Celebrating Summer Impact

Summer Impact is Hyde Park Community’s residential mission program in Cincinnati’s urban core.  Annually we invite youth groups to make Summer Impact their summer mission trip. This summer Hyde Park Community will provide 102 participants lodging, meals, evening worship lead by the Summer Impact Interns, and mission opportunities with the following mission partners: Wesley Chapel Mission Center, New Life Furniture, The Jubilee Project, Center for Respite Care, Stepping Stones, The Wesley Foundation in Cincinnati, with the hope to send groups to work with MEAC’s literacy program and Wesley Community Services.

Each year Hyde Park Community hires 3-5 Interns to assist Sarah Putman, Summer Impact Director, in leading our groups on the journey. Please make sure to read the Interns personal reflections of how God has been at work through Summer Impact.

Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church is living into our mission statement, “To share the Love of Jesus to transform Lives, Cincinnati, and the World” through our Summer Impact program.  I invite you to join me in praying for Summer Impact, the participants, the Interns and Director, and those we serve.  I look forward to seeing you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

The Power of Community

There are a number of clichés that describe the value of “community”, one of which is “united we stand, divided we fall.”  Although true, it is so overused that the power of the statement has been lost, or at best the meaning of its message has been fractured into multiple pieces.

Nonetheless, a life lived in a thriving, healthy, community is an empowered life!  Divided, alone, and isolated we actually do fall.  Throughout the Gospels, the foundation of Jesus’ teaching is “community”.  This was so significant to the followers of “The Way”  (later known as Christians) they developed a complex system of communal living (see Acts 4:32 ff.).  Although the communal lifestyle did not last (for reasons unknown to us), the need for community remains foundational.

Living in community means there is a time when I realize “the world doesn’t revolve around me”.   Richard Rohr in his book, “A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations” writes,

“Our life is not our own, yet, at some level, enlightened people know that their life has been given to them as a sacred trust.  They live in gratitude and confidence, and they try to let the flow continue through them.  They know that ‘love is repaid by love alone,’ as both St. Francis of Assisi and St Therese of Lisieux have said.” (p.134)

Thus, the “flow continues”, it begins as individuals – always flowing into “community”.  “Love is repaid by love!”  Therein lies the power of community, whether it is the local church, the neighborhood in which we live, the school we attend, or the world we are a part of; with gratitude and confidence we love as we have been loved!  I look forward to seeing you in Church as we are empowered and empower others through our community known as Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

A Life Well Lived!

A Life Well Lived!

Ecclesiastes is one of the books of the Bible many conveniently overlook.  Except for the opening of the third chapter (v.1-8) not many of us know anything about Ecclesiastes.  This Sunday we will help shed some light on the Wisdom of Solomon contained in Ecclesiastes, as we kick-off a 5-week sermon series on Ecclesiastes.  This week: what does it mean to live a “fulfilled” life?

I believe a number of us have heard jokes about arriving at the “pearly gates” of heaven only to be asked a question or two before gaining admission into heaven.  Recently I received an email that wasn’t a joke about gaining access to heaven, but a reflection of what a conversation with God might look like once we arrive at our eternal home.  It is a thought-provoking piece that can help us re-frame what a fulfilling life, here and now, looks like.

  • God won’t ask the square footage of your house; God will ask how many people you welcomed into your home.
  • God won’t ask about the clothes you had in your closet; God will ask how many you helped to clothe.
  • God won’t ask what your highest salary was; God will ask if you compromised your character to obtain it.
  • God won’t ask what your job title was; God will ask if you performed your job to the best of your ability.
  • God won’t ask how many friends you had; God will ask how many people to whom you were a friend.
  • God won’t ask in what neighborhood you lived; God will ask how you treated your neighbor.
  • God won’t ask about the color of your skin; God will ask about the content of your character.

Too often in life we put a wrong emphasis on the wrong things, believing “this” is what matters to God.  Micah summarizes what God requires/desires: “To do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)  Jesus summarizes the entirety of the law:  “‘you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. And a second is like it: ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-40)  Contained in these verses is the pathway to a fulfilling life.  I look forward to seeing you in Church where together we pursue a life well lived!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

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