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

Youth Sunday

In Ephesians 6, Paul admonishes us to put on the full armor of God so we are prepared to take our stand for God’s kingdom. There are spiritual battles that we face each day. This fight can sometimes feel overwhelming.

Students today face so many difficult things. Gossip and judgement. Bullying and violence. Addictions to substances, images, and screens of various sorts. Uncertainty about the future. Verbal or physical abuse. Lack of trust with family and other authorities. A general overscheduled and over stressed pace of life. Although the battle can be difficult, there is so much hope!

I am privileged to also see many students who are full of joy, compassion, intelligence, leadership, and hope. Throughout the year our amazing young adults encourage me so much and give me hope. For example, our students worked diligently to serve children and families in Haiti who had so little. It warms my heart to have spiritual conversations with our confirmation students as they wrestle with what they believe.

I was encouraged when our students strongly supported our campaign to fight malaria. In fact they are helping sponsor a 5k walk/run event on April 16th to raise funds for the campaign. If you want to get more information to be a financial sponsor for the race or sign up as a participant, you can go to www.hydeparkchurch.org/imaginenomalaria. Although there is a battle, our students can stand firm, grow in their faith, and make an impact for God’s kingdom.

Today at youth Sunday we celebrate the amazing gifts and talents of our students. I know that God is still moving in His church and we have a role to play as children of God.

We can celebrate that as children of God, we are not in the fight alone. We have each other and the very presence of God is with us. We can celebrate that as children of God; we have the tools necessary to sustain us during the battles we encounter. We celebrate that as children of God, we not only can overcome, but that we will be victorious.

Take a moment to encourage a young person today. Let them know they are valued. If you have a heart for students, contact me about how you can be involved in the student ministry at Hyde Park Community UMC. We are always looking for help in encouraging, teaching, and guiding our young people. Let us be prepared, stand firm, and know that God is with us.

Ken Miller

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,

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


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

Joy Abounds in Service

The heart for service and meeting needs runs deep in this congregation. Two seasonally appropriate areas where this has been most evident for me over the last two years in my position as the Community Ministry and Global Outreach Ministry Assistant have been in the Thanksgiving Baskets project and in providing Christmas gifts for the students at Rothenberg Preparatory Academy. The bounty and enthusiasm of responses to these two ministry areas impress me every year.

The Thanksgiving Baskets project began in 1991. Over the course of the last twenty-four years, HPCUMC has provided 7877 baskets to families in need of meals for Thanksgiving and raised over $350,000 to help fund the provision of these meals. Each year, we set up an assembly line in the parking lot to pack, in this year’s case, over 550 baskets to be picked up by agencies around the Cincinnati area or delivered to individual’s homes. While the logistics and set up of this process have been refined over the years, the heart and desire to provide food for families who would otherwise not be able to sit down to a Thanksgiving meal together has remained constant.

The Thanksgiving Baskets assembly and delivery is taking place today! If you would like to be part of something bigger than yourself and provide for families in need this Thanksgiving season, join us in the back parking lot for assembling at 10:30 am and/or delivery at 12:00 pm. The more hands and hearts we have involved in this ministry, the more joy and blessing abound in both our lives and in the lives of those for which we provide food.

The second seasonal serving endeavor whose response never ceases to amaze me is that of providing Christmas gifts to the students at Rothenberg. For the last five years, we have helped to provide Christmas gifts to the grades which we mentor at Rothenberg Preparatory Academy. This year, we have claimed responsibility for all of the 5th and 6th grade students – 95 in total. About one-third of these students have a mentor. The provision of the rest of these gifts falls to the congregation at HPCUMC, and you have yet to disappoint.

If you are interested in partnering with this ministry to provide gifts for the students at Rothenberg, please visit the Christmas tree in the Welcome Center. You will find ornaments with student’s names, gender, and wish list items (which should total around $20). Please take a (or multiple) ornament(s) from the tree, sign your name next to the student’s name(s) and provide contact information on the black board located to the right of the tree. Gifts are to be returned by December 6th to Sarah Putman in the main office. The joy on these student’s faces as we open gifts at our annual Christmas party with mentors and students is so encouraging.

Come be part of the joy that is given to families in our neighborhood and students in Over-the-Rhine. Help us continue to build a legacy of joy and provision to our neighbors.

Sarah Putman

Update on Worship @ 11

The vision: To reach more people for Christ, Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church is expanding our worship options on Sunday morning. The Servant Leadership Board, after receiving a proposal from the Worship Task Force in July 2015, voted to offer two traditional services(8:00 and 9:30 am) and a new option on Sunday morning: “Worship @ 11.”

The music: Chris Schaljo, who holds a masters degree from Oberlin College, Conservatory of Music, was hired in September as the Worship Leader/Producer for this new worship experience. “The Gift,” the new addition to our music ensembles, will lead worship, incorporating many styles including contemporary Christian, jazz, gospel, and global music. Occasionally, various choirs will be invited to help lead worship.

Multi-media: The Servant Leadership Board embraced the full report of the Worship Task Force, including the recommendation of adding screens and projectors to the sanctuary. Extreme care has been taken to explore all options, valuing the integrity of the beauty of the sanctuary, under the guidance of professional engineers and architects. When the screens are not in use, they will be nearly invisible. When the screens are in use, the stained glass window and the cross above the altar will still be visible.

Marketing and Evangelism: The marketing team is designing some creative ways to get the word out about our worship offerings. The hope is to attract new people to join us in worship by promoting all of our worship offerings including Taize, traditional worship, and Worship @ 11.

First Worship @ 11: The first service will be held shortly after the installation of the screens and projectors; the official start date is dependent on the schedules of the contractors. The first Worship @ 11 is tentatively set for late January 2016.

Ambassadors for Worship @ 11: Chris Schaljo, and a team of servants, is helping to prepare for this new worship offering. If you would like to serve as an Ambassador for Worship @ 11, please contact Chris at cschaljo@hpcumc.org.

Thank you for your prayers and support of the servant leaders and staff during this exciting chapter in the life of our church family! Stay tuned for more details.


Pastor Cathy