By This They Will Know

In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)  This past week, seven members of Hyde Park Community were involved in giving and receiving love.  Our mission team spent time in prayer, worship, learning and loving, as we began the process of building relationships with our brothers and sisters in Romania.  The United Methodist Church in Romania is very young.  Yet they are on fire for Christ, joyfully embracing the principals of the founder of Methodism, John Wesley: Personal Piety and Social Holiness.

Consequently, from ministry to the Roma (Gypsy), who find it difficult to trust, to ministry with disenfranchised Romanian Orthodox and Atheists, our Romanian brothers and sisters have been living the love of Christ Jesus.  With intentionality, they draw people into relationship with God and neighbor.  From the youngest and most vulnerable of God’s children, to the oldest and most respected in the villages across Romania, the love of Christ is lived and taught.  Our brothers and sisters in Romania make it a priority to fulfill the two greatest Commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.”

The United Methodists in Romania offer the transforming love of God to all!  Every child, youth, young adult and adult is of value, worthy of God’s love. Under the leadership of Pastor Rares Calugar, the United Methodist Churches of Romania have become a constant and consistent presence reminding all people they are beloved children of God.

Our United Methodist brothers and sisters in Romania have made it a priority to partner with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  From inspiring worship that uplifts and sends out, to the Alpha Group Ministry in which passionate volunteers minister to children with special needs; girls once stuck in the sex slave trade have renewed expectation of a better life; youth who have lived in a cycle of despair now have hope. The Soul Family Ministry creates a loving one-on-one environment where mentoring takes place and souls touch and agree through the power of the holy spirit.  The United Methodist Church in Romania, small but powerful, is transforming lives.

I look forward to discerning how Hyde Park Community will partner with the United Methodist Churches of Romania.  On Sunday, March 19 our team will share with you their experience and impressions of our time in Romania.  I look forward to seeing you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

In the Cross of Christ I Glory

John Bowring’s hymn, written in 1825, continues to touch me each Lent:

“In the cross of Christ I glory,

towering o’er the wrecks of time;

all the light of sacred story

gathers round its head sublime.”

Sir Bowring was a knight who served in Parliament twice.  A respected scholar, he was fluent in multiple languages, including Russian, Batavian, Spanish, Polish, Serbian, Bohemian, Magyar, Czech and Hungarian.  He was a social progressive who worked to make education available to all and was an advocate of prison reform.

He wrote this hymn when he was in his early thirties. In it we see the transforming power of God. The cross, a symbol of suffering and death, is changed into glorious victory and triumph.

Dr. Hawn, a professor of sacred music at Perkins School of Theology writes:  “It is one of the paradoxes of Christianity that an instrument of torture becomes a symbol of faith for all time where “All the light of sacred story/Gathers round its head sublime.”

If you are interested in exploring the history of hymns, this United Methodist link will assist you:

https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/worship/hymns-hymn-singing-hymnals-hymnology

Our Lenten sermon series, “Love Speaks,” focuses on the last words of Christ from the Cross.  Be still and listen this Lenten season.  Draw near to the Cross and lean in to hear Jesus speak to you.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Youth Sunday

Each day I have the privilege of working with many amazing young people.  Much of their success is a testimony to their parents and others who have cheered them on and given them positive direction.

What is the measure of success on Youth Sunday? It is tempting to say success happens as everyone shows up on time, the microphones all work, and there are few hiccups during the service. All of these things are wonderful; however, they are secondary in importance. I am reminded of these words from the scripture of the Apostle Paul to a young church leader named Timothy:

“This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.  Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them.  Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity…focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them.” 1 Timothy Chapter 4:10-13.

Today young people will be reading scriptures, encouraging the believers, and teaching us.  They are here to help point us toward the hope we have in our living God!  Our youth are setting an example through their actions, words, faith, and love. They are living the words that call us to “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Another opportunity for our students to shine brightly is our annual summer missions trip. This summer 7th to12th grade students are invited to join us as we serve, worship, and go white water rafting in West Virginia. . Please sign up by March 5th at www.hydeparkchurch.org/student-missions-2017/ to secure your place. If you have questions, please contact Ken Miller at kmiller@hpcumc.org or 513-979-8179.

Thank you, students, for shining brightly today, this week at school, and the months to come.

Ken Miller

Director of Student Ministry

What Are You Facing?

We will all face giants at one time or another in our lives. By giants, I am speaking of seemingly insurmountable problems and issues. We try to beat these giants, but often they seem to only grow stronger with the passing of time.

It could be a giant fear of heights or public speaking. Or it might be a giant of some type of personal sin that you fall into again and again. It might be the giant of pride or envy or gluttony or lust or something else.

In a related way, your giant might be one of addiction, something that has a grip on your life. Then again, it could be a giant threat that is taunting you today. Someone has slandered you. A lawsuit has been filed against you. All consuming and concerning.

Or it might be a different kind of giant altogether, like an unbelieving spouse or a prodigal child. You have prayed for them, you have asked the Lord to reach them, yet they seem to become more hardened as the years pass by. You find yourself wondering how you will ever overcome this.

So how do we deal with giants? We find the answer in the Old Testament account of David and Goliath.

What a victory it was as David boldly defeated the giant Goliath, armed only with a slingshot and five smooth stones. The will of the Philistines was broken. The Israelites were reinvigorated. And it was all because a little shepherd boy answered the call of God and cut down the giant.

So what can we learn from this story about facing off with our own giants in life?

We must first recognize that we all have giants and it takes a lot of courage to face our giants. David had courage to face the Philistine giant without fear. He defeated the giant.  As people of faith, we place our trust in God to help us face our giants.  Being delivered from our giants does not come solely through trust in human might. We believe God is in the battles we face.

1 Samuel 17: 47 says, “All the assembly may know the Lord does not save by sword or spear; for the battle is the Lord’s.” Join us in worship on Sunday and go away reinvigorated in facing your giants!

In Christ,

Pastor Dave Weaver

Holding Hands

As we approach Valentine’s Day, I invite you to consider all the ways that we connect with others by holding hands:

A mother holding the hand of her baby for the first time

A father holding the hand of a child as they cross the street

Walking with a special friend holding hands

Holding hands as you leave the church after your wedding

Holding hands in prayer around the dinner table with family

Holding hands to reassure a friend who is struggling

Holding hands with an elderly parent as they receive hospice care

30 Lessons for Loving, a new book by gerontologist, Dr. Karl Pillemer, concludes after 700 interviews that older adults “place intimacy as a high priority” in their marriages.  One recent widow, Jennie B., who was married for 47 years, says that what she missed most is holding hands.

This week I invite you to use your hands to extend the love of God to others.  The touch of Jesus brought healing to many.  Teresa of Avila wrote:  “Christ has no body now but  yours….no hands, no feet on earth but yours.”   

May our hands extend the love of Christ to bless the world.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Can You Help?

The United Methodist Church is a “Connectional Church”, each church is connected to the other.  Our connection manifests itself in many ways throughout the denomination: Mission and outreach; financial and human resources; and the appointment of Clergy.  The United Methodist Church has been able to live the words of John Wesley, “the world is my parish,” because of our connection.

In order for The United Methodist Church connection to function efficiently with excellence and vision, strategic processes are needed.  To this end our District Superintendent, The Rev. Dr. Todd Anderson, asks your help.  Dr. Anderson writes,

“We need your help as we prepare a District Strategic Plan. As United Methodist Church leaders, we are praying about and considering where God is leading us in the future. Your input will be helpful in the process of realizing our potential for future ministry, all for God’s Glory.  Below you will find a link to a survey that we would like as many United Methodists in the district to give their input. Please complete it for us at your earliest convenience and feel free to share it with your Ohio River Valley District United Methodist friends and colleagues. The survey will remain open through Tuesday, February 21, 2017.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ORVDCongregationSurvey

This survey is being administered by an independent organizational development and research firm, Measurement Resources Company.  All responses will be kept confidential and sent directly to Measurement Resources. Individual responses will not be shared with the Ohio River Valley District or congregation leaders. Your honest input is desired. Thank you for your participation!  Grace and peace.”

I invite you to participate in shaping the direction of the Ohio River Valley District, and to a certain extent, The West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church.  Can you help?  Please take a moment and complete the survey using the link above.  Together we make a difference in the world.  I look forward to seeing you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

What’s New at OTRCC?

Much has happened in the spirit and life of Over-the-Rhine Community church in 2016 and the beginning of 2017. From physical changes in our entryway, Gathering Place, and Sanctuary to changes in worship time, worship flow, and community fellowship – OTRCC has experienced and activated “new things” in our space and community.

In the spring we began planning for moving forward creating a Permaculture Garden in our lot at the corner of Race St and 14th St. Follow through of planting and creating signage rolled out at the end of the summer and in the fall.

This summer, under the leadership of a new member of the church, we repainted the Gathering Place and the entryway of the church. We added new light fixtures this fall and had specialty wooden tables built and incorporated at the end of the year. The Gathering Place has a much warmer, welcoming feeling to help accommodate the spirit and feeling of our community breakfasts that have been happening since early spring.

One of the neatest things for me to experience is to see some of our long term neighbors show up for breakfast and stay for worship. As we continue cultivating an atmosphere where people are not only welcomed but really feel that they have a place at the table – a place where everyone else sees them for the man or woman they were created to be – people want to be part of that community.

One other addition to our culture this year was Ian’s interest in creating videos. It has been such a blessing to be able to see in video/picture representation all that is going on. If you are interested in seeing videos, pictures, and more of the story, visit our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/otrcommunitychurch/.

Many blessings to you!

Sarah Putman

Community Ministry & Global Outreach Ministry Assistant

Do you Listen as well as a Sheep?

Barbara Brown Taylor, a nationally known preacher, shares:

“In Palestine today, it is still possible to witness a scene that Jesus almost certainly saw two thousand years ago, that of Bedouin shepherds bringing their flocks home from the various pastures they have grazed during the day. Often those flocks will end up at the same watering hole around dusk, so that they get all mixed up together—eight or nine small flocks turning into a convention of thirsty sheep. Their shepherds do not worry about the mix-up, however. When it is time to go home, each one issues his or her own distinctive call—a special trill or whistle, or a particular tune on a particular reed pipe, and that shepherd’s sheep withdraw from the crowd to follow their shepherd home. They know whom they belong to; they know their shepherd’s voice, and it is the only one they will follow.”

God longs for an intimate relationship with each one of us.  When we open our hearts and our ears to listen for God to speak, God will provide the guidance that we long for, a message tailor-made for us.   

May God richly bless you this week as you walk with God.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

All Things New!

With a New Year comes a heightened awareness of “newness” and of hope.  In these days of change and uncertainty, in a world that seems to be filled with discord, violence, and the inability to tone down the rhetoric, let us remember that hope remains; it is a hope that “does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)

Embracing this hope that is ours through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we partner with God in God’s acts of “new creation.”  As we remember the life and ministry of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., hear once again his encouraging words, and live into the challenge:  “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding a deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.  Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only love can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Bishop Gregory Palmer (Resident Bishop of the West Ohio Conference) wrote a few months ago, “I refuse to believe that we are hopeless or abandoned.  But failure to act courageously will only reinforce the perception that we are.  We must act now:

  • To change every conversation until it bends us and the world to not only acknowledging a shared humanity but embracing it;
  • To remove the scales from our eyes that hinder our seeing the connections between race, religion, poverty and violence;
  • To change legislative conversations so that we get common sense solutions, to change our vocabulary, not merely tone down our rhetoric.

God is calling us into a life of “new creation” as we begin a New Year.  Let us embrace God’s leading; empowered by the Spirit of our living God let us love, as Christ Jesus, our Lord, has loved us.  See you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

All Things New!

Happy New Year!  With a new year comes new beginnings.

John Wesley, founder of Methodism, created a “Covenant Service” in 1755 to guide the faithful in the re-committing of themselves to God and God’s leading.  Today, the “Covenant Service” is most commonly held on New Year’s Eve or Day.  At the heart of the service is Wesley’s Covenant prayer:

I am no longer my own, but thine.

Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,

Exalted for thee or brought low by thee.

Let me be full, let me be empty.

Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.

And now, O glorious and blessed God,

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

thou art mine, and I am thine.  So be it.

And the covenant, which I have made on earth,

let it be ratified in heaven. 

Amen.

As we begin a new year, I encourage you to commit 2017 to God, commit to deepening your relationship with God and others.  We serve a God who makes all things new.  Let us commit ourselves to partner with God in God’s acts of new creation.  I look forward to seeing you in Church as we lean into God’s new creation in a new year!

Pastor Doug