We are excited to share Christmas with our Partners in Samara, Russia in just a few short weeks. From January 1-8, 2018 we will be visiting Samara to help with ongoing development and training at Samara UMC and the Volga District congregations to develop a stewardship and learning base.
When you were younger, who were influential people in your faith journey?
“The number one predictive factor as to whether or not a young Christian will retain his or her faith is whether that person has a meaningful relationship with an older Christian.” -D. Dyck
There is a temptation in the life of the Church to segregate the generations. However the Body of Christ is meant to be multi-generational as we work together to continue the work of Jesus in transforming the world. When generations collide – look out – great things will happen!
In today’s passage, Saint Paul shares how we are ALL adopted children of God. In God’s family, we are all equal and needed. What keeps us connected to the life of the Church is connection to the intergenerational family.
The people who have made the biggest impact on my life aren’t from my generation. C.S. Lewis said that friendship begins when one person says to another, “What! You too?” These highly valued relationships consist of mutual faith sharing, wisdom, wonder, and storytelling.
In a world where it seems that we are more divided than ever, what would it look like to reach out to someone in another generation in 2018? What would it look like to be willing to push through the discomfort, to be quick to listen and slow to speak, to seek common ground and appreciate differences? I’m confident that it would transform lives and bring the Kingdom of God closer to earth.
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!
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. And be sure to join the OTRCC email list at otrcc.org.
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
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.
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.
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!