The Surprise Inside

My childhood friends and I would hunt for geodes and buckeyes. We would ride our bikes in the neighborhood back to the woods. There were would find all kinds of treasures, but our favorites were buckeyes.
On the outside they are just round, green balls. When you crack them open you discover a beautiful, shiny brown treasure. We would make necklaces out of them and wore them proudly. My friends and their Dad brought home another treasure: geodes. On the outside, they look like boring rocks. When you crack them open with a hammer, you discover beautiful sparkling colors: usually blue, purple, or white.
On Easter morning Mary Magdalene went to the tomb with spices. She expected to tuck the spices into the folds of his burial clothes. When she arrived she discover a surprise inside: the tomb was empty. In Matthew’s gospel we read that she saw an angel in white sitting on top the stone. The angel said, “Do not be afraid; I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead.’”
This Easter do not miss the surprise inside……Allow yourself to walk inside the tomb to discover the treasure:
The tomb is empty. He is not here; He is Risen. Alleluia, Alleluia!

Joy in our Risen Lord,

Pastor Cathy

Together We Make A Difference!

Together We Make a Difference!

As the flowers bloom and the trees bud, all of creation is singing resurrection praises!

Thank you for your support and generosity of the ministries of Hyde Park Community/Over The Rhine Community United Methodist Church!   Because you gave:

•  On Friday, April 12, HPCUMC opened the doors of the Church, offering our community God’s love and grace through song, as our Praise Band performed a concert of love and acceptance.

•  On Saturday, April 13, HPCUMC, children and their families enjoyed our annual Easter Egg Hunt, led by our Children and Family Ministry.

•  In partnership with the University of Cincinnati’s Audiology Department, we have provided hearing aides for the community of Red Bird Mission. There is a waiting list of 3+ years for hearing aides. 

•  The Lenten Retreat offered participants a time of reflection and renewal.

•  The Pre-School Chapel engages over 190 children and adults with the love and grace of Jesus twice a month.

•  The weekly Young Adult gatherings average 11 young adults in study and fellowship. 

•  The Mission and Outreach Team provide opportunities to mentor/tutor children at Rothenberg and Wesley Chapel Mission Center.

•  Eight members of HPCUMC represented the church as part of the mission team to Cluj, Romania.

•  The Young Adult Enneagram Retreat inspired 22 young adults.

In these ways, and many more, your generous giving is a way in which you have partnered with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven.  Thank you!

May God’s blessings abound as you continue to support the ministry and mission of Hyde Park Community through your extravagant generosity!  

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Unlikely Treasure: The Blue Bowl

Once a friend of my mother noticed an old metal blue bowl that I had on a top shelf.  She liked it so much that she told my mother she would like to purchase it from me.  She thought it was very valuable.  Before that day, I never gave that blue bowl a second thought.  Somehow, after someone thought it was valuable, I looked at it differently.  I still have the bowl.

Two parables of Jesus will be explored this Sunday and invite us to think about what is really important in our lives.  It is so easy to put ourselves in “auto-pilot” zone, going from one thing to the next, simply completely our “to do lists” for the day. Jesus invites us to think about what we are willing to pursue –  what things in our life have us go “all in.”  These are things that we are willing to make sacrifices for, things that are the highest priorities in our lives.

There are times in our lives when we discover what really matters.  Once there may have been fog or confusion, but now crystal clear clarity has come.  When I look at the ministry of Jesus, one thing stands out.  He did not do anything halfway.  Jesus was always “all in.”  He never partially healed someone.  He never partially challenged someone.  His mission was clear:  bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth.   His life, ministry, sacrifice, and His death and resurrection usher in a new day….. He points us to the treasure that was worth dying for:  Love.

May God richly bless you this week as you seek what is important.  May God give us strength to follow in the footsteps of Christ:  Loving God.  Loving Neighbor.   

Peace,

Pastor CathyU

Healing in His Hands

As we look at the ministry of Jesus, we learn that Jesus is many things:  Prophet, Teacher, Messiah, and Son of God.  He is also a healer.

When He encounters someone who is sick – struggling with body, mind, or spirit, Jesus responds with compassion to restore the person to health.  Often he will ask the person: “Do you want to be healed?”  At times He steps across barriers to bring healing:

Jesus healed a lame man on the Sabbath (John 5:2-12)

Jesus invited a tax collector to become a disciple (Matthew 9:9-13)

Jesus healed a woman who was ritually unclean with a flow of blood  for 12 years (Mark 5:25-34)

After Jesus called Matthew, the tax collector, to come and follow Him, there was a dinner.  Jesus sat with his disciples and many “tax collectors and sinners.”  Pharisees criticized Jesus for his choice of dinner companions.  He responded, “Those who are sick have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’  For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12-13)

Jesus entered Peter’s house and saw that his mother-in-law was ill with a fever.  Jesus responded:  “He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to serve him.”   (Matthew 8:14-15)   Adam Hamilton, pastor of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection writes about our call to continue the healing ministry of Jesus:

“Jesus’ own witness of sacrificial love and forgiveness, and his work to heal the sick and care for those in need, represent God’s ways and vision for us.”

Friends, as the Body of Christ, we are the hands and feet of Jesus.  Let us continue to step forward with love, compassion, listening ears, and hands that lift, heal, and restore all who broken.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Generations of Faithfulness

At present the Capital Stewardship Campaign: Generations of Faithfulness is on hold until HPCUMC determines a long-term plan for our future as United Methodists. The leadership of the campaign met last Sunday to renew our commitment to lead the church in this God size vision, standing on the shoulders of previous generations, as we seek to provide for the needs of generations to come. I take this opportunity to update you on where we stand with the major maintenance pieces inside and outside of the campaign.

The Property Team of the Servant Leadership Board is finalizing the scope and cost of two major projects that will take care of water infiltration in the refectory, plaster /paint deterioration in classrooms and stairwells, and HVAC pipe deterioration. My hope is that these two projects will be funded with funds that currently exist.

1. Exterior Stone Work: The first project is cleaning, repair, and sealing of the exterior stone. The estimated cost of this project is $239,000.

2. HVAC Pipe Replacement:  The scope of the work includes the replacement of the existing hot and chilled water supply and return piping. This will be a 12-18 month project at a cost of $678,000 – $814,000 (the type of pipe system we use is yet to be determined thus the variance).

As this work progresses the major maintenance items currently in the Capital Stewardship Campaign will remain a priority of the campaign.  Those items include: replacement of the drainage pipes along Observatory and Grace, and the waterproofing of the Refectory’s exterior wall; renovation of the Refectory; Renovation of the kitchen; replacement of the historic windows. The estimated cost of doing these projects is $1.5 million, and will be raised through the Generations of Faithfulness campaign when the campaign resumes.

Our goal is to keep the congregation informed as we care for our current facilities, and add new facilities to meet the needs of families today, and future generations. May God’s blessings abound as we continue to be a Community Church offering the love of God!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

A Letter From Our Senior Pastors

Friends in Christ,

Grace and Peace to you through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior!  Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church is standing up to speak, responding to the vote of General Conference delegates in late February.  Delegates from around the globe came to St. Louis to determine our way forward as United Methodists.  Their vote, with a margin of only 54, tightened the ban on gay clergy and same sex unions.

While some felt relief or perhaps joy, we grieve the decision.  It does not reflect the heart or values of Hyde Park Community.  We have been, and will always be, a place that welcomes all.  This means that regardless of your theological or biblical perspective, you are welcome here.  Regardless of how you identify yourself as a human being, you are welcome here.  We cherish each person as a beloved child of God and celebrate the diversity and mutual respect that thrives in our faith community.  At Hyde Park Community we strive to live by John Wesley’s “three simple rules”: “Do no Harm, Do Good, and Stay in Love with God.”  Sadly, The United Methodist Church has failed.

The Servant Leadership Board of Hyde Park Community, at their March 11 meeting approved the following:

  Suspend payment of (place in escrow) our General Church Apportionments.

  The Senior Pastors will write a pastoral letter to the congregation.

  Develop a newspaper, social media, and banner campaign that reflects the inclusiveness of the Hyde Park Community, focusing on our diversity in unity.

  Participate in national conversations with respect to the state of our denomination and options moving forward. Our pastors plan to attend a fall gathering with Rev. Adam Hamilton at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas.  It will focus on shaping a new future for United Methodists who long to share the love of Christ with genuine love and respect for all people, focusing on our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Our website has resources posted for you to access, detailing our observations and opinions regarding the vote of General Conference: www.hydeparkchurch.org.  Finally, we thank you for your prayers and support.  The road ahead of us will bring challenges, but every challenge is an opportunity.  We are confident that God will provide the wisdom, strength, and courage for the days ahead.  We are deeply thankful that you are on this journey with us.   

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Cathy and Pastor Doug

                                   

Hope in the Wilderness

Most of us would not like to spend a vacation in the wilderness.  It is defined as:

Wildernessan uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable region.

As we move into the season of Lent, we study Jesus who walked into the wilderness where he spent 40 days and 40 nights.  In the wilderness there is not a lot to do;  it is by definition “uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable.”  There were no gardens for Jesus to tend,, no people to talk to, and no local restaurants to untie his sandals and enjoy a beverage.

There are many books that say they can teach you how to survive in the wilderness.  Finding clean water is critical.  Learning how to locate plants and animals for food is also important.  Protecting yourself from the elements, both the heat of the sun and the cold of the night, will help keep you alive.

But what happens to our souls when we are in a spiritual wilderness?  When we feel that the landscape of our souls is desolate and barren, where do we turn?

When loneliness and despair threaten to overcome us in these seasons of barrenness where do we find hope?

During times of uncertainty and anxiety and times of wondering “what next?, “ we need to pause and give thanks, for hope is found in the wilderness.  Jesus, as God in the flesh, willingly walked into the wilderness to prepare for his ministry.  Temptations did come, but God gave him strength to fight.  Questions did arise, but God provided wisdom and courage to respond. 

The same God who strengthened Christ is here to strengthen us, fill us with courage, and guide our steps both as individuals and as a community of faith.  John Wesley, one of the founders of American Methodism, put it well:

The best of all is, God is with us.”

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Update from the Pastors: Special Session of the General Conference

Friends in Christ,

Yesterday’s news from the United Methodist Church has caused pain, confusion, anxiety, and for some rejoicing. Delegates from around the world gathered in St. Louis for the Special Session of General Conference to determine our way forward as United Methodists regarding our stance on human sexuality. They voted to adopt the Traditional Plan by a margin of 54 votes.  This means the current stance in the United Methodist Book of Discipline, which prohibits same sex unions and the ordination of self-avowed, practicing homosexuals,  remains in place.

Bishop Reuben Job wrote a book on Three Simple Rules, summarizing what it means to be both a follower of Christ in the the tradition of John Wesley.  They are “Do No Harm, Do Good, and Stay in Love with God.” Sadly, The United Methodist Church has failed.  Much harm and pain have resulted to our sisters and brothers across the world.

This congregation was founded with a heart to be a place that welcomes all people in the name of Christ.  We remain committed to this because Jesus kept it simple: Love God, Love Neighbor.  At this point there are many things to be sorted out.  Thousands of congregations across our nation are also seeking how they will respond to the vote in St. Louis, finding a way to continue serving God and community as ambassadors of Christ.

For up-to-date news we recommend the United Methodist News Service.  We hope that you will also join us for a soup and salad luncheon on Sunday, March 10, 12:15 in the refectory.  We will provide a report with as much up-to-date information as possible to help Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church stay on course as a strong, vibrant community of faith that welcomes all people.      

Bishop Palmer, the resident episcopal leader of West Ohio Conference, posted this on Tuesday, February 26, in St. Louis, just one half hour before adjournment:

Beloved in Christ Jesus,

As I write this, the General Conference is within a half-hour of adjournment. I want to offer a few thoughts as we move forward.

• Your prayers have sustained the West Ohio delegates, all of the delegates, the bishops, me and Cynthia. Thank you. I encourage you to continue to be earnest in prayer for The United Methodist Church, the mission and your local church.   

• Over the next 48 hours I will be sorting out and analyzing what the General Conference actually adopted along with the decisions of the General Conference and the effect of those actions on our common life. I will not be doing this in isolation, but with other bishops and with our delegates and other leaders in our conference.

