Mission Team- Samara UMC in Russia

Hyde Park Community UMC will be sending a mission team to Samara United Methodist Church, Samara, Russia, January 1-8, 2018.  The mission team will be lead by Kevin Betts and Pastors Cathy and Doug.

We will join our brothers and sisters in Samara in celebrating the Orthodox Christmas, in addition to offering workshops on leadership development, and working with their Helping Hand ministry.  Through our partnership, we provide the spiritual, financial, and psychological help that sends the message: “you are not alone”.  We will worship together, study together, as we grow deeper in our relationship with God, and one another.

I look forward to seeing you in Church where together we are reminded we are beloved and blessed!

Blessed!

In the 12th chapter of Genesis we read about the blessing of Abram (name soon to be changed to Abraham).However, we not only read of Abram’s blessing, but his purpose: “I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” (Gen. 12:3). As God’s beloved not only are we chosen, we are blessed; not merely blessed, but blessed for a purpose!

Henri Nouwen in his book, Life of the Beloved, writes:

“The blessings that we give to each other are expressions of the blessing that rests on us from all eternity. It is the deepest affirmation of our true self.  It is not enough to be chosen. We also need an ongoing blessing that allows us to hear in an ever-new way that we belong to a loving God who will never leave us alone, but will remind us always that we are guided by love on every step of our lives…When we are thrown up and down by the little waves on the surface of our existence, we become easy victims of our manipulative world, but when we continue to hear the deep gentle voice that blesses us, we can walk through life with a stable sense of well-being and true belonging.” (p.72-73)

When we remember whose we are and who we are: Chosen by God – blessed and beloved by God, we are moved to love as we have been loved. Consequently, we participate in Christ’s resurrection, and become a “new creation”, participating with God in God’s “new creation”.

Richard Rohr writes, “The brilliant Anglican theologian, N.T. Wright, concludes that we have largely missed Paul’s major theme. . . . .  Wright believes the great and supreme idea of Paul is that the new temple of God is the human person.” (Daily Devotion, The Apostle Paul: The Evolution of the Temple, May 14, 2017).  Chosen and beloved, redeemed and baptized we are the temple of God, in whom the glory and power of God resides, and flows into the world (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).  Empowered, we become the Body of Christ to the world, partners with God, a conduit for God’s blessings, transforming the world around us. I look forward to seeing you in Church where together we are reminded we are beloved and blessed!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

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 fruit, fruit abundant!  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 26 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 $25 or two 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 with you about leaving a Legacy Gift to HPCUMC, and discuss how your legacy gift can make a difference.

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Peace

Jesus, post resurrection, enters the upper room and proclaims “Peace be with you.”  The word “peace” has different meanings depending upon context and culture.  What is this peace Jesus speaks of?

The “peace” Jesus invokes is more than the absence of anxiety and fear. It’s a peace that is contrary to the ways of the world and offers healing. Anointed in the peace of Jesus we experience healing and participate with God in the healing of others, our community and in the world.

The question becomes how do I move beyond the hearing of Jesus’ words and experience the peace Jesus offers?  Father Richard Rohr writes in his book, A Spring Within Us,

“To finally surrender ourselves to healing, we have to have three spaces opened up within us – and all at the same time: our opinionated head, our closed-down heart, and our defensive and defended body.  That is the summary work of spirituality . . . As you surely have heard before, religion is lived by people who are afraid of hell; spirituality is lived by people who have been through hell and come out enlightened. . . .  Honestly, it takes major surgery and much of one’s life for happiness, and their many forms of resistance to what is right in front of them.  This is the meat and muscle of the whole conversion process.” (p.246)

The peace Jesus offers, and sends His disciples to offer to others, is a peace that is juxtaposed to the peace the world offers.  It’s not the absence of war, violence, or conflict; it is the absence of injustice, hatred, and systemic evil.  To move beyond hearing and experience the peace Jesus offers we need to allow the peace of Jesus to open and transform our “opinionated head, our closed-down heart, and our defensive and defended body.”  Then and only then will we be able to live from the center of Christ’s “peace”.  Then and only then will we be full partners with God in God’s acts of “new creation”!  I look forward to seeing you in church as we seek to live the “peace” Jesus offers.

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Journey to Easter

This Easter season I invite you to prayerfully consider supporting our Global Ministry Partners. Your financial gift and prayers help sustain the passion and purpose of our partners. Your gift fulfills the Great Commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

If you would like to join in equipping our Global Partners, please make your donation by writing a check to Hyde Park Community UMC, “Easter Offering” on the memo line. Use the envelope in your Sunday bulletin, give online, or mail your check to the church office.

Your generosity changes lives around the world as our partners strive to meet the needs of the communities they serve:

Germany:   Our partners in Chemnitz, Germany continue to run their Checkpoint after school program for children.

Haiti:  Quality educations, as well as access to meals during the school day, are two of the primary goals of Faith Academy. Your financial donations will help to continue to provide both to children who otherwise would have to go without.

The Henrys:   We will continue to provide prayer and financial support for our missionaries in Asia Minor.

Kentucky:   In 2017, HPCUMC is teaming up with the University of Cincinnati’s Audiology Department to provide hearing aids to the people at Red Bird Mission Center.

Romania:  As we discern the details of a partnership, we’re focusing on leadership training, ministry with the Roma as well as Romanians, and work with orphans.

Russia:   With your generosity we are able to translate Christian education materials into Russian, help with the purchase of a church vehicle, and mentor Samara UM Church leaders. There is a Mission Trip planned for January 2018.  If you are interested in being part of the team, contact Kevin Betts or me.

The Easter offering is your opportunity to partner with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Thank you for your generosity, I look forward to seeing you in church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Bishop Emerson Colaw Lecture Series

On April 2 at the 9:30 & 11:00 am worship services,  Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church welcomes The Rev. Lisa Sharon Harper as we launch The Bishop Colaw Lecture series.  The lecture series is part of a new partnership with United Theological Seminary’s Center for Global Renewal and Mission.  The Bishop Emerson and Jane Colaw Lecture/Leadership Endowment fund underwrites the partnership.

Bishop Emerson Colaw served Hyde Park Community UMC as Senior Pastor for 19 years (1961-1980).  Elected a Bishop in 1980, Bishop Colaw served the Minnesota Annual Conference.  Upon his retirement Bishop Colaw became an Adjunct Professor and Interim President of United Theological Seminary.  In the early fall of 2016 Bishop Colaw, United Seminary, and I discussed and established the Bishop Emerson Colaw Lecture Series.

Dr. Kent Millard, President of United Theological Seminary, writes: “The First Bishop Colaw lecturer and speaker for United’s annual Vision to Victory ML King celebration will be Lisa Sharon Harper from New York City.  Rev. Harper received her master’s degree in human rights from Columbia University and ordination in the Evangelical Covenant Church.  Currently she is the chief church engagement officer for Sojourners magazine and speaks around the world on issues of faith, justice and peace.  She is the author of The Very Good Gospel (2016).”  Rev. Harper will speak at United Theological Seminary (4501 Denlinger Rd.  Dayton) Monday, April 3, on her book.  Dr. Millard invites all who are able to “attend and participate in a lively discussion about how we practice our faith in the world today.”

As we partner with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, we celebrate this new partnership. See you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

When Love Speaks!

As Jesus hung on the cross Jesus spoke: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Matthew 27:46). Feeling “forsaken” is something most of us have experienced in our lives.

When those days come, I offer this prayer from Dr. Leonard Sweet:

Draw me today into fresh encounters with Jesus, O God.
Make me a servant of love
so that others may know how much You love them
and I may know how much You love me.
Let me not be afraid of new pastures,
whether they be green or brown or parched.
And as I pass through whatever the day’s valleys,
keep my head lifted up to the mountain,
from whence my help comes.
Never let me forget the people Jesus welcomed…
   the greedy and the great,
   the bad and the good,
   the respected and the cheats.
Even as the world becomes more callous and chaotic,
may I never underestimate Your capacity
to fashion the miraculous from the monstrous,
even to make me a choice masterpiece
from the mire and the clay.
(written by Leonard Sweet, posted on Preach the Story. https://preachthestory.com)

Speaking these words from the cross, Jesus is teaching us the truth behind Psalm 22; God is with us, God is for us! I look forward to seeing you in Church.
In Christ,
Pastor Doug

By This They Will Know

In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)  This past week, seven members of Hyde Park Community were involved in giving and receiving love.  Our mission team spent time in prayer, worship, learning and loving, as we began the process of building relationships with our brothers and sisters in Romania.  The United Methodist Church in Romania is very young.  Yet they are on fire for Christ, joyfully embracing the principals of the founder of Methodism, John Wesley: Personal Piety and Social Holiness.

Consequently, from ministry to the Roma (Gypsy), who find it difficult to trust, to ministry with disenfranchised Romanian Orthodox and Atheists, our Romanian brothers and sisters have been living the love of Christ Jesus.  With intentionality, they draw people into relationship with God and neighbor.  From the youngest and most vulnerable of God’s children, to the oldest and most respected in the villages across Romania, the love of Christ is lived and taught.  Our brothers and sisters in Romania make it a priority to fulfill the two greatest Commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.”

The United Methodists in Romania offer the transforming love of God to all!  Every child, youth, young adult and adult is of value, worthy of God’s love. Under the leadership of Pastor Rares Calugar, the United Methodist Churches of Romania have become a constant and consistent presence reminding all people they are beloved children of God.

Our United Methodist brothers and sisters in Romania have made it a priority to partner with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  From inspiring worship that uplifts and sends out, to the Alpha Group Ministry in which passionate volunteers minister to children with special needs; girls once stuck in the sex slave trade have renewed expectation of a better life; youth who have lived in a cycle of despair now have hope. The Soul Family Ministry creates a loving one-on-one environment where mentoring takes place and souls touch and agree through the power of the holy spirit.  The United Methodist Church in Romania, small but powerful, is transforming lives.

I look forward to discerning how Hyde Park Community will partner with the United Methodist Churches of Romania.  On Sunday, March 19 our team will share with you their experience and impressions of our time in Romania.  I look forward to seeing you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Can You Help?

The United Methodist Church is a “Connectional Church”, each church is connected to the other.  Our connection manifests itself in many ways throughout the denomination: Mission and outreach; financial and human resources; and the appointment of Clergy.  The United Methodist Church has been able to live the words of John Wesley, “the world is my parish,” because of our connection.

In order for The United Methodist Church connection to function efficiently with excellence and vision, strategic processes are needed.  To this end our District Superintendent, The Rev. Dr. Todd Anderson, asks your help.  Dr. Anderson writes,

“We need your help as we prepare a District Strategic Plan. As United Methodist Church leaders, we are praying about and considering where God is leading us in the future. Your input will be helpful in the process of realizing our potential for future ministry, all for God’s Glory.  Below you will find a link to a survey that we would like as many United Methodists in the district to give their input. Please complete it for us at your earliest convenience and feel free to share it with your Ohio River Valley District United Methodist friends and colleagues. The survey will remain open through Tuesday, February 21, 2017.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ORVDCongregationSurvey

This survey is being administered by an independent organizational development and research firm, Measurement Resources Company.  All responses will be kept confidential and sent directly to Measurement Resources. Individual responses will not be shared with the Ohio River Valley District or congregation leaders. Your honest input is desired. Thank you for your participation!  Grace and peace.”

I invite you to participate in shaping the direction of the Ohio River Valley District, and to a certain extent, The West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church.  Can you help?  Please take a moment and complete the survey using the link above.  Together we make a difference in the world.  I look forward to seeing you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

All Things New!

With a New Year comes a heightened awareness of “newness” and of hope.  In these days of change and uncertainty, in a world that seems to be filled with discord, violence, and the inability to tone down the rhetoric, let us remember that hope remains; it is a hope that “does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)

Embracing this hope that is ours through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we partner with God in God’s acts of “new creation.”  As we remember the life and ministry of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., hear once again his encouraging words, and live into the challenge:  “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding a deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.  Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only love can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Bishop Gregory Palmer (Resident Bishop of the West Ohio Conference) wrote a few months ago, “I refuse to believe that we are hopeless or abandoned.  But failure to act courageously will only reinforce the perception that we are.  We must act now:

  • To change every conversation until it bends us and the world to not only acknowledging a shared humanity but embracing it;
  • To remove the scales from our eyes that hinder our seeing the connections between race, religion, poverty and violence;
  • To change legislative conversations so that we get common sense solutions, to change our vocabulary, not merely tone down our rhetoric.

God is calling us into a life of “new creation” as we begin a New Year.  Let us embrace God’s leading; empowered by the Spirit of our living God let us love, as Christ Jesus, our Lord, has loved us.  See you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug