I still remember the first time I heard the big booming voice of Doug Watts. He has a voice that could be used for commercials, radio, and movie trailers! He said, “Josh, hello, you are on speaker phone because I am in a room full of people who want to interview you for our open youth pastor position.” Doug’s gentle demeanor and welcoming heart immediately put me at ease in what is usually a stressful situation. Over the 12 years I have known Doug he has always been someone I trust completely. I could go to him for advice, and he was there for me if I needed to pour my heart out on an issue in which I was struggling. He always listened, always smiled, and was always willing to give a reassuring hug or handshake if I needed it, whether I was right or wrong. I know there are many people in this church who can relate to all that I just shared. He is a gem!
Over the course of 24 years Doug served as a leader of New Hope in every capacity. Overseeing the finances of the church, serving as a deacon, serving as an elder, and ultimately serving as the Chairman of the Elders. In addition, he was a consistent member of New Hope’s worship team, clapping, dancing, and smiling through every song. On occasion he would read a passage of Scripture between songs, or maybe share a word that God had placed on his heart. Those moments often produced tears. He was always a favorite of our youth group because his energy and passion for Christ was on full display every time he stepped on the stage. Doug’s fingerprints are all over this church, and we thank God for providing such a great man to help lead and serve New Hope for so many years.
And then there is his wonderful wife, Teri Watts. I don’t think I have enough room on this blog to discuss what Teri has meant to this church. Loving and caring are two words that immediately come to mind, but prayer warrior, intercessor, and worshipper are quick to follow. Teri has served the Lord, through New Hope, in every possible way that she could. When the worship team needed a voice, she was there, ready, willing, and able to sing whatever part was needed. And how does one begin to describe what Teri’s prayer chain has meant to this church? We have all benefited from her willingness to receive our prayer requests and praise reports through email so all of the recipients could join along in intercessory prayer. Teri often adds Scripture and a prayer that shows unwavering faith and devotion to our Lord and Savior!
Did you know that every time flowers were sent somewhere on behalf of New Hope Community Church it was Teri Watts who made sure they got there? When I, or one of our pastors, would visit a funeral or memorial service and the host would point out New Hope’s flowers we would silently say in our heads, “Thank you, Teri!”
In addition, she has faithfully served as a leader and volunteer on the Care Ministry of the church. That’s the ministry that arranges meals for those who have just gotten out of the hospital, or are caring for a loved one and don’t have time to make meals. This “behind-the-scenes” type of ministry service often goes unnoticed, but for those of us who have benefited from it, let me say that the Care Ministry is priceless! Thank you, Teri!
About a week ago I was able to drive down to Culleoka, TN to spend a few hours with Doug and Teri. We laughed, had lunch, and then had a conversation that I knew in my heart would one day come. Teri handed me a letter, and I will now share that letter with you. But before I do I want every one to know how much I, and New Hope Community Church, love Doug and Teri Watts. We could never say thank you enough for all they have meant to this church. Normally we wouldn’t share a letter of this nature with the entire congregation, but when you’re talking about a couple who have been blessing this church for 24 years…I thought it would be beneficial for all of us to hear directly from them.
Here is the letter from Doug and Teri…
Dear New Hope Community Church Family,
Twenty-four years ago, we walked through the doors of New Hope Community Church as newlyweds and brand new Tennesseans and at once, we knew we were home! It has been our honor and a privilege to be a part of our New Hope family. How times flies, and this is a bit of our journey.
Through these many years, Pastor Paul has officiated the marriages of our twin girls, one in Tulsa, OK and one on the Watts Farm in Culleoka. He dedicated our four grand babies at New Hope with water straight from the Jordan River. He baptized an NHCC member in our Brentwood swimming pool one Wednesday night after church. We have been through the loss of both Teri’s parents with the support of our New Hope family. We were there to see the new sanctuary and wing built, including the writing of God’s Word on the concrete sub-floor during the construction process. We took part in the reading aloud of God’s Word in the new sanctuary as individuals and groups signed up in a 24/7 reading of the entire Bible in the new sanctuary.
As we started our life at New Hope, we were excited to go through Pastor Paul’s new member class and became plugged into various ministries. Doug helped with the daycare and church accounting and was part of the Finance Team for many years. He served as a deacon and chairman of the board of deacons, as well as an elder and chairman of the elders. He also served on the praise and worship team, just resigning a few years ago.
Teri was in New Hope’s choir in the early years and when it evolved to a full-blown praise and worship team, served there for 24 years. She was on and chaired the hospitality team for several years in the early days at NHCC. She has been involved with the prayer team ministry since coming to New Hope, from a single phone chain, to multiple phone chains, to written requests picked up in the foyer, to a dedicated phone line at church where she pre-recorded prayer requests and prayer warriors called in to listen to them, to the current and longtime online email prayer chain as it is today. She has been involved with and coordinated the CARE Ministry team for years, which helps with meals for our church family when needed after surgery, treatments, illness, death, or a new baby!
Both co-taught several Sunday school classes over the years and for 10 years were actively involved in a Sunday evening small group. They were involved in the inception of the Women’s Nashville Rescue Mission and were blessed to serve there for years, Doug until just a few months ago. We hold dear our plaques and award given to us by New Hope recognizing Doug for his tenure as Elder and an award for Eldership and servanthood from New Hope and for Teri’s recognition of administration of the New Hope online prayer chain.
We lived in Brentwood for seven years just five minutes from New Hope and loved being so close to the church. When our youngest daughter graduated from high school we bought the farm in Culleoka. For the last seventeen years we have driven close to one hour in each direction to be a part of our New Hope family, realizing it was to the detriment of building community and friendships in our own back yard. Over the last couple of years this has become more and more apparent to us.
Through much prayer and soul searching, many long conversations and lots of tears, we have determined to respectfully resign our membership at New Hope, so we might begin a new chapter in our lives doing community and building new friendships closer to our home. Our many close and dear friends at New Hope will remain just that, close and dear to us. New Hope will forever remain in our hearts, thoughts and prayers. We pray God’s richest blessings, guidance and provision for every one of you. May God continue to do great and mighty works at New Hope Community Church. In Jesus Name, we pray it so!
Praising our God, Who is worthy of all our praise,
Doug and Teri Watts
We will be honoring Doug and Teri at the conclusion of our worship service this Sunday, August 19. It will be a bittersweet time as we are saddened at New Hope’s loss, but sweet in that God has a new adventure for them! Please make plans to join us this Sunday so we can all say THANK YOU and ray God’s blessing over what is in store for their future!