Friday, April 1, 2011

I'm Going To Graceland

First off, let me among the first (or last, depending on when you read this) to wish you a Happy April Fool's Day!  To read about one of my best AFD pranks, click here.  My wish for all of you on this special day is that the fleas of 1000 camels would not infest your armpits.  And with that said, on with the blog!

I mentioned Wednesday that one of the big changes I made in the student ministry of Wesley Memorial UMC in Tampa was changing the name of the entire ministry.  I used to get asked how I came up with the name Graceland.  Obviously, I didn't.  Elvis had it way before I did.  Dan Kimball was calling his church that way before I used it, and I am sure he was not alone.  It's not like I made it up.  But there was some method to my madness in choosing that moniker.  I really wanted to use the word "grace" in our new name.  I had been around that particular group of students enough by that time to understand that this was a collection of ragamuffins.  We had a number of split families.  We had kids who didn't seem to fit in anywhere.  There were the usual number of students with zero self-esteem.  We had some adults who were legalists in their approach to Christianity.  This was a group that needed to understand God's grace, and I felt like the right name could help facilitate those discussions.  Plus, I had a killer catchphrase to go with the name- one that I had created myself.  It would play off both concepts involved in the title- Elvis & God's grace.  Our slogan would be "Living in God's Grace- and spending time with the King!"  Even today, that gives me goosebumps...

Another reason I wanted to go with Graceland was that we really wanted to reach out into the community, and in order to do that successfully I felt we needed to "brand" our ministry.  We needed a recognizable name and a logo that made people think of us immediately.  Once we had a name and a catchphrase, I turned to my old friends at Uth Stuph for the logo.  They had produced a couple of killer summer ministries logos for me during my FUMC-Kissimmee days, and I knew they would come through again.  After talking over a number of options, we decided to use the retro feel of the name and design a logo that was a cross between Harley-Davidson and the Hard Rock Cafe.  This would give us style points with unchurched teens and great t-shirts for our students.  The great artists at Uth Stuph came up with the Elvis you see at the top of this page just for fun.  And they came up with this logo for us.

Ashley stylin' the hottest Graceland swag!

I could not have been more excited. The Cross in the "d" was the perfect final touch, added by the great artists at Uth Stuph.  We bought all of our students and adult volunteers Graceland t-shirts.  Once I added their artwork to our website and newsletter the branding process was underway.  Even today, some 6 years after WMUMC quit using the name, there is a bench by the sidewalk in front of the church with the Graceland logo on it.  I re-wrote Paul Simon's classic song. Graceland, with lyrics to inspire our group.  Our group was growing.  Excitement levels were high.  And...the church was building a new facility that included both a new youth room and a full gym.  I was confident that before long all of northwest Hillsborough County would be singing along..."I'm going to Graceland, Graceland, at Wesley UMC, I'm going to Graceland..."   I was praying big honkin' prayers and dreaming big dreams.  And the next big dream was to bring my old friends Lost And Found to Tampa.  That story on Monday.

Because of Jesus,


  1. Anonymous4/01/2011

    A great name and a PERFECT logo. Since you no longer use it, I may just steal it. Sorry Uth Stuph! ~Very Anonymous LOL

  2. Just checking back to read any postings you may have written.

    I’ve been following and enjoying your blog for a while now and would like to invite you to visit and perhaps follow me back. Sorry I took so long for the invitation.

  3. Anonymous4/01/2011


  4. To Very Anonymous- Uth Stuph reads this blog, so you'll have to be VERY sneaky! :) To Covnitkepr1- Thanks for reading along,and I have followed you back. And to Anonymous- Yes, come Monday we will all yell SLINKY!!! Thanks to you all!


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