Bishop Palmer Invites you into Conversation

In May of this year, the Council of Bishops voted on a recommendation from the Commission on the Way Forward re: United Methodism and human sexuality.  The Council of Bishops voted to recommend “The One Church Plan” to the special session of General Conference to be held in February, 2019 (to review the Council of Bishops decision, and read details of The One Church Plan, as well as the other two plans that were considered go to: umnews.org/en/news/bishops-propose-pl).

In an effort to communicate the decision/recommendation of the Council of Bishops to the West Ohio Conference, Bishop Palmer is going to travel across the Conference holding a series of gatherings, “I Believe in the Church”.  There will be two events in our District, Groesbeck UMC on September 5th; and Milford First UMC on September 25th. You are welcome to attend any event in the Conference, but participants are asked to register. To register, please go to the Conference website: westohioumc.org. At the top of the page there is a banner that scrolls various events. Click on the left or right arrow on the banner until you get to the “I Believe in the Church” and click. This will take you to the list of venues, click on the venue you wish to attend and follow the instructions.

This is your opportunity to hear from our Bishop, and the Bishop’s opportunity to hear from you.  There will be a lot of information from numerous sources leading up to the special session of General Conference, some reliable and some that are not.  Join your pastors at one of the evenings Bishop Palmer is in our District, and hear directly from one who was instrumental in the workings of both the Commission on the Way Forward and the workings of the Council of Bishops.

It is a privilege to serve in ministry with you; my door is always open for discussion.  Join your Pastors in prayer as we seek to be faithful to God’s calling, as a denomination, as a local church and as individual members of the body of Christ.  May God’s blessings abound as we place ourselves at the center of God’s will!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

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

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

DO JUSTICE, LOVE KINDNESS, and WALK HUMBLY WITH GOD

When the Prophet Micah proclaims “Do Justice”, Micah is not talking about “retributive” justice; but the “justice” of God: “Distributive Justice, and Restorative Righteousness.”  Recently HPCUMC launched a Justice Ministry.  I offer the following from the Leadership Team, and invite you to participate.

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

What Can I DO?

Justice Ministry Update

HPCUMC’s Justice Ministry is working hard with the AMOS Project to gather signatures for the Safe and Healthy Ohio Ballot Initiative.  This amendment will reduce mass incarceration and overburdened jails by reducing penalties for non-violent drug offenses and redirect resources toward mental health, drug treatment, rehabilitation and victims’ rights programs.  HPCUMC has committed to supply 750 signatures to get the initiative on the November ballot.  Here is how YOU can help:

Make sure you have signed the petition.  You will find an opportunity in the Welcome Center if you haven’t already!

Help us collect signatures.  To get an official petition book and instructions see Jill Colaw between services in the Welcome Center or contact her: jillcolaw@yahoo.com, or 513-265-1110.

Volunteer to take a shift at the Board of Elections May 8th.  The following is a link that will make it easy to sign up and let them know you can take a two hour shift: www.surveymonkey.com/r/5ZP8663

What Else Can I Do?

Vote on May 8!

If you’d like to be added to the Justice Ministry distribution list contact Janice Kummer: janicekumer@gmail.com or 513-439-2253.  We periodically send emails with opportunities to serve.

Make Knowledge and awareness a priority!  Social justice was Jesus’ mission and we are called as the body of Christ to work toward that end.  The Justice ministry has several exciting programs we will offer in the coming months.

We invite you to join us and “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.”

HPCUMC Justice Ministry Leadership Team

Jill/David Colaw, Janice/Stan Kummer, Joyce Miyasato, Jan Seymour, Cathie Shick

Leave A Legacy

Endowment programs have a positive impact on the life of a congregation.  Endowment programs offer families and individuals the opportunity to leave a legacy to their beloved church, a legacy that bears abundant fruit!

HPCUMC has been a transformative presence through the life-stages of many: birth, baptism, confirmation, graduation, marriage and death.  As a result, a deep and abiding love for our faith community has become the motivation for making a gift to the HPCUMC endowment, ensuring and enhancing the ministries of HPCUMC for future generations.

Hyde Park Community has been blessed by the foresight of those who have gone before us to leave such a legacy gift.  From the first gift, under the leadership of Bishop Emerson Colaw, to the 28 million dollar endowment it is today, the endowment has enhanced the vision and mission of HPCUMC.  From support of the facilities, to the support of our outreach/mission programs, and missionaries, the HPCUMC endowment has been a part of partnering with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. From scholarships awarded to our young adults in college to scholarships awarded to those interested in short term mission opportunities, the income from the HPCUMC endowment has been actively involved in making disciples and facilitating intellectual, and spiritual growth.

The beauty of the Endowment program is that no gift is too small. Whether $5 or one million dollars, the endowment program provides the opportunity for individuals and families to leave a legacy to the church they love.  We invite you to make a gift to the endowment, and/or including HPCUMC in your estate plans.  I would love to talk to you about your legacy gift.

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Embracing the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr

The life of Martin Luther King Jr. means many things to many people.  However, far too many forget that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a follower of Jesus Christ.  As an ordained pastor in the Baptist church, he stood firmly on the ground of the non-violent revolution Jesus began in the early years of the first century A.D.

The Rev. Peter Mathews, Pastor and Director of the Center for Global Renewal and Missions writes, “50 years later, 50 years after the tragic demise of Martin Luther King Jr. . .  50 years later are we any closer to living into King’s beloved community? . .  His faith was not only the source of his strength but also the fuel for his vision of a more humane planet.”

On Sunday, April 8, we partner with United Theological Seminary and the Center for Global Renewal and Missions as part of the Bishop Emerson Colaw Lecture series.  We welcome Ro Nita Hawes-Saunders, the Chief Executive Officer of the internationally acclaimed Dayton Contemporary Dance Company as we remember and honor the life and death of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 50 years ago.

Under the leadership of Ms. Hawes-Saunders, the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company adopted an innovative and revenue-producing business model by partnering with colleges and universities.  She also instituted “Women in Motion: Empowered by Dance”, a program that uses creative dance movement and informative lectures to address cardiovascular disease among African-American and Hispanic women.

Ms. Hawes-Saunders will remind us through word and dance of Jesus’ call to collaborate with God in God’s acts of new creation, and partner with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth as in heaven.  I look forward to seeing you in Church!

Through the Risen Christ,

Pastor Doug

Easter As New Creation

Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!  This simple, but yet profound proclamation is both personal and communal, and claims our place in creation and God’s acts of new creation!  It is a proclamation of victory, and at the same time a statement of faith.

As we proclaim: “Christ is risen, He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!” we affirm our participation in Christ’s resurrection.  As participants we are a new creation; as a new creation we participate in God’s acts of new creation.

Easter is about victory and collaboration.  It’s about restoration and reconciliation, new life and new beginnings. Bishop N.T. Wright in his book, co-written with Marcus Borg, The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions, reflects on the meaning of the resurrection of Jesus:

“The deepest meanings of the resurrection have to do with new creation. . .   It was the first day of God’s new week, the moment of sunrise after the long night, the time of new meetings, new meals, of reconciliation and new commissioning.  It was the beginning of the new creation. . .  What is done to the glory of God in the present is genuinely building for God’s future.  Acts of justice and mercy, the creation of beauty and the celebration of truth, deeds of love and the creation of communities of kindness and forgiveness – these all matter, and they matter forever.” (p.126)

The resurrection brings personal transformation, absolutely.  However, it is not exclusively personal.  To say “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!” is to say God is making all things new, and I am God’s partner in God’s acts of new creation. Alleluia!  I look forward to seeing you in church!

Through the Risen Christ,

Pastor Doug

So that God’s works might be revealed

In John 9:1-2 the disciples ask Jesus a question that has its roots in a theology that was prevalent in the early first century and is present in the early 21st century: our disabilities, illnesses and disasters are God’s punishment for our sin. Jesus taught his disciples and teaches you and me: God does not use our disabilities and illnesses as punishment for our sins, but God will redeem (claim as God’s own) our disabilities, and God’s works will be revealed through them.

In the man born blind encounter with Jesus we find Jesus takes us back to creation, all of who we are and are called to be is sacred, and unalterably connected to our Creator who says creation is “Very Good”; God’s works are revealed in God’s Beloved. John Philip Newell, 20th/21st century theologian helps us see this reality through the words of my favorite early church father, Irenaeus (130-202).

“Irenaeus taught that the whole of creation flows from the very ‘substance’ of God. . . . Irenaeus passionately taught that the substance of the earth and its creatures carries within itself the life of the Holy One. God, he said, is both ‘above us all and in us all.’ . . . The work of Jesus, he taught, was not to save us from our nature but to restore us to our nature and to bring us back into relationship with the deepest sound within creation. . . . Irenaeus sees Jesus not as speaking a new word but as uttering again the first word, this sound at the beginning and the heart of life.” (Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, Tuesday , March 13, 2018)

Irenaeus captures the core essence of who Jesus is and what Jesus teaches specifically in this account of the “man born blind”. Sinfulness does not cause our disabilities (and we all have them), but God redeems and uses our disabilities in such a way that God’s works are revealed, we find healing and possess abundant life, restored to our “nature.”   Like the “man born blind” we are awakened to this reality as we encounter Jesus, the Christ. I look forward to seeing you in church!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Faith and Science

It seems for centuries we’ve insisted on perpetuating a war between faith and science.  Implicitly or explicitly we’ve been told we have to pick a side.  However, recently the conversation has shifted and we are beginning to see a number of Theologians and Scientists come together and provide an alternative of both/and.

Bishop N.T. Wright in his book, Surprised by Scripture, writes about the debate that in many ways is unique to Americans:

“I want to point out that the way the science and religion debate is conducted and perceived in North America is significantly different from the ways analogous debates are conducted and perceived elsewhere . . .  I want to suggest that this is at least partly because of the essentially and explicitly Epicurean (Google if you don’t know anything about Epicureanism) underpinnings of the social self-understanding of the United States since the late eighteenth century – and that the standoff between science and religion in America is therefore analogous to, and indeed bound up at quite a deep level with, the standoff between church and state, or religion and politics, or however you like to put it, so that you can’t address one of these topics without implicitly addressing all of them. . .   I want to propose that we therefore need a much more radical rethink of the underlying worldviews we are dealing with than we have normally contemplated in our science and religion discussions.”  (P.2)

This “radical rethink”, unifying science and religion, is underway and we are better off because of it.  Thus, we welcome Science Mike this weekend as he helps move forward the conversation.

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Ask Science Mike!

On Saturday, February 10th, you will have an opportunity to participate in a seminar with Mike McHargue, internationally known as “Science Mike,” at Hyde Park Community.  On Sunday, February 11th, Science Mike will preach at all three services.  Dr. Evan Yeung, Chair of this Faith and Science event, sponsored by the Bishop Emerson and Jane Colaw Lecture/Leadership Endowment writes:

“Science Mike is a former fundamentalist Baptist deacon and Sunday school teacher who became an atheist for 2 years after a crisis of faith.  A profound experience brought him back to God, but in a very different way than before.   Science Mike cohosts The Liturgists Podcast, which is reshaping how the spiritually homeless and frustrated relate to God.  His bestselling debut book, Finding God in the Waves, has helped thousands understand the interplay between science and faith in the 21st century.

Thanks to the Bishop Emerson and Jane Colaw Lecture/Leadership Endowment Fund, HPCUMC is able to offer this event free to all attendees as a gift to the community.

Science Mike Live in Cincinnati will take place on Saturday, February 10, at 7:00 pm here in our sanctuary. Before the event there will be a free spaghetti dinner hosted by the UMW beginning at 5:30 pm, where donations will be taken for their missions in our community.”

Join us on Saturday, February 10th, and Sunday morning for worship, and invite a friend, relative, acquaintance or neighbor to join you!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug