Worship @11 Begins this Weekend!

Excitement is building…we hope you can join us in worship this Sunday!
Because people connect with God in different ways, we are excited to announce our worship offerings this weekend: 8:00 and 9:30 am with our 88-rank pipe organ and adult choirs, and Worship @ 11 with our new praise and worship team.

Here are a few thoughts from our members about this new worship experience, Worship @ 11:

“The commitment HPCUMC is demonstrating by broadening worship offerings in order to reach more people of all ages for Christ is inspiring! I can’t wait to see how current, past, and future members of this congregation may be moved with the implementation of cutting edge technologies that give glory to God and touch ALL of our senses!” Amanda Baker

“By offering this new style of worship in the sanctuary, we are making a long awaited commitment to provide a worship experience for those who seek a more non-traditional service.” Steve Kramer

“I am looking forward to the many new possibilities and experiences that we will have together in this old and new space. I can’t wait.”
David Colaw

I am excited about the Worship @ 11 service. It will be exciting to see how God uses this different service for those outside of the church, and for those inside as well – to communicate in many different ways Jesus’ love for us. Sara O’Connor

“I am excited for the new service to begin because it is going to open the door for new people to be able to use their gifts.” Patrick Portman

“I am thankful to be part of a church family that listens; hopefully, to the Holy Spirit, and, consequently, to people! We have choices, and we can well afford to “move over a bit” in our tastes/views, etc. A loving family always looks out for each other.” Marietta Garber

I am looking forward to joining you in worship this weekend, celebrating God’s wonderful love for all of us this Sunday!


Pastor Cathy Johns

I Choose You!

Close to 1,600 people were blessed through the five worship services offered Christmas Eve.  It was a wonderful evening of celebration, contemplation, and spiritual renewal.  At the 4:00 pm family service I shared my alternative text to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  I have been asked by a number of people to share the text with the congregation.  The following is my concluding comments Christmas Eve.

God breaks into our world and proclaims: I choose you!  Rudolph’s song is our song.  You know the beloved song of Rudolph; through the birth of Christ Jesus, God rewrites the song for you and me:

Children of God our creator
Unique in every way
You are God’s beloved
Despite what others say.

All of the other children
May bully and reject your claim
Calling you an outsider
Darkness and discouragement came.

On this foggy Christmas Eve
The angel comes to say:
People who have lost your way,
God has chosen you this day!

Oh how my life’s transformed then
Beloved by God this night.
Gifted and accepted
I am God’s redeemed ‘n loving light!

Join us this Sunday as we continue with our sermon series, Resolutions.  Through Jesus Christ, God broke into our world and offers us life, love, healing, and wholeness.  Everyday we choose how we respond to this gift.  Resolve in 2016 to live positively as you embrace God’s gift.

In Christ,

Bishop Colaw’s Thoughts on Worship @ 11

Bishop Emerson Colaw, who served as senior pastor here from
1961-1980, writes about Worship @ 11, a new expression of worship, which begins on Sunday, January 24:
I would like to speak to the place of a new and innovative approach to worship, different from any tried in the past, at Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church. The Church faces challenges in the 21st century unlike any in recent generations. It is gratifying to see that our church leadership is interested in overcoming these challenges and willing to try new ways to do so.

It is well to remember that Hyde Park is following the long tradition of Methodism to be progressive. In the day of John Wesley, there were many churches. But many people remained unchurched. Wesley began preaching and teaching in the open air. It was called “field preaching.” In its day, this was a new and innovative approach that connected to the masses and attracted many to the “class meetings” which eventually became a new church movement.

Methodism was transferred to this country at a time when there were, similarly, many churches. There came into being a style of spreading the gospel called “circuit riders.” Many of our present day churches are a result of these circuit riders, who rode their horses from village to village, to meet these rural residents with the gospel. We must be as responsive and innovative today in reaching a younger constituency. Fifty per cent of Methodists today are over the age of 55. We must find ways of reaching a younger generation, just as Wesley and Asbury strove to meet and attract with a spirit that has long characterized our church.

If we hope to connect with people who are not part of the church, we must meet them in a way that starts where they are. In Wesley’s day, it was in the fields as coal miners came out of the mines, or on horseback into every little village. We should be doing so today.

If we look through our hymnals, we will see that Charles Wesley wrote many of the hymns we hold dear. In fact, he wrote thousands of hymns but often chose “tavern tunes,” songs known by most as common bar-room songs, for the music of the hymns. He sought ways to connect the sacred message with the common person and found such in these well-known songs.

I urge our members to be supportive, encouraging and responsive to this new approach to worship. We are not going to abandon what historically made our congregation one of the strongest in the city. There will be traditional worship at 8:00 and 9:30 am. We will continue with everything that has made HPCUMC a great church. But we do have a long tradition of trying new approaches such as the development of our singles ministry back in the 1960’s. We began to offer a Christmas Eve service for families earlier than the 11:00 pm service when we learned young families could not make the later service. The opportunity before us to carry on this long tradition of trying new approaches may not be easy or simple. It never has been. But it is nothing new. As a bishop, I visited many churches and I found that the thriving churches were those that were willing to try something different to reach a new constituency.

It is important to add that nothing will be taken from us, but much will be added. I urge church members to be on the cutting edge as we traditionally have been and continue to expand what we have to offer the community. I know of no other church in the area that has a worship service just like the one being planned. There is great possibility before us. Part of the new reality is this: We were once among the top 3 churches in the West Ohio conference. This is no longer true. We must embrace change to carry our share of the challenge to reach the unchurched for Christ. Your support of this new ministry will encourage our church leadership and energize this opportunity to offer something new to our neighbors. I hope you will join me in doing so.

Light in the Darkness…

The Epiphany (Manifestation of the Lord) marks the end of the twelve days of Christmas (January 6). The Epiphany is an ancient celebration of the Church that predates the first official celebration of Christmas. Originally The Epiphany focused on the nativity, incarnation, and baptism of Christ. Thus, to this day the principal day of celebration for the Eastern Orthodox Church is January 6, not December 25.

However, today the focus of Epiphany, for the Western Church, is on the Magi (Three Kings), the gifts they gave to the Holy Family, and the light that lead them. Therefore, the principal symbol of The Epiphany is the star proclaiming the light that dispels the darkness. It is the manifestation (Epiphany) of the light of Christ to the Gentiles (represented in the Magi) that John talks about in his Gospel: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5)

Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan in their book, The First Christmas, write:

“Archbishop Oscar Romero, a twentieth-century Christian martyr killed by the powers that ruled El Salvador, once said that we are called to be Easter Christians in a Good Friday world, in a world still ruled by Herod and Caesar. So also we are called to be Christmas Christians in a world that still descends into darkness. But Good Friday and the descent of darkness do not have the final word – unless we let them.” (p. 243)

It is our choice to embrace the gift of light in the midst of darkness this Epiphany. As we remember God’s gift of light, through the incarnation of God in Christ Jesus, we embrace the fact that we are “Christmas Christians in a world that still descends into darkness”. We stand firm on the promise that the darkness will not overcome the light of Christ. Consequently, we too like the Magi, bow in homage presenting ourselves in love, and with joy commit ourselves to the work of God’s kingdom on earth.

Resolve to live joyfully in 2016 as we celebrate The Epiphany. My prayer is that you and I will embrace the light of Christ in the midst of the darkness and chaos that whirls around us!

In Christ,

Where’s Jesus?

I hope everyone had a peaceful and joyful Advent and Christmas season in celebrating the birth of our savior Jesus, the Christ!

Have you ever had fun with a Where’s Waldo photo illustration? It’s a series of children’s books created by the English illustrator Martin Handford. The books consist of a series of detailed double-page spread illustrations depicting dozens or more people doing a variety of amusing things at a given location. Readers are challenged to find a character named Wally (Waldo) hidden in the group. Wally’s distinctive red-and-white-striped shirt, bobble hat, and glasses make him slightly easier to recognize, but many illustrations contain red herrings involving deceptive use of red-and-white striped objects. Later entries in the long-running book series added other targets for readers to find in each illustration. The books have also inspired a TV show, comic strip, and a series of video games.

In our lesson this Sunday from the gospel of Luke Chapter 2:41-52 instead of asking “Where’s Waldo” we might ask; “Where’s Jesus?” In our story he’s lost in the crowd going to Jerusalem for the Passover. He’s only 12 years old and his parents have no clue where to find him. Can you believe they have lost the Son of God? How did this happen? Where is he? Will they find him?

Come and worship with us this Sunday as you hear the message titled: “Finding Jesus.” You may or may not be surprised where He is found or what he is up to in the story. Frankly, Jesus is a lot easier to find than Waldo. Jesus doesn’t play hide and seek with us. He is right where He is supposed to be “in his Father’s house.”

Lastly, it’s my hope after the service today you will be inspired or challenged to make “finding Jesus” more of a priority in your life as we start the New Year.

In Christ,
Pastor Dave


The Gospel of Luke tells us that Simeon was “righteous and devout . . . and the Holy Spirit rested on him” (Luke 2:25); consequently Simeon lived in hope. Upon seeing the infant Jesus, he praised God, with what we now call the song of Simeon:

“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)

Simeon’s song is our song in these waning days of Advent as we prepare for God to break through the darkness of our world. Making final preparations for the celebration of Christ Jesus’ birth, our waiting and preparing is grounded in hope. Modeling the hope of Simeon we:

  • Are confident that God’s peace is our peace.
  • Trust in God to bring healing and wholeness (Salvation).
  • We expect a Theophany (Theophany: a manifestation of God that is tangible to the human senses); we expect God to be revealed in our lives.

Hope is not a wished for reality. Hope in the Bible, Simeon’s hope, is expectant, and implies a confidence in God’s preferred reality that is to come. The hope of Simeon is the same hope that kept Moses going as he lead the Israelites to the promised land. It’s the same hope that kept the Disciples going after Jesus’ death. It’s the same hope that keeps you and me going in the dark days of life. It’s a hope that is grounded in the fact that it is God who created you, it is God who sustains you, and it is God who reveals God’s will to you; and it is a light illuminating the path you travel.

Simeon took Jesus in his arms, praised God and sang a song of Hope for all ages. As we travel these final days of Advent may Simeon’s song of hope facilitate God’s light and love breaking anew into our lives on Christmas! I look forward to seeing you in church on this fourth Sunday of Advent, and on Christmas Eve!

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

How a Charlie Brown Christmas almost wasn’t

A Charlie Brown Christmas, by Charles Schultz celebrated its 50th anniversary on December 1, 2015. If the television producers, however, would have prevailed in the drama behind the scenes, it may not have aired at all. Lee Mendelson, the executive producer of CBS network remembers the response when network executives first viewed the rough cut in November of 1965. They hated the show for two reasons: “It was slow” and “You can’t read the Bible on network television.”

Thankfully, Schultz won the battle. The simple cartoon, which intentionally embraced the true meaning of Christmas and invites viewers to turn away from materialism, had an astounding audience of 50 percent in the first year. It went on to win both an Emmy and a Peabody award. Pop Culture experts today confirm that it is now an icon and that its strength is its back to the basics approach. (cited from Bill Nichols, USA Today, “The Christmas Classic that almost wasn’t”)

This Christmas, I invite you to come back to the basics. Take time to read the second chapter of Luke this month and savor the timeless words of promise:

“For to you is born this day in the City of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord.”

Friends, Jesus is not a dusty, dead character from history. He is a living Savior who has been born for you: One who wants to save you from your grief, your broken relationships, your worry and anxiety and fill you with peace, the peace the angels announced that first Christmas over the town of Bethlehem:

“Glory to God in the highest heaven…..and peace on earth.”

Come back to the basics this Christmas; come and worship our newborn King.


Pastor Cathy

Something for Everyone!

My sister Dianne has traveled the world for work, currently living in Shanghai, China. Dianne also loves to shop, wherever she may find herself, never passing up an opportunity to make a purchase, or two, or more. Dianne’s house could be a museum and her closets are full. Therein lies the Christmas gift dilemma, what do you get someone who has everything?

I’m sure I am not alone in asking this question. Indeed, I would like to believe that most everyone reading this article is faced with a similar dilemma. At Christmas, what do you get someone who has everything? How about saving the lives of children?

You are invited to participate in Hyde Park Community’s Alternative Christmas Giving. Hyde Park Community U.M.C. has offered “Alternative Christmas Giving” for a number of years. This year Alternative Christmas Giving donations will go to help eradicate malaria from the continent of Africa. By participating in the Alternative Christmas Giving program, a $10 donation will purchase a mosquito net, and save the life of two children.

According to recent statistics 430,000 of the reported 584,000 malaria deaths were children under the age of five. Every 60 seconds a child dies in Africa. The United Methodist Church has partnered with secular and sacred institutions to eradicate malaria from the continent of Africa; The United Methodist Church has committed $75 million. The Global Community effort involves a four-prong attack on malaria: Prevention through the use of bed nets, providing access to diagnostic tests and medicine, draining standing water and improving sanitation. Treatments ensuring clinics and hospitals have the diagnostic tests and treatment needed to save lives. Education Health care workers are trained to go door to door in remote communities to deliver and install bed nets and teach people how to use and care for the nets properly. Communication, using technology to reach millions with life-saving information about malaria.

What do you get that person that has everything? The eradication of a disease from a continent. You can make your donation to the Alternative Christmas Giving program in the Welcome Center Sunday mornings, or by stopping in the office during the week. With each gift you will receive a card that can be sent to the loved one being honored. May God bless you this Advent season as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Symbols of Advent

Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus” which means coming. During Advent we celebrate the two comings of Christ: Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem and His promised return in final victory.

In our sanctuary you will see several symbols:

  • Advent Wreath: evergreen branches in a circle, a sign of life of eternal life.
  • Four royal blue candles and banners: Royal blue or purple signifies the royalty of Christ. In the ancient world these colors were the finest and most expensive; these colors invite us to offer Christ our very best.
  • The Christ Candle: The central candle is white, signifying the purity of Christ who is the Light of the World.
  • The Moravian Star: This star, a gift from Gisela Gildemeister, originally from Plauen, Germany, reminds us of Jesus as the Light of the World and the Star of Bethlehem.

Join us as we celebrate Advent, the coming of Christ:

Free Advent Devotionals available. Four people from our community have contributed to this book that aligns with the Advent sermon series.

Friday, December 4, 6:30 pm “The Four Leads,” an award-winning barbershop quartet will sing at the First Friday Niters fellowship group at 8 pm in the sanctuary. Join us for dinner (see News and Happenings to make your reservation) or come for the music!

Friday, December 4, 7:00 pm Saengerfest at Over-the-Rhine Community Church. Our choir sings at 7 pm.

Worship: Sunday mornings: 8:00, 9:00(Chapel Communion service), 9:30, and 11:00 am. Taize worship on Tuesday, December 8, 7:00 pm.

May God bless you richly during your Advent journey!

Pastor Cathy

Pilgrimage to the Holy Land Information Sharing

“I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’ Our feet are standing in your gates, Jerusalem.” (Psalm 122:1-2) It is a spiritually deep experience to stand in the gates of Jerusalem, sail on the Sea of Galilee, or remember your baptism in the river Jordan. These experiences will make for more than precious memories, but will energize the soul and fan the flame of God’s spirit within!

On November 7-16, 2016 Pastor Cathy and I will lead a spiritual pilgrimage to the Holy Land. We will visit sites sacred to the Judeo-Christian faith, read Scripture, sing songs of the faith, and walk where the patriarchs, Jesus, and His disciples walked. This Spiritual Pilgrimage will be transformational as the Bible comes alive, using all our senses as we encounter Holy sites of our Judeo-Christian faith tradition.

We invite you to join us for a life transforming spiritual pilgrimage to the Holy Land where we will experience the Bible come alive. Sunday, November 22, at 4:00 pm in the Welcome Center, Cathy and I will host a gathering to share information regarding the trip, an itinerary, and a time of question and answer. A similar informational meeting will be offered December 7, 6:30 pm, and Sunday, January 10, 4:00 pm.

Brochures for the Holy Land pilgrimage can be found in the literature racks throughout the church. If you can’t make one of the information gatherings and would like to discuss the pilgrimage, please email Cathy: cjohns@hpcumc.org, or me:
djohns@hpcumc.org. The land of the Bible is waiting. We look forward to making this journey with you. See you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug