Johns Island Mission Trip

“The passing over the coming back is the greatest spiritual adventure of our time.” John S. Dunne

A small, but mighty team left their Homeland to pass over to the wonderland of Johns Island, South Carolina in the middle of June. They were commissioned to serve alongside Rural Mission as they continued Kingdom work in the Sea Islands. While many people visit this area for vacation, there is a rich history with a diverse group of people. With the boom in the economy due to tourism, many are unable to keep up with the rise of prices of living costs and find themselves in need of assistance. Rural Mission has been active in the community since the 1960’s providing support and relief to their island neighbors.

The team was able to not only serve in the community, but support Rural Mission as well with a variety of work projects. One group helped with laying flooring and finishing up drywall for dorms on the grounds in order for more people to visit Rural Mission and serve. Other projects included installing a handrail outside a home so the neighbor can go up and down the stairs himself rather than being carried; building benches, and doing finishing touches on a roof for homeowners of the Johns Island community.

Work was only part of the trip. The team also spent plenty of time getting to know each other through team building activities and games. This very shy group transformed by the end of the week and laughter and conversation could be heard regularly. The teaching focus for the week was on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount as a way to deepen their relationship and understanding of God. The group reflected on the Kingdom of God in their work, study, and play in the Wonderland.

The team came back to their Newfoundland in Cincinnati ready to continue with the momentum they had in building their relationship with God, each other, and serving in their community.

Peace,

Pastor Kate

Bishop Palmer Invites you into Conversation

In May of this year, the Council of Bishops voted on a recommendation from the Commission on the Way Forward re: United Methodism and human sexuality.  The Council of Bishops voted to recommend “The One Church Plan” to the special session of General Conference to be held in February, 2019 (to review the Council of Bishops decision, and read details of The One Church Plan, as well as the other two plans that were considered go to: umnews.org/en/news/bishops-propose-pl).

In an effort to communicate the decision/recommendation of the Council of Bishops to the West Ohio Conference, Bishop Palmer is going to travel across the Conference holding a series of gatherings, “I Believe in the Church”.  There will be two events in our District, Groesbeck UMC on September 5th; and Milford First UMC on September 25th. You are welcome to attend any event in the Conference, but participants are asked to register. To register, please go to the Conference website: westohioumc.org. At the top of the page there is a banner that scrolls various events. Click on the left or right arrow on the banner until you get to the “I Believe in the Church” and click. This will take you to the list of venues, click on the venue you wish to attend and follow the instructions.

This is your opportunity to hear from our Bishop, and the Bishop’s opportunity to hear from you.  There will be a lot of information from numerous sources leading up to the special session of General Conference, some reliable and some that are not.  Join your pastors at one of the evenings Bishop Palmer is in our District, and hear directly from one who was instrumental in the workings of both the Commission on the Way Forward and the workings of the Council of Bishops.

It is a privilege to serve in ministry with you; my door is always open for discussion.  Join your Pastors in prayer as we seek to be faithful to God’s calling, as a denomination, as a local church and as individual members of the body of Christ.  May God’s blessings abound as we place ourselves at the center of God’s will!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

The Psalms: How to Handle my Anger

Anger is a normal feeling. We all get angry at times. And everyone deals with anger a little differently. A simple definition is, “the strong human emotion that you feel when you think that someone (a person, a group, an organization or institution) has behaved in an unfair, cruel, or unacceptable way towards you or others. In many cases we feel we have been hurt by others words, actions or both. Anger is our response to this hurt. There is emotional, spiritual and physical consequences to our anger, if not handled properly.

Anger has been around from the beginning of time. However, it seems to me there is so much more anger today! Family anger! Workplace anger! Road rage anger! Social media anger! Racial anger! Political anger! Sad to say at times, there is even anger in the institutional church!

How can we get a handle on it?

I honestly confess, there are times I have been angry at someone or something that deeply concerns me. I usually do fairly well with channeling my anger. Other times it is “not pretty at all” and I need to seek forgiveness. We’ve all been there at one time or another. You may even be there right now.

I wonder what God thinks about all this uncontrolled anger and angst in our world today? Are we part of the problem or part of the solution to this problem? There is plenty of scripture that encourages us to deal with our anger. And as Christians, just maybe, we can find healthier ways to process our anger.

“Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Do not fret, it leads only to evil.” Psalm 37: 8

Please join me in worship this week as I will be speaking to and preaching on this topic. It’s my hope you will take with you a better understanding of anger and “how better to handle it.”

Blessings,

Pastor Dave Weaver

Do You Have Joy Like A Fountain?

One of my favorite songs when I was a child was “Peace like a River.”  It was fun to sing the verses with the motions…”.I’ve got’:

Peace like a river (waves)

Joy like a Fountain (hands up like a fountain)

Love like an Ocean (arms make a big circle)

I once heard a speaker describe the first three fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, and peace – as the “big three.”  If you possess them, the speaker shared you can make it through anything.

When you meet someone who possesses true joy, you discover a powerful truth:  Joy allows us to rise above our circumstances.

There is a simple reason for this:  Joy that comes from God is constant and does not depend on what happens in our daily lives.  Someone put it well who said:

Joy is not the absence of suffering but the presence of God.

May God richly bless you today as you hold the hand of God, a God whose love for you will never end!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Over-the-Rhine Community United Methodist Church

Effective June 30th,  Rev. Ian and Kelly Strickland will step away from ministry at Over The Rhine Community United Methodist Church, our downtown location.  For over 3 years Ian has worked to build a faith community that values: Justice, Equity, Creativity, and Connection.  We celebrate the many ways Ian has been a vital partner with God in God’s acts of new creation in Over The Rhine.  As Ian and Kelly close this chapter in their lives and begin a new one, we pray God’s blessings upon them.

What are the next steps?  Pastor Cathy and I have been in conversation with our District Superintendent, Todd Anderson, and the West Ohio Conference New Church Start Director, Brad Aycock, about the criteria for a successor to Ian.  In the coming weeks there will be conversations with the OTRCC leadership, The Personnel Team, and The Servant Leadership Board identifying current and future needs in a pastor, and ultimately receiving the Pastor the Bishop appoints. Throughout the process, taking the time necessary to get the right person will be a priority.

This past week, the District Superintendent sent a document to the leadership of OTRCC to complete and return to the district office.  The document (called a Profile) allows the leadership to provide input into the type of clergy leadership the church needs, at this point in time, and moving forward.  Once the “profile” is received the District Superintendent will schedule a time to meet with the Leadership of OTRCC and the Personnel Team of The Servant Leadership Board, to discuss further the churches needs.  Subsequently, the District Superintendent, Cathy, and I will discuss individuals that fit the profile and identify the right person for the appointment.  This will be followed by the District Superintendent making a recommendation to the Bishop and Cabinet, at which time the Bishop will make the appointment.

Your prayers for wisdom and clarity are welcomed as the multiple conversations progress, and a decision is made.  OTRCC is an amazing presence of God’s love in Over The Rhine, may God find us faithful as we move into the future!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

The “Don’t Pee on my Church” Sign

Rev. Lou Seipel, once served Board Street United Methodist, an inner-city church in Columbus, Ohio.  They serve 25,000 meals to people without housing, offer a Freedom School to at-risk children, and provide legal assistance and ministry to single women struggling with mental health and recovery issues.

Pastor Lou shared that in a shielded corner of the parking lot, people would sometimes relieve themselves, using the church parking lot as a bathroom.  On a hot day in August she stepped across “the stream” and came inside to a Trustees meeting.  She told the Trustees, “I wish I had a sign that said, “Don’t Pee on my Church!”

One of the Trustees took her seriously and posted a sign on the building:

“Don’t Pee on my Church” including her name, “Pastor Lou.”

She was mortified.  She saw her own sin before her in print, realizing that her mouth had the power to make a sacred space unwelcoming through her words.  She realized that if the poor had a bathroom, they would have used it.  She told the Trustees to take down the sign immediately.

Hospitality to all of God’s children is what makes my heart sing!  It means taking inventory of how we “do Church,” always looking for more ways to eliminate barriers and embrace all as sisters and brothers in Christian love.

May God’s Spirit move among us as we strive to welcome all in the name of Christ.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Distributive Justice Vs. Retributive Justice

When it comes to God’s justice we need to be clear on what the scriptures mean by “justice”.  Our 21st century, sacred, understanding of “justice” has hijacked 1st century understanding of “justice”.  We’ve turned God’s call for “Distributive Justice, and Restorative Righteousness” into our demand for “Retributive Justice” and in doing so make the scriptures say something the writers (and God) never said.

It is to this point the latter chapters of the book of Jonah speak. Too often we focus on the first act of the book of Jonah (Jonah’s call and response), at the expense of the final act of the book of Jonah (Anger and disgust at God’s mercy). It is to this human condition that the book of Jonah speaks in the final chapters of the book. The nature and character of God is in question for Jonah, and if we are honest, ourselves. God acts as God always acts with “Distributive Justice and restorative righteousness”.  However, like Jonah instead of taking our place as God’s partner in offering grace, love and mercy, restoration and reconciliation, we’ve embraced an attitude of exclusivism and disdain.

We are not the judge and jury, determining guilt and handing down the sentence; but we are partners with God calling all of creation to reconciliation and restoration; celebrating, and rejoicing in God’s acts of love, grace and mercy toward those we’ve determined unworthy, unredeemable. This is what Micah means when he says, “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.” (Micah 6:8). Jonah is our example of how not to act as we strive to embody the words of Micah.

I look forward to seeing you in Church as we strive to embrace our partnership with God, extending Distributive Justice and Restorative Righteousness in the world we live.

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

The View from the Ground

When Jesus went into the desert to fast for 40 days, at the end of his time when he was most hungry, thirsty and tired; Satan approached him with a series of offers. One of these offers was to take Jesus to the top of a high mountain to show him all of the Kingdoms below offering them as a prize if only Jesus was willing to fall down and worship him. Of course Jesus responds by quickly and loudly sending Satan away, seeing this offer as the temptation that it was.

In reading this story I always like to think I can easily identify with Jesus. And yet, in reality, sometimes it’s just hard to not believe the lie that we can own all of the kingdoms. That if only we climb high enough, work hard enough, put in the hours and will power; that we can somehow make it on our own.

When we reach these high places of our own making and look around at the “kingdoms” beneath us, it’s easy to feel safe and secure. The problem is that when we build a tower on our own foundation, they tend to collapse pretty quickly. Whether it’s our career, relationships, even spiritual identity. If we’re seeking to get the highest view, eventually we will be brought low.

The irony, however, is that the view from below is far more beautiful than the one from up high. We just need to know what to look for. Instead of trying to master the world and gaze upon a vast array of land and power, when we’re on the ground we get to gaze upon the intricacies of our fellow sisters and brothers. A parent playing with their child, someone helping a neighbor in town, a young couple falling in love. While being brought low may be painful and wreak havoc on our ego, it reminds us that we cannot truly separate ourselves from our fellow people. To succeed in this life is to live in community with one another.

This is the gift I have been given in the last three 1/2 years as pastor of OTR Community Church. Living downtown in Over the Rhine while pastoring a faith community right in the neighborhood has provided a beautifully transformational season where I learned to rely completely upon the people around me. Both Kelly and I have been blessed beyond measure during our time in Over the Rhine and in community with Hyde Park Community UMC.

And now, as God calls us onward to a new stage, we will take the deep life lessons gifted to us over the last few years. God has done miraculous things during our time here and it has been an honor to serve alongside all of you. Thank you all for the gift that has been to be church with you.

Pastor Ian

Innies or Outies?

Your body has one: an “inny” or an “outty.”   It is easy to tell.  When you look at your waistline your belly button either goes in or it pops out.

Churches are the same way:  they either face in or they face out.  Remember the rhyme and what you did with your hands: “Here is the church and here is the steeple…open the doors and see all the people?”

This week the program staff of our congregation studied a church that boldly states:  We strive to be a relentlessly outwardly focused church to reach people for Jesus Christ. Through wonderful ministries of hospitality, discipleship, and mission, Church of the Resurrection, a new United Methodist Church plant in 1990, has grown to 20,000 people.

What’s the secret sauce?  They align their resources:  people, their building, programs, ministries, and finances to accomplish their mission: to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

This week you are invited to the first of two Town Hall Meetings offered in the next several weeks.  You will hear about the exciting plan for our building, the result of several years of work from many church leaders at Hyde Park Community United Methodist.  You will hear how our building can be restored, renovated, and also open up new, fresh space to welcome new people into our faith community.

You are invited on Wednesday evening, May 23, at 7:00 pm or Thursday, May 24 at 10:30 am for an exciting presentation. These town hall meetings will be offered through June. In late summer or early fall, church members will have the opportunity to officially vote to move forward with a capital campaign.

This is a congregation that is grounded in faith and growing to serve; I am excited to be a part of it!  I hope you will come to a Town Hall Meeting soon to hear about where God may be leading us!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Confirmation Sunday

Hyde Park Community is steeped in tradition. One of the most celebrated traditions in the life of the church is Confirmation Sunday. Not only is it a celebration for the youth and their families, it is a joyous occasion for the church family as well. We have the opportunity to welcome new members in the life of the church and affirm their profession of faith in Jesus for themselves.

The word “confirmation” literally means “to make firm.” Confirmation seeks to make firm that which has gone before. It is closely linked to, and dependent on, what has taken place in the youth’s life already, including God’s prevenient grace, the sacrament of baptism, and the Christian nurture of the family with the support of the faith community. It is also an anticipatory occasion of what is to come-acting as an important marker (not graduation) along their spiritual journeys as the Holy Spirit strengthens the youth in his or her lifelong discipleship of Jesus.

Our journey in the Christian faith is not intended to be a solo venture and the youth did not travel this part of the journey alone. Faithful leaders walked alongside them this year to encourage and challenge each student. Please join me in thanking co-leader Chuck Brandt and small group leaders Mackenzie Fahey, Gretchen and Paul Lisi, Al Painter, and Abby Warren.

Confirmation Sunday is not just for the youth and their families! Church family, this Sunday we have the privilege to honor and encourage the young people’s commitment to live as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ and to renew our commitment to do the same!

Congratulations to the Confirmation Class of 2018!

Veronica Grace Bigger

Cara Elizabeth Coy

Samantha Ellen Ellis

Sam Gneuhs

Ryan Meador

Aimee Joy Payling

Audrey Elizabeth Potter

Trevor Benjamin Stith

Bennett Taylor Turan

Noah John Vanags

Amanda M. Yeung

Emily M. Yeung