Romania- Way of Faith UMC

Rev. Rares Calugar, Pastor of Way of Faith UMC, and the equivalent to our District Superintendent for the three United Methodist Churches in Romania, is visiting the United States January 12th-22nd, preaching at Hyde Park Community UMC, at all three services on January 14.  Pastor Rares has a passion for connecting with people labeled “less than” and “unworthy”.

Hyde Park Community UMC’s newest partnership is with Pastor Rares and the church he’s appointed to, The Way of Faith UMC church in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.  Way of Faith UMC is new to the UMC worldwide, and our partnership with them allows for their vision to become reality.

In 2017 we helped provide The Way of Faith UMC the opportunity for sustainability and growth within their programming. Alfa Grup is one of the main outreach missions for the church and its members. Working with the orphans in the city of Cluj and its surrounding villages (spanning about 90 km in any direction) is only possible if the group’s leadership has provision as well. Through our partnership, the program directors are able to continue to focus on building into the lives of orphans ranging from infancy through teenage years without worrying about whether they will have to find another job.

In 2017, HPCUMC committed $3,500, from the Christmas and Easter Global Ministry offering in support of the ministry of the Way of Faith UMC in Romania.  Your extravagant generosity to the Christmas and Easter offerings is an investment in the transformation of the lives of orphans in Cluj-Napoca, as well as encouragement and support of those who are on the front lines of working with them.  In addition, the Servant Leadership Board approved a grant from the Carl and Alice Bimel Endowment for support of the Alfa Grup.  Thank you for your support!

We welcome our Brother in Christ, Pastor Rares, and celebrate the many ways The Way of Life UMC is partnering with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  I look forward to seeing you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Home and Not Alone!

As we live into these final days of Advent we pray with the Psalmist, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10).  Our prayer is a prayer of anticipation and expectation as we welcome Christ Jesus in the home of our hearts, where God makes all things new and reminds us we are not alone.

As we travel these final days of Advent, we journey with Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem.  With expectancy we anticipate the birth of Christ Jesus in, through, and around us.  The following poem captures this expectant waiting:

Lo, in the silent night

A child to God is born

And all is brought again

That ere was lost or lorn.

Could but thy soul, O human,

Become a silent night!

God would be born in thee

And set all things aright. (15th Century)

As Father Richard Rohr says, “God cannot not love God’s universally-begotten child in you.”  I pray that in all our preparations we are able to prepare for God’s birthing and live in experiential knowledge of God’s love.  Knowing in heart and mind that we are not alone, indeed never alone, for Emanuel (God with us) has come!  I look forward to seeing you in Church!

Advent Blessings,

Pastor Doug

Your Presence through your Presents!

As we begin the season of Advent, preparing our hearts, and homes for Christmas, I uplift to you three very specific ways you can be present through your Christmas presents.

Alternative Christmas Giving

A gift for the one who has it all!  Hyde Park Community U.M.C. has offered “Alternative Christmas Giving” for a number of years.  This year Alternative Christmas Gifts have a duel focus: “Starter Essentials” for Respite Care; and Sunday School supplies for the Children’s ministry of Samara UMC, Russia.  With each $10 gift you will receive an ornament with a card stating: “A gift of Sunday school supplies for our partners in Samara, Russia, and “Starter Essentials” for Respite Care were given in your honor.”  Your presence through your present.

Christmas at Rothenberg

Every year we provide Christmas gifts for our children at Rothenberg.  This year we committed to purchase gifts for the third grade and special needs classes.  This past week we received a call for help with the preschool class (38 preschoolers). Please see the bulletin board across from the Welcome Center, choose an ornament or two, purchase the gift on the ornament, wrap it with a tag identifying the child, and return the gift to the office by December 13. Your presence through your present.

Global Mission Partner Christmas Offering

Annually we have an opportunity to make a financial contribution to the needs of our Global Mission Partners (Samara UMC, Russia; Cluj UMC, Romania; Faith Academy Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti; and The Red Bird Mission, Kentucky).  Your “Presence through your present” is an investment in God’s acts of “new creation” in places, and for people, we will never know; but know through our investment. Communities are transformed through the love of Jesus Christ!  Please use the offering envelope in the hymnal rack to make your gift.

May God bless you this Advent season as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.  See you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Blessed and Blessing!

This Sunday, November 19, we will gather, blessed and beloved children of God, and we will work as the body of Christ to package and deliver Thanksgiving meals, blessing God’s beloved.  Join us in this act of Thanks-Giving, your participation in this act of love is an offering of love grounded in gratitude.

As we gather around our Thanksgiving tables this week I share with you the following Thanksgiving message from our Bishop, Gregory Palmer:

Greetings, beloved in Christ Jesus,

As people in Christ, “every day is a day of Thanksgiving.” So for me, Thanksgiving Day serves as a reminder of the call and privilege of living a life of gratitude all the time. The Psalms of the Hebrew Bible and the letters of the New Testament are replete with the call and affirmation to express gratitude in every way we can. The writer to the Colossians puts it this way: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col. 3:17)

Anne Lamott is one of my favorite authors, and she offers this word on the power of thanks: “Gratitude begins in our hearts and then dovetails into behavior. It almost always makes you willing to be of service, which is where the joy resides. It means that you are willing to stop being such a jerk. When you are aware of all that has been given to you, in your lifetime and the past few days, it is hard not to be humbled, and pleased to give back. “

Joining you in giving and living thanks every day, I am, your servant in Christ Jesus,

Bishop Gregory V. Palmer

May your Thanksgiving celebration be a time of renewal as you claim your blessings and become a blessing!  See you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

The Higher Road

There is an expression we have heard and no doubt used when either explaining how we’ve handled, or are giving advice on how to handle, conflict: “Take the high road”.  Don’t stoop to the lowest common denominator; rise above the meanness, the nastiness, the viciousness.  The Apostle Paul puts it this way; let me show you a “more excellent way”.

“Take the high road”, what does the high road look like?  In the twelfth chapter of Romans, Paul provides an answer: Love, Zeal, Blessing, and Peace.  As we begin this sermon series on the twelfth chapter of Romans, Paul says “Let love be genuine”.  Contemporary Theologian and Roman Catholic priest, Richard Rohr writes, “St. Francis moved beyond the world that most of us inhabit.  He rebuilt the spiritual life on “love alone” and let go of the lower-level needs of social esteem, security, self-image, and manufacturing of persona. . . .  Love is both who you are and who you are still becoming.” (A Spring Within Us, page 364-365)  St. Francis models and encourages “The higher road”.

“Take the high road”, it begins with love; as God’s beloved we are empowered to love one another as we have been loved.  Romans 12: 9-12 provides the framework for higher road living; I look forward to our common journey, traveling on the “high road” to which we are called.  See you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

UMCOR: The First to Arrive and The Last to Leave

Beloved children of God in Texas, Florida, the southeast, Puerto Rico, and Mexico City have had their lives turned upside down by recent natural disasters.  UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) is the emergency relief arm of our denomination.  UMCOR is known for being the first to arrive and the last to leave when disaster hits anywhere in the world.  Julie Dwyer writes, “While Irma, Harvey and Maria dominate news headlines, the United Methodist Committee on Relief hasn’t forgotten about Matthew (September, 2016 devastating hurricane).  “We really are there for the long haul,” said the Rev. Russell Pierce, interim executive director of mission engagement and director of ‘The Advance’, the designated giving channel of The United Methodist Church.” (UMNS, 9/26/17)

Our West Ohio Communications team writes, “As disasters continue to make headlines, we invite you to continue remembering our neighbors in your prayers. At least 237 people have died in Mexico City from the 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Widespread destruction is visible across the city. Hurricane Maria has devastated Puerto Rico and other Caribbean Islands with catastrophic flooding. May we be resilient in our generosity of love and financial resources so that those impacted will know that they are indeed beloved children of God.”

As we begin our sermon series: “Light The Way” we have an opportunity to be the light of Christ to those in the shadow of these natural disasters.  Many of us have already offered financial support, however, if you are still looking for a way to help our sisters and brothers faced with disaster I invite you to give through The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR): Domestic Disaster Response Advance #901670 and International Disaster Response Advance #982450.  You can give on-line: www.umcor.com; write a check to the church: HPCUMC memo = Disaster Relief; or mail your check to: Advance GCFA, P.O. Box 9068, New York, N.Y.  10087-9068

It’s a joy to be a United Methodist, and a privilege to serve in ministry with you!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Possessing God’s Wisdom!

At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” (1 Kings 3:5)  Are you familiar with Solomon’s story, what he asks for and what he received?  God gave Solomon a blank check, and what did Solomon ask for?  Wisdom.  Read 1 Kings 3:1-12, a great story of not asking for what I want, but for what I need, and in turn receive blessing upon blessing.

God’s wisdom is available to all who seek God. Ultimately, we find in Solomon’s story God’s desire to anoint God’s beloved with God’s wisdom.  How?  God gives us the answer in the “Shema” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

Thus, when we understand and embrace that God alone is our God, give our “all” loving the Lord our God, the wisdom of God is ours and becomes profoundly real.  Richard Rohr in his book A Spring Within Us writes, “St. Bonaventure called God ‘A Fountain Fullness.’  Once we begin with outpouring love as the foundational pattern of reality and love as the very shape of God, then everything somehow has to fall into the same family resemblance.  If this is the Creator, then somehow this must be the DNA of all of the creatures.” (p.362-363)

Love is “the very shape of God”!  Like Solomon we are blessed with wisdom, and much more, when we with intentionality, love God with our all.  This is God’s gift to all who seek it.  I look forward to seeing you in Church as we seek God’s Wisdom, through what Jesus calls “the greatest commandment”, the “Shema”.

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

God is Calling

Hyde Park Community UMC is a faith community that believes in “gift based ministry”. God gifted you and me and calls each of us to specific tasks, ministries, and missions that utilize our giftedness in powerful and profound ways.  Hence, the weekly News and Happenings features “One and Done” Service Opportunities to help you connect our gifts in service (please see the need and respond accordingly).

God is calling! Specifically, is God calling you to use your gifts on the Servant Leadership Board?  The Servant Leadership Board is charged with guarding and championing the vision and mission of the congregation, strategically aligning our resources to share the love of Jesus to transform lives in our community, Cincinnati, and the world; engaging more people in ministry and mission, not meetings.

The Servant Leadership Board meets once a month (currently the second Monday of the month), additional responsibilities vary according to church programming.  Spiritual leadership is developed through a balance of loving (God and one another), learning (leadership development), and leading (making decisions that keep HPC aligned with the vision and mission).  The qualifications for serving on the Servant Leadership Board:

1) Be a member of Hyde Park Community UMC  for a minimum of one year; 2) Fulfill the membership vows of the United Methodist Church, supporting Hyde Park Community through prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness; 3) Possess a desire to serve Jesus Christ with excellence and demonstrate a history of this through prior service and current priorities; 4) Shall be of adult age (18 or older).

Is God calling you to use your gifts on the Servant Leadership Board?  Applications to serve on the Servant Leadership Board are available in the Welcome Center, and the church office.  Applications will be received through October 15.  If you have questions, please contact Pastor Cathy: cjohns@hpcumc.org or 513-979-8182.

God calls us to use our gifts in mission and ministry.  In whatever way you choose to serve, it is a joy and privilege to serve in ministry with you.  I look forward to seeing you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Commissioned!

We who claim to follow Jesus have been commissioned; over time it has become known as “The Great Commission” (Matthew 28: 16-20).  Webster’s New World Dictionary defines commission, “ An authorization to perform certain duties or tasks, or to take on certain powers; authority to act in behalf of another”.  Our commission from Jesus is an appointing, authorizing, and empowering to “teach all that I have commanded you” and baptize!

To this end Jesus left us with two commandments: “The Great Commandment”, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and first commandment” (Matthew 22:37-39).  The second commandment is the  “New Commandment”, “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:10-12).  Father Richard Rohr writes, “Love is what you were made for and love is who you are.” (Center for Action and Contemplation “A Flash of Love”, Wednesday, August 9, 2017).

We have been “commissioned”, and where did Jesus “appoint” us? The world. To whom did Jesus “authorize” us to speak? All people.  Given “authority” to do what? Teach what Jesus has commanded: Love God and love others as we have been loved.  “Love is what you were made for and love is who you are.”

In the wake of Charlottesville, VA.  The West Ohio Conference Bishop, Bishop Palmer, quoting Luke 19:41-42 writes, “these two verses, for reasons that I cannot concretely say, have come to me again and again.  I suspect it has everything to do with my confidence in a God and a Savior who is not far off but as near as our breath.  It is likely also because the God made known in Jesus Christ our Lord both weeps for us, and with us, especially when we have gone astray from God’s dream for us.  Finally, I suspect the text above is naming our apparent congenital blindness about the ways of peace.  May God help us.”  (A message from Bishop Palmer, Tuesday, August 15, 2017.  For the full text visit the West Ohio Conference website: www.westohioumc.org)

We are commissioned – authorized – empowered – anointed with authority – and appointed to go into the world and teach the way of love!  When we love as we have been loved, Dr. Seuss is right: “Oh the places you will go”!  See you in Church.

Love in Christ,

Pastor Doug

YOU CAN HELP

New Life Furniture provides household items to families in need in the Greater Cincinnati area.  The following is New Life Furniture’s mission statement:

  • We believe in the healing power of giving and receiving to empower communities to come together and support our most vulnerable populations.
  • We restore dignity and bring pride of ownership and confidence to those in need so they can be self-sufficient.
  • We make giving easy and fulfilling by picking up, transporting and cleaning your gently used furniture and delivering it to those in need.
  • We are the only nationally registered furniture bank in Southwest Ohio, striving to end the cycle of homelessness.

As one of our mission/outreach opportunities (primarily through Summer Impact, although we have various groups looking into connecting with N.L.F.), we offer this opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those most vulnerable in our community.

New Life Furniture is in need of essential items including: Mattresses, box springs, dressers, tables, sofas, chairs and other housewares.  For more information, vis their website, www.nlfurniture.org, or schedule a pickup at 513-313-0530.

We grow deeper as Disciples of Jesus Christ when we participate in outreach efforts that transform lives. Involved with New Life Furniture and our mission partners (2020, Center for Respite Care, Habitat for Humanity, IHN, MEAC, Rothenberg, Thanksgiving Baskets, Wesley Chapel Mission Center, Wesley Education Center and Wesley Community Services) we become God’s transformative presence.

I look forward to seeing you in Church as we seek to grow in the disciple making process for the transformation of the world.

In Christ,

Pastor Doug