Denzel Washington’s Barnabas

Denzel Washington, the world-renowned actor, spoke this spring at a college graduation:

“When I was young and started really making it as an actor, I came and talked to my mother and said, ‘Mom, did you think this was going to happen? I’d be so big and I’ll be able to take care of everybody and I can do this and I can do that.'”

Mama Washington reprimanded her son: “Oh, you did it all by yourself? I’ll tell you what you can do by yourself: Go outside and get a mop and bucket and clean these windows—you can do that by yourself, superstar.”

She said, “Boy, stop it right there, stop it right there, stop it right there!” She said, “If you only knew how many people been praying for you.” How many prayer groups she put together, how many prayer talks she gave, how many times she splashed me with holy water to save my sorry behind.” (from Michael W. Chapman, reporter)

Denzel Washington reminds us of this truth: Everyone needs someone to encourage them, pray for them, and cheer them on for this journey called life. Everyone needs a Barnabas.

Today’s message, part of the series “Friends for the Journey, is based on Acts 9:26-27, Acts 11:22-26. Discover the value of giving and receiving encouragement.


Pastor Cathy

Update On New Worship Service: Worship @ 11

On Monday, July 13, The Servant Leadership Board of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church officially accepted the recommendation of the Worship Task Force to expand our worship offerings, offering traditional worship at 8:00 and 9:30 am with a new casual service at 11 am in the sanctuary. They also approved a proposal brought by the Personnel Team to hire a part-time Praise and Worship Leader/Producer who will bring leadership to the musicians at the new service as well as care for our media and technical needs for all of our Sunday morning worship services. Please pass this new job opening on to interested, qualified people:

Praise and Worship Leader/Producer, Cincinnati, OH. Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church, a 2,000+ member congregation in Cincinnati, Ohio, is seeking a skilled musician for our new Worship @ 11 service. This part-time position, 28 hours per week, will develop and shape our emerging, casual service and provide technical support for all Sunday worship services. The ability to lead a worship team of volunteer musicians in a variety of musical styles, including the latest Christian contemporary music and fresh arrangements of traditional hymns, is essential. Knowledge of worship presentation software, such as Media Shout and Power Point, is required. Knowledge of live streaming and worship technology is preferred. Full job description at: Salary commensurate with experience. Please send cover letter, resume, and sample of musical ability to: Rev. Dr. Cathy Johns, Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church, 1345 Grace Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45208 (

Please pray for our musicians, vocalists, instrumentalists, leaders, and current/future staff as we prepare to reach more people for Christ by widening the door of worship options to welcome more people into God’s house. Our hope is to begin the new Worship @ 11 service by mid-November. Thank you for your questions, prayers, support, and encouragement as we strive to reach new people for Christ this fall. The full report of the work of the Worship Task Force and the proposal for Worship @ 11 are available in the church office. Electronic copies are also available by contacting Lindsay Garrison at

Michael Jackson’s Best Sermon

He has many names, including “The King of Pop.” Born in Gary Indiana, he became an international music star.

One of his songs reflects the intent of John Wesley, one of the founders of American Methodism. Wesley invited people to examine their consciences daily. Michael Jackson sang these powerful words:

I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change.

Nathan, the prophet in the Old Testament who confronted King David, is the kind of friend that you and I need to have. David, the shepherd boy who became king of Israel, broke God’s heart and God’s Law. Nathan confronted him with the truth and helped bring healing to David.

Later in his troubled life, Michael Jackson needed a Nathan! He needed someone to help him really look at the man in the mirror and make a change!

As we continue to study “Friends for the Journey,” I invite you to prepare your heart for worship this week by reading 2 Samuel 12:1-15.

I am looking forward to celebrating our amazing God with you this Sunday!


Pastor Cathy

New Worship Service: Frequently Asked Questions

Preface: Last summer Pastors Cathy and Doug Johns participated in 21 group listening sessions. The conversations shaped the Vision 2015 document that was presented last October. Areas of focus were shared including the formation of a marketing team, a team to re-vision Nast Community UMC, and a team to study and evaluate our current worship offerings, seeking ways to reach more people for Christ through worship. The Worship Task Force has submitted their recommendation to the Servant Leadership Board. The Worship Planning Team, consisting of our lay and clergy staff with music and worship responsibilities, has endorsed this recommendation. Three additional sessions were held for input, one for choir members and two congregational worship conversations for input. The feedback has been positive and several important gleanings were discovered through these meetings. This article is a response to questions that arose during those gatherings:

Who is the new service trying to reach?
People who do not currently attend church or Hyde Park Community United Methodist as well as people who formerly attended our Blended Family Worship service which was cancelled in April. People of all ages are invited and welcome. We are hopeful that the new service will attract young adults and young families.

Why is this needed?
The worship task force discovered a 20-year difference between the average age of the person who worships within our walls and the average age of people who lives within two miles of our congregation. We want to share Christ’s love with our neighbors and truly be a community church.

How will we invite new people to attend the service?
The marketing team, which has been formed to share the Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church story, is exploring creative ways to announce this new worship offering. One key strategy is to describe each worship service effectively on our website so that guests know what to expect prior to their first visit.

What time will the new service meet? What will be the new Sunday morning worship schedule?
Worship @ 11 is the current working name of the service and it will take place at 11:00 am. The Sunday morning design of worship for 8:00 and 9:30 am will be unchanged.

Where will the new service be held?
The sanctuary. It is a beautiful, unique space in the city of Cincinnati. This also sends the message that our congregation is serious about the new service.

Will there be screens at the service? How will this affect the sanctuary?
The integrity of the sanctuary is an essential value. We are exploring the use of screens that would be both retractable and invisible when they are not in use.

What style of music will be a part of Worship @ 11?
A worship team, composed of instrumentalists and vocalists, will bring leadership to the service. Contemporary Christian music as well as fresh arrangements of traditional hymns will be included. The style of music will fit the acoustics of the sanctuary while expanding the range of ways we worship at Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church.

When will the new service begin?
Our hope is mid-fall, somewhere between late October and mid-November 2015.

Will there be one sermon for the day or different messages?
We value being a unified congregation. The lead pastors will preach the same message each Sunday although it will be delivered in a more casual format at 11 am.

What staff and teams will be needed?
We plan to hire a part-time staff member to be the Coordinator of Worship @ 11 and Technical Support. It will have no effect on this year’s budget. Teams of greeters, ushers, tech support and hospitality are valuable and will be needed to support the new worship experience.

What are the next steps?
The proposal for the new staff person will be approved at the July 13 Servant Leadership Board meeting and the position will be posted. A Worship @ 11 team is forming to help implement the new service.

How can I find out more?
The full report and proposal are available in the church office. Please contact Lindsay Garrison who will be happy to email you an electronic copy of both the work of the task force and the proposal:

Who will answer my questions and concerns?
Please contact Pastor Cathy or any member of the Worship Task Force.

How can I help with Worship @ 11?
Please contact Pastor Cathy at or 513-871-1345.

Same-Sex Marriage and the United Methodist Church

Last Saturday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling rippled through our nation, establishing same-sex marriage as a constitutional right. What is important to remember is the difference between the role of the judicial branch and the role of the Church. Supreme Court Justices are charged with determining if a law is constitutional. The Church is charged with proclaiming and interpreting God’s Word, giving us a plumb line for daily living.

The Supreme Court decision speaks directly to the legal issues of marriage. A marriage is a legal contract. The Church, through the centuries, has distinguished between a sacred and secular marriage. Some choose to begin their marriage within the Church while others choose to begin their marriage before a Justice of the Peace. The United Methodist Book of Discipline, which is changed only by the General Conference which meets every four years, is responsible for providing rules for how we live as United Methodists. General Conference, which meets again in May 2016, will be considering many pieces of legislation. Their actions will shape and form the United Methodist Book of Discipline regarding our understanding of Christian marriage.

I have listened to many people speak on this topic, some beginning their statements with, “But the Bible says…” and then continue to frame their argument. While I am certain it is not always the intent of the person speaking to use the Bible as a weapon, it has sometimes felt that way to me. The Rev. Adam Hamilton, of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, states in his blog that he has been studying the Bible for a long time:

“But, 37 years of studying the Bible has also taught me that the Bible is at times complicated. Within its pages we learn of the heart, character, and will of God, but we also find on its pages things that we might question. Things that seem to reflect the culture and the times the biblical authors lived in more than the timeless will of God.”

Clear-cut answers are not easily discovered as we seek the truth. For example, slavery and polygamy are both acceptable practices in the Bible. The Bible is like a multi-faceted diamond that contains many kinds of literature to bless and guide God’s people: Law, History, Prophets, Poetry, Gospels, and Epistles. Each type of literature has a different purpose. We need not be afraid of digging deeper into God’s Word and applying a Wesleyan approach as we seek the truth. Using the four lenses of the Wesleyan quadrilateral: scripture (which is primary), experience, reason, and tradition, in a spirit of seeking and prayer, will help us find our way. Additionally we can choose to follow the call of St. Francis of Assisi seeking to console rather than to be consoled, to understand rather than to be understood, to love rather than to be loved.

The Supreme Court’s ruling will influence the conversation about our denomination’s stance on homosexuality. I invite you to pray for our Bishops across the nation, pray for our clergy, pray for our congregations, and pray for the gay community that we can continue to seek the path God intends for us. Your prayers are cherished.

Your Servant in Christ,

The Rev. Dr. Cathy Johns

When the Wind Blows

There’s nothing quite like a fresh breeze blowing through the trees to refresh your spirit! When I look around I see God’s Spirit has been moving among us:

Beth Viera, a member of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church, will be commissioned this year at Annual Conference and will begin serving the Fort Jefferson UMC near Greenville, OH on June 21. Beth was honored at the Ohio River Valley Spring Gathering on May 31. She is pursuing ordination as an elder in the United Methodist Church. Beth looks forward to serving Christ in a beautiful setting, bringing pastoral leadership to a congregation of over 100. She is thankful for Hyde Park Community UMC, her home church. Please join us in praying for Beth as she steps forward to serve in her new appointment and and celebrating Beth’s new chapter of ministry!

Vacation Bible School, June 15 – June 19, has already been blessed with a high early registration of children and many wonderful servants who have stepped forward to share the love of Christ with the children in our community.

The Worship Task Force, formed after Vision Weekend 2015, was charged to: “evaluate our current worship opportunities, and then create, design and recommend worship options that reflect our diversity and will engage and inspire.” A diverse team has faithfully served since fall of 2014 and has presented its report and recommendation to the Worship Planning Team and the Servant Leadership Board. It has been approved by the Worship Planning Team, composed of our musicians, pastors, and key laity and received with joy and thanksgiving at the Servant Leadership Board on June 1. The congregation is invited to hear the report and proposal and offer input at two congregational Worship Conversations on:

June 28, Sunday, 12:15 pm in the Little Theater
July 7, Tuesday, 7:00 pm in the Little Theater

We hope to see you this Sunday as we celebrate Holy Communion, honor the class of 2015, and celebrate a God who is our refuge and strength. Please read Psalm 91 to prepare for worship. Have a blessed weekend!


Pastor Cathy

A Case of Mission Drift

It can happen to businesses. It can happen to universities. It can happen to churches. This well-known university has the following mission statement:

“To be plainly instructed and consider well that the main end of your life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ.”

After its founding in 1636, the university emphasized the building of moral character and placed a strong emphasis on equipping ministers to share the good news of Christ. Every diploma contained the words: “Christo et Ecclesiae Veritas” meaning “Truth for Christ and the Church.

80 years after its founding, a group of New England pastors felt that Harvard had drifted too far from its original mission. They, with the help of a wealthy philanthropist named Elihu Yale, launched a new college. Yale’s motto was “Lux and Veritas,” (truth and light).

Although their reputations for academic excellence are respected world-wide, neither school reflects the intent of their founders today. At the 350 anniversary of the founding of Harvard, Steven Muller, a former president of John Hopkins University shared these profound words: “The bad news is the university has become godless.” A former president of Harvard admitted, “Things divine have been central neither to my professional nor to my personal life.”

Both schools were clear in their goals: Christian formation and academic excellence. They were both victims of mission drift.

This Sunday we celebrate the third great feast of the Christian year: Pentecost. Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, Easter celebrates the Resurrection of Christ, and Pentecost is all about God’s power blowing life, energy, and mission into the early church.

May God inspire us this Pentecost Sunday to stay true to our mission: to be the Church and step out into the world, carrying the love and light of Christ to everyone!


Pastor Cathy

Even Presidents Have to Listen to their Mothers

When Laura Bush was First Lady she recalled one overnight visit with her husband in the home of his parents, the former President and Mrs. Bush.

“George woke up at 6:00 am as usual and went downstairs to get a cup of coffee,” Laura shared. “And he sat down on the sofa with his parents and put his feet up. And all of a sudden, Barbara Bush yelled, ‘Put your feet down!’
“George’s dad replied, ‘For goodness’ sake, Barbara, he’s the President of the United States.’
“And Barbara said, ‘I don’t care. I don’t want his feet on my table.'”
The president promptly did as he was told, for as Mrs. Bush observed, “Even Presidents have to listen to their mothers.”
(from John McCaslin, The Washington Times “Inside the Beltway” (11-12-03)

This Sunday Rev. Don Dixon, who served here at Hyde Park Community United Methodist for fifteen years, will preach a sermon based on Matthew 25. His message, “God still speaking,” will invite us to open our minds and hearts to what God is doing in and around us today. God is ever-present in our world and invites us to step into what God is already doing. Invite a friend to join you; and mothers, enjoy your special day!

Pastor Cathy

Bridge over Troubled Water

Visitors to the Grand Canyon all find themselves saying the same thing: “This is really big!” The towering walls of the canyon separated by several miles take our breath away. One of the seven wonders of the world, the canyon is about 227 miles long, 18 miles wide, and is 5,000 miles deep.

Have there been times when you felt separated from God, as if God were standing on one side of the Grand Canyon and miles and miles divided you?

This Sunday’s scripture from Romans 8:31-39 proclaims “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” How is that possible? Human beings are capable of doing awful things to one another! Paul explains that nothing in all creation, not life, not death, not things from the past, not things in the present, not principalities (territories) or powers, nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God through our Risen Christ.

Jesus, who is the Christ, God’s Son, came to us to teach us to love God and one another and to set us free from sin and death. He laid down His very body, to reveal the depth of God’s love for us. Jesus’ body closed the gap that we created between us and God and makes a bridge that unites us with our loving God, who longs to be in an intimate relationship with us.

Simon and Garfunkel released a song in January 1970 that is a timeless classic. The refrain gives us a wonderful picture of theology, a glimpse of God’s relationship with humanity:

“Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down.”

“Because He Lives,” our new sermon series continues this weekend. Celebrate the joy that we experience because of the relationship we have with God through our Risen Christ. No matter how sad or broken you feel, know that God loves you and will never let you go. Come and walk across the bridge to God. God is waiting and eager to welcome you home.
Joy in our Risen Lord,

Pastor Cathy

Easter: The Rest of the Story

Paul Harvey became famous for his column, “The Rest of the Story.” Harvey became well-loved for his clever stories which helped us get a new perspective on the news and life. For over 50 years he shared amazing stories with people across our nation.

For some Easter is simply a day when we gather to hunt for chocolate eggs to fill our Easter baskets. For some Easter is a day to go to the mandatory “Easter Family Brunch.” For others it is a day to celebrate a day that changed everything.

Easter is the foundation of Christianity. Dr. Leander Keck puts it well:

“Without Easter, there is no Christian faith.”

Easter is the day when we celebrate a God who defeated sin and death and offers us new life through Jesus Christ. New chapters of life open up to us because of Easter!

“The rest of the story” is about a journey of healing and wholeness, celebrating our victory over sin and death because Christ rose from the dead. We join the chorus through the centuries celebrating the great news: Christ is Risen! Alleluia!

At Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church we invite you to be a part of our faith community, a group of people that are committed to walking together, praying for one another, and supporting each other in Christian love. Here are a few ways that you can deepen your walk with God and get acquainted here:

  • Sign up for a new “Because He Lives” Connect Group. These small groups gather in homes and will use a brand new resource written by some of our Hyde Park Community clergy. Please contact Dave Weaver: or 979-8184.
  • Attend the First Friday Nighters Event: Friday, April 10. You are invited to come for a catered meal ($10) ; Brian Geist will share his journey on the Appalachian Trail.
  • Visit our website to see all that we offer for children, youth, adult, mission, and music ministries:

You are invited to be a part of the rest of the story of Easter: We would love to have you join us in the adventure!

Joy in our Risen Lord,

Pastor Cathy