UMCOR: The First to Arrive and The Last to Leave

Beloved children of God in Texas, Florida, the southeast, Puerto Rico, and Mexico City have had their lives turned upside down by recent natural disasters.  UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) is the emergency relief arm of our denomination.  UMCOR is known for being the first to arrive and the last to leave when disaster hits anywhere in the world.  Julie Dwyer writes, “While Irma, Harvey and Maria dominate news headlines, the United Methodist Committee on Relief hasn’t forgotten about Matthew (September, 2016 devastating hurricane).  “We really are there for the long haul,” said the Rev. Russell Pierce, interim executive director of mission engagement and director of ‘The Advance’, the designated giving channel of The United Methodist Church.” (UMNS, 9/26/17)

Our West Ohio Communications team writes, “As disasters continue to make headlines, we invite you to continue remembering our neighbors in your prayers. At least 237 people have died in Mexico City from the 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Widespread destruction is visible across the city. Hurricane Maria has devastated Puerto Rico and other Caribbean Islands with catastrophic flooding. May we be resilient in our generosity of love and financial resources so that those impacted will know that they are indeed beloved children of God.”

As we begin our sermon series: “Light The Way” we have an opportunity to be the light of Christ to those in the shadow of these natural disasters.  Many of us have already offered financial support, however, if you are still looking for a way to help our sisters and brothers faced with disaster I invite you to give through The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR): Domestic Disaster Response Advance #901670 and International Disaster Response Advance #982450.  You can give on-line: www.umcor.com; write a check to the church: HPCUMC memo = Disaster Relief; or mail your check to: Advance GCFA, P.O. Box 9068, New York, N.Y.  10087-9068

It’s a joy to be a United Methodist, and a privilege to serve in ministry with you!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

The Explosion of Choice

A research study recently asked 100 Japanese and American students to write down the decisions that they would like to make for themselves on a sheet of paper.  On the other side they were asked to write down decisions they preferred others choose for them.

When Americans wrote their entries for decisions they preferred to make themselves, the page was filled quickly.  It included items such as where to live and the type of job they would pursue.  The flip side was almost empty; the only decision most Americans wanted to pass along to someone else was the time of their death.

The Japanese had very different results, filling up the side with the things they preferred others would choose for them, including what they wore, what time they would awaken, and their occupation.

The researchers concluded that Americans desired to make their own choices four times more than the Japanese.  David Brooks, a New York Times columnist, notes:  “Americans now have more choices over more things than any other culture in human history.  He adds that it is “becoming incredibly important to learn to decide well.”

Today, I invite you to consider: “How do I want to serve Christ in the coming year?”  Please visit the Ministry Fair in the Welcome Center today.  IThe ministry fair celebrates many of the ministry teams that make a difference in our church family.  On October 1, we will dedicate our service inventories in worship.

I will be praying for God to guide your decision; it is a joy to serve Christ with each one of you!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Possessing God’s Wisdom!

At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” (1 Kings 3:5)  Are you familiar with Solomon’s story, what he asks for and what he received?  God gave Solomon a blank check, and what did Solomon ask for?  Wisdom.  Read 1 Kings 3:1-12, a great story of not asking for what I want, but for what I need, and in turn receive blessing upon blessing.

God’s wisdom is available to all who seek God. Ultimately, we find in Solomon’s story God’s desire to anoint God’s beloved with God’s wisdom.  How?  God gives us the answer in the “Shema” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

Thus, when we understand and embrace that God alone is our God, give our “all” loving the Lord our God, the wisdom of God is ours and becomes profoundly real.  Richard Rohr in his book A Spring Within Us writes, “St. Bonaventure called God ‘A Fountain Fullness.’  Once we begin with outpouring love as the foundational pattern of reality and love as the very shape of God, then everything somehow has to fall into the same family resemblance.  If this is the Creator, then somehow this must be the DNA of all of the creatures.” (p.362-363)

Love is “the very shape of God”!  Like Solomon we are blessed with wisdom, and much more, when we with intentionality, love God with our all.  This is God’s gift to all who seek it.  I look forward to seeing you in Church as we seek God’s Wisdom, through what Jesus calls “the greatest commandment”, the “Shema”.

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Stallone: The Church is the Gym of the Soul

Sylvester Stallone was raised in a Christian home, attended Catholic schools and was “taught the faith.”  In a 2006 interview he shares that as he went out into the “real world,” temptation came and he lost his way, making a lot of bad choices, including putting his career ahead of his faith and family.

There was a point when he reached back to his Christian heritage.  Stallone shares:  “The more I go to church and the more I turn myself over to the process of believing in Jesus and listening to his Word and having him guide my hand, I feel as though the pressure is off me now.”

Stuart Shepard, the interviewer, shares another one of Stallone’s lessons on self-reliance: “You need to have the expertise and the guidance of someone else,” he said. “You cannot train yourself. I feel the same way about Christianity and about what the church is: The church is the gym of the soul.”

Being a part of a Christian community means partnering with God to bring heaven to earth, transforming all of creation, one life at a time. One way to do this is through the Ministry Fair, September 24.  Please stop by the Welcome Center on September 24 to learn about ways to serve Christ through Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church.

On Sunday, October 1, we will be offering our service commitments to God on World-Wide Communion Sunday.

It is a joy to be a part of this community of faith where I can come and deepen my walk with God in our “gym of the soul!”

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

God is Calling

Hyde Park Community UMC is a faith community that believes in “gift based ministry”. God gifted you and me and calls each of us to specific tasks, ministries, and missions that utilize our giftedness in powerful and profound ways.  Hence, the weekly News and Happenings features “One and Done” Service Opportunities to help you connect our gifts in service (please see the need and respond accordingly).

God is calling! Specifically, is God calling you to use your gifts on the Servant Leadership Board?  The Servant Leadership Board is charged with guarding and championing the vision and mission of the congregation, strategically aligning our resources to share the love of Jesus to transform lives in our community, Cincinnati, and the world; engaging more people in ministry and mission, not meetings.

The Servant Leadership Board meets once a month (currently the second Monday of the month), additional responsibilities vary according to church programming.  Spiritual leadership is developed through a balance of loving (God and one another), learning (leadership development), and leading (making decisions that keep HPC aligned with the vision and mission).  The qualifications for serving on the Servant Leadership Board:

1) Be a member of Hyde Park Community UMC  for a minimum of one year; 2) Fulfill the membership vows of the United Methodist Church, supporting Hyde Park Community through prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness; 3) Possess a desire to serve Jesus Christ with excellence and demonstrate a history of this through prior service and current priorities; 4) Shall be of adult age (18 or older).

Is God calling you to use your gifts on the Servant Leadership Board?  Applications to serve on the Servant Leadership Board are available in the Welcome Center, and the church office.  Applications will be received through October 15.  If you have questions, please contact Pastor Cathy: cjohns@hpcumc.org or 513-979-8182.

God calls us to use our gifts in mission and ministry.  In whatever way you choose to serve, it is a joy and privilege to serve in ministry with you.  I look forward to seeing you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug