Comfort and Hope in Tragedy

From the floods in Houston to earthquakes in Ecuador and Japan, the United Methodist Church is bringing comfort and hope to those affected by tragedy.  The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is the United Methodist “first responders” when tragedy strikes.

Bishop Palmer, resident Bishop of the West Ohio conference, writes to the churches of the Conference:

“Major disasters have unleashed chaos across the world.  Earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador have destroyed whole communities killing hundreds.  According to Defense Minister, Ricardo Patino, Ecuador’s earthquake is the worst tragedy that has hit their country in 60 years . . .  In Japan, an earthquake in the Kumamoto areas has resulted in 48 confirmed deaths with over 100,000 people in evacuation centers . . .  The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is assessing the situation and working with the Methodist Church in Ecuador and other partners to develop a response to the devastation caused by the earthquake . . . UMCOR has also assessed the situation in Japan and concluded that the government and people of Japan are strongly and adequately responding to the recent earthquake.  Please keep the people of Japan and Ecuador in your prayers.

Back home in the United States, Houston is still waiting for water to recede after major flooding.  Seven people are confirmed killed with 1,200 people rescued and more rain in the forecast.  The Texas Conference disaster coordinator is a member of the emergency response network for the city of Houston and will be advising UMCOR as to when cleanup supplies and personnel will be requested.  UMCOR Early Response Teams in Texas are on standby, ready to respond when invited.”

How can we help?  First and foremost, pray for the people and communities effected.  Second, consider supporting the relief effort of UMCOR with a one-time gift (www.umcor.org, click on “donate”, and then click on “U.S. disaster response”, or “International disaster response”).  If you do not have internet access, write a check to HPCUMC, and clearly mark UMCOR Disaster Relief.  Together we make a difference; it is a privilege to serve in ministry with you!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Are you a Victim of Identity Theft?

Protecting our identity is something all of us value. When someone accesses our records, we are at risk. Our personal information, no longer personal, is in the hands of someone who can threaten our security.

As children of God, we sometimes forget who and whose we are. Our identity as daughters and sons of God is clear:

“But you are a chosen race, the King’s priests, the holy nation, God’s own people, chosen to proclaim the wonderful acts of God, who called you out of darkness into his own marvelous light. At one time you were not God’s people, but now you are God’s people; at one time you did not know God’s mercy, but now you have received God’s mercy.”
(1 Peter 2:9-10)

Sin, or the ways that we turn against God’s will for us, can hold us captive, robbing us of our identity as forgiven children of God. This Sunday we will study the relationship between sin, our freedom from sin in Christ, and our identity as God’s children.

The new sermon series, “Who am I?” begins with the message, “I am God’s Child,” based on Colossians 1:9-14.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

The Eradication of Malaria

Malaria is a preventable disease that kills over a half million people a year in Africa. According to recent statistics 430,000 of the reported 584,000 malaria deaths were children under the age of five. The West Ohio Conference, under the leadership of Bishop Gregory Palmer has led the denomination, in the effort to eradicate malaria, by pledging 3.5 million dollars. Last year HPCUMC embraced Bishop Palmer’s challenge and pledged $50,000 to the Imagine No Malaria Campaign.

The United Methodist Church has partnered with secular and sacred institutions committing $75 million. The Global Community effort involves a four-prong attack on malaria: Prevention- through the use of bed nets, providing access to diagnostic tests and medicine, draining standing water and improving sanitation; Treatment- ensuring clinics and hospitals have the diagnostic tests and treatment needed to save lives; Education- health care workers are trained to go door to door in remote communities to deliver and install bed nets and teach people how to use and care for the nets properly; Communication- using technology to reach millions with life-saving information about malaria.

In an effort to raise our $50,000 pledged, HPCUMC set up a Three Phase Imagine No Malaria campaign. Phase One: “Bring Change,” every man, woman and child was encouraged and challenged to bring their loose change to “change the world.” Phase Two: Alternative Christmas Giving. Individuals/Families were encouraged to make a donation to Imagine No Malaria as a Christmas gift to loved ones and aquiantances. Phase Three: The kick-off was led by a Youth sponsored 5K run April 16, proceeds to support Imagine No Malaria, and continues through May 8 offering the congregation the opportunity to make a one time gift (envelopes are in your bulletin for your use.)

Update: As we begin Phase Three, HPCUMC has raised $48,665 of the $50,000 goal! The question is not can we reach our goal, but how much will we surpass our goal? Can we raise $60,000? $70,000? Dr. Bev Connelly reminded us last fall, “No child should die from a preventable disease.”

Today we welcome Bishop Gregory Palmer to HPCUMC, the resident Bishop of West Ohio Conference, and world leader in the Imagine No Malaria campaign. Thank you Bishop Palmer for your leadership, challenge, and encouragement as together we walk with our brothers and sisters in Africa to healing and wholeness!

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Your Legacy Gift and The Legacy of HPCUMC

For decades, the Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church Endowment program has been a vehicle in which individuals and families may express their love for Jesus Christ and HPCUMC. For over 40 years individuals and families have seen fit to enhance the mission and ministry of HPCUMC through their estate plans, wills, and gifts to the Endowment Fund. In 2010 the value of the Endowment Fund (including the Martz Scholarship Fund) was $12,759,784. At the end of 2015 the value of the Endowment Fund was $26,812,844. Over the past 5 years the Endowment Fund has grown over 14 million dollars.

The income from the Endowment Fund supports and enhances the mission and ministry of HPCUMC. Over the years income has been used to support the life transforming ministries of Wesley Chapel Mission Center, The Center for Respite Care, Habitat for Humanity, Inter-Faith Hospitality Network, MEAC, State Ave UMC, Wesley Community Services, Hyde Park Center for Older Adults, a number of food pantries in Metropolitan Cincinnati area, and the world wide effort to eradicate Malaria on the continent of Africa. The Endowment Fund offers scholarship help to our young adults in college, HPCUMC Preschool families, and short-term mission trips. In addition, income has been used to complete necessary renovations and repairs to our facilities, enabling HPCUMC to fulfill her mission.

Thank you to those who made a gift to the endowment and/or included HPCUMC in your estate plans. Your extravagant generosity will transform lives for generations to come. Furthermore, as we celebrate the ministry of the Endowment Fund, we recognize the generosity of Carl and Alice Bimel. Carl and Alice loved the Lord and their church! Consequently, they made it a priority to include HPCUMC in their estate plans. Carl and Alice have left a legacy that will transform lives and communities for generations to come!

The beauty of the Endowment program is that no gift is too small, whether $25 or millions; the endowment program allows every individual and/or family to leave a legacy to the church they love. To those who have considered making a gift to the endowment, and/or including HPCUMC in your estate plans, we look forward to talking with you with regard to the appropriate ways your legacy gift can make a difference.

Together we make a difference in God’s kingdom as we partner with God in establishing God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. It’s a privilege to serve in ministry with you! See you in Church!

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

A Doubting Faith?

Have you ever had doubts or insecurities about your faith? Are you skeptical at times about God or wonder why God seems to be absent? If so, you are definitely not alone.
Maybe you’re just more open and honest about your feelings than a lot of people you know. In fact, I would say that most Christ-followers have at one time or another struggled with doubts. I know sincere Christians who have been believers for years and still struggle.

Doubting your faith is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can lead to spiritual growth and maturity. Think about it. It can be a time when you move from your family’s faith (childhood, adolescence) to actually owning your beliefs in a deep and real way.
There was an article blog in Christianity Today that spoke to this “doubt and faith” topic. It stated that there are usually two reasons why people doubt. Here they are:

1) Intellectual questions. In this case, people’s doubts come from questions about what’s true and what’s logical. People who have intellectual doubts often have questions like these: “Why should I believe the Bible is inspired by God?” “How is Christianity different from any other religions?” “Why isn’t evolution true?”

2) Emotional questions. These questions often come from hurt or grief. The emotional doubter may actually ask questions that are similar to those asked by the intellectual doubter: “Why does God allow suffering?” “How could a loving God send someone to hell for not being a Christian?” “Why are people born with disabilities?” The difference is that emotional doubters are not easily satisfied with intellectual answers. Why? Because their problem is not intellectual. It’s usually about their wounded feelings, and they need love and comfort.

This Sunday’s lectionary text is John 20: 19-31. It is the story of Thomas, aka…”the doubter.” You know the story. Jesus had appeared to his disciples behind closed doors (after his resurrection). Thomas missed the occasion. He did not believe his friends. He doubted or was skeptical of what they told him. He needed proof.

So he said, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and place my finger in his side, I will not believe.” Thomas must have been from the “show me state of Missouri” in Israel in those times. Jesus did reappear.

But what about us? Where are we in the story? Are we like Thomas? What’s our proof of a resurrection? Do we still doubt? Does our faith waffle back and forth? Maybe we can give ourselves the “benefit of doubt” and still have a “courageous strong faith” concerning the resurrection.

Pastor Dave