The Prayer Wall – Heaven on Earth

The bulletin board across from the Welcome Center has been used as a Prayer Wall throughout the past several years.  It is a place you and I can post our needs and praises, and where others can share in our burdens and joys by lifting them up in prayer.

This Prayer Wall is a visible sign of God’s presence in our midst.  It is a reminder that we can go to our Savior at any time to talk with Him about anything.  He is there every moment of every day—waiting and wanting us to turn to Him with our worries, concerns, joys, and celebrations.  We were not created to be alone and to deal with what life brings us by using just our own knowledge and skills, but to live through things in fellowship with God.

The Prayer Wall is also a reminder that we are in community with each other.  We not only need God–we also need each other.  We have the responsibility and the privilege of praying for others and them for us.  We have no idea how our prayers will impact the situation we lift up to God, but we do know God hears and will respond.  No prayer goes unheard or is wasted.

I joined the prayer ministry at a time when I felt “flat” with my prayer life.  I felt I was going through the motions without much personal growth.  So I joined the prayer ministry to meet my own needs but quickly learned it wasn’t about me.  It was about being in service to others through prayer and as a result, growing in my own prayer life.

Each of us is called to pray for each other.  Talking with God can be a quick, “Lord, help this person through this difficult time.”  Or, we can really let God have it when life is really bad and seems unfair.  And then there are times when we don’t have the words to say.  It is at this time that we sit quietly in the presence of God and let the Holy Spirit pray for us.

But when we see the Prayer Wall and ask for prayers or pray the requests of others, we open ourselves to the power of heaven, to the kingdom of God.  We bring ourselves into community with others and them with us.  And that, my friends, is heaven on earth.

-Diane Weaver

Salty Saints

This Sunday is All Saints Sunday. The United Methodist Book of Worship explains:

“All Saints (November 1 or the first Sunday of November) is a day of remembrance for all the saints, with the New Testament meaning of all Christian people of every time and place. We celebrate the communion of saints as we remember the faithful departed, both of the Church universal and of our local congregations.”

Jesus teaches us to be the “light of the world” and the “salt of the earth.” Salt adds flavor and also preserves. Here are a few “salty saints” who have blessed my life, sometimes adding flavor, and sometimes preserving me through times of trial:

Don, my father, who taught me the importance of trusting God, always, and responding to God’s goodness with a glad and generous heart.

Sue, a cancer patient, who continued to come to church and set the table for Holy Communion until the last month of her life.

Steve, who served as a Stephen Minister and never wavered in his devotion to always serve Christ with passion and joy.

Deb, whose life was a song of joy, who sang on a praise team and encouraged many, including me, to keep the faith during tough seasons of life.

Today I invite you to come up with your own list of “salty saints,” people who have blessed your life. Stop and give thanks to God for each life that has flavored and preserved you. Finally, pray for God to help you step up as you strive to give your life away for others so that some day you will be remembered as a “salty saint!”

Cathy Johns

Ganta United Methodist Hospital, Ganta, Liberia

Ganta kids

How to Help in the Ebola Crisis

In February, 2012, a mission team of eight from HPUCMC visited Liberia.  Our trip allowed us an overview of the work of the UMC in the country of Liberia.

Our trip started in Monrovia, but our destination was the Ganta United Methodist Hospital.  Although Ganta, the second largest city in Liberia, is only 165 miles from Monrovia, the trip there takes six hours.  I would compare the drive to a combination of bumper cars and The Racer at Kings Island!  Eleven years of civil war have completely decimated the infrastructure of Liberia.  There are no systems for “city water”, roads outside Monrovia are mostly a series of potholes, and electricity is only available where individuals and/or businesses can afford a generator and fuel.  The Ganta Hospital, in northeast Liberia, is just across the border from the Guinea forest, and within easy travel to Cote d’Ivoire.  It is the only referral hospital (with approximately 140-150 beds), serving a region with a population of around 450,000.

At the Ganta Hospital, we helped sort donated medical supplies, toured the facilities, and talked with staff about the services provided, advances in treatment of chronic disease, and their continuing needs.  Dr. Warren Webster was able to join one of the staff physicians, seeing patients in the day clinic.  Perhaps the most memorable story from our visit, was when Dr. Willicor (UMC missionary and medical chief of staff) came by to “request the services of the general surgeon” (Dr. John Bossert).  When we next saw Dr. Bossert, we learned that he’d been pressed into service to perform an appendectomy on an emergency admission.  Before we left the hospital the following morning, Dr. Bossert went to check on his patient, who was in the main ward with numerous other male patients, and found, taped above the man’s hospital bed, a sign on which was printed, “ICU”.

We were fortunate to stay with Bishop John Innis, in Monrovia, at the beginning and end of our trip. While there, we visited the West Point slum. For the eight of us, it’s not hard to imagine just how quickly a disease like Ebola could spread in West Point! You may have heard Victor Taryor, the hospital administrator and UM missionary, speak to the congregation in late March of this year – and/or your elementary aged children may have heard him speak in their Sunday School class – about the continuing needs at the hospital, for both supplies and staff.  The Sunday School classes took on raising funds for malaria bed nets for children and families in the surrounding communities, prior to the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.

The Ebola epidemic has been devastating to Liberia, which was just beginning to make progress on rebuilding infrastructure and systems, after their civil war.  To help with the church’s efforts to support hospitals and health workers during this crisis, you can make contributions through UMCOR’s Ebola Emergency Advance or, you can write a check to HPCUMC, and mark “Ebola Advance” in the memo line.

-Barb Fillion, liaison to Liberia

In Christ We Find Freedom

Jesus tells the woman, whose sins are many: “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Underlying the woman’s boldness is trust. Trust that God, in Christ, is who God says God is, and will do what God says God will do!

The tithe became an essential part of worship for the Covenant people, Israel. Tithing is an issue of “Trust”. A “tithe” means “a tenth part” of the first fruits of one’s labor. Jesus talked about money in 16 out of 38 parables. The Bible devotes 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith, but over 2,000 verses on money and possessions.

Tithing is not an issue of money. It is an issue of trust. God knows that the most difficult area for us to turn over to God is our finances. Therefore, God says: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse (the church), so that there may be food in My house, and test me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open up for you the window of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. (Malachi 3:10) God said it – Can I trust God to fulfill God’s promise? More importantly, can God trust in me?

We invite you to prayerfully consider how you will support the Mission and Ministry of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church through your financial resources. We invite you to join us in committing the “tithe” (10% of your income). If you are unable to commit to the tithe, we encourage you to take a percentage step towards tithing in your giving. Pray for God to guide your decision to invest sacrificially in the ministry of Jesus Christ at Hyde Park Community; we are praying with you!

In Christ,
Pastors Cathy and Doug Johns

FanFan Janvier- Faith Academy- Haiti

I still clearly remember the first time I met Fanfan.  It was my first mission trip to Haiti. The airport in Port au Prince was hot, dusty and very third world.  As we struggled with our baggage, there was this tall, smiling Haitian waiting to greet us, relieve us of our load, toss it in the back of the truck that was to be our transport for the next week, and then help us climb in after it!

We got to see a lot of Fanfan that week.  He was there every day to take us to our workplace.  He spoke impeccable English and willingly answered the multitude of questions we had about everything to do with Haiti.

Gradually I learned his story.  His mother had put him in an orphanage when he was very young because she was not able to care for him.  The orphanage had become his home.  While he was there an American woman met him, saw his potential, and was moved to fund his education.  Education in Haiti is not free!  He learned to speak English and with those skills found work with the non-government organization that set up our mission trip.

But more than his past, I found that Fanfan had a dream. He is a man of faith.  Education had opened doors for him.  His dream was to make education available to more Haitians.  He managed to buy land outside of Port au Prince and, with help from a Methodist Church in Indiana, started to build his own school, Faith Academy!  We visited it on my first mission trip.  The first rooms were under construction.  We painted walls and filled potholes in the track outside that qualifies as a road in Haiti.  We did all this surrounded by crowds of laughing children, fascinated by our white skin and soft hands!

Over the next years I made several more trips to Haiti.  I saw Fanfan’s school grow from the few rooms we painted, to a two story complex that now provides education and a daily meal to over two hundred children. All this is possible because caring people in the States have helped with the funds for construction, for the staff and for the meals and materials to run the school.  Like most projects in Haiti, Fanfan is not finished!  He continues to grow the school and now wants to build a church next to his school!

If you are interested in particpating in future mission trips to Haiti, please contact Sarah Putman at sputman@hpcumc.org or 979-8162.

-John Moseley

John and his wife Vicki serve as liaisons to Haiti and Faith Academy.

 

From the Pastors: Vision Weekend Report

Over 250 people gathered at Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church last weekend, seeking God’s preferred vision for our future.

Over the summer we participated in twenty home gatherings and one at Nast Trinity. We asked three questions: What do you celebrate as a church? What challenges/obstacles do we currently face? What would be a mid-sized miracle that you would like to see?

As we listened, common themes became evident. From these articulated concerns, hopes, and dreams a vision began to develop based on who we are today and God’s preferred path for our future as a congregation.

Five major concerns were expressed. The vision, God’s preferred reality for us, emerged out of these concerns. The concern and strategies for implementation are shared here in a very condensed form:

Moving Forward in 2015:
Transparency
Strategy: Make financial data and other information clear and accessible to members so that trust is built, fueling passion and energizing us for mission and ministry as we make disciples for Jesus Christ.

Communication
Strategy: Explore innovative and effective ways to connect people with our congregation through digital, electronic, and print media so that current members and guests can deepen their walk with God.

Marketing/Public Relations.
Strategy: Form a team to develop effective ways to share our story with our community.

Worship
Strategy: Form a team to explore ways we can enhance our worship, seeking to align our resources and values, so that we can reach new people in our community for Jesus Christ.

Nast Trinity Downtown Campus
Strategy: Form a team to shape a new, clear vision for our partnership with Nast Trinity’s Downtown Campus so that we can effectively serve Christ and our neighbors in Over-the-Rhine.

VISION REPORT: Please pick up an executive summary of the findings from summer gatherings in homes and one at Nast Trinity. They are available in the Welcome Center and in the church office. The report and the Celebration of Ministry video are also available online: www.hydeparkchurch.org/vision-weekend. If you would like to see the complete raw data (40+ pages), Lindsay Garrison, who serves in the office, will be happy to print a copy of it for you.

We look forward to this journey with you! Praying for you with great joy for all that has been and all that God will call us to be in the future.

Peace,
Pastors Doug and Cathy Johns

Partnering with Samara, Russia

Part of the global outreach of HPCUMC involves a Methodist church in Samara, Russia. Our support to them has included helping them purchase a church building in 2001. Yet, even though they now have a church building, they are considered a sect by many because they are not part of the official government religion.

Our brothers and sisters in Christ are in many ways a first century church, not unlike what we read about in Romans or Corinthians. They live in a world where discussing their faith holds them up for ridicule from neighbors and co-workers, yet they proudly and boldly share their faith stories about how being a follower of Christ has changed their lives.

While they are relatively small in number – about one hundred adults – their commitment to sharing the love of Christ is anything but small, with sixty six  people actively involved in the church’s ministries. They feed the poor and homeless every week and offer as many Bible study courses as they can find translated into Russian. During the past year they started focusing on the importance of ministering to families in church by addressing issues like family relations, bringing up children and dealing with addiction, a major problem in Russia.

Anyone who has been on one of the mission teams to Samara can share stories of Samara’s radical hospitality.  One such story is that a young family with a two-year-old graciously gave up one of the two rooms in their small apartment to host members of Hyde Park Community UMC. Our partners at Samara UMC are empowered, energized and incredibly appreciative of our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness.  Like those in the early church needed Paul, they need us. Speaking from personal experience, those of us who go to be in communion with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in Samara are always the richer for spending time with these new Christians.

The Russian Initiative, the program that reintroduced Methodism in Russia following the fall of the Soviet Union, holds a conference every two years. The next conference will be held May 15-16, 2015 in Russia for the first time. If you have an interest in attending this Moscow conference and then visiting Samara or to learn more about our partnership, please contact Nancy & Tom McOwen or me.

-Kevin Betts

 

Free At Last

There is much in life that we allow to imprison us; which in turn keeps us from fully experiencing the life God intends for us. Our attitudes, outlook, and our finances can imprison our spirit, and limit our joy.

This Sunday we begin a new sermon series: Free At Last! The series will help us understand that we serve a God of abundance not scarcity. Trusting God to be faithful to God’s promises, we are free to invest in life transforming ministries, offering freedom in the name of Christ Jesus to others who find themselves imprisoned. Trusting God to be faithful we are free to embrace God’s blessings, share God’s blessings, and in return receive God’s blessings!

The Rev. Rudy Rasmus, pastor, author, and global humanitarian will be with us to kick off our sermon series: Free At Last (9:30 and 11:00 at the Grace Campus; 5:00 p.m. at the Nast Downtown Campus). Pastor Cathy will kick off the sermon series at the 8:00 Grace Campus service, and the 9:30 Nast Downtown Campus.

Pastor Rudy has led St. John’s United Methodist Church with his wife, Juanita, for more than twenty years. St. John’s has grown to over 9,000-members (3,000 of whom are, or were, homeless at one time) and is one of the most culturally diverse congregations in the country. Pastor Rudy attributes the success of the church to a compassionate congregation, which has embraced the vision of tearing down walls of classism, sexism, and racism, and replacing them with unconditional love and acceptance. Rudy and Juanita are the proud parents of two daughters. Pastor Rudy’s most recent book is Love Period. God’s love, without condition, sets us free. It’s in loving others as we have been loved that we experience the fullness of our freedom!

We look forward to seeing you in worship. Invite a friend, relative, acquaintance, or neighbor to join you in worship as we reclaim our freedom in Christ Jesus!

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Christian Love in Action in the Former East Germany

Freiberg UMCBeing in mission is a great privilege!! I grew up in Germany, and escaped communist East Germany in 1960. Since then it has been my privilege to partner with HPCUMC in four areas of Germany and to be able to return to do ministry with our German partners in Plauen, Frieberg, Augustusburg, and Chemnitz.

In June of 1989, before the fall of the Berlin Wall, I took thirty-two youth from HPCUMC to my home town church in Plauen. What an experience this was for our young people!! Then in 1995, the Cathedral Choir went to Plauen, and stayed with parishioners. We were welcomed with warm hearts, and many tears!!

In 1999 a group of sixteen volunteers from our church tore down an old house, built in 1849, in Freiberg, Germany, so that the small United Methodist congregation could build their own church. This was the first building they ever had because during the Communistic reign they were not allowed to worship. These small congregations are growing in an area where 89% of the population is atheist – a legacy of the East German regime (1945 to 1989). Several of the Freiberg UMC members told us: “You not only work hard for us so we can have our own church building, you give us hope and encouragement to carry on!!

In 2003 a group of twenty-five volunteers helped the Congregation in Augustusburg, with major improvements to their building, which had been in dire need of repair.

In the Fall of 2010 we also worked with a group of eight volunteers in Chemnitz, formerly Karl-Marx-Stadt, tearing down old concrete garages, so this congregation could build new space for youth and children’s work.

Being a part of the Germany mission team can be a life-changing experience. You will grow spiritually in new and exciting ways and make new friends on the team as well as in Germany. The experience is one of serving and sharing with others, working side-by-side and worshipping with Untied Methodists in another country.

-Gisela Gildemeister

 

Sacrament of Communion

A sacrament is a finite, physical, visible mediator of the sacred, a means whereby the sacred becomes present to us. A sacrament is a vehicle or vessel of the sacred. In Christian language, a sacrament is an “outward and visible sign” of “an inward spiritual grace.” Sacraments are “doors” to the sacred. They are sacred moments of grace.

There are a variety of names for the sacrament of communion: the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist or the Great Thanksgiving, and Holy Communion. Each of these names is taken from the New Testament and highlights certain facets of this sacrament’s many meanings.

Calling it the Lord’s Supper reminds us that it is a meal instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ and hosted by him at his table whenever it takes place.
Calling it Holy Communion reminds us that it is an act of the most holy and intimate sharing, making us one with Jesus Christ and part of his body, the church.

Calling it the Eucharist , a term taken from the New Testament Greek word meaning thanksgiving, reminds us that giving thanks to God for all that God has done is an essential part of the meal.

By using these different names we acknowledge that no single name can contain the “mystery of God” at work through the Holy Spirit in this sacred act.

October 5 is World Communion Sunday. As you receive the bread and the cup it is my hope that you will experience the presence of Christ in both a personal and communal way. Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Let us celebrate this holy sacrament as a means of grace. May it liberate and empower us as the body of Christ.

In Christ’s love,
Dave