Star of Wonder, Star of Light

“The Star” leads the Magi and their caravan to the Christ Child, and in transforming wonder lead them back into the world.  Likewise “The Star” leads and sends you and me, where we live out our calling to be the “Light of the world” (Matthew 5:14).

The Prophet Isaiah describes this “Great Light” that illumines and transforms (Isaiah 9:2-6).  It is a prophecy that holds in tension current reality and future deliverance.  Twentieth Century Theologian Jurgen Moltmann writes:

“Isaiah lets his vision of the birth of the child and the appearance of the pace of God shine like a light into the conflicts and experiences of real life. It is not easy to keep these dimensions together when one is used to splitting up faith and politics, to celebrate Christmas only in the heart and in the bosom of one’s own family.  But the message of the prophet is a realistic vision, and what it talks about is a visionary reality.  It is a message for the people, a message sent into the camps of the exiled, and into the slums of the poor.  It is a word against the captains of the arms industry and the fanatics of power.  If we really understand what it means, it bursts the bonds of Sunday worship.  For if this message really lays hold of us, it leads us to Jesus the liberator, and to the people who live in darkness and who are waiting for him – and for us.” (Watch for the Light, p.309-310)

As we celebrate The Epiphany – the day the Magi saw the light, encountered the Christ Child; and transformed returned to offer transformation to the world, let us make the journey as well.  As we begin a new year, let us be the liberating Body of Christ to the world; and the “Light of the world” to those who walk in darkness!  See you in Church!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Mission and Outreach

Join us in making a difference this Christmas. Historically our congregation has faithfully provided for the various needs of our global partners. Please prayerfully consider giving an extraordinary gift to our Global Outreach Ministry. 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. Our goal is $60,000 to meet the needs of our partners.

You can make your donation using the envelope provided in your pew and placing it in today’s offering or by mailing it to the church office (1345 Grace Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45208). Checks can be written to Hyde Park Community UMC with a note in the memo; Christmas Global Offering.

Your faithfulness in giving above and beyond this Christmas will enhance the lives of children in Haiti, provide a Christ-centered place of worship in Russia and Romania, 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.

In Christ,

Rev. Doug Johns, Co-Senior Pastor

Sarah Putman, Mission & Outreach Ministry Assistant

Abundant Living

Jesus states his purpose saying, “I came so that [you] may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).  As partners with God, in God’s acts of new creation, abundant life is experienced through how we give ourselves away; and both we and those we serve experience abundant living!

Michael Josephson in a piece titled, “Live A Life That Matters” writes:

“Ready or not, someday life will all come to an end.  There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.  Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.  It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.  So what will matter?  How will the value of your days be measured?  What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built, not what you got, but what you gave!  What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encourage others.  Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident, it’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.  Choose to live a life that matters.”

Abundant living becomes a reality as we “live a life that matters”. In this season of Thanks-Giving we express gratitude for our blessings; may we become a blessing to the world through our investment in God’s acts of new creation.

The finance team is in the final stages of putting together our 2019 budget.  Thank you to all of you who have made an investment in the mission and ministry of HPCUMC/OTRCC through your 2019 commitment.  To date we have received 253 commitments totaling $1,214,491.  For those of you who are still praying about your 2019 commitment, I am in prayer with you.  I encourage you to either go to our website and make your commitment online, or return a commitment card to the Church office (there are commitment cards in the literature racks around the church and in the church office).

I thank God daily for you, and count it a privilege to serve in ministry with you!  This Thanksgiving I praise God for the abundant living that is mine through Christ Jesus, and the abundant living we are able to offer others through our investment in God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Investing in the Kingdom of God

Jesus says, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and God’s righteousness, and all these other things will be given you as well.” (Matthew 6:33, NJB)

The words of Jesus connect our yearning, as expressed in the Lords prayer: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”, with God’s promise of blessing; Prayer and Partnership!  But what is this “kingdom of God” we pray for? It is a kingdom of abundance not scarcity, it is an investment in ensuring all God’s children have enough, it is investing in doing what is right, not settling for what is fair.

Henri Nouwen writes:

“Even a seemingly small act of generosity can grow into something far beyond what we could ever ask or imagine (see Ephesians 3:20): the creation of a community of love in this world and beyond this world; because wherever love grows, it is stronger than death (1 Corinthians 13:8).  So when we give ourselves to planting and nurturing love here on earth, our efforts will reach out beyond our own chronological existence.  Indeed, when we [financially investments in] the creation of a community of love, we are helping God build the kingdom. . . .  Paul is clear: Make love your aim” (1 Corinthians 14:1 NJB).”   

This is the nature of our partnership with God, expressed through the Lord’s prayer, and supported by our financial commitments: by helping God create communities of love, we are helping God build God’s kingdom.”  Our investments are a witness to our love of God, and those God Loves.  I invite you to watch the video on our website, hydeparkchurch.org, and hear the stories of how God’s Abundant Living has allowed HPCUMC to offer abundant living.   I look forward to seeing you in church as together we partner with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Abundant Living!

Jesus proclaims in the tenth chapter of John, “I came that [you] may have life, and have it abundantly.” In Acts 1 we are told to go and bear witness to this abundant life. I celebrate the multiple ways Hyde Park Community has borne witness to, and offered abundant life:

• Over 90 youth and adult servants offered the light of Christ to the most vulnerable in Cincinnati through Summer Impact.

• For the third year we sponsored a Summer Reading Camp for at risk elementary students grade 1-3.

• Our Preschool maintains the highest ranking in the State of Ohio (5 star), with 200 children enrolled.

• First Friday Nighters and Thursday Edition continue to be a foundational piece of our Senior Adult Ministry.  New programs include: “A Few Good Men and a Meal”, a time for men to gather for lunch and fellowship; “Friendly Visitors”, a ministry where members of the church give their time and presence to fellow members of HPC who are home bound.

• The Organ Concert Series begins its fifteenth season hosting internationally acclaimed concert artists.

• 136 of the 228 participants in the “Shipwrecked” Vacation Bible School were from the surrounding neighborhood.

• Partnership with Rothenberg Preparatory Academy, offering a beacon of love, support, and compassion through 3 different programs for volunteers to engage.

• Our Youth made an impact locally and globally during the “Made to Make a Difference Retreat; and traveling to the impoverished Sea Islands of South Carolina offered a hand up to those in need.

• The Young Adult Ministry has launched a number of opportunities for fellowship and study, and is flourishing.

• Over 1,000 HPC members/attendees are engaged in a study or connect group.

• Inspiring worship is offered weekly through music and the spoken word.

• The Hospitality Team welcomes our guests with a welcome lunch quarterly.

Thank you for witnessing to the abundant life in Christ through your financial generosity and gifts of time! It is a privilege to serve in ministry with you!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Be the Hands and Feet of Christ!

The weekend of September13th, Hurricane Florence devastated the eastern seaboard of the Carolinas, as well as a number of inland counties.  We’ve seen the pictures, and heard the news reports, and now it is the time to be the hands and feet of Christ to those who have experienced devastating loss.

When disaster hits, The United Methodist Committee On Relief (UMCOR) is often the first to arrive and the last to leave.  100% of funds donated are used for the relief effort of UMCOR.  More than 30 inches of rain fell on the Carolinas in a 5-day period, resulting in massive flooding and destruction of property, leaving thousands homeless.  The disaster response team of West Ohio Conference has offered the following ways you can help:

Prayer: Pray for those who have lost loved ones, pets, homes, businesses, and belongings due to Hurricane Florence.  Pray also for first responders and government officials who must make life and death decisions.

Donations: Give to UMCOR’s U.S. Disaster Response online:  umcor.org, click “support”, click “online” giving, click U.S. Disaster Relief.  You may also use one of the envelope in the pew racks: Make your check out to HPCUMC, Memo: U.S. Disaster Relief; mark the envelope U.S. Disaster Relief and place in the offering Plate.

Paul writes to the Corinthians:  “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.  Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26-27) 

Our brothers and sisters need our help; will we be the hands of feet of Christ in their time of need?

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Church Conference

The Servant Leadership Board, with the permission of the District Board of Church Location and Building, has set a Church Conference for today, September 16, at 4:30 pm in the Sanctuary.  The agenda for the Church Conference will be to:

Vote to support the recommendation of the Building Committee and the Servant Leadership Board and move forward with a capital campaign to raise funds to support implementing Phase One of the Master Plan.

Authorize the formation of a Capital Campaign Committee that will organize and conduct a capital campaign to raise the funds necessary to complete Phase One of the Master Plan.

All members have voice and vote.  Please join us as we consider the immediate and future needs of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church.  I look forward to seeing you on Sunday, September 16th at 4:30 pm here in the Sanctuary.

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Join Bishop Palmer for I Believe in the Church

In May of this year 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: www.umnews.org/en/news/court-docket-details-proposed-plans-for-umc.

This fall Bishop Palmer is holding “I Believe in the Church” events, for the purpose of communicating The Council of Bishops recommendation. All West Ohio United Methodists are encouraged to attend. Each event is Free, however, Pre-Registration is Required (for dinner and to receive printed materials). Dinner will start at 6:00p.m and programming will begin at 7:00 p.m and end at 8:30p.m.  The following locations are hosting events:

September 5 at Groesbeck UMC in Cincinnati

September 11 at Indian Run UMC in Dublin

September 12 at Peace UMC in Pickerington

September 25 at Milford First UMC in Milford

September 26 at Broad Street UMC in Columbus (downtown)

October 3 at Coburn UMC in Zanesville

October 8 at Kenton First UMC in Kenton

October 10 at Bowling Green First UMC in Bowling Green

October 16 at Sulphur Grove UMC in Dayton

October 17 at Trinity UMC in Chillicothe

Plan now to participate in one of the events. I look forward to seeing you in Church!

Through Christ

Pastor Doug

We Welcome Pastor Zak McIntyre

Over the past 2 months there have been a number of conversations with the District Superintendent, the Personnel Team of HPCUMC, and the leadership of OTRCC, to identify the right Pastor for OTRCC. Bishop Palmer in consultation with our District Superintendent, Todd Anderson, has appointed Zak McIntyre to the staff of HPCUMC as the Pastor of OTRCC, our second location in Over-the-Rhine. Zak’s official start date was August 15. Zak (a Local Pastor transfer from the Missouri Conference to the West Ohio Conference) possesses the necessary gifts and passion to embrace and lead the newly developed OTRCC Strategic Plan. Zak’s Bio follows:

I grew up, attended school and started my family in southeast Missouri. My wife, Robin, and I have been married for over 12 years, though we’ve been “together” since 8th grade! We moved to Southwest Ohio in the summer of 2016. In addition to my ministry, I work for Procter and Gamble. Robin teaches kindergarten in Springboro. We have two children, Sophie and Redic. Sophie is 12 and Redic is 9 and are in the 7th and 4th grades, respectively.

My years in ministry have taken various forms, but most recently I was a Preaching Pastor at Normandy UMC in Centerville, OH. Before that, I was an associate and new church start pastor in the Missouri Annual Conference. My passion lies in gathering people’s stories and helping them to connect with God’s story. I’m an avid reader, Apple fanboy, podcast junkie, horror movie aficionado, St. Louis Cardinals and Duke basketball fan.

Please introduce yourself to Zak when you have the opportunity. In addition, take a Sunday and visit OTRCC in worship and experience what we are doing together, one Church, two locations! May God’s blessings abound as we continue to strive to transform Lives, Cincinnati, and the World!

Through Christ,
Pastor Doug

God’s Steadfast Love Endures Forever

Psalm 136 is a Psalm of gratitude. An attitude of gratitude is life transforming, and moves us to proclaim with the Psalmist: “God’s steadfast love endures forever!” Consequently with a grateful heart I take this opportunity to say thank you for your acts of gratitude through your financial support of the mission and ministry of Hyde Park Community/Over The Rhine Community United Methodist Church. Through your generosity “God’s steadfast love endures forever!”  Because of your generosity, hospitality has been extended, and lives have been transformed . . .

Our Community Easter Egg Hunt offered an opportunity for our neighbors to experience the unconditional love of Hyde Park Community. 

Over 350 children, youth and adults experienced an amazing VBS: “Shipwrecked”.  The Church was transformed into God’s Island of love and acceptance.  Over the course of 5 days participants and volunteers experienced the transforming love of God. The children raised over $1,000 to supply the Faith Academy, Haiti, library with books.

20 adults participated in a Mission Trip to Haiti. The mission had a dual focus: 1). A Medical Mission – 5 doctors saw over 1,000 adults and children, and 2). Over 3,000 prescriptions were filled.

The annual Youth Mission Team traveled to Rural Mission, Johns Island, S.C.  Working in the rural areas of the Sea Islands of Charleston, our youth and adults extended love, care and support through home repair and renovations.

The Martz Scholarship Fund awarded 26 HPCUMC college students financial assistance (6 of the 26 are incoming freshmen).  The total awarded for the 2018-2019 school year is $78,500.

S.A.M. (Senior Adult Ministry) provided programing through First Friday Nighters and Thursday Edition.

Weekly worship connects God with God’s people, where we find renewal and strength through a fresh anointing of God’s spirit.

The fruit of your generosity is abundant, and “God’s steadfast love endures forever!” It’s a privilege to serve in ministry with you.  May God’s blessings abound as you choose a life of gratitude.

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug