Join Us!

Hyde Park Community UMC will be sending a mission team to Samara United Methodist Church, Samara, Russia, June 22 – June 30, 2016. The mission team will be led by Kevin Betts and me.

Hyde Park Community UMC, and Samara UMC have been ministry partners since 1996. This trip will mark the 20th anniversary of our first trip to Samara. We will work alongside our Russian brothers and sisters in Samara UMC’s Helping Hand ministry, and be involved in other areas of outreach as directed by the Pastor of Samara UMC. In addition, we will be involved in some light renovation projects that will include painting. We will worship together, study together, and grow deeper in our relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, together.

Samara is the sixth largest city in Russia, with a population of 1.2 million people. Government support for those in need is very limited, and Samara UMC has stepped in to fill the gap. Through our partnership, we provide the spiritual, financial, and psychological help that sends the message, “you are not alone.”

This is a great opportunity to serve as the body of Christ and build relationships with our brothers and sisters from another culture. Join us, June 22 – June 30, 2016; we are in the final stages of putting together the Hyde Park Community Team, and we want to make sure you come with us!

Let me know if you have any questions, or would like to register for this life transforming experience; scholarships are available.

Other ways you can support our mission effort:

•We welcome your prayers. As the team from Hyde Park Community is assembled, pray that God will use each team member in powerful ways. Pray that all preparations align with God’s vision and calling. Pray that the ministry/outreach of Samara UMC brings healing and wholeness.

•Make a gift to the Global Outreach Lenten/Easter Offering (soon to come in your mail). The Lenten/Easter offering supports our mission partners, one of which is Samara UMC, and helps build the Hyde Park Community Mission Scholarship Fund. No one who feels called by God to join a mission team, should pass up an opportunity to participate because of lack of funds. It is a priority of Hyde Park Community to provide assistance as needed, and your generosity makes this possible.

May God’s blessings abound as together we make a difference in our community and in the world.

Pastor Doug

Light in the Darkness…

The Epiphany (Manifestation of the Lord) marks the end of the twelve days of Christmas (January 6). The Epiphany is an ancient celebration of the Church that predates the first official celebration of Christmas. Originally The Epiphany focused on the nativity, incarnation, and baptism of Christ. Thus, to this day the principal day of celebration for the Eastern Orthodox Church is January 6, not December 25.

However, today the focus of Epiphany, for the Western Church, is on the Magi (Three Kings), the gifts they gave to the Holy Family, and the light that lead them. Therefore, the principal symbol of The Epiphany is the star proclaiming the light that dispels the darkness. It is the manifestation (Epiphany) of the light of Christ to the Gentiles (represented in the Magi) that John talks about in his Gospel: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5)

Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan in their book, The First Christmas, write:

“Archbishop Oscar Romero, a twentieth-century Christian martyr killed by the powers that ruled El Salvador, once said that we are called to be Easter Christians in a Good Friday world, in a world still ruled by Herod and Caesar. So also we are called to be Christmas Christians in a world that still descends into darkness. But Good Friday and the descent of darkness do not have the final word – unless we let them.” (p. 243)

It is our choice to embrace the gift of light in the midst of darkness this Epiphany. As we remember God’s gift of light, through the incarnation of God in Christ Jesus, we embrace the fact that we are “Christmas Christians in a world that still descends into darkness”. We stand firm on the promise that the darkness will not overcome the light of Christ. Consequently, we too like the Magi, bow in homage presenting ourselves in love, and with joy commit ourselves to the work of God’s kingdom on earth.

Resolve to live joyfully in 2016 as we celebrate The Epiphany. My prayer is that you and I will embrace the light of Christ in the midst of the darkness and chaos that whirls around us!

In Christ,
Doug

Hope!

The Gospel of Luke tells us that Simeon was “righteous and devout . . . and the Holy Spirit rested on him” (Luke 2:25); consequently Simeon lived in hope. Upon seeing the infant Jesus, he praised God, with what we now call the song of Simeon:

“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)

Simeon’s song is our song in these waning days of Advent as we prepare for God to break through the darkness of our world. Making final preparations for the celebration of Christ Jesus’ birth, our waiting and preparing is grounded in hope. Modeling the hope of Simeon we:

  • Are confident that God’s peace is our peace.
  • Trust in God to bring healing and wholeness (Salvation).
  • We expect a Theophany (Theophany: a manifestation of God that is tangible to the human senses); we expect God to be revealed in our lives.

Hope is not a wished for reality. Hope in the Bible, Simeon’s hope, is expectant, and implies a confidence in God’s preferred reality that is to come. The hope of Simeon is the same hope that kept Moses going as he lead the Israelites to the promised land. It’s the same hope that kept the Disciples going after Jesus’ death. It’s the same hope that keeps you and me going in the dark days of life. It’s a hope that is grounded in the fact that it is God who created you, it is God who sustains you, and it is God who reveals God’s will to you; and it is a light illuminating the path you travel.

Simeon took Jesus in his arms, praised God and sang a song of Hope for all ages. As we travel these final days of Advent may Simeon’s song of hope facilitate God’s light and love breaking anew into our lives on Christmas! I look forward to seeing you in church on this fourth Sunday of Advent, and on Christmas Eve!

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Something for Everyone!

My sister Dianne has traveled the world for work, currently living in Shanghai, China. Dianne also loves to shop, wherever she may find herself, never passing up an opportunity to make a purchase, or two, or more. Dianne’s house could be a museum and her closets are full. Therein lies the Christmas gift dilemma, what do you get someone who has everything?

I’m sure I am not alone in asking this question. Indeed, I would like to believe that most everyone reading this article is faced with a similar dilemma. At Christmas, what do you get someone who has everything? How about saving the lives of children?

You are invited to participate in Hyde Park Community’s Alternative Christmas Giving. 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 eradicate malaria from the continent of Africa. By participating in the Alternative Christmas Giving program, a $10 donation will purchase a mosquito net, and save the life of two children.

According to recent statistics 430,000 of the reported 584,000 malaria deaths were children under the age of five. Every 60 seconds a child dies in Africa. The United Methodist Church has partnered with secular and sacred institutions to eradicate malaria from the continent of Africa; The United Methodist Church has committed $75 million. The Global Community effort involves a four-prong attack on malaria: Prevention through the use of bed nets, providing access to diagnostic tests and medicine, draining standing water and improving sanitation. Treatments ensuring clinics and hospitals have the diagnostic tests and treatment needed to save lives. Education Health care workers are trained to go door to door in remote communities to deliver and install bed nets and teach people how to use and care for the nets properly. Communication, using technology to reach millions with life-saving information about malaria.

What do you get that person that has everything? The eradication of a disease from a continent. You can make your donation to the Alternative Christmas Giving program in the Welcome Center Sunday mornings, or by stopping in the office during the week. With each gift you will receive a card that can be sent to the loved one being honored. May God bless you this Advent season as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Pilgrimage to the Holy Land Information Sharing

“I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’ Our feet are standing in your gates, Jerusalem.” (Psalm 122:1-2) It is a spiritually deep experience to stand in the gates of Jerusalem, sail on the Sea of Galilee, or remember your baptism in the river Jordan. These experiences will make for more than precious memories, but will energize the soul and fan the flame of God’s spirit within!

On November 7-16, 2016 Pastor Cathy and I will lead a spiritual pilgrimage to the Holy Land. We will visit sites sacred to the Judeo-Christian faith, read Scripture, sing songs of the faith, and walk where the patriarchs, Jesus, and His disciples walked. This Spiritual Pilgrimage will be transformational as the Bible comes alive, using all our senses as we encounter Holy sites of our Judeo-Christian faith tradition.

We invite you to join us for a life transforming spiritual pilgrimage to the Holy Land where we will experience the Bible come alive. Sunday, November 22, at 4:00 pm in the Welcome Center, Cathy and I will host a gathering to share information regarding the trip, an itinerary, and a time of question and answer. A similar informational meeting will be offered December 7, 6:30 pm, and Sunday, January 10, 4:00 pm.

Brochures for the Holy Land pilgrimage can be found in the literature racks throughout the church. If you can’t make one of the information gatherings and would like to discuss the pilgrimage, please email Cathy: cjohns@hpcumc.org, or me:
djohns@hpcumc.org. The land of the Bible is waiting. We look forward to making this journey with you. See you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Join Us…

Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church will be sending a mission team to Samara United Methodist Church in Samara, Russia, June 22 – June 30, 2016. The mission team will be lead by Kevin Betts and myself.

Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church, and Samara United Methodist Church have been ministry partners since 1996. This trip will mark the 20th anniversary of our first trip to Samara, Russia. We will work alongside our Russian brothers and sisters in Samara UMC’s Helping Hand ministry, and be involved in other areas of outreach as directed by the Pastor of Samara UMC. In addition we will be involved in some light renovation projects that will include painting. We will worship together, study together, and grow deeper in our relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, together.

Samara is the sixth largest city in Russia, with a population of 1.2 million people. Government support for those in need is very limited, and Samara UMC has stepped in to fill the gap. Through our partnership, we provide the spiritual, financial, and psychological help that sends the message: “you are not alone”.

Kevin Betts will hold Informational Meetings on Sunday November 8 at 11:00 am and 12:00 pm in the Welcome Center. If you are interested in finding out more about the trip please join us for a time of information sharing and dialogue on November 8.

This is a great opportunity to serve, as the body of Christ, in another culture. Join us, June 22 – June 30, 2016! Let me know if you have any questions. May God’s blessings abound, as we love others, as Christ Jesus loves us. See you in Church!

In Christ,
Doug Johns

Members and Friends of Hyde Park Community

With a grateful heart Cathy and I praise God, and give thanks for our shared ministry, and your commitment to this ministry. Reflecting upon the many ways God is at work at Hyde Park Community/Over-the-Rhine Community United Methodist Church, it is with a grateful heart we pray with King David:

“Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; . . .all things come from you, and of your own have we given you . . . I know, my God, that you search the heart, and take pleasure in uprightness; in the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you.” (from 1 Chronicles 29:11-17)

From Abraham to Moses to David and Jesus, God’s people embraced the fact that all we have comes from God, and belongs to God. Therefore, it was with a grateful heart that they “freely and joyously” offered God their tithes.

You will receive in the mail a brochure that outlines a wide range of ministries we celebrate at Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church; all made possible through your generosity in 2015. In addition one of the brochure panels is a 2016 commitment card.

We invite you to prayerfully consider how you will financially support the mission and ministry of Hyde Park Community/Over-The-Rhine Community United Methodist Church. With a grateful heart we invite you to join us in, “freely and joyously” committing the “tithe” (10% of your income), in 2016. If you are unable to commit to the tithe, we encourage you to take a percentage step towards tithing (see the chart in the brochure). Pray for God to guide your decision to invest sacrificially in the ministry of Jesus Christ; our prayers are with you!

Commitment Sunday is October 25. Please bring your commitment card to church with you, and together we will make our commitments to God in worship. If you are unable to be in Church October 25 please either mail, or bring your commitment to the church office. We count it a privilege to serve in ministry with you. See you in church, invite a friend, relative, acquaintance or neighbor to join you for worship!

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Attitude of Gratitude!

It’s been said, “The heart of the matter, is a matter of the heart!” In life there is much we have no control of; for many anxiety abounds because life is “out of control”. The one thing we have 100% control over is our attitude. Our attitude affects our spiritual, physical, and mental health. Attitude is a powerful force in relationships. Attitude affects the heart, and touches the soul. When it comes to “attitude”, the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart!

The attitude that will transform life more than any other is the attitude of gratitude. An attitude of gratitude will give us new eyes to see the world around us; a new strength to embrace the hardships before us; and a new joy that cannot be shaken or destroyed. Henri Nouwen writes,
Gratitude flows from the recognition that who we are and what we have are gifts to be received and shared. Gratitude releases us from the bonds of obligation and prepares us to offer ourselves freely and fully for the work of the kingdom. . . . The more we touch the intimate love of God which creates, sustains, and guides us, the more we recognize the multitude of fruits that come forth from that love. (A Spirituality of Fundraising, p. 57)

An attitude of gratitude frees us to experience a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit, and encounter anew the power of God’s love; so that, “coming and going, we can remain secure in God’s love with our hearts set joyfully on the kingdom.” (A Spirituality of Fundraising, p. 58) Possessing an attitude of gratitude we live into the reality of what it means to be created in the “image and likeness of God”!

“The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart”, with grateful hearts we are transformational agents in our culture, partners with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven!

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Amazing Grace!

“Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature’s night; thine eye diffused a quick-ening ray; I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; my chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed thee.” The fourth verse of Charles Wesley’s hymn “And Can It Be that I should Gain” reflects one of the pillars of Methodist theology: a life bathed in God’s grace!

John Wesley (1703-1791), the founding father of Methodism, and brother of Charles Wesley, says, “It was free grace that formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into him a living soul and stamped on that soul the image of God . . . The same free grace continues to us . . . for there is nothing we are, or have, or do which can deserve the least thing at God’s hand.”(John Wesley’s Little Instruction Book, page 34-35) God’s “means of grace” leads to a transformational experience of God’s grace. Transformed through the grace of God, we are compelled to partner with God in working to bring the kingdom of God on earth, as it is in heaven!

For the Wesley’s (John and Charles), and United Methodism today, Ephesians 2:8-10 defines our relationship with God, and our relationship with others:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” It’s God’s amazing grace that redeems, restores, and makes us whole. It’s God’s amazing grace that clothes us in love, to be ambassadors of love!

This week, “The Methodist Way: Understanding God’s Grace,” focuses on the stages of God’s grace as we live in relationship with God. Next week, “Living God’s Grace”, will focus on the fruits of God’s grace as we live in relationship with one another. Invite a friend, relative, acquaintance or neighbor to join you for worship!

In Christ,
Doug

Cultivating Friends

Created in God’s image we are “social beings”, meant to live in relationship with others. As a community of faith we are called to embrace the stranger in our midst, so that strangers become friends, friends become disciples of Jesus Christ, and disciples become agents of transformation. As Pastor Ian leads the faith community downtown, cultivating friends, building relationships, I share with you the following update and opportunity:

New Name . . . The New Church Start Launch Team, lead by Pastor Ian, is in the process of re-visioning, refocusing (re-branding), and strategically planning a way forward that embraces God’s preferred future.

Consequently, it has been decided to change the name of Nast Community to something that reflects the vision and mission of the Church in Over the Rhine. Pastor Ian writes:
“In all we do, we seek to be a church for our community. While our current name, ‘Nast Community Church’ has a rich and important history, it has unfortunately served as a road block to our ability to connect with many OTR residents. . . . Though we have no intention of losing our heritage as the birth of German Methodism, the reverence of history can become harmful when valued more than our current call to be a community church in Over the Rhine. Therefore, after weeks of collaboration among the Launch Team, we have decided to change our church name to ‘Over the Rhine Community Church. This name allows us to communicate who we are clearly and quickly to our neighborhood and larger community. While not exclusive to OTR, this name shows where our primary investment lies.”
Please pray for our brothers and sisters as they embrace new beginnings, and seek to embrace new friends in the Washington Park area of Over the Rhine.

Second Sunday on Main . . . Second Sunday on Main is a “Block Party” on Main St., between Liberty and 12th, September 13, Noon – 5:00 pm. Over The Rhine Community Church (Formally Nast Community) will host a “KidSquare” activity tent. If you are interested in volunteering,
contact Pastor Ian (istrickland@hpcumc.org), or Rev. Nancy Turner at Phrases@fuse.net.

I look forward to seeing you in Church. Invite a friend, relative, acquaintance, or a neighbor to join you.

In Christ,
Pastor Doug