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

All Things New!

Happy New Year!  With a new year comes new beginnings.

John Wesley, founder of Methodism, created a “Covenant Service” in 1755 to guide the faithful in the re-committing of themselves to God and God’s leading.  Today, the “Covenant Service” is most commonly held on New Year’s Eve or Day.  At the heart of the service is Wesley’s Covenant prayer:

I am no longer my own, but thine.

Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,

Exalted for thee or brought low by thee.

Let me be full, let me be empty.

Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.

And now, O glorious and blessed God,

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

thou art mine, and I am thine.  So be it.

And the covenant, which I have made on earth,

let it be ratified in heaven. 

Amen.

As we begin a new year, I encourage you to commit 2017 to God, commit to deepening your relationship with God and others.  We serve a God who makes all things new.  Let us commit ourselves to partner with God in God’s acts of new creation.  I look forward to seeing you in Church as we lean into God’s new creation in a new year!

Pastor Doug

Making the Journey

Often in life we find ourselves on a journey not of our own choosing: The unexpected happens, interruptions barge into an all ready packed calendar, plans made with intentionality and care suddenly need to be altered.  The events surrounding the birth of Jesus remind us that we are not alone; Mary and Joseph found themselves on a journey they had not planned.  Likewise, the Wise Men found themselves on a journey, not knowing the outcome, but knowing it was a journey they must make.

Mary’s journey with Jesus took her to mountaintops of joy and valleys of despair. Many times the journey Mary found herself on were not of her own planning, nor were they what she expected, and often did not want to make.  Adam Hamilton in his devotional, The Journey, writes:

“Like Mary, all of us find ourselves forced to take journeys we do not wish to make.  These journeys are not prescribed by God but by life’s circumstances or the will of others.  In the midst of them, we may be disappointed, wonder if we’ve been abandoned by God, or simply feel confused as to why we’ve had to travel such roads.  Perhaps Mary felt some of these same emotions on the journey to Bethlehem.” (p.106)

No matter the journey we find ourselves on, we, like Mary, can embrace God’s presence in the journey.  Like Mary, we embrace our God who delivers, sustains, and empowers, knowing, “God has a way of bringing good from disappointment, suffering and pain.”  Like the Wise Men we can make the journey, and when all is said and done experience “overwhelming joy!”

As we continue the journey to the manger this Advent season, let God direct your path, empower your steps, and lead you to that place of peace; yes, peace even in the midst of chaos!  I look forward to seeing you in Church as we make the journey together!

Advent/Christmas Blessings,

Pastor Doug

Perfect Christmas Gift!

I am sure I am not alone in asking the question: What do you get someone who has everything for Christmas?  Our Alternative Christmas Giving has the answer: The transformation of a life!  Hyde Park Community U.M.C. has offered “Alternative Christmas Giving” for a number of years.  This year Alternative Christmas Giving donations will go to help provide much needed Christian curriculum translated into Russian.  By participating in the Alternative Christmas Giving program, a $10 donation will cover the cost of printing one book.

God is raising up new leaders in countries with long histories of persecuting Christians.  The emerging churches in countries like Russia mirrors the churches described in the book of Acts in the first century.  For over 70 years Christianity was forbidden in Russia. With the fall of communism the United Methodist Church was provided the opportunity to form faith communities based on the Wesleyan understanding of Grace.

The United Methodist Church in Russia, and other eastern block nations, is a very young church.  The leadership of Samara UMC is pleading for their brothers and sisters in the west to teach, guide, and mentor.  They yearn for resources in their language to be used in training leaders, and discipleship resources to assist in deepening their walk with God through Jesus Christ.

As HPCUMC deepens our relationship with Samara UMC we have committed to help the Samara UMC translate resources in leadership development, marriage and family, divorce care, and youth/young adult ministry.   Your Alternative Christmas Gift of $10 will go a long way in equipping our Christian brothers and sisters in Samara for mission and ministry.  With each donation of $10 or more you will receive a Christmas card to give to your loved one acknowledging the gift.

You can make your donation to the Alternative Christmas Giving program in the Welcome Center Sunday mornings, or stop in the office during the week.  May God bless you this Advent season as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Investing in Mission and Ministry

The ministry and outreach of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church is  healthy.  Our mission is to “Share the love of Jesus to transform Lives, Cincinnati, and the World”.  It is bearing fruit in ways seen and unseen, touching people that we know by name and have never met.  Your financial investment in the mission and ministry of Hyde Park Community has ensured this current reality.  We celebrate how God has been at work in our lives this past year, and seek to follow where God is leading us in 2017.

On October 23 we were invited to make our 2017 financial commitments to God in worship.  Our worship was a celebration of God’s blessings and a response to God’s calling to be a blessing.  The commitments received to date bear witness to the generous hearts, and giving spirit of Hyde Park Community!

If you were unable to join us on October 23, or have not been able to make your 2017 financial commitment I invite you to prayerfully consider how you will support the mission and ministry of Hyde Park Community through your financial resources.  If you have already turned in your 2017 commitment, Thank You!  Thank you for your willingness to partner with God in the “marriage of heaven and earth”!

Through your extravagant generosity the broken are healed, the hungry are fe/d; children are encouraged and mentored, and our relationship with God and one another deepen.  Lives are transformed!  I look forward to where God is leading Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church in 2017, and count it a privilege to make the journey with you!  May God’s blessings abound as we commit ourselves to God’s calling.  I look forward to seeing you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Church Conference and the Master Plan

On November 6 at 4:00 pm, Hyde Park Community/Over The Rhine Community United Methodist Church will hold our Annual Church Conference in the sanctuary.  The Annual Church Conference reviews the membership roll, elects the church leadership, sets the salary for the pastoral staff, and other items as needed.  On November 6, in addition to the above, Hyde Park Community will vote on moving forward with the Master Plan.

In 2013 Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church received, and approved, a recommendation from The Armstrong Group to:  “create a long term Master Plan with associated costing to lay a roadmap for future capital projects to meet evolving ministry and missional needs.”  Shortly after the decision was made, The MSA Architectural firm was engaged to lead HPCUMC in the creation of a Master Plan.

Late fall 2015 MSA Architects presented their report to the Servant Leadership Board, and with input from the Facilities Team the Servant Leadership Board approved the Master Plan as our road map into the future, aligning our facilities with our mission and ministry.  On November 6 the Church Conference will be asked to approve the formation of a building committee to phase the Master Plan, and create a plan for implementing the first phase; which includes, but is not limited to, a timeline, architectural and funding plans.

Every member of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church is a voting member of the Church Conference.  Join us on November 6 at 4:00 pm in the Sanctuary, as we celebrate the ministry and mission of HPCUMC/OTRCC, and take this exciting step forward, living into our Master Plan. I look forward to seeing you at our Church Conference, may God’s blessings abound as we strive to be faithful to God’s calling.

Prayer Labyrinth Re-Installed!

The Prayer Labyrinth, first put in use at the Erie facility, has found a new home at the Grace and Observatory location.  As you turn from Observatory onto Meier you will see the prayer labyrinth in the yard adjacent to the chapel.  When the Erie building was sold, the prayer labyrinth was disassembled and stored in the Peebles house garage.  The property team earlier this year approved the reinstallation of the prayer labyrinth at the current location.

What is a “prayer labyrinth”?  “A prayer labyrinth is a labyrinth used to facilitate prayer, meditation, and spiritual transformation.” The most famous prayer labyrinth is located in the cathedral of Chartres, France.  While prayer labyrinths have been used in Catholic cathedrals for centuries, the past decade has seen a resurgence in their popularity among mainline protestant denominations.

The prayer labyrinth (a gift to Hyde Park Community from one of our members) is an addition to the many ways a person can engage in the life of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church.  As individuals and groups use the prayer labyrinth in their discipleship journey, they find clarity of the call to love God, love neighbor, and love as Christ Jesus has loved us.  God speaks into our lives to participate in the mission of Hyde Park Community: To share the love of Jesus to transform lives, Cincinnati and the world!

I pray, in the days ahead, you will be able to enjoy the prayer labyrinth as an individual or as part of a group, and that it enriches your relationship with God and others!  See you in Church.

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

The Marriage of Heaven and Earth

Jesus often taught about the kingdom of God.  The kingdom of God was not something afar and otherworldly; the Kingdom of God is here and now.  As beloved Children of God we are called, encouraged, coaxed into a relationship with God that leads to our participation in God’s “new creation.”  Begun at Jesus’ resurrection, God’s new creation continues through you and me; “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

As partners with God in revealing God’s new creation, we are participants in the Marriage of heaven and earth. Thus, the kingdom of God is a reality that we lean into as we love God, and we love those whom God loves. However, too often our human condition gets in the way.  Father Richard Rohr says it best, we live in a “winner-takes-all society” and we’ve embraced the secular teaching, “dignity must always be ‘acquired’ and earned”.

Father Rohr says, “We live in an affluent society that’s always expecting more, wanting more, and believes it even deserves more. But the more we own, ironically enough, the less we enjoy . . ..  If you don’t live from within your own center of connection and communion, you’ll go spinning around things.” (Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, Tuesday, October 4, 2016)  As we love God with all of who we are: our finances, our time; in our work and relationships we love holding onto hope, a hope that draws us back to the center of who we are, God’s beloved.  It is in this hope, grounded in God’s love, that we begin to experience God’s new creation and become partners in revealing God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven!

All that we have, and all of who we are belongs to God, When we live life from the center of this reality, we possess a peace that the world cannot give, nor take away; we possess a joy that transcends our circumstances; we are a new creation participating in God’s new creation!  See you in church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug