Listening Well

Pastor Cathy Johns

A wise pastor once told me, “Cathy, just remember as you begin your studies to become a pastor…God gave us two ears and one mouth.” As an extrovert, I struggle to listen twice as much as I speak. Listening well is important to me, but sometimes it is a challenge.

When Jesus talks with the woman from Samaria at the well, Jesus shows us how to listen well:

L ook at the other person (John 4:7)
I nvest in people (John 4:13-14)
S top whatever else you are doing (John 4:9)
T hink about them and what they are saying (John 4:25-26)
E mpathize with them (John 4:18)
N otice their body language

Listening is an act of hospitality. When we listen to another person, really hearing them share from their hearts, it is a way of honoring them. It also extends authentic hospitality.

May God help us to use our ears and our hearts as we lovingly listen to each other.

Pastor Cathy

A Review of a South Carolina Gem: The McCutchen House


Our son, Blake, is a proud graduate of the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina.  During one visit we discovered “The McCutchen House” right on the “Horseshoe” of campus, a lovely, open green space.  It is a part of the School of Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management.  Students who are studying to be chefs, owners of clubs, and those majoring in Hospitality Management are able to work in this lovely, charming Southern gem.

The service was gracious and attentive and the food was outstanding, not to mention reasonable. As I was leaving I found myself thinking, “You can practice on me any day….that was amazing!”

As a Christian what does it mean to embrace and practice radical hospitality?  The Benedictine monks seem to understand this, both in theory and practice.  Several years ago I attended a seminar at a Benedictine monastery.  Within ten minutes of my arrival, I happy that I was there.  The welcome was genuine; the food was delightful.  I felt as if I was among old friends yet I had just met these gracious people.  They exceeded my expectations in every way.

What would happen if we as God’s representatives in the world exceeded the expectations of each person who came through the doors of our homes and our churches? For the month of September we will be exploring what it means to be a person of hospitality in the world and in the Church.  We can be part of the transforming love of God as strangers become friends, friends become disciples, and disciples change the world.

May God richly bless you this week and always!


Pastor Cathy

Psalms: Rx for Life

What is your favorite psalm? Most people find strength in the psalms and find them to be comforting. They help us put words to the human condition, giving us strength and courage for the twists and turns of life.

This week we begin our sermon series with the message “When Life Makes Sense.” Dr. Walter Brueggemann, a delightful biblical scholar, reflects on the psalms based on an individual’s orientation, or how one sees the world in her/his present state.

As you prepare your heart for worship this Sunday, come with a heart that is open to receive what God has to offer: strength for the weary, hope for the discouraged, and grace and restoration for all of us who stand before God in our brokenness. May God richly bless you this week!

Pastor Cathy

Staff Updates/Celebrating our Ministry to Children and Youth

Our full staff meets twice a month, first and third Wednesdays.  We have chosen to step out in mission on “Fifth Wednesdays.”  This week we served lunch to people at the Center for Respite Care, one of our mission partners.  Their ministry offers a place for persons without a residence to recover after a major hospital stay.

One man once told me after a powerful concert of a large youth choir:  “We need to focus on children and youth ministry; they are the future!”  While he was well-intentioned,  I gently want to lift up another lens.  Children and youth of any age are a valued part of our community today.  Their contributions bless us now and we are thankful!   We are a richer, stronger church family because they are an integral  part of who we are.

I invite you to pray for and encourage all members of the church staff.  Please remember those who faithfully serve our children and youth:

Sara O’Connor,  our new Director of Children’s and Family Ministry.  She officially became a part of the Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church staff on August 1.  Please extend a warm welcome to Sara and her family.  We are thankful for her leadership and passion to serve Christ with excellence.

Rebecca Homan, who has faithfully served as our Interim Director, will continue to serve on the staff  as the Assistant to Children’s and Family Ministry.  Under her leadership a record number of families will be attending Family Camp at the Aldersgate United Methodist Camp in Kentucky this week.

Ken Miller, our Director of Student Ministry, brought leadership to a powerful youth mission trip in late July.  The group served as the hands and feet of Christ at mission sites, worshipped and prayed together, and built friendships.  Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church, through their efforts, even made the local television news in Lima Ohio!

We are thankful for the contributions of the church staff.   This Sunday’s message, “Facing Stress,” is based on Philippians 4:4-8.  Pastor Cathy Johns will preach at the Grace Campus and Pastor Doug Johns will preach at our Nast Trinity Campus.    May God richly bless you and your loved ones this week!




Pastor Cathy



The 20,000 Foot View

What is a 20,000 foot view?   If you can remember your last flight in an airplane you know that things look much different from 4 ½ miles up!  There are also beautiful patterns that come from ordinary fields of soybeans and corn.  The squarely cut fields form a mosaic.

As Doug mentioned last week we value communication and transparency.  Here are a few “big picture” views to help you better understand the current reality at Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church:

+Our People Several vital ministries are supported by Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church because our people have stepped up to offer their time, talents, and money, including:  The Center for Respite Care, Stephen Ministry (placing compassionate, trained listeners with people in a time of need), Job Search Focus Group, Interfaith Hospitality Network (offering food and shelter for those in need), Madison Education and Assistance Center, Wesley Chapel Mission Center, Wesley Services, Rothenberg School Tutoring Program, The Hyde Park Center for Older Adults, Habitat for Humanity, and the Downtown Campus at Nast Trinity which coordinates the serving of breakfast and dinner each Sunday.   Global missions that we support include Germany, Haiti, Liberia, and Russia.

+Our Finances Our budgeted needs through July 20th are $1,434,500.  We have received $1,246,470. Our apportionments, Hyde Park Community United Methodist’s district and annual conference commitments that support mission and ministry, are paid quarterly and for the first half of the year was $160,567, which has been paid in full.

+Our Building Renovations on the bathrooms continue to move forward with excellence.  Preliminary conversations about the Master Plan for our building will begin this fall.  Bill Baker and Greg Rogers, from the Servant Leadership Board and the Property Team, are bringing leadership to this process.

This Sunday’s message, “24/7 Joy:  Reducing Conflict,” is based on Philippians 2:1-8.   May God richly bless you and your loved ones with deep, abiding joy!


Pastor Cathy

Choosing Joy

Most of us would like to believe that joy is a by-product of a good day.  The opposite is true:  if you choose to claim the joy that is yours as a child of God, then you will have a good day!  William Barclay wrote: “We are chosen for joy. However hard the Christian way, it is both in the traveling and in the goal, the way of joy.”

Joy, simply put, is realizing who and whose we are: children of the living God.

Paul, the greatest missionary of all time, writes about “pressing on toward the goal.”  Join us this Sunday as we continue to study the book of Philippians, known as the epistle of joy.

Part of joy is celebration!  Join me in celebrating this week:

HOME GATHERINGS UPDATE:   The first five home gatherings were held this week in the homes of some of our members.  Thank you to our hosts and all who attended!   Groups shared joys from their connection with Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church and hopes and dreams for the future.    The information gleaned from these gatherings will be instrumental in bringing shape to the vision that we will share during a Vision Week/Weekend this fall.  Please sign up and participate in one of these gatherings this summer.  Pastor Doug and I want to listen and learn from you.

SUMMER IMPACT UPDATE:  Our congregation hosted missions teams this week from Arcola UMC in Illinois, Bethel UMC, and Water’s Edge UMC.  9 adults and 43 youth participated with us. They served at Stepping Stones, New Life Furniture, Hyde Park Center for Older Adults, the Downtown Campus of HPCUMC, Lakota Lakes Literacy Program, MEAC, Wesley Community’s Meals on Wheels program, Center for Respite Care, and Wesley Chapel Mission Center.  Thanks to everyone who has stepped up to serve this week and enable these youth and adults to make a difference in our community.

May God help you to choose joy this week – no matter what comes your way –  as you embrace your identity as a child of God!


Pastor Cathy Johns


Plug in to the Power of Real Community

Celebrating Vital Signs

A church is a living, breathing organism with “vital signs.”  Each congregation has unique “DNA” and is equipped by God to bringing healing, hope, and grace to God’s people.  When you get a physical check-up, nurses and doctors will perform a blood pressure check and ask you to open your mouth and say “ah.”  They are checking for vital signs to evaluate your current health.

As we begin our ministry with you, here are a couple of “vital signs” that Doug and I celebrate in the Body of Christ here:

Laity and staff are strong and committed to excellence.  An eagerness to serve Christ faithfully is evident.  We have frequently heard the words from laity and staff often: “Let me know how I can help.”

The Servant Leadership Board is a diverse group of skilled and committed servants who bring outstanding leadership to the wider community.  On June 21, the Servant Leadership Board gathered together at the parsonage for a morning retreat.  Loving, learning, and leading were components of the day.

Loving God and one another:  We spent time in worship, small group reflection, and prayer, focusing on the words of Jesus to His disciples: “I am the vine and you are the branches.  Those who abide in me, and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Learning:  We discussed the expectations and roles for our senior pastors, prioritizing where the senior pastors should focus their time and energy. The articulated focus was to serve primarily as visionary leaders who preach, teach, lead, and equip the Body of Christ.

Leading:  We had a lively conversation around the strengths of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church and hopes and dreams for the future. We also discussed the need for a new chiller for the sanctuary and approved a plan to move forward to remedy the problem.

This Sunday the series “Plug into the Power of Christian Community” concludes with the message “Real Community.”  It is based on Acts 5:1-11.

As we move forward in ministry, please continue to pray for Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church. Pray for our congregation to welcome all who seek a deeper walk with God.  Pray for the laity, staff, and pastors to listen for God to direct our path so that we can be effective in ministry to those in our community. May God give us all wisdom, courage, and strength to serve our neighbors in a spirit of joy!


Pastor Cathy


Plug In to the Power for Strength!

In Alaska there is a true story about a sled dog named Anna. Anna was a dog whose owner was uncertain that she was big enough or strong enough to serve on her team. As the team of dogs ran across the ice and snow they came across a patch of soft ice. Anna fell into the icy water. She was still connected to the team of dogs, putting all of them at risk. The other dogs began to pull and work together. In the middle of the crisis, Anna dug deep inside of her. She was determined not to give up. Eventually, with the help of the other dogs, she pulled her way out of the frozen lake back onto the ice. Anna shook off the icy water and was ready to run again. Her owner recognized the character and strength in Anna. She told her she was “big enough” and promoted her to lead dog.

This week I invite you to consider the times in your life when you need extra strength and power. What do you depend upon to get you through difficult times? When you face challenges at school, home, or work to whom do you turn?

On Pentecost the Holy Spirit came and blessed the community with power, the power of God. As Christians living in the 21st Century, this power is still available to us! God wants to move through us, giving us what we need, so that we can be empowered to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Doug and I thank you for the warm welcome to Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church. We look forward to getting to know you and your loved ones and serving Christ with you in the days ahead. May God richly bless you this week!

Pastor Cathy Johns