Denzel Washington’s Barnabas

Denzel Washington, the world-renowned actor, spoke this spring at a college graduation:

“When I was young and started really making it as an actor, I came and talked to my mother and said, ‘Mom, did you think this was going to happen? I’d be so big and I’ll be able to take care of everybody and I can do this and I can do that.'”

Mama Washington reprimanded her son: “Oh, you did it all by yourself? I’ll tell you what you can do by yourself: Go outside and get a mop and bucket and clean these windows—you can do that by yourself, superstar.”

She said, “Boy, stop it right there, stop it right there, stop it right there!” She said, “If you only knew how many people been praying for you.” How many prayer groups she put together, how many prayer talks she gave, how many times she splashed me with holy water to save my sorry behind.” (from Michael W. Chapman, reporter)

Denzel Washington reminds us of this truth: Everyone needs someone to encourage them, pray for them, and cheer them on for this journey called life. Everyone needs a Barnabas.

Today’s message, part of the series “Friends for the Journey, is based on Acts 9:26-27, Acts 11:22-26. Discover the value of giving and receiving encouragement.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Friends for the Journey

When it comes to the Apostle Paul, opinions of the man, and the theologian, span the spectrum. Author of thirteen of the twenty-seven New Testament books, we have a love/hate relationship with Paul. None the less, everyone needs a Paul in their life.

For Paul it was all about the proper attitude. Paul, despite his faults and failures, was a man who possessed an attitude grounded in God’s faithfulness, and an abiding trust in God to be faithful. The proper attitude is the difference between success and failure.

John Maxwell in his book, “Leadership Promises for Everyday” writes:
Author Denis Waitley says, ‘The winner’s edge is not in a gifted birth, in a high IQ, or in talent. The winner’s edge is in the attitude, not aptitude.’ . . . Plenty of talented teams never amount to anything because of the attitudes of their players.
Abilities + Attitudes = Result
Great Talent + Rotten Attitudes = Bad Team
Great Talent + Bad Attitudes = Average Team
Great Talent + Average Attitudes = Good Team
Great Talent + Good Attitudes = Great Team
If you want great results, you need good people with great talent and awesome attitudes.” (p.29)

Everyone needs that person in their life who refuses to allow the world/culture to rob them of a positive attitude; one who unashamedly trusts in God’s faithfulness and stands on God’s promises, and helps us do the same. See you in Church!

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Michael Jackson’s Best Sermon

He has many names, including “The King of Pop.” Born in Gary Indiana, he became an international music star.

One of his songs reflects the intent of John Wesley, one of the founders of American Methodism. Wesley invited people to examine their consciences daily. Michael Jackson sang these powerful words:

I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change.

Nathan, the prophet in the Old Testament who confronted King David, is the kind of friend that you and I need to have. David, the shepherd boy who became king of Israel, broke God’s heart and God’s Law. Nathan confronted him with the truth and helped bring healing to David.

Later in his troubled life, Michael Jackson needed a Nathan! He needed someone to help him really look at the man in the mirror and make a change!

As we continue to study “Friends for the Journey,” I invite you to prepare your heart for worship this week by reading 2 Samuel 12:1-15.

I am looking forward to celebrating our amazing God with you this Sunday!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Friends for the Journey

Before Israel had kings, they had judges, people who were anointed to lead the Jewish people and serve as the hand of God, according to God’s word and will. Deborah was a judge of Israel, a trusted and wise person who led the Israelites politically and spiritually. Deborah loved God and sought to protect those God loves. Deborah had your back! Every one needs a Deborah in their life.

Who’s your Deborah, the one you can count on to “have your back”? Who can you be a Deborah to? This Sunday we will have the opportunity to browse displays of our ministry partners who focus on children and youth. You’ll have an opportunity to talk with persons involved in these ministries, as well as sign up to be a part of what God is doing in our Urban Core as it effects the lives of children and youth.

This Sunday we uplift our “Champions For Urban Youth”! Hyde Park Community member, Bob Buechner writes:

Champions for Urban Youth Sunday celebrate the significant cooperation and volunteerism of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church with our urban youth. The desire of many of our parishioners is to be transformative in the lives of our inner city youth who are coming from very challenging backgrounds. There are a significant number of volunteer organizations that impact the lives of our urban youth – there are in school reading programs, after school programs, such as sport activities, and evening and Saturday volunteer activities. We celebrate the efforts of all individuals who have followed their passions to reach out to our urban youth. We encourage an open discussion of what types of activities exist so that we can all be informed of what opportunities are available, and we want to encourage others to be part of our efforts to make our community a better place in which to live.”

Deborah, wise, strong, and compassionate, we all need a Deborah in our lives; and God is calling you and me to be a Deborah to someone else. I look forward to seeing you this Sunday!

Love in Christ,
Pastor Doug

Same-Sex Marriage and the United Methodist Church

Last Saturday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling rippled through our nation, establishing same-sex marriage as a constitutional right. What is important to remember is the difference between the role of the judicial branch and the role of the Church. Supreme Court Justices are charged with determining if a law is constitutional. The Church is charged with proclaiming and interpreting God’s Word, giving us a plumb line for daily living.

The Supreme Court decision speaks directly to the legal issues of marriage. A marriage is a legal contract. The Church, through the centuries, has distinguished between a sacred and secular marriage. Some choose to begin their marriage within the Church while others choose to begin their marriage before a Justice of the Peace. The United Methodist Book of Discipline, which is changed only by the General Conference which meets every four years, is responsible for providing rules for how we live as United Methodists. General Conference, which meets again in May 2016, will be considering many pieces of legislation. Their actions will shape and form the United Methodist Book of Discipline regarding our understanding of Christian marriage.

I have listened to many people speak on this topic, some beginning their statements with, “But the Bible says…” and then continue to frame their argument. While I am certain it is not always the intent of the person speaking to use the Bible as a weapon, it has sometimes felt that way to me. The Rev. Adam Hamilton, of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, states in his blog that he has been studying the Bible for a long time:

“But, 37 years of studying the Bible has also taught me that the Bible is at times complicated. Within its pages we learn of the heart, character, and will of God, but we also find on its pages things that we might question. Things that seem to reflect the culture and the times the biblical authors lived in more than the timeless will of God.”

Clear-cut answers are not easily discovered as we seek the truth. For example, slavery and polygamy are both acceptable practices in the Bible. The Bible is like a multi-faceted diamond that contains many kinds of literature to bless and guide God’s people: Law, History, Prophets, Poetry, Gospels, and Epistles. Each type of literature has a different purpose. We need not be afraid of digging deeper into God’s Word and applying a Wesleyan approach as we seek the truth. Using the four lenses of the Wesleyan quadrilateral: scripture (which is primary), experience, reason, and tradition, in a spirit of seeking and prayer, will help us find our way. Additionally we can choose to follow the call of St. Francis of Assisi seeking to console rather than to be consoled, to understand rather than to be understood, to love rather than to be loved.

The Supreme Court’s ruling will influence the conversation about our denomination’s stance on homosexuality. I invite you to pray for our Bishops across the nation, pray for our clergy, pray for our congregations, and pray for the gay community that we can continue to seek the path God intends for us. Your prayers are cherished.

Your Servant in Christ,

The Rev. Dr. Cathy Johns

Shalom XX Coalition Habitat House Update

Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church has been involved with the Shalom Coalition Habitat for Humanity since its inception over 19 years ago. This year the Shalom Coalition plans to build the 20th home. In celebration of Shalom XX, Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church has committed $25,000.

The Community Ministry and Global Outreach team budgeted $5,000, and the challenge to the congregation was to raise an additional $20,000 from May 24 to June 14. The total cost to build Shalom XX is $90,000.

To date, we have raised $14,300! Thank you for your generosity as we partner with other churches and individuals to make Shalom XX a reality! You have responded in a powerful way to God’s call to be a transforming presence in our community.

If your intention was to give to Shalom XX, but have not yet done so, it is not too late. Please write your check to HPCUMC, and write in the memo line (and/or on the envelope) Habitat Shalom XX.

Together we make a difference. May God’s blessings abound as we partner with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven! See you in Church!

Love in Christ,
Pastor Doug

Annual Conference Highlights

The West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church held Annual Conference June 7 – 10, on the shores of Lake Erie, Lakeside, Ohio.  Over 1600 Lay and Clergy gathered to worship, approve a budget, hear reports of mission and ministry, and elect delegates to the General and Jurisdictional Conferences (Denominational Conferences held every four years).  As I reflect on our time together, I share with you some of the highlights of this year’s Conference:

Two years ago West Ohio Conference set a goal of 3.5 million dollars for the eradication of Malaria on the continent of Africa (Imagine No Malaria).  At the start of the Conference, West Ohio was short of the goal by a little over $250,000 (includes pledges and cash).  The offering from Tuesday morning worship went to “Imagine No Malaria”, collecting $403,733.

Rev. Dr. Thomas Long, Professor of Preaching, Candler School of Theology, was our teaching pastor, leading us in a refreshing look at the four Gospels.

Bishop Palmer inspired us in worship, under the theme of “Taken, Blessed, Broken, Given”, reminding us we are the Body of Christ, privileged to be a part of God’s redemptive work in the world.

We honored retirees (the retiring class, collectively, had over 700 years of service), ordained, and commissioned clergy.

We Elected 8 Clergy, and 8 Lay representatives to General Conference, and an additional 8 Clergy, and 8 Lay representatives to Jurisdictional Conference.

It was reported that West Ohio Conference led the denomination in Advance Special giving (Missional support given above and beyond apportionment giving), giving $2,568,210 in 2014.

Bishop Palmer read and fixed the appointments of all Clergy.  Cathy, Dave Weaver and I are privileged and honored to return to Hyde Park for another year of ministry.

God continues to refresh, empower, and inspire God’s church.  In God’s grace we partner with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven!  See you in Church!

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

When the Wind Blows

There’s nothing quite like a fresh breeze blowing through the trees to refresh your spirit! When I look around I see God’s Spirit has been moving among us:

Beth Viera, a member of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church, will be commissioned this year at Annual Conference and will begin serving the Fort Jefferson UMC near Greenville, OH on June 21. Beth was honored at the Ohio River Valley Spring Gathering on May 31. She is pursuing ordination as an elder in the United Methodist Church. Beth looks forward to serving Christ in a beautiful setting, bringing pastoral leadership to a congregation of over 100. She is thankful for Hyde Park Community UMC, her home church. Please join us in praying for Beth as she steps forward to serve in her new appointment and and celebrating Beth’s new chapter of ministry!

Vacation Bible School, June 15 – June 19, has already been blessed with a high early registration of children and many wonderful servants who have stepped forward to share the love of Christ with the children in our community.

The Worship Task Force, formed after Vision Weekend 2015, was charged to: “evaluate our current worship opportunities, and then create, design and recommend worship options that reflect our diversity and will engage and inspire.” A diverse team has faithfully served since fall of 2014 and has presented its report and recommendation to the Worship Planning Team and the Servant Leadership Board. It has been approved by the Worship Planning Team, composed of our musicians, pastors, and key laity and received with joy and thanksgiving at the Servant Leadership Board on June 1. The congregation is invited to hear the report and proposal and offer input at two congregational Worship Conversations on:

June 28, Sunday, 12:15 pm in the Little Theater
July 7, Tuesday, 7:00 pm in the Little Theater

We hope to see you this Sunday as we celebrate Holy Communion, honor the class of 2015, and celebrate a God who is our refuge and strength. Please read Psalm 91 to prepare for worship. Have a blessed weekend!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Celebration of Ministry- SueLee Jin

Today, Hyde Park Community UMC will celebrate the ministry of SueLee Jin. SueLee has been an integral part of the life and mission of the church for over five years, most recently serving as the Pastor for Congregational Care and Hospitality. On Sunday mornings, SueLee was always looking for a first time visitor to welcome with warm smile. She has been instrumental in starting our expanding prayer and healing services and activities for first time visitors.

Today is SueLee’s last Sunday at HPCUMC. We will recognize her ministry during worship and celebrate in the Welcome Center between services. There are baskets for you to leave her cards or special love offerings. There is also a large poster for you to add your good wishes and prayers.

We are grateful for all the contributions SueLee has made in our life together in Christ and for all the wonderful relationships she has nurtured in our church community. Our prayers go with her as she listens for God’s call on her ministry.

In Christ,
Rev. Cathy Johns and Rev. Doug Johns

A Case of Mission Drift

It can happen to businesses. It can happen to universities. It can happen to churches. This well-known university has the following mission statement:

“To be plainly instructed and consider well that the main end of your life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ.”

After its founding in 1636, the university emphasized the building of moral character and placed a strong emphasis on equipping ministers to share the good news of Christ. Every diploma contained the words: “Christo et Ecclesiae Veritas” meaning “Truth for Christ and the Church.

80 years after its founding, a group of New England pastors felt that Harvard had drifted too far from its original mission. They, with the help of a wealthy philanthropist named Elihu Yale, launched a new college. Yale’s motto was “Lux and Veritas,” (truth and light).

Although their reputations for academic excellence are respected world-wide, neither school reflects the intent of their founders today. At the 350 anniversary of the founding of Harvard, Steven Muller, a former president of John Hopkins University shared these profound words: “The bad news is the university has become godless.” A former president of Harvard admitted, “Things divine have been central neither to my professional nor to my personal life.”

Both schools were clear in their goals: Christian formation and academic excellence. They were both victims of mission drift.

This Sunday we celebrate the third great feast of the Christian year: Pentecost. Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, Easter celebrates the Resurrection of Christ, and Pentecost is all about God’s power blowing life, energy, and mission into the early church.

May God inspire us this Pentecost Sunday to stay true to our mission: to be the Church and step out into the world, carrying the love and light of Christ to everyone!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy