Leave A Legacy

Endowment programs have a positive impact on the life of a congregation.  Endowment programs offer families and individuals the opportunity to leave a legacy to their beloved church, a legacy that bears abundant fruit!

HPCUMC has been a transformative presence through the life-stages of many: birth, baptism, confirmation, graduation, marriage and death.  As a result, a deep and abiding love for our faith community has become the motivation for making a gift to the HPCUMC endowment, ensuring and enhancing the ministries of HPCUMC for future generations.

Hyde Park Community has been blessed by the foresight of those who have gone before us to leave such a legacy gift.  From the first gift, under the leadership of Bishop Emerson Colaw, to the 28 million dollar endowment it is today, the endowment has enhanced the vision and mission of HPCUMC.  From support of the facilities, to the support of our outreach/mission programs, and missionaries, the HPCUMC endowment has been a part of partnering with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. From scholarships awarded to our young adults in college to scholarships awarded to those interested in short term mission opportunities, the income from the HPCUMC endowment has been actively involved in making disciples and facilitating intellectual, and spiritual growth.

The beauty of the Endowment program is that no gift is too small. Whether $5 or one million dollars, the endowment program provides the opportunity for individuals and families to leave a legacy to the church they love.  We invite you to make a gift to the endowment, and/or including HPCUMC in your estate plans.  I would love to talk to you about your legacy gift.

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Embracing the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr

The life of Martin Luther King Jr. means many things to many people.  However, far too many forget that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a follower of Jesus Christ.  As an ordained pastor in the Baptist church, he stood firmly on the ground of the non-violent revolution Jesus began in the early years of the first century A.D.

The Rev. Peter Mathews, Pastor and Director of the Center for Global Renewal and Missions writes, “50 years later, 50 years after the tragic demise of Martin Luther King Jr. . .  50 years later are we any closer to living into King’s beloved community? . .  His faith was not only the source of his strength but also the fuel for his vision of a more humane planet.”

On Sunday, April 8, we partner with United Theological Seminary and the Center for Global Renewal and Missions as part of the Bishop Emerson Colaw Lecture series.  We welcome Ro Nita Hawes-Saunders, the Chief Executive Officer of the internationally acclaimed Dayton Contemporary Dance Company as we remember and honor the life and death of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 50 years ago.

Under the leadership of Ms. Hawes-Saunders, the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company adopted an innovative and revenue-producing business model by partnering with colleges and universities.  She also instituted “Women in Motion: Empowered by Dance”, a program that uses creative dance movement and informative lectures to address cardiovascular disease among African-American and Hispanic women.

Ms. Hawes-Saunders will remind us through word and dance of Jesus’ call to collaborate with God in God’s acts of new creation, and partner with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth as in heaven.  I look forward to seeing you in Church!

Through the Risen Christ,

Pastor Doug

Easter As New Creation

Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!  This simple, but yet profound proclamation is both personal and communal, and claims our place in creation and God’s acts of new creation!  It is a proclamation of victory, and at the same time a statement of faith.

As we proclaim: “Christ is risen, He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!” we affirm our participation in Christ’s resurrection.  As participants we are a new creation; as a new creation we participate in God’s acts of new creation.

Easter is about victory and collaboration.  It’s about restoration and reconciliation, new life and new beginnings. Bishop N.T. Wright in his book, co-written with Marcus Borg, The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions, reflects on the meaning of the resurrection of Jesus:

“The deepest meanings of the resurrection have to do with new creation. . .   It was the first day of God’s new week, the moment of sunrise after the long night, the time of new meetings, new meals, of reconciliation and new commissioning.  It was the beginning of the new creation. . .  What is done to the glory of God in the present is genuinely building for God’s future.  Acts of justice and mercy, the creation of beauty and the celebration of truth, deeds of love and the creation of communities of kindness and forgiveness – these all matter, and they matter forever.” (p.126)

The resurrection brings personal transformation, absolutely.  However, it is not exclusively personal.  To say “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!” is to say God is making all things new, and I am God’s partner in God’s acts of new creation. Alleluia!  I look forward to seeing you in church!

Through the Risen Christ,

Pastor Doug

Why Holy Week Takes my Breath Away

Holy Week begins with a parade, filled with excitement and joy…lots of energy…children laughing and playing in the streets as people shout “Hosanna” (“Pray, save us) to Jesus as he humbly rides a donkey.

You can feel tension mounting as conflict arises among the Pharisees and scribes about what to do about Jesus, the One whom the crowd adores. Jesus’s disciples begin to fall away although some remain close.

By Thursday, Jesus, the humble servant, washes their feet and takes symbols from the Passover and explains the new covenant, his body and blood, and invites them to take, eat, and remember.

Thursday evening, Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane, another moment of awe. He asks for the cup of suffering to be removed, but surrenders completely, the King who chooses to give up his life for his people. His arrest and imprisonment lead us to the horror of Friday.

After 39 brutal lashes, Jesus carries his cross through the streets of Jerusalem.  As his hands and feet are nailed to the Cross, I lose my breath again, hearing his words of love:  “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

With his death, we believe that the story is over;  the stone is rolled to seal the tomb.  My breath will be taken away again with the dawn of Easter morning when we hear the words again: “Christ is risen!  He is risen, indeed!”

This Holy Week in worship we will walk all the way to Gethsemane, the Cross, and to the Empty Tomb.  Open yourself to the power of Christ this week; God wants to move you deeply and take your breath away!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

So that God’s works might be revealed

In John 9:1-2 the disciples ask Jesus a question that has its roots in a theology that was prevalent in the early first century and is present in the early 21st century: our disabilities, illnesses and disasters are God’s punishment for our sin. Jesus taught his disciples and teaches you and me: God does not use our disabilities and illnesses as punishment for our sins, but God will redeem (claim as God’s own) our disabilities, and God’s works will be revealed through them.

In the man born blind encounter with Jesus we find Jesus takes us back to creation, all of who we are and are called to be is sacred, and unalterably connected to our Creator who says creation is “Very Good”; God’s works are revealed in God’s Beloved. John Philip Newell, 20th/21st century theologian helps us see this reality through the words of my favorite early church father, Irenaeus (130-202).

“Irenaeus taught that the whole of creation flows from the very ‘substance’ of God. . . . Irenaeus passionately taught that the substance of the earth and its creatures carries within itself the life of the Holy One. God, he said, is both ‘above us all and in us all.’ . . . The work of Jesus, he taught, was not to save us from our nature but to restore us to our nature and to bring us back into relationship with the deepest sound within creation. . . . Irenaeus sees Jesus not as speaking a new word but as uttering again the first word, this sound at the beginning and the heart of life.” (Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, Tuesday , March 13, 2018)

Irenaeus captures the core essence of who Jesus is and what Jesus teaches specifically in this account of the “man born blind”. Sinfulness does not cause our disabilities (and we all have them), but God redeems and uses our disabilities in such a way that God’s works are revealed, we find healing and possess abundant life, restored to our “nature.”   Like the “man born blind” we are awakened to this reality as we encounter Jesus, the Christ. I look forward to seeing you in church!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Resurrection: Fiction or Fact?

Let’s face it:  Someone rising from the dead is not something that happens every day.  Like us, the people in first century Israel would have had a hard time wrapping their minds around The Resurrection.

The Pharisees, whose responsibility was to help the people keep the laws of Moses, did believe in The Resurrection. Brad H. Young, in Paul, The Jewish Theologian writes: “The Jewish people believed that God created the world. Our physical world is God’s creation, and it is good. The Pharisees, in contrast to the Greco-Roman religious beliefs, vigorously affirmed the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. The Pharisees stressed a literal resurrection of the physical body, which would be reunited with the spirit of an individual. Their worldview embraced a future restoration of God’s original design for his world. The Pharisees envisioned a time of redemption in which God would realign the physical creation with the ethereal (unearthly) realm.”  The Sadducees did not embrace resurrection, immortality of the soul, or spirits and angels.  Additionally leaders of the Sadducees functioned as priests while leaders of the Pharisees were called rabbis.

This Sunday, Pastor Cathy Johns will offer a unique perspective on what happened in Bethany when Lazarus walked out of the tomb as recorded in John 11.  Invite a friend to join you this Sunday; may God richly bless you this week!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Re-Birth

When Nicodemus converses with Jesus he is introduced to a new understanding of living in relationship with God and those God loves.  Drawing upon a birthing metaphor, Jesus impresses upon Nicodemus the need for humanity to leave behind the dualistic thinking of the day (which still controls much of our lives today) and be “born again”.  This rebirth means leaving the dualism of the world behind and living into God’s acts of new creation! This rebirth means discarding the “fire insurance” teaching that most of Christianity has reduced our relationship with God to be; as the saying goes, “We are so heavenly focused they are no earthly good”.

Jesus is not saying we must be “born again” so when we die we can escape the fires of hell (fire insurance) and make our way to heaven.  We must be “born again” if we are to leave behind the dualism of our culture and reflect the image and likeness of God in the world we live. Born again we actively become participants in God’s acts of new creation.  Bishop N.T. Wright puts it this way in his book, Surprised by Scripture:

“The question of how you think about the ultimate future has an obvious direct impact on how you think about the task of the church in the present time.  To put it crudely and at the risk of caricaturing: if you suppose that the present world of space, time, and matter is a thoroughly bad thing, then the task is to escape from this world and enable as many others to do so as possible.  If you go that route, you will most likely end up in some form of Gnosticism, and the gnostic has no interest in improving the lot of human beings, or the state of the physical universe, in the present time.  Why wall paper the house if it’s going to be knocked down tomorrow?” (P.84-85)

God is a God of new creation, here, now.  The words of Jesus have been hijacked, it’s time for the church to reclaim the power of Jesus’ words for transformational living: You must be “born again”. Rebirth aligns us with God’s vision for creation here, now, today.  To be “born again” puts us at the center of God’s work in the world. Therefore, this world is not something that is to be endured and ultimately escape, but it is a place that mirrors the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. I look forward to seeing you in Church!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Some Things Never Change

A lot has changed since the days of Jesus, but some things are still the same.  People have never been fond of taxes or the people who collect them.   Here’s a fun riddle:   

Q:  How much did the IRS take from the moon?

A:  Four quarters

(Trust me!  This is one of the more “mild” jokes I could locate.)

This Sunday we continue our sermon series called “Awakened!”  Each week we take a look at a person whose path crossed the path of Jesus of Nazareth; they were never the same following their encounter with Jesus, who is the Christ.   

This week we will study Matthew, the tax collector, who was invited by Jesus to be a part of changing the world.  Jesus simply said to him, “Follow me.”  What followed was an immediate response, without excuses.  The writer of Matthew’s gospel records after Jesus’ invitation:   “he got up and followed him.”  Matthew is so excited about closing up shop and following Jesus that he invites Jesus to join his friends at a dinner party in his home…that’s where all the real drama happens!

Join us this Sunday for a “deep dive” into this important conversation with Matthew, the dinner party, and Jesus’ response to the critical onlookers.

May God richly bless you as you seek ways to model Christ who chose mercy and grace over marginalization and judgment.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Hibernation or Participation?

We are currently in the heart of February! The days are still cold and short. The weather often cannot decide between snow and freezing rain. And overall we feel the pull toward hibernation with the rest of creation. There is a general sleepiness that comes with February, where the luster of early winter has dulled but Spring is still a ways off.

For me personally, February is always a month that tempts me to be complacent. To just wait for Spring to come before I’m active again. It’s easy to want to just hunker down, stay home as much as possible and shut out the rest of the world. And while many of us need to do a better job of getting rest, Jesus never calls us into complacency. Our God is a God of action, of calling the Church into participation with the work of the Holy Spirit throughout our communities.

As we step into the first days of Lent and begin preparing our hearts for the coming celebration of Easter, may we remember that it’s even in these days of preparation that Jesus invites us into walking with him, just as he did with seemingly every person he encountered in his ministry while on this earth. Whether a random encounter with a woman at a well or a tax collector hiding in a tree, Jesus has always called us to WAKE UP to the work he is doing and joining in.

Pastor Ian

Faith and Science

It seems for centuries we’ve insisted on perpetuating a war between faith and science.  Implicitly or explicitly we’ve been told we have to pick a side.  However, recently the conversation has shifted and we are beginning to see a number of Theologians and Scientists come together and provide an alternative of both/and.

Bishop N.T. Wright in his book, Surprised by Scripture, writes about the debate that in many ways is unique to Americans:

“I want to point out that the way the science and religion debate is conducted and perceived in North America is significantly different from the ways analogous debates are conducted and perceived elsewhere . . .  I want to suggest that this is at least partly because of the essentially and explicitly Epicurean (Google if you don’t know anything about Epicureanism) underpinnings of the social self-understanding of the United States since the late eighteenth century – and that the standoff between science and religion in America is therefore analogous to, and indeed bound up at quite a deep level with, the standoff between church and state, or religion and politics, or however you like to put it, so that you can’t address one of these topics without implicitly addressing all of them. . .   I want to propose that we therefore need a much more radical rethink of the underlying worldviews we are dealing with than we have normally contemplated in our science and religion discussions.”  (P.2)

This “radical rethink”, unifying science and religion, is underway and we are better off because of it.  Thus, we welcome Science Mike this weekend as he helps move forward the conversation.

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug