Over-the-Rhine Community United Methodist Church

Effective June 30th,  Rev. Ian and Kelly Strickland will step away from ministry at Over The Rhine Community United Methodist Church, our downtown location.  For over 3 years Ian has worked to build a faith community that values: Justice, Equity, Creativity, and Connection.  We celebrate the many ways Ian has been a vital partner with God in God’s acts of new creation in Over The Rhine.  As Ian and Kelly close this chapter in their lives and begin a new one, we pray God’s blessings upon them.

What are the next steps?  Pastor Cathy and I have been in conversation with our District Superintendent, Todd Anderson, and the West Ohio Conference New Church Start Director, Brad Aycock, about the criteria for a successor to Ian.  In the coming weeks there will be conversations with the OTRCC leadership, The Personnel Team, and The Servant Leadership Board identifying current and future needs in a pastor, and ultimately receiving the Pastor the Bishop appoints. Throughout the process, taking the time necessary to get the right person will be a priority.

This past week, the District Superintendent sent a document to the leadership of OTRCC to complete and return to the district office.  The document (called a Profile) allows the leadership to provide input into the type of clergy leadership the church needs, at this point in time, and moving forward.  Once the “profile” is received the District Superintendent will schedule a time to meet with the Leadership of OTRCC and the Personnel Team of The Servant Leadership Board, to discuss further the churches needs.  Subsequently, the District Superintendent, Cathy, and I will discuss individuals that fit the profile and identify the right person for the appointment.  This will be followed by the District Superintendent making a recommendation to the Bishop and Cabinet, at which time the Bishop will make the appointment.

Your prayers for wisdom and clarity are welcomed as the multiple conversations progress, and a decision is made.  OTRCC is an amazing presence of God’s love in Over The Rhine, may God find us faithful as we move into the future!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

The “Don’t Pee on my Church” Sign

Rev. Lou Seipel, once served Board Street United Methodist, an inner-city church in Columbus, Ohio.  They serve 25,000 meals to people without housing, offer a Freedom School to at-risk children, and provide legal assistance and ministry to single women struggling with mental health and recovery issues.

Pastor Lou shared that in a shielded corner of the parking lot, people would sometimes relieve themselves, using the church parking lot as a bathroom.  On a hot day in August she stepped across “the stream” and came inside to a Trustees meeting.  She told the Trustees, “I wish I had a sign that said, “Don’t Pee on my Church!”

One of the Trustees took her seriously and posted a sign on the building:

“Don’t Pee on my Church” including her name, “Pastor Lou.”

She was mortified.  She saw her own sin before her in print, realizing that her mouth had the power to make a sacred space unwelcoming through her words.  She realized that if the poor had a bathroom, they would have used it.  She told the Trustees to take down the sign immediately.

Hospitality to all of God’s children is what makes my heart sing!  It means taking inventory of how we “do Church,” always looking for more ways to eliminate barriers and embrace all as sisters and brothers in Christian love.

May God’s Spirit move among us as we strive to welcome all in the name of Christ.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Distributive Justice Vs. Retributive Justice

When it comes to God’s justice we need to be clear on what the scriptures mean by “justice”.  Our 21st century, sacred, understanding of “justice” has hijacked 1st century understanding of “justice”.  We’ve turned God’s call for “Distributive Justice, and Restorative Righteousness” into our demand for “Retributive Justice” and in doing so make the scriptures say something the writers (and God) never said.

It is to this point the latter chapters of the book of Jonah speak. Too often we focus on the first act of the book of Jonah (Jonah’s call and response), at the expense of the final act of the book of Jonah (Anger and disgust at God’s mercy). It is to this human condition that the book of Jonah speaks in the final chapters of the book. The nature and character of God is in question for Jonah, and if we are honest, ourselves. God acts as God always acts with “Distributive Justice and restorative righteousness”.  However, like Jonah instead of taking our place as God’s partner in offering grace, love and mercy, restoration and reconciliation, we’ve embraced an attitude of exclusivism and disdain.

We are not the judge and jury, determining guilt and handing down the sentence; but we are partners with God calling all of creation to reconciliation and restoration; celebrating, and rejoicing in God’s acts of love, grace and mercy toward those we’ve determined unworthy, unredeemable. This is what Micah means when he says, “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.” (Micah 6:8). Jonah is our example of how not to act as we strive to embody the words of Micah.

I look forward to seeing you in Church as we strive to embrace our partnership with God, extending Distributive Justice and Restorative Righteousness in the world we live.

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug