Announcing: Ministry Fair 2016

You are a unique creation!  There will never be another you!  Each person in our community is also uniquely gifted.  What would happen if we all stepped forward, using our gifts, as the hands and feet of Christ?

In the next few weeks, you will be invited to consider how you would like to serve Christ in the coming year.

On September 25th we will host a Ministry Fair that:

Celebrates the work of various ministry teams in the Welcome Center

Provides a booklet and service inventory list describing ways to serve

Invites you to pray about how you would like to step forward to serve in 2017

On October 2nd we will:

Identify places where we feel called to serve Christ on service inventories list

Present our service inventories list to God in worship

After October 2:

Staff and team leaders will connect with persons expressing desire to serve

Additionally Servant Leadership Board criteria and applications are available in the church office and at the Welcome Center.  Please contact Greg Rogers, Chair of Servant Leadership Board, or Pastor Cathy Johns for additional information.

It is a joy to serve Christ with each one of you!  I am already praying for God to help you discover how to use your gifts in joyful service to Christ.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Love in Action!

In recent months we’ve witnessed multiple disasters that have left physical, emotional and spiritual devastation.  As we pray for the survivors of these disasters, let us pray for God to show us how we can help.  Both the District and Conference have communicated how our United Methodist Churches can help:

Assisting our neighbors not only takes prayers and compassion, it takes financial resources.  None of these disasters are big enough for us to request UMCOR dollars.  It will take the response of our local congregations for us to extend the love and care of Christ to our neighbors within our communities. Your gifts to the West Ohio Conference Disaster Relief Fund will allow us to work alongside families and congregations seeking to recover from disasters. You can give online at westohioumc.org or by check.  If you give by check please make the check payable to HPCUMC, (with Disaster relief in the memo line.) Clearly mark your envelope for disaster relief and place in the offering plate.

Collect Flood Buckets to replenish the UMCOR supply for the next round of floods whenever and wherever they happen: http://www.umcor.org/UMCOR/Relief-Supplies/Relief-Supply-Kits/Cleaning

Volunteer to help. Pam Follmer of the Monroe UMC is our Ohio River Valley District Disaster Response Coordinator. Pam has been in contact with the TriState COAD.  They work with the Red Cross and other agencies dealing with active disasters.  They have contacted Pam regarding the need to tear out drywall for homes of elderly and disabled folks affected in the region. They will be sending names and addresses to Pam to coordinate teams of volunteers to assist. If you (or a group from your congregation) would like to be on a team to address these needs, please contact Pam at 513-539-8691 or pfollmer@cinci.rr.com

Refer persons in need affected by the flood or storms. If you know of someone who has not yet been contacted by a community organization that is active in disasters, please contact Pam Follmer, ORV Disaster Response Coordinator (pfollmer@cinci.rr.com) and with the permission of the person affected, share that information with Pam.

As we walk this journey with our brothers and sisters most affected by the disaster they’ve faced, may they come to know of God’s love and presence.

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Worn Out Bibles, Worn out People, and You

It has been said, “People who own worn out Bibles are not!”  It is almost Fall and many are headed back to school.  As adults, it is tempting to see education as something children do.  All of us, young and old alike, can grow in our faith through Bible study.

For me, Bible study enriches my life in many ways, but especially as a guide for my life.  Benefits include:

New Friendships

Offering and receiving support for current challenges in my life

Growth in my understanding of God’s Word

Trying to navigate life as a Christian without studying God’s Word is like walking through an uncharted forest without a map!   Many Bible studies and small groups begin soon. Please check out the Discipleship booklet and classes posted online and register for class.  Members, guests, and friends are all welcome!

This weekend we begin a new sermon series, “Playing in God’s Symphony.”  Each week we will be studying various ways that Jesus strengthened his spirit and discover ways we can strengthen ours today.   This Sunday’s message, “Observing the Rests,” is based on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

I look forward to seeing you this weekend!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

God is Love!

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love, does not know God, for God is love.”

(1 John4: 7-8) God’s “Being” is love, “agape love”; a love that is self-giving, selfless, unconditional and forever present!

Who is God?  God is Love!  Jesus Christ left you and me a “new commandment”, “love God as you have been loved by God” (John 13:34).  To love as God loves means we must understand love as the Apostle Paul taught and modeled: Love is patient and kind; it is not envious, boastful arrogant or rude.  Love is not irritable or resentful, and does not keep score (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).  In Jesus Christ we are lifted above the dualistic thinking of the Enlightenment and Post Modernity, empowered to embrace, as Paul puts it, a “more excellent way”!

“Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”  We love as we have been loved by God when we understand “love never ends”; and we cease to judge who is and isn’t worthy.   Father Richard Rohr writes, “The only way I know how to love God and to teach you how to love God is to love what God loves.  To love God means to love everything . . . no exceptions.  Of course, that can only be done with divine love flowing through us.” (“Seeing with God’s Eyes”, August 17, 2016)

When we allow God’s “divine love” to flow through us,we are transformed and become transformative; we are empowered and are empowering; we claim our identity as a beloved child of God, and see others the same.  I look forward to seeing you in Church; invite a friend, relative, acquaintance or neighbor to join you!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Where in the World is God?

Did you ever ask, “Where are you God?” Some ancient people would answer: “In the sun.” Others believed that the “gods” lived on Mount Olympus. Some believed that God was in the trees.

This week’s message, “The Heart of God: God the Revealer,” based on Psalm 139, explores where we can discover God.  Lawrence Kushner explains:  “In Judasim the world is viewed as one world which is material and spiritual at the same time.  The material world is always potentially spiritual.  For Judaism all things – including, and especially such apparently non-spiritual and grossly material things such as garbage, sweat, dirt, and bushes – are not the pediments to but dimensions of spirituality.  Jewish spirituality is about the immediacy of God’s presence everywhere.  It is about patience, and paying attention, about seeing, feeling, and learning things that only a moment ago were inaccessible.” (From “God was in this place and I, I did not know.’)

In Psalm 139 we discover a God whose love is inescapable.  It reaches beyond the highest heaven to the lowest places of the earth.

Let us celebrate this weekend our God whose love cannot be contained by time or space… a God who is with us, always!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Understanding Mercy

God is known to be a God of mercy and grace. Understanding mercy is often difficult for people as we tend to be a generation of “I’ll get him for that” and “I hope they get what they deserve.” Many have developed a nature of harsh criticism and want others to get what they have coming to them and then some.

God, however, is merciful to even the worst offenders, sinners, and law-breakers. This means that even though He knows of our guilt, God doesn’t issue the punishment deserved. To elaborate, the verse in Romans 3:23-24 says “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” God’s mercy is restorative, not punitive.

Simply, we all miss the mark and will never meet the full standards of righteousness that God intends us to have. But, through God’s mercy and grace God releases us from any form of judgment. God’s covenant of love and mercy with Israel in the Old Testament was steadfast regardless of how wayward the people were. God’s mercy in the New Testament is made known to us through Jesus who reconciled all people once and for all.  We live under a new covenant of love, mercy and grace.

We continue the sermon series this week titled: “The Heart of God.” Our subtitle is “God the Merciful.” God’s mercy is there for us every moment of our lives. Join me in worship this Sunday. Maybe you will go away understanding the depth of God’s mercy. Maybe you will recognize the need for God’s mercy. Maybe you will realize you need to show mercy. Or maybe you will experience God’s mercy as we sing the famous hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and the words, “Morning by morning new mercies I see; all I have needed Thy hand hath provided; great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”

In Christ,

Pastor Dave

Master Plan Opportunities

In 2013 Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church received, and approved, a recommendation from The Armstrong Group to:  “create a long term Master Plan with associated costing to lay a roadmap for future capital projects to meet evolving ministry and missional needs.”  Shortly after the decision was made, The MSA Architectural firm was engaged to lead HPCUMC in the creation of a Master Plan.

Late fall 2015 MSA Architects presented their report to the Servant Leadership Board.  Subsequently a group from The Servant Leadership Board, and Facilities Team, led by Pastor Cathy, developed a plan for communicating the report of MSA to the congregation.

Over the next couple of months a team of people will visit with various groups (Program/Fellowship/Administrative groups) of HPCUMC and share the Master plan.  In addition, there will be two to three “All Church” gatherings.  Following the sharing sessions a recommendation will go to the Annual Charge Conference (Late October or Mid November) to create a Team that will “Phase” the Master Plan, and create a plan for implementing the first phase; which includes, but is not limited to, a timeline, architectural plans and funding plans.

We look forward to sharing this forward thinking plan with you.  If you are a part of a group at HPCUMC and would like to have a team come to present the Master Plan, please contact Lindsay Garrison (lgaarrison@hpcumc.org) with your preferred date. In addition, be on the look out for the all-church opportunities to hear the Master Plan report.  I look forward to sharing in ministry with you in the months and years to come as we put in place the infrastructure to fulfill God’s calling with excellence! See you in Church.

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

An Update from Over- the- Rhine

We’ve had a number of exciting things going on in Over-the-Rhine. In an ongoing effort to be the Church in our community, our sisters and brothers at Over-the-Rhine Community Church (OTRCC) are continuing to discern ways in which God is calling us out. One current initiative is to transform our vacant lot at the corner of 14th and Race into a permaculture community garden. With “green space” in Over-the-Rhine shrinking quickly, our goal is to use this land not only as a way to grow local food, but to invite our neighbors into building a community space together.

Additionally, back in February, the OTRCC Lead Team relaunched the longstanding breakfast ministry. Now at 9:30 am, this meal is seeking to create a space in OTR where all people are able to interact as neighbors, peers and friends. Formerly, these meals relied heavily upon volunteers from partnering churches; they are now fully run by the local community. We have a few core leaders from OTRCC who make sure the breakfast is functioning each week, but the bulk of the work falls to anyone who shows up for the meal and who is willing to help!

Every person is encouraged to help with the meal AND sit at the table, regardless of where they live- an apartment, a house, or the street. In this way, we are stepping into God’s Kingdom where there truly is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, “Us” and “Them”; for we are all one in Christ Jesus! You can find a video of our new breakfast on the OTRCC website, otrcc.org, under “media”. All are welcome!

If you are interested in participating in any of the exciting things mentioned above or in OTRCC in general, please contact Pastor Ian Strickland at istrickland@hpcumc.org. And be sure to join the OTRCC email list at otrcc.org.

From Russia With Love…

The book of Acts records:  “During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’  After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” (Acts 16:9-10) In 1991 the Communist government of the USSR fell, and for the first time in over 75 years, the people of Russia were provided the opportunity to worship freely.

The United Methodist Church, concluding that God was calling us to take the Gospel message of love and grace to Russia, started a new church in Samara.   Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church has been a faithful partner, mentor, and sister church from the beginning.  This past June (June 22-30) HPCUMC sent a team to re-connect and deepen our relationship.  Upon our arrival one of the pastors of Samara UMC said to me, “HPCUMC is our Paul!”

The Spirit of our living God is at work in profound ways at Samara UMC!  From day one to the day we departed, the people of Samara UMC showered our team with Colossians 3:12-17 kind of hospitality and love!  I was humbled to be in their presence, to receive their love, and to be encouraged in our common work for the Lord.  Needless to say, there is no language barrier when it comes to sharing the love of God through Christ Jesus our Lord!

Consequently, Kevin Betts (trip leader and member of the HPCUMC Servant Leadership Board and Community Ministry/Global Outreach Team) and I had the opportunity to sit with Pastor Olga, Pastor Natalia, and Pastor Stas to discuss taking our relationship to the next level and came up with a 10-point plan. Sarah Krott, Anna Renfro, and Mary and Jeff Sheldon were also team members.

The 10-point plan is a guide for deepening our relationship with the Samara UMC.  Will we achieve all 10 points, I don’t know; will we be blessed and be a blessing in trying? Absolutely.  Details of the plan will be shared in the near future.  As we look to the future, pray for our brothers and sisters in Samara.  Pray that HPCUMC is found faithful to God’s calling as we walk this journey with Samara UMC.  Pray that together we help God bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  Stay blessed!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Candy For Our Neighbors in the Congo

In August, I will be serving on a mission team in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We have been asked to teach discipleship and leadership to residents of the Kamina Children’s Home in the North Katanga Conference. One of my duties is to bring thank you gifts for our hosts. I will be bringing hard candy and creating simple “hobo” bags with the word “peace” in three languages painted on them with fabric paint.

If you would like to participate in this mission project, I welcome your support! Here are four ways you can support this mission to Kamina Children’s Home:

1) Pray that God works in a mighty way through this mission team from West Ohio Conference.

2) Contribute Candy. Please bring individually wrapped candies by Monday, July 25 to the church office; please place your donations in the bin marked “Candy for the Congo”. List of candy to donate:  Jolly Rancher hard candy,  Life Savers (individually wrapped), peppermint hard candy (individually wrapped), Salt Water taffy, Werther’s butterscotch (individually wrapped), Tootsie Rolls midges.

3) If you would like to help me sew and paint the cloth bags, please contact me at cjohns@hpcumc.org or 979-8182.  We will be gathering in the Welcome Center on July 26 from 2:00 – 6:30 pm.

4)   Donate brightly colored shoestrings (15 pairs are needed.)   We will use these as drawstrings for the bags.

This week’s scripture is the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Jesus told this parable, in response to a question asked by a rich young man:  “Who is my neighbor?”

At times the needs of our world are overwhelming!  I invite you to come and explore this familiar parable for it is timely; we seem more eager to hate than to love our neighbor, more eager to fight than work for peace.

I look forward to seeing you in church this Sunday!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy