Moveable Welcome Center

A couple months ago, one of the greeters from the Hospitality ministry joyfully stopped me as I was walking toward the sanctuary. Then she asked me, pointing toward the crowd in the Welcome Center, “Look, what do you see?” I replied, “Well, I see the people talking to one another gladly.” Then she said, “That’s my point!” Her eyes were almost in tears as she expressed her joy in seeing a “warm atmosphere” as people were laughing, welcoming, greeting, introducing each other, and sharing brief life stories with one another before or after worship services. Surely it was good to sense the welcoming spirit as we enjoyed friendship and fellowship.

At the same time, the Welcome Center can be one of the most intimidating places for some people, including visitors. When we, insiders, do not intentionally invite others into our circles of conversation or look for unfamiliar faces, it’s common to miss the opportunity. In addition, it is not easy for visitors to find the Welcome Center if they want to have a cup of coffee; however, we can extend the spirit of welcome if we continue to think creatively.

A study has shown that when people do not find friends in the church, they will likely go elsewhere; but, when they find a group of caring friends, they will stay and grow in maturity in Christ Jesus. I pray that we, Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church, will continue to pursue hospitality to all people, so that we can become mature Christians together in the coming year. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers” (Hebrew 13:2). In order to become more hospitable, let’s take the Welcome Center and “make it move”!

As we catch the spirit of radical hospitality, we become a “mobile Welcome Center” by taking action and inviting others to sit with us in our pews. We become Sanctuary Ambassadors for Christ as we relate to people.

Are you new to the church and looking for a place to belong and grow together for the coming year? Would you like to meet new people and welcome all people by joining our hospitality team?

Please contact me, SueLee Jin at sljin@hpcumc.org or Donna Dautermann at steve.dauterman@gmail.com or call the church office.

Have a blessed New Year!

SueLee Jin

God Bearer

I am a collector of Icons (stop in my office and you’ll see a portion of them). A number of the icons I possess are of Mary holding Jesus (depicted as an older child/youth). The early church titled this icon, Theotokos (“God bearer”).

Mary, at the age of 13/14 was visited by the angel Gabriel, and told that she was going to have a child, “Conceived by the Holy Spirit”. She would raise the Messianic King of the Jews, who would be the Savior of all people. Mary was the “God bearer”! This was no ordinary calling, but one that I’m sure left Mary with conflicting emotions. None the less, Mary’s answer has reverberated through the ages, and continues to be a model for you and me, when God calls: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”(Luke 1:38)

Adam Hamilton in his devotional, The Journey, writes, “Gabriel, on behalf of
God, was asking a great deal of this frightened young girl. William Barclay captures the message of this scene for all of us when he says, ‘The piercing truth is that God does not chose a person for ease and comfort and selfish joy but for a task that will take all that head and heart and hand can bring to it.’” (P.36)

God is calling you and me in different and unique ways. Adam Hamilton questions: “When was the last time you took a risk to pursue what you believed God was calling you to do? We can learn from Mary – Theotokos! “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

Thank you for joining us this Fourth Sunday of Advent, as we embrace the faithfulness of Mary, and as we seek to be faithful!

Christmas blessings,
Pastor Doug

Joseph and God’s Master Plan

Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, played a significant role in the first Christmas. The gospel writers do not share many details about the life of Joseph, but we do know that he was faithful to God’s call upon his life. As a carpenter, he would have taught Jesus how to make a living, working with wood. As a father, along with Mary, he would have helped build a loving family.

This Sunday’s text, Matthew 1:18-24, reminds us of the importance of being open to the movement of the Holy Spirit among us. Like Joseph, we may have all of our plans laid out, perfectly organized to move forward. God many times has a “Plan B” for us, a plan that aligns with God’s ultimate Will for our lives. Joseph found himself at a crossroads. Trusting God and believing Mary as she came to tell him of her visit from the angel would have required deep faith. Joseph’s visit from the angel of the Lord helped Joseph decide how to move forward: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21)

As a congregation we are beginning to execute a Master Plan for our building. Architects from MSA have started to have conversations with staff and some of our lay people in leadership roles. We are seeking input on the needs – both current and future – for our congregation. Gathering this data from the congregation will be critical as a Master Plan develops for our facilities. A study of the use of our current buildings and hopes and dreams for the future for the resources of our physical space will help us to maximize our effectiveness as we seek to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Your input is requested. Please mark your calendars and join in the conversation!

