A Time to Be Silent

In the book of Ecclesiastes we read that there is a time for every purpose under heaven.  Included in the list is: “a time to be silent and a time to speak.”   

Here are a few of my favorite quotes on listening:

“The first duty of love is to listen.” Paul Tillich

“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” Dalai Lama

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” Winston Churchill

In February of 2019, General Conference voted to tighten the ban on gay clergy and same-sex unions.  For some, the vote brought a time of relief and joy; for some, the vote brought disappointment and pain.  The global United Methodist Church has wrestled with questions of human sexuality since 1972.  It seems that attempts to bring unity are struggling; divisions seem to grow deeper between United Methodists who hold different biblical and theological perspectives.

Beginning on July 7, the HPC Way Forward Task Force, chaired by Dr. Al Painter, will hold six listening sessions.  Gathered around tables, church members will be invited to listen respectfully to the responses of others without judgment or comment.   People will be asked to share their thoughts and feelings after the vote in February as well as their thoughts regarding the response of Hyde Park Community UMC.  People will also be invited to speak of their hopes for the future.  All views and perspectives are welcomed and valued.  The Task Force will record all comments without identifying the speaker, seeking to understand our congregation as we stand at this intersection.   Laity will lead the gatherings; clergy will participate in the de-brief meetings following each listening session.

Please read the Listening Session article that is included in this issue of News and Happenings for more details.  Dates for the six sessions are listed. You are invited to join the Task Force for these holy conversations.

Thank you, in advance, for having both the courage to speak up and the courage to listen.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Our Life Together

Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20). Known as the “Great Commission”, these words become for all who follow Jesus our pathway of “discipleship”.

Notice the key components of the discipleship pathway: 1. “Go”- Leave that which is comfortable.  2. “Baptize” – Enter the flow of the Trinity, the incarnation of God’s love, where we are reminded we are a child of God, beloved by God.  3. “Teach” – What we’ve been commanded; what are we commanded? “Love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn. 13:34-35)

As Hyde Park Community/Over the Rhine Community United Methodist Church, one church, two locations, we strive to be a faith community on this “discipleship pathway”.  Therefore, I take this opportunity to update you on three important happenings in our life together.

Samara United Methodist Church Visit. For over 25 years Hyde Park Community UMC has had a relationship with Samara UMC.  Over the years teams from Samara and HPCUMC have visited the US and Russia.  From July 24 – August 1st, six of our brothers and sisters from Samara will be with us.  Details are in process, look for more information in the near future. Mark your calendar: Sunday, July 28, Pastor Natalia will preach followed by a meal in the refectory.  Plan to join us for this wonderful time of fellowship and learning after church on July 28th.

HPCUMC Way Forward Listening Sessions. In this issue of News and Happenings you will find an article about the Listening Sessions our Way Forward Task Force will be holding. We need to hear from you as our beloved faith community charts a path forward, fulfilling the Great Commission.

Over The Rhine Community Church. The Servant Leadership Board has been in conversation with the Lead Team of OTRCC to determine the best path forward for fulfilling the Great Commission.  As of July 1, Zak McIntyre, will no longer be with us as the pastor of OTRCC.  The Servant Leadership Board will develop a time-line for the months ahead, and currently is in conversation with a clergy couple regarding the possibilities of bringing leadership to our second campus faith community.

HPCUMC fully embraces our partnership with God in God’s acts of new creation. There will be more information shared about the above in the days to come, until then if you would like to discuss any of the above please drop by my office.

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Why God Made Puppies

On April 1, I was introduced to three puppies (from a litter of 12) that were seized from their owners in court because of neglect.  A rescue organization had pre-approved me and I was invited to come and meet these three puppies at a dog park in Newtown.  As I sat on the floor getting to know them, one of the puppies kept coming over to sit on my lap.  I anticipated adopting a female, but there was something about this male puppy; he seemed very loving and affectionate.   

The woman who was assisting the rescue organization asked me to pose for an “adoption day” photo.  Several minutes later I was driving away with a puppy on my lap.  He looked up at me with his caring brown eyes and seemed so incredibly happy.

I chose to name the puppy “Caspian,” after Prince Caspian of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. Prince Caspian was once a refugee who summoned the kings and queens back to Narnia to restore the land and save the people.

As I played with Caspian I noticed something change in me:  I was laughing more.  His love and energy started to bless me in a way that is hard to explain.  A few days later I saw a bumper sticker on a car with a paw print.  It read: “Who rescued who?”

Caspian, the lab/golden mix puppy, may not realize it, but God has been working through him to rescue me.  When I am tempted to take things too seriously, Caspian wags his whole body, not just his tail, and makes me smile!  When life feels “heavy,” managing some of the challenges that come my way, both personally and as a United Methodist pastor in this season of “unknowns,” Caspian’s presence delivers unbridled joy and I find myself laughing out loud.  This bouncing, happy puppy is indeed a conduit for the joy of the Lord!  Nehemiah was right:  “The joy of the Lord is my strength!”

Our God, who created this wonderful world and all creatures within it, wants us to be filled with love, joy, and peace.  May we open ourselves to all the ways that God wants to shower us with blessings!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

UMC Next: Where are We Heading As United Methodists?

Last week I joined nearly 600 clergy and laity last week in Kansas City at Church of the Resurrection UMC. Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor, and a diverse convening team of 17 individuals (clergy and lay) led us in powerful conversations about shaping an inclusive Methodist church. Table discussions were diverse and rich; they built community and gathered data that was forwarded to the convening team.

The February vote of the General Conference Special Session was a “tipping point” in The United Methodist Church. The passing of the Traditional Plan tightened the ban on gay clergy and imposed harsh penalties upon clergy who officiate at same-sex unions.  After the Traditional Plan was passed thousands of people around the world joined in the conversation.   Hamilton said, “I refuse to treat the LGBTQ community as second class.” Churches and Annual Conferences around the world have stood up in holy resistance, embracing our baptismal vows to resist evil and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves. We discussed the need for contextual expressions of resistance.  A form of resistance, for example, that is appropriate in Seattle might not be appropriate in Athens, Georgia.  We also explored creating a new, fully inclusive Methodist Church.

The participants at the UMC Next Conference reached consensus on the following core values:

1.  We long to be passionate followers of Jesus Christ, committed to a Wesleyan vision of Christianity, anchored in scripture and informed by tradition, experience and reason as we live a life of personal piety and social holiness.

2.  We commit to resist evil, injustice and oppression in all forms and toward all people and build a church that affirms the full participation of all ages, nations, races, classes, cultures, gender identities, sexual orientations, and abilities.

3.  We reject the Traditional Plan approved at General Conference 2019 as inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ and will resist its implementation.

4.  We will work to eliminate discriminatory language and the restrictions and penalties in the Discipline regarding LGBTQ persons. We affirm the sacred worth of LGBTQ persons, celebrate their gifts, and commit to being in ministry together.

At Hyde Park Community, The HPC Way Forward Task Force will be holding listening sessions this summer and fall.  Please join us in prayer as we seek God’s path for us.     

Peace,

Pastor Cathy