Zeal in the Church

As the temperature drops outside and the days get shorter and shorter it’s easy to want to hunker down at home with some hot cider and a good book, and wait for spring. And while we certainly need to take advantage of precious moments of rest in this chaotic world, Paul also encourages us in Romans 12 to not be lacking in zeal when it comes to the work of the church.

Downtown at Over-the-Rhine Community Church, we’ve been eager to follow Paul’s words. In October, a group of 12 headed up to Detroit for a conference hosted by Christian Community Development Association (CCDA), where we had a chance to interact with other churches/organizations doing similar work in similar urban environments. Our time in Detroit was enlightening, encouraging and motivating.

Just at the end of October we also finished our second round of church catechism, which has been the process we use to introduce the history and vision of OTRCC to people interested in deeper participation within the congregation.

Ultimately we have been reminded that zeal is simply the positive energy an individual or group of people feel toward accomplishing a goal. And it’s by this zeal that our role in the church becomes something that gives us joy and fulfillment. I’m excited to be back at Hyde Park on Sunday and talking more about the zeal of the Church!

Pastor Ian

Fun in the Sun at OTRCC

Building a church community of genuine and authentic relationships is hard work. The social constructs of race, class, age, etc. all contribute. It takes intentionality, humility, and a willingness to challenge our fellow sisters and brothers as well as to be challenged by them. God has done some tremendous things within OTR Community Church: building up our breakfast ministry that seeks to dismantle the walls between who serves and who receives, planting a community garden in which our neighbors can enjoy the beauty of creation. It’s been a beautiful yet challenging last couple of years.

This is why we as a community need to know how to play. This summer we’ve held one event each month. The people of OTR Community Church, with other friends and family, have come together simply for the purpose of having fun and enjoying each other’s company. In June, we headed down to Fountain Square for Reggae Night and folks relaxed and danced. July was our kayak/canoe trip on the Little Miami, and we enjoyed the slow current, hot sun and awesome friendships. Later on this month we’ll all be gathering for a good ol’ fashioned baseball game at the All American Ballpark.

These moments carve out spaces in our busy lives in which we can begin to learn how to appreciate the moments with the people who mean the most to us. We’ve seen friendships deepen over the summer and new faces joining in. The challenges of our church community do not end, but they become a blessed struggle as our church identity looks more and more like a family of sisters and brothers. We are, after all, called to be the Body of Christ, made up by many members. This summer has been a wonderful opportunity to step into that calling in a very tangible way.

Pastor Ian

An Update from Over- the- Rhine

We’ve had a number of exciting things going on in Over-the-Rhine. In an ongoing effort to be the Church in our community, our sisters and brothers at Over-the-Rhine Community Church (OTRCC) are continuing to discern ways in which God is calling us out. One current initiative is to transform our vacant lot at the corner of 14th and Race into a permaculture community garden. With “green space” in Over-the-Rhine shrinking quickly, our goal is to use this land not only as a way to grow local food, but to invite our neighbors into building a community space together.

Additionally, back in February, the OTRCC Lead Team relaunched the longstanding breakfast ministry. Now at 9:30 am, this meal is seeking to create a space in OTR where all people are able to interact as neighbors, peers and friends. Formerly, these meals relied heavily upon volunteers from partnering churches; they are now fully run by the local community. We have a few core leaders from OTRCC who make sure the breakfast is functioning each week, but the bulk of the work falls to anyone who shows up for the meal and who is willing to help!

Every person is encouraged to help with the meal AND sit at the table, regardless of where they live- an apartment, a house, or the street. In this way, we are stepping into God’s Kingdom where there truly is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, “Us” and “Them”; for we are all one in Christ Jesus! You can find a video of our new breakfast on the OTRCC website, otrcc.org, under “media”. All are welcome!

If you are interested in participating in any of the exciting things mentioned above or in OTRCC in general, please contact Pastor Ian Strickland at istrickland@hpcumc.org. And be sure to join the OTRCC email list at otrcc.org.

West Ohio Annual Conference 2016

The West Ohio Annual conference began with almost 3000 clergy and laity gathering at Lakeside, Ohio in early June.  Each day began with a powerful worship experience with preaching by Bishop Palmer and guest bishops from other conferences.  Holy Communion is celebrated.  Worship is an inspiring way to start each day, and it sets the tone for all of us to work together in the unity of the Spirit.

For me, the gift of being a lay delegate is to see the best of our connectional church.  It is about learning what our church is doing for mission and outreach in the state of Ohio, the U.S., and the world.  It is learning about new initiatives which the conference, districts, and the local church are doing to be the hands and feet of Christ to the world. It is seeing how others are serving to transform the world.

The business portion of the conference was non-controversial this year.  There were five recommendations which were discussed and voted on:  Finance and Administration; Equitable Compensation; Pension and Health Benefits; sale of Camp Asbury; and a study regarding the benefits and costs of the Missional Church Consultation Initiative.  Two years ago we started using the electronic voting process so the actual voting took a lot less time than in the past when we said “Yea or Nay”; raised our hands, or had a written ballot.  The administrative and parliamentary procedures may be cumbersome and sometimes tedious (at least for me), but the gift is that everyone has “voice and vote”, and we are part of the holy conferencing process, the solutions, and the future of the United Methodist Church.

We affirm the new clergy who are commissioned or ordained as local pastors, deacons, or elders (including our very own Pastor Ian Strickland at OTRCC).  New clergy appointments are announced by Bishop Palmer.  We celebrate the retiring clergy who have served us well for many years (although I don’t believe a pastor ever retires).  And we honor the saints and spouses who have gone before us with deep reverence and appreciation.  Certified lay ministers and other missional lay leaders in the West Ohio are recognized as well for their faithful service.

Every year I am moved when over 3000 people stand and sing the hymn, “Lift High the Cross.” And every year I cry as I sing this hymn.   I pray asking God what He wants me to let go of and how I am best to serve Him.  Let us all celebrate and sing, “Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim till all the world adore his sacred name.”

-submitted by Diane Weaver

I Choose You!

Close to 1,600 people were blessed through the five worship services offered Christmas Eve.  It was a wonderful evening of celebration, contemplation, and spiritual renewal.  At the 4:00 pm family service I shared my alternative text to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  I have been asked by a number of people to share the text with the congregation.  The following is my concluding comments Christmas Eve.

God breaks into our world and proclaims: I choose you!  Rudolph’s song is our song.  You know the beloved song of Rudolph; through the birth of Christ Jesus, God rewrites the song for you and me:

Children of God our creator
Unique in every way
You are God’s beloved
Despite what others say.

All of the other children
May bully and reject your claim
Calling you an outsider
Darkness and discouragement came.

On this foggy Christmas Eve
The angel comes to say:
People who have lost your way,
God has chosen you this day!

Oh how my life’s transformed then
Beloved by God this night.
Gifted and accepted
I am God’s redeemed ‘n loving light!

Join us this Sunday as we continue with our sermon series, Resolutions.  Through Jesus Christ, God broke into our world and offers us life, love, healing, and wholeness.  Everyday we choose how we respond to this gift.  Resolve in 2016 to live positively as you embrace God’s gift.

In Christ,
Doug

Bishop Colaw’s Thoughts on Worship @ 11

Bishop Emerson Colaw, who served as senior pastor here from
1961-1980, writes about Worship @ 11, a new expression of worship, which begins on Sunday, January 24:
I would like to speak to the place of a new and innovative approach to worship, different from any tried in the past, at Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church. The Church faces challenges in the 21st century unlike any in recent generations. It is gratifying to see that our church leadership is interested in overcoming these challenges and willing to try new ways to do so.

It is well to remember that Hyde Park is following the long tradition of Methodism to be progressive. In the day of John Wesley, there were many churches. But many people remained unchurched. Wesley began preaching and teaching in the open air. It was called “field preaching.” In its day, this was a new and innovative approach that connected to the masses and attracted many to the “class meetings” which eventually became a new church movement.

Methodism was transferred to this country at a time when there were, similarly, many churches. There came into being a style of spreading the gospel called “circuit riders.” Many of our present day churches are a result of these circuit riders, who rode their horses from village to village, to meet these rural residents with the gospel. We must be as responsive and innovative today in reaching a younger constituency. Fifty per cent of Methodists today are over the age of 55. We must find ways of reaching a younger generation, just as Wesley and Asbury strove to meet and attract with a spirit that has long characterized our church.

If we hope to connect with people who are not part of the church, we must meet them in a way that starts where they are. In Wesley’s day, it was in the fields as coal miners came out of the mines, or on horseback into every little village. We should be doing so today.

If we look through our hymnals, we will see that Charles Wesley wrote many of the hymns we hold dear. In fact, he wrote thousands of hymns but often chose “tavern tunes,” songs known by most as common bar-room songs, for the music of the hymns. He sought ways to connect the sacred message with the common person and found such in these well-known songs.

I urge our members to be supportive, encouraging and responsive to this new approach to worship. We are not going to abandon what historically made our congregation one of the strongest in the city. There will be traditional worship at 8:00 and 9:30 am. We will continue with everything that has made HPCUMC a great church. But we do have a long tradition of trying new approaches such as the development of our singles ministry back in the 1960’s. We began to offer a Christmas Eve service for families earlier than the 11:00 pm service when we learned young families could not make the later service. The opportunity before us to carry on this long tradition of trying new approaches may not be easy or simple. It never has been. But it is nothing new. As a bishop, I visited many churches and I found that the thriving churches were those that were willing to try something different to reach a new constituency.

It is important to add that nothing will be taken from us, but much will be added. I urge church members to be on the cutting edge as we traditionally have been and continue to expand what we have to offer the community. I know of no other church in the area that has a worship service just like the one being planned. There is great possibility before us. Part of the new reality is this: We were once among the top 3 churches in the West Ohio conference. This is no longer true. We must embrace change to carry our share of the challenge to reach the unchurched for Christ. Your support of this new ministry will encourage our church leadership and energize this opportunity to offer something new to our neighbors. I hope you will join me in doing so.

Hospitality and Connecting Ministries

Hope!

The Gospel of Luke tells us that Simeon was “righteous and devout . . . and the Holy Spirit rested on him” (Luke 2:25); consequently Simeon lived in hope. Upon seeing the infant Jesus, he praised God, with what we now call the song of Simeon:

“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)

Simeon’s song is our song in these waning days of Advent as we prepare for God to break through the darkness of our world. Making final preparations for the celebration of Christ Jesus’ birth, our waiting and preparing is grounded in hope. Modeling the hope of Simeon we:

  • Are confident that God’s peace is our peace.
  • Trust in God to bring healing and wholeness (Salvation).
  • We expect a Theophany (Theophany: a manifestation of God that is tangible to the human senses); we expect God to be revealed in our lives.

Hope is not a wished for reality. Hope in the Bible, Simeon’s hope, is expectant, and implies a confidence in God’s preferred reality that is to come. The hope of Simeon is the same hope that kept Moses going as he lead the Israelites to the promised land. It’s the same hope that kept the Disciples going after Jesus’ death. It’s the same hope that keeps you and me going in the dark days of life. It’s a hope that is grounded in the fact that it is God who created you, it is God who sustains you, and it is God who reveals God’s will to you; and it is a light illuminating the path you travel.

Simeon took Jesus in his arms, praised God and sang a song of Hope for all ages. As we travel these final days of Advent may Simeon’s song of hope facilitate God’s light and love breaking anew into our lives on Christmas! I look forward to seeing you in church on this fourth Sunday of Advent, and on Christmas Eve!

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Worship @ 11 Update

On Monday evening our greeters, ushers, and liturgists gathered for training and an information update. A detailed green handout, “Questions and Answers: Worship @ 11”” is available at the Welcome Center if you would like more information. A general update follows:

Vision: To reach more people for Christ by adding another option for Sunday morning worship.

First Service: January 24, 2016 in the sanctuary

History: After summer conversations in homes of members in 2014, our pastors cast a vision in the fall of 2014 which included the formation of a worship task force. The task force was asked to evaluate our current worship offerings and to seek ways that we could reach more people for Christ through worship. Congregational input gatherings were held in June to consider their proposal. The Servant Leadership Board voted unanimously to move forward with this new worship initiative.

Order of Worship: Prayers, scripture, a time for children, preaching from the senior pastors, and music will be included.

Music: Chris Schaljo, the director of “The Gift,” our instrumental and vocal team, will bring leadership to music incorporating contemporary Christian music, jazz, blues, and gospel music.

All are welcome: People of all ages are invited to “Come as you are;” dress up or dress casual.

Multi-media capacity: Two screens will be installed, the hardware casing mounted on the outside walls of the sanctuary. Professional engineers and architects have designed a way to carefully incorporate multi-media use in our beautiful sanctuary while the cross, altar, and stained glass windows remained unobstructed.

Servant Volunteer Needs: People to assist in set-up, sound and light crews, Power Point and camera operation are a few of the current needs. Please contact Chris Schaljo for details: cschaljo@hpcumc.org

May God open our hearts and our doors, working through servant volunteers, musicians, our members and staff so that new people will be welcomed into God’s house and experience the love, mercy, and grace of Jesus Christ.

Extraordinary Giving this Christmas Season!

As the Christmas season approaches and begins to ascend into full swing merriment, we would like to invite you to partner with us, in the spirit of giving, to support the Global Outreach ministries that we have here at our church.

We have a strong history of faithfully providing for our global partners in meeting the various needs that they have. We invite you to prayerfully seek in giving an extraordinary gift this Christmas season to the Global Outreach Ministry Partners at Hyde Park Community UMC.

In giving to our Christmas offering for Global Ministry Partners, you will be supporting:

The Samara United Methodist Church and the Volga District of Eurasia Central Conference, Russia.
The United Methodist Churches in Chemnitz, Freiberg, Plauen, and Augustusburg, Germany.
Faith Academy, Haiti.
The Henrys in Asia Minor.
The Henderson Settlement and Red Bird Mission, Kentucky.

Our specific goal for providing for the needs of all of our Global Ministry Partners is $60,000. With your generous support we will provide leadership training, education for those in poverty, supplies and staffing resources for health needs, as well as training and care for those who need support.

You can make your donation to the Global Ministry Partners by writing your check to Hyde Park Community UMC. Please use the enclosed envelope or mark your check Christmas Global Offering. Bring it with you to church or mail it to the church office. To provide the most assistance to our partners, we will use your gift where it can do the most good by combining it with the gifts of others to fulfill the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Your faithfulness in giving above and beyond this Christmas season may save the life of a person in Africa from malaria, enhance the lives of children in Haiti, provide a Christ-centered place of worship amidst predominantly atheistic surroundings in Russia and Germany, or help to maintain the health and wellness of Americans who have followed God into full-time missions in Asia Minor. Keep Christ at the center of your Christmas and into the New Year. Join us and be a part of making a difference.

In Christ,

Rev. Doug Johns & Sarah Putman
Co-Senior Pastor/Community Ministry & Global Outreach Ministry Assistant

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