Prayer Shawl Ministry

Gloria, an 84-year old loving wife and mother, was a resident in a dementia unit.  Her devoted husband visited her daily as she slipped further away from reality.  Gloria and her husband, Tom, had been members of Southminster Presbyterian Church for over 50 years.  One day when both Tom and their daughter were visiting Gloria, a member of the church who was part of the Prayer Shawl Ministry Team, brought a prayer shawl for Gloria.  This prayer shawl was filled with prayers from the congregation and was a symbol of God’s steadfast love and presence.  Though Gloria was unable to appreciate the intention of the prayer shawl, it brought great comfort to Tom and their daughter.

Seven months after Gloria died, Tom was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  Southminister again surrounded the family with love and support.  Tom also received a prayer shawl that he wore on days when he was chilled or not feeling well from the radiation treatments.  The prayer shawl was covering him when he passed away.

Gloria and Tom were my parents and I am now the owner of these two beautiful prayer shawls.

The Prayer Shawl Ministry at Hyde Park Community UMC was started in September, 2006.  A prayer shawl is a symbol of God’s unconditional embracing love and a physical sign of community presence and support.  Prayer shawls are given not only to those facing life challenges, but also to those celebrating life joys, and to those serving God’s Kingdom.  As we knit or crochet a prayer shawl, we ask God’s blessings on our hearts and hands and on the heart of the recipient.  We use patterns of three to represent the Trinity and attach a cross and prayer cards on each shawl.  Once a prayer shawl is completed, the prayer shawl team has a blessing of the shawls celebration during which each team member lays hands on the shawl and offers a prayer asking for God’s blessing upon the recipient.  Thus each prayer shawl is bathed in prayer and blessing.  As of November, 2014, over 500 prayer shawls have been presented including those sent to our sister ministries in Germany and Russia. It is a great joy and blessing to be a part of this ministry that brings such comfort, support, affirmation, and joy to others.

The Prayer Shawl Team meets the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month from 6:00 – 7:30 pm in the library.  If you are a knitter or a crocheter, please join us on a Tuesday evening.  You also may participate by completing a shawl at home and dropping it off at the church office.  If you don’t knit or crochet but would like to support this ministry, donations of yarn are greatly appreciated.   For questions or if you know someone you would like to receive a prayer shawl, email clm2804@gmail.com.

Christine McHenry

The Prayer Wall – Heaven on Earth

The bulletin board across from the Welcome Center has been used as a Prayer Wall throughout the past several years.  It is a place you and I can post our needs and praises, and where others can share in our burdens and joys by lifting them up in prayer.

This Prayer Wall is a visible sign of God’s presence in our midst.  It is a reminder that we can go to our Savior at any time to talk with Him about anything.  He is there every moment of every day—waiting and wanting us to turn to Him with our worries, concerns, joys, and celebrations.  We were not created to be alone and to deal with what life brings us by using just our own knowledge and skills, but to live through things in fellowship with God.

The Prayer Wall is also a reminder that we are in community with each other.  We not only need God–we also need each other.  We have the responsibility and the privilege of praying for others and them for us.  We have no idea how our prayers will impact the situation we lift up to God, but we do know God hears and will respond.  No prayer goes unheard or is wasted.

I joined the prayer ministry at a time when I felt “flat” with my prayer life.  I felt I was going through the motions without much personal growth.  So I joined the prayer ministry to meet my own needs but quickly learned it wasn’t about me.  It was about being in service to others through prayer and as a result, growing in my own prayer life.

Each of us is called to pray for each other.  Talking with God can be a quick, “Lord, help this person through this difficult time.”  Or, we can really let God have it when life is really bad and seems unfair.  And then there are times when we don’t have the words to say.  It is at this time that we sit quietly in the presence of God and let the Holy Spirit pray for us.

But when we see the Prayer Wall and ask for prayers or pray the requests of others, we open ourselves to the power of heaven, to the kingdom of God.  We bring ourselves into community with others and them with us.  And that, my friends, is heaven on earth.

-Diane Weaver

Ganta United Methodist Hospital, Ganta, Liberia

Ganta kids

How to Help in the Ebola Crisis

In February, 2012, a mission team of eight from HPUCMC visited Liberia.  Our trip allowed us an overview of the work of the UMC in the country of Liberia.

Our trip started in Monrovia, but our destination was the Ganta United Methodist Hospital.  Although Ganta, the second largest city in Liberia, is only 165 miles from Monrovia, the trip there takes six hours.  I would compare the drive to a combination of bumper cars and The Racer at Kings Island!  Eleven years of civil war have completely decimated the infrastructure of Liberia.  There are no systems for “city water”, roads outside Monrovia are mostly a series of potholes, and electricity is only available where individuals and/or businesses can afford a generator and fuel.  The Ganta Hospital, in northeast Liberia, is just across the border from the Guinea forest, and within easy travel to Cote d’Ivoire.  It is the only referral hospital (with approximately 140-150 beds), serving a region with a population of around 450,000.

At the Ganta Hospital, we helped sort donated medical supplies, toured the facilities, and talked with staff about the services provided, advances in treatment of chronic disease, and their continuing needs.  Dr. Warren Webster was able to join one of the staff physicians, seeing patients in the day clinic.  Perhaps the most memorable story from our visit, was when Dr. Willicor (UMC missionary and medical chief of staff) came by to “request the services of the general surgeon” (Dr. John Bossert).  When we next saw Dr. Bossert, we learned that he’d been pressed into service to perform an appendectomy on an emergency admission.  Before we left the hospital the following morning, Dr. Bossert went to check on his patient, who was in the main ward with numerous other male patients, and found, taped above the man’s hospital bed, a sign on which was printed, “ICU”.

We were fortunate to stay with Bishop John Innis, in Monrovia, at the beginning and end of our trip. While there, we visited the West Point slum. For the eight of us, it’s not hard to imagine just how quickly a disease like Ebola could spread in West Point! You may have heard Victor Taryor, the hospital administrator and UM missionary, speak to the congregation in late March of this year – and/or your elementary aged children may have heard him speak in their Sunday School class – about the continuing needs at the hospital, for both supplies and staff.  The Sunday School classes took on raising funds for malaria bed nets for children and families in the surrounding communities, prior to the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.

The Ebola epidemic has been devastating to Liberia, which was just beginning to make progress on rebuilding infrastructure and systems, after their civil war.  To help with the church’s efforts to support hospitals and health workers during this crisis, you can make contributions through UMCOR’s Ebola Emergency Advance or, you can write a check to HPCUMC, and mark “Ebola Advance” in the memo line.

-Barb Fillion, liaison to Liberia

FanFan Janvier- Faith Academy- Haiti

I still clearly remember the first time I met Fanfan.  It was my first mission trip to Haiti. The airport in Port au Prince was hot, dusty and very third world.  As we struggled with our baggage, there was this tall, smiling Haitian waiting to greet us, relieve us of our load, toss it in the back of the truck that was to be our transport for the next week, and then help us climb in after it!

We got to see a lot of Fanfan that week.  He was there every day to take us to our workplace.  He spoke impeccable English and willingly answered the multitude of questions we had about everything to do with Haiti.

Gradually I learned his story.  His mother had put him in an orphanage when he was very young because she was not able to care for him.  The orphanage had become his home.  While he was there an American woman met him, saw his potential, and was moved to fund his education.  Education in Haiti is not free!  He learned to speak English and with those skills found work with the non-government organization that set up our mission trip.

But more than his past, I found that Fanfan had a dream. He is a man of faith.  Education had opened doors for him.  His dream was to make education available to more Haitians.  He managed to buy land outside of Port au Prince and, with help from a Methodist Church in Indiana, started to build his own school, Faith Academy!  We visited it on my first mission trip.  The first rooms were under construction.  We painted walls and filled potholes in the track outside that qualifies as a road in Haiti.  We did all this surrounded by crowds of laughing children, fascinated by our white skin and soft hands!

Over the next years I made several more trips to Haiti.  I saw Fanfan’s school grow from the few rooms we painted, to a two story complex that now provides education and a daily meal to over two hundred children. All this is possible because caring people in the States have helped with the funds for construction, for the staff and for the meals and materials to run the school.  Like most projects in Haiti, Fanfan is not finished!  He continues to grow the school and now wants to build a church next to his school!

If you are interested in particpating in future mission trips to Haiti, please contact Sarah Putman at sputman@hpcumc.org or 979-8162.

-John Moseley

John and his wife Vicki serve as liaisons to Haiti and Faith Academy.

 

Partnering with Samara, Russia

Part of the global outreach of HPCUMC involves a Methodist church in Samara, Russia. Our support to them has included helping them purchase a church building in 2001. Yet, even though they now have a church building, they are considered a sect by many because they are not part of the official government religion.

Our brothers and sisters in Christ are in many ways a first century church, not unlike what we read about in Romans or Corinthians. They live in a world where discussing their faith holds them up for ridicule from neighbors and co-workers, yet they proudly and boldly share their faith stories about how being a follower of Christ has changed their lives.

While they are relatively small in number – about one hundred adults – their commitment to sharing the love of Christ is anything but small, with sixty six  people actively involved in the church’s ministries. They feed the poor and homeless every week and offer as many Bible study courses as they can find translated into Russian. During the past year they started focusing on the importance of ministering to families in church by addressing issues like family relations, bringing up children and dealing with addiction, a major problem in Russia.

Anyone who has been on one of the mission teams to Samara can share stories of Samara’s radical hospitality.  One such story is that a young family with a two-year-old graciously gave up one of the two rooms in their small apartment to host members of Hyde Park Community UMC. Our partners at Samara UMC are empowered, energized and incredibly appreciative of our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness.  Like those in the early church needed Paul, they need us. Speaking from personal experience, those of us who go to be in communion with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in Samara are always the richer for spending time with these new Christians.

The Russian Initiative, the program that reintroduced Methodism in Russia following the fall of the Soviet Union, holds a conference every two years. The next conference will be held May 15-16, 2015 in Russia for the first time. If you have an interest in attending this Moscow conference and then visiting Samara or to learn more about our partnership, please contact Nancy & Tom McOwen or me.

-Kevin Betts

 

Christian Love in Action in the Former East Germany

Freiberg UMCBeing in mission is a great privilege!! I grew up in Germany, and escaped communist East Germany in 1960. Since then it has been my privilege to partner with HPCUMC in four areas of Germany and to be able to return to do ministry with our German partners in Plauen, Frieberg, Augustusburg, and Chemnitz.

In June of 1989, before the fall of the Berlin Wall, I took thirty-two youth from HPCUMC to my home town church in Plauen. What an experience this was for our young people!! Then in 1995, the Cathedral Choir went to Plauen, and stayed with parishioners. We were welcomed with warm hearts, and many tears!!

In 1999 a group of sixteen volunteers from our church tore down an old house, built in 1849, in Freiberg, Germany, so that the small United Methodist congregation could build their own church. This was the first building they ever had because during the Communistic reign they were not allowed to worship. These small congregations are growing in an area where 89% of the population is atheist – a legacy of the East German regime (1945 to 1989). Several of the Freiberg UMC members told us: “You not only work hard for us so we can have our own church building, you give us hope and encouragement to carry on!!

In 2003 a group of twenty-five volunteers helped the Congregation in Augustusburg, with major improvements to their building, which had been in dire need of repair.

In the Fall of 2010 we also worked with a group of eight volunteers in Chemnitz, formerly Karl-Marx-Stadt, tearing down old concrete garages, so this congregation could build new space for youth and children’s work.

Being a part of the Germany mission team can be a life-changing experience. You will grow spiritually in new and exciting ways and make new friends on the team as well as in Germany. The experience is one of serving and sharing with others, working side-by-side and worshipping with Untied Methodists in another country.

-Gisela Gildemeister

 

It’s a New Thing! The Visitor Luncheon

After hearing a lot about Radical Hospitality you may be wondering, so what’s radical about our hospitality at Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church? Something new we began this year is hosting a Visitor Luncheon.

Hospitality and friendship are our only goals for this event. We are not  recruiting new members or trying to sign people up for our mission projects. We merely want our visitors to feel welcome, to share a meal and have an opportunity to get acquainted. We have had two so far and are planning a third for November 2.

Lunch is a delicious home cooked meal with fabulous, radical desserts. We spend our time together getting to know each other. We share how we came to be part of HPCUMC.

We are developing our list of invitees for the November luncheon now. We will have invitations in the registration pads. If you are sitting in worship with a visitor please make sure they receive the invitation. Join your hospitality team in becoming radicals for welcoming all people into our community.

Jan Seymour

Nast Trinity Sunday Dinner Ministry

This week’s article is written by Ruth Young, who heads up the dinner ministry at the Nast Trinity Downtown Campus.

The Nast Trinity Sunday dinners started in 1983 when Sally and Ed Berg, Urban Missionaries who came to Cincinnati for one year but never left, felt called to feed the hungry neighbors they saw around the church every Sunday. Sally recruited partner churches and other organizations to provide food and volunteers every week. She supervised and hosted as the guests were served—no cafeteria line—hot meals. My 25+ years of serving in this ministry began when Hyde Park Community UMW answered Sally’s call. Our church has provided and served the meals at least three Sundays per year from the early days.

When Sally retired after 25 years of Sundays, it took four of us to replace her:  Mary Ann Foster, Jill Colaw, Diane Weaver, and I, joined more recently by Barbara and Jim Hunter,  taking turns confirming food and volunteers, hosting and assisting with serving each week. Yes, there are Sundays when I am dragging, wanting nothing more than a quiet afternoon at home, but once I get there I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I am always blessed by the energetic and committed volunteers and by the smiles of the friends I have made among our regular dinner guests. No, I don’t know all of their names or stories, but a warm hug and hello make all the difference.

Why does our church and others in the Cincinnati area continue to support this ministry? A couple shared these comments recently after their first experience of serving Sunday dinner:   “For the most part, the people we met warmed our hearts, broke our hearts and made us realize even more that we have so much to be thankful for.  As we were walking back to our car, we passed the City Gospel Mission and there were some men from the first table we served and they waved.  WOW!  We had made friends in that brief moment of time.  You can see and feel God working in this area of Cincinnati.”

How can you get involved? When we invite 250 guests for dinner every Sunday, we always need a lot of help! This means that HPCUMC serves about 750 dinners each year and Nast Trinity services almost 12,000 per year. On the Sundays when we provide and serve the meal, you can make a chicken casserole, bake brownies, or join the serving team. I also welcome offers of “call me if you need me” for those weeks when we need more help at the last minute.  If none of these work for you, we also welcome donations to cover the cost of paper products and beverages.  Before each Hyde Park serving week, you can ask questions and sign up for a task at our table in the Welcome Center.

The Nast Trinity Sunday Dinner Ministry has blessed my life in more ways that I can count,  and I would love to have the opportunity to share this blessing with you.

Ruth Young

Ronda Deel assisted in the writing of this article

Worship Hospitality

The hospitality we offer is an expression of our relationship with Jesus Christ and our desire to welcome others into that relationship.  Today, we celebrate the worship hospitality ministries of our church with this reflection from Beverly Good:

Being a member since 1975 has been a blessing.  I’ve received lots of support, Christian love and spiritual growth from my church family.  Serving as an usher has presented me with a great opportunity to greet, share and give hugs to many entering the sanctuary on Sundays.  A few years ago a wonderful Christian, Vera Hurd, shared a heart to heart hug with me and my hugging was changed forever.  This has been very meaningful as I show the love of God with a heart to heart.  I usher at the sanctuary door next to the elevator at 9:30 A.M., so if you need a hug you can get a heart to heart, they are no charge.  Thanks be to God for the things that He has done. 

There are many opportunities to welcome people to worship each week. Consider serving as an Usher, Communion Server, Liturgist, Choir member, on the Technology Team, on the Hospitality Team or on an Altar Guild which cares for the altar and the worship paraments.  Contact Lisa Foley in the church office at (513) 871-1345 for more information.

 

Interfaith Hospitality Network

Family homelessness exists in Cincinnati, and HPCUMC has chosen to be a part of the solution by volunteering as a “Host Congregation” for IHN, Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cincinnati.  IHN is a family homeless shelter located in Walnut Hills at 990 Nassau St.in Walnut Hills.  Every year, HPCUMC commits to serve as a Host Congregation for 4 weeks.  I am grateful to the many volunteers (including staff) who serve for IHN and to our congregation for the financial support budgeted every year to support this ministry.

We just recently concluded our 2nd 2014 Host Week. During that week, we served 4 families; 3 single parents, 1 single grand-mother and 11 children (the 41 year old grandmother had 5 of her grandchildren with her).  Our guests stay with us at our Hyde Park campus during the week; arriving by bus around 5:15 p.m. each night.  We serve them dinner, visit with the adults, play with the children and provide warm, safe beds for the night (Sunday school classrooms are made up with beds and serve as the guests’ bedrooms for the week). After a breakfast on the go, the families leave around 6:45 a.m. to head back to the IHN Day Center where the parents work on their case plan, children are shuttled to school, etc.

Approximately 45 individuals from our church signed up to serve for our last host week: some prepared meals; some just came and ate with our families as our dinner hosts; some helped with the laundry after the week ended; some just came to play cards or color with the children; others donated to our pantry supplies; and still others volunteered to sleep over for the night (in their own room) in order to help get the guests off in the morning.  The grandmother (with 5 of her 10 grandchildren with her), could not have been more gracious and appreciative of our hospitality.  I was amazed by her love for her grandchildren. We all celebrated with her on Wednesday of the week as she had finally completed all the paperwork and purchased gym shoes so that all 5 children were able to go to school for their first day.  No easy feat when you are homeless, but she did it with a smile on her face.

God directs us specifically to care for the poor, feed the hungry and shelter the homeless.  Nothing could be more clear, and IHN enables us to do that in a caring and respectful manner.  As a volunteer, I consider it an honor to be able to serve these families, and I believe others would say the same.  Is it easy?  No, not always.  Do I have the time?  No, not usually.  Do I wish we could do more? Yes.  Do I wonder what will happen to Pedro, Margherita, Maria, Julianna and Erianna (the 5 grandchildren) who stayed with us last week? Yes.  Do I pray for them? Yes, always.

But 4 families at a time, one week at a time, HPCUMC makes a difference, and maybe one day Cincinnati won’t need IHN, but right now it does.  To find out more about IHN, please visit the website,  www.Ihncincinnati.org, and if you think this might be a ministry where your gifts could make a difference please contact me (laural.warren@ge.com) or Sarah Putman (871-1345; sputman@hpcumc.org)  and we promise to find a spot for you.    We have 2 more host weeks coming up before the end of the year: October 5th-12th and November 30th-Dec. 7th.

Laura Warren