Dates for Congregational Gatherings for Master Plan:

January 18, Sunday, 10:30 am : at Nast Community UMC
January 18, Sunday, 12:30 pm: at Hyde Park Community UMC
January 24, Saturday, 10:00 am: at Hyde Park Community UMC
February 2, Monday, 6:30 pm: at Hyde Park Community UMC

Moving forward to address current and future needs for effective ministry through our facilities may seem like a daunting, scary task. But the good news is: God is with us! May we all learn from Joseph and Mary that the words the angel spoke that first Christmas season are true: “With God, all things are possible!”

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Global Outreach Christmas Giving

As the Christmas season approaches you are invited to participate in the ministries of transformation in which Hyde Park Community is involved across the globe. We have a strong history of faithfully providing for our Global partners. We invite you to prayerfully consider giving a gift this Christmas season to the Global Ministry Partners at Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church.

In giving to our Christmas offering for Global Ministry Partners you will be supporting:

The Samara United Methodist Church and the Volga District of Eruasia Central Conference, Russia.

The United Methodist Churches in Chemnitz, Freiberg, Plauen, and Augustusburg, Germany.

Ganta Hospital and Missionaries Dr. Albert Willicor and Victor Taryor in Ganta, Liberia.

Faith Academy, Haiti.

The Henrys in Asia Minor.

The Henderson Settlement and Red Bird Mission, Kentucky

Our specific goal for providing for the needs of all of our Global Ministry Partners is $60,000. With your generous support we will provide leadership training, education for those in poverty, supplies and staffing resources for health needs, as well as training and care for those who need support.

You can make your donation to the Global Ministry Partners by writing your check to Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church. Please use the envelope you will find in the bulletin throughout Advent/Christmas Eve. Place the envelope in the offering plate or drop it off in the Church Office If you write a check, and do not use an envelope, in the memo line write: Christmas Global Offering.

Your faithfulness in giving above and beyond this Christmas season may save the life of a person in Africa, enhance the livelihood of children in Haiti, provide a Christ-centered place of worship amidst predominantly atheistic surroundings in Russia and Germany, or help to maintain the health and wellness of Americans who have followed God into full-time mission service in Asia Minor. Join others at Hyde Park Community and be a part of making a difference!

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

 

Ferguson: What does the Lord Require?

Like many of us this week, my soul has been “disquieted within me” after hearing the decision of the Ferguson, Missouri Grand Jury and the aftermath. As I write this, I must confess I’m struggling to make sense of it all. I’m trying to make sense of the loss of life, a young African-American man whose life has been cut short. I’m trying to make sense of a police officer’s action and the consequences of those actions he must live with the rest of his life. I’m trying to make sense of how a police officer can fire his weapon 12 times. I’m trying to make sense of the militarization of our police forces as we respond to unrest. I’m trying to make sense of protests that destroy personal and public property. I’m trying to make sense of this and much, much more.

I’m trying to make sense of it all and my guess is I’m not alone. However, as I try to make sense of it all, the voice of the prophet Micah speaks to me: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

We’ve heard a lot about justice. There’s justice for Michael Brown and justice for officer Wilson. We’ve heard about our broken justice system. However, I fear that in each case we’ve been talking about retributive justice which is different than the type of justice Micah is talking about.

Micah is clear: we need to do justice! Micah is not talking about retributive justice, but systemic justice. What does the Lord require of us? Do be a part of systemic justice! This kind of justice is not something that someone else implements and carries out; it is something that is required of me. Marcus Borg writes in his book, The Heart of Christianity, “If we ask why the God of the Bible cares about politics, about systemic justice, the answer is disarmingly simple. God cares about justice because the God of the Bible cares about suffering. And the single biggest cause of unnecessary human suffering throughout history has been and is unjust social systems.” (P.139)

I struggle with making sense of the events of Ferguson, Missouri, but I do not struggle with the fact that we need to do something about the systemic injustice in our society. From Moses to Micah systemic injustice is what broke the heart of God. Jesus devoted his life to transforming systemic injustice.Therefore, to this end I invite all who desire to make a difference, all who desire to: “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God”, to join in the conversation, but more than conversation, let us come together and do justice!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Give Thanks!

Thanksgiving begins a season of celebration with family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. From Thanksgiving, through Advent and Christmas, to the New Year, we will spend time counting our blessings, expressing our gratitude, and sharing God’s love. As you give thanks this season, my hope is that you can pray this simple prayer: “O Lord, thank you Jesus”!

Pastor H.B. Charles tells the following story about a woman he knew who showed up at church and prayed the same simple prayer. “O Lord, thank you Jesus,” she prayed week after week. Finally somebody asked her, “Why do you pray the same little prayer?” She said, “Well, I’m just combining the two prayers that I know. We live in a bad neighborhood and some nights there are bullets flying and I have to grab my daughter and hide on the floor, and in that desperate state all I know how to cry out is, ‘O Lord.’ But when I wake up in the morning and see that we’re okay I say, ‘Thank you Jesus.’ When I got to take my baby to the bus stop and she gets on that bus and I don’t know what’s going to happen to her while she’s away, I cry, ‘O Lord.’ And then when 3:00 P.M. comes and that bus arrives and my baby is safe, I say, ‘Thank you Jesus.'” She said, “Those are the only two prayers I know and when I get to church God has been so good I just put my two prayers together, “O Lord, thank you Jesus.”

As you gather around table this Thanksgiving weekend, give God thanks for the many ways in which you have been blessed. Give God thanks for the many ways in which God has led you through times of danger, discouragement, and disappointment this past year: “O Lord, thank you Jesus”!

I look forward to seeing you in church this Advent and Christmas season as we embrace the lessons of the manger, with this simple prayer on our lips: “O Lord, thank you Jesus”!

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

A Future With Hope

Church Conference Report:

The prophet Jeremiah spoke God’s reassuring words to the people during a season of rebuilding:

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

On Sunday, November 16, Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church voted to accept the invitation of the Ohio River Valley district for Nast Trinity to become a new church start in partnership with Hyde Park Community UMC. The vote, 73 in favor, 0 against with 0 abstentions, will allow a full-time pastor to begin on March 1, serving the community in Over-the-Rhine.

The Nast Trinity Task Force, chaired by Pastor Doug Johns, will be happy to respond to your questions.

Black: The Color of Strength

In the Navajo culture the color black is a symbol of physical strength. As the Body of Christ we can finish 2014 with strength, “in the black!”

As of this writing we are $183,565 in the red.

Thank you to all who have given generously all year. Thank you, too, for those who can help our church finish 2014 with strength through your faithful end-of-the-year giving.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

A Future with Hope

Church Conference Report:

The prophet Jeremiah spoke God’s reassuring words to the people during a season of rebuilding:

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

On Sunday, November 16, Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church voted to accept the invitation of the Ohio River Valley district for Nast Trinity to become a new church start in partnership with Hyde Park Community UMC. The vote, 73 in favor, 0 against with 0 abstentions, will allow a full-time pastor to begin on March 1, serving the community in Over-the-Rhine.

The Nast Trinity Task Force, chaired by Pastor Doug Johns, will be happy to respond to your questions.

Black: The Color of Strength

In the Navajo culture the color black is a symbol of physical strength. As the Body of Christ we can finish 2014 with strength, “in the black!”

As of this writing we are $183,565 in the red.

Thank you to all who have given generously all year. Thank you, too, for those who can help our church finish 2014 with strength through your faithful end-of-the-year giving.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

The Truth About The Pilgrims

The winters in New England can be brutal.

The truth about the experience of the first Pilgrims is captured by H.W. Westermeyer below:

The pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts…nevertheless, [they] set aside a day of thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is more than one day!  Giving thanks to God brought joy to those first pilgrims and it can bring deep, abiding joy to us.  We experience Thanksgiving when we….

  • Pray daily to God, thanking God for all our blessings.
  • Commit a financial tithe to the Church, acknowledging that everything we have is from our generous God.
  • Attend worship weekly to draw closer to God.

Stewardship Campaign Update:

As the pilgrims brought their food to the table with thankful hearts, people in our faithful community are bringing in their pledges for the healing, transforming work of God through Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church for 2015.

Here is the latest update:
Pledges Received through 11/12: 247
Income Pledged for 2105 through 11/12:  $1,157,462

To those of you who have stepped forward with your commitments to God’s work among us, thank you!

May God continue to move among us, stirring us to give thanks as the pilgrims did – with glad and generous hearts.

Peace,
Pastor Cathy Johns

Free at Last!

If we are to be a people who indeed live free, it will involve a change of attitude in how we approach life; it will involve making the shift from an attitude of “scarcity” to one of “abundance”. The problem with living life bound by an attitude of “scarcity” is that it shackles our perspective on all of life. Thus, we are imprisoned by fear; bound by fear, trust deteriorates; lack of trust diminishes our ability to step out in faith and embrace God’s blessings.

On the other hand, when we are able to see and claim that we are a people of “abundance” we find “freedom”! Thus, we live by faith not fear; faith and hope go together, and we possess a hope that, as Paul proclaims: “will not disappoint us”; and free to trust in God’s promises, an attitude of “abundance” moves us to invest in God’s kingdom: Loving God, and those God loves!

Commitment Sunday on October 26 was a day of celebration. Celebrating who we are: Beloved children of God, we committed ourselves to helping others embrace a new identity as a beloved child of God as well!

To date we have received 229 commitments, which represents an increase in average commitment, from 2013, of about 35%. The people of God have spoken. No longer will we live imprisoned by a mentality of “scarcity”, but in Jesus Christ, we are a people of “abundance”!

Thank you to all who have made a commitment to the vision, mission, ministry, and outreach of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church. You’ve chosen to invest in changed lives and transformed communities. The dividend is priceless!

If you have not yet made a financial commitment, I encourage you to join those who call Hyde Park Community home: Invest in her vision, mission, ministry, and outreach!

God is “doing a new thing” at Hyde Park Community, “don’t you perceive it?” I look forward to serving in ministry with you in the months and years ahead. Together, Loving God, and those God loves, we are free at last to live a life of abundance. See you in church!

In Christ,
Doug

Salty Saints

This Sunday is All Saints Sunday. The United Methodist Book of Worship explains:

“All Saints (November 1 or the first Sunday of November) is a day of remembrance for all the saints, with the New Testament meaning of all Christian people of every time and place. We celebrate the communion of saints as we remember the faithful departed, both of the Church universal and of our local congregations.”

Jesus teaches us to be the “light of the world” and the “salt of the earth.” Salt adds flavor and also preserves. Here are a few “salty saints” who have blessed my life, sometimes adding flavor, and sometimes preserving me through times of trial:

Don, my father, who taught me the importance of trusting God, always, and responding to God’s goodness with a glad and generous heart.

Sue, a cancer patient, who continued to come to church and set the table for Holy Communion until the last month of her life.

Steve, who served as a Stephen Minister and never wavered in his devotion to always serve Christ with passion and joy.

Deb, whose life was a song of joy, who sang on a praise team and encouraged many, including me, to keep the faith during tough seasons of life.

Today I invite you to come up with your own list of “salty saints,” people who have blessed your life. Stop and give thanks to God for each life that has flavored and preserved you. Finally, pray for God to help you step up as you strive to give your life away for others so that some day you will be remembered as a “salty saint!”

Cathy Johns