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

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