Psalms: Rx for Life

What is your favorite psalm? Most people find strength in the psalms and find them to be comforting. They help us put words to the human condition, giving us strength and courage for the twists and turns of life.

This week we begin our sermon series with the message “When Life Makes Sense.” Dr. Walter Brueggemann, a delightful biblical scholar, reflects on the psalms based on an individual’s orientation, or how one sees the world in her/his present state.

As you prepare your heart for worship this Sunday, come with a heart that is open to receive what God has to offer: strength for the weary, hope for the discouraged, and grace and restoration for all of us who stand before God in our brokenness. May God richly bless you this week!
Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Getting Ready For Rally Day 2014

I hope everyone is having a great summer! Are you ready for Rally Day 2014 on Sunday, September 7? Traditionally at HPCUMC it’s the first Sunday after Labor Day that the church gets back into full swing. Let’s think of it as going back to “faith school” after summer break. I hope everyone is as excited about Rally Day as I am, and I do get excited about Rally Day!

In particular I want to speak about our Ministry of Education. As we gear up for the new season, the focus of our children, youth and adult ministries is on spiritual formation or faith development. Another synonym might be spiritual growth, discipleship or a big word like sanctification.

In Christian spiritual formation the focus is on Jesus. It is a lifelong process as a believer desires to become a mature disciple of Jesus and become more like him. Dallas Willard writes that “spiritual formation for the Christian basically refers to the Spirit-driven process of forming the inner world of the human self in such a way that it becomes like the inner being of Christ himself.”
Galatians 4:19 speaks to the importance of forming one’s life toward the likeness of Christ … “until Christ is formed in you.”
Romans 8:27-29 further shows us that the shaping (“forming”) function of God’s divine Holy Spirit is carried out according to the will of God the Father, for the purpose of conforming us to the image of His Son – Jesus Christ.
Romans 12:1-2 encourages every believer to present themselves to the Lord as an act of spiritual worship and not to be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Then, you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.
We are not bystanders in the spiritual formation of our lives. We are to be active participants with God, who is ever inviting us into a deeper relationship. Spiritual formation is both a process and a journey. It requires a commitment of each one of us who has put their trust or faith alone in Jesus Christ to allow the work of God’s Holy Spirit to transform their life.

There are many opportunities for your spiritual formation here at HPCUMC. I encourage you in the “faith school year” to join a connect group, a Sunday school class, or participate in a mid-week book or Bible study. Hope you are looking to grow in your faith through study, prayer and being in relationship with others who are on the journey with you.
Rally Day is the beginning of something new. It is always great to get back to “faith school” in the life of the church. And it’s never too late to learn, grow and experience transformation as we mature in our faith. Make it a priority! Sign up for a class! May the Holy Spirit convict your heart to go to the next level of your own spiritual formation or faith development!

Are you getting excited about Rally Day 2014? I am!
In Christ’s love,

Dave Weaver

Staff Updates/Celebrating our Ministry to Children and Youth

Our full staff meets twice a month, first and third Wednesdays.  We have chosen to step out in mission on “Fifth Wednesdays.”  This week we served lunch to people at the Center for Respite Care, one of our mission partners.  Their ministry offers a place for persons without a residence to recover after a major hospital stay.

One man once told me after a powerful concert of a large youth choir:  “We need to focus on children and youth ministry; they are the future!”  While he was well-intentioned,  I gently want to lift up another lens.  Children and youth of any age are a valued part of our community today.  Their contributions bless us now and we are thankful!   We are a richer, stronger church family because they are an integral  part of who we are.

I invite you to pray for and encourage all members of the church staff.  Please remember those who faithfully serve our children and youth:

Sara O’Connor,  our new Director of Children’s and Family Ministry.  She officially became a part of the Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church staff on August 1.  Please extend a warm welcome to Sara and her family.  We are thankful for her leadership and passion to serve Christ with excellence.

Rebecca Homan, who has faithfully served as our Interim Director, will continue to serve on the staff  as the Assistant to Children’s and Family Ministry.  Under her leadership a record number of families will be attending Family Camp at the Aldersgate United Methodist Camp in Kentucky this week.

Ken Miller, our Director of Student Ministry, brought leadership to a powerful youth mission trip in late July.  The group served as the hands and feet of Christ at mission sites, worshipped and prayed together, and built friendships.  Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church, through their efforts, even made the local television news in Lima Ohio!

We are thankful for the contributions of the church staff.   This Sunday’s message, “Facing Stress,” is based on Philippians 4:4-8.  Pastor Cathy Johns will preach at the Grace Campus and Pastor Doug Johns will preach at our Nast Trinity Campus.    May God richly bless you and your loved ones this week!

 

Peace,

 

Pastor Cathy

 

 

The 20,000 Foot View

What is a 20,000 foot view?   If you can remember your last flight in an airplane you know that things look much different from 4 ½ miles up!  There are also beautiful patterns that come from ordinary fields of soybeans and corn.  The squarely cut fields form a mosaic.

As Doug mentioned last week we value communication and transparency.  Here are a few “big picture” views to help you better understand the current reality at Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church:

+Our People Several vital ministries are supported by Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church because our people have stepped up to offer their time, talents, and money, including:  The Center for Respite Care, Stephen Ministry (placing compassionate, trained listeners with people in a time of need), Job Search Focus Group, Interfaith Hospitality Network (offering food and shelter for those in need), Madison Education and Assistance Center, Wesley Chapel Mission Center, Wesley Services, Rothenberg School Tutoring Program, The Hyde Park Center for Older Adults, Habitat for Humanity, and the Downtown Campus at Nast Trinity which coordinates the serving of breakfast and dinner each Sunday.   Global missions that we support include Germany, Haiti, Liberia, and Russia.

+Our Finances Our budgeted needs through July 20th are $1,434,500.  We have received $1,246,470. Our apportionments, Hyde Park Community United Methodist’s district and annual conference commitments that support mission and ministry, are paid quarterly and for the first half of the year was $160,567, which has been paid in full.

+Our Building Renovations on the bathrooms continue to move forward with excellence.  Preliminary conversations about the Master Plan for our building will begin this fall.  Bill Baker and Greg Rogers, from the Servant Leadership Board and the Property Team, are bringing leadership to this process.

This Sunday’s message, “24/7 Joy:  Reducing Conflict,” is based on Philippians 2:1-8.   May God richly bless you and your loved ones with deep, abiding joy!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

How Does This Work?

A core value of Cathy’s and mine is communication and transparency.  One of the questions we have been asked more than once is how does the Co-Senior Pastor model work?  What follows is my attempt at a broad stroke overview.

Preaching:  As a rule Cathy and I will rotate preaching between the Grace Campus, and the Downtown Campus (every other week).   In this time of defining what it means to be One Church – Two Campuses, we believe it a priority for the Senior Pastors to be visible, in the pulpit, in both places.

Responsibilities:   Cathy and I will bring Senior Pastor Leadership according to the areas of our giftedness.  For example:

Servant Leadership Board (SLB)– Both Cathy and I will bring leadership and work with the Executive Team (Chair, Vice Chair, and Director of Administration) on meeting agenda and schedule.  With regard to the specific teams on the SLB, Senior Pastor leadership will be as follows:

Leadership Development: Cathy
Communication Team: Doug
Visioning Team: Cathy
Personnel Team: Cathy and Doug
Audit Team: Doug
Property Team: Doug
Finance Team: Doug

Equipping Team – Cathy and I will lead, and supervise, the following areas/individuals:
Doug: Director of Administration, and the Director of Communication
Cathy: Director of Education, and the Director of Congregational Care

Additional Areas of oversight:
Doug: Community Ministry and Global Outreach
Cathy: Staff Development, Worship, And New Member Assimilation

This is the “big picture” view, please let either Cathy or I know if you have any questions.  We are excited to be a part of the family called Hyde Park Community, and we look forward to serving in ministry with you!

In Christ,
Doug

 

Choosing Joy

Most of us would like to believe that joy is a by-product of a good day.  The opposite is true:  if you choose to claim the joy that is yours as a child of God, then you will have a good day!  William Barclay wrote: “We are chosen for joy. However hard the Christian way, it is both in the traveling and in the goal, the way of joy.”

Joy, simply put, is realizing who and whose we are: children of the living God.

Paul, the greatest missionary of all time, writes about “pressing on toward the goal.”  Join us this Sunday as we continue to study the book of Philippians, known as the epistle of joy.

Part of joy is celebration!  Join me in celebrating this week:

HOME GATHERINGS UPDATE:   The first five home gatherings were held this week in the homes of some of our members.  Thank you to our hosts and all who attended!   Groups shared joys from their connection with Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church and hopes and dreams for the future.    The information gleaned from these gatherings will be instrumental in bringing shape to the vision that we will share during a Vision Week/Weekend this fall.  Please sign up and participate in one of these gatherings this summer.  Pastor Doug and I want to listen and learn from you.

SUMMER IMPACT UPDATE:  Our congregation hosted missions teams this week from Arcola UMC in Illinois, Bethel UMC, and Water’s Edge UMC.  9 adults and 43 youth participated with us. They served at Stepping Stones, New Life Furniture, Hyde Park Center for Older Adults, the Downtown Campus of HPCUMC, Lakota Lakes Literacy Program, MEAC, Wesley Community’s Meals on Wheels program, Center for Respite Care, and Wesley Chapel Mission Center.  Thanks to everyone who has stepped up to serve this week and enable these youth and adults to make a difference in our community.

May God help you to choose joy this week – no matter what comes your way –  as you embrace your identity as a child of God!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

 

24/7 JOY

Joy versus Happiness . . .

In today’s world we’ve come to confuse happiness and joy, and we need to be continually reminded that there is a difference.  I’ve come to appreciate and embrace the following distinction:  Happiness is dependent upon external things; Joy is internal.

My “happiness” is dependent on my circumstances. How “happy” I am is dependent on what I am experiencing in my life.  Thus, my external encounters shape, and form, my happiness.

My Joy in life comes from within; is present in spite of what is externally happening to me.  My Joy is a condition of my heart, and reflection of my soul, which is why the Psalmist proclaims: “Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”  (Ps. 51:10)!  Joy is a gift of God, which allows us to live above our circumstances and not under them.  That’s why Nehemiah proclaims: “Do not grieve, for thejoyoftheLord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10b)

Consequently, my joy is not dependent on my happiness, but the depth of my joy can alter the level of my happiness.  That’s why John Wesley (founding father of Methodism) can write:

“The sons and daughters of God are able in a sense to laugh at violence when it comes – to laugh at economic hardship, pain, hell, and the grave.  For they are already acquainted with the One who finally holds the keys of Death and Death’s domain.” (John Wesley’s Little Instruction Book, p.107)

We are beginning a six-week sermon series based on Paul’s letter to the Philippians, “24/7 Joy”.  Philippians has come to be known as “The Book of Joy”, because despite the hardships, disappointments, and discouragement Paul and the Christian community are facing, they refuse to allow the external circumstances of life rob them of their joy, which is found in, and empowered through, their relationship with God, and the anointing of God’s spirit!

I look forward to walking with you through the book of Philippians as we learn how to “live above our circumstances”.  Invite a friend, relative, acquaintance, or neighbor to join you in the coming weeks as we embrace what it means to move beyond happiness and possess an always everywhere, and at all times Joy!

Love in Christ,

Pastor Doug

 

Plug in to the Power of Real Community

Celebrating Vital Signs

A church is a living, breathing organism with “vital signs.”  Each congregation has unique “DNA” and is equipped by God to bringing healing, hope, and grace to God’s people.  When you get a physical check-up, nurses and doctors will perform a blood pressure check and ask you to open your mouth and say “ah.”  They are checking for vital signs to evaluate your current health.

As we begin our ministry with you, here are a couple of “vital signs” that Doug and I celebrate in the Body of Christ here:

Laity and staff are strong and committed to excellence.  An eagerness to serve Christ faithfully is evident.  We have frequently heard the words from laity and staff often: “Let me know how I can help.”

The Servant Leadership Board is a diverse group of skilled and committed servants who bring outstanding leadership to the wider community.  On June 21, the Servant Leadership Board gathered together at the parsonage for a morning retreat.  Loving, learning, and leading were components of the day.

Loving God and one another:  We spent time in worship, small group reflection, and prayer, focusing on the words of Jesus to His disciples: “I am the vine and you are the branches.  Those who abide in me, and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Learning:  We discussed the expectations and roles for our senior pastors, prioritizing where the senior pastors should focus their time and energy. The articulated focus was to serve primarily as visionary leaders who preach, teach, lead, and equip the Body of Christ.

Leading:  We had a lively conversation around the strengths of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church and hopes and dreams for the future. We also discussed the need for a new chiller for the sanctuary and approved a plan to move forward to remedy the problem.

This Sunday the series “Plug into the Power of Christian Community” concludes with the message “Real Community.”  It is based on Acts 5:1-11.

As we move forward in ministry, please continue to pray for Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church. Pray for our congregation to welcome all who seek a deeper walk with God.  Pray for the laity, staff, and pastors to listen for God to direct our path so that we can be effective in ministry to those in our community. May God give us all wisdom, courage, and strength to serve our neighbors in a spirit of joy!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

 

Are You Guys Treasure Hunting?

On a beautiful Tuesday evening in May, a small circle of six people gathered and prayer- walked around the church building and the streets in this church neighborhood. Fresh air, sweet fragrance, and spring flowers seemed to rejoice with us as we blessed our neighbors, walked, talked, and enjoyed each other as we rejoiced in the Lord. Our Prayer Walk turned out to be a time of physical well-being, exercise, and friendship/fellowship. It was more than a spiritual practice. It was fun and joyful seeing neighbors’ colorful gardens and to greet some neighbors, who were sitting on their front porches and working in their front yards.

Suddenly, a lady smiled and asked, “Are you guys treasure hunting?” Someone in our group happily replied, “We are prayer walking, praying and blessing our neighbors!”

After a few moments of silence, all of us thought about the neighbor’s greeting to strangers. Her simple words remained in our hearts as it was singing into our souls. It seemed that the Holy Spirit was asking us, “Why are you doing what you are doing?” “Did you know you are not just walking but treasure hunting for My people?” No one said anything at first, but later we all agreed by saying, “That’s right, Yes, indeed! We are treasure hunting for God’s people. Praying for our neighbors is treasure hunting because they are precious treasures in the sight of God. It doesn’t matter whether our neighbors recognize that or not; we simply ask God to open their hearts so they can see the love and grace of God in Jesus Christ in their lives.

That’s what prayer is, developing a relationship with a loving God and with our neighbors and other believers in Christ. It is not an extra chore, but rather it’s a journey to grow and to bless the church families and friends, people in our neighborhood, city, and nation.

Prayer is plugging into the power of the Holy Spirit for renewal, revival, and transformation!

In order to “treasure hunt” more effectively and powerfully, the Congregational Care Prayer ministry team invites our church family to join one of the prayer gatherings we have launched:

If anyone would like to learn more about prayer and to overcome fear in praying with others, meet us in the Little Theater on Sundays at 9:30-10:30 am

We offer different styles of prayer at the Tuesday Evening Prayer Gathering from 6:307:30 pm in the Sanctuary

1st Tuesday —Prayer Walk

2nd Tuesday–Taize (No service in Summer)

3rd Tuesday- Pray with Scriptures and Songs

4th Tuesday-Contemporary Prayer and Praise

5th Tuesday—Contemplative Prayer

 

Other Prayer Groups are open to all through the week.

Sunday Morning Prayer (7:00 am),

Tuesday Morning Intercessory Prayer (9:00 am),

Prayer Shawl (2nd & 4th Tues. 6:30 pm),

Going Deeper (Wed 10:00 am),

Healing prayer (3rd Sunday at 11:00 am),

Inner City Prayer Walk (June 22 at 6:30 pm),

Email prayer Chain (Daily)

Prayer Wall -Welcome Center (Daily)

Please contact Sue Lee at sljin@hpcumc.org, 979-8186 for more information.

 

The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good fruit (Luke 6:45).

Jesus said not to store up earthy treasures, but to seek the real treasure in life, which is the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:19, 13:44).

In Christ,

Rev. Sue Lee Jin

Pastor of Care and Prayer Ministry

 

Plug In to the Power for Strength!

In Alaska there is a true story about a sled dog named Anna. Anna was a dog whose owner was uncertain that she was big enough or strong enough to serve on her team. As the team of dogs ran across the ice and snow they came across a patch of soft ice. Anna fell into the icy water. She was still connected to the team of dogs, putting all of them at risk. The other dogs began to pull and work together. In the middle of the crisis, Anna dug deep inside of her. She was determined not to give up. Eventually, with the help of the other dogs, she pulled her way out of the frozen lake back onto the ice. Anna shook off the icy water and was ready to run again. Her owner recognized the character and strength in Anna. She told her she was “big enough” and promoted her to lead dog.

This week I invite you to consider the times in your life when you need extra strength and power. What do you depend upon to get you through difficult times? When you face challenges at school, home, or work to whom do you turn?

On Pentecost the Holy Spirit came and blessed the community with power, the power of God. As Christians living in the 21st Century, this power is still available to us! God wants to move through us, giving us what we need, so that we can be empowered to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Doug and I thank you for the warm welcome to Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church. We look forward to getting to know you and your loved ones and serving Christ with you in the days ahead. May God richly bless you this week!

Peace,
Pastor Cathy Johns