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

Shalom XX Coalition Habitat House Update

Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church has been involved with the Shalom Coalition Habitat for Humanity since its inception over 19 years ago. This year the Shalom Coalition plans to build the 20th home. In celebration of Shalom XX, Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church has committed $25,000.

The Community Ministry and Global Outreach team budgeted $5,000, and the challenge to the congregation was to raise an additional $20,000 from May 24 to June 14. The total cost to build Shalom XX is $90,000.

To date, we have raised $14,300! Thank you for your generosity as we partner with other churches and individuals to make Shalom XX a reality! You have responded in a powerful way to God’s call to be a transforming presence in our community.

If your intention was to give to Shalom XX, but have not yet done so, it is not too late. Please write your check to HPCUMC, and write in the memo line (and/or on the envelope) Habitat Shalom XX.

Together we make a difference. May God’s blessings abound as we partner with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven! See you in Church!

Love in Christ,
Pastor Doug

Celebration of Ministry- SueLee Jin

Today, Hyde Park Community UMC will celebrate the ministry of SueLee Jin. SueLee has been an integral part of the life and mission of the church for over five years, most recently serving as the Pastor for Congregational Care and Hospitality. On Sunday mornings, SueLee was always looking for a first time visitor to welcome with warm smile. She has been instrumental in starting our expanding prayer and healing services and activities for first time visitors.

Today is SueLee’s last Sunday at HPCUMC. We will recognize her ministry during worship and celebrate in the Welcome Center between services. There are baskets for you to leave her cards or special love offerings. There is also a large poster for you to add your good wishes and prayers.

We are grateful for all the contributions SueLee has made in our life together in Christ and for all the wonderful relationships she has nurtured in our church community. Our prayers go with her as she listens for God’s call on her ministry.

In Christ,
Rev. Cathy Johns and Rev. Doug Johns

Anointed Beloved Chosen!

God is never satisfied with the status quo. God is always moving forward, creating and re-creating, anointing and empowering God’s beloved. We are God’s beloved, chosen and blessed! However, too often we are pre-occupied with clinging to the old, and unable to embrace the “Newness” God has to offer. Richard Rohr in his book, Eager to Love, quotes Neale Donald Walsch:

“Yearning for a new way will not produce it. Only ending the old way can do that. You cannot hold onto the old, all the while declaring that you want something new. The old will defy the new; the old will deny the new; the old will decry the new. There is only one way to bring in the new. You must make room for it. (page Xiii)

As we strive to make our way in life, God’s grace is abundant, God’s mercy is wide and God’s love is unconditional. As we make the journey with Jesus Christ at the center of life, we make room for the new; remembering the words of Paul: we are a new creation! This is something that God alone does; it’s all about God!

When we allow God to do a new thing in us, we experience the majesty of God. Experiencing the majesty of God, life is transformed, and our joy is made complete. This Sunday we start a new sermon series: “It’s All About God”. Let us move beyond “yearning for a new way”, and make room for a new way through a fresh anointing of God’s spirit, experiencing the fullness of God’s majesty.

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

With Glad and Generous Hearts

We read in the second chapter of Acts that the followers of “The Way” (followers of Jesus) met daily in the temple, broke bread together, praised God together, and reached out in concern and service to all people with “glad and generous hearts”! As followers of Jesus Christ in the 21st century, are we able to say the same?

This morning Dr. Brian McClaren, prominent Christian theologian, author, speaker and pastor, will preach at the 9:30 and 11:00 am worship services (Sponsored by The Emerson and Jane Colaw Lectureship Endowment Fund). Dr. McClaren will preach on Acts 2:40-47, sermon titled: “We Make the Road by Walking”.

Because Jesus lives, we live with “glad and generous hearts,” and the alleluias of Easter transform life. As the hymn proclaims; ” Because Jesus lives I can face tomorrow; because he lives all fear is gone! ” Join us this Sunday as we continue to celebrate the resurrection of Christ Jesus. Invite a friend, relative, acquaintance or neighbor to join you!

Sharing a Joy . . . I take this opportunity to share with you a joy, in the form of an update. Last year early June, our chiller went down. Over the past ten months the Property Team has performed the due diligence necessary to install a new chiller.

With joy I can report that the work began April 6. The Property Team reports: “Work is progressing well on the Chiller and Electrical Upgrade infrastructure project. The electrical service/infrastructure upgrades are underway . . . Rooftop work for the new air conditioning condenser units is progressing. Components for the new expandable chiller system and piping upgrades are on-site and are being installed by the contractor.” The work should be completed by the fourth week of May. Although the completion date has the potential to take us into the early days of high temperatures and high humidity, I encourage you to join me in praying for patience as the project is completed!

Thank you for your “glad and generous hearts” that have supported this project with your patience, prayers, and your financial gifts. Thank you to the Property Team and their tireless efforts in moving the project forward to completion.

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Identity Theft

Identity theft is a real problem; hacked servers of medical providers, insurance companies, and major retail stores have put thousands at risk.  Social Security numbers in the wrong hands will negatively affect our identity, as well as potentially destroy life as we know it.  However, identity theft is not limited to the physical world but extends to our spiritual identities as well.

We are created in God’s image, male and female God created us, and God said we are “very good”.  We are children of God; God is our God and we are God’s people.  However, possessing free will we often find ourselves chasing life’s diversions, consequently experiencing “spiritual” identity theft.

The good news is that God, through Jesus Christ, provides a way back, offers restoration, and restores my true identity, not because of what I have done, but what God does for/in me!  Chuck Swindoll in his book, Wisdom for the Way writes:

God has entrusted to us a great deal. . . .  God is trusting in us to trust in God.  Yet God knows our fears as well, otherwise God wouldn’t assure us so often of God’s purposes and God’s presence.

We feel hurt and alone – God assures us God cares.  We feel angry and resentful – God provides wisdom and strength.  We feel ashamed – God promises to supply all our needs.  Our God is uniquely and ultimately trustworthy! (page 256)

Through the resurrection, Jesus’ victory is our victory.  Because He lives, my identity is redeemed!  Trusting in the “Spirit of our living God” we find God trustworthy.   Today we continue to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and our identity in Him, because He lives. Invite a friend, relative, acquaintance or neighbor to join you!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Your Kingdom Come

We pray: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. The reality is that God’s answer to our prayer is dependent upon our willingness to collaborate with God to make it happen. From our children’s ministry to our youth ministry; from our small groups to Sunday School classes; from our shared worship opportunities, and our music ministry, to our prayer and healing ministry, and hospitality ministries; from our outreach opportunities, to our mission partners, and the United Methodist Women, we collaborate with God in extending God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

Annually, our Bishop and his Cabinet (the 8 District Superintendents) ask every local church to set “Breakthrough Goals”. The “Breakthrough Goals” provide the framework for developing strategies to achieve the goals set, based on the “Five Fruitful Practices”: Passionate Worship; Radical Hospitality; Intentional Faith Development; Risk-Taking Mission and Service, and Extravagant Generosity. At the March 9 meeting of the Servant Leadership Board, the 2015 goals for Hyde Park Community United Methodist were set as follows:

 2014 Actual2015 Goal
Passionate Worship
(Average weekly worship attendance)
593625
Radical Hospitality and New Members (Professional of Faith)2332
Baptisms1725
Intentional Faith Development (Avg. number of Small Groups,
Sunday School classes, and Bible Studies)
4852
Avg. attendees in groups/classes303330
Risk-Taking Mission and Service
(Total number members/attendees engaged in local, national, international mission/outreach, and number of people served.
28,65630,000
Extravagant Generosity
(Avg. weekly giving)
1,619,8331,800,000
Apportionments100%100%

Together we make a difference in God’s kingdom, and partner with God in establishing God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. I look forward to our shared journey; it’s a privilege to serve in ministry with you! See you in Church!

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

It’s All About Love!

We are told in the Bible that we are loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). Jesus reminds us that the greatest commandment is to love God with my all, and love those whom God loves (Matthew 22: 37-40). Love is something received and something shared. It’s all about love!

This Sunday we continue the teachings of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 6:44). The kind of love Jesus speaks of comes only from God. In the Tuesday morning study group I lead, we have encountered the term panenthiest from two different authors (Marcus Borg and Richard Rohr). I have come to appreciate the depth of its meaning: “God is in me, I am in God, and God is in all things.” (Eager to Love, Richard Rohr, page 142). This is not to be confused with “Pantheism” (all things are God – I am a god).

As I have been introduced to Panentheism, I embrace what I have come to know about it. Panentheism is at the core of Biblical teaching, as well as the teaching of the first century church. It is the foundation of Jesus’ teaching: “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” If indeed God is in me, and I am in God, and God is in all things, then this includes my enemies, those I hate, those I have deemed unworthy and worth-less.

The question is how? How do I love my enemies, those who seek to destroy me? The answer finds it’s power and meaning in the depth of my relationship with God, the love I have for myself, and, therefore, the depth of love I’m able to extend to those whom God loves. The next time you are irritated by, and/or in conflict with another; when revenge and retaliation toward the one who desires to harm you seems the only option; stop and look at the other and remember: he/she is a beloved child of God!

To love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you is no easy task. Nonetheless, it is possible centered in Jesus Christ! I look forward to seeing you in church. Invite a friend, relative, acquaintance or neighbor to join you.

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Loved With an Everlasting Love!

The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation is about relationships, God’s relationship with humanity, and humanity’s relationship with God. Foundational to embracing, maintaining, and sustaining this relationship is love. The unconditional, no strings attached, self-giving love of Jesus is not only our example, but also our calling as followers of “The Way”!

This weekend we celebrate “Valentine’s Day”, a day commemorating a Bishop’s love for God, and God’s people, costing him his life. As we take this opportunity to express our love for those we love, I encourage us to also take this opportunity to remember God’s never ending, and all encompassing love for you and me, and Jesus’ call to love those God loves.

Proverbs teaches, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgression.” (Proverbs 10:12). Paul reminds us, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7). Jesus says, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another”(John 13:34-35). Love is how we partner with God to bring God’s kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven”.

Chuck Swindoll in Wisdom for the Way reminds us of “The ABCs of Love”:
“I Accept you as you are; I Believe you are valuable; I Care when you hurt; I Desire only what is best for you; I Erase all offenses . . .. There is nothing shallow about authentic love. Nor is it a magic wand we whip out and wave over a problem with a whoosh, hoping all the pain will go away. Real love has staying power. . . . It refuses to look for ways to run away. . . . While the world around us gives the opposite counsel, love stands firm.” (p.19)

This is the everlasting love of God we are loved with; and the way of love we are called to live. I look forward to seeing you in church as we embrace God’s everlasting love. Invite a friend, relative, acquaintance, or neighbor to join you.

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Your Voice Matters!

When Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church made the decision to move to a new structure, we also made the decision to evaluate our facilities through a Master Plan. We engaged MSA Architects to lead us in our Master Plan. The goal is to arrive at a roadmap for the maintenance and development of our facilities that support our church’s mission as well as our congregation’s needs.

This past fall the Servant Leadership Board began the Master Plan process. MSA led the Servant Leadership Board in evaluating the uses and needs of our facilities, as well as hopes and dreams. In addition, MSA met with, and led the staff in a similar process.

The next step in the Master Plan process is to lead the congregation in the process of evaluating uses, needs, and aspirations as they relate to our facilities; to this end the Servant Leadership Board set three congregational input sessions: January 18, at Hyde Park Community, and another at Nast Community (our second location in Over-The-Rhine); and a third session February 2, 6:30 pm at Hyde Park Community.

On Sunday, January 18, over 45 people gathered in the Little Theater to provide input. Over 33 people met at Nast Community to do the same.

A successful Master Plan involves listening to as many voices as possible, identifies common themes, and brings clarity to the way forward. It is successful when it is open and transparent, and engages the congregation as a whole. Your voice matters! Our input-gathering sessions include interactive discussions to elicit feedback on the uses, needs, and aspirations of the congregation. We will use the information and ideas gathered to explore master planning principals and goals.

Join us Monday, February 2 at 6:30 pm, in the Little Theater for the third and final congregational input session. We want to hear from you, as together we position Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church for the future.

In Christ,
Pastor Doug