Your Voice Matters!

When Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church made the decision to move to a new structure, we also made the decision to evaluate our facilities through a Master Plan. We engaged MSA Architects to lead us in our Master Plan. The goal is to arrive at a roadmap for the maintenance and development of our facilities that support our church’s mission as well as our congregation’s needs.

This past fall the Servant Leadership Board began the Master Plan process. MSA led the Servant Leadership Board in evaluating the uses and needs of our facilities, as well as hopes and dreams. In addition, MSA met with, and led the staff in a similar process.

The next step in the Master Plan process is to lead the congregation in the process of evaluating uses, needs, and aspirations as they relate to our facilities; to this end the Servant Leadership Board set three congregational input sessions: January 18, at Hyde Park Community, and another at Nast Community (our second location in Over-The-Rhine); and a third session February 2, 6:30 pm at Hyde Park Community.

On Sunday, January 18, over 45 people gathered in the Little Theater to provide input. Over 33 people met at Nast Community to do the same.

A successful Master Plan involves listening to as many voices as possible, identifies common themes, and brings clarity to the way forward. It is successful when it is open and transparent, and engages the congregation as a whole. Your voice matters! Our input-gathering sessions include interactive discussions to elicit feedback on the uses, needs, and aspirations of the congregation. We will use the information and ideas gathered to explore master planning principals and goals.

Join us Monday, February 2 at 6:30 pm, in the Little Theater for the third and final congregational input session. We want to hear from you, as together we position Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church for the future.

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Lions, and Tigers, and Bears, Oh my!

All of us remember with fondness Dorothy’s walk through the forest on the yellow brick road. Accompanied by her two new friends, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow, and her faithful dog, Toto, the group encounters a lion. They are all terrified of course! Lions are known as the king of the beasts for a reason.

This lion, is not your ordinary lion, but a cowardly one. The Cowardly Lion has circles under his eyes because he has trouble falling asleep. One of Dorothy’s companions suggests that he try counting sheep. The lion explains that he cannot count sheep because he is afraid of them too!

Toto steps up to face the lion and begins to bark. When the lion chases after the dog, Dorothy scolds the lion. The Cowardly Lion begins to cry.

In our scripture for this Sunday, Daniel faces lions. He is thrown into a den of lions because he holds on to his integrity. Daniel refused to stop praying to God, continuing to pray three times a day in front of an open window. Daniel refused the king’s rich food and observed the dietary laws of his faith. Daniel trusts God and keeps his faith. God protects and shields Daniel from harm, shutting the mouths of the lions.

If you are experiencing a time of stress and challenge today, I offer this prayer to remind you of our God, the God of Daniel, who stands with us always, even when we face lions:

Eternal God, You call us to trust You. Many people clamor around us, trying to tell us what to do. Tune our ears to hear only Your voice over the din of noise. As we face challenges in our lives, remind us that You still stand with Your people among dens of lions, protecting us and shielding us from harm. Help us to place our hand in Yours, keep our faith and our integrity, and always trust that You are a God who keeps Your promises. We pray in the name of Jesus, who is our strength and our song, Amen.

May God fill you with the courage of Daniel, today and always!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Come to the Table

Over the past six months (or more) we’ve heard a lot about dis-unity, and division, in the church and our culture; racial, and ethnic tensions are on the rise; theological and political differences polarize. We have lost the ability to talk to one another in a way that sees the “other” as a blessed child of God. We find it is preferred to be right than to be kind. It is to this reality that Bishop Palmer invites the churches and communities of our annual Conference to create Circles of Grace.

Our District Superintendent, Rev. Brian Brown, answering Bishop Palmer’s call to create Circles of Grace, encouraged the churches of the Ohio River Valley District to begin the process of dialogue and reconciliation on Human Relations Sunday (January 18). Rev. Brown writes, “The table of Christ is one table filled with unique voices from every perspective. With so many conflicting perceptions of power and race in the United States, we must recognize there is a problem and we must create space at the table for all to participate in the conversation. Come to the Table is the name of a district-wide effort that includes a process, an event, and a dialogue – all to move forward to the place Christ’s love calls us to.”

This Sunday we participate with the churches of the Ohio River Valley District in an effort to Come to the Table as the Body of Christ. The Rev. Vance Ross, former Deputy General Secretary of the General Board of Discipleship, will remind us that as children of God we are reconciled to God through Christ and given a ministry of reconciliation.

Come to the Table is the invitation of Jesus! At Jesus’ table there is no Jew or Gentile, male or female, white or black; we are one in Christ Jesus. As we begin this process of creating Circle’s of Grace in our churches and our communities let us remember the words of our founding father John Wesley, “It is an unavoidable consequence of the present weakness and shortness of human understanding that several men will be of several minds in religion as well as in common life. . . .Although every man necessarily believes that every particular opinion which he holds is true . . . yet can no man be assured that all his own opinions, taken together, are true.” (John Wesley, Sermon On Catholic Spirit)

I look forward to seeing you this Sunday. Invite a friend, relative, acquaintance, or neighbor to join you in worship.

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Favorite Questions from Toddlers

If you have ever had a conversation of more than three minutes with a four-year old you have probably heard some interesting questions:

Why do we have snow?
Do cats and dogs go to heaven?
How big is the ocean?
Where does God live?

Toddlers, of course, are not the only ones asking questions! The toughest set of questions seems to be the ones that start with “Why?”

Why did Grandma get sick?
Why did we have to move?
Why did my friend die?
How can bad things happen to good people?

This month we are taking a look at suffering in a new sermon series: “Walking through the Darkness.” During these wintry months of extended darkness we will explore what the Bible teaches about walking through times of trial.

Join us this Sunday as we explore the question: “Why Does God allow suffering?” Invite a friend who is going through a tough time to join you. It will be a morning filled with encouragement and the deep, abiding joy that is ours as children of God!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

A Little History of Epiphany

Epiphany (Greek) means “manifestation” or “striking appearance.” Theophany (Ancient Greek) means a “vision of God.” Epiphany is a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ.

In Western Christianity, the feast commemorates principally (but not solely) the visit of the Magi to the Christ child, and thus Jesus’ physical manifestation to the Gentiles. Eastern Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as His manifestation to the world as the Son of God. The miracle at the Wedding at Cana is also celebrated during Epiphany as a first manifestation of Christ’s public life.

In these traditions, the essence of the feast is the same: the manifestation of Christ to the world (whether as an infant or in the Jordan) and the Mystery of the Incarnation.

In some Western Christian denominations, especially in the past and in the present-day Church of England, the feast of the Epiphany also initiates a liturgical season of Epiphanytide. The traditional date for the feast is January 6. However, since 1970, the celebration is held in some countries on the first Sunday after January 1.

Our scripture lesson this week is focused on the Magi seeking diligently the star in the sky. They have an Epiphany experience when they meet the Christ-child in the manger scene. Face to face they meet God incarnate. Their lives are forever changed.

We all experienced a little of this light at the Christmas Eve candlelight service. The journey for us is to continue to seek and search for more intimacy with Christ. We are to be vessels of light in our dark world. In our seeking Christ our lives are illuminated, and all of a sudden, like the Magi, we have an Epiphany experience. Christ is revealed or manifested in a new light in our lives. Our lives are forever changed.

It is my prayer that you will start the New Year off by “seeking the light.” It is my hope that Hyde Park Community UMC will be a beacon of light in our community, our city and the world. May we become an incarnational church filled with the “light and love” of Jesus Christ, so others seeking Christ may have an Epiphany transformational experience too.

Happy seeking in 2015! In the name of the One we follow, Jesus, the Christ!

Blessings,
Dave

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