The Season of Advent

Dear Friends in Christ,

There’s a song in the air!

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Christ, whose love transforms our lives, we hear beautiful songs of Christmas everywhere we go.

This Advent, join us as we go back to the “Original Christmas Album” to remember the songs of the people who were present the first Christmas:

  • Zechariah, whose song of faith helped to prepare the way for the birth of Jesus.
  • The Angels, whose joyful song broke through the Bethlehem skies as they announced the coming of the Prince of Peace.
  • Mary, who sang a simple song of trust as she responded with obedience to God’s call upon her life.
  • Simeon, whose song reminds us of the salvation of our God and the hope that is ours through the coming of Christ.

This season of the year people are very open to invitations from their friends, family members, coworkers, and neighbors to join them in worship. The music and joy of the season will lift your spirits and will inspire your guests. Invite someone new to join you, to share this season of hope, love, joy, and peace.

This season is also a time to celebrate the birth of the Christ-Child by giving a gift to the reason for the season: Jesus. It is a perfect time to share our blessings with our mission partners who extend the love of Christ to those in need of hope and healing.

May God richly bless you this season as you respond to God’s gift of Jesus with a compassionate heart and a song of joy!

In Christmas Joy,
Cathy and Doug Johns, Senior Pastors

Symbols of Advent

Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus” which means coming. During Advent we celebrate the two comings of Christ: Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem and His promised return in final victory.

In our sanctuary you will see several symbols:

  • Advent Wreath: evergreen branches in a circle, a sign of life of eternal life.
  • Four royal blue candles and banners: Royal blue or purple signifies the royalty of Christ. In the ancient world these colors were the finest and most expensive; these colors invite us to offer Christ our very best.
  • The Christ Candle: The central candle is white, signifying the purity of Christ who is the Light of the World.
  • The Moravian Star: This star, a gift from Gisela Gildemeister, originally from Plauen, Germany, reminds us of Jesus as the Light of the World and the Star of Bethlehem.

Join us as we celebrate Advent, the coming of Christ:

Free Advent Devotionals available. Four people from our community have contributed to this book that aligns with the Advent sermon series.

Friday, December 4, 6:30 pm “The Four Leads,” an award-winning barbershop quartet will sing at the First Friday Niters fellowship group at 8 pm in the sanctuary. Join us for dinner (see News and Happenings to make your reservation) or come for the music!

Friday, December 4, 7:00 pm Saengerfest at Over-the-Rhine Community Church. Our choir sings at 7 pm.

Worship: Sunday mornings: 8:00, 9:00(Chapel Communion service), 9:30, and 11:00 am. Taize worship on Tuesday, December 8, 7:00 pm.

May God bless you richly during your Advent journey!

Pastor Cathy

Joy Abounds in Service

The heart for service and meeting needs runs deep in this congregation. Two seasonally appropriate areas where this has been most evident for me over the last two years in my position as the Community Ministry and Global Outreach Ministry Assistant have been in the Thanksgiving Baskets project and in providing Christmas gifts for the students at Rothenberg Preparatory Academy. The bounty and enthusiasm of responses to these two ministry areas impress me every year.

The Thanksgiving Baskets project began in 1991. Over the course of the last twenty-four years, HPCUMC has provided 7877 baskets to families in need of meals for Thanksgiving and raised over $350,000 to help fund the provision of these meals. Each year, we set up an assembly line in the parking lot to pack, in this year’s case, over 550 baskets to be picked up by agencies around the Cincinnati area or delivered to individual’s homes. While the logistics and set up of this process have been refined over the years, the heart and desire to provide food for families who would otherwise not be able to sit down to a Thanksgiving meal together has remained constant.

The Thanksgiving Baskets assembly and delivery is taking place today! If you would like to be part of something bigger than yourself and provide for families in need this Thanksgiving season, join us in the back parking lot for assembling at 10:30 am and/or delivery at 12:00 pm. The more hands and hearts we have involved in this ministry, the more joy and blessing abound in both our lives and in the lives of those for which we provide food.

The second seasonal serving endeavor whose response never ceases to amaze me is that of providing Christmas gifts to the students at Rothenberg. For the last five years, we have helped to provide Christmas gifts to the grades which we mentor at Rothenberg Preparatory Academy. This year, we have claimed responsibility for all of the 5th and 6th grade students – 95 in total. About one-third of these students have a mentor. The provision of the rest of these gifts falls to the congregation at HPCUMC, and you have yet to disappoint.

If you are interested in partnering with this ministry to provide gifts for the students at Rothenberg, please visit the Christmas tree in the Welcome Center. You will find ornaments with student’s names, gender, and wish list items (which should total around $20). Please take a (or multiple) ornament(s) from the tree, sign your name next to the student’s name(s) and provide contact information on the black board located to the right of the tree. Gifts are to be returned by December 6th to Sarah Putman in the main office. The joy on these student’s faces as we open gifts at our annual Christmas party with mentors and students is so encouraging.

Come be part of the joy that is given to families in our neighborhood and students in Over-the-Rhine. Help us continue to build a legacy of joy and provision to our neighbors.

Sarah Putman

Pilgrimage to the Holy Land Information Sharing

“I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’ Our feet are standing in your gates, Jerusalem.” (Psalm 122:1-2) It is a spiritually deep experience to stand in the gates of Jerusalem, sail on the Sea of Galilee, or remember your baptism in the river Jordan. These experiences will make for more than precious memories, but will energize the soul and fan the flame of God’s spirit within!

On November 7-16, 2016 Pastor Cathy and I will lead a spiritual pilgrimage to the Holy Land. We will visit sites sacred to the Judeo-Christian faith, read Scripture, sing songs of the faith, and walk where the patriarchs, Jesus, and His disciples walked. This Spiritual Pilgrimage will be transformational as the Bible comes alive, using all our senses as we encounter Holy sites of our Judeo-Christian faith tradition.

We invite you to join us for a life transforming spiritual pilgrimage to the Holy Land where we will experience the Bible come alive. Sunday, November 22, at 4:00 pm in the Welcome Center, Cathy and I will host a gathering to share information regarding the trip, an itinerary, and a time of question and answer. A similar informational meeting will be offered December 7, 6:30 pm, and Sunday, January 10, 4:00 pm.

Brochures for the Holy Land pilgrimage can be found in the literature racks throughout the church. If you can’t make one of the information gatherings and would like to discuss the pilgrimage, please email Cathy:, or me: The land of the Bible is waiting. We look forward to making this journey with you. See you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Children’s Letters to God

Stuart Hample and Eric Marshall share some interesting questions asked by children in their delightful compilation, “Children’s Letters to God”:

“In Sunday School they told us what you do. Who does it when you are on vacation?” – Jane

“Dear God, my Grandpa says you were around when he was a little boy. How far back do you go?” – Love, Dennis

“Dear God, do animals use you or is there somebody else for them?” – Nancy

“Dear God, did you mean for the giraffe to look like that or was it an accident?” – Norma

“Dear God, is it true my father won’t get in heaven if he uses his bowling words in the house?” – Anita
There are a lot of opinions out there about who God is and what God does. This week we continue the series “Mythbusters” with the message “The Truth about God.” May God richly bless you this week!

Pastor Cathy Johns

Update on Worship @ 11

The vision: To reach more people for Christ, Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church is expanding our worship options on Sunday morning. The Servant Leadership Board, after receiving a proposal from the Worship Task Force in July 2015, voted to offer two traditional services(8:00 and 9:30 am) and a new option on Sunday morning: “Worship @ 11.”

The music: Chris Schaljo, who holds a masters degree from Oberlin College, Conservatory of Music, was hired in September as the Worship Leader/Producer for this new worship experience. “The Gift,” the new addition to our music ensembles, will lead worship, incorporating many styles including contemporary Christian, jazz, gospel, and global music. Occasionally, various choirs will be invited to help lead worship.

Multi-media: The Servant Leadership Board embraced the full report of the Worship Task Force, including the recommendation of adding screens and projectors to the sanctuary. Extreme care has been taken to explore all options, valuing the integrity of the beauty of the sanctuary, under the guidance of professional engineers and architects. When the screens are not in use, they will be nearly invisible. When the screens are in use, the stained glass window and the cross above the altar will still be visible.

Marketing and Evangelism: The marketing team is designing some creative ways to get the word out about our worship offerings. The hope is to attract new people to join us in worship by promoting all of our worship offerings including Taize, traditional worship, and Worship @ 11.

First Worship @ 11: The first service will be held shortly after the installation of the screens and projectors; the official start date is dependent on the schedules of the contractors. The first Worship @ 11 is tentatively set for late January 2016.

Ambassadors for Worship @ 11: Chris Schaljo, and a team of servants, is helping to prepare for this new worship offering. If you would like to serve as an Ambassador for Worship @ 11, please contact Chris at

Thank you for your prayers and support of the servant leaders and staff during this exciting chapter in the life of our church family! Stay tuned for more details.


Pastor Cathy

Henderson Settlement and Red Bird Mission

The Community Ministry/Global Outreach team of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church develops strategies for supporting local, national, and international partners who make up the core of our outreach ministry.

Two of our Global Partners are Henderson Settlement and Red Bird Mission in rural Appalachia, Kentucky. Both partners seek to meet the needs of those in poverty.

The Henderson Settlement seeks to provide for basic needs (education, housing, food, clothing, jobs) of residents in the community, as the church offers God’s love through acts of service and financial support.

The Red Bird Mission School has educated and shaped the faith of children from families of coal miners and loggers from three different counties in the Appalachia region of Kentucky.

Twice a year Bob Keith, member of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church, and adjunct Professor and Director of Audiology Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Cincinnati, organizes a team of student clinicians (Doctor of Audiology students), to minister at Red Bird mission. The teams provide hearing health care. In addition to hearing screening, the teams are involved in hearing testing, removal of ear wax, hearing aid fitting, ear molds, checking previous hearing aids to be sure they are functioning and making minor adjustments if necessary.

I invite you to pray with me as Bob leads a group of students to serve the communities of Red Bird Mission November 17-19. We will take a moment to commission Bob to the work he will lead, on Sunday, November 15 at 9:30 am. As Bob prepares to lead this group, we pray that God will bless Bob and the group with wisdom and strength.

Thank you for your support of Henderson Settlement and Red Bird Mission over the years. We look forward to deepening our relationship with the communities they serve in the years to come.

In Christ,
Pastor Doug


Change! Change! Change! I’ve experienced it! You’ve experienced it!
Life is filled with change. Some change just happens and it knocks us down. Other change is necessary, and we initiate it through our choices. Change is essential for our growth and development as a person, as a people.

Without change, as the old Texas adage goes, “If all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got.”

If there is something that you don’t like about yourself or you find something that is interfering with the pursuit of your goals, well, just change it. Seems simple, doesn’t it? But, as anyone who has ever tried to change knows, it is far from simple or easy. Change can be slow, frustrating, and painful; it can also be engrossing and inspiring. So why is change so difficult? It’s because we usually resist or try to avoid it. It can be risky.

Our personal and professional lives can change. Our religious and spiritual lives can change. Change can happen outwardly or inwardly. God is in the transformation business of changing lives through Jesus Christ. That’s the mission of the church.

Today is our 2nd week of a sermon series titled, “Myth-busters.” Come learn about these myths on change. The reality is that we can trust that God is with us in the midst of whatever life changes we are going through. And that’s Good News!


Pastor Dave