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:, or me: 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,

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 (, or Rev. Nancy Turner at

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

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Ancient Wisdom for Today

Proverbs reminds us, “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever else you get, get insight. In the 21st century we’ve got it backwards: Get insight (knowledge) and whatever else you get, get wisdom. There’s a prevalent thought in society that wisdom comes with old age. Arguably, that is true; however, it is also true that one need not wait for old age before one gains wisdom. Wisdom that comes from God can be received at anytime, at any age.

It’s been said: “Knowledge is power”, and that may very well be true. But it is also true that Wisdom is power-full; annointed with God’s wisdom we are “power-filled”, empowered for life. Chuck Swindoll, in his book Wisdom for the Way writes:
“When we operate in the sphere of the wisdom of God,when it is at work in our minds and in our lives, we look at life through lenses of perception, and we respond to it in calm confidence. There’s a remarkable absence of fear. We are not seized with panic. . . . Why? Because we see it with God-given objectivity. And we handle it in God’s wisdom. . . . The wisdom of God gives us balance, strength, and insight. None of these is a natural trait, each is a by-product of wisdom.” (p.14-15)

There’s a difference between knowledge and wisdom. We can “know” a lot and yet remain captive to worry, uncertainty, and fear. Possessing God’s wisdom, we possess a certainty that overcomes our perceptions, and adds value to life.

Join us for our new sermon series: Lifelines: Ancient Wisdom for Today. See you in Church!

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Friends for the Journey

When it comes to the Apostle Paul, opinions of the man, and the theologian, span the spectrum. Author of thirteen of the twenty-seven New Testament books, we have a love/hate relationship with Paul. None the less, everyone needs a Paul in their life.

For Paul it was all about the proper attitude. Paul, despite his faults and failures, was a man who possessed an attitude grounded in God’s faithfulness, and an abiding trust in God to be faithful. The proper attitude is the difference between success and failure.

John Maxwell in his book, “Leadership Promises for Everyday” writes:
Author Denis Waitley says, ‘The winner’s edge is not in a gifted birth, in a high IQ, or in talent. The winner’s edge is in the attitude, not aptitude.’ . . . Plenty of talented teams never amount to anything because of the attitudes of their players.
Abilities + Attitudes = Result
Great Talent + Rotten Attitudes = Bad Team
Great Talent + Bad Attitudes = Average Team
Great Talent + Average Attitudes = Good Team
Great Talent + Good Attitudes = Great Team
If you want great results, you need good people with great talent and awesome attitudes.” (p.29)

Everyone needs that person in their life who refuses to allow the world/culture to rob them of a positive attitude; one who unashamedly trusts in God’s faithfulness and stands on God’s promises, and helps us do the same. See you in Church!

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Friends for the Journey

Before Israel had kings, they had judges, people who were anointed to lead the Jewish people and serve as the hand of God, according to God’s word and will. Deborah was a judge of Israel, a trusted and wise person who led the Israelites politically and spiritually. Deborah loved God and sought to protect those God loves. Deborah had your back! Every one needs a Deborah in their life.

Who’s your Deborah, the one you can count on to “have your back”? Who can you be a Deborah to? This Sunday we will have the opportunity to browse displays of our ministry partners who focus on children and youth. You’ll have an opportunity to talk with persons involved in these ministries, as well as sign up to be a part of what God is doing in our Urban Core as it effects the lives of children and youth.

This Sunday we uplift our “Champions For Urban Youth”! Hyde Park Community member, Bob Buechner writes:

Champions for Urban Youth Sunday celebrate the significant cooperation and volunteerism of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church with our urban youth. The desire of many of our parishioners is to be transformative in the lives of our inner city youth who are coming from very challenging backgrounds. There are a significant number of volunteer organizations that impact the lives of our urban youth – there are in school reading programs, after school programs, such as sport activities, and evening and Saturday volunteer activities. We celebrate the efforts of all individuals who have followed their passions to reach out to our urban youth. We encourage an open discussion of what types of activities exist so that we can all be informed of what opportunities are available, and we want to encourage others to be part of our efforts to make our community a better place in which to live.”

Deborah, wise, strong, and compassionate, we all need a Deborah in our lives; and God is calling you and me to be a Deborah to someone else. I look forward to seeing you this Sunday!

Love in Christ,
Pastor Doug