• I hope you will be at one of many locations for the simulcast on Saturday morning March 2. This will give me a chance to share a first summary of where we are and answer a few questions.

• The cabinet will be meeting with me 3 of the next 7 days to continue the process of analysis and communication.

• Your District Superintendents will be moving among you in the month of March.

• I will be determining in the next several weeks the places I need to be and the conversations I need to host with multiple audiences.

This has been a robust General Conference. The attention to prayer and worship has been inspiring and helpful. There have been bright moments and there have been dim moments. There have been words and speeches that have soared with poetic Spirit inspired oratory. There have been words and speeches that have done harm to people, especially our LGBTQ sisters and brothers. I lament this and our lack of capacity to hold the whole together and keep the “unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.”

Please continue to pray for the United Methodist Church and for Hyde Park Community as we seek to listen to God, to each other, and embrace our mission to open our hearts and doors to welcome all.

Your Servants in Christ,

Pastors Cathy and Doug Johns

Wrestling with God

Let’s talk about wrestling! Have you ever watched wrestling on television? Is it fake or real? Do people really do this for a living and do they really get excited about watching it? Wrestling is a contact sport involving techniques such as clinch fighting, throws and takedowns, joint locks, pins and other grappling holds. The sport can either be theatrical for entertainment or genuinely competitive. A wrestling bout is a physical competition, between two (occasionally more) competitors or sparring partners, who attempt to gain and maintain a superior position. Why in the world would someone write a cover article in the church bulletin on wrestling?

Why? Because life can be like a wrestling match. We wrestle with our mental decisions. We wrestle with our feelings or emotions. We wrestle with physical challenges or limitations. We wrestle with our success or failure in life. We wrestle in family and work relationships. We wrestle with our spiritual lives. I think you get the point I’m trying to make. Wrestling is part of life!

This week we will hear the familiar Biblical story about a wrestling match found in the book of Genesis. Jacob is thought to have been in an all-night wrestling match with God or an angel. Have you ever felt like you were in a wrestling match? What did you do? What was the outcome?

We are in the middle of a sermon series titled: “Walking with God.” There have been times in my personal and professional life I wrestled with life and with God. At these times it has been an opportunity for me to put even more faith and trust in God. Jacob wrestled big time through the night and somehow God’s hand protected and shielded him from harm, and actually blessed him. Are you wrestling with God, yourself, with someone else, or some situation?

I invite you to delve more deeply into this story with me in worship this Sunday. Maybe you will come to realize when in the midst of the wrestling, “Walking with God” helps! See you soon!

Pastor Dave Weaver

A Prayer for General Conference

The national headlines that will appear soon about the United Methodist Church may be disturbing or misleading.  Hamilton got it right: “History is watching.”

This week (Feb. 23-26) nearly 1,000 United Methodist delegates from around the world will arrive in St. Louis.  These elected delegates,  50% laity and 50% clergy, have been elected by their regional bodies.  General Conference is the only group in the United Methodist Church that can change our book of governance, The United Methodist Book of Discipline.

Today it is not permissible for same sex unions to be performed by United Methodist clergy nor are openly gay individuals allowed to go through the ordination process.

The purpose of this global United Methodist gathering is to discern our path forward regarding our understanding of human sexuality.  Several plans will be presented that invite change – some more inclusive and others more restrictive.  It is likely that a decision may be reached; however, no decision is one possible outcome.     

At Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church we stand on the shoulders of forefathers and foremothers who welcomed all and served their neighbors.  We will continue to embrace everyone who comes through our doors with the love of Christ, a place that welcomes all.  After St. Louis, we will work together to determine next steps as we seek to be faithful to God’s call to be The Church. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, please join me in prayer:

God of all Creation, Your divine image rests in each one of your daughters and sons.  As difficult conversations on human sexuality unfold, give us courage to lean in and listen, to one another and to You.  Remind us that in Christ we are one.  Fill us with courage to fulfill our mission:  To love You and all of our neighbors. May Your wisdom, peace, but especially Your love guide our steps as United Methodists. I pray in the name of Jesus, the Christ, whose love lifts all, Amen.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns