a destination. The road to success is always under construction.
As Bishop Earl Hunt dedicated our new buildings at Trilby, he said, “The problem of church growth is a simple problem. The only thing we have to do to get the church to grow is to help the church do more of what it is supposed to be doing all along. That is exactly what happened here. It happened because whenever the church of the Lord Jesus is turned loose in a community to help human beings and meet their needs and lift up the name of Jesus Christ, that church becomes indispensable in the community. There is a sign that should be hung over every church door. It should read, ‘Broken lives mended here.’ That is what happened here.”
Rose Grindheim Sims is a conference evangelist, church growth leader, ordained deacon, author, and college professor. She won the National Circuit Rider Award from the United Methodist Church, their highest national award for church growth. Dr. Sims’ book New Life for Dying Churches has won a worldwide award, and is in the fourth printing.