Do You Have Joy Like A Fountain?

One of my favorite songs when I was a child was “Peace like a River.”  It was fun to sing the verses with the motions…”.I’ve got’:

Peace like a river (waves)

Joy like a Fountain (hands up like a fountain)

Love like an Ocean (arms make a big circle)

I once heard a speaker describe the first three fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, and peace – as the “big three.”  If you possess them, the speaker shared you can make it through anything.

When you meet someone who possesses true joy, you discover a powerful truth:  Joy allows us to rise above our circumstances.

There is a simple reason for this:  Joy that comes from God is constant and does not depend on what happens in our daily lives.  Someone put it well who said:

Joy is not the absence of suffering but the presence of God.

May God richly bless you today as you hold the hand of God, a God whose love for you will never end!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Over-the-Rhine Community United Methodist Church

Effective June 30th,  Rev. Ian and Kelly Strickland will step away from ministry at Over The Rhine Community United Methodist Church, our downtown location.  For over 3 years Ian has worked to build a faith community that values: Justice, Equity, Creativity, and Connection.  We celebrate the many ways Ian has been a vital partner with God in God’s acts of new creation in Over The Rhine.  As Ian and Kelly close this chapter in their lives and begin a new one, we pray God’s blessings upon them.

What are the next steps?  Pastor Cathy and I have been in conversation with our District Superintendent, Todd Anderson, and the West Ohio Conference New Church Start Director, Brad Aycock, about the criteria for a successor to Ian.  In the coming weeks there will be conversations with the OTRCC leadership, The Personnel Team, and The Servant Leadership Board identifying current and future needs in a pastor, and ultimately receiving the Pastor the Bishop appoints. Throughout the process, taking the time necessary to get the right person will be a priority.

This past week, the District Superintendent sent a document to the leadership of OTRCC to complete and return to the district office.  The document (called a Profile) allows the leadership to provide input into the type of clergy leadership the church needs, at this point in time, and moving forward.  Once the “profile” is received the District Superintendent will schedule a time to meet with the Leadership of OTRCC and the Personnel Team of The Servant Leadership Board, to discuss further the churches needs.  Subsequently, the District Superintendent, Cathy, and I will discuss individuals that fit the profile and identify the right person for the appointment.  This will be followed by the District Superintendent making a recommendation to the Bishop and Cabinet, at which time the Bishop will make the appointment.

Your prayers for wisdom and clarity are welcomed as the multiple conversations progress, and a decision is made.  OTRCC is an amazing presence of God’s love in Over The Rhine, may God find us faithful as we move into the future!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

The “Don’t Pee on my Church” Sign

Rev. Lou Seipel, once served Board Street United Methodist, an inner-city church in Columbus, Ohio.  They serve 25,000 meals to people without housing, offer a Freedom School to at-risk children, and provide legal assistance and ministry to single women struggling with mental health and recovery issues.

Pastor Lou shared that in a shielded corner of the parking lot, people would sometimes relieve themselves, using the church parking lot as a bathroom.  On a hot day in August she stepped across “the stream” and came inside to a Trustees meeting.  She told the Trustees, “I wish I had a sign that said, “Don’t Pee on my Church!”

One of the Trustees took her seriously and posted a sign on the building:

“Don’t Pee on my Church” including her name, “Pastor Lou.”

She was mortified.  She saw her own sin before her in print, realizing that her mouth had the power to make a sacred space unwelcoming through her words.  She realized that if the poor had a bathroom, they would have used it.  She told the Trustees to take down the sign immediately.

Hospitality to all of God’s children is what makes my heart sing!  It means taking inventory of how we “do Church,” always looking for more ways to eliminate barriers and embrace all as sisters and brothers in Christian love.

May God’s Spirit move among us as we strive to welcome all in the name of Christ.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Distributive Justice Vs. Retributive Justice

When it comes to God’s justice we need to be clear on what the scriptures mean by “justice”.  Our 21st century, sacred, understanding of “justice” has hijacked 1st century understanding of “justice”.  We’ve turned God’s call for “Distributive Justice, and Restorative Righteousness” into our demand for “Retributive Justice” and in doing so make the scriptures say something the writers (and God) never said.

It is to this point the latter chapters of the book of Jonah speak. Too often we focus on the first act of the book of Jonah (Jonah’s call and response), at the expense of the final act of the book of Jonah (Anger and disgust at God’s mercy). It is to this human condition that the book of Jonah speaks in the final chapters of the book. The nature and character of God is in question for Jonah, and if we are honest, ourselves. God acts as God always acts with “Distributive Justice and restorative righteousness”.  However, like Jonah instead of taking our place as God’s partner in offering grace, love and mercy, restoration and reconciliation, we’ve embraced an attitude of exclusivism and disdain.

We are not the judge and jury, determining guilt and handing down the sentence; but we are partners with God calling all of creation to reconciliation and restoration; celebrating, and rejoicing in God’s acts of love, grace and mercy toward those we’ve determined unworthy, unredeemable. This is what Micah means when he says, “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.” (Micah 6:8). Jonah is our example of how not to act as we strive to embody the words of Micah.

I look forward to seeing you in Church as we strive to embrace our partnership with God, extending Distributive Justice and Restorative Righteousness in the world we live.

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

The View from the Ground

When Jesus went into the desert to fast for 40 days, at the end of his time when he was most hungry, thirsty and tired; Satan approached him with a series of offers. One of these offers was to take Jesus to the top of a high mountain to show him all of the Kingdoms below offering them as a prize if only Jesus was willing to fall down and worship him. Of course Jesus responds by quickly and loudly sending Satan away, seeing this offer as the temptation that it was.

In reading this story I always like to think I can easily identify with Jesus. And yet, in reality, sometimes it’s just hard to not believe the lie that we can own all of the kingdoms. That if only we climb high enough, work hard enough, put in the hours and will power; that we can somehow make it on our own.

When we reach these high places of our own making and look around at the “kingdoms” beneath us, it’s easy to feel safe and secure. The problem is that when we build a tower on our own foundation, they tend to collapse pretty quickly. Whether it’s our career, relationships, even spiritual identity. If we’re seeking to get the highest view, eventually we will be brought low.

The irony, however, is that the view from below is far more beautiful than the one from up high. We just need to know what to look for. Instead of trying to master the world and gaze upon a vast array of land and power, when we’re on the ground we get to gaze upon the intricacies of our fellow sisters and brothers. A parent playing with their child, someone helping a neighbor in town, a young couple falling in love. While being brought low may be painful and wreak havoc on our ego, it reminds us that we cannot truly separate ourselves from our fellow people. To succeed in this life is to live in community with one another.

This is the gift I have been given in the last three 1/2 years as pastor of OTR Community Church. Living downtown in Over the Rhine while pastoring a faith community right in the neighborhood has provided a beautifully transformational season where I learned to rely completely upon the people around me. Both Kelly and I have been blessed beyond measure during our time in Over the Rhine and in community with Hyde Park Community UMC.

And now, as God calls us onward to a new stage, we will take the deep life lessons gifted to us over the last few years. God has done miraculous things during our time here and it has been an honor to serve alongside all of you. Thank you all for the gift that has been to be church with you.

Pastor Ian

Innies or Outies?

Your body has one: an “inny” or an “outty.”   It is easy to tell.  When you look at your waistline your belly button either goes in or it pops out.

Churches are the same way:  they either face in or they face out.  Remember the rhyme and what you did with your hands: “Here is the church and here is the steeple…open the doors and see all the people?”

This week the program staff of our congregation studied a church that boldly states:  We strive to be a relentlessly outwardly focused church to reach people for Jesus Christ. Through wonderful ministries of hospitality, discipleship, and mission, Church of the Resurrection, a new United Methodist Church plant in 1990, has grown to 20,000 people.

What’s the secret sauce?  They align their resources:  people, their building, programs, ministries, and finances to accomplish their mission: to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

This week you are invited to the first of two Town Hall Meetings offered in the next several weeks.  You will hear about the exciting plan for our building, the result of several years of work from many church leaders at Hyde Park Community United Methodist.  You will hear how our building can be restored, renovated, and also open up new, fresh space to welcome new people into our faith community.

You are invited on Wednesday evening, May 23, at 7:00 pm or Thursday, May 24 at 10:30 am for an exciting presentation. These town hall meetings will be offered through June. In late summer or early fall, church members will have the opportunity to officially vote to move forward with a capital campaign.

This is a congregation that is grounded in faith and growing to serve; I am excited to be a part of it!  I hope you will come to a Town Hall Meeting soon to hear about where God may be leading us!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Confirmation Sunday

Hyde Park Community is steeped in tradition. One of the most celebrated traditions in the life of the church is Confirmation Sunday. Not only is it a celebration for the youth and their families, it is a joyous occasion for the church family as well. We have the opportunity to welcome new members in the life of the church and affirm their profession of faith in Jesus for themselves.

The word “confirmation” literally means “to make firm.” Confirmation seeks to make firm that which has gone before. It is closely linked to, and dependent on, what has taken place in the youth’s life already, including God’s prevenient grace, the sacrament of baptism, and the Christian nurture of the family with the support of the faith community. It is also an anticipatory occasion of what is to come-acting as an important marker (not graduation) along their spiritual journeys as the Holy Spirit strengthens the youth in his or her lifelong discipleship of Jesus.

Our journey in the Christian faith is not intended to be a solo venture and the youth did not travel this part of the journey alone. Faithful leaders walked alongside them this year to encourage and challenge each student. Please join me in thanking co-leader Chuck Brandt and small group leaders Mackenzie Fahey, Gretchen and Paul Lisi, Al Painter, and Abby Warren.

Confirmation Sunday is not just for the youth and their families! Church family, this Sunday we have the privilege to honor and encourage the young people’s commitment to live as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ and to renew our commitment to do the same!

Congratulations to the Confirmation Class of 2018!

Veronica Grace Bigger

Cara Elizabeth Coy

Samantha Ellen Ellis

Sam Gneuhs

Ryan Meador

Aimee Joy Payling

Audrey Elizabeth Potter

Trevor Benjamin Stith

Bennett Taylor Turan

Noah John Vanags

Amanda M. Yeung

Emily M. Yeung

DO JUSTICE, LOVE KINDNESS, and WALK HUMBLY WITH GOD

When the Prophet Micah proclaims “Do Justice”, Micah is not talking about “retributive” justice; but the “justice” of God: “Distributive Justice, and Restorative Righteousness.”  Recently HPCUMC launched a Justice Ministry.  I offer the following from the Leadership Team, and invite you to participate.

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

What Can I DO?

Justice Ministry Update

HPCUMC’s Justice Ministry is working hard with the AMOS Project to gather signatures for the Safe and Healthy Ohio Ballot Initiative.  This amendment will reduce mass incarceration and overburdened jails by reducing penalties for non-violent drug offenses and redirect resources toward mental health, drug treatment, rehabilitation and victims’ rights programs.  HPCUMC has committed to supply 750 signatures to get the initiative on the November ballot.  Here is how YOU can help:

Make sure you have signed the petition.  You will find an opportunity in the Welcome Center if you haven’t already!

Help us collect signatures.  To get an official petition book and instructions see Jill Colaw between services in the Welcome Center or contact her: jillcolaw@yahoo.com, or 513-265-1110.

Volunteer to take a shift at the Board of Elections May 8th.  The following is a link that will make it easy to sign up and let them know you can take a two hour shift: www.surveymonkey.com/r/5ZP8663

What Else Can I Do?

Vote on May 8!

If you’d like to be added to the Justice Ministry distribution list contact Janice Kummer: janicekumer@gmail.com or 513-439-2253.  We periodically send emails with opportunities to serve.

Make Knowledge and awareness a priority!  Social justice was Jesus’ mission and we are called as the body of Christ to work toward that end.  The Justice ministry has several exciting programs we will offer in the coming months.

We invite you to join us and “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.”

HPCUMC Justice Ministry Leadership Team

Jill/David Colaw, Janice/Stan Kummer, Joyce Miyasato, Jan Seymour, Cathie Shick

You are Invited: An Update On Phase 1 of the Master Plan

In 2013, the Armstrong Group recommended multiple initiatives for our congregation to fulfill our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  To move forward with excellence we need to:

  • Maximize our Facilities for Ministry
  • Develop Multi-Site Ministries
  • Equip Leaders for ministries in fulfilling our mission
  • Connect people to care, grow and serve

In 2015, Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church contracted with MSA Architects to develop a Master Plan, a long-range (15-20 year) projection of our needs for our facility.  The congregation expressed its priorities for security for children, flexible space, and additional space for ministries to children and families.  In 2016, after approving this report, the Servant Leadership Board commissioned a Building Committee to phase the plan, considering the order of priorities carefully.   In March 2018, the Servant Leadership Board received the report of the Building Committee and their recommendation to proceed with Phase 1 of the Master Plan.

Communicating this exciting vision will take place soon at Town Hall Meetings.  Members of our congregation and church family are invited to come to see and hear about this proposal.   The purpose of the Town Hall meetings is to educate our congregation prior to voting at a Church Conference in late August or early September.  Members will be voting on authorizing the church to hold a Capital Campaign, embracing the vision of Phase 1 of the Master Plan.

Mark your calendars and plan to join us:

May 23, 7:00 p.m.

June 3, 7:00 p.m.

June 13, 7 p.m.

June 17, 12:15 p.m.

June 27, 12:15 p.m.

Joy in our Risen Lord,

Pastor Cathy

A Good Samaritan Story

Free-lance writer, Shane Claiborne, who spent a summer in the poorest section of Calcutta, India with Mother Teresa wrote about his once-in-a- lifetime experience with the saint.

“People would often ask me what Mother Teresa was like.  Did she glow in the dark or have a halo?  I would tell them that she was short, wrinkled and precious, maybe a little ornery like a beautiful wise old granny.

But there is one thing I will never forget and that was her feet. They were deformed.  Each morning during Mass, I would stare at those feet.  I wondered if Mother Teresa had leprosy.  Of course, I wasn’t going to ask.

One day a sister asked a group of us, ‘Have you noticed Mother’s feet?’ We nodded.  She said, “Her feet are deformed because we get just enough donated shoes for everyone and Mother does not want anyone to get stuck with the worst pairs, so she digs through and finds those.  Years of wearing bad shoes have deformed her feet.’   That was typical Mother Teresa and that was what made her great.  She placed the needs of others above her own.”

This week the sermon will be on the text in Luke 10:25-37. It is one of the most familiar of Jesus’ parables. It is known as “the Good Samaritan Story.” Mother Teresa, in my mind, was a Good Samaritan. All were her neighbors, especially those who were sick and dying with leprosy, and seen as unclean outcasts in the community. She was willing to do what it took to show care and compassion to make a Kingdom of God difference in their lives.

It is my hope you will join us in worship on Sunday to hear this parable in a way that challenges us to think more broadly upon the story. There are several approaches we can take in speaking to this text. I even encourage you to read through the parable before you arrive on Sunday. Where are you in the story? How would you respond to “who is my neighbor?” How have you been a “good Samaritan?” I look forward to sharing more with you on Sunday!

Blessings,

Pastor Dave