Living the Serenity Prayer

Reinhold Niebuhr first shared the serenity prayer in a sermon in 1943. Today, it is a beloved prayer around the world and has been embraced by many groups, including Alcoholic Anonymous. His first version placed courage first, but this is the version that most of us know:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

This Sunday we begin a new sermon series on the Serenity Prayer.  In these tough days of navigating COVID-19, it helps to sort out what we cannot change and what we can.  We cannot go back in time and halt this outbreak.  We can, however, make choices on how to respond:  selfishness or generosity, courage or fear, hate or love.

I celebrate the ways that Hyde Park Community has chosen to adapt to new ways of loving and blessing others during this difficult season:

How we worship: Gathering online for worship, with amazing musicians, has blessed many people in many states.

Online Communion, May 3. Bishops have given permission for churches to extend the table, receiving the Sacrament of Holy Communion in their homes.  During worship on May 3, Rev. Dave Weaver will consecrate the bread and cup (those in your homes and those in the sanctuary).  If you would like to participate, please have your bread and juice ready before connecting to live stream worship on Sunday, May 3 at either 9:30am or 11:00am.

How we Connect:  Classes and small groups are connecting through Zoom meetings. Phone calls from 70 servant volunteers to our church family lifted many hearts.

How we Give: People have faithfully given their offerings online or sent them in the mail to the church.   

How we Serve: More than 80 servant volunteers have distributed over 3,000 meals to children and families in the communities of Hyde Park and State Avenue UMC.

May God fill you with serenity, courage, and wisdom, today and always!

Joy in our Risen Lord,

Pastor Cathy

Resurrection Hope, Resurrection Living . . .

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  This is the proclamation of the women who visited the tomb of Jesus that first Easter morning.  This is the great Easter proclamation of the first century church, and the church of the twenty first century!  It is a proclamation of a current reality and a future hope.  No matter who we are, or the circumstances we face, the dead ends of life, the lost relationship, or the physical and figurative “death” we encounter, death does not have the final say.  God is a God of resurrection.  God makes all things new, re-creating, and calling us to be partners in God’s re-creation!  The resurrection brings hope, today, tomorrow, and forever.  A hope, Paul says, that “will not disappoint us.”

However, from the time of the Epicurean philosophers to the “age of enlightenment”, and continuing in the twenty first century, there are voices that would have us believe that God is not actively involved with God’s creation but has created and left us to our own devices; God is separated from the world, and remains uninvolved with the world.  Therefore, if true, the resurrection of Jesus couldn’t possibly have anything to do with us today.

In his book, Surprised By Hope, Bishop N.T. Wright offers the following:

“”Who, after all, was it who didn’t want the dead to be raised?  Not simply the intellectually timid or the rationalists.  It was, and is, those in power, the social and intellectual tyrants and bullies; the Caesars who would be threatened by a Lord of the world who had defeated the tyrant’s last weapon, death itself; the Herods who would be horrified at the postmortem validation of the true King of the Jews.  And this is the point where believing in the resurrection of Jesus suddenly ceases to be a matter of inquiring about an odd event in the first century and becomes a matter of rediscovering hope in the twenty-first century.  Hope is what you get when you suddenly realize that different worldview is possible, a worldview in which the rich, the powerful, and the unscrupulous do not after all have the last word.  The same worldview shift that is demanded by the resurrection of Jesus is the shift that will enable us to transform the world.” (P.75)

Through the resurrection of Jesus we possess the power of the resurrection today, and resurrection hope tomorrow.  Resurrection hope transforms our worldview, and we become partners in God’s acts of new creation!  Join us by Live Stream for our Easter Celebration.  To God be the glory!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Canoeing the Mountains: Holy Week 2020

In “Canoeing the Mountains,” by Tod Bolsinger,  we read about adaptive leadership.  Explorers Lewis and Clark were seeking a waterway from the east to the Pacific Ocean, journeying by canoe.  What they discovered instead was The Rocky Mountains.  They needed to leave their canoes behind to find new navigational tools for the days ahead.

The Coronavirus has forced all of us to adapt.  It has been a beautiful thing to watch our church family continue to care for one another and our community during this season of social distancing.  Rev. Kate Smith and over 80 servant volunteers from both the church and community have given away 1300 bagged lunches to children and families in need.  Family Ministries and our preschool staff are posting creative online resources. Diane Weaver and servant volunteers are organizing a phone caring ministry. Please contact Diane if you would like to serve. Small groups of musicians have stepped forward to lead worship. Sunday School members are connecting through Zoom meetings.  People are remembering the church with their offerings and attendance, worshipping online and giving their offerings electronically.  Thank you for your faithful prayers, online worship attendance, and financial support; they are life-giving.

You are invited to join us for Holy Week 2020:

Palm Sunday, April 5, online worship at 9:30 and 11:00 a.m.

(Maundy Thursday Worship with Communion will not be observed this year)

Good Friday, April 10, online worship at 7:30 p.m.

Easter Sunday, April 12, online worship at 9:30 and 11:00 a.m.

Thank you in advance, for continuing to support the work of the Church.  Now more than ever, keeping our membership vows makes a huge difference!  Let us continue to lift up Christ through our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.

Remember friends:  God does make all things new!   This storm will pass.  This Holy Week we will remember The Passion and Death of Christ and celebrate His Resurrection.  May God bless you this Holy Week; you remain in our prayers.

Joy in our Risen Lord,

Pastor Cathy

Psalm 46: 1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”

Psalm 46 is a wonderful Psalm of remembrance, and in our remembering strength, for the journey before us.  In these days of “social distancing”, filled with uncertainty, anxiety, dis-ease, and frustration; the church offers hope, perspective, rest, and comfort.

As we continue to worship together, study together, support and encourage one another through the amazing technological tools at our disposal, I encourage you to join us for our Live Stream Services (Join us via the website or on our Facebook page):

March 31, 9:30am, (re-broadcast at 11:00)

Palm Sunday, April 5, 9:30am (re-broadcast at 11:00)

Good Friday, April 10, 7:30pm

Easter Celebration, April 12, 9:30am (re-broadcast at 11:00)

(All services will be archived on our Website and Facebook page)

In addition, the following are ways we can participate in and ensure the ongoing mission and ministry of HPCUMC:   

Your Financial Gifts.  The mission and ministry of HPCUMC continues and your financial support is as vital now as it has ever been.  Please make your gifts in one of the following ways:  Online via the website; Use the QR code; or mail your contribution to the Church office.

Daily Devotion.  Pastor Cathy, Pastor Dave, and Pastor Doug will offer a live stream daily devotion: “It is Well: Daily Prayer and Praise” is offered every morning March 23 – April 18.  Join us through the web site or on the HPCUMC Facebook page (To view later in the day “It Is Well” will be archived on both sites).

Follow the CDC guidelines. There is a lot of mis-information on the inter-net, be aware of and follow the CDC guidelines.

Encourage One Another.  An email of encouragement, a phone call, a note in the mail, or sharing a devotion goes a long way in lifting the spirits of one another.

May the opening verse of Psalm 46 be your “breath prayer” (a short, one sentence statement that can be prayed over and over, as a means of centering oneself in the presence of God): “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”.  Our prayers continue for you, our faith community, state, nation and globe.  I encourage you to embrace the concluding words of Psalm 46: “Be still, and know that I am God . . .  The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” (v.10-11).   

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

My Favorite Letters from Children to God / Coronavirus Update

One of my favorite books, Children’s Letters to God, compiled by Stuart Hample and Eric Marshall continues to make me smile.  Here’s a few (just as they wrote them):

Dear God, My grandpa says you were around when he was a little boy.  How far back do you go?  Love, Dennis

Dear God, I bet it is very hard for you to love all of everybody in the whole world  There are only 4 people in our family and I can never do it.  Nan

We read Thomas Edison made light.  But in Sunday School they said You did it.  So I bet he stoled your idea.  Sincerely, Donna

Dear God, thank you for the baby brother but what I prayed for was a puppy.  Joyce

Dear God, I didn’t think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset you made on Tues.  That was COOL.  Eugene

These are certainly days for intentionality and nimbleness as we battle the dangerous COVID-19 virus as a community. During this season of required social distancing, please know that your church family is standing with you.  At this moment, Wednesday afternoon, March 18, we will hold live stream worship on Sunday, March 22. We will continue to offer live stream worship at 9:30 and 11:00 a.m. until further notice. We are counting on you to support your church during these challenging days with your prayers, presence (worshipping online), gifts, (giving online or sending your offering in the mail), and witness.  We celebrate that last Sunday morning nearly 290 different computers logged in for online worship. The choir and persons leading worship felt God’s Spirit and felt your presence! Join us this Sunday at 9:30 am or 11:00 am.  Online worship can be accessed easily on our website or through our Facebook page.  We will post all updates on our website and notify you through the electronic newsletter.  People in our congregation are mobilized to help you with food deliveries or a supportive phone call; please let us know how we can help.   

Please know that our prayers are with you during this challenging season.


Pastor Cathy

HPCUMC and the Corona virus

Dear Hyde Park Community Family:

Grace and peace to you through our Lord, Jesus Christ.  In these anxious days, fueled by the COVID-19 virus, these words of Paul in Philippians come to mind:  “In our anxious thoughts and worry, God will guard our hearts and offer us peace. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Last night our Bishop, Gregory Palmer, sent an email to the churches of West Ohio Conference:

Dear Partners in Ministry,

Times like these require unprecedented measures. I am strongly urging West Ohio Conference churches to cancel public worship for the next two weeks. This is not a decision I have taken lightly. These precautions are not only important for your own safety but for the health and welfare of the entire community. Please use your discretion regarding smaller group gatherings such as bible studies, etc. I am not asking you to cease operations completely but to avoid large group gatherings.

As we take precautions, let us must remember the poor and marginalized still depend on our churches.  The need may increase due to company shutdowns and closures for any period of time. In the days to come, the conference website and social media channels will have additional resources for you and your local church.

In the service of Christ,

Bishop Gregory V. Palmer

In light of Bishop Palmer’s letter, in addition to Governor DeWine and Mayor Cranley’s press conferences, Hyde Park Community will cease public worship this Sunday, March 15, and the following Sunday, March 22.  We will evaluate, and decide on future Sundays after consulting with the Ohio Department of Health, the Bishop’s and District Superintendent’s offices.   It is our responsibility to care for those in our church, community and world by limiting our contact as a sign of our love of neighbor.
Worship With us Online: (click on Media – click on Live Stream) . . .  Although we will not have public worship we will have worship, online, via Live Stream this Sunday, March 15 and March 22.  We will live stream worship at 9:30 (the service will be archived if you desire to join worship at 11:00).  As you participate in the Live Stream please make sure you record your attendance.  In addition, you will find the opportunity to make your offering online.

 Once again, there will be no public worship services this Sunday, March 15,  and March 22.  You are encouraged to join us by Live Stream.

 During this time, we are asking you to help stop the spread of the virus in the following ways:

  1. Stay at home when you or a family member are sick.
  2. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  3. Cover your sneeze or cough with a tissue or your elbow.
  4. Get in the habit of NOT touching your face so often.
  5. Forgo shaking hands.
  6. If you or someone you know tests positive for COVID-19, please let us know so we can find a way to help, pray for everyone involved and take any necessary precautions here at HPCUMC.

Please know that our prayers are with you and your loved ones during this challenging time.   During the storm on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus was in the boat with the disciples and commanded the wind and waves to “be still.”  Jesus is in the boat with us.  If this news or concerns are causing you to fear, please email one of the pastors and we can connect.  May God’s blessings abound as we make this journey together.

Through Christ,

Pastors Cathy and Doug

Senior Pastors


HPCUMC and the Coronavirus Virus:

In light of the continuing spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) I take this opportunity to communicate our current and developing plans for addressing healthy habits and maximizing efforts to prevent the spread of harmful germs. The staff and leadership will continue to monitor and follow the guidance of the US Center for Disease Control in our response to coronavirus.  The following are actions each of us can take to ensure our personal health and the health of those around us:

US Center for Disease Control and The Ohio Department of Health recommends precautions used for reducing the risk of infection for other illnesses, such as flu:

  Wash your hands for 20 seconds or more with soapy water. If unavailable, use hand sanitizer.

  Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

  Avoid contact with people who are sick.

  Stay home while you are sick (except to visit a health care professional) and to avoid contact with others.

  Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.

  Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system.

HPCUMC encourages the following practices as we worship, learn and fellowship with one another over the next couple of months:

  Our janitorial crew is diligently cleaning common areas with appropriate sanitizing agents.

  Holy Communion in April 5 and Maundy Thursday (May 3 if warranted) will be served using individually wrapped wafer and cup.

  As we greet one another at the beginning of our worship we encourage you to either bow, or bump elbows.

  If you need to stay home on Sunday morning join us for worship via our Live Stream (9:30 and 11:00 worship).  Go to – click on Media, click on Live Stream, or Facebook (Hyde Park Community).  Be sure to let us know you are worshiping via Live Stream by recording your attendance.

  Give On Line or by using the QR code found in this issue of News and Happenings.  The mission and ministry of HPC depends on your financial investment.  Your faithful giving to HPC will ensure that the transforming ministries of HPC continue, as we strive to be God’s light and love to Cincinnati and the world.

We are a multi-generational church family, as each of us takes care of our personal health we participate in caring for those who have vulnerable immune systems.  Together we can help prevent/minimize the spread of the coronavirus.  I look forward to seeing you in Church.

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

The Sisters Who Sang for Me

Several years ago I attended a national United Methodist Clergywomen’s Conference in San Diego.   Since we are a global church, there were women in attendance from around the world.  There were several women bishops present and powerful, creative worship.

One particular evening there was a Taize worship service.  I attended but I came with a handicap. Because of laryngitis, I was unable to sing or speak.

The Taize community, located in Burgundy, France was founded in 1940.  Brother Roger yearned for living a life in alignment with scripture.  In the wake of the defeat of the French in 1940, he sought to form a community that would assist people who were discouraged or out of work, creating a space for people to participate in work and the spiritual discipline of silence.

Taize music has a unique quality.  It stems from the idea that when one sings, one prays twice.  A simple phrase is sung prayerfully, often a simple scripture such as “The Lord is my light, my light and my salvation…whom shall I fear?”  As the song continues, harmonies and sometimes descants are added.  The music eventually “soars” and then usually returns to the original, simple line.

That night in San Diego, surrounded by hundreds of singing sisters in Christ, I worshipped God with my whole heart.   I chose to sit in the middle of the room.  My voice did not sing one note.  My sisters in Christ sang for me; I was richly blessed.

Thank you for being a part of this community of faith; we are blessed because you are here.


Pastor Cathy

Re-Launch of Our Second Campus

The Warehouse, our second campus in Over-the-Rhine, under the leadership of Pastor Sherman Bradley and Pastor Sadell Bradley, resumed worship in OTR December 8.  This is a “soft launch” that paves the way to the public launch on Easter Sunday, April 12.

Pastors Sadell and Sherman share that the name The Warehouse was “a Holy Spirit download”.  They state: “A warehouse is a large building where raw materials or manufactured goods may be stored before their export for distribution.  According to Scripture, God is our Manufacturer, the Maker of Heaven and earth. (Psalm 95:6, 121:2)  God has created and formed us in God’s image and after God’s likeness. (Gen. 1:26)  We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for the good works God has prepared for us. (Ephesians 2:10).  The Warehouse will be a place where we will gather as our raw selves and be shaped by the Word of God, in the presence of God, along with a loving community.  We will be equipped and deployed for the LORD’S Kingdom purposes, with leaders going in and out spreading the Gospel in places where it has not been.  (Romans 15:20) . . .  The Warehouse is a multi-ethnic, inter-generational, multi-class community that will thrive in the heart of OTR, but have impact beyond the walls of 1310 Race Street and even beyond Cincinnati.”

The re-launch of a worshiping congregation in the Washington Park neighborhood of OTR is a God lead, spirit-filled, disciple making partnership with God in God’s acts of new creation; and YOU can be a vital part of the success of God’s transforming presence through The Warehouse!

Here’s how you can help:

1.  Pray – Pray for wisdom, and strength for Pastor’s Sadell and Sherman, the Leadership of The Warehouse, and the Leadership of HPCUMC.  Pray, seeking God’s guidance as you discern how you can help The Warehouse fulfill her mission and ministry.

2.  Attend Worship – I invite all of us to worship at The Warehouse at least once between now and April 1.  By doing so we each are able to share, from our experience, the beauty of The Warehouse’s mission and mission.  In addition, we seek folks who are able to committee to worshiping at The Warehouse once a month; weekly for the next 3 months; and weekly for the next 6 months.  The Warehouse worship time is 11:00 and typically is an hour and half worship service.

3.  Serve – Pastor’s Sadell and Sherman will form a “Launch Team” which will identify pre-launch opportunities, Easter Sunday Launch opportunities, and post-launch opportunities to serve.  When the opportunities arise, and the spirit leads, sign up to serve.

This is an exciting time in the life of HPCUMC/The Warehouse as together we strive to be a Multi-Ethnic, Inter-Generational, Multi-Class faith Community.  God is doing a new thing in our midst.  May what we do honor God!

Pastor Doug

Jimi Hendrix:  Theologian?

Most people when they hear the name “Jimi Hendrix” think of one of the greatest guitar players of all time.  Not only a phenomenal guitarist, Hendrix was also a showman.  At a Pop Festival in 1967 he lit his Fender Stratocaster up in flames at the end on the concert.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in both the U.S. and the U.K. after his death.

You probably would not have guessed that the pop icon Jimi Hendrix had an amazing vision for a world of peace.  Jimi Hendrix once said:

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.”

It is tempting to put people in boxes, like the one that happens when we hear a name like Jimi Hendrix, remembering him only as one of the best guitarist of all time.  Although most of us resent labels we find ourselves applying them to others.  We want to separate people into categories by age, sex, race, economic status, political party, biblical stance, or theological understanding.

There seem to be no end to our hunger to divide and separate.  Like the students at Hogwarts in Harry Potter novels, we find ourselves always longing for “the sorting hat,” a way to separate one group from another.

This Sunday we continue a series called “Reconciling All Things.”  We will examine what the Bible has to say about division and fear and our call to be ambassadors for Christ who work for unity and peace.


Pastor Cathy Johns