When Thomas Wolfe wrote the book "You Can't Go Home Again," he had his main character, George Webber, say those exact words. This past weekend, I realized Thomas Wolfe was wrong. You can go home again. I was invited to return to Kingsport, Tenn., to teach a Sunday school class I had organized 31 years ago and taught until my husband's retirement from local church ministry.
Actually, we had the privilege of living twice in that beautiful and planned small city. Two men, John B. Dennis and J. Fred Johnson, drew the plans for tree-lined streets with the hub of the city being a church circle -- Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian churches.
In 1956, Ralph was appointed superintendent of the Kingsport District of the United Methodist Church, and the district parsonage was in Kingsport. My husband and I were in our early 30s, and our sons were in kindergarten and first grade. All of us loved Kingsport and were sorry to leave when Ralph was named president of Tennessee Wesleyan College and we moved to Athens, Tenn.
Little did we realize that after 16 years at First-Centenary Church in Chattanooga we would return to Kingsport, where Ralph would serve his last appointment as senior pastor of First Broad Street United Methodist Church. During our first week there, the Rev. David Ensminger, the associate pastor, asked if I would organize and teach a new adult class. "Who are you targeting for the class?" I asked. His reply made me laugh out loud: "Any adult who's not going to Sunday school."
"My goodness, that could be half the city of Kingsport," I said. David smiled and said, "That's the idea." I accepted David's challenge, and God blessed our efforts. When we left six years later, there were 150 on the class roll. It is still an active class. When I rose to speak to them last Sunday, 142 people were present.
It was a warm and welcoming experience for me and my son, Ralph, who had driven me up. Also, I was overwhelmingly aware of the faithfulness of God. When we are obedient and bring God our we can, he will bless it, and it will be enough.
Nell Mohney is a Christian author, motivational speaker and seminar leader. She may be reached at nell firstname.lastname@example.org.